A few small matters:

November 10, 2011

1: The idea that Stephen Moffat is sexist;

Okay, so this keeps turning up everytime I google Stephen Moffat’s name, so I’ll deal with my frustration with it. A quote keeps swinging about:

“There’s this issue you’re not allowed to discuss: that women are needy. Men can go for longer, more happily, without women. That’s the truth. We don’t, as little boys, play at being married – we try to avoid it for as long as possible. Meanwhile women are out there hunting for husbands.”

“The world is vastly counted in favour of men at every level – except if you live in a civilised country and you’re sort of educated and middle-class, because then you’re almost certainly junior in your relationship and in a state of permanent, crippled apology. Your preferences are routinely mocked. There’s a huge, unfortunate lack of respect for anything male.”

This appears to be the central thesis to any blog post which perceives Moffat as sexist. Moffat refutes this statement, by saying the quote was taken out of context in an interview with a newspaper called The Scotsman, and that he was actually speaking about the point of view of Patrick from Coupling. Having seen Coupling, this quote seems to be spot on for Patrick’s voice. Some blogs proceed to take Coupling as a whole as evidence of sexism, some don’t mention Coupling at all.

This usually sets the lens the blog perceives the Moffat episodes in the Davies era and the Moffat through. And, of course, this usually ends with a bat being taken to Amy Pond’s and River Song’s characters.

Three things:
1) As previous blogs made clear, I myself have had serious reservations about elements of Amy’s and River’s characters, having gone back and forth on their roles and deliberating what they mean, representations of gender being part of those deliberations.
2) As previous blogs have made clear I still have issues with some of the finer points of River Song – but, also, given that her story, quite literally, is not over, I can wait to see what happens and where the character is taken.
3) As the last Who blog made clear, Amy is one of my favourite sci fi protagonists of all time. So I have given this some little thought.

The arguments of accusation fall into a few patterns:
1) Prior companions were depicted as more capable than Amy.
2) Amy’s sexuality is an inditement on female sexuality (the details are diverse on the particulars in each individual blog, owing to personal taste).
3) Amy’s interactions with the Doctor and Rory are similarly a criticism of women.

So, I’m not linking to any of these blogs. I’m not starting any fights, I’m not looking to be told I’m in the right, and I’m not angry at anyone. I really just want to say my piece without being anymore bitter-sounding than this blog is starting to come off already.

1) The argument goes that Amy, compared to Time Vortex Rose, Walk-the-Earth Martha and Doctor-Donna, got the lame ending of remembering the Doctor back into being after he’d saved the universe.

I disagree. Firstly, because, by that register, they were all ‘weak’: Rose gets someone to pull open a hatch and blanks out until kissed better, (or gets rescued, and shut in another universe, if you want to use that one) Martha told a story as she had been told to, and Donna got to be the Doctor for ten minutes. And this is the bit where I cut down the former companions to make mine seem taller. Except, no. Those are all highly simplified versions of what they do, and neglect one fact: This is Doctor Who.

This is the show where the smart, strange, wonderful way around a problem is key, and where blowing up the enemy in the millions in a flashy, celebratory manner is seen as a tragedy and where an episode where everbody lives – even the villains – is seen as a rousing success. By the above register, the Doctor kisses someone, pulls a lever, goes from Gollum to Tinkerbell, gets a hand from himself, gives the universe gene therapy and wears a Doctor suit.

Secondly; Yes Amy remembers the Doctor. That is the happy ending. Her achievement? She remembers back into existence several people she has never met, including her own parents. That is Amy’s triumph. And the others had those too. Whether it was Rose fighting for her dead Dad one season or finding his alternate-universe equivalent, or Martha’s struggle reuniting her parents and opening her heart to a nice young doctor, or Donna gaining her mother’s respect and her own respect too, they all had something that made us say: their lives, while losing much, have gained much also during their time with the Doctor.

It gave them lives outside the blue box, and made their leaving it seem a lot less like the alternate cut of Scott Pilgrim where Ramona goes off on her own to a midnight-backed door and more like the actual cut where she and Scott go off into a door backed by sunrise.

Amy was only special because of the crack in the wall? Fine – then Rose was only special because of the Time Vortex. Amy’s only job was to remember the Doctor? Fine – then Martha’s only job was to tell other people about him. Amy was only special because some aliens had a plan to kill the Doctor? Fine – then Donna was only special because an alien had a plan to destroy the Daleks.

This is Doctor Who – the show about a nameless two-hearted alien who single-handedly flies a timeship designed for six pilots and stuck as a 1960s police box. The Doctor, who will kill but sees as a gross failure to have to do so, who won’t carry a gun and, for all intents and purposes, has a magic wand and all-purpose badge. The good ship TARDIS flies on context, and all things must put in this context. If anything, arguing this only makes me realise what a marvellous follow-through there has between actors, between show runners, between writers on the ethic of this show: Killing means we’ve failed.

