The creators of the new show, starting of course with Russell T Davies himself, were obviously and openly fans of Doctor Who. They'd grown up watching it, it meant something more to them than a job and something they created out of other aspects of their culture. Instead, Doctor Who was also an "aspect of their culture," the one they'd grown up under, as much as if not more so than things like Shakespeare and the Church of England and monarchy and so on. So in a sense no one involved in creating the new show is as in charge of it as the writers and directors and so on of the Classic one were -- they're almost approaching it the way you'd approach a religious faith. The old Doctor Who had applied to it (sometimes badly) whatever the writers and directors at the time were into -- feminism, environmentalism, Eastern mysticism, and so on. The new Doctor Who has Doctor Who applied to it.
This is why so many aspects of the new show, as much as I enjoy it, frustrate and irritate me. For one thing, I'm not British, so there is that remove (though American culture is very little different than British culture). But more importantly I did not "grow up" on the thing, I did not "hide behind the couch" (though we did have a couch in the middle of our living room I could have hidden behind, i was in junior high by the time I saw an episode and would have felt ridiculous, and I didn't find any of its "monsters" really scary). So I didn't have this television show shaping (and distorting) my childhood. Also on a merely personal level I've never been into recreating my childhood, so I can't really get completely into the new crew's apparent desire to do so for theirs. Like, yeah the Daleks scared you as a kid but we're not all five years old now, so can we get back to exploring the political and cultural concepts they embodied in the old show, not just the monsters from your ids?
That's one thing that is refreshing about Matt Smith's Doctor, by the way, and also oddly enough why he's so much more a "Doctory" Doctor than David Tennant was (though Tennant was a great Doctor, there was something off about him at times which a lesser actor would not have been able to overcome): he didn't grow up on the show, he was too young, it was cancelled when he was a small child and didn't come back until he was an adult. So Smith came to it more or less untouched by the fannishness, and it shows in his performances (when the scripts let him anyway, sometimes I only get this "ah, that's the Doctor I knew" feeling by inference because he still has to follow Stephen Moffat's often problematic direction.
Anyway, that was sort of bothering me and I needed to get it off my chest. I may be developing this further, who knows. But as for now, I have toast, jam, and tea, and the rest of the internet.
Anyway, re Doctor Who: just can't work up the enthusiasm. I really wish Matt Smith would do more non-Who work but I guess filming that takes up too much time. I'm getting the urge to watch old classic eps, though, even ones I've seen before, and I've seen most of them now. Just need to watch some of the 6th and 7th Doctor serials (well, I don't really need to, but I'm a completist), and also the 1st Doctor ones they've finally released to dvd, and maybe I'll force myself to watch that 2nd Doctor one that had part of it redone as a cartoon because they lost the master tapes. Urk.
I've titled this "things that bother me about the current Doctor Who" but I'm not sure "bother" is the right word. And I don't know if it means anything or if I'm just weird. I haven't seen anyone else make this observation so maybe it's the latter. But: one thing that makes the Steven Moffat episodes different from the RTD episodes is the dreamlike atmosphere. Even when RTD was still in charge, there was something slightly unreal about the episodes Moffat penned (that would be: The Girl In The Fireplace, Blink, and Silence In The Library/Forest Of The Dead). Then he took over and even though I haven't seen every single Eleven episode the ones I have seen all made me think "Is this really happening?"
Let me clarify what I mean. I realize I am accusing a science fantasy show of being "unreal" but I don't mean "unreal" in the context of real life, I mean "unreal" in the context of the show itself. In other words, are we supposed to take what's happening in the episode at face value as actually happening in the fictional "real" lives of the fictional characters, or are they actually supposed to be taking place in some sort of virtual existence the breaking of which will be the climax of the next series? Because I get the feeling that this is what's going on.
The show isn't exactly a stranger to this. There was the Second Doctor episode where they were all trapped in the "Land of Fiction." There was the Fourth Doctor episode Deadly Assassin where the Doctor had to go into a virtual reality world. And there was that whole Trial of a Time Lord series with the Sixth Doctor that I think was meant to be entirely unreal -- including the trial itself. (At least that's my take on it. I mean, supposedly all the things the Time Lords were showing the Doctor via Matrix were actual things he'd done recorded Somehow by Time Lord magic-tech, but it seems more plausible to me that the events were just faked up "virtual reality" what-if scenarios to fuck with the Doctor's head, to see how he'd react or to influence him in some way. Such subterfuge seems to me to be characteristic Time Lord fuckery, but maybe I'm giving the writers back then too much credit and they meant us to take the Trial itself at face value.) My point is, messing with the Doctor's head via virtual reality is a plot the show has used before.
