This topic contains 213 replies, has 38 voices, and was last updated by  Kevin Who 4 days, 16 hours ago.

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    Darth Valaryn @troygorsline


    I am a big fan of South Park and its humor. I had every intention of being nice. This episode was about judging people (trans included) on their behavior – not only because they are trans (the PC thing to do, it seems, these days).

    As much as I consider myself “woke,” Bruce, now Kaitlyn, Jenner has always been kind of a jerk. Olympic hero or no. Trans or no.

    Kevin Who @kevinwho

    I talked earlier in this topic about qualms I had with the episode, and got some good responses that helped square me away. And yet, I still felt dissatisfied, and I think I finally can say why.

    Before I go on, though, I’m only explaining why I’m dissatisfied, not why you should be. Maybe it’ll help anyone else feeling the episode somehow didn’t measure up. But the last thing I want to do is take away from anyone’s enjoyment.

    I remember getting introduced years ago to racism in the US. I read about it, or maybe saw something on TV; it certainly wasn’t something that came up at home. My mom, unusually for someone of her age at the time, had a good friend who was African-American, who came to the house any number of times. Living in the worlds of my imagination as I did, I never thought of her as different, just as one of mom’s buds.

    So when I found out about Jim Crow and lynchings and all the rest, I was horrified. How could people behave like that? This was the USA! I wanted to understand how this could happen. So I read about heroes like Rosa Parks, and victims like Emmett Till, and others besides.

    I also read about George Washington, Father of Our (My) Country, how he wanted to free his slaves, knowing slavery was not compatible with the ideals of the country he’d helped bring into being. But his slaves were a significant part of (sorry for putting it this way) his assets, and, reading between the lines, I’m sure he feared impoverishing himself and his family. He was conscious of the adulation people had for him, and I’m sure he didn’t want to tarnish that with risking bankruptcy.

    And that fear I suspect is there is what I was looking for in my reading, and didn’t see in Rosa. All the non-TARDIS white speaking roles in Rosa are interchangeable. Krasko, the cop, the waitress, the bus driver are racists, and nothing more. We aren’t invited to understand why human beings could make such inhuman choices. We aren’t invited to regard them as human, really.

    Which leads me to my final point. Because I think AG Who has tackled racism before, and brilliantly. Remember Midnight? The Tenth Doctor for once isn’t able to get the others on his side, isn’t able to talk them around, and the Midnight creature soon takes his ability to talk away. The others are terrified, and in their fear they turn on the helpless one who they see as different. He barely survives, and it’s scary in the extreme.

    We’re invited to identify with the Doctor, as always, just like we are with Rosa Parks. But Midnight also invites us to understand why people can make such a horrible mistake, how they can be frightened into doing something horrific and inhuman. Not the case with Rosa.

    So, for me, that’s why Midnight is a great episode, and a great introduction to the “othering” that underlies racism. That’s why I consider it great…and Rosa pretty good.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Yes, I get why you should feel that way – you’re interested in why individuals could be racists.

    However, as far as I can see, what Michelle Blackman was interested in – when she was writing Rosa – was the institutional racism that existed in Montgomery, Alabama.

    Krasko, the cop, the waitress, the bus driver are racists, and nothing more. We aren’t invited to understand why human beings could make such inhuman choices.

    Nope, we’re being asked to understand how there could be such a thing as an entire legal, political and social system that not only allows human beings to make such choices, but approves them. Provides police power to support those choices. Pushes those who do not approve (you mentioned George Washington) into making racist decisions themselves.

    We’re not invited to understand why the cop, the waitress, the bus driver are racists because the reason they are racists is almost certainly that they were born and brought up in Montgomery, Alabama and have been socialised all their lives to be racists. That’s the system they were born into, and they are decent, law-abiding, productive members of an institutionally racist society. When the cop comes into the motel room, when the waitress tells Ryan and Yaz to leave, when the bus driver tells Rosa to move – they’re all upholding the norms of their society.

    That’s the truly scary thing; more terrifying than any monster. They’re all just doing their job.