Besides – Amy actually got to keep her ‘remembering’ for the second season finale.

2) So: Amy’s sexuality as inditement. As stated above, the exactitudes of these arguments cover a spectrum of Amy as nymphomaniac cheater to Amy as being rebuked into a stereotypical marriage role. So I’ll just state the case as I see it.

Sexuality-wise, Amy is distinct. They all were. Rose was our first – and the first to fall in love with the Doctor. Martha was the first to fall in love with the Doctor and get over it. Donna was the first, for which I instantly loved her forever for, to skip loving the Doctor entirely and fell in love the vast universe he was offering, apart from him, and became his friend. Amy was therefore the first to fall in love with the Doctor, get over it, and then become his friend.

And it was a sexual desire in its time. The kiss Rose-Nine shippers had waited to see was a life-saving, life-ending medical procedure, and Rose-Ten shippers, for all the tension on screen, got to see little ugly-bumping. Amy? From watching the Doctor undress to kissing him after the Angels two-parter, and being very, very clear about wanting to go further was pretty shocking by comparison.

And make no mistake; at the time I hated it. Oh yes. I was a Rory-Williams fanboy through and through and I utterly dispised the idea that he was going to go down the tubes like Mickey Smith – the inadequate boyfriend playing a minor role in the first episode, getting shelved, getting undermined in later episodes, then getting a nice, impressive moment before going to an alternate universe, allowed to be a success, so long as it was offscreen.

Hell yes I wanted Rory to last, and I wanted him in the TARDIS, a male companion who wasn’t punished by being left behind, or shelved, or ditched by the TARDIS to get his own spin off. I will always support the main companion being female, and not just out of some fanservice need, but because the show has always been about this one guy being the most marvellously intelligent being in the universe.

However, I wanted a male Companion because, quite frankly, I find it very hard to put myself in the role of a wonderous alien. I have, do, and always will put myself in the role of the female Companion, but I also really wanted to see a guy be … good enough to fly with the Doctor for a prolonged period.

And … I got what I wanted. Everything I wanted. I worried during Vampires in Venice, while finding yet more to love in the Rory character, and the Amy character, and the Doctor character. There were still questions, but there was a hope of answers. And then Amy’s Choice answered a helluva a lot of them.

And then the Silurian two-parter broke our hearts – but it wasn’t Mickey in another universe. Rory’s loss was a tragedy, his return was going to happen. And though there were parallels – they both returned at the end of the first part of the two-parter finale, with a weapons upgrade and a badass backstory. And then the comparison ended. Rory was here to stay.

I had a jab of frustration at the snogging in the shrubbery … and then all that was over. And Amy’s story made a lot more sense given what, on some level, she knew happened to her parents. And she made mistakes. She was a flawed human being – like the others were, with Rose ditching her boyfriend and derailing time for her dad and ditching her family for the Doctor, or Martha getting hopelessly hung up on the Doctor or getting her family drawn into a year of hell. Yes, these are also all the preludes to the greatest triumphs of the characters that I mentioned above. Were they greater triumphs for the growth? Yes.

So yes, Amy was flawed. And she grew past those flaws. She wasn’t forced to by other persons, she was prompted by events throwing her relationship with the Doctor and with Rory.

Also, yes Amy was married and pregnant on the TARDIS. I disagree that this means she was being forced into gender roles. Instead, I think that Amy wasn’t shuffled off stage left when she made another step in her life.

So I would disagree with inditement idea. Related to this is …

3) So, the sexism argument puts forward the idea that, in her relationshps, Rory is the whipped husband and the Doctor is the morally pure superior to Amy.

First off, I think we should address the differences between this and previous seasons in terms of physicality. Yes, the Davies era Doctors never had to deal with that degree of physicality – and the one kiss was courtesy of Madame du Pompadour, via Moffat. And, given that Davies, in Torchwood, seems to be more than fine with the onscreen physical act of love, it can’t be that.

I don’t think, as has been put forward by some, that Davies thought physical romance was inappropriate for Dr Who’s timeslot and audience. Has this season been inappropriate – Some kissing, a nod to where babies come from, seems in keeping.

Instead, I think that the writers simply couldn’t have a hook up with a Companion, and if we even saw the slightest relenting in that rule, the assumption would be that there were Companion-Doctor sexy-shenanigans going on between every episode. My feelings on that rule are a blog for another day.