Anyway, the thing about the Moffat episodes written for Ten is the way they are just so slightly skewed from the standard Ten eps that you -- or at least I -- wonder if we were meant to think they actually happened or were they fantasies Ten had or dreams and when he woke up did he forget them. Now there is the fact that in the flashback scenes in Journey's End during Davros's Hannibal Lecture speech we do see scenes of River Song, so I could be wrong, at least about the Ten episodes. (I mean, in that they really happened to Ten, they aren't just dreams of some future Doctor stuck in a virtual reality world.)
But then Moffat took over the show and Eleven came on the scene and there is just something consistently off about all the episodes that I have seen that makes me wonder if, even after the revelation of "yes, goo-Amy was the fake Amy and real Amy was trapped pregnant in a tube" is that actually the only "trapped in a dreamworld" thing going on, and was that whole thing just a dream-within-a-dream? (I sure hope so because the pregnant-in-a-tube baby-forcing scenario really squicks me out.) That could explain why Eleven is apparently so freaked out about revealing his Real!Name. Which -- note -- Moffat originally brought up in Girl in the Fireplace ("there is no name"). Before the idea was just that the Doctor's real name was unpronounceable or a mathematical formula or some goofy alien thing like that, but there was nothing particularly weird about it. I don't know if in any of the Classic Who episodes there was a big deal made about his name being a big deal mystery (there was some gaming with his origin -- "how many lives have you lived?" in The Brain of Morbius and some bits about him being some sort of mysterious "Other" they came up with in one of the Seventh Doctor serials that I can't remember because the Seventh Doctor serials were incoherent). But the Doctor's name being some sort of mysterious important thing seems to be Moffat's thing, and RTD went along with (in Journey's End there's all this stuff about the Medusa Cascade and the Doctor's name and it was all sort of stupidly overdramatic as I recall).
Anyway, the whole Doctor's name being sooper sekret thing could be because saying the Doctor's Real!Name is the trigger that will break the virtual reality world he's in by waking him up. At least, that's how I would write it. Otherwise it just sounds like more "oh noes, the Doctor is a super powerful being that if you say his Real!Name starts DOOM!" Which makes no sense in the scenario we've been given so far that the Doctor is tired of having people treat him like a scary god-demon, so tired of it that he's arranged for the entire universe (except for three people and... anyone else he encounters, let's not think about that right now) to think he is dead. So I'm going with virtual reality trap, which is what Moffat could have meant by his latest fan-trolling where he's been saying he'll lose his companions Amy and Rory in a "heartbreaking" way -- that is, he'll find out they weren't even real, just creations of the dream world he's been in.
Think about it: Amy's village being somehow centered around her and lacking ducks and all the other weird vibes it was giving off were put down to it being an effect of the Pandorica's fake world that was slowly imploding. But even after that had all been settled and the universe "rebooted," the dreamy state didn't stop. In fact, it got worse. And that was the effect, supposedly, of Amy not being Amy, but a goo-Amy. (I can't remember right now what those copy things were called.) But there is the whole issue of Rory dying over and over again. Then there was the way, at the end of last season, that the whole universe was imploding yet again -- this supposedly due to River not killing the Doctor like she was supposed to because it was for some reason one of those "fixed points in time" that I am getting really tired of hearing about. But then the Doctor arranged for the entire universe to think he was actually dead, which supposedly restored it... but hold on.
Computers, that's what. I really think that everything we've seen -- the unlikely coincidences of the Doctor being able to just run about collecting random characters from previous episodes, like Danny in his Spitfire, as well as characters we haven't heard of but who are there because of the Rule of Cool -- like Jenny and Madame Vashtra -- for his raid on the place where Amy was being held, and for the weird way that rather insignificant failure (to rescue Amy and her baby) was somehow supposed to be the Worst Thing In The Whole World The Doctor Failed At, and the way there are all these rewrites of time/space where new characters keep appearing, and how River Song seems to be able to escape her "impregnable" impressively-named prison whenever she wants (though that could be explained by the Doctor's time travel -- he could have gone back in time and brought her the magic hallucinatory lipstick and told her "you'll need this in the future"), and so on, could all be explained by everyone -- or at least the Doctor -- being held prisoner in some sort of virtual reality. Because otherwise these dumb details (a WW2 pilot is just okay with being brought across time and space? Really?) just don't make any sense even in a show that's more fantasy than science fiction.
Or maybe it's just that I still don't like the idea that River Song isn't a character he met as an independent adult, but instead was basically born for him. I want that more than anything to be part of the dream-trap, and if we have to lose Amy and Rory to get that taken care of, I'm okay with it.
