?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
02 October 2012 @ 01:39 pm
an assortment of thoughts, most of which somehow relate to doctor who  
One thing I will say about 7x05 is that it sure did generate a lot to talk about (seriously, there's like a dozen different topics I am holding off making posts about) and I actually even started writing a fic, although naturally I am jinxing myself by saying that out loud. (On... the internet...) So... well done there I guess?

I told placebetween, who does not watch Doctor Who but remains endlessly fascinated by its fandom wank, about how Eleven "always rips out the last page of a book" because then the story doesn't have to end and he hates endings, and she replied "manic pixie dream Doctor" and I am telling you this because it remains one of the most accurate summations of Eleven I have read. I MEAN JUST THINK ABOUT IT. He rips out the last page of a book because he doesn't like endings ha ha ha oh Doctor you so quirky. Can't you just imagine Zooey Deschanel in a bowtie and suspenders crooning "I wear a fez now, fezzes are cool"? I KNOW YOU CAN.

Anyway Eleven's the worst is what I'm saying.

Anyway, both of those things sort of lead me to this, which springs from Doctor Who musings but is in no way limited to Doctor Who or DW fandom.

SO the big srs discussion question I pose to you all is: what makes a good character? Is it a combination of narrative and development or is it something at the core of the character, the basic idea and traits? Can a good character be a good character but be poorly written, or does being poorly written automatically mean they can't be? Can a good character be trapped in a poor narrative and/or poorly developed and still be a good character?

And I guess the flipside of that is: can a character that is well-developed and/or have a good narrative and still be a "bad" (as in, objectively poorly constructed, not "bad" as in "evil" or unlikable) character?

I ask because to me, I guess, having a good narrative/being well-developed/otherwise "well written" is what makes a "good character" -- but I think other people must not feel the same, because I often see people claim someone as a great character in spite of a poor narrative, poor development, whatever. I'm thinking specifically of Amy Pond here, but it's not just Amy -- Martha gets this a lot as well ("I love Martha, she's amazing, even though the writers didn't do her justice"), and I'm sure it applies to other characters and other fandoms. (Glee springs to mind, given how much Glee fans seem to hate Glee, but I don't watch so I can't pick out specific examples.)

It's not even getting into the argument of whether or not Amy or Martha (for example) are poorly developed/trapped in poor narratives, because what sticks out to me is when I see someone say both at once; they define the narrative and/or development as bad but also go on to describe the character as great in spite of this. It's also I think something different from people having a favourite character, because that's sort of a more personal thing and I can imagine latching onto a character and then not particularly liking what happens with them but retaining that fondness anyway.

I don't think there's a right answer here but I am curious what people think.
 
 
 
Opalshinyopals on October 2nd, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
LOL OMG THAT IS EXACTLY ELEVEN.

Also ripping the last pages out of books is the dumbest thing ever. Ugh, fucking won't-grow-up manchild Peter Pan Eleven is the worst.

Idk if I have many thoughts on the rest of this post. I don't tend to really notice if someone is a good character (structurally/narratively) unless it's a show I fandom. So with DW I will analyse the ins and outs of people's character arcs but with something I watch and enjoy but don't get into (say, Criminal Minds) I might have a ship I want or like a particular set of episodes for a character arc, but I won't really be bothered otherwise.

I guess I do tend to classify like/dislike, and when I like someone I tend to be a bit more forgiving. Like, I am fond of Amy and as I was reading this post I was like "well it's not like Amy's a bad character..." before my brain caught up with me and was like WTF ARE YOU THINKING SHE HAS NO CHARACTER EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE. But because I like her, I am more likely to ignore the issues with her. Except for when they're so obvious I can't. Which is most of the time, lbr. Whereas I haaaate Eleven so I will complain about him from every angle.

I don't think that answered your question at all but I AM SLEEPY SO W/E.
Kali: dw :: amy :: the girl who waited_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
I think what bothers me especially about Eleven is the way the text seems to reinforce his behaviour. In this episode, River being all "never let him see the damage". "Protect his delicate sensibilities by swallowing your own grief and hurt and feelings". What the fuck? No! He's a grown-ass man, he can deal with it if sometimes people do something that might make him feel bad.