My idea right now is that, as I have stated before, Eleven has been by far the most alien of Doctors – the only time so separated from sexy-shenanigans that any physical attempt to change, rather than the tension of ‘I love you Rose Tyler’, instead was alien, impossible, and mildly hilarious. He was at such a remove, had such a grandfatherly air to Amelia -when he wasn’t being a kid- that it wasn’t even on the cards.

As for Rory, it was the first time we got to meet the Companion’s post-Doctor relationship; rather than as a Doctor clone, or an offscreen broken-off engagement, or a man glimpsed through a cafe window, Rory was here with us, was one of us. Having his journey with the Doctor start after hers actually gave him time and space to have his own reactions, form his own opinions, rather than his and Amy’s being lumped together by joining together.

And it was actually nice to see that, once Rory understood why Amy travelled with the Doctor, that apart from the whole jealousy thing, he was guy comfortable with his fiancee taking the lead, just so long as they were partners on that path. And then that steadfastness was turned up to eleven with a near 2000 year wait (one made off the back of a mistake of his own -killing Amy- and one which he too grew from) and we saw how the girl who waited and the boy who waited were made for each other.

I like Rory, becoming more his fanboy with every appearance, because he says what I hope would say, from suggesting they leave when things clearly turn evil, to just working from a place of empathy. Nobody has to be anybody else’s damsel, or anyone else’s bitch.

I’ve gone on, at length, about how I think the Doctor can be more alien because of two Companions, and how I appreciate the change of pace. I like Moffat’s style and ethic and so on. I do not think that his take on Doctor Who is sexist.

Could he be sexist himself? Totally could. What he creates could have no bearing on who he is or what he thinks. It would be odd that he apparently had such a giant lapse and no break outs in any other coverage anywhere else. But not impossible. That I can accept. I can enjoy the works of Chaplin or Presley and be horrified by the ages of their wives separately.

And as for River Song, the jury really is still out on her, and her story really isn’t over. I hope Amy isn’t over entirely, and I’d love her to be back next season, but I also can see that this a natural place to end her story as a regular companion. By contrast, River Song still has a great big arc to finish yet, in whatever capacity she re-appears in, and how that finishes is going to be the test of the character. But Doctor Who isn’t sexist and Amelia Jessica Pond isn’t a sexist character.

2: If not, then what?
Why would such a piece be edited to imply sexism? It could be entirely accurate. Or it could be part of a phenomeneon regarding any media coverage of literature – an injection of drama. I have been so frustrated to see stories about Terry Pratchett ‘hating’ Harry Potter, or hating Doctor Who, and so on. Briefly after the media had decided that Harry Potter gotten children to read books again (whereas, in fact, it had changed how children’s books were marketed, but anyway) it seemed to have been decided that, lacking any C-list celebrities of the book world to go on Big Brother or have a public meltdown, interviews would be topped with headlines of someone hating something.

This type of over-exaggeration happens to perfectly innocent tv and film celebrities too – Catherine Tate saying she was shy to look David Schwimmer in the eye while doing a play together became her not be able to look him in the face with HATE, while the article on Sienna Miller being disgusted at having to kiss Charlie Cox in Stardust came from the one day the reporter was on set and seeing a scene where the disgust was part of the scene.

I just hate when it happens to writers because they have such a limited forum to rebut in – and with most doing most interviews in text rather than video format, what they say is very malleable. And then comes a Stephen King / Stephenie Meyer hoo-haa every once in a while, which is way too big for me even to touch but makes everyone look bad. And while I could quip about some interviewers writing more fiction than the writers they’re interviewing, its just … sad that they need to do this.

3: Finally, I’m pretty much in love with the Inspector Spacetime meme and totally intend to watch Community now, for realsies.

Yes I’m aware that IS came from 30 seconds of video, and only recurs as a Halloween costume later, but I like what it says about the writers that a magnificent, incisive and well-produced parody of Doctor Who would be done for a thirty second joke, and I like what it says about the fans that they’d devise a whole universe called the Inspectrum, mirroring the minutiae of Who-lore, down a punny-name alternate version of every companion and the actors who played them down to present day … then straightfacedly imply the Tenth Inspector’s Rory Williams, oddly reminiscent of Donna Noble, was played by the same actor as the Eleventh Doctor’s RW, who wasn’t happy how the character turned out and went to play it again on the IS knockoff on the BBC.

They seem to be my kind of people. As does Abed for that matter, from what I hear about him.

EDIT: And they did a Downton Abbey parody!


‘I Kill Monsters’ Kills Me

November 2, 2011

Check out ikillmonsters.ca – a very awesome webseries long in the making and just started airing for hallowe’en. A full review on the way, pending a few more episodes, but seriously, fun stuff!


Wedding of Time and Space

October 9, 2011

So: last year, space exploded.

This year: time disintegrated.

Next year, and probable climax of the Silence arc: Smeg knows.