I’ve been going through some of the dialogue from some of the this season’s Who episodes that I’ve missed, and I just can’t accept the way the series is turning out so far. My disjointed and possibly incoherent objections are as follows:
One: last season we had the universe all restarted and Amy restored to her family and happiness. This season we have clingy, “has too much faith in the Doctor,” abandonment issues Amy, who suddenly seems to lose all interest in her own daughter once she finds out said missing daughter was best friend Mel, who regenerates into River Song. No wonder the Doctor seems to prefer to see her as little Amelia — I would too.
Two: the more I think about it the more the idea that River Song is Amy’s and Rory’s daughter just does not make sense. It just doesn’t.
Three: I really don’t believe in the “they made a baby in the Tardis and therefore it’s a Human Time Lord Magic Babby!” at all. If it was that easy to make more Time Lords, don’t you think the Doctor would have known about it? It’s his race and his Tardis, after all. Why does cool snake lady and her girlfriend get to be the one who figures this out? Where did the Doctor’s big brain that knows all things go?
Four: people keep saying that Steven Moffat doesn’t have really evil villains, but that Kovarian lady is a fucking evil bitch who needs to be put into the heart of the nearest sun. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to feel any sort of sympathy for her and her crusade against the Doctor because he’s so ooooh, scary.
Five: this whole thing where the Doctor has scared so many people across the universe with his awful awesomeness or something is fucked up and wrong. Maybe I’ve been watching a Doctor Who from an alternate universe, but I was under the impression that the Doctor was a hero who did good and helped people and that the sort of people who were afraid of the Doctor were bad people who should have been afraid of him and deserved to be scared. What fucked up shit is this speech River gives him at the end of Good Man Goes To War where it’s all his fault that the evil people have stolen the magic baby to make war against him because he lost his temper with quite a bit of justification. If you will recall, these people had kidnapped his friend and forced her to have a baby in a tube, and they kept his friend, letting her bond with the kid, all the while making sure the new mother knew they planned to take the baby away and do something horrible to it that would turn said baby into weapon to kill Amy’s best friend, the Doctor. You know, I do think that not only is there nothing wrong with the Doctor being a bit miffed that this happened, I heartily approve of his anger. Because it’s an actual normal emotional response (kidnap pregnant friend, force pregnant friend to have baby in tube, torment friend with knowledge that baby will be taken away and psychologically tortured into becoming killer of YOU — yeah, I’d be just a bit FUCKING PISSED OFF), in a series where most of the characters haven’t been having a lot of normal emotional reactions to anything. And I include River’s “your anger is wrong and it’s your fault all this happened” rant, because I don’t for one minute trust her motives at all. (If it turns out she’s just really their daughter it will both be squicky and boring, because it would be great if she was always the mastermind of this, from way back with Ten.)
Six: the Doctor’s depression. It’s getting very wearing. I know lots of the fans love it, because this isn’t the Seventies anymore and self-hatred and depression are cool now. I mean what the fuck, when do they show the Doctor cutting himself? I mean, self-knowledge of one’s own flaws is one thing, but to be continually down on oneself is not healthy, and it’s not healthy to be all accepting of your impending murder either. (The previews of next week give some hope that he’s fighting off this haze of gloom and trying to ask questions about it, but it’s a real downer all the same to see him moping about saying “good-bye” to everyone. We had that with Ten. It was shit then. When I said I didn’t like the way Ten dragged out his death forever because he didn’t want to die, I didn’t mean I wanted a Doctor who was all “accepting” of dying either. I can’t imagine what sort of effect this is having on the kids who watch this show.)
Seven: again we have companions fobbed off with expensive presents. I just find that weird. One of the things Doctor Who was all about was there was more to life than material gain. I’ve nothing against material gain and nice presents, but it just looks weird in context. I mean, didn’t Rory and Amy already live somewhere? And they did have a car, though I imagine it was impounded by the police after being left in that field. (And what happened to that? They were being chased by cops, courtesy of Mel. Surely the car, registered to the Williams, would have gotten them some sort of questioning by the authorities. Not to mention where was their friend who was wanted for stealing a car. Not to mention they were using their own car to trespass in a field and basically vandalize it. I guess we’re supposed to just forget about that.)
