Feminists talk about Doctor Who (with SPOILERS)
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Seems pretty quiet around here, so I hope no one minds this thread... do join in, one and all...
Inspired by some exchanges that took place in this thread (link goes to more or less arbitrarily chosen post within the sequence concerning DW):
>118 In general, I chalk up the sympathetic mass murderer trend up as an effort scale everything up in a linear fashion without dealing with the exponential growth of consequences.
Need a tragic backstory? Last of their family! Need a more tragic backstory? Last of their family and possibly the cause of it! Need a more more tragic backstory? Last of their family and definitely the cause of it!
Not enough, and the axes of increase are: more death caused, more responsibility, and less ambiguous involvement. In the end, we end up with the knowing mass murderers.
For what it's worth, I liked Rose with the Ninth Doctor- I think they mostly had the sort of buddy dynamic that Ten and Donna had later. I wasn't crazy about bending their relationship to romance, but it's what happens when male and female characters share a given amount screen time. I don't like Ten as much as many people seem to, but I enjoyed his performance in some episodes, eg the Family of Blood two-parter, where he got to show more emotional range.
The show has been plagued with clunky scripts- the character of Martha was pretty much wasted, as was the build-up at the end of Turn Left (such a cliffhanger, such a disappointment!), the Christmas episode with the clockwork giant cyberman was the nadir of the modern show for me (until the bit with Mels)- misogyny up to and including literally exploding the head of the scheming female villain because she couldn't handle things, cringeworthy wall-breaking to praise the Doctor, two halfbaked plots that shockingly did not combine into one fully baked plot yet remained an underdone mess...
Even with that, I think he's had more to work with than Matt Smith. (Madman in a box! Madman in a box! Madman in a box! Madman in a box! Madman in a box! *cringe*)
Just some quick "ayes" (as it happens) to some of your points:
I liked Rose and Nine too, Eccleston was charismatic, Billie Piper gave an amazing performance (I admit shamefacedly that I had made some unflattering assumptions based on her looks), their chemistry was great, it was still a friendship, Rose was still an ordinary girl.
I can understand--with effort ;)--why the romance with Ten was popular, but I just can't shake off the squick factor. It's not so much about the impossible chronological gap per se, but the stark imbalance between their experiences, knowledge, supposed sophistication and maturity.
Rose wasn't just an "ordinary teenager", she was aggressively ordinary (a mere simple shopgirl, Yer 'Onnor!), and, while nominally nineteen or so, looked even younger! (I'd say about 15-16.) A real puppy. And in the opposing corner, a vastly older man mortifyingly desperate to appear cool and "with it". The cynic in me understands why this formula appeals to teenage naifs and middle-aged sleazoids, but heck if I know why it would be popular with anyone else...
Martha's the only woman in New Who whose character I liked from start to finish, but I hate the story they gave her, the situations they put her in. For once we have someone with--let's not even say "career", a goal in life that doesn't depend in any way on the Doctor. She has it before she meets him, during and after. She's made to crush on him, which isn't great (especially as the show progresses every damn woman is defined by her romantic status vis-à-vis the Doctor), but doesn't bother me in itself--what bothers me is that he cold-shoulders her in consequence. Bring back the cosy TARDIS teams of old!
Agree that the Family of blood/Human nature story is very good; that, Blink and the Agatha Christie story--Wasp and Unicorn?--would be my pick from Ten's era.
Matt Smith--can't disagree about him either, the way his character developed (degenerated) was a huge disappointment to me. In contrast to Tennant, who irritates me with how boring and un-Doctorish he is (and how unattractive, badly dressed, over-mannered, histrionic, melodramatic, and ugly-voiced), Smith irritates me by being a cartoon. It's like watching Tom & Jerry, but less funny.
What do you think about the choice of Capaldi?
I don't dislike Smith's interpretation, but I'm afraid I now think of him as "the Doctor who makes sexist comments".
Yeah, and not just sexist comments. I was mortified by that incident with Jenny (Vastra's wife).
Women in general get little regard, lesbians even less, but to have that so blatantly showcased is shocking.
That episode was written by Moffat's pal Gatiss, also involved with Sherlock, where a lesbian character was made to fall for a man, and in an utterly demeaning, slavish fashion.
Perhaps this is something that needs to be mentioned at the beginning and frequently remembered: Doctor Who is written practically exclusively by men. Since its return in 2005, only ONE story was written by a woman.
In that sense I tended to dislike the 11 era because it stopped being about what it means to be human--and the real horror of what it looks like to lose your humanity, and turned into a kind of comic book adventure story.
That said, Blink remains one of my favorite hours on television, ever. And most of my favorite episodes in the (new doctor) show are the ones that do the horror best:
The Empty Child
The Impossible Astronaut
(that last gave me the creeps for weeks)
I can see how this works as drama. But, as my impression of the Doctor, his role and character, is based on Classic Who, it just feels like another huge betrayal to have him now dependent on humans for empathy. The charm of the old character lay precisely in his super-cosmopolitanism, contrasted to the anxious, blinkered parochialism of humans, in his generosity of spirit. He was already compassionate--far more so than the humans who had to be taught that even something looking like a jellyfish ought to be respected, could be liked and befriended.