The format was both similar and distinct from last year’s finale.

On the one hand, the opener was moving creatively through time and space to achieve a specific aim. The ‘villain’ was largely just chasing the protagonists to move them from location to location, the challenge being a ‘disaster’ rather than a single ‘enemy’. The ending causes things to un-happen, and the true resolution is deferred another year. An ancient monument is put to strange use. Oh, and River pointed a gun at Cleopatra and hijacked a pyramid.

On the other hand, the fact that this isn’t a two-parter means there wasn’t that terrible place to claw oneself up from in the second part. Yes, River in the spacesuit is sad for her, but we literally know she is going to be fine. The characters know how to fix the problem from the start, and it is instantly achievable – the conflict is the cost at the loss of the Doctor – and it was so long set up that the risk wasn’t in it with, say, his being erased.

So. Effectively, we did the cliffhanger and resolution equal to last year – it was just the mid-season finale. And that is dynamic – adapting storytelling to an altered schedule. Strange, yes, but it has created what I think of as a mid-arc season finale; the first finale had to be definitive, to cap Moffat’s first season, the finale where this is all resolved will have to be moreso, but this was the middle bit. The bit where we’re armed with the who and the how of the Silence, but vagaries of why and where and when are still in the air.

This was the particularly-timey-wimey season where River was born and died and regenerated, where she hated and loved the Doctor, killed him, saved him and married him. And for those of you who really don’t like River, I feel, because this must have been hell for you, but it is over now. I don’t know if they’ll use her more or less now that it is all out in the open, but at least you’ll know, and all the speculation will calm down.

For me, as I stated, I really was worried about River being Amy and Rory’s kid. There were things that were so risky – like how she interacted with her parents previously and how that was going to fit emotionally. As you know, I hate when the magic-baby plot ‘fixes’ everything. For a while it felt, for me, and horribly, that it might go down that route. Or at least that the risk was there. Cheap risks to children and underplaying damage for a quick fix is a quick route to my anger centre. Part-timelord was tricky.

But, ultimately, it worked for me as the story continued to be told. And then I went back, and watched the Time of Angels two-parter, and everything from the priests, to River legitimately losing it when Amy is in danger both times, to even her giving Amy a booster jab. I may as well tell you now – I’m running on the theory that Rory was erased from River’s mind as well as Amy’s during last season’s finale. That is just what I think – I’d love a confirmation, like they gave to River playing dumb over the spacesuit, but ah well.

Then there was the opening two-parter, and, particularly in retrospect, the trust between River and Amy, the sweet conversation between Rory and River. Tragedy, with the River’s ‘last’ kiss with the Doctor so soon, from her perspective, possibly, after their marriage. I’m not sure there – we’ll need some sort of chart from Moffat on that scale when this is all over. And then Good Man Goes to War, with another sweet Rory talk and some more lovely tragedy. By which time, the fact that she handles such craziness makes sense, given how screwed up she was when started out. In many ways, it must be like having a parent whose recollection occassionally slips.
And when she finally can refer to her parents as parents at the very end, with Mummy and Daddy and so on, it is very, very sweet.

Now that that is out of the way …

I liked the episode. Technically it is even more low-key than last season’s finale, with the action mostly in the all-out mid-season finale. It must wallowed in the delicious anachronism stew and set to boil. I liked Winston and the Doctor – an expository device, but a fun one, with Live Chess and Dorium – and the tragedy, with the death of the Brigadier and forgiving River. I like that Amy’s memory being resistant to change is such a strong piece of the universe. Captain Rory was just lovely, with knowing what was going to happen, just waiting on the when and the how. The eye drives were very nice and made sense. Pyramid was rule of cool, though I was wondering if they were going to use the old bit about pyramids preserving things, but no, and for the best really.

I was kinda hoping to see Canton again, what with the historical figures and the Area 51 thing, but there we are. It would have been nice to see the character simply because a lot of the cool stuff he did in the opening two parter was implied and off-screen – the confrontation with the Silent (I know it isn’t their name, but Le Guin already bagged The Nameless Ones) being his only real chance to shine, and he didn’t even remember it afterwards. Ah well. Yes, the Silent really are just there to escape, as is Madame Kovarian, and they are collectively there just there to hurry the protagonists to the signal, like the dessicated Dalek in The Big Bang. They don’t even go upstairs! I’m fine wih it, though when the Doctor does get to the Academy of the Question’s roots, he really is going to have to punch something, and it is going to have to be pretty big, metaphorically speaking.

