Doctor Who abandoned Daleks and instead delivered “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” in this week’s episode, bringing guest stars Mark Williams, David Bradley and Rupert Graves along for a rip-roaring adventure – but did it match up to the high standards of the series 7 premiere? This article contains episode spoilers.

With series 7, the producers aimed to make every episode of Doctor Who a cinematic installment in the series’ canon, with showrunner Steven Moffat being quoted as saying “write it like a movie poster.” On the evidence so far, they’ve certainly gone a long way to maintain that mantra. However, the world of movies is big and diverse with a range of different genres – and within those genres there’s a lot of variation in quality. If “Asylum of the Daleks” was The Empire Strikes Back, then “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was more like Transformers: incredible special effects, lots of action and amusing one-liners, but no real impact. The sort of entertainment that’s great with a bag of popcorn and a significant other, but not all that wonderful if you were looking for something with a lasting impression.

Doctor WhoImage: BBC

That’s not to say Doctor Who series 7’s sophomore effort was bad (it did exactly what it said on the tin), just that “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” adds little to the show’s legacy other than some excellent CGI and prosthetic work. Writer Chris Chibnall (“42,” “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood”) litters the script with amusing gags throughout, keeping the tone light but also reducing most of the threat. More could have been made of the Silurian spacecraft’s impending destruction, which was largely glossed over – resulting in a sudden denouement that seemed rushed and out of place. That said, the imaginative strands of the narrative do (sort of) tie together.

Director Saul Metzstein leaps straight from Pond Life into his show debut, balancing the stylish visuals with limited computer effect time confidently. He directs the all-star cast with aplomb, focusing as much on the character moments as he does the episode’s surprisingly few set pieces. Major props must also go to the actors themselves, particularly to Harry Potter alumni David Bradley (Solomon) and Mark Williams (Brian), who steal nearly every scene they’re in. We can’t forget Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill who continue to excel as The Doctor, Amy, and Rory in spite of less meaty roles than recent escapades have brought. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Sherlock star Rupert Graves’ Riddell and Riann Steele’s Queen Nefertiti. Despite excellent performances from both, the writing fails to develop the characters leaving us with one-dimensional cutouts. That’s always the danger of ensemble pieces, though – some balls will always be dropped in the juggling act.

Doctor WhoImage: BBC

“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” doesn’t really add up to the sum of its parts, a surprise for an ensemble adventure with a mash-up of narrative devices and ideas. Assured directing, imaginative writing, excellent acting and impressive effects deliver an exciting romp with popcorn appeal but no weight or lasting legacy. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor, the episode remains an entertaining adventure with plenty of laughs and a rip-roaring pace.

“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” analysis

As stated above, the latest installment doesn’t contribute too much to the canon of Doctor Who, but we’re still left with a few tidbits to analyze. First of all we met Brian Williams, the first parent of a companion to travel in the TARDIS since Matt Smith took the keys to the blue box. Actor Mark (also Williams) had great chemistry with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, building a genuine father figure with far less high-emotion and screaming fits than the parents of Rose Tyler and Donna Noble. He warms to the concept of time travel fairly quickly, and before long he’s making plans The Doctor couldn’t fathom and pulling an assortment of bits, bobs and balls (cue an awkward yet hilarious testicle joke) from his pockets to spectacularly save the day. Enlightened by his adventure aboard the crashing cargo ship, Brian ventures out to see the world and universe beyond. While we’re not quite sure if his travels in the TARDIS make him a fully-fledged companion we’ll say this – it’s a shame the character has been introduced this late into the Ponds’ tenure, and we can’t wait to see him in “The Power of Three.”

“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” picks up ten months after episode 1, and as the Doctor has continued exploring obliviously, the Ponds have continued growing older. Rory reveals he is now 31, meaning ten years have passed since Amy first stepped into the TARDIS the night before her wedding. Young Amy and Rory aren’t quite so young anymore, and a few exchanges between Mrs. Pond and the Doctor seem to foreshadow their eventual departure – River’s “The Angels Take Manhattan” quote about the Time Lord not liking endings will definitely seem all the more significant as we see the couple grow older. With Amy and Rory now living in 2020, who knows how many years will have elapsed when their swansong eventually arrives?

Doctor WhoImage: BBC

A brief though significant cameo from Silurian Malohkeh expands the species history, though largely leaves them in the same retired state that they started the episode in. The spectacular return (and survival) of dinosaurs shows them relocate the former planet of homo reptilia. This certainly leaves the door open for a return in the near future, with the pre-historic population potentially growing and becoming a major threat.

Finally, the Doctor’s increasing ambiguity to the universe’s inhabitants is once again referenced in a tense – albeit short – scene. That thread has frequently been expanded upon since “the question” was revealed in “The Wedding of River Song” – we know it’s leading somewhere, but exactly WHERE we’re going and WHEN the show’s title will become significant still remain a mind-boggling mystery.

What did you think of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”? Will it make a memorable impression on your Doctor Who experiences or do you agree that it’s nothing but rip-roaring popcorn fluff?

Disney’s released a minute-long clip from Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a great one: Emma Watson performing “Belle.”

Belle skips around town as the townspeople observe the “funny girl” in this uplifting sequence from the movie. You can’t help but get excited for Beauty and the Beast after watching this, and Emma sounds great!

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Disney’s released a minute-long clip from Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a great one: Emma Watson performing “Belle.”

Belle skips around town as the townspeople observe the “funny girl” in this uplifting sequence from the movie. You can’t help but get excited for Beauty and the Beast after watching this, and Emma sounds great!

In related news, the cast and crew kicked off their press tour today in Paris. Disney released the following adorable photo of Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, Luke Evans, director Bill Condon and composer Alan Menken as they start publicizing the movie, which opens in theaters March 17:

Can’t wait to see it!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Read full article

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

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Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?