Eight: this is more for fan reaction than anything going on in the show — it concerns complaining about how the Doctor is dumping another companion and telling her what to do and so on. Look. It’s the Doctor’s boat. No one has any right to travel with him. If he decides that the companion needs to go home now, that’s it. I don’t care how said companion decides, all on her own (it’s been her — in the new show anyway all of the guys were only traveling with the Doctor because they were either girlfriends or husbands — more on that subject someday), that she wants to travel with him “forever” (I’m looking at you, ROES, and, sadly, Donna) and wants to devote her life to him, if he decides that’s not what HE wants, that’s too damn bad. The Doctor is not obligated to let people travel with him for the rest of their lives just because they went about with him for a while. Yes, even if they’ve been a help to him. Because it’s HIS spaceship. It’s like this: if I ask you to come with me to the grocery store and help me shop because I’ve got a bad leg, that doesn’t mean you get to ride in my car forever everywhere. And as a matter of fact, what sort of help has Amy been to him? Rather, he was the one who helped her — he sealed up the crack in her wall, and actually sacrificed himself to put the universe back together which resulted in her having a life again. Sure, her remembering of him brought him back too, that was nice. I’d call it even-steven, not “now you must take me across space-time always.” (I’ll just add here that this isn’t actually the way the Amy character is acting — it’s the way fans are acting about her.)
Nine: speaking of Amy’s use as a companion; I do wonder why she was still going about with the Doctor, reluctant husband in tow. Because Rory was reluctant. Sure, he seemed to enjoy himself a bit, but he clearly would rather be home on Earth. The thrill of traveling through space and time didn’t seem to be present in the breast of Rory Willliams. (In many ways, he’s like a lot of Who companions across the ages — male ones especially — at least if they were from contemporary Earth and British. This blasé attitude seems to be some sort of British thing. Girls get excited; men affect a stiff upper lip and ask for a cuppa. I dunno.) Some of his attitude could be justified by the whole 2,000-year-old-plastic-Roman thing. And he did make himself useful, so he wasn’t a drag or a load. Amy I don’t get. I guess she and the Doctor were just best buds, and she cheered him up, but really, the Doctor needs companions who do more than cheer him up — and then drive him into paroxysms of self-hatred and depression when their lives get endangered because after all, he’s a danger magnet. He needs someone who doesn’t go around the bend (or get pregnant and kidnapped) when things go south. I would once have said he needed someone like River Song but her story has gotten all squicky with the whole “the Tardis maded a girlfriend for you” thing.
That’s all for now.
Anyway, the ones I watched were Shada (a version that was partially Tom Baker's narration for the scenes they never shot), Planet of the Daleks, and I finished Frontier In Space. The latter two were Third Doctor serials, and Shada of course is the "unaired" episode with Four. Frontier In Space did pick up at the end (I'd put off watching it because it had gotten boring), and I especially love the way Jo defeated the Master's attempts to control her mind, first with his "you will obey me!" shtick (she just started yelling nonsense at him until he quit, awesome), and then with this gadget he'd been using to make everyone think they were seeing the things they most feared. Jo knew what the gadget was, so she just kept shouting "you're really the Master!" (he was making her think she was seeing a drashig), until he turned the machine off. I bet it was starting to overheat. Anyway, I think that the Master secretly had a crush on Jo. This was also a tad sad as it was Delgado's last appearance as he was killed in a car accident and they had to scrap the scripts that followed; so Frontier ended on a cliffhanger and the next show was somewhat of an abrupt left turn, into Planet of the Daleks.
I'm sick of Daleks so I was expecting to be bored but this one was one of the better serials of Three's run. I think it was because the Daleks weren't overused, and we didn't get "Daleks are awesomely the most horrid unstoppable creatures ever give up all hope OMG" because this is Classic Who where you're allowed to fight back. Also, the Thals were cool. (So what happened to them? I guess they were all killed finally. Maybe Three shouldn't have told them to be so peaceful and talk up the horrors of war.) And I do like the way you see Jo at the end deciding on her own she had to go home, instead of having to be pushed off the Tardis like a recalcitrant cow. In fact, the very next serial is The Green Death, where she meets her Welsh professor husband and leaves the show, but it works. (I've already seen The Green Death, the romance isn't tacked on as a "surprise rebound" thing, but is built up through the show.) And she leaves not because "life with the Doctor is too dangerous and the horror of it all has driven another companion away" but because she has grown up and fallen in love. Also the Welsh professor character is kind of like the Doctor -- science guy, has non-mainstream ideas, wants to travel and do good -- not some sort of stable, steady, polar opposite.
