Culture on My Mind – Yer a Twenty-Year-Old Wizard!

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Yer a Twenty-Year-Old Wizard!
January 31, 2022

Can you believe that it’s been twenty years since the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone premiered? The Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track celebrated it just last week.

On January 27th, the panel of ToniAnn Marini (The Geeky Devil), Deanna Toxopeus (RevolutionSF’s Facebook page), Darin Bush (on Amazon, though you should join me in telling him that he really needs a website), Shaun Rosado (pneumaz on Twitter), and me for a discussion on the movies, the books, our memories of the franchise, the legacy, and our acceptance of all Wizarding World fans despite what the franchise’s creator thinks of them.


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next panel will be on February 10th. The docket contains a mool-ti-pass anniversary, fictional sports (just in time for that “Superb Owl” football game), battling bands, a famous bloodsucker, and a bonus panel that shall remain hidden for now. You can find all of this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #236: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
(1 episode, s07e02, 2012)

Timestamp 236 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Sailing the stars Jurassic-style.

The Doctor did a good thing and saved 1334 BC Egypt from a swarm of locusts. On his way back to the TARDIS, he’s intercepted by Queen Nefertiti who wants to thank him properly for his services… if you know what she means.

Her efforts are interrupted by a message on the psychic paper from the Indian Space Agency. He’s forced to take “Nefi” with him because she forces her way onto the TARDIS, and once he arrives in the 24th century, he’s informed of a non-communicative spaceship approaching Earth. If it gets within ten thousand kilometers – the edge of the Earth’s exosphere – the Indian Space Agency will start shooting missiles.

The Doctor decides that he needs some additional help, so he jets off to Africa in 1902 to convince game hunter John Riddell to join the fun. He then travels to 21st century London. There, Rory and his father Brian are changing a lightbulb. Amy finds things amusing until the Doctor arrives, materializing around the three and immediately setting course for the 24th century.

Brian is shell-shocked and the Doctor is confused, but soon enough everything is set in motion as the crew starts exploring amidst the pounding noises around them. When they reach a lift, the doors open to reveal a pair of dinosaurs.

On a spaceship.

*ding* There’s the title!

The group runs for cover from the Ankylosauruses. Riddell claims that he can take one of them alone with his knife, but the Doctor is intrigued by the discovery and wants to preserve them. They find an interactive monitor and the Doctor starts mapping the ship. When he asks for a path to the engines, he, Rory, and Brian are teleported to a foggy beach. Brian loses his mind as he tries to process what’s going on.

The Doctor tastes the air and determines that they are on Earth… sort of. The air is slightly wrong, the ground is humming, and Brian discovers a metal deck under the sand. As Rory calls for the Doctor to show him what they found, a mysterious watcher orders someone to bring the Doctor to him.

Amy, Nefi, and Riddell continue to explore the ship, literally stumbling into a Tyrannosaur nest. Luckily, the tyrant lizard is fast asleep. The trio continues on.

The Doctor finds another monitor and learns that the beach is the engine room. In fact, propulsion and energy are maintained by the waves. The Doctor’s excitement is cut short by the arrival of a flock of pterodactyls. The trio rush for a cave, avoiding the snapping beaks but running right into a pair of stomping robots.

Amy’s team find another monitor and review the ship’s logs. Amy finds out that the ship is Silurian and was a form of ark that was launched when the Silurians feared a cataclysm when the Earth aligned with the Moon. Between the time of launch and now, the population has drastically decreased. Also, the ship has been boarded before.

The Doctor’s team and the accompanying robots run into a triceratops that acts like a puppy, licking Brian’s face and playing fetch with a golf ball. The group is taken to Solomon, a man listening to Fantasia in F minor by Franz Schubert as he tries to recover from a raptor attack. Solomon has mistaken the Time Lord for an actual medical doctor, which isn’t that far from the truth. When the Doctor offers assistance in exchange for information about Solomon’s arrival, the wounded man orders the robots to shoot Brian. The Doctor works on Solomon while Rory tends to his father’s burn, and Brian is surprised that Rory keeps a medical supply pack with him. It’s a family habit to carry tools around, as evidenced by Brian’s convenient trowel.

Amy calls Rory via mobile phone – the TARDIS superphone returns! – to tell him about the Silurians. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds out that Solomon is a trader and is interested in selling the dinosaurs as precious cargo. He is intrigued in how the Doctor doesn’t exist in his database. Solomon explains that the Silurians rescued the trader, and in return he ejected them from their own ship. Unfortunately, Solomon couldn’t control the ship so it automatically set course for Earth.