A classic sci-fi theme. The "humanity" of the not-human.
Although, I must say that I don't recall at the moment any story in which this message was placed centrally, neon-lighted--in general, Classic Who was considerably more understated and more serious about its politics New Who.
For me, the biggest disappointment was Capaldi's entrance--ok, it's a brief scene and things may yet get better--but just the fact that he had such stupid lines, I mean the kidneys/colour ones... geez, I expected something more... sparkling.
Trying to think of anything nice to say: props for even wanting to tie up loose ends, I didn't think Moffat would bother. Whether he succeeded or not is another question (personally, I admit I hardly remember previous seasons, I have not rewatched any of Eleven's stories). Seems to me there's a fine idea in connecting the disappearance of Gallifrey to the "crack", but--maybe because it wasn't really planned from the beginning?--the final result is less elegant than it might have been.
I've lost track of all the rewritings of history and can't begin to understand how Clara and her splintering factors into the Doctor's past now.
Time travel paradoxes are the most annoying aspect of time travel stories! A localised loop is one thing, but when we repeatedly get scenarios that involve the whole universe, "all of reality" etc.--how quickly one becomes jaded.
The weakest part of the siege scenario, for me, was that in the end it was resolved by Clara just saying a couple words to the Time Lords--and what words!--basically "help him!" What was it, three hundred years of sitting there with all the villains of the universe above his head, the Time Lords--presumably--transmitting the same dumb request for a password ALL THAT TIME--and it just takes Clara to resolve the stalemate by... asking nicely? What?
And isn't Gallifrey supposed to be "frozen" in time? Who is then communicating and who sent him the new regeneration cycle?
Won't even go into the 'fake boyfriend', ass slapping, nakedness, and a reprisal of the dominatrix fetish.
One does wonder what the kiddies make out of lines such as that one about the bed-altar or altar-bed.
It's all about context, isn't it. It's impossible to introduce sex fetishism in a show that is ALSO (if not predominantly, anymore) a children's show without it being gross and ridiculous.
As for the ass-slapping--I've given up on Eleven's characterisation long ago. It's just... bizarre. Pathological, I might say. He's a giant creep.
I'm hoping Twelve will be different, but a friend tells me he's totally a stand-in for Moffat and not to expect anything better.
>15 AndreaKHost: That's exactly the complaint I had, why is the Doctor letting this village get shot up for 300 years?? Even without the TARDIS, that's more than enough time to, you know, use walking or other methods of transport? I just can't see admiration or "loyalty" to the Doctor extending to people putting their children at risk for some guy that just showed up and is the reason they're all in danger. I've been convinced since the "our baby was kidnapped, whatevs" episodes that Moffat has no idea how human beings actually act and feel in pretty much any situation.
Also relevant "why didn't he use the TARDIS"- so his friend the Cyberman head is dying due to lack of parts... er, the TARDIS, right there? Access to all of time and space? Maybe the one Cyberman buddy repair shop in all of time and space is under a time lock, and I guess the Doctor's lost his ability to cobble things together from other parts that he retained until at least as recently as the tenth Doctor...?
>15 AndreaKHost:,16 But she was such a ~strong female character~, she just happened to also be really super duper sexy and also obsessed with the Doctor!
>16 LolaWalser: I've felt the Doctor has been an author stand-in for a long time now, especially under Moffat. He's the very definition of a Mary Sue, much as I dislike the term: all the women are obsessed with him from birth to death, the men (Rory, among others) are super jealous of him, whole towns stick around just to keep him company and admire him, armies of everyone fear him because he could and sometimes does kill them all, entire species die just to give him angst because he also feels more angst than anyone, he's a super genius who's smarter than everyone and always knows best- and he does always know best etc...
I can't see anything changing much for the next Doctor, sadly. I can't see much of anything changing until there's a significant change in the writing staff, but the popularity of the show seems only to be increasing, at least from my anecdotal samples here in the US.
I'm trying to retain some hope for the Capaldi era. He's apparently a Whovian, and might feel some impulse to speak up against scripts where the Doctor behaves like women are all about their skirts. Of course, I have no idea whether this particular actor is a sexist ass or not, but I do think the actor in the role has a huge power to set a tone.
I used to think that Matt Smith, being young and relatively unknown, wouldn't likely have much of a chance to argue with the show runner about such things, but there's a contrasting quote set going around tumblr at the moment that suggests that part of the tone of the show may have been coming from him.
The first quote is a lovely one from Eccleston:
"For all the danger the Doctor encounters, the basic message of the show is seize life, be optimistic and see the positives. The series is written with passion and humour, and there’s an innocence about it. It’s a kind of celebration of life in all its forms. The Doctor doesn’t react with horror when he sees a blue, three-headed monster. He reacts with wonder, and I think that’s a very important message to send out to children."