Yeah it tends to be fandoms that get the most attention from me to narrative arcs etc. I mean I'd say I have a vague sense of the development in most of the shows I watch, but for instance when I talk about The Office it's like "I thought this episode was funny" whereas bazcat89 can talk about whether or not it made sense for the characters' overall arcs and personalities and all sorts of subtleties that I don't notice because I don't pay that kind of fannish attention to the show.

I'm fond of Amy too and I do think of her as a potentially fascinating character who, unfortunately, was shackled with a very bland-at-best and offensive-at-worst narrative/lack of development. But I guess the difference here is that I would not say I think Amy was a good character, in the sense of "well-constructed", because of all those things. But I know lots of people who, I guess mainly after series 5, came to really love Amy and think she was a fantastic character, and still consider her a fantastic character despite by their own description finding series 6 (and maybe s7??? idk) terrible/a hot mess narratively and developmentally for her. I think liking a character is separate from necessarily thinking they are a very well-constructed character.
MVmrv3000 on October 2nd, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
UGH. Sorry, but Eleven always seems to be dumb as shit for a supposedly superior mind.

But anyway, "good character" seems very subjective. Often it's shorthand for simply "character I like." Plus some people might be able to fill in the blanks better than others for a particular caracter, for whatever reason. To them the character is rich and vibrant while to someone else they just don't get it.
Kali: dw :: martha :: frequent flyer_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
Eleven's 'cosmic five year old' shctick is so tired. The idea of him being like River's manic pixie dream girl is hilar to me though. SHE'S DARK AND TROUBLED. HE RIPS PAGES OUT OF BOOKS AND WEARS HATS BECAUSE IT'S CUTE. CAN THEY FIND LOVE?????

I get why some characters appeal to different kinds of people, and I think some people interact with texts differently -- some people obviously like being able to fill in the blanks themselves, and some people like to have everything laid out for them. I don't think one is more right or wrong than the other.

But what particularly interests me is when people, by their own admission, say a character is poorly written, but also define them as a good character. Like I said, you see it with Amy, and with Martha, and surely a number of others. "Martha was the best companion even though the writers didn't think so", or whatever. And it seems strange to me because it's like -- well, if you think she's the best companion, surely they were doing something right?
Clea: dw: end of the worldmuneca_brava on October 2nd, 2012 06:13 pm (UTC)
I think it may be a personal canon thing? For example (and this isn't the best one but it's the only one I can think of right now), I love HIMYM's Robin. I think she's a great character, and she may be one of my favourite sitcom characters ever. I fell in love with her pretty early on, because she was ambitious, not interested in marriage and babies and confident in that, and just generally awesome. But along the way, I think the writers lost track of who Robin was, and she ended up wanting children and cheating and lying etc. But when I think of Robin, I still think of the awesome Robin I love. Even though apparently she doesn't exist in the writer's minds and therefore not on tv.

What I'm trying to say is, I think it happens a lot that people see a certain character and think they 'get' them. And when they turn into something they can't recognise, instead of going 'oh I guess she/he isn't as awesome as I thought', they blame the writers for not writing the character in a better way. Or maybe they were never all that great, but you see something there that COULD be great and turn them into that in your head, which leads to constant disappointment when it doesn't add up (this is I think what happens with Amy for some).
Kali: comm :: my facebook photo is a landscape_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
I think personal canon is a huge part of it. I know for me anyway I do get frustrated in discussions about Amy (lol sorry Amy YOU'RE JUST SUCH A GOOD EXAMPLE) when people say, you know, "oh of course she's well-developed" but then every example they give or most of the examples they give are things that stem from a person canon/fanon and not from anything we've really seen on the show, because that to me is like -- well it's great that your version of Amy is like that, but the Amy on my TV screen isn't like that.

