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Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time

A meh deep enough to turn into an ugh.

Besides the intrinsic win of the Doctor finally regenerating into a woman, I have some hope that the showrunner's regeneration will contribute to turn the series into one where the Doctor is the protagonist, not the protagonist and the MacGuffin and the Most Important Person Ever and ... and... As of late, too often Doctor Who has been about how the Doctor feels about the Doctor and that can be interesting in small doses, and turn into awfully boring as a narrative mode.

There's practically no limit to what sort of stories, scenarios, and characters can be found in any given Doctor Who episode (and, if nothing else, the visuals of modern Doctor Who have often succeeded in this regard); to say that it has recently failed to consistently exploit this freedom and over-indulged in the in-universe mythos of the Doctor as an engine of cosmic history isn't to spoil as much as to lodge a pointless complaint against self-satisfied powers-that-be.

It's my sincere hope that we might get a less narratively narcissistic Doctor in Thirteen; painfully enough, I hold this not entirely unlikely in part because it's difficult to imagine a contemporary show giving to a female character the sort of, well, entitled, angry authority the Doctor wielded at his worst moments. (The Doctor is so enmeshed with colonialist tropes that only the BBC could've come up with him. But I digress.)

Personally, I'm crossing my fingers for a Doctor for whom time travel is the premise, not the tool, dealing with problems with her wit, kindness, and knowledge, rather than overwhelming technology, a particularly blessed biology, and a reputation that spans galaxies and millennia. Problems that, ideally, she neither caused nor is the target of.

Doctor Who can tell those stories, and it never fully stopped. Just give me more of them, and a Doctor less worried about being the Doctor.


It was a weird time for everybody

Doc Brown is The Regeneration We Shall Never Speak Of, isn't he? Weird hair, misplaced the TARDIS, built a silly replacement that ran on garbage, his companion wrecked the timeline (which is usually the Doctor's job).

He was happy in the Old West, though --- Eleven likes Stetsons because they remind him of those years --- and, in hindsight, he might have a weakness for the name "Clara" ever since.

But he's *so* glad he could finally find the TARDIS.

(On the most obvious hole off possibly too many: Jules and Verne were adopted.) (As I was reminded of, it isn't one.)


Random fannish thoughts

Saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. I wasn't unentertained, but it was mostly thanks to the fun and/or violent beats within an overall plot (in terms both of concrete dangers and emotional arcs) I didn't really care about. Why does everything has to be about emotional growth, family, and so on? You've got a talking raccoon with explosives! Just do a caper movie or something like that.

In related non-news, it's weird how weird it feels to see ESPN ads about the upcoming Champions League final in Cardiff (I did tell you about my how I'm avoiding news channels as much as I can out of psychological self-defense), without making a single reference to Torchwood.

If I were in charge of the BBC, I'd have John Barrowman as Captain Harness be seen briefly during the official transmission; unannounced and unmentioned, doing something vaguely mysterious on the background for a short moment. The parts of the internet you want to know, will see it and pass the word around. Like, in seconds.

Likewise, I'd have every Doctor I can talk into it appear randomly in the background of events, sonicking things, appearing to fix others, just going somewhere else. Turning a corner slightly ahead of a moving camera, and yet not being there when the camera follows. Never giving a heads up, never acknowledging anything. Just have the Doctor, Torchwood, etc, be a random part of the world. You never know where you'll come across the Doctor, and if you're lucky and he's successful, you won't find out what he was trying to prevent.

Hell, if you want to introduce a new Doctor, you just put him in the background of some real events, and then you have bits of his (or her, wouldn't it be nice to dream) episode take place sideways to that event, Rosencrantz and Guilderstein are Dead-style. So, say, a BBC live music event would show, briefly, a guy deliver a music sheet to a pianist, and then months later part of a Doctor Who episode would involve the Doctor replacing a music sheet for a music event with an specific date and place with a deadly tonal harmonic overlay with the proper one, our viewpoint from a side of the stage as he walks to the pianist and gives him the sheet. And the internet would take about thirty seconds to say "hey, that was a real BBC event," and then somebody will watch that video and see a man they now know is the Doctor do the thing right there in reality. Cue, I hope, the yay.

Not that Doctor Who needs any help with the internet, of course. But the BBC, the Doctor, and the United Kingdom might be the only studios, character, and place where you could pull this off in a seamless manner, so why not go for it?

If no British museum ever put Doctor easter eggs in a historical exposition or two and quietly asked somebody's niece to post a photo or two to Tumblr, then I don't know what they think "native social media marketing" is.

Secrets, quoth Hubertus Bigend, are the root of cool.
(Sketched in my phone during a twelve hours long bus trip, so take it as you will).

(The why: I thought the whole Utah thing was quite well put together, including Eleven's escape, and ditto for Gallifrey Falls/No More, but on in contrast the whole Town called Christmas thing just didn't make sense, even in the kind of sense Doctor Who aims for. This is a half-assed outline of a variation that I like better.)

Trenzalore stays, as well as On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked, a question that must never, ever be answered., and yes, it is the Doctor's name. Also: Trenzalore as a battlefield, the dead TARDIS, etc (some of the most extraordinary images I ever saw in Doctor Who).

