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The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin” Considers a Conscience and a Culture

The Mandalorian Episode Three Review: “Chapter Three: The Sin”

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Some minor and necessary spoilers for The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin” below

Well with hindsight, the second episode was merely the calm before the Imperial storm, and one gets the distinct impression that The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin” was only the first few raindrops of the smallest cloud. When the lightning finally strikes, it will surely bring some stormtroopers with it.

More on that later. First, The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin” has a couple of perceived sins its eponymous Mandalorian has to atone for, and one crime the show itself perpetrated and now serves penance for: “Chapter Three: The Sin” is the “Character Actor Carl Weathers Showcase” promised by Greef Karga’s introduction two episodes ago.

“Chapter Three: The Sin” is the least subversive episode so far…but this is still immensely satisfying Star Wars…a traditional blowout in a hive of scum and villainy.

Director Deborah Chow wisely wrings as much screen-time out of Greef Karga as she possibly can, because Weathers inhabits Karga with the same swagger and verve of a character in an Elmore Leonard novel. If Karga becomes the Boyd Crowder to the Mandalorian’s Raylan Givens (“Ahhh, Mando!” as Karga exclaims), at least in scenery-chewing spirit if not dialogue and character, then The Mandalorian really will be a full-on Star Wars Western in all the genre’s forms. Tangentially, dear reader, if you have no idea what these references are to, this is a public service announcement to watch Justified.

Karga is immediately set up as Mando’s foil for the episode, with a hologram communiqué to meet him after the still-absolutely-adorable Yodaling is delivered to the Imperials. Evidently Weathers isn’t used to green-screen, because his performance here is slightly awkward and stilted, compared to his zeal in the rest of the episode. From the moment he chastises another bounty hunter and then welcomes his “friend” back to the cantina with a roar, Weathers’ flourish takes hold of the scene, inviting Mando to the “Twi’lek healing baths” amongst other rich pleasures; Karga becomes the delightful and distinctive sort of secondary character that Star Wars has built a multimedia empire out of over the decades. Except for this time, he’s not a man of few words who will need a book or comic to delve into his personality. Mando is a man of few words, and Karga’s persistent mild annoyance that Mando won’t indulge in his fanciful ideas is amusing.

Carl Weathers as Greef Karga greeting  the Mandalorian.

Karga’s flamboyance is not simply there just to contrast Mando’s silence, it’s also the mark of confidence in how the bounty hunting business is run and his morally indifferent place in it. The same cannot be said of Mando, whose conscience has been pricked by the tiny, clawed fingers of his infant charge. Upon delivering the Yodaling to the still-unnamed Werner Herzog, he riles his employer by questioning his plans for the child. As stormtroopers enter the room, he says in dead-eyed fashion, “Is it not the code of the guild that these events are now forgotten? That Beskar is enough to make a handsome replacement for your armour. Unfortunately, finding a Mandalorian in these trying times is more difficult than finding the steel.”

It’s a quintessentially Star Warsian villainous exchange, one not so far removed from the guile musings of Sheev “Definitely Not a Sith Lord” Palpatine. A few more puns, and Darth Vader could have said it.

This episode as a whole is probably most alike to the known Star Wars template, at least in terms of story structure, character beats, and monologues, all the while mirroring moments from “Chapter One”. For example, after taking the bounty back to the Mandalorian forge to create a new suit of Beskar steel armour, Emily Swallow’s Armourer has another philosophical discussion with him. They muse on the idea that “secrecy is [their] survival” and “[their] survival is [their] strength”, as well as confirming that apparently Mandalorians never remove their helmets (which is not really true in other media and sort of undermines the secrecy bit). Moreover, Mando refuses a proper signet because the Mudhorn beast he slaughtered in “Chapter Two” was not a “honourable kill”—the Yodaling aided Mando when “it did not know it was [his] enemy”. His decisions perturbs him, and inner turmoil is furthered by accusations by other, formerly mute Mandalorian bounty hunters that he is a “coward” for working with the Empire that “shattered” Mandalore.