Anyway I think I'm getting off topic. I see what you're saying I think -- that in some cases what happens is people latch onto a character at some point when they do think the charater has been written well or has potential, but as the narrative goes on and gets lost or doesn't go the way they expected/wanted it to go, they still think of that original idea they liked and consider that good despite also acknowledging the later story as bad, or whatever. In many cases I think that's probably what's happening. I think in the example of Amy anyway that's what happened with a lot of people who grew to love her in series 5 and were terribly let down with series 6.
(no subject) - muneca_brava on October 3rd, 2012 11:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - sherrilina on October 3rd, 2012 01:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - muneca_brava on October 3rd, 2012 11:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - spicandspan89 on October 3rd, 2012 03:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
Kali: dw :: eleven :: SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
It's not so much a question of whether Amy or Martha are well-written or if one is written better than the other because what gets me is when someone does both at once. Like, "Amy Pond is great but her story sucks", or whatever. To me it's always a bit like, how can she be great then, if he story sucks? How can a character exist outside of their narrative? Obviously to some people they can.

lol Eleven's such a terrible character IMO I just can't with him. He is painfully immature and it's a shame because Matt has the potential to be really good. Maybe JLC's character will whip him into shape a bit, but I doubt it.
demented & sad, but socialpapilio_luna on October 2nd, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
I think the issue is muddied in formats where multiple people are doing the writing. When a good character gets trapped in a terrible narrative, I usually ascribe that to a character who someone at some point wrote well but the other writers dropped the ball. One writer took the chance to explore, flesh-out, round-out and give interest to a character one week, then the next week that same character is back to being a cipher. There's a great character in there that some writers can see but most squander.

To be fair, almost all of the Doctor's incarnations flirt heavily with Manic Pixie Dream Guy but Eleven dials it up to... I am not going to say eleven because I'm pretty sure it's actually in the triple digits somewhere.
Kali: dw :: last of the time lords :: BFF4EVA_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that's probably a good part of it at least when it comes to TV. Characters will have flashes of brilliance in certain episodes that aren't followed through in later episodes or most episodes.

Eleven's tawdry quirk collection is seriously massive, but there's not a lot of other foundation going on there to make him... um... ...likable.
Jeanne "dancing in the" d'Arc: I er uhrose_dawson on October 2nd, 2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
A "good character" to me is someone interesting and well written and who has a great ~journey and all that--it is a combination of the narrative/personality (ideas and traits). + I don't mean they need to be a big larger than life character or anything or have a huge epic journey--like Mai, she and her story are very subtle but it's all there and she is a good character to me. And I don't need to have a personal attachment to them to call them a good character, I don't have any special fondness for Zuko but I think he's a good character.

If they just have a fun/interesting personality then I'll enjoy them but I wouldn't really call them a "good character." Like Suki--she is one of my personal favorites on Avatar, and I see enough of her that I can make my own backstory and whatever for her--but we don't see her go through that much on the show (not like the main characters at least) so I wouldn't call her a "good character" that way.

And I guess the flipside of that is: can a character that is well-developed and/or have a good narrative and still be a "bad" (as in, objectively poorly constructed, not "bad" as in "evil" or unlikable) character?
lol I guess this is possible . . . like kind of, The Hunger Games, where I think you and I agreed the ideas were okay but they needed a better writer to be fully explored. Or some of the things in LOK, where we thought they needed more time/different writers--a lot of the problems in LOK were more plot, not characters though.

Can a good character be a good character but be poorly written, or does being poorly written automatically mean they can't be? Can a good character be trapped in a poor narrative and/or poorly developed and still be a good character?
If a character is poorly written then I won't call them a good character, I will usually say “They COULD BE such a great character/I know that they SHOULD BE, but the writer sucks.” lol I say this about most of the characters on VD, like, Elena for example. I love what I think she should be, but I get frustrated because I feel like the writers won't explore a lot of the aspects that make her so interesting to me--so for me it's not really “She's a good character with bad writing” it's “She could be such a great character, but not with these writers” and that's usually how I think of it. It's the same with Justin on QAF.

Edited at 2012-10-02 06:50 pm (UTC)
Kali: atla :: my cranky girlfriend_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
lol I agree with pretty much everything you said here ngl, these are essentially my feelings entirely.

And I don't need to have a personal attachment to them to call them a good character, I don't have any special fondness for Zuko but I think he's a good character.

Yeah, I can appreciate how a character has developed without having any real investment in that development. Zuko is a good example because I did not really care about his journey but I did think it was well done. And I agree that there's a difference between thinking a character is really well-written/"good" and liking them; Zuko and Suki for instance. Which is why it does surprise me a little when people talk about how great a character is but then also how poorly they were written/developed.