The Doctor gathers Rory and Brian, set on making sure that Solomon does not control the ark of the Silurians. The trio hops aboard the triceratops – which the Doctor has named Tricey – and they escape from the robots as the dinosaur chases the golf ball down the passageway. When Tricey catches the ball, she bucks her passengers off and sits patiently.

The Indian Space Agency calls the Doctor, warning him that the ship has entered the atmosphere and they have no choice but to open fire. Meanwhile, Amy’s team finds some stun rifles. As Nefi learns that the Doctor is married, Amy watches the Doctor over the security feeds as he tries to figure out how to stop the missiles.

Solomon catches up to the Doctor and makes him an offer: He’ll let everyone go if he surrenders Queen Nefertiti. The Doctor refuses, so Solomon shows that he’s serious by murdering Tricey. Amy’s team uses the teleporter to reach the Doctor, and Nefertiti offers herself willingly. Solomon transports himself, Nefi, and the robots back to his ship.

The Doctor takes everyone else to the control room, explaining that Solomon couldn’t control the ship because the Silurians designed it to require two pilots who share similar DNA. The Doctor magnetically locks Solomon’s ship to the ark as Brian offers to pilot the ship with Rory. The Doctor explains how to control the ship while Riddell stands guard against the roving velociraptors.

The Doctor works on the wiring, chatting with Amy while he works. Amy expresses her fear that his visits are becoming farther and farther apart. One day, he might never show up. The Doctor comforts Amy by explaining that he’ll always come to see them. As the Doctor teleports to Solomon’s ship, Amy joins Riddell on guard duty and fends off the velociraptors.

The Indian Space Agency notes that the ark has changed course, but they still maintain their missile lock.

The Doctor arrives on Solomon’s ship and disables the robots as Nefertiti disables Solomon. The Doctor leaves a green tracking orb on the ship’s bridge and releases the magnetic lock, teleporting back to the ark as the missiles destroy Solomon’s craft.

With the ark back on course for deep space, the Doctor offers to take everyone on an adventure, but Rory suggests that he take everyone home. Before they do, Brian asks for one favor: As the TARDIS orbits the Earth, he sits on the edge of the doorway and sips coffee while staring at his homeworld.

Riddell returns home, though he is now joined by Nefertiti. The Ponds return home as well, but they keep receiving postcards from Brian. It turns out that Rory’s dad – a man who used to be afraid of traveling – has gone traveling with the Doctor, including to Siluria, the new home of the dinosaurs.


David Bradley does his best evil in this story. I mean, it was deliciously evil. He was previously the voice of Shansheeth in Death of the Doctor, and (spoilers) he’ll eventually follow Colin Baker’s and Peter Capaldi’s lead by playing an incarnation of the Doctor after previously holding a role on the show. His demise did strike me as especially brutal: The Doctor literally set him up to die, which differs from the typical tactic of allowing the foe to set themselves up.

Sometimes this particular incarnation scares me.

Brian Williams is so much fun as well, paving a narrative path for Rory to become the only person to travel in the TARDIS with both a parent and a child (though not at the same time). Brian’s excitement nearly leapt off the screen as he tried to figure out what was going on around him and how best to help. His travels at the end of the story made me smile wide.

This story was a great follow-on from Doctor Who and the Silurians, which previously showed us the relationship between the Silurians and dinosaurs. At that time, the Silurians were using a dinosaur to guard their base. It also echoes back to previous stories about arks (The ArkThe Ark in Space), Invasion of the Dinosaurs (wherein the Third Doctor also prioritized preservation of the dinosaurs), and the literal extinction-level event for the dinosaurs (Earthshock).

How many more times can I say dinosaur? I’ll save the most moving instance – the most traumatic, especially as a dog owner – for last. Tricey’s demise was heartbreaking. It serves as a fantastic testament to the writer and production staff since it solidifies Solomon’s despicable nature and makes me stand in awe because I fell in love with a computer-generated dinosaur in a handful of minutes.

That writer, by the way? Chris Chibnall.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: A Town Called Mercy

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Bel-Air

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Bel-Air
January 24, 2022

This week, reboots are back on my mind thanks to the new trailer for Bel-Air.

Bel-Air is a reboot of the ’90s classic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. That sitcom starred Will Smith portraying a fictionalized version of himself, itself loosely based on the story of record executive Benny Medina. 