Paz Vizla lambasting the Mandalorian

If there’s one quibble with this episode’s script, it’s that the Mandalorian culture in the show hasn’t really been fleshed out enough for this deep betrayal of Mandalorian ideology to hold much weight in terms of swaying Mando, from the audience’s perspective. Allusions to the unseen Great Purge aren’t sufficient given that the flashbacks (the motif of anvil strikes causing traumatic reminiscence reappears) concern Mando’s home being destroyed by Federation droids. For anyone who has only seen the films, their exposure to a (false) Mandalorian is Boba Fett, famously contracted by Darth Vader to capture Luke Skywalker. 

While Mandalorians in greater canon have retained a very independent streak in ancient eras, the suitably stern and venomous reprisal for Jon Favreau’s voice-acting (playing Paz Vizla, a descendent of his older Clone Wars’ role, Pre Vizla) only recalls the acts of “Death Watch”, a terrorist Mandalorian group who allied themselves with former Sith Lord Darth Maul. In Rebels, another former commando of Darth Maul, Gar Saxon, was Governor of Mandalore in the name of the Empire. Point is, Mandalorian people have historically been about as loyal to the idea of not serving Imperial interests as they are to the idea of restraining themselves from fighting amongst each other.

However, Jon Favreau’s lambasting speech is a good one, and the guilt trip works. So while his new steel suit glints with the opulence of a deserved prize, Mando is unable to repair his emotional armour. He abandons the chance to get “far away” and goes off to rescue the Yodaling. Is it cliché that the initially ruthless Mando would have a change of heart? Absolutely. Does this neuter Mando’s appealing ambiguities? Perhaps. Yet it’s a testament to The Mandalorian’s tone thus far—and the thrall of the moment—that one could even consider that a classic Star Wars redemption would be denied, and that maybe Mando would forever leave the Yodaling in Imperial clutches.

But it’s also culminating expression of character growth that the past two episodes have been building towards; the Yodaling has been his moral compass and softened his resistant demeanour. Pedro Pascal has subsequently evolved his character’s physical mannerisms to be slightly more tender, but still gruff (at one point, he grabs the Yodaling by the cloak as a lioness holds the scruff of her cub’s neck). His voice regularly has a wavering note of uncertainty and is less clipped. It’s a subtle transformation on Pascal’s part, but were Mando to really go through with selling off this innocent child, it would be odious character regression at this point. 

The Mandalorian hunts stormtroopers

So begins the most thrilling sequences in The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin”: Mando infiltrates the Imperial stronghold and tries to escape. The cinematography is quite clever here: echoing the idea of an earlier sentiment that “[w]hen one chooses to walk the way of the Mandalore, you are both hunter and prey”, as Mando enters the building, the unsuspecting stormtroopers occupy the foreground of the shot, so that Mando can hunt them from behind. When he leaves, Mando is kept to the foreground, and becomes the prey.

Furthermore, the composition takes significant inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie’s art. The reverential treatment given to original Star Wars concept artist Ralph Macquarrie’s design aesthetic is never understated. Its influence shapes the series to this day, with every director and Lucasfilm executive creative director Doug Chiang noting precisely which McQuarrie pieces and sketches inspired certain design decisions. It’s genuinely been promotional material for the Sequel Trilogy, even The Mandalorian, signalling a return to “true” Star Wars (and The Empire Strikes Back actually used his paintings as its first teaser trailer).

What’s less appreciated is the important role the dynamism and staging in McQuarrie’s artwork still plays. McQuarrie’s art is striking in part due to how it plays with heights and distance, and always suggesting motion. One of his favoured depictions was to have a character ducking and hiding behind a corner, or a crouching David to the Goliath bearing down on him. The shadows are accentuated amongst the hallways of spaceships.

