Doctor Who 2016 Christmas Special
“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” Posted by Kim
I’m a young Whovian. (I’ll be six this December!) I had no idea the show existed during the year of one David Tennant Special every few months. I was too busy bingeing the show during the 9 and a half months between “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” and “Asylum of the Daleks” to realize that existing fans had been without the show for so long. I really had no idea what it was like to wait SO LONG for new Who until this year break between “The Husbands of River Song” and “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” and let me speak for all of us when I say it SUCKED. (Could no Who be one of the reasons 2016 ended up being a dumpster fire? Discuss.) So I curled up on Christmas evening to watch Doctor Who and was overwhelmed with a desire to just hug my television. PETER CAPALDI I MISSED YOU SO MUCH NEVER LEAVE ME AGAIN.
Will “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” go down as the Best Christmas Special in Whovian History? No. (My shipper trash self will always go for “Last Christmas” and “The Christmas Invasion” first.) But it was a fun take on a superhero story, filled with charming performances and snappy dialogue, AND no one died, which is all we can ask for from a Christmas Special, really. It also serves as a lovely coda for Series 9 and last year’s special “The Husbands of River Song” while also setting up the Doctor’s emotional state going into Series 10. (Here’s a hint: he’s desperately lonely, but at the same time, he’s afraid to commit to a new Human companion because he’s still reeling from the loss of Clara and River.)
One of the themes that Series 9 explored was the concept of the Doctor coming face to face with the repercussions of his actions in regards to the people he’s encountered and left. We saw the disastrous results of an encounter with the Doctor in Ashildr/Lady Me; we get the opposite in the story of Grant, a young comic book nerd who saves the Doctor from plummeting to his death on a Christmas Eve in New York City. (Never mind that whole plot thread about the TARDIS never being able to go back to New York after the events of “The Angels Take Manhattan”. It’s Christmas, no one care about continuity.) The Doctor is setting up a trap on Grant’s roof (Why? Details, schmetails! Look at how cute Peter Capaldi is with this kid! Look at how they are bonding over superheroes!) and enlists his new pal to help him finish it.
The Doctor hands Grant a red gemstone as he attempts to explain to Grant exactly WHAT he is doing (“It’s a time distortion equalizer thingy.” Okay, so maybe he’s trying to fix what happened in “Angels Take Manhattan”?). The gemstone is the final element to get it to work but unfortunately Grant mistook it for medicine to help his Christmas Cold, so he swallowed it. (In his defense, I’m sucking on a Halls right now and it looks just like the gemstone did.) Because this is a superhero origin story, naturally this is no ordinary gemstone. No, it’s an intuitive gemstone. “It knows what you want and it draws energy from the nearest star to make it happen.” What does meek little Grant want most in the whole world? To be a superhero. Grant’s chest glows red and he zooms off the building, the Doctor clutching at his heels. Hey, it’s better than a bite from a radioactive spider. The Doctor makes Grant promise that he won’t use his newly found powers but we all know how THAT will turn out. I mean…if you could fly, wouldn’t YOU? Exactly.
What goes down for the rest of the episode is lovely homage to Superman (The Christopher Reeve films, naturally. AKA the only ones that exist). Grant lives a double life as a glasses-wearing mild-mannered Nanny and the confident protector of New York City, The Ghost. (Grant also proves his knowledge of comics because he completely covers his face as The Ghost, unlike Superman, who only uses glasses to differentiate himself from his Alt-Ego Clark Kent.) We have a feisty Lois Lane heroine in Lucy Fletcher Lombard, Grant’s employer and unrequited childhood love. There are shady alien bad guys, Harmony Shoal, who are a bunch of brains in blue liquid trying to stage a fake alien takeover so they can take over the bodies of world leaders. (Also, they exist solely to show how much the special effects on Doctor Who have improved since the days of the Slitheen.) There are hijinks, there’s screwball romance, and there’s heroism. Grant (with the Doctor’s help) saves New York City AND gets the girl, who loves him, just as he is. The end.
So why am I even doing an episode recap if I found the plot so basic? Because despite the fluff, I think “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is an incredibly important episode for the Doctor as a character. The Doctor needed a WIN, y’all. Think about it. The Doctor spent four and a half billion years in his own personal hell, mourning Clara, grieving her, and torturing himself trying to find a way to save her. And he STILL lost her in the end. He lost her physically and he lost every memory of the woman who helped shaped this regeneration into the man he is today. (*Dark Kermit Meme* He totally remembers her though, which makes it worse.) Sure, “The Husbands of River Song” was a wacky good time adventure but how did it END? It ended with The Doctor spending a 24-year-long night with someone he loved, only to send her off to her imminent death in the library. I may never buy into the great love story of the Doctor and River Song (nope, can’t do it) but I will NEVER deny the fact that he loved her, wholeheartedly. So he lost her too. All the Doctor has done lately is LOSE and it’s heartbreaking.
Grief is not an easy process and it’s not something that anyone can put on any sort of time-table. You can be fine one day and the next day it can sweep over you and leave you incapacitated. The Doctor in “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is a portrait of grief. Sure, he’s there with his sarcastic remarks and his heroic acts of defending the earth, but it’s almost like his heart isn’t fully in it. He’s trying to put one foot in front of the other, telling himself that he’s “fine” (Okay, Scully.) when he’s not. The cracks in the facade show whenever the concept of time comes up or whenever Nardole tries to push him into talking about his feelings. He pushes through and carries on as normally as possible because that’s the only thing he knows how to do.
Once again, the Whovians descended on Ronkonkoma, New York this November for a weekend of discussion, parties, and bumping into hallway Daleks. LI Who is a convention we never miss, and its fourth edition was one for the books. We still owe you a recap of the experience, including a couple of HOF-led panels. But first, we bring you our conversations with three notable members of the Doctor Who family. We had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Peter Davison, Jemma Redgrave, and Nicholas Briggs in the LI Who press room. And though we of course discussed the show, our interviews also touched on musical theater, glitter makeup, and how to tell a British crew member from an American one. (Hint: they react when you yell “Exterminate” at them.) We hope you enjoy our conversations as much we did. –Sage
Peter Davison – The Fifth Doctor
Photo by Jen Clapp
Sage: So I have my DVR set and I was in London last year and I saw you in Gypsy with Imelda Staunton…
Peter: Oh, really? (leans into the microphone) Yes, it airs tonight at 9 o’clock on PBS.
Sage: We were saying they should have done a screening party for us and you could have done live commentary. But it was so joyous and wonderful and you were fabulous, so I just wanted to hear a little bit about that experience and working with her.
Peter: It was great. The production was originally done at Chichester and when it came to the West End, they re-cast the part of Herbie, fortunately for me. I went off and I watched the black and white film version, which although it’s good, it gives you no clue as to how great of a musical it is. I thought “Oh this would be a good thing to do.” I didn’t realize what a great PART it was until I did it. I’d not worked with Imelda before and it was a slightly intimidating experience because she was so amazing all at once. She was very supportive and we got on really well and it was wonderful to do. I used to just sit in admiration of her and her energy.
Sage: I had no idea she had that voice. No idea!