I think you and I agreed the ideas were okay but they needed a better writer to be fully explored. Or some of the things in LOK, where we thought they needed more time/different writers--a lot of the problems in LOK were more plot, not characters though.

Yeah it's hard for me to imagine the opposite but writing this post got me thinking about it. I think in both LOK and Hunger Games, I'll use Asami and Katniss as examples, and in both cases I think it's not like "well developed stories with poor characters" it's just "potentially-interesting characters squandered on poor stories".

so for me it's not really “She's a good character with bad writing” it's “She could be such a great character, but not with these writers”

This is how I feel most of the time, if I think the character's idea/whatever is interesting but the narrative hasn't done them justice. Amy Pond is pretty much this to me, in basic terms she could be a really fascinating character but in practice the text (in my opinion anyway) did absolutely fuck-all with any of those interesting aspects, so ultimately I don't think she was a good character in the end. I thought she was likable but her story was shit and so I don't think as a canonical character she was very good. It's also how I felt about Katniss and others -- actually most of the LOK cast now that I think about it.
(no subject) - rose_dawson on October 2nd, 2012 08:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose_dawson on October 2nd, 2012 08:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose_dawson on October 4th, 2012 06:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - _thirty2flavors on October 4th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Circle-dot-dot, swirlything-circle, dot-dot-line: t3h Rosemoonphased on October 2nd, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I was about to write a rant about this in my own journal, but then when I read this, I just had to jump in.

The "I hate endings" and River's echo of "don't let him see you age because he hates endings" bothered me right at the onset, but when I went back and watched a few Nine/Ten episodes, I suddenly realized WHY.

There is one line that Nine said that I remember stuck with me (and I think sticks with a lot of fans). "Everything has its time, everything dies."

And then when I watched "School Reunion," I suddenly realized why Eleven's attitude bothered me. Ten still loved Sarah Jane for what she'd become, he loved her for becoming great and wonderful as she grew older, he was absolutely in awe of how she'd grown up, and my favorite scene in that episode, hell in almost any Doctor Who episode was this:



"Goodbye. My Sarah Jane."

I can understand the "I'm sad when things come to an end; it hurts" sentimentality, but the tantrumy-wantrumy way that it was presented in "Angels Take Manhattan" didn't do anything to gain my sympathy. It just annoyed me. But yeah... that's just about that particular incident.



And moving on to the "good character" thoughts... I'll use Martha as the example because I'm totally guilty of saying "she was a good character but the writers didn't do her justice," (which, when you point it out like you did, kinda IS a weird thing to say...). I'm starting to think that with Martha, I liked her characteristics and actually the more I watched her the more I do like her development and narrative, and I like the development it gave the Doctor. But sometimes I do feel like there were aspects of her story and her time with the Doctor that kind of... weren't as enjoyable, I guess? And I think for this, Martha's crush on the Doctor is what gets to most people; some people think it was maybe unnecessary to include that in her story or give it as much attention as it got, which is where the "it didn't do her justice" part comes in. But then as I let her story sink in more, I realize that it is indeed important to include that part of her into her story.

I'm... probably not making any sense right now. ^^;

Edited at 2012-10-02 07:38 pm (UTC)
Kali: dw :: sarah jane :: tough act to follow_thirty2flavors on October 2nd, 2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah I think the idea of the Doctor "hating endings" makes sense, but only if the show is aware that, you know, you can't hide from endings forever. I think they maybe kinda-sorta wanted to get there in TATM, since Eleven rips out the last page but runs back for it later because it's Amy's goodbye, but having River in the middle reinforcing "never let him see the damage/never let him see you age" just makes it convoluted to me.

I mean, of course the Doctor hates endings (or more specifically goodbyes, since that's what he really means). I don't imagine most people like them much. But the childish fingers-in-ears "nah nah I can't hear you" implied by ripping out pages and all that is just... I dunno. It's not that interesting, to me as a viewer, and I think it makes his character seem very immature. Especially I think because... like you said, in "School Reunion", that scene where Sarah Jane demands a proper goodbye and Ten concedes, plus later "burning up a sun to say goodbye" and all that, it seems like Eleven backtracking I guess. I could handwave that maybe all the shit he went through as Ten made him regress like that, but like you said, the tantrums (LOL FOREVER @ tantrumy-wantrumy btw) make him appear childish and selfish and not at all like an "ageless god" (thanks for that btw River).