Ralph McQuarrie concept art depicting Darth Vader bearing down

One of the more interesting qualities in the Original Trilogy’s production is just how faithfully McQuarrie’s concept art was translated to screen, not just in design, but shot composition—the use of tight close-ups and mediums, and especially characters lurking behind corners in the foreground. It’s a small thing, but the notorious reliance on languid wide shots in the Prequel Trilogy made the absence notable. Therefore, McQuarrie’s darkened corners are as essential to capturing traditional Star Wars as his designs are. While The Mandalorian has been making use of corners and coves, Director Deborah Chow and Director of Photography Greg Fraser make the latter half of the “Chapter Three: The Sin” a stream of McQuarrie-style live-action paintings, and it’s rather beautiful to watch.

The Mandalorian ducks behind containers, capturing Ralph McQuarrie's aesthetic.

The Mandalorian “Chapter Three: The Sin” is the least subversive episode so far—Mando’s contentious relationship with the other Mandalorians in the guild is neatly resolved, Carl Weathers lives to fight another day due to some well-placed Beskar ingots—but this is still immensely satisfying Star Wars. Each episode has queried the “essence” of Star Wars and what capturing it means, going from a Sergio Leone Western, to an atmospheric sojourn in the desert, to now a traditional blowout in a hive of scum and villainy. What unifies them then is the strong emotional interrogation of the central character, and if Mando’s arc remains this deliberate in its unfurling, and as engagingly filmed, this series can probably run the full gamut of styles and genres going forward.

Other Thoughts/Observations:

I say Greef Karga doesn’t need a spinoff, but I’d really like one co-starring the theatric pirate Hondo Ohnaka (and his partner Ugnaught, Melch)

To the episode’s credit, it does give us a few more idiosyncrasies about Mandalorians: “This is the way” is an immediate peace-making, fight-quelling mantra.

Omid Abtahi’s Dr. Pershing’s place in all this is hard to parse exactly, but this episode suggests there are still layers to uncover. Or he was bluffing.

The Imperial Remnant want Midichlorian extracts from the Yodaling, right? I personally hope they do go this route, because I’ve always thought that extracting Midichlorians from younglings to increase Force sensitivity would be a properly gruesome villainous aim.

The Yodaling takes a backseat in this episode, but its few antics are still as cute as anything.

Deborah Chow is also directing the upcoming Obi-Wan miniseries, and on the strength of this episode’s action, it’s something to look forward to. However, first, we’ll get to see what she does with Chapter Seven!

Declan Biswas-Hughes has led a very nomadic life, which influenced his decision to study European and International Law. He unwinds from writing essays on the minutiae of legalese by writing things like essays on the minutiae of anime, because he really knows how to party. You can find him on Twitter (@fringence), popping up on AniTAY, and occasionally out clubbing when he’s not trying to finish a novel.

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Watchmen Season One Episode 8 Review: “A God Walks into Abar”

Dr. Manhattan steps into frame in a breathtaking episode.

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Watchmen A God Walks Into Abar

The elevator pitch for Watchmen‘s eighth episode is relatively simple: what if Dr. Manhattan is to Watchmen, what Desmond was to LOST? A person unstuck in time, whose ability to move back and forth across the key moments of their lives, opening their minds to a wealth of experiences, perspectives – and of course, deep regrets for the moments and things that cannot be changed. LOST‘s 77th episode, “The Constant,” uses time as a thematic anchor for a love story, the absolute apex of science-fiction romance – a man who is only able to hold onto his identity by remembering the woman he loves.

“A God Walks into Abar,” and the love story that plays out within it, is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

“A God Walks into Abar,” co-written by Damon Lindelof (who wrote “The Constant” with Carlton Cuse) and Jeff Jansen (a writer who once wrote LOST recaps for Entertainment Weekly), is pretty much a direct successor to “The Constant”; but though it is explicitly familiar in its structure, characters, and thematic explorations, is still a wildly successful, abundantly rewarding entry all to itself. Where “The Constant” served as an important fulcrum for the emotional journey of a mysterious character, “A God Walks into Abar” uses Dr. Manhattan’s gravity to pull in every loose thread of the series, while also telling a touching, tragic love story: it is a rather impressive feat, firmly establishing Watchmen‘s first (and only?) season in the pantheon of modern adaptations (and a gentle reminder of why Watchmen is so much fucking better than The Boys, I might add).