Loved Rory and the eyedrive, and it paralysing him at the worst moment, and the Silent taunting him over it, and Amy coming back for him, and ‘We should get a drink”Okay’ and ‘And married”Fine’. Many disliked this end for Kovarian, while I (a) actually felt it adressed a lot of Amy’s expected reaction (b) underlined that Kovarian is middle management and (c) she is probably still alive somewhere, and angry at the Academy, or Amy, or both. I really liked the Doctor, after being confronted at the end of mid-season, and even last season, in part, with what a terrible influence he can be on the universe, to be so convinced that ‘The Doctor is in trouble. Please Help.’ would mean nothing to anyone, and instead the replies manifest so strong as to seem to be sunspots. It is very, very sweet. River saying that her suffering would outweigh all that of the universe? Bit much. Still the fact that she’d be the one to do it does justify that reaction. But I liked the wedding well enough. Yes, it was to a Tessalecta in an aborted universe, but still – they’d never marry him off in a straight-faced fashion.

So a few points. Yes, I too would have preferred a little more on the fact that the Tessalecta could, among other things, fake regeneration. And if River was getting the minaturised Doctor’s life signs, say, then wouldn’t it have made more sense for him to leave, causing the lifesigns to stop, rather than staying around to get ‘barely singed’. They couldn’t play too close to the regeneration previously, I get that, or we’d have all guessed it, and that was a solid double-feint with the Dopple-doctor, but we really couldn’t have a 30-second re-run through from his perspective, just to get the idea? Really?

I really didn’t guess the Tessalecta until it happened. Really. Some say they knew by the appearance of it in the episode, some by the appearance of it in the ‘Previously On’ bit. It just slipped past me. And I suppose the regeneration makes sense given that he could age and change his clothes and cut his hair and fall prey to knock-out blasts – though that last one seemed a little odd, in retrospect. She hit him in the eye, maybe? And the eye drive and physically touching River works because … yeah, I’d like a lot more from his perspective, actually.

Some are saying he should have told the others he was a Tessalecta. I actually liked how this is constructed – at the lake, we have a Ganger-Amy remotely feeding all data and one last Silent wandering about. At thepyramid we had Kovarian and the Silent wandering about, who might well remember what happened there. So – one of the few instances where that worked.

And yeah, the garden was lovely, for the afforementioned relationship reasons. I liked her adapting to her daughter beautifully, and going over the fact that she can remember killing someone and dismissing River’s dismissal. Quite frankly, where this journey has taken the character of Amy has been, frankly, astounding, and a joy to watch, and she is right at the top of my favourite scifi protagonists of all time, to be honest. And the crypt really gelled with the lessons learned, again, from the last season and mid season finales: The Doctor is too big a figure. He has to go back to the shadows.

And yes, I called ‘Doctor Who?’ Quite good – providing that there is a legitimate place to with it, leading into something worth killing him over, something to do with the fields Trensollar (?) and the fall of the Eleventh (probably a bus, right?). But I’m pretty sure they’ve somewhere to go with it. And if Smith stops at three seasons, and they were all this one arc – I’d be fine with it. And that is 1675.


A Song of High Fantasy and Fire

October 2, 2011

So I admit it – I’ve been livecasting on Facebook about Doctor Who, in-progress, rather than blogging about it later. Given its one of the few things I watch that a lot of my F-book friends also watch, this, and e-mails, seems to be a good fit. However, with Doctor Who over this year, excepting the Special, and only a half-season during 2012-proper (the world CAN’T end that Christmas, I have to see the Silence!) I’ll be getting back into the swing of this.

My book reading will, for the time being, be going up on F-book too, while I try this Game of Thrones thing out, as an astoundingly large amount of people I know really seem to like it. I even skipped the last 3 books of the Earthsea Quartet (read: only read the first -really, really good – to catch upon this) when I actually realised how many bannermen of House Stark were in my demesne.

Am I jumping on the bandwagon? In many usages of the term, God yes. I’m giving something a chance because of the buzz around it now, with its tv show, that I was vaguely aware of for years but never really looked into. I am fine with that. I’ve done it before. Even with the stuff that came out in my lifetime, Harry Potter for example, I didn’t start until Book 4 came out. True, I did buy all four solely off the back of the description of Albus Dumbledore in Book 1’s beginning, but I thought Harry Potter was the red head on the cover of book 2 (I don’t use ginger, that and the Cavan-people-are-cheap thing were memes I only encountered in college).

But I know the rules of conduct on the bandwagon. Mostly: just catching up patiently on the material and being nice to people further behind than yourself. It is cool to catch something from the beginning and be a part of that, release to release, but, honestly, realising how much of a following something you’re going into has already is pretty cool too. The first book would be worth the investment in just-knowing-what-people-are-talking-about alone. Ironically, I’ll be avoiding this network like the plague, for now – too many spoilers.