Peter: She trained, she told me, she trained for a year before she started so her voice would be up for it. From my point of view, Gypsy is a play, a really good one when you take out the songs. The story is so well written. It was such a great acting opportunity. It worked really well and audiences seemed to love it. And all these famous people came to see the show! I would meet them after, they would usually just be asking me the way to Imelda’s dressing room. Meryl Streep! “Can you tell me where Imelda is?” She had no idea who I was! But THEN she said something rather nice about me and my performance, so I was happy. Put it on my tombstone.
Sage: As you should, if you got a compliment from Meryl. That’s such a great part too. In musicals, you have the romantic lead or you’ve got the character role. Herbie is just such a KIND person who is in over his head. It’s such a rare kind of part to see.
Peter: I had such trouble with the title! I was working with a publisher, who shall remain nameless, before the one who eventually published it, who didn’t like the title and just wanted to have a picture of me standing outside the TARDIS on the cover. They named it on their own. I gave them the title and they changed it and advertised it on Amazon with a completely different title. I was a bit cross about that! I wanted to have the subtitle be “An Actor Despairs,” which is a play on the Stanislavski book An Actor Prepares. They didn’t like that, they said people might think it’s a miserable book. Eventually we decided to part company and we went with a publisher who just said “Call it whatever you want!”
Kim: Titles are important! I look at that title and I would pick it up. Is There Life Outside the Box is enough of a nod to Doctor Who…
Peter: I think for Doctor Who fans maybe there’s not quite ENOUGH about Doctor Who in there. I thought it was enough; it covers everything, conventions and events like this. But I didn’t want to make it just about Doctor Who, I’ve done other things as well, so I tried to give it equal space.
Sage: When did you start to get the idea “Hey, I would really love to write this down.”?
Peter: A friend of mine who had formerly written a radio series actually came to me and said “Why don’t we do your autobiography?” Meaning, “Why don’t I ghost write your autobiography?” He had done it before and he was very good at it. Because I knew him, I felt I was able to say “I would love for you to act as a go-between the publishers, but I would like to do it myself.” So he said fine and that’s what I did. I started with the book exactly where I said I started, which was the year I began to do Gypsy. I was about to fly to Australia, so that’s why there’s a kind of diary thing that goes through the book. I finally finished it last April.
Kim: And it just came out in October, yes?
Peter: Yes. You know, I’m really glad I did it. Because I tried to not make up stuff. I think sometimes actors tend to embellish.
Sage: Did you have to check in with people? Say, “Am I remembering this correctly?”
Peter: Yes! And sometimes their memories were different from mine and we would have to ask other parties. But quite often my memory was better than theirs! I was very gratified by that. I’m pretty sure it’s all pretty accurate.
Kim: And then going to David to write the foreword…
Peter: Yeah, well how could he get out of that? (Laughs) It was so easy for him! I wrote a highly fake foreword for him, which was based kind of on The Fiveish Doctors and the character I had for him there. So it was basically David complaining that he had been forced into writing the damn thing. But when he sent me his actual foreword, it was so much better that I just dropped the fake one completely. I wanted to put them both in!
I don’t have any grey hairs yet, so I’m marking the aging process by how tired I get when someone even MENTIONS Comic Con. Some people’s bodies show evidence of long-term damage from playing sports or running a marathon. I want to know about the long-term effects of standing on a cement floor in a pair of Toms for five hours straight.
But New York Comic Con is a tentpole event of our year and endure, we must. Once again, we headed back to the Javits for four full days of fandom fun. (I usually say “nights” too, but we left the after-parties to the kids this year. Your grandmas had to go home to watch their shows.) As ever, NYCC was a learning experience. And we’re here to pass those lessons along to you. –Sage
1. Tapping in Is the Way of the Future
The principle difference between New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con is the fact that they clear their mainstage hall between each panel. (Would that SDCC could figure out a way to clear Hall H between panels, honestly.) For the past two years, NYCC has had a wristband system for their mainstage panels, where each panel had a chute in the queue hall and you would have to pick one to wait in until 10 AM, at which time harried volunteers would then put wristbands on impatient nerds one by one until the panel was capped out. Then, if you wanted to do another panel, you would go into that chute to get another wristband if that panel had not capped out. This system worked because it FORCED you to prioritize your mainstage panels but at the same time it was a sloooooooow process and human error was a big factor. (Notoriously last year, the volunteers gave out wristbands for the Jessica Jones panel to the standby line first, cutting off people who had gotten there much earlier.)
When in line, read fan fic.
For NYCC 2016, a new system was implemented. Instead of wristbands, volunteers tapped the RFID chip on the badges, which registered your spot on the panel. Then, when it came time to load people in for panels, you would have to tap your badge to gain admittance into the room. I had some doubts about how this system would work at first, but let me tell you…it worked BEAUTIFULLY. First of all, they started tapping our badges almost as soon as the initial rush got settled into the chutes, allowing the crowds to either go get in the line for the show floor or another mainstage line. Second, you got an email confirmation from the system as soon as your badge was tapped, leaving no room for doubt that you would indeed be attending that panel. Third, it allowed the NYCC app to give constant updates on the status of each panel and whether or not they had capped. (For example, we got buzzed that the Iron Fist panel had capped before we even made it into the queue hall on Saturday morning.) Fourth, it slowed the crush of humanity and the race for good seats when they were loading everyone into the room for the panels because every single person had to have their badge tapped. It was all dignified and organized and dare I say CALM which was refreshing as hell. Well done, NYCC. Four for you.
I also have to give a bonus shout-out to the staff of NYCC for choosing to allow the crowd to be loaded into the Javits Center on Sunday morning MUCH earlier than normal due to inclement weather. A little kindness goes a LONG way, especially on the last day of a long weekend. Snaps. –Kim
2. “Native Stories” Are Maybe Not Ethan Hawke’s Area of Expertise
Our first panel was our most problematic one. Well. Nice to get it out of the way.
For Reality Bites/Before trilogy/Dead Poets reasons, we checked out the panel Ethan Hawke was speaking on, along with artist Greg Ruth. They were talking about a black-and-white graphic novel they collaborated on called Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars. The panel was titled “Native Stories.” Guess how many Native people were sitting on the dais. Goose egg.
I haven’t read this book. And both Ruth and Hawke seemed to be passionate about presenting a quintessentially American story from a history that’s shamefully ignored. I won’t make a judgment about who can tell whose stories, though I have many, MANY thoughts about it. What I want to talk about is the collaborators’ responses to serious and frankly obvious questions about strapping on the ol’ cultural blinders. Moderator Abraham Reisman from Vulture introduced the elephant in the room, asking if Ruth and Hawke ever had any qualms about being two white men writing and framing a Native American narrative.
“AS A WHITE GUY…”
You guys. The mental and verbal gymnastics that these men did. It was almost inspiring. Tone-deaf and drowning in privilege, but inspiring. The answer pinged back and forth between Ruth and Hawke and lasted for nearly ten minutes. The conclusion Hawke came to was this: “We’ve given ourselves a harder time for this than anyone.” OH OKAY. Great news, y’all. An artist accused himself of cultural appropriation; thought about it long and hard; and then found himself not guilty. The justice of it all. The ability of white cis straight men to forgive themselves while outside criticism ricochets off them like bullets off Luke friggin’ Cage is truly amazing.