Medina was born in East Los Angeles, California, into a poor family. After his mother died and his father abandoned the family, he was shuffled through foster homes. He ran away multiple times before he and his siblings were taken in by his aunt. He befriended a wealthy white Beverly Hills teenager whose family allowed him to live in a refurbished garage behind their property. He then attended Beverly Hills High and became a successful student.

That story is the basis for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which Will Smith’s character moves away from the bullying in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to his aunt and uncle’s home in Bel-Air, a wealthy neighborhood in Los Angeles. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ran from 1990 to 1996 for 148 episodes, running the gamut of slapstick humor to social commentary, and it is considered the springboard for Will Smith’s acting career after his modest fame as an ’80s rapper.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air wasn’t the first television series (or story, for that matter) to utilize the fish-out-of-water and culture shock for humor tropes, but it was quite successful. A reboot was rumored since about 2015, but a fan-made trailer was released in 2019 that mused about a dramatic reboot of the sitcom. It was spotted by Will Smith who praised it and used it as fuel to drive what eventually became Bel-Air.

This, of course, has raised some questions about reboots. Specifically, some concern has been raised about changing a comedy to a dark and gritty retelling under the umbrella of the original. Something that TV Tropes calls “In Name Only”, citing properties like RiverdaleNancy DrewSabrina, the 2009 version of The Prisoner, and so on.

To an extent, this also applies to the “Snyderverse” of DC Comics films, starting with Man of Steel‘s and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s “grimdark” interpretations of Superman, Batman, and other DC Comics heroes.

In general, the concerns are valid. We’ve seen several properties with stories told under a familiar name, often used to generate buzz and attract attention for profit. But that reminds us that intent truly matters.

The example that I point to is the Battlestar Galactica reboot, which paid full honors to the short-lived 1978-1980 series of the same name while using the same story under a different light. The Battlestar Galactica of the early 2000s restored the brand to relevance with a post-9/11 inspired story in a post-9/11 world, fulfilling the role of speculative fiction by offering a view of humanity through the lens of metaphor.

It’s something that modern toxic fan critics call “being woke” and “pillaging our childhoods”.

What I see in this brief look at Bel-Air are the same tropes and story beats as the original Fresh Prince, but it sheds the light-hearted slapstick romp in lieu of a story about our current world of racial, economic, and social disparity.

I’m pretty sure that’s why they called it Bel-Air instead of something Fresh Prince related. It seems to be shot at making something different and original with a tip of the hat to one of the most popular interpretations of popular storytelling tropes.

It also has plenty of support, including Will Smith as a creator and producer. Peacock, NBC’s streaming service which is hosting this as an original series, has also given the show a two-season order straight out of the gate.

It’s not something that I plan on watching right away, but I feel like the message it appears to carry is important in our current culture. It feels like less of a cash grab and more of an attempt at relevant storytelling in the 2020s.


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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

STEAM Saturday – Pig Heart Spacetime

STEAMSaturday

STEAM Saturday
Pig Heart Spacetime
January 22, 2022

This time, STEAM Saturday looks at animal-to-human organ transplants, the curvature of spacetime, and a potential turning point in the battle against multiple sclerosis.

STEAMHeadlines

New York Times – In a First, Man Receives a Heart From a Genetically Altered Pig (Jan 10, 2022)
The breakthrough may lead one day to new supplies of animal organs for transplant into human patients.

Scientific American – In a First, an ‘Atomic Fountain’ Has Measured the Curvature of Spacetime [via Space.com] (Jan 17, 2022)
The atom interferometry technique uses the effects of time dilation to reveal subtle changes in gravity’s strength

Scientific American – Epstein-Barr Virus Found to Trigger Multiple Sclerosis (Jan 13, 2022)
The research could mark a turning point in the fight against MS


STEAMSci

It’s Okay to Be Smart – A PBS Digital Studios science show hosted by Dr. Joe Hanson (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology). 

Today I Found Out – Today I Found Out is a place to learn something new and interesting every day, brought to the internet by a host of various scientific contributors.


STEAMTech

WIRED – Wired is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics.

Cheddar – Cheddar News feeds curiosity about what’s next with the latest in business news, culture, media, technology and innovation shaping our world tomorrow.


STEAMEng

Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.

Megaprojects – Megaprojects is a YouTube channel which goes into detail on the history about all of humanities greatest achievements and structures.


