Enter the Thirteenth Doctor

This past Sunday, October 7, the 13th Doctor debuted in the 11th season of the Doctor Who revival series. In order to catch it, I signed up for a 7-day free trial of Sling TV to get access to BBC America. Though the episode of Doctor Who was good, it’s presentation on BBC America was not. BBC America took what was basically an hour episode and stretched it out to two hours chock-full of commercials and a silly fake viewing party. What made it particularly grievous was their axing of the show’s end credits.

I never doubted Jodie Whitaker would be the Doctor, but I was concerned about the new companions, especially three of them. Yes, the First Doctor started out with three companions, but he was old. Fortunately, this new group was great. It helped that they already knew each other in some way, so that means with this season we should hopefully be spared a bunch of getting to know you stories. Yes, as a Midwest American I struggled with the accents, but that’s what subtitles are for.

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She’s the Doctor.

Tim Shaw with his trophy-toothed face I found quite disturbing, but I liked the tentacle thing that preceded him on the train. It was basically a swarm of cables used to gather information, and I quite like the concept and hope we see more of this semi-species throughout the new series.

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Enter the cable monster.

I thought it was pretty cool the Doctor actually built her sonic screwdriver this time around, and for me that solidified this series as a different era of Doctor Who. The fact that the TARDIS itself is missing adds to that feeling as well, more so than who actually is playing the Doctor in this regeneration. For storytelling, I’m with Missy: “They’re all the Doctor to me.” Representation does, however, matter, and I’m hoping this new era with this new cast is a welcoming starting point for new fans. For me, that’s what the Doctor’s new rainbow outfit is meant to represent.

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Everyone is welcome to join the Doctor on her adventures.

Now, I’m more of the binge watching type, and I canceled my subscription to Sling TV because I’m not going to pay to watch loads of commercials on BBC America. I’m unsure how and when I’m going to watch this new season of Doctor Who. Chances are I’ll buy the season on Amazon and watch each episode there as they become available as I’m slowly growing to the idea of building a digital library, but we’ll see.

On First Watching RWBY

Rooster Teeth’s RWBY is a show I first heard about maybe a couple years ago. Having recently met two people who were familiar with the show — one a fan, one not — I decided it was finally time a few weeks ago to sit down and give it a shot.

Going into RWBY, all I really knew was that it was about a group of girls fighting monsters called Grimm, and one of them was probably based on Little Red Riding Hood. Oh, and I knew Rooster Teeth Community Manager Barbara Dunkelman was somehow involved. The art looked cool, but I was generally clueless as to the plot of the show and the world it was set in. As of a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know how the name was pronounced.

I wasn’t given much guidance as to where to start, only warned that the animation in seasons one through three wasn’t as good as for seasons four and five. And so I started with season four, reasoning that it would be a more developed starting point: the series would have been firmly established in its themes by then, and the animation would show more skill. A little bit of research revealed there was a time jump between seasons three and four, and that something of significance named Beacon had fallen. So I jumped into RWBY with season four.

And I was immediately confused. Season four begins with a gathering of bad guys, none of which I had any idea about. When we finally get to the group of Grimm slayers, it wasn’t even the four heroines of the cover art, but Ruby Rose and three others. Eventually, as I made my way through season four and consulted the RWBY Wikia from time to time, I started to piece together the show’s world. I liked the humor and character development season four delivered, and I was surprised when I was told that season four wasn’t all that good because “nothing happens.” For me, plenty had happened.

Episode seven, I’d say, is where the show started to get interesting for me. In it, we see Weiss’ weapon for the first time, and Qrow shows up to protect the kids from Tyrian. When Qrow wonders of Ruby who this overly dramatic guy is, she replies, “I don’t know. This guy’s weird.” Though that might not be the first time I laughed out loud watching the series, I’m pretty sure that was the first time I had to pause the show to compose myself.

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The eighth episode “A Much Needed Talk” then had the interaction of Blake with her father Ghira and the [awkwardness] subtitle, and by then I was thoroughly enjoying the show. The world was dark, much had happened in the lives of the characters, and the show had its humor. So what was there not to enjoy?

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With season five, I found the show becoming a richer experience. In the first episode of that season, “Welcome to Haven,” when it turns out the kids haven’t fully been filled in on the Maidens, a stressed Qrow snaps, “Look, there’s a lot to cover, okay? I quit teaching for a reason.”