Oh, Hawke mentioned that he’d given the galleys of the book to two of his castmates on The Magnificent Seven: Martin Sensmeier, who grew up in a Tlingit community in Alaska, and Jonathan Joss, who was born in Texas and has Comanche and Apache blood. He told the audience that the actors “and their entire families” had a LOT of feedback for him. And he didn’t volunteer the nature of that feedback, so I’m guessing it wasn’t positive.
That conversation came about when an audience member asked the panelists if they’d spoken with any indigenous people while working on the book. Hawke went on and on about how “inviting too many” people into the creative process “dilutes” it. (???????) The whole first half of the panel was all about how these two poured blood and sweat into this book in their selfless effort to tell this story accurately, but a couple of notes from an ACTUAL Apache would have derailed the whole exercise? And how is handing over a finished copy to the only native folks in your immediate vicinity so they can tell you how great it is comparable to responsible cultural storytelling? I hope they recorded this and reviewed the game tapes of this one later, because GEEZ. –Sage
3. Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, and Alex Kingston Like Each Other A Whole Lot
NYCC 2016 was overflowing in riches when it came to Doctor Who. (About time, really. This is our fourth year going and other than a Big Finish panel in 2013 and a Q&A with Arthur Darvill in 2014, Doctor Who has been incredibly absent from NYCC.) Not only did we get a panel with the current TARDIS team (more on that later), we got a nostalgia panel with Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, queen of our hearts), and Alex Kingston (River Song). We have had the pleasure of seeing Alex and Jenna on panels at other conventions but we’ve never had the pleasure hearing Matt Smith talk about his time in the TARDIS in person. All three of these cupcakes are great on their own but putting them together on one panel? That is something special, friends. It was such a delight to see the genuine affection they have for each other and the way they played off of each other. That hour FLEW by. –Kim
Want a lesson on how tabloid reporting works? Matt quipped that he was on a panel with his wife and his girlfriend and MINUTES later there was an article on Radio Times proclaiming “Matt Smith calls Clara The Doctor’s Girlfriend!!” (They even pulled one of our tweets as proof of this statement, thanks guys!) Never mind that Matt totally said it tongue in cheek.
Jenna is fresh off the success of Victoria and Matt made no bones about fawning over his former co-star? “You’re getting a Christmas Special? Bloody Hell!” HE’S SO PROUD OF HER.
Matt also has done the math for the character he plays in Netflix’s The Crown and Jenna’s Victoria. “Great-great-great-son-in-law. So TECHNICALLY we could get it on.” Okay, we’re all agreed that everyone was a little bit in love with Jenna, yes? Yes. Moving on.
There was a LOT of discussion about Arthur Darvill’s role on Legends of Tomorrow. “To me, he’s always Silly Old Rory with his strange face,” Matt quipped when asked if Arthur was better at playing a Time Lord-esque character than him. Alex added to the brain melting Whovian family tree by factoring in HER role as Sara Lance’s mother on Arrow. “My daughter on Arrow is now on Legends with my father. Technically, Rip is Sara’s grandfather?” THAT MAKES SHIPPING THEM PROBLEMATIC, WHOOPS.
Not seen in any of these pictures: Alex’s IMPRESSIVE statement ring.
Alex prefers Capaldi’s TARDIS to Matt’s. I also think she said this to rile Matt up because he was notoriously jealous that she went back to Doctor Who because he’s more than a little possessive of River as Eleven’s person. She also said that Ten’s TARDIS “felt a little like being inside a pumpkin.”
Jenna originally auditioned for Mels. “They were never going to cast me as Karen Gillan’s best friend because I’m just too short for her!”
Matt was asked when he would be following Karen and David’s lead by joining a Marvel franchise. “My question is…when will they ask me?” SOON PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
As tends to be the norm on panels like these, there was a lot of love for Billie Piper and Rose Tyler. Matt picked her as the companion he would have liked to have worked with (“She’s my friend and I like her.”) and Alex told a story of getting smashed with Bills at a bar after they did a convention together. Add that tidbit to the tales John Hurt told of drinking with Billie while they were filming the 50th and you have the person WE most want to party with from the Doctor Who family.
“It was amazing…I shit my pants though.” – Matt getting real about shooting the TARDIS arriving in Trafalgar Square for the 50th Anniversary.
Matt commented that some of his favorite scenes he filmed with Jenna were the more domestic scenes between Clara and Eleven. He specifically pointed out the scene in “The Bells of St. John” where Eleven set out a platter of Jammy Dodgers for a sleeping Clara which OUCH. Clara and the Doctor is SO REAL.
Drinking often proved the only way to battle the cold Welsh weather…or so Alex claimed when Matt called them out for drinking red wine all while filming “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.”
Alex is in complete favor of River Song joining forces with Torchwood if the reboot happens. YES PLEASE OH MY GOD.
“He’s like a jazz musician. But in space.” – Matt perfectly summing up his interpretation of The Doctor.
“I quite like that one with The Devil.” – Matt picking his favorite RTD episode and proving that his taste is exquisite because “The Satan Pit” is FLAWLESS. Fight us.
The moderator dared to suggest that Clara was a bad teacher because she missed so much time on her adventures with The Doctor. Jenna shut that shit down IMMEDIATELY, reminding him that Clara’s agreement with The Doctor involved taking her back to the moment she left so she WOULDN’T miss anything in her normal life. Queen.
“Doctor Who, at its core, is a show about love. In all forms. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.” – Alex Kingston, gloriously shutting down all the Noromo Whovians.
When the panel was asked if anyone ever broke anything on set, both ladies turned and pointed at Matt. “I am Matt and I am clumsy,” he said ruefully. The Drunken Giraffe is a real thing, y’all.
Jenna: “I broke the TARDIS on my first day. It was awful.” Matt: “You just broke my heart.” WHY IS HE LIKE THIS?
Alex hopped to Matt’s defense when one fan accused him of leaving the show too soon. “Do you KNOW how hard they work the Doctors?” Then she recounted Capaldi’s exhausting schedule while they were filming “The Husbands of River Song” and it made me want to take a nap.
“That’s one of my great regrets. That I didn’t get a full season with Jenna.” He also called her “Coleman” at one point, really we’re fine.
The great Ron Swanson said that awards are stupid, but they are less stupid when they go to the right people. No disrespect yet ALL the disrespect to the Emmys, but when it comes to television there are WAY shows more shows and performances than the principle awards bodies can possibly recognize. (Plus the Emmys are fucking lazy and repeatedly nominate the same people based on history and celebrity, whatever it’s fine.) The thing we love about the Feelies is that they are completely determined by YOU. We may choose the nominees but the outcome is in the hands of whatever fandom chooses to mobillize. Any of these nominees would be worthy winners. We wouldn’t pick them if we didn’t think so? So who deserves to be the Feelie champions for 2016? Read on to see who we think deserves a shot at the mantle.The rest is up to you. –Kim
Broad City Brooklyn Nine-Nine Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Jane the Virgin Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Veep
Sage: The urban adventures of Abbi and Ilana raged on in the third uproarious season of Broad City. The girls grappled with period emergencies, apartment shares websites, snooty co-ops, and clever cameos by Vanessa Williams and Tony Danza. But as ever, the best lady friendship on TV was at the heart of it all. Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s skilled and diverse (YAY) ensemble has relaxed into each other, and the continued viability of the Jake and Amy relationship proved that Mike Schur still knows how to make a ship canon without killing our buzz. The cop comedy keeps on quietly slaying with sharp, character-based humor and unexpectedly poignant moments. Veep went into this year with a new showrunner, but the best (and at this point, most true) political comedy on TV didn’t lose its momentum or its foul-mouthed edge. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still beyond-excellent; the scripts are still sharp enough to draw blood; and the season ended with a stroke of genius game-changer.