I was burned out on High Fantasy for a while there. Naming no names, but I was really tired of books 600 pages long and not being really sure how much of it was merited. Maybe that really is a taste thing, but it wasn’t for me. Reconciling this with my love of Lord of the Rings, even Silmarillion, is tricky, given all the long, detailed walking they did. The best I can say is that while Tolkien tapped into the epic fantasy by presenting us with legendary characters, who didn’t have sex, get colds or use the bathroom, aand that presenting those realities in a fantasy format is an admiral achievement, there was stuff that wore on me.

I didn’t like that at some point, some of the female cast would be in an in-story bdsm scene. I didn’t like that, while the strength and prominence of those characters was wonderful, there was some baseline ‘bitchiness’ that meant they could not trust the male characters, or other female characters, on some basic level, ever. There was always some undertone of the conniving and the deceptive, while the male characters were open about their feelings and motivations – and I felt that books bore that out, that their short-term, off the cuff rescues worked better than the female’s long-term trickery.

And yes, that is a taste thing. I’m sure I totally misread those situations, or that they weren’t as all-pervasive as I felt they were in those series.

In other series, I really hated the contrivances. I hated the all-powerful place of destiny and people being trapped on Scalextric-track of fate. Some prophecies, some predictions, they came with the territory. But some works seemed to have nothing else. I hated that there was only one person who could do anything. Only one person that could do a particular thing – okay, I can see that. But some, it felt, had a large revolving one person who did and knew everything and was fated to do so. Even that wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but the fact that this person had to be entirely unsuited and unknowing of the world they were entering enraged me. It felt like it totally dominated the books I came across for years, that skill was some sort sin.

And you know what – I’m almost certainly wrong about that. There is probably a plethora of High Fantasy books that shuck of Fate entirely, and are populated with a balance of talented, capable characters, and that the books that I’m thinking of were seperated by decades.

I hated the contrivances, with the super-intelligent god-children (mirroring my hatred of super-intelligent robot-children in space opera), with the villains who it seemed were all sociopathic hypocritical fiends and the masses being some poorly herded sheep who turned at the drop of a hat, unless they worked for the villain. I was tired that the only political system that they seemed to know was medieval feudalism, with the odd bit of Roman legislation once in a while. And I hated, hated, hated, that the books had no certain, individual resolutions, just pouring from one to the other.

And I flat out know that that it isn’t all true of all or ever a large section of High Fantasy. I know that was totally wrong. But it was all I knew for a while.

I was in Victoriana for the duration, if you must know. The latest of Rankin and Pratchett, Susanna Clarke, Gail Carringer, etc. It was fantasy, but fate was at a dull roar, the magic systems were a blend of the creative and the regimented, the books plots worked alone and as part of a series and, worst comes to worst, it was about 200 pages, maybe less.

So I’m back. Not to be sourgrapes-laden, but with any luck I’ll have plenty of time before Book 6 comes out to read the first … six. One per year, at least then. I’ll probably regret that statement in a few month’s time. I’ve got a booktoken earmarked for the new Pratchett, and the new Stephen Fry biography, and I’ve got the new Rankin, and some there’ll be some left over after that – I’ll be sure to get both of books three at the same time. And that is 1100 words. Eleven!


Slowly going crazy

September 11, 2011

Yes, yes, was busy, am busy, away a while and I’m just reposting this really, but still:

Possibly The Most Important Thing in Let’s Kill Hitler
I’m just going to put this out there because I’m struggling with it. And it will probably be my focus for awhile, kind of like how something being wrong with Amy stuck with me the whole of part one.

The Doctor’s clothes are probably the most important thing in Let’s Kill Hitler. And I think we should keep an eye on them.
First, he starts out with a new coat. I don’t know the significance yet, but I have a feeling his new coat is going to be important. Where did he get it? Why was he wearing it at the start? It disappears later in the episode and he puts on his classic look at the end.

Second, no one seems to care that he just randomly appears in a tuxedo. This is connected to the computer Amelia Pond as well. We hear her say, “fish fingers and custard” to The Doctor. Although, it cannot be the computer that says it. The computer was insistent that it wasn’t Amelia Pond. Also, there isn’t any real way for the interface to make that emotional connection/memory. Lastly, we are conveniently not shown Amelia when it’s said.

So he hears this clue, it clearly has meaning to him. He gets up and goes somewhere in the TARDIS. Next thing we know, he appears in a tuxedo. You know where else he had a tuxedo? Amy and Rory’s wedding.

In Series 5, he is at the wedding and clearly has a red corsage on his chest. Then, it cuts to Amy’s house where The Doctor appears, still in tuxedo, but he is corsage-less. Although, you cans make out a safety pin on his chest. You can also make out the safety pin on his chest in Let’s Kill Hitler.