And then Matt Smith, summing up what Doctor Who is about (for him):
"It’s a show about a man who’s more than a thousand years old who travels in a blue box, which is bigger on the inside than the outside. He can go anywhere in time and space, back in time, forward in time. Picks up a load of hot chicks, takes them around the world."
I'm not sure Capaldi can do much to change whatever direction Moffat takes the character, even if he wanted... let's just hope he won't be leering at Clara, at least.
Yes, the fanfare around the Doctor is beyond tiresome.
It's as if the show is doing its own marketing. And I have a chronic feeling of watching a glitzy advertisement for something that we never get to see.
Everything that makes this character interesting and dynamic is pared down so she makes a good mystery, something to fit into Steven Moffat’s puzzle box universe. What’s distressing is that every time he explains a bit of her away, we’re left with the clarified image of a woman who is entirely defined by her relationship to one person, specifically to one man. And while the Doctor does clearly have feelings for River, they are not of the same caliber, not nearly so encompassing. So on top of all this, she’s putting all of her life’s energy (quite literally) into a person who doesn’t focus the same sort of passion on her. It diminishes River, makes her so much less than she seemed in the beginning, an adventurer with her own plans and dreams, someone who the Doctor had to respect and acquiesce to on occasion. Because Gallifrey forbid the Doctor ever has to answer to anyone other than himself.
I think I agree that the biggest problem with Moffat's run has been the shifting goalposts and the changing rules and the general feeling that he's completely making it up as he goes along and throwing things out whenever he gets a better idea- like one of the commenters says, there's absolutely nothing that rewards rewatching because of this. The "mysteries" are like being presented with a Rubix cube and a Rubix-cube solving expert, but instead of following the rules the expert peels off the stickers and affix to another side until it's done. This comes up again and again and again, from River Song's absurd backstory, to the whole "Silence will Fall" deal, to the rules of the Weeping Angels' power ("the image of an angel is the angel"? what?), to now Trenzalore and Gallifrey it seems like and so on...
Three things I at least hope we're done with now that Smith is out:
1. Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who!?!?!?!! Just... just no. Just stop. Please. Please just stop it.
2. The phrase "madman in a box." Please, please the phrase "madman in a box" needs to go away.
3. The whole "Silence will fall" plot- I'm convinced there is absolutely no satisfying way to complete that whole plot after the goalposts have moved so many times, so let's just forget it and move on.
>18 AndreaKHost: Wow, those quotes really sum it up, don't they? Eccleston was "my Doctor," so I'm pleased to see it. I do so wish he'd stayed on for more than one season, and that his season hadn't had so many clunkers. (The first pair with the Slitheen- or even just the Slitheen being fart joke aliens, really- and Love & Monsters especially- the latter of which I was really enjoying up until that ending and haven't been able to rewatch since.)
I'd had the same feeling as you, where Smith was just following direction, with potential but disappointingly underused, but it sounds like not. Yeesh. Hopefully Capaldi's run will have a better tone, closer to Eccleston's quote- I'm beyond tired of all of the aliens being evil, for one thing. There's a post somewhere, I think by Foz Meadows, about how tired the author was of villains who were unreasonable and therefore must be stopped at all costs through violence and also kept repeating catchphrases.
>19 LolaWalser: Your last sentence is spot-on, I think.
Ahhhhh, River, I expended rivers of words on River and her AMOUR! FOU! POUR! TOUJOURS!...
And, I know she got a goodbye in The name of the Doctor, but really, he thinks about Amy and not her before kicking off? Not to mention what a slap that was to Clara (and the actress. Not pleasant to have the "popular" one come back and steal the big moment.)
She's a bonbon. His face looks really old. Alan Moore would pair them up in a heartbeat.
“From a Doctor she could sort of control, because he had a crush on her, she’s landed with a Doctor who barely registers that she’s a girl. They’re great friends and all that but she has to be his human interface with everybody else.”Oh joy... I can't even begin to unpack the irritatingly gendered assumptions in this one.
It's probably just my age, but that simple friendliness of the old Doctors, imperfect, gruff or absent-minded as it was on occasion, just seems better and better.
Have you seen Seven and Ace? Such a lovely dynamic.
I think part of the problem is the ever more apocalyptic stakes and Moffat's lengthy and incoherent mystery arcs getting in the way of telling interesting stories- and the thoroughly irritating trend that everything must be "dark" and "edgy" these days (and it's always in the very same ways- women suffering, men being angsty about not protecting their womenz and getting violent revenge.)
Have you (or has anyone) read Chicks Dig Time Lords, Chicks Unravel Time, or Queers Dig Time Lords? I'm rather curious about them- compilations of essays by women and LGBTQ Doctor Who fans about the show. I'm a little worried it might be an unmitigated "Yay this show!" and ignoring the flaws, though, with the subtitles "a celebration of Doctor Who" that a couple of the books carry.