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

Perhaps the most impressive thing “A God Walks into Abar” accomplishes is understanding Dr. Manhattan as a character, and how to effectively convey the paradox of his continued existence, in ways even the comic struggled to contend with. He is a man constantly living and reliving his past, present, and future, all at the same time, consistently able to needle the thread of his existence, in a way that allowed it to make sense. Or so he thought: the comic ends with him agreeing to the greatest conspiracy in human history, disconnecting from humanity and looking to the stars to satisfy the existential bounds of his mind (the meme of his disinterest in humanity is now iconic, after all).

Watchmen re-frames that idea ever so slightly, in a fascinating way: Dr. Manhattan did forget about his humanity… that is, until he fell in love with Angela, moments before he was sucked into a Kavalry-manned teleporter, which occurs exactly 10 years after he meets her. ” A God Walks Into Abar” opens with Dr. Manhattan putting on a mask (during the holiday celebrating his rampage to end the Vietnam War) and meeting Angela at a bar (Angela Abar… A-bar… Lindelof strikes again). It then proceeds to bounce around time, to capture life as Dr. Manhattan experiences it; an ever-evolving set of vignettes, an expanding world of knowledge, one he is not able to create and shape himself.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

The moment ” A God Walks into Abar” builds to is referenced in the first few minutes; after his strange introduction piques Angela’s curiosity, Dr. Manhattan notes that he is in love with her. We see that moment occur 50+ minutes later, as Angela turns into a one-woman assault squad, hell-bent on taking out every last Kavalry member outside their home. Infuriating as it may be to understand, he can see the beginning and the end of their short, beautiful life together at the same time, because he’s living it all at the same: Watchmen captures that idea poignantly in its unorthodox approach, smartly tethering each strange sequence together with a singular image, or color, to bring us from one moment to the next.

As we move through time, “A God Walks into Abar” casually begins to fill in the big holes of narrative created in last week’s slightly frustrating entry; we finally learn how Ozymandias ended up on Europa, and the history of the people and places we’ve seen on that world for eight episodes. We also learn how Will became involved in the process, which is, ironically, the moment it all falls apart for them: the moment Angela asks Dr. Manhattan to inquire about Judd’s identity (while Dr. Manhattan talks to him in 2009), she inevitably kicks the first domino down the path of Judd’s death, and the Kavalry’s impending attempt to turn themselves into racist deities.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

How “A God Walks into Abar” frames this is its true genius: Dr. Manhattan’s existence is the conundrum of the chicken and the egg. There was a moment in time where Jon existed, and Dr. Manhattan didn’t; but there also isn’t, since Dr. Manhattan’s creation allowed him to experience all of time in a cumulative fashion, rather than linear. Finally, the many, many images of eggs and yolks finally come together: as nature’s great paradox, a man literally capable of creating entire worlds and paths of evolution, finding his way back to the only immeasurable quantity in the universe, love.

“A God Walks into Abar” makes an important distinction between love and worship: love is able to be critical, to understand and accept flaws, to show empathy. Worship, or what Dr. Manhattan experiences when creating his own world (and people) on Europa, is disillusioning: there’s no older religious trope than the unsatisfied god who turned to humanity to find purpose, and that’s “A God Walks into Abar” to an absolute T. And it works: the love story that plays out is among the most heartfelt entries of Lindelof’s career, able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful.

Watchmen A God Walks Into A Bar

If there’s any noticeable flaw to “A God Walks into Abar,” it is strangely the episode’s construction as a romantic entry; it kind of sidesteps integrating Dr. Manhattan’s chosen identity to live as a black man in modern America. There are hints of it at various parts – the scenes of his childhood, in particular – but “A God Walks into Abar” strangely doesn’t contend, at least in this episode, with Angela’s decision to show Dr. Manhattan the original Cal’s body. Why did she just show him three white bodies first? What drew Dr. Manhattan to OG Cal’s appearance? For a series so deftly integrating explorations of race and identity into the Watchmen mythos, the lack of reflection in this episode feels like a bit of a missed opportunity.