That's a little harsh, but I don't know how to say it another way. From the very first episode we are shown a grown up Amy who has obvious psychological problems because the Doctor didn't come back that first night, when she was seven (I think) and whisk her away into time and space. Now I can get a child not understanding what was going on at that moment with the Doctor and the broken-down Tardis (which had just crashed), but over the years her increasing knowledge of how things work could at least have brought her to some realization that something must have gone wrong. I mean, smoke and flames were coming out of his magical box. If it was me, I would not have been angry so much as worried. Of course, anger is a natural reaction -- "Doesn't he know how worried I am? Where is he!?! If he's dead I'll never forgive him!" But still, we don't get a sense from the show that she was worried that he somehow blew up -- just that she was pissed off that he didn't show up until she was in her twenties. And he shows up in the same raggedy clothes she's seen him in when she was a kid and obviously remembers so a smart person would, after the initial shock wore off, figure out that something other than "Oh, I just made a promise to get you off my back 'cos you were a boring kid" had gone on.
The fact that this is played for semi-comic effect hides the weirdness of the situation. But if you take out the funny bits her reaction doesn't just seem weird, but psychotic. I mean look: the first thing she does when she sees him (even before he sees her grown-up self), is knock him unconscious with some sort of field hockey bat (I don't know what sports things are called -- the thing reminded me of those wooden things we used when we'd have to play field hockey -- well, not me, no one would trust me with one). Knocking someone out, far from being the funny slapstick act of a million comedy skits, is actually extremely dangerous and usually results, if not in death, then in permanent brain damage. At least the Doctor's a Time Lord who had recently regenerated and so probably healed right up. (Hey, now that I think about it every single puzzling aspect of the 11th Doctor season could be explained by the Doctor being in a coma and having weird dreams due to being clocked over the head. He could still be handcuffed to that radiator!)
Getting back to the subject, Amy's reaction could be explained away by the fact that he's an intruder in her house... if we weren't shown later that she had recognized him all along. So she sees the man who "let her down" as a child and who she had waited for her entire life... and she violently attacks him. Not normal. Though it's all played for edgy laughs. (And I'm going to break in here and say I enjoyed all these scenes immensely. I can turn off the overthinker when necessary.) The thing with the psychiatrists and how apparently she insisted he was "real" even when no one believed her (and apparently no one wondered what the hell happened to that shed in the back yard that the Tardis crashed into?) is also odd. Most kids have an "imaginary" friend and most adults just go along with the fantasy until the kid grows out of it. (Later on we have this weird repeat of the whole "kid believes in the Doctor so hard it makes her bonkers" with Mels, a.k.a. Melody a.k.a. River Song before she became River Song. Like mother like daughter? The whole relationship between Mels/Melody/River and her supposed parents doesn't make a whole lot of sense even in this context. For one thing, where would Mels get the idea that the Doctor should save the world from evil people? When she and Amy and Rory all grew up together was before Amy knew any more about the Doctor than he'd crashed a spaceship into her back yard, been weird and wacky, made her empty the contents of her kitchen before he settled on fish custard, and closed the scary crack in her wall before vanishing into the night. But that's for another post.)
Anyway, all of Amy's out-of-proportion anger at the Doctor for basically not kidnapping her from her home (I guess her parents had been eaten by the crack in the universe before giving her that don't-get-into-vans-with-strange-men talk) can be explained. But not the fan reaction to it. So far (I haven't read the entire internet) I seem to be the only one that is wondering what is okay about treating the Doctor like your personal time-travel-guide/extra boyfriend. It's not like Amy's the first to do it either -- it seems to be a theme in New Who. Rose was the worst offender -- she basically threw a tantrum ("Bad Wolf" is right) when he tried to save her freaking life by taking her home before going off to the future to be killed by the Daleks. But you know, it was ROSE, the Bestest Companion Evar, so even ingesting Tardis gas (or whatever turned her into a temporary goddess) and committing genocide (she destroyed what were for all the Doctor knew the last Daleks in existence, something he had been feeling guilty about and it turned out he didn't even do!) got her, not dumped back on her arse in 2005 London as punishment, but magically cured with a kiss and given a brand-new cute Doctor. One she complained about as "broken" by the way. Remember all that?
Amy's character is, imho, much better written, but she has the same problem too many female characters on NuWho, in that they seem to think they are entitled to the Doctor's company and time. Grant you, a lot of the time this was worked out as due to interference by Others (Dalek Caan playing around in the Time Vortex or whatever, I can't remember exactly and also Dalek Caan was crazy by that time but I believe there was something about him (it?) manipulating Donna's "time stream" so she would end up becoming DoctorDonna and destroying the Daleks and that's enough of that deus ex machina fail for now.) And Martha never acted like the Doctor was her own personal interstellar playtoy -- quite the opposite. Of course, she was rewarded by being labeled "pathetic" and "racefail" by too many fans. It's obviously much better being the entitled companion who pushes the Doctor around.