I won't offer judgements on the McCoy era qua stories (it's all amusing to me), but I just love his relationship with Ace. He's infinitely old and clever etc. and she's just a teenage delinquent who likes bombs better than books, but they so palpably like and respect each other (not a trace of either patronisation or ickiness), and just plain ENJOY the company, it's a pleasure to watch that, in itself.
No, haven't read any of that, I'd have the same questions you do. There were some fan blogs on Tumblr that were still intelligently critical--maybe see whether anyone reviewed them there?
Doctor Who and Sherlock is all I've seen of Moffat's work... I've seen bits of Coupling and laughed here and there, but it's not my thing, that type of sitcom with stock characters in general isn't, if you've seen one episode, you've seen it all.
But in his world, it's all about men over here and women over there.
I probably wouldn't advise watching Jekyll. It's kind of astonishing how one can take such a natural theme and twist it into such ...that. Jekyll series spoiler, just in case anyone does plan to watch it--
“This is Clara. She’s not my assistant; she’s some other word.”Some other word like... uh, companion, maybe? I suppose not any more... Sigh.
“I’m his carer.”
“Yeah, my carer. She cares so I don’t have to.”
I mean, it's one thing to have a role function in some specific simplistic way, the brash one, the quiet one, the dumb one, the patsy, the ingenue etc., but quite another to spell it out it and stick on characters like a freakin NAME tag: hi, I'm Dark Brooding, I brood darkly!
As if we haven't been hit over the head enough with the notion that the Doctor is a scary immoral maniac without the influence of a guiding agent... let's put it in NEON.
I no longer have BBC America in my cable package, so I've been looking up spoilers to see if it's worth the $2/episode to buy it on various streaming services- the answer seems to be "nope" from everything I've seen so far, it sounds like Moffat's usual misogyny is out in force in this one. :/
Shorter answer: it's same old Moffat, but IMO, not the worst treatment we've seen, by far. For perspective, on my scale the worst would be the scene with kissing Jenny in The Crimson Horror (NOTE: written by Gatiss, not Moffat--but presumably Moffat okayed it), the characters of River and Amy, the lines--especially given to the Doctor--on the nature of The Woman (various episodes), the treatment of Clara (born to save the Doctor, just a tool--like River)--I would add the whole Irene Adler story from Sherlock as an illustration of the ABSOLUTE WORST Moffat CAN be... (actually, there isn't a single female character in Sherlock that isn't awful).
Compared to that sort of thing, I'd say this story is refreshingly subdued in that regard. The worst, to me, was labelling Clara a "control freak". I don't see where the hell that comes from--because she set the rule about only travelling with him "on Wednesdays"? I see no bloody other reason for it, and that is a miserable "reason" too. It has obvious unpleasant misogynistic connotations--the shrew, the hysteric, the neurotic--but it's so off the wall for Clara it just... fizzles out in its sheer dumbness.
Anyway, it's mentioned once or twice in a throwaway manner. Don't like it, but like I said, compared to some of the stuff Moffat pulled...
Two more things: Vastra and Jenny are still tediously signalled as "married-lesbians-lizard-and not-lizard"--a bloody Wagnerian leitmotif by now--and at the very end we are introduced to another Mysterious Woman Who Somehow, Mysteriously, Knows The Doctor--cue eyerolls, but to be fair, at least in this episode the cliché didn't have the time to develop past the announcement, as annoying as it is.
Hmmm, I can only share my impressions and let you make of them what you will--wouldn't dare to make any sort of firm recommendation, for or against, regarding this episode.
It seems not only to be polarising within fandom (although, to hell with fandom), I find that I'm in two or six minds about it myself, depending on whether we are talking about the whole, the parts, the combination of parts...
Oh--better make sure--THIS IS A SPOILER THREAD, SPOILING ALL THE WAY! ding, ding, ding!
To begin with the best:
I thought Capaldi was wonderful. I had been mostly neutral to his casting, leaning toward the positive because of the break of the age limit. But, while I certainly didn't expect to hate him, I never imagined I'd be liking him THIS much, and in his first episode (oh dear, I hope nothing happens that might change that!)
I adored his performance and the persona that emerged. Here he was strange, discombobulated and lost in the beginning (as always post regeneration), scary and fragile--played with such subtlety and cleverness, such heart and sincerity and intelligent emotionalism, as I have rarely seen in New Who--not since Eccleston was Nine, anyway.
And his Doctor could be BEAUTIFUL.
The freakin' problem is that Capaldi is a thousand times better than Moffat's writing. There's a limit to what any actor can do with stupid lines and disgraceful characterisation. God knows in what direction he'll be taken, but let's hope for the best.
After Capaldi, I was impressed by the villain, Peter Ferdinando playing the Half-Face Man. A great chilling performance, impeccably measured, he should come back.
Clara too was very good, and more like a real person than ever before. I see idiots are complaining about her "confusion" at the Doctor's regeneration--but she's not "confused" by the regeneration, she is simply unwilling to let go of Eleven. Which is understandable--she had a crush on him and he flirted with her and the audience were genital-teased to death--now suddenly he's grandad! She had to catch her breath (ha!) and then she accounted for herself spiffily.