Lastly, when Amy and Rory catch him in the TARDIS after their wedding he says he was sorry he had to pop off for a bit because he was busy with something.

So, here it is: where did The Doctor go after fish fingers and custard? Was it the wedding? What was he doing when he popped off from their wedding? Where did the corsage go? We know he had a balloon that was potentially from their wedding, was there something else from the wedding or Amelia’s house that was important?

So that is what it’s like in my head right now. You’re welcome.

Found it here:

http://keithjacks.tumblr.com/post/9527202300/possibly-the-most-important-thing-in-lets-kill-hitler

And yeah – I noticed and suspected the ‘Fish Fingers and Custard’ maybe-another-Amy-there a la the coated-Doctor from Time of Angels. But the idea that tuxedo-Doctor may have spent part of his 32 minutes? On the night of River’s conception? Did he tell her to tell him that he almost knows who she is. Oh – is this going to fold into the wedding of River Song episode, particularly that bit when he asks whether she has ever been married or not and she keeps enigmatically saying Yes? Questions! Questions!!!

And when does he get the stetson?


Re: Previous Post

May 30, 2011

Yeah, I think I’ll abstain from Who commentary until ‘A Good Man Goes To War’. If last season taught me anything, trying to predict the outcome on this one is a fool’s errand. I hope so, as I really, really, really don’t want Amy’s kid to grow up either as the girl in the orphanage or River Song.

On the prequel: The overweight member of the blue man group sells some more macabrely collected items to some really tall Jawas. But as we only see a pair of human hands on these ‘Jawas’, it could be anybody, including an incognito Doctor and Rory.


Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol

January 1, 2011

Okay. So, I should probably preface this by saying that I don’t think I’ve seen such an adaptation of the Dickensian classic handled so well. If you have seen something that does it so originally, please refer me to it. Please.

To business.

Usually I would use that a jumping on point, to refer to Sardick’s cold, businessman opening. But I really can’t recap it. Really. I’d just be writing ‘wow’, over and over again. Just the reactions then.

I’m aware that this is a Doctor-strong, companion-lite episode. While I do hope we might see more of Amy and Rory in next year’s special, I entirely see why and quite approve of this cast ratio for this story. Quite from the get-go of Matt Smith explaining why he slid down the chimney “Christmas Eve on a rooftop, saw a chimney, my whole brain just went ‘What the hell!'”, to his avowing a personal relationship with Jeff Claus, to his “Ooh, now, what’s this? Now, I love this, a big flashy lighty thing!”, and his assurance that they have his name written all over them, given enough time, and a crayon, to the Sherlock scan of the room revealing Freudian feelings, to his getting distracted by the fish, to his repeated shoutings of “A Christmas Carol!” before a figurative light bulb pops up over his head … I was simply in love with the dialogue and one-liners of this episode.

The time-travel – recorded-diary aspect of this was just visually stunning, to my mind. The play with the Doctor walking off-camera, and into a screen on-camera, still ellicts the moue of surprise and wonder it did in The Beast Below – and it reverberates with the plot from that – a crying, unheard child, being attended by the Doctor … and saving him from flying sea-beasts. Speaking of recurring themes, this is the third time a Moffat-Doctor has met someone in childhood, then adulthood. As each of the three has been used quite differently – for instance, this is the first time we see the adult first and work backwards, just as Amy was the first time the Doctor ended up altering that person’s past. Watching it happen – watching Kazran go from “But there is no lottery!”, to “No Doctor you musn’t” to “yes, I trust you” to realizing he himself in the present is wearing a bow-tie is fantastic. Looking at the photos he has only-just/has-always had, to seeing the portrait on his wall, while young Kazran is obviously falling in love with her … this is beautiful plotting. By the way, the dialogue continues – everything from the recurrence of the lottery joke to the psychic paper finally shorting out at a lie too big: “I’m widely acknowledged as a mature and responsible adult”

Don’t know who the young actor is here, but he should be getting work soon of the back of it. Levels of adorableness are equivalent to Amelia Pond. Maybe I’m mixing him in with the Magnificent Gambon’s performance, but he added a thorough-going good show on his own. Anyway, the world’s design is quite wonderful. I’m a sucker for steampunk style, from steel-rimmed shades to lovely top hats. The larger aesthetic of a cloud-bound storm-planet with a sky-sea is a good use of the alien planet premise we’ve glimpsed in Midnight and Planet of the Dead. The Star-Trek-esque bridge of the starship, the spiderbaby-“submarine-sonar-pinging”-shark scene, the surplus-population freezers, the shark-drawn sleigh-ride in the sky, the old-timey-modern-christmas with Abigail’s family, Frank Sinatra’s Christmas party – wonderful stuff. And the dialogue – “is this your card?” “Marilyn, get your coat!”