Anyway, I had left this post cooking for a day or so, and then recently came upon a fan discussion of the upcoming episode ("The God Complex") which mentions Amy's "abandonment issues." Okay, fans, help me out here: what has Amy got to feel abandoned about any more? True, when the Doctor first encountered her, the cracks in the universe had eaten almost everyone in her life. It would have taken a very cruel person to not offer to take her away from her horrid empty house, and the Doctor was not that person. Still, something went wrong and he didn't appear until Amy was grown up. Even so, you can't say he "abandoned" her. It wasn't like he was family -- he was a stranger. (He's not even the same species!) I mean what. I really don't get the "abandonment" thing. And in all the other episodes where Amy got into hot water because basically life with the Doctor isn't exactly a trip to Disney World, he did everything he could to get her out of it. In fact, he basically committed suicide (In "The Big Bang") so the world could be "rebooted" (he had no certainty that Amy would "remember" him back into existence). Really, what more does she (or rather, the fans who are pushing this particular wank, possibly based on their own "abandonment issues") want?
I need to reiterate that I like the Amy character but I have some issues with it. I can accept that they've written her to have the flaw of having problems with entitlement as concerns the men in her life (she tends to treat Rory like an accessory when she forgets herself too), but that doesn't mean that we should accept them as being wonderful just because they're a characteristic of a Who companion. And actually, problematic companions with deep flaws were a feature of the classic show. We weren't supposed to accept Turlough's cowardice and treachery as good things, just to name one example.
This will be continued after I watch "The Girl Who Waited."
*As the new show doesn't consist of several half-hour segments I don't think calling them "serials" sounds right.
What if the Family of Blood escaped from the various prisons the Doctor put them in and were behind this whole thing? What if Rory, Amy, and River are actually Father Of Mine, Mother Of Mine, Son Of Mine (for that sex change frisson everyone seems to want from Who these days), and Karen Gillan's cousin could play Sister Of Mine? (She's older and thus probably a bit taller and less little-girl-looking now, but as I've cast Alex King as Son Of Mine I don't see how that matters.) And there's always "Prisoner Zero" to wonder about. Really, there's this whole prison issue in the background that people seem to have forgotten in their urge to get the Doctor and River Song in bed. The more I think of this scenario the more I like it. Hey Moff, you can get rid of your dolls and statues now -- I've just turned the Doctor's best buddies into zombie cannibal aliens intent on revenge.
Perhaps this is my way of saying I think the scenario where River is the Doctor's soul mate and Amy and Rory are her mom and dad just seems too cozy and cute to me. This is Doctor Who, not Coronation Street. I think (hope actually) that Moffat has something more sinister up his sleeve than what's been going on so far.
Another scenario I have been thinking of to explain what's been going on in the series so far to my own satisfaction is the possibility that it's Amy, not River, who is the child brought up to be his assassin. It's just odd that the universe crack opened in this kid's bedroom. Oh sure, the whole "Amy is the mom of his future/past girlfriend" but that explanation doesn't satisfy me. And actually, River Song herself has become problematic to me, going all the way back to her encounter with Ten in Silence In The Library/Forest of the Dead. For one thing, why a team of archaeologists? You have a planet that's been shut down for 100 years (and no one decided to figure out what happened immediately? They just waited a century? Yeah.) from some mysterious event. It could be anything -- a disease, raiders, aliens. But you don't send a team of archaeologists to investigate something like that -- you send scientists and the military. It could be that since the planet was privately owned the family that owned it was able to stave off any official investigation for a hundred years, but that's some sweet political power. Any government worth its salt wouldn't let a possibly dangerous situation go uninvestigated for long. And when they finally were able to get things going, they wouldn't send a team of archaeologists. Despite what movies and tv tell us, archaeologists aren't like Indiana Jones.
One other little thing bothered me about that episode, or serial, or whatever I'm supposed to call it: why didn't River and her crew ever take off their space suits? They had dehelmeted, yes, but they kept their suits on. How could they run about on a planet with presumably Earth-normal gravity? Space suits are made for low-gravity environments. They're uncomfortable as hell to wear otherwise. But that could be explained away in that they are futuristic space suits with all sorts of gravity-compensators and built-in air-conditioning so you won't feel like you're wearing a toaster oven turned on high, so I've decided to accept it as artistic license.