I'm mixed on the Paternoster gang. As always happens with Moffat, he seems to give with one hand and take with the other. Wonderful to put a lesbian couple on screen; less wonderful to keep recycling the same jokes about them. That said, I would rather have them, jokes and all, than not.
There's a scene where Jenny (and lord she's lovely!) is posing for Vastra--or thinks she is, but Vastra is actually drawing a map--and enjoying looking at her semi-naked wife sort of by the way. Probably it's awful and I'm a miserable feminist and whatnot, but I got a chuckle out of it, I think it's sweet, and heck, take a look at Jenny--it's perfectly understandable. (Although I doubt I'd be able to pay any real attention to the MAP.) Yes, it was gratuitous eye candy. But I like the candy. *paradox... circuits... shorting...*
I've seen complaints about Vastra slightly flirting with Clara (or rather, Jenny pretending there was flirting...)--please. Married people may flirt. Women may flirt. Lesbians may flirt. Even married lesbians may flirt. Not that there was any REAL flirting going on. Just Moffat's rubbishy take on marriage (you now belong to me and I shall demonstrate our married state to the public at large at every opportunity by pushing you around in what our writer hopes is a comical manner).
To end with the women, probably the "worst" is the cliffhanger. Ah yes. There we have another feminine mystery wrapped in an enigma, a sinister madwoman in black who talks about the Doctor as her "boyfriend"--what could it all MEAN?! Guess you'll have to stay tuned for another arc or two!
What can I say--for me at least, these things didn't overshadow the pleasure I took in Capaldi's, Ferdinando's and Coleman's performance, and the story itself, which had some surprisingly effective horror elements, a great visual style, and excellent direction. But, somehow, more was promised than delivered.
Oh, they changed the title music and RUINED Delia Derbyshire's genius theme! It sounds like a parody! Forget mystery woman--THAT is unforgivable. At least we can be fairly sure it's not forever, but I really don't get it--doesn't anyone there get any feedback?
Now that the giddiness about Capaldi has subsided a bit, I do begin to worry about Clara, how she's written.
I didn't have the chance to rewatch the whole ep in peace yet (for the first time EVER I actually feel like seeing again a New Who story!), but I managed about half, and these points trouble me:
--she is described/called out as a "control freak", "egomaniac", "needy game player" and "narcissistic" (and some other stuff I can't recall), and it LOOKS as if those things will be picked up on again--that this is now "her character".
She was a blank with a pretty face before, now she's an egomaniacal narcissistic control freak.
And people are already defending this characterisation! She's pretty, so she must be a narcissist, she's a teacher, and she took initiative for stuff in some stories (never mind all those times when she doesn't, or is victimised)--so she's a control freak.
I don't see how this could turn out well.
Oh yes, just remembered another of Clara's new characteristics--"passive-aggressiveness".
Narcissistic passive-aggressive control-freak are not traits I ever saw in Clara nor did I see them in this episode. In the past she seemed plucky but the writers took that away from her. The story line seemed a bit cobbled together and the introduction of the woman at the end was just weird. I don't know if this was supposed to be the beginning of a long story arc or what. I also have no idea what kind of Promised Land a machine would expect.
I didn't think this episode was very good and I hope it isn't representative of what we can expect this season.
My friend has it on DVR though so I hope to be able to watch it at her house maybe tonight or one night this week.
Regarding Clara, to me she pretty much had no character traits at all, but all the things you list seem really out of left field- I'd not think she'd last long as a teacher with all of the passive-aggressive shenanigans, or a nanny? They seem like another of Moffat's ideas of "what every woman is secretly like" than an attempt at real characterization...
I had seen rumors that Jenna Coleman might be leaving the show at the Christmas special- I can maybe understand why if they've changed the character of Clara so much and made her so unpleasant.
Looks like I enjoyed the story much more than you did! How do you find the Doctor? Yeah, I hope we won't get mired in some religious conceptual nightmare with "Heaven"--I think it's just more of Moffat's "fairy tale metaphor" approach--at least I hope so.
I loved the Half-Face Man. He's not all robot, is he? His last scene with Capaldi was terrific. I know, I'm gushing again.
Cripes, that's crazy expensive! I got the package from Itunes for about 30 CAD. (I presume that's 13 eps... no Xmas story, probably.)
That's the weird infuriating thing with that "characterisation" (if it's for real)--it's not really supported reasonably by anything that happened before OR in this story. She's not unpleasant. She looks upset and worried by the Doctor's post-regenerative weirdness and she does ask Vastra how can they make him as before, and a big deal is made out of this--to some good effect, I must say, as it gives a chance to comment righteously about perception and Otherness and what we care for when we care for someone--but it's so obvious a lecture to the audience, not to be shallow and reject the old guy because they loved the young guy. And as if that wasn't enough--ugh, I'd forgotten about that scene, that's how much I despise it--they had Eleven phone Clara to beg her to accept this old, grey, lined version of him.