. But sometimes I do feel like there were aspects of her story and her time with the Doctor that kind of... weren't as enjoyable, I guess?

I would say though that a narrative doesn't have to be enjoyable to be well-written though. I can see why people don't like Martha's unrequited love story, for example, because they either found it tedious to watch or just plain uncomfortable, but I think it played an important role in her development as a character and I don't think being uncomfortable to watch necessarily equates with bad.

With Martha in particular I think a lot of the time I feel like the people who claim to love her the most are the ones who, as far as I can tell, missed the entire point of her story. People who talk about how they love Martha "even though" her story was "all about her not being as good as Rose", or "even though RTD hated her" or whatever, it just baffles me because I think -- why do you love this character if you missed all the best parts of her?
clodiaclodia_risa on October 2nd, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
I think the words "good" and "bad" are a bit misleading. You can certainly have a compelling character who is poorly used in canon, or even when the canon itself is poorly written. You can even have compelling ideas for a character that fall flat in execution (I think many would agree that River Song would be one such.) I think a character is good, or compelling, when the audience wants to know more about them. Wants to know how they'll react to different situations. Wants to see the world from their point of view.

Many Disney villains are compelling, but not well-written characters. They're evil...because. But something about their style, their energy, their charisma, SOMETHING about them is compelling.

I don't think you can be a "good" character unless the writer(s) and the audience tune into the same aspects of the character and more is shown of that character to flesh out that original compelling idea. So no, I don't think you can have a well-written, good character outside of a well-written, good canon. Call me biased, but I'd put most of the characters of B5 or Avatar the Last Airbender in that lot. They're originally interesting, and then the canon makes sure to put them each through character-building situations in order to flesh them out further.

I think it is hard to have a well-written character in the NuWho, because beyond the Doctor, most of the characters are companions. And most of those exist primarily for their relationship with the Doctor. As such, their motivations are not largely fleshed out beyond that point of interaction. It worked for Rose. It was tiresome with Martha, but she had motivations beyond the Doctor. She just rarely got to work with them. Donna was working with her own issues by travelling with, not being with the Doctor, and I'd love to see more companions like her. Some of the one-off characters are the most compelling (Jack, Wilfred, etc.) Since their existence does not hinge on interaction with the Doctor, characterization is required, which makes them far more interesting far more quickly.

I do think you can have a compelling character in a poorly written show. But I don't think you can have a good character in one.
Kali: dw :: team tardis :: well-chosen_thirty2flavors on October 3rd, 2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
I guess by "good" and "bad" I really mean "well-written/constructed" vs "poorly written/constructed". Which, I guess, is why when I see people say something like "Amy is a [well-written] character with a poorly written narrative" I'm left scratching my head.

I do think there's a distinction to be made between "compelling" and "well-written" though, at least if we assume "compelling" means interesting to watch, engaging to watch, whatever (in contrast I guess with "emotionally compelling" which I think would require some sort of narrative growth etc) and it's possible to have characters that are fun/interesting to watch without them being particularly well developed.

I think it is hard to have a well-written character in the NuWho, because beyond the Doctor, most of the characters are companions. And most of those exist primarily for their relationship with the Doctor.

I don't know that I think being a companion necessarily precludes being a well-written character. I'd say Rose, Martha and Donna all have their own stories of growth and their own personal narratives in addition to their relatioship with the Doctor, even if their relationship with the Doctor and the subsequent adventures/etc they have are the catalyst for those stories. Rose becoming a hero, Martha learning to stand up for herself, Donna believing in herself -- their relationship with the Doctor is part of that but it's also an internal emotional journey.

I do think you can have a compelling character in a poorly written show. But I don't think you can have a good character in one.

I would say, for my own definition anyway, it's possible for a character to exist that has a well-written development/personal narrative within a larger canon that isn't well-written or developed. I don't have any particular examples that spring to mind but I do think it would be possible.