Also it's a neat setup for the Impossible Astronaut and the return of the Vashta Nerada that we're obviously going to get at some point. What if the Vashta Nerada figured out a way to escape from the Library planet? Maybe with the help of the Silents/Silence. Ooh. Remember the episode was called Silence In The Library! Or maybe the Silents and the Vashta Nerada are allies, or aspects of each other, or something. Anyway, they can obviously "read" the knowledge in the Library (how? they don't have eyes -- but then again how did they "see" the Doctor using the skull of a dead person whose eyes and brain they'd devoured?). He did tell them to "look him up," and they obviously found out enough to scare them. In fact...
Now that's interesting. He told them to look up anything written about him, obviously knowing that there were published accounts of his exploits on hand -- though why he would let those exist when he was so careful, as Nine, to wipe the entire 21st century Earth internet clean of any reference to himself (I believe that was in the episode Rose). I guess he had decided that 51st century (as I think it was in the Library episodes) was mature enough to be allowed to publicly acknowledge his existence? Anyway, getting back to the Doctor telling the Vashta Nerada to look up accounts of his activities in order to frighten them. And now we have an ongoing conspiracy, starting with the Pandorica affair, to destroy the Doctor because to someone he has become the most evil monster in the universe. And if that trailer bit was any clue our little "piranhas of the air" friends are back. And don't forget he "saved" River when he was Ten -- by uploading her into a computer on a planet that was inhabited by the creatures he had told to look him up in order to scare them off. A computer run by a child. If there is not something going on here beyond "Amy and Rory have a baby and it grows up to marry the Doctor" I'll be disappointed.
At first, I tried reblogging this, but Tumblr cuts text when you reblog and the parts I want to respond to were what got cut. So I'm doing a conventional blog-type post with links. It's also tl;dr. Also, if you're a Russell T. Davies fan, you may not want to read any further. You've been warned.
Here's a quote from Mr. Davies, referring to the stupid give-her-amnesia solution of how to get rid of Donna Noble's character:
“That ending is devastating. I hope it’s never forgotten. I hope people cry for years. In 70 years’ time, kids watching it now will in old folks’ homes saying, ‘Oh why couldn’t Donna Noble have remembered just one thing?!” - RTD
Yeah... okay... go fuck yourself with a rusty spanner, Rusty... That quote right there proves what I had suspected all along: to Russell T., the edifice of British science fiction entertainment known as Doctor Who, which had appeared on the airwaves in the very year that both I and Rusty were born, existed mainly as a vehicle to promote his own special ownself. I mean, fuuuuuuuck you Rusty, but not in the way you like.
Here's the thing: the character of the Doctor, as it has been built up over the years and remained fairly consistent through Classic Who, would have not done to one of his companions what the New, Improved, RTD-stamped Doctor did to Donna, even if it was to supposedly save her life. Or if he did, it would have been a temporary solution, while the next serial would consist of him trying to figure out how to restore her memory without killing her. But New Doctor isn't interested in that. New Doctor has basically abandoned Donna to her fate -- which I guess will be to be locked up in a secret underground military facility in Antarctica or something. Or have we forgotten how in The End Of Time it was revealed that the Doctor had not only "mindwiped" Donna to "save her life" (or actually, he only suppressed her memory -- because if he'd actually removed the Time Lord stuff that was somehow grafted onto her brain she wouldn't be in any danger now would she?), he'd somehow placed some sort of defense mechanism in her head that would knock unconscious anyone who tried to make her remember. All it would take would be one mention of alien invasions or a glimpse of Martha Jones on the street and there would be chaos.
But none of this means anything in RTD-world. In his hands the plot and characters of Doctor Who exist for only one reason: to provoke emotions in the audience, and to make sure no one ever, ever forgets Russell T. Davies. Basically, he used the show to promote himself and his views. I think that's wrong.
It would be one thing if he created the show. He can do whatever he wants with his own creations. But this time he took what is basically an icon of British television and twisted it in order to further his own agenda -- no, not the "gay agenda," the "Russell T. Davies manipulated your emotions and you liked it!" agenda. I still wouldn't have minded this so much if he'd at least made an effort stay within the confines of character, but you just know that he said to himself "Sure, the Doctor's basically a good guy, and we all know what good guys hate to do: bad things that hurt people but that are necessary! That's conflict, and conflict makes people
pay more attention to me feel emotions so let's not just have the Doctor do a couple of hurtful things but instead let's have him do a whole lot of hurtful things!" That's why so many of the new show's "plots" often resemble grab bags of random happenings rather than coherent stories: plot and characterization are secondary to manipulating the emotions of the audience and can be tossed aside if they get in the way of this aim. I guess we're lucky that the Doctor wasn't made into quite a complete bastard -- Rusty could have had him kill Donna to save the Whole Of Creation or some such wad of noise instead. Then again, dead Donna would at least be no longer around to be emo'd over (i.e., used whenever the "plot" needed David Tennant's lip to tremble).