Amy and Rory had generally good characterisation here. Generally. I assume of course that they were dressed like that in an attempt to recreate the costume party they attended were photographed at in that manner, in an attempt to reason out the identity of the silence. I, of course, applaud their dedication of doing so, even on their honeymoon. I particularly liked Rory’s facesaving line:”You know, history lesson, a bit of fun every now and then, a bit of nostalgia!” I loved their being Ghost of Christmas Present – mostly Amy there. Which is something I may struggle with, in the future, being as fond of Rory as I am. Being the ‘like I’m stupid’, or outside Doctor-&-Amy’s conversation on Abigail-&-Kazran at the end was short shrift, a little bit – I mean, Rory is pretty knowledgeable about putting the dying woman you love in box to keep her alive and taking the slow path yourself. Not that it got in the way, really – there is something of a hierarchy there, but it is understandable and doesn’t really get on my nerves – partly as they played down the previous Amy-trying-to-snog-the-Doctor aspects of the character here, and, partly, because Rory got to talk to Marilyn Monroe and, presumably, got to tell her that that was never a real chapel. Also, he got to do that ‘widen the field’ bit. Gangbusters! Amy as the Ghost of Christmas Present was pretty brill, particularly the scene with the spectral singing by the 4003 population of the starship. And her hugging the Doctor was very sweet, and, y’know, remarkably non-lecherous.

And then the bit where he showed Kazran his future. Which pretty much blew my mind right there to no small degree. I loved that he explained that there was no plan – he wasn’t going to get anything out of it, which has to be a first for a Who villain – he just didn’t care! The following bit could have been a little overwrought but my comment that Gambon makes it great should sum up my opinion of his acting here. And then the bit with mind-changing – which was wonderfully set up, by the way – and the Androcles-shark, and that song coming from the sky itself. And so onto the singing. I had heard that the actress in the Special was a famous singer, but wow. I mean, it wasn’t just that the beauty of her singing helps pull off the whole premise of the show. It is that you go ‘wow, that is one person making that beautiful sound’. Gives it that unearthly wonder that makes you believe that this is something that would guide starships through a fog. As for the character of Abigail herself, I found her to be wonderful, with that sense of wonder of getting eight more days when she thought she was dead, and that depth of tragedy and love she displayed at the poolside. Bit like my favourite magical girls – sure, happy-happy is fine so long as the tragedy is adult, and terrible, and heart-breaking. Which is why, ultimately, I prefer her dying to save 4,003 rather the Doctor shazaming together a cure in ten minutes. Yeah, I’m mean, but there it is.

On other mean-ness: So, why didn’t Kazran’s security do … anything … to the guy who just dropped down the chimney? The Doctor is quite obviously crazy at least thrice before they throw him out. And why exactly did Abigail’s casket have a lifetimer? Wouldn’t that be pretty extraneous for people being held for debt, when the amount still owed would be more relevant? Were the caskets from a hospital or something? And why did a few years in a casket give Abigail back eight days, but the intervening decades didn’t give her another one? Was Abigail’s perfect singing pre-existing, or caused by her time in the fog-powered casket freezers? Even more basic stuff – what exactly happened to the storm drive, and why exactly can’t the TARDIS lock on, and why can’t the Doctor work out Abigail is dying, between the casket and her not questioning why she only gets out Christmas? But mostly that is all piddling plot-stuff, which is good just to get out of the system, and which I don’t even associate with the wonderful shark-drawn ride.

So – is this the Best Doctor Who Christmas Special? Quite possibly. Partially, it was the most Christmas of all of them. Partially, it was one of the best written. ‘Last Doctor’, with Jackson Lake, Mercy Hartigan and Rosita was a wonder, and I did adore Runaway Bride and Voyage of the Damned, End of Time being problematic and perhaps preferring kinda-Christmas Unquiet Dead and Waters of Mars over it. To be certain, it is a Davies-Moffat issue, but I suppose my opinion at the moment is that Davies provided the intial, simpler spectacle on a comparatively small budget (could you imagine Christmas Invasion having anything like this budget?) that got Who to the point where an appreciable audience section would watch and enjoy such fast-paced time-travel-within-time-travel exploits. Just a thought for the new year, really.

And what a year! White House! Green-eyed Ood! Stetsons! Monster-TARDIS from the Lodger! Amy looking like Victor Zsaz! River in an unclad state! And just in case you’d forgotten, because big clanging reminders “He shall knock four times” weren’t left lying about, what was the song the ship’s crew were singing? Silent Night. How many times does ‘Silence’ get dropped in Abigail’s song? Lots. Dropped, because it is going to fall.

Happy New Years!