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Doctor Who: The Pilot (Review)

“That’s my face?”

“You seem a bit flexible on the idea.”

“You have no idea.”

The Pilot does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

It is effectively a soft jumping-on point very much aimed at a back-to-basics approach to Doctor Who. It is an episode that is not particularly ambitious or original, but instead serves to lay out the groundwork for the season ahead. Like so many episodes introducing new companions, it uses the companion in question as a window into the world of the Doctor and as an opportunity to effectively redefine the show. Given the overlap between Amy and Clara with Asylum of the Daleks, this is arguably the cleanest such introduction since The Eleventh Hour.

Getting on board…

It has been almost two years since the last full season of Doctor Who. There is every possibility that The Pilot could be a young fan’s introduction to the series. By that measure, The Pilot is reasonably successful. It runs through a fairly solid checklist of things that a reintroduction to Doctor Who should do. It introduces a new status quo. It features a simple villain that is driven by an intriguing high concept. It hints at a nice long-form mystery. It establishes a sense of character and identity for the new companion.

The result is an episode that feels more like a springboard and a mission statement than a strong episode in its own right, a reminder of what to expect from Doctor Who served as something of a warm-up lap.

Time (War) out…

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The Lone Gunmen – Pilot (Review)

This October/November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the eighth season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of The Lone Gunmen.

It is meant to be a joke.

It is an episode known as The Pilot, because it is a proof of concept for a new series that can be shown to executives in the hopes that they might green-light it and give the production team a series order. That is, after all, what a television pilot is. It is the first episode of a television show to be filmed, usually with considerable space between it and the rest of the first season. There is time for network notes and feedback, to determine what works and what doesn’t. There is space for recasting and reshooting, which becomes more problematic on a weekly schedule.

Rocket man.

Rocket man.

However, the fact that the first episode of The Lone Gunmen is called The Pilot is also a rather wry punchline. It is a self-aware reminder that the show takes itself considerably less seriously than Millennium or Harsh Realm. After all, even if this weren’t the very first episode of a new television show, it might be called The Pilot. Based purely on the plot, the episode might have been called The Pilot. It is an episode about a sinister plot to hijack planes using advanced technology. So calling the episode The Pilot is a cheesy and goofy bit of wordplay.

Of course, there is very little funny about it in hindsight.

Don't leave us hanging...

Don’t leave us hanging…

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Millennium – Pilot (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

You think you’re protecting me but you make it worse, Frank. You can’t shut the world out for me. You can’t ask me to pretend that I don’t know what you do.

Everyone pretends. We all make believe. These men I help catch – make us.

We’re raising a daughter, Frank. The real world starts to seep in. You can’t stop it.

I want you to make believe that I can.

Fade to Black...

Fade to Black…

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