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Likewise, at the end of the episode, Ruby grows frustrated by the commotion in the living room and exclaims, “What is going on out there?! Can’t a girl read her comics in peace??” I like that in this fantastical world of Remnant, the characters still have the same normal problems we face in our world.

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In the second episode of season five, “Dread in the Air,” I finally saw Weiss fight with her weapon for the first time, and, seriously, at this point the show was just too damn good for me. Everything about RWBY is done well. Weiss’ rapier takes some kind of elemental ammunition called Dust, and it can not only be used for melee combat but ranged as well. Every character in RWBY is a well-dressed badass, but Weiss is the best of them all.

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By the time of “Alone Together” when Weiss brings Ruby and Yang coffee, I was totally smitten. I’ve never really done the waifu thing, but Weiss best waifu.

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At then end of that episode, when Ghira goes all Wolverine berserker-style on the attacking White Fang, I knew it was time to stop and start taking in the show from where it began. That had me watching the four color trailers and holy $%#&^@ shit I was not expecting THAT! Up until this point, it turns out, I hadn’t really seen the combat this series is apparently noted for. And I sure as shit had never seen Yang fight; I had no idea she wore some kind of gloves that fired bullets. With the trailers, I was seeing what most fans of RWBY probably considered RWBY, yet the series had won me over with none of that.

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The animation is, of course, far cruder. For the trailers and seasons one through three, Rooster Teeth used Poser, and then transitioned to Maya for season four. Personally, I like the older animation style better, and I like the camera work and choreography so much better. Yes, season five especially looks better, but the trailers along with seasons one and two are better. Watching them, it quickly became apparent how much the series lost with Monty Oum’s passing.

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Granted, prior to the events at the end of season three (which I have yet to see), the characters lived in a more lighthearted world. Though Remnant is plagued by Grimm, season one establishes that it is a time of peace. Here, we see the four first begin their days at the school Beacon. Coming to the series out of order, this was my first exposure to the characters at school. While when I started watching RWBY I got Final Fantasy and His Dark Materials vibes, now I was feeling the series was more like Harry Potter meets Hong Kong cinema. Regardless, during Oum’s tenure, the show’s humor was more frequent and its tempo faster. However, I really don’t care for Weiss’ stuck-up attitude starting out, and I’m glad she’s become a better person as the series has progressed.

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Season two is easily my favorite season. Its first episode is a food fight which is the most brilliant piece of animation in the history of animation. Seriously, here is the link to the episode at the start of the food fight. Just watch it.

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If that wasn’t brilliant enough, the season’s second episode has them playing a Risk-like game in the library with probably some of the best dialogue exchanges in the series. Teams RWBY and JNPR are both present, and Sun and Neptune appear at then end. Though it’s largely played for laughs, we get so much insight into the characters through two devices: a library, and a strategy board game. As mentioned above, even in this world of Grimm, Hunters, and Huntresses, we still get the minor situations and conflicts we could encounter in our own reality. RWBY is a show relevant to the human condition while simultaneously being a fun ride. I can’t ask any more it.

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I could go on and on, episode by episode, recounting the little brilliant moments of which the series is chock-full, but this post is already way longer than I intended. I wasn’t even sure I was going to write anything up on the series until I began season three. Seeing that stadium floating in the sky for the Vytal Festival with one half of the field ice and the other fire pushed me to write this. RWBY is a show so in tune with my own writing and what I want to write that I felt I just had to document it up until this point. I’ve only just begun season three, and I still need to finish season five, before season six starts on October 27th. Additionally, there’s the RWBY: World of Remnant mini-series and the character shorts I hope to get in before the start of the next season. I’m told season three is pretty epic, so I’m about to resume watching that now….

“Oh shit, what are we going to do now?”

“Oh shit, what are we going to do now?” are the words Spike Witwicky yells beside Bumblebee after their failed attempt to damage the monster planet Unicron with the detonation of Moon Base Two in the 1986 cartoon film, The Transformers: The Movie. That line was removed for the film’s VHS home release in the United States leaving some of us with no option in the ’90s but to bootleg the Canadian version in order to hear the complete film. Thankfully, the line would return in subsequent home releases this century. This past Thursday, September the 27th, the crowd gathered at the nearly sold-out Fathom Events screening of The Transformers: The Movie gave a collective laugh as Spike yelled the line, the first time most of us had probably heard it in a movie theater since 1986.