Kim: Last year’s champ Jane the Virgindelivered another stellar season filled with heart, ridiculous melodrama, meta commentary, and telenovela antics as Jane and Petra tackled the challenges of learning to be a new mom without completely losing their sense of self. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidttook its quirky humor to new heights as Kimmy continued to take ownership over her new life while coming to terms with her traumatic past. And lastly, Crazy Ex-Girlfriendtook all the things we love in life (musical numbers, searing feminist commentary, cute boys, body positivity) and blended them into one delicious confection of a television show that EVERYONE needs to be watching.
Kim: Never one to rest on its laurels, series nine of Doctor Whotook all sorts of creative risks, from structuring the entire series into two-parters to having one episode be a 45 minute soliloquy for Peter Capaldi to having an entire episode constructed out of “found” footage. (Well, like all risks in life, you can’t win them all.) It also punched us right in the feels as we bid a devastating goodbye (or is it a see you soon?) to Clara Oswald. After a lackluster fourth season, Scandalwas revitalized by both Olivia kicking Fitz to the curb and the political intrigue of the Presidential Campaign. (Grant/Ballard 2016, y’all!) In what turned out to be its swan song, Penny Dreadfuldeftly balanced the terror of the supernatural (DRACULA) with the terror of a more human nature (misogyny, daddy issues) all while Eva Green stood in the center of the storm, giving the bravest performance on television.
Sage: A superhero show that tackles rape culture, toxic masculinity, and survivor recovery? I devoured Jessica Jonesin a two-day binge, dazzled by its bravery and neo-noir style. Anyone who tells you that Outlander is a mere bodice ripper has been misinformed. Bodices were ripped in Season 2, thank god, but the superbly-acted genre-defying series also moved effortlessly from the salons of Paris to the battlefields of Scotland to the 1960s and took its characters to the brink yet again. UnREAL had a bit of a stumble in its sophomore outing but technically the Feelies season falls such that Season 1 can also be considered. And Season 1 of UnREAL was a doozy. Anchored by two female anti-heroes (TWO. In one show. And they’re FRIENDS.), the Lifetime drama exposed the seedy underbelly of reality TV and thus, became just as addictive.
Best Actress in a Comedy
Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler, Broad City Abbi Jacobson as Abbi Abrams, Broad City Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer, Veep Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin
Sage: I know. It feels impossible to separate the performances of our Broad City leading ladies, so much do they rely on and compliment each other. There’s trust and fun emanating from every scene, which is probably why they can collectively take it so far. But both women deserve a personal shout-out. As the more grounded of the two, no one does crushing embarrassment and millennial self-questioning like Abbi Jacobsen. And her Ilana impression in the co-op episode was a true thing of beauty. Kooky Ilana Glazer shined in a different way this season when faced for the first time with her very best kween keeping a secret from her. It was effectively disconcerting to see the worst employee Deals! Deals! Deals! ever had to take something seriously for once. And really, what is there even left to talk about when it comes to Julia Louis-Dreyfus‘s performance on Veep? She can kill a scene with a single reaction and yet she’s the ultimate team player in a devastatingly funny ensemble. JLD may have another iconic character in her past, but petty, under-qualified Selina Meyer is the role she was born to play.
Kim: Look, I know we give the Golden Globes a lot of shit when it comes to their celebrity thirst, but they know where it’s AT when it comes to recognizing new talent in television. Last year, the award went to Gina Rodriguez (who was the Feelie winner as well), who continues to deliver a LUMINOUS performance on Jane the Virgin. There’s no other word to describe Gina’s work, really. She glows and emanates pure warmth on screen and she can flip between comedy and drama in the blink of an eye. This year the Golden Globe went to Rachel Bloom, whose work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a masterclass in comedic shamelessness. There is no length Rachel won’t go to in order to land a gag, from throwing her heavy (and glorious) boobs into a musical number to fearlessly showing the ugly sides of Rebecca’s personality. She is a GIFT and we should all treasure her. Finally, in a lesser actress’ hands, Kimmy Schmidt would be grating and overly saccharine but Ellie Kemperbrings the perfect amount of salt to the role. She may be sweet and sunny but she’s also tough as nails when it comes to getting what she wants. Females are strong as hell, y’all.
Best Actress in a Drama
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser, Outlander Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Doctor Who Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Penny Dreadful Tatiana Maslany as the Leda Clones, Orphan Black Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, The People vs. OJ Simpson Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones, Jessica Jones Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, Scandal
Kim: I’ve said it once in this post already but Eva Green‘s Vanessa Ives is one of the bravest and boldest performances I’ve EVER seen on television, this year or any other year. Vanessa is broken and beaten down by the world around her, yet she stands tall in her strength and defiance and HOPE. Eva brings a raw, almost feral quality to Vanessa, with her scratchy smoker’s rasp and her giant alien eyes that have seen horrors we can’t even imagine. I don’t understand why she hasn’t been showered with awards for the past three years, it’s a travesty. There not much that can be said about Tatiana Maslany that hasn’t been said before. She infuses each of the Leda Clones with such a distinct personality, posture, and voice that you forget that it’s ONE actress. She makes it look easy, y’all, and I would hate her if I didn’t respect her so goddamn much. After several seasons of being rendered spineless by her father and Fitzgerald Grant, Olivia Pope found her backbone again, doing what she does best (being a Political Bad Ass) and Kerry Washington flourished. Anyone who was surprised by Olivia FINALLY snapping was watching the show wrong, even if the way she snapped was shocking.
Sage: Look, I don’t understand how the Emmys can sleep at night knowing that Caitrona Balfe‘s work on Outlander is going unrecognized. I won’t say she worked the hardest of any actress this year, because this list is so stacked with BEASTS. But the show asks so much of the woman playing Claire Fraser, especially this season. We saw Jamie’s bride scheme and connive among the elite in Paris; get some practice-mothering in by nurturing Mary Hawkins and Gavroche 2 (I know that’s not his name); and say goodbye to the one, true love of her life. Once to his face and once at his grave. (Or IS it?) But Cait’s shining moment came when tragedy befell the growing Fraser family. Her baby stillborn, Claire loses herself completely in grief and shock. It was primal, her clinging to the body of her child, eyes unfocused and posture tense. These aren’t just pretty faces, you guys. Life is change and change is Doctor Who. Still, it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to Jenna Coleman, who so consistently BROUGHT it as the most polarizing, headstrong, MAGNIFICENTLY messy companion the show has ever seen. I’ve said it before, and absolutely no disrespect to Matt Smith, but Peter and Jenna are magic together. Twelve and Clara’s tragic co-dependency defined this series and the petite, wide-eyed companion got to be the strong one. If any companion deserved and needed that ending, it was Clara Oswald. Sarah effing PAULSON. I wish she wasn’t shackled to American Horror Story because she’s one of our most interesting actresses. Against all odds, the OJ show worked and Sarah turned in a desperately human performance as bullied DA Marcia Clark. I’ll never be over how she played Clark’s bafflement at the relevancy of her haircut to a double murder case or her sweet and sexy chemistry with Chris Darden. (What HAPPENED there, you guys? I need to know.) And Jessica Jones succeeded on the back of the flawless casting and compelling performance of Krysten Ritter. Who else would you get to play a whiskey-swilling, leather-jacket-wearing defender of women? Jessica may wear her damage on her sleeve, but she also allows it to motivate her. Krysten nailed the show’s moments of dark comedy (“I can’t get her to wear a dress for the life of me.” “I’ll wear one to your funeral.”), but also beautifully expressed Jessica’s sarcastic and tender friendship with Trish and her determination to move through her fear to bring Kilgrave down. And if we had some kind of stunt Feelie, rest assured she’d get it for those headboard-breaking sex scenes with Mike Colter’s Luke Cage.