To be fair, it was probably great, moving and even crucially convincing to some of Smith's fans--but as I couldn't wait to see him leave, it just irritated me.
What does it mean when you like the robots better than the people?
Yes, Half-face man was good. As for the Doctor, I think I can get used to Capaldi - I especially like his choice of attire. I just hope we get better stories/writing.
You're a mad scientist bent on ending the human race!
My hopes for the writing are pathetically meagre--I just hope nothing worse happens.
Out of curiosity, are you a New or Old Whovian? It is generally predicted that it's the "new", 2005-post audiences that will have more trouble with Capaldi, and I'm curious if that's happening. (I only discovered the show a few years ago, but I prefer Old Who in general.)
I guess I'm a new Whovian. Didn't watch the originals until recently because I was young and living my life, plus we only watched what my father liked and the only Brit show he liked was Benny Hill (ugh!). It took me several episodes to get accustomed to Eccleston but I was on board with the stories right away. It also helped that I liked Rose. Capaldi is a good actor and I enjoy his accent so I'm curious to see how things go. The writing can make or break a show - doesn't matter how good-looking a guy is if he can't string three words together. Intelligence is the ultimate sexy!
I continue to think Capaldi's the cat's whiskers and much too good for almost all the scripts so far.
On the feminist front, things are not so good, IMO, but it's complicated. Ironically, the latest episode, the first one I liked since Into the Dalek, seems to set Clara back the most, with Boyfriend Man laying down the law etc.
I like Capaldi as an actor - did you see him in the Musketeers? I just don't think the scripts are that good, still hoping for improvement. This doctor seems to be saving earth, etc. because it's his duty, not from any affection for humans. I don't get any sense of wonder, adventure or fun.
As for Clara, I don't like how they have already spelled out that she's going to marry Pink. It's almost as if they are paving the way for her swift exit. I also have no idea what she sees in him. She's supposed to have been traveling with the Doctor, assisting him, even saving him so she should be a strong woman but she wants to be with this fellow who seems to have a lot of emotional baggage and can only assert himself over her.
Caretaker fit my bill, with some reservations. This was the one I was prepared to laugh with, not the--awful IMO!--Robin Hood thing. Although that one had bits I liked, I'll say that much. The over-the-top archery competition, the Sheriff picking out Clara as the brains behind the operation, and... *struggling*... let's say Clara's dress. I didn't even mind the inexpressibly silly "fire the arrow at the spaceship" bit, but overall, I'm sick of all the meta, postmodern knowingness ("look at the show giggling about it being a show!" "did you see what I did there, did you?" "here's another reference to some tired TV trope, fan!" etc.) And the bickering between Robin and the Doctor just wasn't funny enough for the length they went at it. Good villain, though.
Time heist... just dull, dunno. But that one at least I think I could rewatch.
Really didn't care for "Listen". Yeah, I'm a Moffat-hater, but how can anyone stand that much self-plagiarism, to say nothing of other people-plagiarism?
There's been much repetition in general, it seems.
As for Clara, I don't like how they have already spelled out that she's going to marry Pink.
Clara Pink! It killed me. Same thing Moffat did to Sally Sparrow. It does seem Coleman will be leaving soon--isn't Journey Blue (from Into the Dalek) slated to be the next companion? Her name sure is ready for the trip.
But I hear the next story is advertised as "the real beginning" for Twelve. No idea why they couldn't begin the beginning at the beginning.
I haven't heard about Journey Blue being the next companion but I when I first heard her name I thought oh, they must be setting the stage to have her get together with Pink. Wouldn't that have been precious? (Yuck!)
I did like Sally Sparrow and I still think she would be a good companion but apparently the powers that be aren't interested in bringing back any old characters.
Anyway, I will tune in next week and hope for a new beginning. So far it does feel as if we have gotten off on the wrong foot.
Agreed about Sally. I was talking about the scene with the cop, when she calls herself by his name, as if she's fantasising about being his missus. Thought nothing of it at the time, but that was early days, before Moffat trotted out Amy, River, Clara...
I blew most of my weekend while I was feeling sick by catching up on Doctor Who. I agree that Capaldi is a great Doctor....he's got so much presence that everyone else in the frame just kind of fades limply into the background. I've never been a Jenna Coleman fan and nothing in this season is changing that impression. But I might be getting tired of the series as a whole. I'm starting to see recycled themes and scenes -- a hazard of binge-watching, I suppose. And I'm more easily irritated when the show relies on a lot of cheap shots in the script to carry the story.
I still prefer the creepy episodes to the in-your-face monster shows, which is why I loved Blink, but despised every episode afterwards that had the Weeping Angels. I liked Listen a lot for the creep factor (they should have left the blanket on). I thought Flatline had creep potential that was squandered in the bickering between The Doctor and Clara.
And I'm more than a little tired of the blatant save-the-world story lines. (Massive forest overnight? Really? I would have so gone in a different direction with that concept). I much prefer the more contained, and therefore more intense, stories like Midnight or Deep Breath or the one about Madame du Pompadour. I'm also, by the way, hating the season long story arc....I'll be glad when that's over.