But that is a small complaint in what will be remembered as a signature episode of the series; and for good reason, because it is a phenomenal, breathtaking hour of television. “A God Walks into Abar” is also another bold reinterpretation of Watchmen itself, replacing the cold sensibilities of the comic’s anarchistic roots with a warm beating heart; as cheesy as that sounds, it is everything to making the high wire act of Watchmen the series work on a fundamental level. After all, love is the one universal element ensuring humanity’s continued existence; as Dr. Manhattan finally understands, even if the pursuit is an impossible one for us as a species, it at least makes the inevitable collapse of our world something worth fighting against.

Other thoughts/observations:

“By definition, doesn’t every relationship end in tragedy?” Fuck. Me. Up. Watchmen.

The Philips/Crookshanks origin story ends up being a rather touching detail: they are modeled after two lovers young Jon saw during his brief stay in England (the mansion the event happened in ends up being Ozymandias’ home).

Very interesting note that Ozymandias’ Plan A to defeat Dr. Manhattan was not to kill him, but to condemn him to being a mortal with amnesia.

Dr. Manhattan mentions his theory for being able to transfer his powers; would not be surprised to see that come up in next week’s episode.

Related to the previous note: Dr. Manhattan tells Angela he wanted her to see him outside by the pool. Does that mean we’ll see Will walk on water next week?

Lots of props given to Regina King throughout the series for her stunning performance – if Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is not nominated for a shitload of awards for his work in this episode, however, we riot.

A post-credits sequence finally reveals the use of Phillip’s infamous horseshoe – though it remains to be seen where this story is all heading, as Europa’s small world of clones desperately tries to keep another god from leaving them.

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‘Bojack Horseman’s Xmas Special Is the Height of Schmaltzy Satire

If you were lucky enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with awful specials, then Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special is just for you.

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Bojack Horseman

Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at Bojack Horseman‘s “Sabrina’s Christmas Wish”.


When it comes to sitcoms, the grand tradition of the holiday special is a long time staple of the genre. The schmaltzy corniness of the 80s and 90s made these specials all the more egregious, and it is this tradition that Bojack Horseman echoes back to with its brilliant Christmas special.

Ostensibly just a full episode of Horsin’ Around (the show that made Bojack famous), Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special only uses the present day as a framing device before diving into the stupid fun of a very special episode of Horsin’ Around.

The central plot of the episode focuses on Bojack’s youngest adopted child, Sabrina, wishing for her parents to come back to life after Bojack assures her that Santa can give her anything she wants for Christmas. Of course, in typical sitcom fashion, rather than simply explaining to Sabrina that Santa can’t bring people back from the dead, Bojack instead opts to try and trick her into being naughty so Santa will have an excuse not to grant her wish.

Bojack Horseman

The absolute apex of this silliness comes when Bojack tries to get Sabrina to give in and eat some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. “I’ve heard of lookie-lookie don’t eat the cookie but this is ridiculous!” The use of lines like these in sitcoms is a classic cut to simpler and stupider times, where shows could really get away with lines as ham-fistedly ridiculous as these and actually call them jokes.

Ultimately this is the greatest strength of the Bojack Horseman Christmas special: calling back to the tropes of 80s and 90s sitcoms before satirizing and roasting them into oblivion.

All of the classics are here. From the annoying neighbor character, who is legitimately named Goober, to the absurd onslaught of character catchphrases that permeate the episode. The best of the latter comes from Ethan, the nerdy middle child, who espouses the line “Yowza-yowza-bo-bowsa!” to a few sparse claps and a cough from the unamused studio audience. That every character needed a catchphrase in these types of sitcoms is a given but to have one so bad that even the studio audience can’t be bothered to care is a beautiful bit of satire.