Best Actor in a Comedy
Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Billy Eichner as Billy Epstein, Difficult People Santino Fontana as Greg Serrano, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Vincent Rodriguez III as Josh Chan, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Sage: I feel a kinship with actors who’ve made their name in part by being LOUD, and that thought includes the delightfully shrill Billy Eichner. The comedian finally gets to scale it back and be a true lead in Hulu’s Difficult People aka the life of every struggling, cynical New York artist that I know. We’re coming out hard as Team Greg on Head Over Feels, because we do love an emotionally constipated boy with a nice singing voice. But really, actual Disney prince Santino Fontana deserves the credit for selling Greg’s crippling fear of inadequacy and his good, good heart. The dude is a mess, but name me one other guy who could sweep you off your feet while bragging (in song) about giving you a UTI? Andy Samberg‘s Jake Peralta is still THE unproblematic fave. Professionally, Jake is actually one of Brooklyn’s finest, but Andy makes sure the audience knows that deep down, Jake is playing one career-long game of Cops and Robbers.
Kim: While Tituss Burgess is Emmy nominated as a Supporting Actor for his work in Kimmy Schmidt, we at Head Over Feels feel that he merits a leading actor nomination. Titus Andromedon remained a hurricane of ego and melodrama in season two but he ALSO fell in love in the sweetest and most unexpected way and it was delightful to see how it threw him for a loop. It’s no easy task to play the dream guy that the heroine is willing to overhaul her life for (just ask Felicity‘s Scott Speedman) but Vincent Rodriguez III brings such a sweetness to Josh Chan that you completely buy Rebecca being the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend who gave everything up for him. I may hold my own shipping beliefs but you can’t deny Josh’s simple goodness (and cluelessness) as he fights the undeniable pull he has towards Rebecca. The fact that Vincent looks like the lost member of the Backstreet Boys is just a bonus.
Welcome to Fan Vid Friday, our weekly present to you to keep you entertained during those last hours in the office before your summer weekend. Last week, I pondered in our Avengers Post as to whether or not we could fill an entire post with videos to Mulan‘s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”. Whoops, we doggone gone and done it. This song is perfect for any sort of sprawling ensemble epic, as you will soon see. And let’s be real, who DOESN’T love the gusto with which Donny Osmond sings this? If you don’t finish this post ready to take on the Huns (what ever the Huns may be to you), then you did it wrong.
The Disney Men
Sage: Yassss, starting off TOO strong. Disney princesses get a lot of love, and rightfully so. But let’s give it up one time for all those Disney leading men who ruined for real boys. Real boys who never ONCE started singing me a love duet of which I intuitively knew the other part.
Kim: Aladdin, ruining my life since 1992. What can I say? I’m a sucker for those diamonds in the rough. Also there’s not NEARLY enough Prince Eric in this video. And finally, I have a new appreciation for Shang’s collarbones and it’s just really confusing being attracted to animated characters, okay?
Sage: Well, there’s no shortage of footage of Sherlock yelling at people, so that’s good. Also, since Molly is playing Mulan and Sherlock is Shang, this video is also honorary Sherlolly.
Kim: I love how this video is basically Sherlock telling everyone to GET ON HIS LEVEL. Also got to love the on the nose comparison of the Huns to the villains from “The Blind Banker”. (Undoubtedly the weakest episode of the series, yes? Yes.)
Sage: “Tranquil as a forest” = Spock. “But on fire within.” = Kirk. What makes this song so adaptable for fan videos is that the definition of masculinity (or heroism in general) is really the dealer’s choice. And the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise have all those bases covered, from intellect to brute strength to selfless leadership.
Kim: I love the use of Captain Pike in this video. He really was the shepherd of this crew of misfits as they grew towards becoming a united crew. What made Star Trek work SO WELL was that it was essentially a coming of age story for characters that we already knew. It was familiar but different all at the same time. The casting is spot on, with Chris Pine’s rogueish charm and Zach Quinto’s even-keeled intensity leading the way. I am SO READY for Star Trek: Beyond even if that is a dumb name.
PS I am still so hot for Karl Urban after AwesomeCon.
X-Men: First Class
Sage: Okay, the layers in this, because Charles wants his students to embrace their powers but also cherish their humanity. Be a MAN.
Kim: I don’t know if I will EVER be over the Cherik scene where Erik moves the satellite dish and they both CRY. This video COULD have used more Fassy, TBH. He’s so perfect, especially in First Class.
The Lord of the Rings
Sage: I’m honestly surprised some Kiwi producer hasn’t tried to peddle a LOTR musical over here. 10/10 WOULD SEE.
Kim: There was some sort of ridiculous LOTR musical in Canada and London in 2006 (thanks Wikipedia) but it never came to America because it was three and a half hours long and had a cast of 65. ANYWAY. I’m emotional over this video. I love these movies, I love the cast, I love the characters and their relationships, I LOVE IT. It is a MASTERPIECE and I need to watch it RIGHT NOW.
Also PERFECT use of Eowyn’s arc in this vid. SHE IS NO MAN.