Edited at 2012-10-03 04:35 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Kali: dw :: oswin :: the girl who can_thirty2flavors on October 3rd, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
Characters are most important to me as well. Here I was specifically talking about that character's journey though -- like, can they be considered "good characters" even if their story (as a subset of the larger whole story) isn't well-written?

My favourite kinds of plots are ones that are obviously designed to accomplish something for the charater, and likewise my least favourite plots are ones where I feel like the characters are merely chess pieces being taken through the motions by the plot devices. It's why I like episodes like "Waters of Mars" but dislike episodes like "Let's Kill Hitler". I think it's probably possible for a character to have a good personal narrative within a larger shitty narrative, but I can't think of an example.
Lizbazcat89 on October 2nd, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
I was going to write a long reply, but I think Noel already said it better than I could have, TBH.
Jeanne "dancing in the" d'Arc: I er uhrose_dawson on October 3rd, 2012 01:45 am (UTC)
(no subject) - bazcat89 on October 3rd, 2012 02:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
earlgreytea68earlgreytea68 on October 2nd, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
In some strange way, characters exist for me as separate from their narrative. And that makes no sense, because what are they but a product of their narrative? But I feel like the existence of the character apart from the narrative is what allows fanfiction to exist. There is a character of The Doctor who gets written about all over, and this character remains recognizably The Doctor, apart from the narrative The Doctor is currently in.

I actually think Edward Cullen could be an awesome character but he was stuck with an author who was distressingly superficial about him.
Kali: eng :: too wise to woo peaceably_thirty2flavors on October 3rd, 2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I can see how people connect with the core ideas or traits or what have you in a character, and I see (obviously, lol, as a fic writer) what's appealing about writing that character outside of their actual canon narrative.

But -- and this is related I guess although not exactly what prompted me to make this post -- I do find it very frustrating when fandom confuses their fanon or ~personal canon~ for actual canon. I mean, I don't mind someone taking the time to flesh out in their minds a character that hasn't been fleshed out. That's great and everyone is entitled to do that, and some of my very favourite fics are fics where someone has done just that with a character. But I find it frustrating when that stuff gets used as "evidence" about who the character is, canonically.

doctahr: Nine/Rose Happy Ninedoctahr on October 3rd, 2012 12:35 am (UTC)
Definitely. I love Amy, actually, but I didn't like how her stories went. Same with River. ESPECIALLY River.
I've found that if you have a good story, the characters help make it a good story, so while you can have a bad story with good characters, you can't have a good story with bad characters as easily. But I'm sure it's still possible.
I mean, I've read fic where I wanted to like it because the plot was good, and the writing wasn't bad, but I just really disliked how they wrote the characters. IDK if that counts though.
Kali: atla :: fucking zuko_thirty2flavors on October 3rd, 2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
I think a good story with flat characters (or, well, engaging, I guess, since I am unlikely to consider a story truly "good" if its characters are flat) must be possible -- I guess for the most part I'd put "Inception" in this category, because the characters were IMO very cardboard but the idea of the story was interesting. I've only seen Inception once, though, so the story might not actually be very good lol.

For me I suppose it's a question of semantics, but when the idea of a character is good but the actual story doesn't make use of that potential (like River or Amy), I think of it more like "this character COULD be/have been great but unfortunately wasn't", rather than "this character is great but their story wasn't". I also don't really think of liking a character and thinking a character is a well-done character are necessarily related -- as someone else said I don't care for Zuko, but I think Zuko had a good story and good development. And I like Amy, even though I think she's canonically a hot mess.
ladysophiekittyladysophiekitty on October 3rd, 2012 12:36 am (UTC)
LOL I have a lot of feelings about characterizations, so prepare for a semi long and ranty comment. But I AGREE WITH THAT DESCRIPTION OF Eleven!