STEAMArt

Insider – Insider is a global news publication that tells the stories you want to know.

Nick Zammeti – A woodturner and artist based in the United Kingdom, Nick Zammeti thrives in funky and creative projects fueled by a healthy love of pop culture, especially Back to the Future.

DIY Montreal – Marie is a DIY enthusiast and a self-taught amatuer woodworker who works out of her small garage shop in Montreal, Canada.


STEAMMath

Smarter Every Day – Mechanical engineer and aerospace engineer Destin Sandlin explores the world using science in this series. He was one of three YouTube personalities chosen to conduct a one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama after his final State of the Union address. His secondary channel provides additional details and interviews to supplement his primary channel’s videos.


STEAMMulti

I Like To Make Stuff – Bob Clagett likes to make stuff, whether it be home renovations, fixing up a vintage car, or building an astromech droid.

Wendover Productions – Wendover Productions, run by filmmaker Sam Denby, is all about explaining how our world works. From travel, to economics, to geography, to marketing, and more, every video will leave you with a little better understanding of our world.


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.

 

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STEAM Saturday is a celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Fly You Fools! (The Second Breakfast)

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Fly You Fools! (The Second Breakfast)
January 21, 2022

If you know The Lord of the Rings, you know that there is a lot to talk about. As a result, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track celebrated twenty years of assembling the Fellowship… twice! 

The first panel on this was held on January 13th and discussed here.

On January 20th, the panel of Darin Bush (on Amazon, though you should join me in telling him that he really needs a website), Kevin Cafferty (Gleaming the Tube), Sherman Burris (NerdBurger358 on Twitter), and Beth Van Dusen (Execute Chapter 66, available where all fine podcasts are fed) joined Joe Crowe for one more round of hot Middle-Earth action.


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Since this was a special event, the next panel will be on January 27th when we celebrate another 20th anniversary. You can find this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #235: Asylum of the Daleks

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks
(1 episode, s07e01, 2012)

Timestamp 235 Asylum of the Daleks

Eggs… Eggs… Eggs…

Prequel

The Doctor is enjoying an afternoon tea with scones, cream, and jam when he interrupted by a mysterious hooded figure staring at him. When he looks away, the figure is suddenly sitting at his table.

The hooded figure says that a woman wants to meet him, and when the Doctor tries to brush the figure off, he waves his hand and makes the tea room empty. Everyone is gone.

The Doctor is intrigued, but he can’t get much more from the mysterious figure than a name: Darla von Karlsen. The Doctor says he never heard of her and stands to leave, but he’s instantly in a dark room. The message is a psychic projection. The room is familiar, forcing the Doctor to try waking up. He ends up in a chair on a beach, but the figure tells him that it’s still a dream.

They end up in space. The figure gives him space-time coordinates and explains that Darla wants help saving her daughter. The Doctor is visibly shaken by the coordinates, but refuses to say the name associated with them. The figure pushes until the Doctor wakes up in the console room of the TARDIS. There he whispers the name…

Skaro.

Asylum of the Daleks

On Skaro, the Doctor meets with Darla von Karlsen in the eye of a giant Dalek statue. Darla doesn’t say who told her of the Doctor. She’s also cagey about how she escaped a Dalek prison camp because no one escapes from Dalek prison camps. She’s cold to the touch and the Doctor knows that this is a trap. Sure enough, an eyestalk emerges from Darla’s forehead and a gunstick from her palm. She blasts the Doctor and a Dalek saucer swoops into to take him prisoner.

We then see Amy Pond, supermodel, who refuses a call from her husband because she “no longer has one.” Rory has brought divorce papers to her dressing area and she signs them, only expressing regret when he leaves without a word.

In short order, both Amy and Rory are taken prisoner by the Daleks. They awaken in a cell with a view of Dalek saucers and are soon greeted by the Doctor and his Dalek escorts. Together, they are all taken to a vast circular auditorium filled with Daleks. This is the Parliament of the Daleks.

In view of the captured TARDIS, the Doctor spreads his arms wide, ready to be exterminated. It is Christmas for the Daleks… their greatest wish come true. Except they stun their prisoners with two simple words.

“Save us.”

After a new title sequence, we meet Oswin Oswald. It’s Day 363 of her confinement in a mysterious place besieged by Daleks and she’s having trouble with soufflés.