Sure, it’s 2016 now, but I’m still writing 2015 on my checks and I am still digesting all the great pop culture I took in over the past year, so we’re still allowed to talk about what blew us away in 2015. We’ve already discussed our favorite moments on television for 2015 (find those posts here and here) and now it’s time to turn our attention to our favorite performances of the year. These are the characters who got under our skin. These are the actors who we would squeal in delight upon seeing their names in the credits. These are the performances that we’ll still be talking about when 2015 is but a distant twinkle in our eye. Who made the cut? Read on to find out! –Kim
1) Taraji P. Henson – Empire
On paper, Cookie Lyon was ALWAYS going to be an amazing character. While the story of Empire may be about her sons, it’s Cookie who has the redemption arc. She has the deep well of rage and the overwhelming to desire to take back what is rightfully hers and she has the razor-sharp wit to make every word that comes out of her mouth a catchphrase. Cookie was ALWAYS going to be great…but in the hands of Taraji P. Henson, Cookie Lyon became an instant icon. In every aspect of her performance, it is clear that Taraji has been waiting for Cookie her whole life. Watching Empire every week is like taking a masterclass in swagger. There is nothing more joyful to me than seeing an actor RELISH their role and Taraji does just that. It would be very easy to crossover into scenery chewing caricature with a character as LARGE as Cookie but Taraji never does. You always see the hint of vulnerability in her eyes behind the hurricane force bluster. Cookie is, after all, a woman who sacrificed everything for a man who turned out to be a shit. What’s not relatable about that? You tell ’em, Boo Boo Kitty. –Kim
2) Michelle Gomez – Doctor Who
When it comes to Doctor Who, I usually prefer that ingredients like classic, recurring villains are sprinkled in with a light hand. But Michelle Gomez’s “ba-na-naaaas!” interpretation of The Master, the Doctor’s long-haul BFF (Best Frenemy Forever) has me singing a different tune. The series 9 opening two-parter, “The Magician’s Apprentice”/”The Witch’s Familiar,” left me longing for Missy to take up residence in the TARDIS permanently. It’s to Michelle’s immense credit that much of the silly chatter following the Master’s change in gender died down soon after she sunk her teeth into the part. And sink her teeth in, she did. Michelle makes the Missy/Master her own with controlled mania and scathing one-liners. (“Murdering a Dalek. I’m a Time Lady; it’s our golf.”) I’m always, always happy to see her, even if the Doctor feels a little more conflicted. –Sage
3) Sam Heughan – Outlander
When his costars Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies scored Golden Globe nominations for their work on Outlander, I was FLABBERGASTED that Sam Heughan didn’t. Perhaps the Leading Actor in a Drama field was too crowded (the likely culprit) or perhaps the voting body was just threatened by the fact that someone THAT PRETTY could be a damn good actor too (less likely but still probable). Jamie Fraser is unabashedly the stuff of fantasy and the fact that Sam Heughan LOOKS like he just stepped out of the pages of a romance novel, with the muscles and the chiseled cheekbones and the ginger curls and the ACCENT, just amps up the fantasy factor even more. It would have been easy for Outlander to just rest on Sam’s looks and let him spout lines like “Does it ever stop? The wanting you?” or “I said I was a virgin, not a monk” and let us all swoon. But nope. Outlander is way better than that. Sam had already shown incredible depth as an actor in all of Jamie’s flashbacks (who DIDN’T recoil when he was flogged until he passed out?) but he took it to an entirely different level when Jamie was tortured by Black Jack Randall. His single tear STILL haunts me. –Kim
4) Matt Damon – The Martian
Matt has always been my favorite, okay? (He needs to double-down on checking that privilege, but I believe in him.) He’s my little Will Hunting, with the tight t-shirts and the “equations and shit.” He’s my shameless Owen, Jack’s fiercest (and straightest) competition for the open spot in the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, in the most outstanding episode of Will & Grace ever produced. And he’s my Jason Bourne, soon to return to the HQ spy franchise that doesn’t name its female characters after their own vaginas. He surprised me again in Ridley Scott’s The Martian as stranded astronaut/botanist Mark Watney. The Martian is Matt’s Castaway moment. He’s sans scene partner for the majority of the film. Even when he’s engaging with an actual person, it’s through some kind of device. And yet, Mark is flesh and blood to the audience, defined by his own determination and the humor he holds on to like a life preserver. The movie’s thesis is that any human life is worth preserving, even in the face of preposterous odds. But consider that his crew, the entire space program, and the whole planet may have rallied around Mark Watney just because Matt Damon made him such a deadass great guy. –Sage
5) Bill Hader – Trainwreck
God, I want to live in a world where the Adam Scotts and the Joel McHales and the Bill Haders are our romantic leads ALL THE TIME. I was so glad I was surrounded by girlfriends on either side of me when we saw Trainwreck in theatres because I made dying animal noises every time Bill Hader’s Aaron Conners was onscreen. I had always been a fan of Bill’s (Stefon for LYFE) but his performance in Trainwreck made me see him in an entirely new light. Aaron is devastatingly sexy yet adorably awkward. He’s confident but not afraid to make himself vulnerable. He watches Downton Abbey with LeBron James. He sees through Amy’s bullshit and is not afraid to call her on it. He’s so REAL it almost hurts. But the best thing about him is that he says what he WANTS, for God’s sake. There are no pretenses with him. Observe and imagine my very vocal reaction to this exchange…
AARON: Off the record, do you want to go grab some dinner? AMY: Yeah, Aaron I think you are so great. But I’m a writer, I’m your writer and you’re my subject. From now on we need to keep it professional. You know? AARON: No. I think we really like each other and we should start dating. AMY: No. I’m saying– I’m confused. Am I not communicating this right? AARON: No, I hear you. I’m saying I disagree. Do you like me? AMY: Yes. AARON: I really like you, so we should be a couple.
DREAM MAN. May 2016 bring us ALL the Romantic Leading Men like Aaron Conners. The world will be a better place. –Kim
6) Krysten Ritter – Jessica Jones
Nothing about Jessica Jones is comfortable. There are no reminders that everything’s going to be okay, and even the people you want to trust can be turned against you in as little time it takes Kilgrave to grind out a few words. Krysten Ritter stands in the middle of that fire, leather jacket collar turned up against the flames and defiance dialed to 11. And even when she’s scared out of her mind and second-guessing her every action, she makes you want to stand there with her. I can’t imagine anyone but Krysten in this part; the rest of the ensemble is fearsomely well-cast and the writing and directing are tops, but this performance is the lynchpin. Krysten does Jessica justice, not just as a sloppy recluse turned low-key superhero, but as a rape survivor and a real, live, functioning adult dealing with mental health issues. One season in, and she’s already an icon. –Sage
7) Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin
I can’t emphasize enough what a treasure both Gina Rodriguez and Jane the Virgin are. JTVswept the Feelies for a reason and it’s not just because Jaime Camil plugged us, though it certainly helped. (Thanks for the love, Ro!) It swept because Jane the Virgin is the most heartfelt, warm, outrageous, and FUNNY show on TV right now. It has helped fill the giant hole that Parks and Recreation left in my heart. Jane the Virgin would absolutely not work without the terrific performances of its cast and Gina’s Jane is the anchor. Her performance is one of the most fully realized on television right now and I feel sorry for anyone who HASN’T experienced it. Jane is spirited and Jane is funny and Jane is strong and Jane is brave. Gina breathes such LIFE into her from the sparkle in her eyes to her delightful cackle to her gleeful dance moves. But she also brings a beautiful vulnerability to the role (please to see the above gif). Gina can go from laughing to having tears in her eyes in a matter of seconds and she takes the viewers on that journey with her. You root for Jane and you want her to succeed in all areas of her life. It’s all just real and warm and I want Jane/Gina to be my best friend. If she’s not nominated for an Emmy this year, I’ll be leading the riots. –Kim
8) Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
I love Mad Max: Fury Road so much? Like, a straight-up action movie has never meant so much to me, a connoisseur of Hugh Grant rom-coms and corseted literary adaptations. But then again, no other action movie has given me Charlize Theron sporting a buzz cut and a metal arm, driving the getaway “car” for a harem of freed sex slaves. The movie treats Imperator Furiosa like it would any male hero, except when it doesn’t. She’s stoic and dogged, and has no problem barking out orders to Max. But this fight is personal for her in a way that she knows it can’t be for him. I’d love to see Charlize get an Oscar nomination for this, actually, in the hopes of creating more Amazonian warrior roles for women in the future. (Please.) But I suppose I can settle for seeing Mad Max on the top of so many critics’ end-of-year lists and some fierce Furiosa cosplays at Comic Con. –Sage
Doctor Who Series 9, Episode 13
“The Husbands of River Song” Posted by Sage
Especially in the Tennant era, Christmas specials functioned as transitional episodes. “Christmas Invasion,” “The Runaway Bride,” and “Voyage of the Damned” are between-season interludes to get audiences acclimated to a change, whether it’s a new-new Doctor sword-fighting in his PJs or a companion’s recent departure. I knew, because of Jenna Coleman’s announcement, that “The Husbands of River Song” would be that kind of Christmas special too. And I worried. Steven Moffat has no objectivity when it comes to this character. And I’m still in mourning. Could Moffat write River the way he wanted and still be sensitive to Clara’s memory? It helped that he nearly wrote out the Doctor’s grief completely. But just nearly.