So yeah. Scripts-- generally disappointing. Humor -- generally cheap. Companions---well, I can't say I've ever watched the show for its feminist sensibility, so my expectations are always low on that score. .
But Capaldi is enough of an actor to drag the show along, despite its flaws.
Yay! You are watching! Since I left the vile neckbeard forum I miss at least secondhand chitchat. I started lurking in another Doctor Who forum, also moderated and heavily male, but it seems to have a small contingent of very nice people. Are you interested in the Bechdel test? There's a great discussion of the current series in its light, and another two discussions (edit: forgot to say, of Bechdel on the "classic" series, and post-2005 Who minus current). I haven't posted there, still taking stock of the lay of the land, but just following those is eye-opening.
Anyway, what I wanted to say, you'd be surprised how your opinions (well, mine anyway) can change when you see people rip into stuff for horrible reasons.
I was lukewarm about In the Forest of the Night (to be honest, it bored me rather), but after a mass of "fucking kids! who let kids on my teevee!" and other griping (bashing Clara because she's so important is commonplace) I sort of found it in me to appreciate stuff I overlooked to disliked before.
Oh, and yes, still totally mad about Capaldi's Doctor. He's still not getting stellar stuff (I did like the mummy story and Flatline a lot), but he's just so... good. So complete. The gestures, the voice modulation, the expressions, body language--I don't know, I'm thisclose to switching my Numero Uno (the Fourth Doctor! Is that even possible!) for him.
It wasn't the kids that bugged me about that episode--actually, I kind of thought the dynamic there was good. Save the world or get the kids home to their parents?
No, it's the way the show more and more often blithely ignores the consequences of these end-of-the-world scenarios: Hey, a planet-wide forest grew up over night to save us from a solar flare/storm thing! Don't worry--we'll all forget about it tomorrow. No biggie. Science fiction for me is all about how we can have our perspectives changed. Nothing ever friggin changes for the people on Earth.
That's something I've reproached New Who with a lot. All the bombast and the endless apocalypse, then it's all forgotten. Otoh, the show must go on... ;)
I also had some problems with Forest of the Night. The children are supposed to be in the gifted class but flashbacks show one boy is a bully and a girl who was asked to find X replies, "It's at the top of the paper." The trees release a lot of oxygen to shield the earth, but isn't oxygen flammable? How would that protect the earth from a super-heated solar flare? I know that science fiction doesn't always make a lot of sense but shouldn't it have some factual basis?
I'm also tired of the Missy arc at the end of some episodes. We don't learn anything new and the scenes feel tacked-on. I think it's time to replace the writers and find a new companion.
I think the oxygen thing worked in reverse, the trees withheld it, and thus the fire died out (remember when they tried to burn the forest and it didn't work)? But, in general, just close your eyes and enjoy the fairy tale. ;)
Yeah, the writing is doing Clara no favours whatsoever. I hope there's a goodly payoff at the end...
One of the problems that bedevils the show is that it never really manages good ensemble cast development. The Doctor's character tends to suck all the attention from everyone, and the people who play companions are rarely able to eke out enough space to really do justice to their roles. You need someone like a Donna Noble, who had to carve out her spot with something like a battering ram, or Jack Harkness, who just took it to a different show.
It reminds me a little of the casting problems in the Harry Potter movies, where are the kids just didn't have the chops to really hold their own alongside the really stellar presence of people like Rickman, Oldman, Emma Thompson, etc.
The Doctor's character tends to suck all the attention from everyone, and the people who play companions are rarely able to eke out enough space to really do justice to their roles.
Which, weirdly maybe, may be an argument for keeping them "cardboardy" like the companions in Classic Who (although I don't agree they were all ciphers), but then you have examples such as Rose in Season 1, who was really a very "alive", real presence (and I say this as not-a-fan).
I don't think Coleman is necessarily a worse actor than Piper, just that her character was used to the point of wanton abuse (she's a trick, a puzzle, an enigma, a cipher, and now, all of a sudden she gets oodles of character--but it's all awful? "Egomaniac", "control freak", "vain" etc.? Sheesh.)
Well: we have a Time Lord, "previously seen as male" (also cheetah, a snake and mystical vapour), now regenerated in a female body.
And yes, you can bet this means that the casting for the Doctor is now open to all genders (and probably goes without saying, races/ethnicites too.)
Michelle Gomez was fabulous. A very good episode, starts with a bang, lags in the middle, but then that brilliant reveal at the end...!
Also, there's the fact that no one ever really dies. It takes most of the emotional weight out of the story.
I thought Missy's "welcome package" was very weird and just uncomfortable to watch. (Even more so after learning she is the Master.) Her behavior seemed very erratic, almost as if a computer program had developed some sort of glitch. Pink finally got to do something — he got to cry. (What does Clara see in him!?) And again, Clara doesn't have much to do except talk on the phone.