Of course, the "classic" show's plots were often as silly, if not sillier, than many of the new show's, but they were held together by the consistency of the Doctor's character, which was more or less stable through all his regenerations up until the new show. That character is, or was, of someone who was extremely curious, open-minded, brave to the point of foolhardiness, often impulsive and abrasive, sometimes bad-tempered, but compassionate and dedicated to doing the right thing. Some versions of the Doctor are craftier or bitchier or flightier or goofier, but they all have the same base personality. And another thing all the Doctors have in common (because they are all the same person) is that they would walk into fire for their friends. RTD did not seem to understand the concept of friendship, at least not as far as this show is concerned. He seemed to think that the only reason the Doctor traveled with companions, and they with him, was for ultimately romantic purposes. RTD seems to be one of those people who thinks that young, attractive (he also seemed to forget the Doctor was actually a 900 year old alien, not the youngish and handsome actors who portrayed him) people only want to be friends for the ultimate purpose of sex.
That isn't entirely RTD's fault, of course -- he's just a victim of the Zeitgeist, which declares that having sex is the highest aim of human existence. There is no more conflict between Eros and Agape -- Eros has won, and sent Agape packing. The classic Doctor Who came from a more innocent day, but now we are all sure that the 4th Doctor and Romana Two were shagging just like the actors were in real life.
It's all about power, in a way. If you can control peoples' emotional response, you can control people. That's why so many people resent the amnesia solution for Donna Noble: they know it was done just to make them cry, not for any reasons of plot continuity. In fact, it throws continuity out the window in a way that is characteristic of New Who: the Doctor is a "Lonely God" -- a nearly omnipotent godlike creature -- until it would bring more tears out of middle-aged female Who fans to have the Doctor be vulnerable in some way that no actual god would let happen. Which makes it look like the Doctor is deliberately letting himself be vulnerable just for kicks. Because you can't tell me that the godlike Doctor couldn't have figured out some way of fixing Donna's brain so her head wouldn't explode if she heard the word "Doctor." But that's too much like something the old Doctor would have done. From those shows that RTD didn't write. We can't have that.
Eeek it's thundering. May have to sign off.
Edited: I just realized I typed "newe" in the title. Extra "e" removed. We speak modern English here. Also moved the header around; I still prefer this layout to any other, and the header looks okay moved to the right. Also changed my mood things from tiny square blue faces to bunnies. Because.
Then I went to my Tumblr dash. The first thing that met my eye was an entry from a photo-store's blog, where they featured yet another gimmicky photographer. I am just tired of "gimmicks" in photography -- fake "levitating" people and things, tilt-shift (see my previous post), photos of bullets going through apples, photos of food tossed in the air... I have decided I'm particularly unimpressed by the "fun with food" photography. It all just looks like a big mess. Maybe it's my grandmother's influence on my childhood. She was a farmer's daughter and raised my father through the Depression and World War 2, and I was taught never to waste food. I would get berated if I couldn't finish my plate. (When in later years I met people who had been taught to "leave a spoonful of food on your plate so you won't look like you're greedy or starving" I was quite discombobulated.) Anyway, I can just imagine what she'd say about people who toss food up in the air and around the room and then photograph it.
I may test images later -- you can't upload them, just link from a url. I have to figure out what service to use. I don't want to link back to some other site. Maybe I'll abuse my Flickr site.
Update: ah ha, no, the site slowdowns have something to do with a memory leak or some other arcane webserver thing I don't understand. Look, my first link!
I've changed my mind (for now) about moving all my old journal entries from the LJ one to here. For one thing, I've saved them on a flash drive anyway. For another, they are mostly quite old -- the oldest are ten years old! And there aren't that many of them, and a few of the more recent ones are crossposted to other sites of mine. And I've decided this site is going to be a fresh new site, sort of. I don't know what the focus will be yet. Maybe Doctor Who. I have the Tumblr site, but I've been getting bored with Tumblr; some of the "improvements" they have are not improvements if you ask me. Tumblr is great for reblogging or showing photos, but for discussion it sucks. I have a serious website elsewhere, but I'm not sure I want to link to it, or to my Tumblr site, or any of my sites. I kind of want this site to be separate from all that.
I'm not sure that I like the kind of semi-closed community system of sites like Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, but they do have their charms. I just know that I've been bored with writing on blogs for a while but I need to do something -- I'm not going to give up blogging and let the marketers and shills have it all.
Added: D'oh! Forgot to confirm my email address. OK that's done.