Will “The Husbands of River Song” go down in Doctor Who history as one of the show’s finest holiday episodes? No, of course not. But it serves its purpose. I am satisfied by the end of Clara Oswald’s story, but that didn’t mean I was ready to welcome a new companion the moment the credits of “Hell Bent” started to roll. But this episode functioned as a narrative stepping stone. A palate cleanser. And guess what? Peter Capaldi has chemistry with everyone, so bring on that new TARDIS roommate, whoever he, she, or it may be.
Alex Kingston was one of the headlining guests at Chicago TARDIS 2015. And though some trailers and promotional images had been released for the episode, there was little she could share in the way of details. What she could tell us about the ownership some of the men in her life feel over River Song is about as surprising as a “Hello, sweetie” in one of her episodes. For a time, Moffat considered making series 9 his last as showrunner. And if that season’s special would be the last he’d ever write, he wanted River on it. And then there’s Matt, who apparently confronted Alex in the wee hours of her own wedding reception to express his jealousy that “his” wife would be working with another Doctor. See what I mean about the objectivity? It’s sweet, yeah, but this favoritism is what’s always made me uncomfortable about Dr. Song as a character.
There’s a huge and passionate River Song fandom, and more power to ’em. Not being a card-carrying member, I went into this Christmas special reminding myself that maybe I wasn’t the intended audience, and that that was okay. To my surprise, this episode was the most effective use of River’s character since her debut in “The Silence in the Library” two-parter, and at no point did I feel like she was being ranked ahead of Clara. Nor that their characters were even being compared. And honestly, PHEW.
River is at best when she is allowed to be vulnerable, same as the Doctor. I grow frustrated with her in series 6, because she’s rarely anything less than perfectly confident and aggravatingly inaccessible. She’s, like, the opposite of a Mary Sue: a male fantasy of sexual domination and the “cougar” trope, armed with poisonous lipstick and an arsenal of innuendo. What could be more boring?
That’s how River starts off in this episode too, but more of her is eventually, finally revealed. Moffat has grown in this area, as “Hell Bent” certainly proves. And River benefits from his feminist leveling-up as well. The Doctor runs into Dr. Song (or is dragged to her, more accurately) on the planet Mendorax Dellora in the year 5434, by Nardole, a bumbling jester of sorts. (Matt Lucas is great, but Nardole is sadly extraneous. I won’t be mentioning him again.) River has called for a surgeon, and she and her minion think the Doctor is it. He’s thrilled to see her, of course. (“Rivaaaaaaaahhhh!”) She hasn’t a blessed clue who he is. And she wants to retain her anonymity as well.
The Doctor goes along with the misunderstanding for two reasons: first, he’s dying to see what River’s gotten up to (and he’s sure she’ll eventually need his help); and second, he’s waiting for her to recognize him. He can’t believe she hasn’t already; he’s well aware she’s cleverer than him in a laundry list of ways.
River has called for a surgeon to aid her husband, King Hydroflax, who has a foreign object lodged in his brain. She tends to him – while the Doctor looks on incredulously – laying on the endearments and the promises of eternal loyalty. By the way, King Hydroflax isn’t, strictly speaking, a person. But if anyone could get a murderous 10-foot-tall android with a human head to settle down with her, it’s River. The Doctor hates this. A lot. And he’s always been a bit shit at covering up his jealousy. (“That’s who you’re married to? Not….anybody else?”)
This marriage, not unlike any of her others probably, is a long con. The projectile that’s killing Hydroflax is the Halassi Androvar – the most valuable diamond in universe – and River wants it. She engaged the services of a surgeon not to save the brutish dictator, but to pull a Queen of Hearts. (“I basically married the diamond.”) Why does she need a professional to go “off with his head” if his survival isn’t a necessity? I assume that she just got the an obscenely expensive manicure at some swanky space salon or some such. That doesn’t matter, nor does the rest of the episode’s weak-ish plotting. What does matter is that River Song was once married to Stephen Fry, and the Doctor’s still not over that either.
TL;DR: River and the Doctor escape Hydroflax’s flying saucer (that’s what it is!) with his head in a duffel bag. He’s still alive and threatening them (“Oh, zip it.”), and his metal body is on the hunt for a replacement cranium. River rendezvous with another husband, the young and handsome Ramone, who’s been assisting her the whole time. Her getaway vehicle is the TARDIS; a reveal that leaves the Doctor looking annoyed, but not shocked. One of River’s strengths as a character is that her life outside of what we see on the show is so rich. The possibilities are endless, especially if she’s made a habit on borrowing “Dad’s” car when he’s otherwise engaged. There’s literally never a dull moment with River, no matter when Doctor Who catches up with her. She’s always neck-deep in some scheme, with a few needy men seduced into doing her bidding. (“I’ll see you on Temple Beach. I’ve already picked out your swimwear.”) She may not be my favorite companion, but she is kind of my hero.
Between all the kissing (“As an activity, it’s not hugely varied, is it?”) and the decapitated despot in his luggage, the Doctor isn’t having a great time. That is, until he realizes that he can finally give himself and his TARDIS the awed reaction that they both deserve. It’s the comedic high point of the episode and a sad reminder that all of series 9 was far too serious for the a show led by the guy who played Malcolm Tucker.
Once River has her ride and a fresh drink (did the Doctor even know the TARDIS has a bar cart?), it’s off to the Starship Harmony & Redemption. That’s a space cruise with a very nice name intended for a lot of very not-nice people, and the best place to find a buyer who won’t mind snuffing out Hydroflax in order to fish out his prize. (“Suites are reserved for planet burners.”) The Doctor is still nipping along at River’s heels, increasingly desperate for the other shoe to drop. How can she not know him? Is he so changed? And where did she get her wallet gallery of his 12 other faces?
That sad ‘lil flip. 🙁
River’s inability or unwillingness to recognize her “surgeon” for who he really is gives the Doctor the first chance he’s had to anonymously observe her. On the surface, she’s all one-liners and sparkly dresses, as per usual. He’s the only one of her husbands who can spot the melancholy under the glamour. The source? Her salacious travel read. It’s her own story, which she fears is rapidly coming to a close.
Another year has passed and again, Head Over Feels has spent most of it parked in front of a screen of some kind. Regrets are for wimps.
Since 2015 began, we’ve been bookmarking all the television events that have made us weep, cheer, and clutch our pearls like the innocent flowers that we are. And as we get ready to welcome all the entertainment 2016 has to offer, the time has come to pay tribute to 20 unforgettable moments from this year in TV.