People! After "Scandal in Belgravia" I spent WEEKS fantasising about sending rat poop to Moffat! And now you'll make me DEFEND him?! What Bizarro world is this...
Recycled ideas: yeah, he does that a lot, that's why I hated "Listen" so much. Not sure what bit you mean by deus ex machina? As to not dying, well, that's a theme we've been following since the first ep, "Deep Breath", it was clear the "dead" are actually being taken some place. Did you notice the silence on the phone after Danny was "hit by a car"? The same happened with that soldier in "Into the Dalek", and I think Half-Face Man, just an eerie silence before alighting in the Nethersphere. Telegraphed information: hmmm, I don't know--this is a two parter at least, otherwise, I too tend to think stories move too fast, too "clippy" (and quippy)--although I thought this season was miles better in that regard.
BUT THE MASTER IS A WOMAN!!! Yes, I am still delighted.
Don't know about contrived--do you mean Clara's sudden passion for Danny? It's true, I don't think they sold the relationship well. I wanted to like him, but, I dunno, either he wasn't given much to do or he can't do much. Then again, I think it works better if you imagine she is feeling more guilty about how she treated him than that she's suddenly terribly in love. She's been lying to him and maybe she doesn't know herself why, there was that hint that she can't bring herself to leave adventurin' with the Doctor, yet feels guilty to be doing so at the expense of the relationship with Danny--eh, frankly I'm not into their story, so whatever happens is OK by me.
BUT THE MASTER IS A WOMAN!!!!
And so will the Doctor be one day!
Still a happy bunny here.
Oh, the series is (in)famous for it. In this particular episode the whole volcano scene was like that...sorry! it was all a dream I cleverly made you have!
(and by the way, what about the whole snapping the fingers thing? The Doctor doesn't need a key, does he? Did I miss something in one of the interim specials?)
Plus, I was supremely irritated that Mr. Observant Doctor, who tracks Clara taking all the keys even when he's looking the other way, becomes Mr. Oblivious Doctor standing in a roomful of cybermen in fishtanks.
....and that's what I meant about the not dying thing. The same old bad guys keep showing up. I mean, how many times has he killed off "the last" of the Daleks, or the Cybermen, not to mention The Master? As evil forces they're clownish at this point. You knew what was coming the moment those double doors closed (if not before) but let's face it...is anyone really worried about the upcoming invasion?
Basically, the only suspense in that story is what will happen to Danny's uploaded consciousness when (if) his body is cremated. But dead is almost never dead on this show, which takes most of the urgency and emotional force out any given story line.
Hmm, well, I thought the volcano scene worked beautifully. Clara was unhinged for a spell. I figured the Doctor let her play out her insanity, as simply telling her to come to her senses may not have worked, considering the state she was in. But I suppose there's still more to come in connection with Clara. What exactly is Missy hinting at by calling her "my Clara" etc.?
Plus--that immortal line, "did you think I cared for you so little that betraying me could make a difference?"--well, that just HAD to exist. ;)
On Cybermen and Daleks never being finally defeated--well, you CAN'T do that! They can only take breaks, never disappear from the show entirely.
Why he couldn't open the Tardis by clicking fingers--yes, obvious question, but I'm at least ready to buy any rationalisation, for example that you have to be in possession of the keys for that to work--I mean at least know where the keys are. Or that clicking doesn't help to "own" or fly the Tardis if the keys are destroyed.
Well, it played pretty suspenseful for me, at least when Gomez was on screen, she's so magnetic. I'd seen speculation that Missy's the Master but truly didn't believe that could happen.
Still, this IS a fantasy show for children. I don't hold it to the same standards as I would adult drama (and no, Downton Abbey DEFINITELY does not count as such either!!!)
Osgood is like this total genius that impresses even The Doctor with her intelligence and deduction. So of course she falls for the “Come here, I want to whisper something to you” ploy from the homicidal maniac who is, for some reason, being kept ten feet from her while she’s trying to work.
Crap like that drives me absolutely nuts in the show.
Yes, I agree there was daftness in oodles. Still thrilled though.
Sorry I don't have time to comment more now, glad to see the thread wriggle its toes!
Oh please, please do! Invite all your friends! Tell strangers on the bus!
I have been watching all the time, Capaldi is my favourite now and was welcome to stay for double the time, but what has to be has to be and THIS
I wanted so much but didn't dare believe it would happen. I thought at best they'd cast a black man. Which would also have been great and has to happen some day, but--if I may be forgiven crazy juxtapositions, but that's how it appears--I'm sick and tired of women always coming last, of how being a woman is so much worse than anything else "even" black men and gay men and any other kind of men have to come first before we can finally entertain the idea of a woman in some public role.
"It feels completely overwhelming, as a feminist, as a woman, as an actor, as a human, as someone who wants to continually push themselves and challenge themselves, and not be boxed in by what you're told you can and can’t be," Whittaker said. "It feels incredible."
In this age of rising fundamentalist misogyny and no-limit sexist sleazebaggery, every little thing matters.