I guess with me, a lot of it has to do with a character's potential. I liked Martha ok from the beginning, but it wasn't until I saw her story and where she was coming from that I was able go to back and appreciate her and fall in love with her. It's not because they did a bad job with her character, but I needed to see where it was going first. Morgana from Merlin I felt had a lot of potential because they wrote her in such a fascinating way in s1: someone who is essentially good but has such strong ideas that she can get a bit carried away with and can do the wrong things. But she also had a lot of inner conflict because she was scared and in denial of her magic, yet using it frequently to save the son of the person she's scared of, because she cares about his well-being. But then later on they took away a lot of what made her interesting and just made her scared, and then just evil. I get mad a lot because I think of what could have been. Obviously, my idea of lost potential and other people's, including the writers, idea is much different. But often I have my own personal idea of Morgana's future.

I think what gets tricky too is that in real life, people can wake up one day and completely change their minds on something, like going from absolutely not wanting kids to wanting some, and it's no big deal. But since we're not in these character's minds, writers need to be a lot more obvious about change. So if one day a character just announces out of the blue she wants to get a sperm donation, that's going to be a bit jarring and upsetting for me.

Or in the case of Matt and Karen, I get frustrated with their characters because I like certain aspects of them and I like the people playing them, but the characters are so poor, both in who they are as people and who their stories choose to be. With Nine, Ten, Rose, Donna, and Martha, I can look back at their entire story and character and growth and appreciate it (both during and after) and understand it and go, "YES, THIS MAKES PERFECT SENSE!" whereas if you asked me to explain River, Rory, Amy, or Eleven, I'd find it super difficult. If I don't think about it too much I can say that yes, I am fond of Amy, but in this case potential is a negative thing because it makes me hate the show. I know that DW under RTD wasn't perfect, but I was always more inclined to forgive the imperfections because other things distracted me from it (like characterization!) and also it was fun to laugh at things like the TARDIS carrying back Earth to its proper location. With Moffat, he favors plot over character growth and then makes things super complicated, so I'm more likely to notice and complain about things.

So I guess IMO what makes a good character is them having development that makes sense for them and a good story that brings about said development. I liked how Rose, Martha, and Donna were changed because of their adventures with the Doctor, in both good ways and bad, and I didn't feel like Amy's character changed much. Her stories were, again, used more to develop the plot rather than who she is as a person.

/rant, sorry if that didn't make sense.

Let Them Talkbluetooth16 on October 3rd, 2012 01:48 am (UTC)
I must be the only one here who loves Eleven's manic pixieness. I think it's a trait that many previous Doctors have, but he really brings it to the forefront. In a weird way, it also shows just how dangerous he is if he's angry. I cried ugly tears at the finale because I was so attached to Amy. (I love Rory too, but Amy was the first female companion since Martha that I got insanely attached to.)

To me, there's no one way to be a good character. Good characters can come out of undeveloped writing just as much as they come from well developed plots. The goodness can come from traits or it can come from their reactions to situations in the plot.

a lanky brunette with a wicked jaw: dw || amy11; it's a spaceship?!intrikate88 on October 3rd, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
Wow, HIPSTERS IN SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE has never been more relevant. Manic Pixie Dream Doctor, that is it exactly and somehow it just feels worse because at least with Zooey or other of that character type, you know it's male gaze shit, but with Eleven, nope, he's straight up drinking PBR and talking about his plans to build a log cabin in Sweden and ohhhhh we are stopping by this eclectic yard sale because that unrecognizable thing would make a great TARDIS doohickey handle.

Or whatever.

Damn, that's a challenging question. And I think it has something to do with whether you base a character as how they are written or as how they are read. (Something... vs. Reader response) There are a lot of very well-developed and carefully drawn characters, such as Sarah Woodruff in The French Lieutenant's Woman, but she doesn't linger in my mind or continue to stir something in me. Amy is written so that you only see her like an infrequent poster to facebook, you may see a snapshot or a status update and you don't understand how they're related or the whole context, but somehow I feel for her despite that. (Or maybe because of that; because I have to hold onto her if the story will not.) So I really don't know. I generally think a good character is someone who has goodness but isn't a paragon, selfishness and malice but isn't evil, and even if not everything is told about why they have become the person they are, you do know that there is a reason, that they didn't just pop forth fully formed. And I think that I can see that in Amy, and in River, despite the fact that all the quality of their lives was played offstage; I don't see that in Eleven, who was Peter Pan from the start and I don't get the sense that there is a reason for that, or for his choices, or that he would ever possibly evolve from being that.