Watching The Transformers: The Movie on the big screen as an adult was not something I was going to miss, and I was amazed at how many people likewise felt the same way. Seeing the film so very, very large on the big screen was an experience I thought I’d never have again. I found myself noticing the sides of the movie frame, watching the facial expressions of Constructicons and Seekers as Megatron and Starscream bickered, and picking up little details in the design of the robots that I never really noticed prior, like Kup’s belt. Quite a few children were present with their parents at the showing. These caring parents were no doubt making sure a whole new generation of kids experienced the trauma of Optimus Prime’s death in the dark displayed on a gigantic screen in a room full of strangers.

Overall, though I’d seen the film numerous times, I found myself enjoying the ride. It’s a film that, thanks to its Star Wars-like story, never gets old. The movie itself was preceded by a preview of the forthcoming Bumblebee film. In it we saw a longer (though probably not complete) version of Charlie Watson and Bumblebee’s first encounter in the garage, and if that scene is anything to base the movie on, it’s going to be really, really good. The Transformers: The Movie concluded with a mini-documentary on Stan Bush’s work for the film which left me humming “The Touch” on the way out to the parking lot clutching my unexpected movie poster. All in all, a pleasant experience which has me looking more into what Fathom Events has to offer.

Ravage, Eject. Operation: Badassery

So the Bumblebee trailer dropped this morning, and at first, in my morning stupor as I sipped my coffee, I was like, “Nah. This doesn’t look like my thing,” which is fine, but then I was like, “Oh, Shockwave,” and then I was like, “HOLY SHIT THAT IS GENERATION 1 SOUNDWAVE AND OH MY GOD RAVAGE!!!”

Ravage, ejecting, transforming, and looking all badass is what sold me on the Bumblebee movie. Granted, I would rather watch an entire film of the Transformers on Cybertron than Bumblebee on Earth, but I’ll take what I can get here. They didn’t have to include that fan service. The movie could work without it, and I hope it succeeds in courting a new generation of Transformers fans, but I’m glad they’ve put in some material for us older fans to get excited about even if it only ends up being a few minutes of screen time in the theatrical film.

You can catch the trailer below, and yeah, I admit it, Bumblebee is so cute.

Wait, Steve Buscemi is a Transformer in this?

While exploring my Amazon wishlist of all the things I cannot currently afford, Amazon kindly informed me Transformers: The Last Knight is available to watch with my Prime membership. So, I thought, why not?

And it’s pretty bad. But … interesting. Because Stanley Tucci is Merlin. And some stuff is happening and I’m not really sure what but it could get relevant as the US government in this film seems really unhappy with all these aliens showing up illegally. Maybe there is some depth to be found? Some commentary. And, wait, is that Steve Buscemi? So about thirty minutes into the film I decide to commit to watching it because both John Goodman and now Steve Buscemi are Transformers, and that’s pretty cool. These Michael Bay Transformers flicks are generally bad, but not that bad. They are watchable, I just wish they had more cultural relevance to them, focused more on the robots and less on the humans, and that the personalities of the robots weren’t developed through racist voice caricatures and instead through, I don’t know, character development. These are robots from Cybertron. They should be speaking English with a Cybertronian accent, whatever that is. Try a little harder, Michael.

And then, okay, Earth is Unicorn, and that’s cool, because The Transformers: The Movie from 1986 is pretty much what I base what Transformers is to me on. And then this Citroën DS turns out to be … Hot Rod? … and he has a French accent? What the hell is going on? And again with the voices. But then, holy shit, that’s a nice Lamborghini. And then, then, Hot Rod copies the form of that Lamborghini.

Hot Rod the Citroën DS casually decides to upgrade his look to a Lamborghini Centenario.
Because, damn, that is a nice car.

And so here we are: the moment Transformers: The Last Knight wowed me by not only giving me Hot Rod, but Hot Rod as a gorgeous Lamborghini Centenario.

Look. At. This. Car.

I’m an hour into the film and Transformers: The Last Knight is delivering enough fan service to keep me going. But I first had to post this because that car.