Tags: doctor who

cass, can you not

Doctor Who S11E04

Trigger warning, obvious from both the trailer and the very title of the episode: Spiders. BIG spiders. YMWV, but I listened to rather than watched a significant percentage of the episode.

Another trigger warning: An obvious non!Trump character.

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cass, can you not

Doctor Who S11E03

It went pretty much as you'd have expected from the promos and/or setting; I liked the roles, actions, and re-actions of the companions (the Sheffield Gang?), and the way in which, when all was said and done, the Doctor and they weren't the protagonists, just the helpers. ETA: After rewatching the episode, I think that last part was *really* well done. Rosa Parks doesn't have the camera's focus, but she has the action's focus, if that makes sense. Her action, her story, her agency. It's not a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead situation, but they avoided one of the worst ways in which the episode could have gone, the retcon (and worst of all, the Doctor-did-it retcon). I might be prejudiced because of my issues with late Moffat, but I think this is shaping up as a great season.
cass, can you not

Doctor Who S11E02

A non-spoilery comment: I do love the high seat-of-the-pants-smarts/self-referential-speeches ratio of Thirteen. I'm a sucker for characters who get by on generic smarts and experience as their main powers (more than a few Pratchett characters, MacGyver when I was a kid, most capital-D Detective characters, etc), and the Doctor is, when written in that way and using her tech mostly to speed up the plot (no spending weeks to break into a computer system, say) rather than as a solve-all, one of the greatest ones.

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cass, can you not

Doctor Who S11E1

So far it feels like a return to the primal plot: something weird, ugly, and deadly is afoot somewhere in England, and the Doctor recruits a ragtag band of bystander/survivors through a combination of sneakery, bluffing, and advanced technology built from bits of wire and an old microwave.

If nothing else, it's a nice change of pace from the relentless focus on the Doctor (and the Doctor's mistakes, and the Doctor's feelings, and etc) of previous seasons.

Thirteen is still a bit of a cipher (the Watsonian par for the course early in a regeneration), but she's got the basic Doctorish looks distracted because they are noticing and thinking a dozen things at the same time vibe just right.
cass, can you not

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.
cass, can you not

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.)
cass, can you not

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.
cass, can you not

Half-assed notes towards a modified Eleven endgame in Doctor Who

(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?)