Back in the Parliament, the Doctor assesses the Daleks and the Ponds and Amy narrates his thought process. When they arrive at the destination, a Dalek in a transparent tube asks the Doctor about the Dalek Asylum. It is a place where outcast Daleks – the insane, the battle-scarred, and the uncontrollable – are exiled. They aren’t killed because the destruction of “Divine Hatred” is offensive to the Daleks, so the outcasts are sent to this automated planet surrounded by an impenetrable shield.

But the Daleks have detected a signal of unknown origin on the planet. Of course, they never considered tracing it to the source, but the signal is “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” – an aria from Carmen in which the Doctor played the triangle – and it is coming from Oswin’s tiny apartment. Which, in reality, is the remnants of the crashed starliner Alaska upon which she served.

The Daleks plan to send their predator, the Doctor, to the surface to deactivate the planetary shield (which, conveniently, can only be done from the surface) so they can destroy the Oswin’s signal at the source. They send him and his companions on a gravity beam where they are promptly separated.

Amy awakens on a snowy mountainside next to a man named Harvey. She runs off in search of the Doctor and Rory. The Doctor comes to next to a Dalek eye stalk which is linked to Oswin (“soufflé girl”) because she found it easy to hack. Amy and Harvey find the Doctor and search for Rory, leading them to a giant hole in the ground. Rory wakes up inside that hole surrounded by dormant Dalek shells.

Harvey leads the Doctor and Amy to one of the Alaska‘s escape pods. Harvey claims that he’s been on planet for days, but that doesn’t mesh with Oswin’s story. In fact, all of Harvey’s crewmates are long dead. Harvey then remembers that he died out in the snow and that the planet’s nano-cloud transformed him into one of the Dalek puppets like the ones that trapped the Doctor and the Ponds.

The only thing stopping the travelers from transforming is the bracelets that the Daleks provided them.

Unfortunately, the cloud also transforms the dead so now we have Dalek zombies. Joy.

The Doctor and Amy take refuge from the Dalek puppets in the escape pod’s cockpit. Oswin engineers an escape path for them while the Doctor starts working on Amy’s marital problems. Before they descend into the mountain, they realize that the zombies have stolen Amy’s wristband so she’s now vulnerable to the nano particles.

Underground, Rory inadvertantly awakens the dormant Daleks who immediately focus on exterminating the intruder. Oswin opens a door for him and, after he escapes, makes introductions by flirting.

As the Doctor and Amy descend, he explains that the nanocloud will slowly reprogram Amy’s mind. In fact, it’s already started since they’ve repeated the same discussion four times. He encourages her to embrace her fear of what’s happening because Daleks don’t feel fear. Oswin coordinates with the Doctor to reunite him with Rory, but that means leaving Amy for a moment. That presents a moment for Amy to interact with what she things are people but are really the Daleks that Rory faced. Thankfully, they’re decayed enough that they cannot give chase for long. Unfortunately, they can still activate self-destruct.

The Doctor is able to override a Dalek’s motivators and send it back into the chamber with the others. The self-destruct eliminates all of them and the travelers are reunited. The Doctor has a brief conversation with Oswin, musing about how she was able to survive a year alone and where she gets milk for her soufflés.

The Doctor lays out four goals: Neutralize all of the Daleks in the Asylum, rescue Oswin, escape from the planet, and fix the Pond marriage. Luckily they are standing on a teleport pad, so they need to lower the planetary shield and beam out very rapidly. Oswin sends a map of her location to the Doctor, so the Doctor tasks Amy and Rory with keeping Amy from becoming a Dalek while he’s gone.

Rory assumes that he can give Amy his wristband because the transformation will be slower for him. Since the nanocloud transforms love into hate, he would last longer because he always loved her more than she loved him. After all, he spent 2000 years protecting her inside the Pandorica as an Auton. They argue, uncovering that the focal point of their conflict is children. The conflict at Demons Run left Amy sterile: Rory thought Amy kicked him out after deciding she didn’t love him, but she knew that he had always wanted children so she “gave him up” to give him a chance with someone else.

They then realize the Doctor put his bracelet on Amy while she was sleeping. Amy muses that he probably doesn’t need it and he used it to trick them into working out their relationship problems.

The Doctor reaches the Intensive Care area, the home for Daleks defeated in particular battles, all of which occurred during the Doctor’s first, second, and third incarnations. Once he realizes this, the Daleks revive and corner him. Oswin hacks into the Dalek Pathweb and erases all data on him, effectively making them forget the Doctor. The deranged Daleks quietly go back to their cells.