Here's where the changes begin: Time Lords keep their "true names" secret, because they use them as passwords for the important stuff (problematic, I know, but you do want a master password, and biometrics don't work after a regeneration). When the Doctor(s) put Gallifrey in stasis, he/they sealed it with their password... their name. He doesn't know "where" it is, but if somebody finds it, they won't be able to unlock it (and potentially unleash the Time Lords again) without the Doctor's name. That's what the Master (of course) is trying to do (he did find Gallifrey, but he never knew the Doctor's name), and that's what the Silence (quite reasonably) want to avoid: they come from a future where the Master succeeded, and the Time Lords overran the universe. The only way they could survive was to make the Time Lords forget they existed (for all we know, they are what humans had to become to survive, which is why they set up their trap on Earth, which they did have some previous knowledge of), and that's how they could steal a time machine and go back to try and stop the whole thing.

Note that this is also the timeline Eleven saw the outcome of when he visited Trenzalore: when the Master unlocked Gallifrey in mid-war, the Gallifreian army went out all ready to wage war upon the Doctor (or at least part of the army), and the Doctor fought them for years (if you want to go all retconny, he has been traveling all over the place in part collecting knowledge and tools he'd need in case he ever had to), until they finally kill him. Hence the rivers of blood, the Doctor as the beast, the dead TARDIS. The Gallifreians escape, etc. This is the main timeline, and it's about to happen again.

What changes? Nothing. The Master gets the Doctor to Trenzalore, sets up the veracity field, makes him say his name. But even when telling the truth, the Doctor lies. Knowing what was coming and guessing the rest, he put Trenzalore inside a pocket universe, and Gallifrey in a pocket universe of that pocket universe. Gallifrey is free, he fights the Time Lords to make it believable... he even dies to make it believable, and also to give the Trenzalore universe time to detach from ours without them noticing it. It's only after the Doctor finally dies that the Time Lords realize they are still trapped, and they launch themselves in a very long between-universes trip to reach ours, which is why they aren't in Trenzalore anymore.

And then... Well. The Doctor is truly out of regenerations, and River is dead, but the Master was left behind by the Time Lord fleet (actually, Gallifrey with a Ugiroth Drive (just made up that name)) to go crazy and die, die, die until he's truly dead. But he knows the Doctor must have had some escape hatch in case he survived or he needed to get somebody else to safety, so he revives the Doctor with one of his regenerations (and the TARDIS with another), in exchange for both of them leaving the Trenzalore pocket. The Doctor isn't keen on letting the Master out, but with the Time Lords going to eventually reach our universe, he needs to get out and start preparing for them again. This time, it'll be in the right (wrong) universe... And he's probably going to need more lives in order to get ready (But should he? He doesn't particularly *want* to; Eleven was already a bit gone, and Twelve... what Eleven did was in a sense worse than what the War Doctor did, and he's certainly in shock. But... there's people to save. But... what costs are there in seeking more lives? What cost did the early Time Lords paid for their regenerations, and will he be able to pay it on his own?)


Remember the half-brilliant/half-idiotic Fantastic Four storyline "The Masters of Doom"? What they did to Doom, and how he struck back? I just realized that it would have been a great Doctor Who plot (not to mention an innovative way to introduce a new regeneration).

Fic: On the Other Side (Doctor Who, PG13)

Title: On the Other Side
Rating: PG13
Fandom: Doctor Who
Summary: We're all stories in the end.

It's the third day, and the Doctor's corpse is starting to smell.Collapse )
Doctor Who (still) definitely works better as fairy tale rather than science-fiction. It's more about morality and feelings and narrative puns than it's about the logical consequences of extraordinary assumptions.

I keep thinking about a Hannibal AU where Hannibal is actually a time-stranded (or hiding) Time Lord (e.g., the Master in one of his more self-restrained regenerations, or ideally somebody else). Think about it: human looks, slightly superhuman physiology (for example, his senses), the accumulated skills and insights of centuries, and the cold distance of being from literally another species. A psychopathic Time Lord playing with humans while keeping all future technology turned off to avoid detection, thoroughly epicurean to try to approximate as much as possible the heights of music/food/art he was probably used to, momentarily amused by particularly clever or interesting human minds and setting up multi-level games of manipulation with people to try to distract himself, but never seeing them as more than playthings.

I think it makes sense, but while it'd add a bit to Doctor Who (for all of their cleverness and experience, we see more of Time Lord technology than we do of Time Lord *minds*, and that's a pity), it'd probably diminish Hannibal.
A good thing about the next regeneration is that I no longer will be actually older than the Doctor. (Well, the actor. (Although some days...))


In non-romantic news

There were two or three moments in The Name of the Doctor in which I squealed at the screen in sheer delight at the visuals and the concept behind them. And the very ending of the episode! Ye gods. Doctor Who always falls apart for me when I look at it as if it were science fiction or fantasy conceived tightly enough to just be science-fiction-for-a-different-universe (e.g., Discworld): too much plot-convenient handwaving. That said, at an emotional, ludic, sometimes nightmarish level, when it works, it works really well, and as the episode finished I literally felt a knot on my chest.

I do wonder, though, to what degree Doctor Who is turning out to be about middle age-hood (of course, it could be, and probably mostly is, my own age coloring my perception), but it seems as if, funnily enough for a show about a nearly immortal character with total body regeneration, Doctor Who is exploring the concept of vital finitude/the life-arc, in a way that few other shows do, and in a so far less unrealistically positive way. (Ten is not "my Doctor", but his I don't want to go is among my favorite and truest lines I have ever heard on TV).

And Elementary! Moriarty! Can you imagine Te writing *this* Moriarty, from the inside-out?


cass, can you not

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