1) The White Party – Empire
Empire never does anything small, so I’d figured that Jamal’s eventual coming out wouldn’t be a quiet affair. And yet, how could I have been prepared for his barrier-smashing performance at the label’s annual White Party in “The Lyon’s Roar”? Empire drew praise and jeers in its first season for its portrayal of homophobia in black culture and the unofficial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the mainstream music industry. I’m not qualified to offer comment on the show’s socio-political responsibilities in these areas, but I can tell you about the impact this storyline had on me as an individual viewer.
First of all, the scene is visually stunning, from the mansion setting to the fabulous achromatic costuming. (To Most Handsome Young Man nominee Jussie Smollett, who looks quite delicious, as per usual.) Empire has this great tradition of closing up the distance between musicians and audiences, so that every performance scene looks like a house party instead of a concert. I love that I can hear the guests singing along to the track. I love that I can read the reactions on individual faces when Jamal changes his shitty-ass dad’s lyric to “this the kind of song that makes a man love a man.” I love Jamal’s joyful defiance, and the way he turns directly to Lucious to look him in the face while he stands up and claims his own identity. And Cookie loves it too. The mother/son relationship between these two was the heart of season one to me, and she is incandescent with pride in this scene. Remember that Lucious wrote this song for Cookie. With their marriage in the shitter (because Lucious is a GARBAGE PERSON), Jamal gives “You’re So Beautiful” welcome new meaning for the person who never stopped telling him it was okay to be who he was. He gave the world a show. And the world didn’t end. –Sage
2) Peggy and Stan Are in Love – Mad Men
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Mad Men would give us such an overtly romantic ending for my queen Peggy Olson. I had ALWAYS shipped Peggy and Stan but I had made my peace that it was never going to happen on the show. No one got to be happy on Mad Men! EVER. So imagine my surprise and delight when Peggy and Stan finally figured their shit out in “Person to Person”. I watched the finale in the wee hours of the morning after I came home from a two-show day and I started screaming at 3 AM when Stan confessed his love in the most perfectly Stan and Peggy way…over the phone. Their phone calls were one of the hallmarks of their relationship over the course of the series, so it was only fitting that it happened this way.
Peggy: I mean, I’m going to stay. Stan: Good, because I didn’t want you to leave. Peggy: Then why didn’t you just say that? Stan: Because every time I’m face to face with you, I want to strangle you. And then I miss you when I go away. And I miss you and I call you on the phone and I get the person I want to talk to. Peggy: That’s not true. Stan: Yeah, well, I don’t know what it is, but when I’m standing in front of you, I bring out something terrible. I think about how you came into my life and how you drove me crazy and now I– I don’t even know what to do with myself because all I want to do is be with you. Peggy: What? What did you just say? Stan: I want to be with you. I’m in love with you. Peggy: What? Stan: I love you, Peggy. Peggy: Oh, my God. That’s what I thought you said.
My heart dropped when it seemed that Peggy was about to reject Stan. Because of course she wasn’t in love with him, right? I mean we all knew she was in love with him, but did SHE? Watching her figure out that she was in love with him was a MARVEL. What a performance by Elisabeth Moss. She goes from disbelief to confusion to sudden realization in a matter of moments and it’s beautiful.
Peggy: I– I– I don’t know what to say. Whew. I feel like I can’t breathe almost. I mean, I don’t even think about you. Uh I mean, I do all the time, because you’re there. (touches her heart) And you’re here. And you make everything okay. You always do. No matter what. I mean, I must be. Because you’re always right. I can’t believe this. I think I’m in love with you, too. I really do. Stan? Are you there? (silence) Stan?
ME: OH NO STAN DID YOU REALLY HANG UP HOW COULD YOU MISS THIS WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME SHOW? Cue Stan appearing in Peggy’s doorway, out of breath because he SPRINTED to her office as soon as he realized where this was going. Is this Mad Men or my favorite romantic comedy?
Stan: What were you saying? Peggy: I love you.
All my tears. –Kim
3) The Diner Fight – Agent Carter
I love that we live in a world where Agent Carter exists. I love that it’s a show run by women and I love Peggy Carter (and Hayley Atwell) for being an icon of femininity and badassery. There are definitely more emotional Agent Carter moments we could have picked for this list. Peggy’s “I know my value” speech was instantly iconic. If you didn’t cry when Peggy laid Steve Rogers to rest by pouring out the vial of his blood on the Brooklyn Bridge, I question your humanity. But we chose the diner fight scene because it’s just so much FUN. It’s stylistically gorgeous, with the bright colors of the diner and the big band music roaring in the background. It’s hilarious with Jarvis bumbling in the background while Peggy singlehandedly takes down all the men. And it just serves as a reminder that Peggy Carter is not to be trifled with. Harrison Ford once said that Indiana Jones wasn’t the BEST fighter but he was the SMARTEST fighter because he used what was around him to serve to his advantage. That is exactly what I see here, especially in the way Peggy uses that plate as the world’s deadliest frisbee. And she does it all in a gorgeous period suit because even when she is kicking ass, Peggy Carter is a LADY above all things. –Kim
4) “You’re a stone cold bitch.” – The Mindy Project
I have to confess something. I’ve fallen SUPER behind on The Mindy Project. And the things I have heard about the episodes post-Leo’s birth don’t make me want to catch up anytime soon. But this moment? This is perfection. Dramatic births in unconventional situations is a sitcom staple and Mindy plays the stereotype to the max. There is absolutely no way Danny would have ever been able to get to her on a stalled subway car but we forgive it because we don’t watch television for reality. We watch for the way our hearts swell when Danny makes it just in time for the birth of his son. We watch TV for the way Danny calms a panicked Mindy because NO ONE wants their lady parts exposed on a dirty subway car, much less push a baby out there. I love how Danny knows EXACTLY what to say to her to get her to calm down and believe in herself. He may be an ass some of the time, but he always comes through. That’s why we watch. Who knew that being called a “stone cold bitch” could be the most romantic words in the universe? –Kim
5) Stevie Wonder Carpool Karaoke – The Late Late Show
Anyone worth hanging out with knows how to properly jam in the car.
Maybe I’ve seen American Graffiti too many times, but isn’t there a beautiful sense of freedom that comes with being behind the wheel of a car? The Late Late Show‘s Carpool Karaoke series leverages the comforting familiarity of the road trip singalong, a “the stars, they’re just like us!” sense of bonding, and host James Corden’s authentic fangirling and driver’s seat chair-dancing. From the very first edition of this sketch (with a totally game Mariah Carey, thank you), it’s been a favorite of our blog and the bit with the most viral traction. Knowing us, you perhaps you expected to see One Direction’s Carpool Karaoke on this list. But even a choreographed performance of morning wood anthem “No Control” couldn’t quite steal the slot from Stevie Wonder. Because he is Stevie Wonder, as James’s wife confirmed firsthand.
A late night host has every opportunity I’ve ever dreamed of to make lasting memories with cool celebrities. But I think even James would admit that it’s going to be real hard to top sitting in a car with Stevie Wonder and listening to him sing “I just called to say James loves you…” to the woman he married. (When James cries, I cry.) The 10+ minute bit includes James and Stevie harmonizing on the artist’s ridiculous catalog (“Superstition,” “Isn’t She Lovely?” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”…you know, those hack jobs), but it’s James’s “indulgent” request and his heart-melting reaction that put this Carpool Karaoke on the top of a very entertaining heap. –Sage