Oswin opens the door and invites the Doctor in, but he hesitates when he sees Oswin’s true form. She dreamed up her situation because the reality was too terrible. She was in the cockpit of the escape pod and climbed down the same ladder that the Doctor and Amy used. The Daleks need her genius, so they converted her in full.

Oswin Oswald is now a full Dalek.

The truth is indeed too much to bear. She asks why the Daleks hate the Doctor. He tells her that he beats them everytime. She says that the Daleks grow stronger in spite of him… because of their fear of him. She tells him to run – “Run, you clever boy, and remember.” – and lowers the planetary shield, ready to die as a human at heart.

The Doctor reaches the Ponds and teleports them to the Dalek Parliament ship just as the Daleks destroy the Asylum. Unfortunately for the Daleks, the Doctor has really good aim with a teleporter. Fortunately, for the Doctor, the Daleks have no idea who he is, so he escapes in the TARDIS as the Daleks scream “Doctor WHO!?” over and over again.

The Doctor drops the Ponds at their doorstep, leaving Rory overjoyed that Amy has welcomed him home. The Doctor flies on, reveling in his new anonymity, as he looks forward to the next adventure.


This story presents a good payoff for the previous season’s shenanigans, offering the “what happens next” scenario for the traumas that our main characters faced with the Silence. It also pays off Pond Life to a degree, answering the question of the rift in the Pond household.

Of course, Amy’s relationship problems still center on a lack of communication and unilateral decision making. It’s been a common theme for her: Despite loving Rory, of which I have no doubt, she still treats him poorly and doesn’t communicate with him until she’s forced to.

I did enjoy the visuals on the Asylum, particularly how the construction was much like the city from The Daleks. The Intensive Care Unit also offers a few nods to history, including SpiridonKembelAridiusVulcan, and Exxilon. The Daleks have asked for help before, leading us back to The Evil of the Daleks.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Parliament of the Daleks, which offered a smorgasbord of Dalek history, including:

Really, all we’re missing are the Imperial Daleks from Revelation of the Daleks and/or Resurrection of the Daleks, the disc-backed units in silver-and-black-striped livery from The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the gold-ringed versions from The Chase, the gold units from Day of the Daleks and Frontier in Space, the Supreme Council Dalek from Planet of the Daleks, the “Skittles” units from Victory of the Daleks, the Supreme Red from The Stolen Earth, and (why not?) the variety of unofficial models from both Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks’ Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.

That bit of fun aside, this story also ends on quite the question for the Daleks to ask. It’s a great place to leave everything as the Doctor’s biggest enemy can’t even remember their supreme rival’s name.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Fly You Fools!

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Fly You Fools!
January 17, 2022

One thing that the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track does well is anniversaries. Last Thursday, they celebrated twenty years of assembling the Fellowship. 

On January 13th, they talked about hobbits and Gandalf and Tolkien galore as they looked back on two decades of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The live-action movie, not the book. Because the book is much older. Joe Crowe was joined by Shaun Rosado (pneumaz on Twitter), ToniAnn Marini (jersey_devil86 on Twitter), Nathan Laws (host of The 42Cast), and David Wright (Galahad’s Doom).


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The future of the Classic Track’s YouTube channel holds another 20-year anniversary celebration. You can find this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #234: Good as Gold & Pond Life

Doctor Who: Good as Gold
Doctor Who: Pond Life
(6 episodes, pre-Series 7 Specials, 2012)

Timestamp 234 Pond Life

Catching up with the Ponds.

Good as Gold

The Doctor and Amy are traveling in the TARDIS. Amy notes that the Intrepid Universe Traveler Handbook says they need to have at least one adventure per week, so the Doctor turns on the “Adventure Setting” for the TARDIS. In short order, the Cloister Bell sounds and the TARDIS crashes.

After the crash, an athlete runs through the door holding the Olympic Torch. They’ve landed in the middle of the Olympic running track, but it’s a good thing since the athlete was being pursued by a Weeping Angel. The Angel wants to steal the Olympic flame and destroy the Pride of the Olympics, so the Doctor points his sonic screwdriver at the torch and fractures the Angel.

The athlete grabs the torch before it hits the floor, then thanks the Doctor for his assistance by giving him a gold medal before running on to light the 2012 Olympic flame. As the Doctor prepares for the next adventure, the Weeping Angel reappears in the doorway. It is cracked and missing the arm that touched the torch, but it is still inside the TARDIS… a story fragment to probably never be resolved.