    Throughout the script we discover that being a well-meaning non-racist white person is insufficient. The Doctor and Graham are told to get out of town, and have the police checking their motel room to see if they smuggled in the ‘mongrels’. The Doctor sits next to Rosa on the bus – and is told that she can’t, because Rosa will still have to move.

    And Graham, who has a black step-grandson and who tries to protect Ryan throughout, is forced into the situation of being the white man that Rosa Parks was supposed to give up her seat to. The fact that he didn’t want the seat, would have been perfectly willing to stand, is irrelevant within this system. It forces compliance.

    And that is institutional racism. And it’s really important that we recognise it when we see it.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    The grounds for your reservations about the episode are valid, but I’m not sure that the nuances of the psychological and sociological roots of racism in Montgomery in the 1950s could ever have been adequately addressed in one 50 minute episode of a show intended for family viewing and aimed primarily, in this case, at an audience of younger viewers of many nationalities for whom the events portrayed would be as distant as the Boer Wars or equivalent were for me in 1955.

    The writer chose instead to explore the basic issues by showing one of the pivotal events in the history of the struggle for civil rights in the USA from the 21st century point of view of three British people of various ethnic origin, one middle aged and two young, confronted in shocking fashion with the, to them, unfamiliar reality of a racism which was not only deep rooted and pervasive, but encoded in segregationist law and with a legacy of extreme violence behind it. The mentality and the motivation of the white racists who featured in the episode were not explored and so they might seem stereotyped, but I can remember the shocking filmed reports not long after Rosa Parks’ protest, of  black students running the gauntlet of angry mobs when schools were first desegregated, and the stereotypes are recognisable.

    As @bluesqueakpip says, the more intricate questions of why racists are racist, the complex of fears and insecurity which fuel racism, and how racism becomes embedded as a social norm with the force of law behind it are not the subject of this episode, but they are implicit for those who may be prompted to look further and ask questions. If even a few viewers do follow up in this way, then I think the writers will have done their job.

    Kevin Who @kevinwho

    @mudlark – My basic feeling is, if they couldn’t do it justice in 50 minutes, then either go two-parter or don’t do it at all. Imagine the Boer War in one episode, trying to accurately convey the conflict. Difficult!

    But I do see your point, and as I said, I don’t want to detract from anyone else’s enjoyment. It didn’t work for me, not as much as I’d like, but I realize it did for some.

    This whole series seems the least ambitious in story terms of all the AG Who, at least to me. Even this episode, when they tried for a knockout, I just feel they did so in a very limited way. Then again, I was very familiar with Rosa Parks–name-checked her, if you will, in a young-adult thing I did a few years ago–so I had less to gain than most.

    Kevin Who @kevinwho

    @bluesqueakpip – Sure. If I hadn’t read up so much on Jim Crow, racism, lynchings, etc. I probably would have appreciated the episode more.

    As mentioned in the Tsuranga thread, I’m not the one the show is aimed at, but rather young people. I get that. I mostly posted because someone else might be bothered that everyone else is saying it’s a great episode, but they don’t feel that it is.

    I just hope we get episodes that try to come up with something wildly imaginative, something unexpected. With luck that will keep everyone happy.

    Don’t worry about me, though. I don’t expect others to share my tastes, preferences, etc. Why should they?

    Mudlark @mudlark


    It is probably asking too much of Chibnall to hope he will come up with something wildly imaginative; that isn’t his strongest suit 😉  Moffat had an almost limitless imagination and a willingness to take risks which made even his less successful episodes interesting. It is significant that Rosa is the only episode in this season that I have felt I wanted to view twice, whereas I watched all of the episodes during Moffat’s time in charge at least two or three times, and sometimes felt it necessary to do so before I could even venture to comment.

    My expectations of Chibnall were lower from the beginning, especially in the light of what he said about the direction in which he wanted to take the show, so when it comes to commenting on the episodes so far this season I am assessing by different criteria,  primarily according to what I think were his aims and the aims of the writer if different, and how well or otherwise they succeeded

    As I indicated in comments earlier, I am British and was in my early teens in 1955. Although events depicted in this episode impinged only lightly on my consciousness at the time, by the mid 1960s I was politically very much aware of both current events and the background and I can understand your frustration over the fact that the complex subject was treated in relatively simplistic terms.  It was, however, aimed at people who, if they were aware of the facts at all, viewed them only from a simplified historical perspective. It succeeded insofar as it jolted awareness by conveying the visceral and emotional reality, through the experience of Ryan in particular, and that was the basis of my judgement.  My judgement as a historian didn’t really come into it.



