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Category: Sci-Fi Café


Still aren’t in the Christmas spirit yet?  With no Christmas day episode of Doctor Who this year, Netflix is filling in the gap with an episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina called “A Midwinter’s Tale,” another solid episode of the series taking the story forward where the first season left off, and delving into some classic tropes of American and Victorian Christmas lore.  It’s all with the twist of the darker, horror-infused world of the show, but as Miranda Otto’s character Aunt Zelda says, “Christmas is the best time for ghost stories.”  See A Christmas Carol, as an example.

Plenty of Christmas episodes of past genre television series are available right now, most via services you may already subscribe to, others for a few dollars (and some you may find free to watch on YouTube).  How about starting with the unofficial sequel to Die Hard and Die Hard 2 starring Reginald VelJohnson (Ghostbusters, Tron: Uprising) in his third appearance as Sgt. Al Powell?  He’s one of several actors guest starring in a trilogy of Christmas episodes of Chuck, available on Amazon Prime.  First is “Chuck vs. the Crown Vic,” then VelJohnson and Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Walking Dead) in “Chuck vs. Santa Claus,” rounded out with Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Arrow) and Stan Lee in an early cameo as himself in “Chuck vs. the Santa Suit.”  But be careful, you may end up getting sucked into the rest of the series, starring Zachary Levi (Shazam!, Psych the Movie, Thor: Ragnarok), Yvonne Strahovski (The Predator, The Handmaid’s Tale), and Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Leverage, Castle).

In the same vein as Sabrina, check out Grimm with Christmas episodes “Twelve Days of Krampus” and “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas,” both available on Amazon Prime.  “Twelve Days of Krampus” provides one of the best illustrations of Krampus, the folkloric character who has been a subject of this time of year for more than 2,000 years.  Ever get coal in your stocking?  Learn more here.  And you’ll find some familiarity with the critters in “The Grimm Who Stole Christmas” as the new Sabrina episode.  Each of these Grimm episodes is among the best of Christmas episodes, and overall great episodes of the series.  And if paranormal shows are your thing, don’t forget the Supernatural episode, “A Very Supernatural Christmas.”  Catch it on Netflix.  The Winchester Brothers pursue some pagan gods at Christmastime, revisit their own Christmas past, and try to share a Christmas together as only they could.

That brings us to six classic Christmas episodes.  How about six more?

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Capaldi as the 12th Doctor

The BBC announced yesterday what every Doctor Who fan has heard by now:  The 12th Doctor will be played by 55-year-old Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.  And we think he is a brilliant actor, as we mentioned before here at borg.com, and a brilliant choice to play the next Doctor.

We couldn’t have been more disappointed earlier this year when one of the most exciting television series on the air didn’t get renewed:  BBC America’s The Hour.  Its second season was turned around and set on an exciting new course because of the new boss, Randall Brown, played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi.  Unfortunately the BBC didn’t love what we loved about the show over here in the States.  But it’s a consolation prize to be able to see this versatile actor again in a leading role in Doctor Who.  As Brown he showed anger and sadness along with a certain cunning and wry sense of humor–all obvious needs for someone creating the next stage of the Doctor.

Capaldi with TARDIS in Doctor Who 2008

Capaldi with TARDIS in 2008 Doctor Who episode “The Fires of Pompeii.”

Capaldi was seen by a larger audience this summer as the W.H.O. doctor (feel free to insert ironic laugh here) in Brad Pitt’s zombie movie World War Z.  We were eagerly awaiting his return to the big screen opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2014 WikiLeaks founder film The Fifth Estate and as the king in the live action Maleficent opposite Angelina Jolie.  Capaldi showed up previously in Torchwood and had a his own guest spot on Doctor Who opposite 10th Doctor David Tennant in “The Fires of Pompeii” (along with Karen Gillan in her first Doctor Who role before playing the companion to Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor).  Beyond that Capaldi has done a ton of British TV (including a stint as a spin-doctor on a comedy series called The Thick of It), but was only seen in small roles by American audiences in Smilla’s Sense of Snow and the Malkovich/Pfeiffer version of Dangerous Liaisons.

Peter Capaldi

As a great reminder that you can’t make a guess at everything, Capaldi wasn’t listed on any oddsmaker’s lists.  Which means only Stephen Moffat & Co. know what they want for the future of Doctor Who, heedless of focus groups or a blind desire to please fans’ expectations.  The Doctor Who creators are the kings of keeping everyone guessing.  The fact they did not select a well-known actor like Rupert Grint, David Morrissey or Benedict Cumberbatch is a good thing.  The masses didn’t know Matt Smith or David Tennant or Christopher Eccleston that well before they had their chance at it.  And the fact that they are turning the age of the Doctor around, opting for older than younger, was well-played.  Smith was brilliant as a young Doctor but if we can’t have him an older Doctor is most welcome.  About the only disappointment we have is similar to the missed opportunity of Prince William and Kate not giving us a future King Arthur last month (c’mon you know another King George is just… boring), and that is the fact that no one is gutsy enough yet to give us the first woman Doctor.  Hey–we got a male companion this past round so why not?

12th Doctor meets 10th Doctor

Who knew? 10th Doctor meets 12th Doctor in 2008 Doctor Who episode.

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Matt Smith as 11th Doctor

BBC announced yesterday that Matt Smith’s last episode as the 11th Doctor on Doctor Who, the oldest series on television, will be this year’s Christmas episode to air on Christmas Eve.  He’ll also appear in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who episode this fall.  For those of us who never would have given Doctor Who a try but for Matt Smith, he will be sorely missed.  Without Matt Smith’s energetic and brilliant performances, we wouldn’t have seen how awesome David Tennant was as the 10th Doctor, met Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor and his long-running companion Rose, or checked out the numerous audio books, or even peeked at those earlier “other” Doctors.

But just as we quickly have embraced his new companion with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara (Amy Pond who?) after we thought we’d met the best companion ever, life goes on and so will the Doctor’s next incarnation as he takes the form of another actor… or actress?

So who should be the next Doctor?  Matt Smith has given us some brilliant performances.  If you aren’t a Doctor Who fan and wanted to sample some of the best of Matt Smith’s Doctor, try these:

The Eleventh Hour

The Eleventh Hour.  We meet Matt Smith’s Doctor for the first time as he must save the world in 20 minutes with a wrecked TARDIS and broken sonic screwdriver and with the help of Amy Pond–the girl who waited.

The Beast Below

The Beast Below.  The Doctor and Amy travel to a future where residents live on a spaceship called Starship UK.  We meet a future Queen and learn the terrible truth about what keeps the ship–and all its inhabitants–alive.

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