Pond Life: April 2012

The Doctor leaves a message on Amy and Rory’s answering machine about his recent adventures. He has fled Sontarans by surfing the firefalls on Florinall 9, had a risqué meeting with Mata Hari in Paris while roasting crumpets, sung the backups for an album, and crashed into ancient Greece due to a fault in the helmic regulator.

It seems that the TARDIS was hit by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings.

Pond Life: May 2012

The Doctor bursts into the Ponds’ house while they sleep. The world is endangered and the Ponds need to save the world! Except that it is the wrong time for them – helmic regulator! – so everything is fine. He wishes them a good night and leaves to find the right Ponds, leaving Rory to remark about how much he hates it when the Doctor does that.

Pond Life: June 2012

Rory steps into the bathroom only to be startled by the unexpected. While Rory collects himself, Amy checks things out. She finds an Ood on the loo who asks, “May I be of any assistance?”

Pond Life: July 2012

The Ood is no longer on the loo, but instead is acting as a butler for Amy and Rory by cleaning their windows, making food, and doing the wash. The Doctor explains that he rescued the Ood from the Androvax conflict and is planning on returning it to the Ood Sphere. Unfortunately, he misplaced the Ood on his last visit but plans to pick him up tonight.

Whenever that is.

Pond Life: August 2012

The Doctor has returned the Ood to the Ood Sphere. While changing the TARDIS light bulb, he recounts his recent adventures on the Ponds’ answering machine, including riding a horse through 11th Century Conventry, having invented pasta, and visiting their home (except that they were out).

He hopes that everything is okay, but he’s unaware that Rory stormed out of the house during a fight with Amy. He decides to delete the message just before Amy returns home. She checks the empty recording, then looks into the distance with a wish on her lips.

“We need you, raggedy man. I need you.”


Good as Gold written by The Children of Ashdene School in the same spirit as Death is the Only Answer. It also links back to the Olympic moments of Fear Her and provides a potential crossing of the Doctor’s timeline.

Good as Gold joins Pond Life to provide some fun filler while the show was away for nine months between the 2011 Christmas Special and the Series 7 premiere, but ultimately they are an average prologue to pass the time.

Even if they did give us “Ood on the loo.”

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Culture on My Mind – Slay Bells

Culture on My Mind

Culture on My Mind
Slay Bells
January 10, 2022

It’s a new year with some old… no, classic takes. This time around, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track crosses holiday streams by mixing horror and Christmas seasons like chocolate and peanut butter. 

On December 30th, they talked about Krampus and Black Christmas and Frosty the Snowman(?) in the magical mixture that is chills and thrills in the wintertime wonderland. After all, the holiday season can be a real killer. Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel were joined by Shaun Rosado (pneumaz on Twitter), Lola Lariscy (also on Twitter), and Jonathan Williams (Wrestling with Pop Culture).


These Classic Track Quarantine Panels will be held once every two weeks (or every fortnight, if you will). If you want to play along at home, grab your internet-capable device of choice and navigate the webs to the YouTube channel and/or the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.

If you want to connect with the track, Joe, and/or Gary on the socials, you can find them on Twitter (ClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and sneezythesquid) and Instagram (SciFiClassicTrack, JoeCroweShow, and Gary_Mitchel). And, of course, to celebrate more pop culture awesomeness, you can find Dragon Con all year round on the internet, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The future of the Classic Track’s YouTube channel holds two 20-year anniversary celebrations, one of which I will be participating in at the end of the month. You can find this and more every other Thursday as the American Sci-Fi Classics Track explores the vast reaches of classic American science fiction.

The episode art each week is generously provided by the talented Sue Kisenwether. You can find her (among other places) on Women at Warp: A Star Trek Podcast.

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Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

STEAM Saturday – Solar Probes and Turbine Blades

STEAMSaturday

STEAM Saturday
Solar Probes and Turbine Blades
January 8, 2022

STEAM Saturday debuts! This time, with solar probes, turbine blades, and composting humans.

STEAMHeadlines

NASA – NASA Enters the Solar Atmosphere for the First Time, Bringing New Discoveries (Dec 14, 2021)
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe entered the Sun’s atmosphere and sampled particles and magnetic fields.

Business Insider – How one company keeps wind turbine blades out of landfills (Dec 10, 2021)
Wind turbine blades are notoriously difficult to recycle. One company has a solution, but is it the right one?