    Kevin Who @kevinwho

    @ mudlark

    It was, however, aimed at people who, if they were aware of the facts at all, viewed them only from a simplified historical perspective. It succeeded insofar as it jolted awareness by conveying the visceral and emotional reality, through the experience of Ryan in particular, and that was the basis of my judgement.

    Very well said!

    My expectations aren’t what they could be as well, and I’m trying to judge each episode strictly by whether I was entertained; intrigued or engrossed is too much to expect…

    nerys @nerys

    @mudlark I was saying something similar to my husband, that re-watching these episodes isn’t mandatory. And, in a way, it’s a relief. As much as I loved Moffat’s writing, I sometimes got a bit tired of having to first watch an episode, just to get a sense of it, and then re-watch it multiple times in order to understand it. Needing to meet that challenge occasionally is fine, but every week?

    Of course, that may be more a commentary on my literal thinking than on Moffat’s writing.

    Mudlark @mudlark


    It is the difference between reading a novel which you may enjoy but, at the end, feel there is nothing more to be learned from a second reading because everything is there on the surface, and reading one which you immediately want to read again because you know that, however much you have understood and gained from that first reading there are additional depths and nuances to be found.  There are some novels you can read again and again and still find something new on each occasion. Television drama tends to be more immediately accessible but, just as with novels,  the best always repays further viewing



    nerys @nerys

    @mudlark Fair enough. I certainly understand that point of view. But for me, it isn’t a prerequisite for Doctor Who.

    DogBoyTheCat @dogboythecat


    I feel a bit overwhelmed that so many have quoted me…. although not always in context.

    Looking around the internet in the past few weeks seems to show a lot of people supporting my viewpoint.

    Many sources are reporting Doctor Who’s ratings as seriously dropping, and for the exact same reason I mentioned before…. the show is becoming PC and preachy, and it’s turning viewers off.

    And now, Chibnall’s not going to do a Christmas episode?

    Will we be getting one for Ramadan instead? (Ooops! Did I offend someone with that question?)

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    Did I offend someone with that question?

    I can only refer you to the following dialogue from Time of Angels

    THE DOCTOR: Er, no offence, Bishop.
    OCTAVIAN: Quite a lot taken, if that’s all right, Doctor.

    Ratings were discussed in the On The Sofa thread. Short version – each episode to date has higher ratings than any series since 2012, or even earlier.

    Kevin Who @kevinwho

    @dogboythecat – If you look around here, you’ll find I’m not enamored of the newest series, primarily for reasons of taste.  (I’m not completely thrilled with the stories and writing.)  However, if this series is losing viewers, it’s seemingly still having much higher numbers than almost all after-gap (AG) Who, and any drop off from episode 1 to episode 5 is typical.

    If I really cared about this (I don’t much), I’d dig more for numbers, but I just pulled these from Wikipedia for comparison purposes.  Column 1 is series number, 2 is millions of UK viewers for episode 1, 3 is viewers for episode 5, and column 4 (bold) is the percentage of viewers of episode 5 compared to episode 1:

    1 10.81 7.98 74%
    2 8.62 9.22 107%
    3 8.71 6.97 80%
    4 9.14 6.53 71%
    5 10.09 8.50 84%
    6 8.86 7.35 83%
    7 8.33 7.82 94%
    8 9.17 6.99 76%
    9 6.54 6.56 100%
    10 6.68 5.27 79%
    11 10.96 7.76 71%

    You can see that a) the viewing numbers for 11/5 are higher than most AG series, and b) the drop off from episode 1 is not atypical.

    By all means come on the forum and discuss things with the rest of us!  Opinions for or against something are fine.  Just be prepared to support them; unsupported opinions are a dime a drizzle, and no one cares about mine either. 🙂

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