Bojack Horseman

Speaking of the studio audience, Bojack Horseman doesn’t stop using them for fodder there. Thanks to one very stupid audience member, some of the best moments of the episode come from reactions to classic sitcom tropes. For instance, when Bojack flirts with his secretary, while most of the audience opts for the classic whoops and cheers of yore, the idiot just yells “Kiss her!”. He also points out catchphrases (“She said the line!”) and lets out a confused “What!?!?” at the message of the episode.

If you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to grow up watching bad sitcoms with even worse Christmas specials every single year, then Bojack Horseman‘s Christmas special is just for you. Hearkening back to the nostalgia of the time before ripping it to shreds with endless glee, Bojack Horseman’s Christmas special isn’t just one of the funniest episodes of the show, it’s also one of its best.

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A Doctor Who Christmas: Revisiting “Voyage of the Damned”

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Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today, we look back at the Doctor Who Christmas special, “Voyage of the Damned”.

What’s it About?

First broadcast in December 2007, “Voyage Of The Damned” runs 72 minutes long and is the third Christmas special since the show’s revival in 2005. The Doctor finds his TARDIS colliding with a luxury space cruiser (based on the RMS Titanic) during a Christmas party. The ship’s captain, Hardaker (Geoffrey Palmer), sabotages the cruise liner by purposely lowering the ship’s shield, resulting in severe damage after colliding with several asteroids. It’s up to the Doctor (David Tennant), with the help of a waitress named Astrid Peth (Kylie Minogue), to fight off robot-like creatures in the form of golden angels and save the day.

voyage-of-the-damned-17

Review

A festival of ideas, bursting with wild imagination, ambitious set pieces, strange characters, curious visual effects, and one charming Doctor who had this critic glued to the screen midway through, when he turned around to deliver this rousing monologue:

I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I’m 903 years old and I’m the man who is gonna save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?

This time around, the mammoth cruise ship struck fire (not, ice) and the passengers are a sordid bunch including robotic golden angels armed with killer boomerang-like-halos, and a dwarf named Bannakaffalatta – a cyborg Zocci who strangely resembles Darth Maul. We learn that due to an accident, Bannakaffalatta had undergone conversion into a cyborg, for which he felt shame because apparently where he comes from, cyborgs are discriminated against. “Voyage of the Damned” features a batch of religious imagery (including a messianic portrayal of the Doctor himself being carried away into space by two of the angels), and the blank and trite performance by the beautiful pop sensation Kylie Minogue, (whose role was specifically written for her).

Voyage of the Damned

For a Christmas special, we get a number of casualties along the way, including Bannakaffalatta’s self-sacrifice and Astrid’s fall into the fires of hell. One could accurately describe this episode as The Poseidon Adventure in space, a nightmarish schematic rhapsody of virtuous discomfort. “Voyage” doesn’t end on a happy note. Sabotage and corporate greed destroy our ragtag bunch of passengers, and those who are lucky enough to survive do come out with lasting scars. Not much Christmas cheer here, but the script is sprinkled with clever comedic moments from time to time, including a surprising gag involving the royal family.

Astrid’s final appearance comes in the form of “an echo with the ghost of consciousness”; her stardust-hologram-like image fades after a final kiss. Perhaps a tad bit corny, but the sequence is enough to bring a tear to the eyes of die-hard Whovians. “Voyage” is ridiculous, but also oddly fun in the sheer overkill of pulp and fantasy imagery. Technically it impresses, loaded with eye-catching-hi-tech chase scenes and more importantly, characters and a plot (even if incoherent) to support them.

doctorwhovoyageofthedammbed

Is this thrilling no holds barred sci-fi/disaster mash-up brilliant or idiotic? Perhaps a bit of both, but “Voyage of the Damned” satisfies because of its strong emotional core and unnerving dark themes couched in stunning visuals. This visually arresting, occasionally funny ride is neatly wrapped in a comfortable Yuletide package.

– Ricky D

How Christmassy is it?

Despite the high death toll and the titanic setting, “Voyage” strangely delivers a Christmas vibe, if in scenes few and far between. I would say 50/50.

You May Like It If…

Obviously, if you like Doctor Who, disaster films, and science fiction.

Voyage of the Damned
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