BBC News – Scotland to ban most single-use plastic from June 2022 (Nov 11, 2021/Jan 4, 2022)
The legislation will ban the use of plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and food containers made from expanded polystyrene. An exemption will be in place for people who need plastic straws for medical reasons or to ensure they can continue to live independently. Scotland is the first UK nation to pursue the ban.

TED-Ed – Blood, concrete, and dynamite: Building the Hoover Dam (Dec 23, 2021)
The engineering of the Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity dam on the Colorado River in the southwestern United States, in five minutes.

 


STEAMSci

It’s Okay to Be Smart – A PBS Digital Studios science show hosted by Dr. Joe Hanson (Ph.D., Cell and Molecular Biology). 

Physics Girl – Hosted by Dianna Cowern, a science communicator and physics alumna from MIT, this show was part of PBS Digital Studios until 2020. She uses her platform to explore complex physics, astronomy, and science-related topics in simple terms.

Ask a Mortician – Caitlin Doughty is a mortician, author, blogger, and YouTube personality known for advocating death acceptance and the reform of Western funeral industry practices. You got death questions, she’s got death answers. Ask a Mortician was suggested by Sue Kisenwether. [S]


STEAMTech

NASA – James Webb Telescope
The James Webb Telescope has launched and you can keep track of its progress courtest of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Named after James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 who played an integral role in the Apollo program, the telescope is intended to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics.


STEAMEng

Practical Engineering – Grady Hillhouse is a civil engineer in San Antonio, Texas. His channel aims to increase exposure and interest in the field of engineering by highlighting the connection between the world around us and the energy, passion, and thought that goes into making it a nicer place to live.

Mark Rober – An engineer and inventor, Mark Rober presents popular science concepts and do-it-yourself gadgets in easy-to-understand terms. He was previously a NASA engineer (where he worked on the Curiosity rover) and a product designer at Apple’s Special Projects Group (where he authored patents involving virtual reality in self-driving cars). One of his best known series involves the development of a glitter bomb to combat porch pirates and internet scammers.


STEAMArt

Nick Zammeti – A woodturner and artist based in the United Kingdom, Nick Zammeti thrives in funky and creative projects fueled by a healthy love of pop culture, especially Back to the Future. [A]

The Smugglers Room – Building something out of nothing with a Star Wars flair is the order of the day in the Smugglers Room.

Moonpie Creations – Ken is a woodworker and creator who likes to have fun. A combat veteran, he uses his tools as a way to relax and deal with everyday stress. He loves to try new things, think outside the box, and stay cool.

JackJack – YouTuber JackJack is based in the United Kingdom and does phenomenal work with models and resin.

PF Woodturning – Peggy Farrington is a woodturner from Maine who allows the wood to speak for itself as she crafts it into works of art.

 


STEAMMath

Veritasium – A combination of the Latin for truth, veritas, and the suffix common to many elements, -ium, this show is literally an element of truth. It is hosted by Australian-Canadian science communicator, filmmaker, and inventor Derek Muller (Ph.D., Physics Education Research). [S]


STEAMMulti

Emmymade – Whether it’s trying to figure out if it’s really worth it to wait a hundred hours for a batch of brownies, finding out what Ranch gummies or giant centipedes taste like, making mayonnaise from a vintage gadget, or tasting desserts and dishes from around the world, Emmy wants to learn about our world through food.

Smarter Every Day – Mechanical engineer and aerospace engineer Destin Sandlin explores the world using science in this series. He was one of three YouTube personalities chosen to conduct a one-on-one interview with President Barack Obama after his final State of the Union address. His secondary channel provides additional details and interviews to supplement his primary channel’s videos.

Frank Howarth – A Portland, Oregon based architect and woodworker, Frank Howarth uses stop-motion animation to demonstrate his design and building process for a variety of projects and art pieces.

I Like To Make Stuff – Bob Clagett likes to make stuff, whether it be home renovations, fixing up a vintage car, or building an astromech droid.

Sam the Cooking Guy – Sam Zien is a Canadian-born television cook, restaurateur, and cookbook author Based in San Diego, California, his often-irreverent cooking channel on YouTube focuses on the simple fact that everyone can cook. He makes it easy and fun.

 


If you have any suggestions for STEAM Saturday, please leave them below in the comments. Thanks for stopping by. I hope that something inspired you to get out there and explore the universe.

 

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STEAM Saturday is a periodic celebration of curiosity and imagination through science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics, the very building blocks of the universe around us.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.