Forum Replies Created
22 January 2020 at 07:59 #69326
Scuttlebutt among the twitterati is the old bloke in the TARDIS at the end might be the Black Guardian. Not sure I like that idea personally and let’s face it, it could be bloody anybody…22 January 2020 at 00:07 #69318
I think a change of companions is definitely on the cards (tho I’m still holding out for some kind of Dark Yaz scenario).
I’m hearing speculation that the shifty bloke in the TARDIS which might be something for the hardcore spoiler section but would be very interesting if true….22 January 2020 at 00:03 #69317
How much would Davros crow if it turned out the Doctor’s own people were guilty of similar genetic “enhancement”.
This will be very interesting if it goes into this kind of territory. But are we veering dangerously close to Looms and such things?22 January 2020 at 00:01 #6931619 January 2020 at 23:16 #69248
Yeah, I’m not sure I buy that personally. Especially as Tesla’s own tech got given a Doctor boost in a potentially highly destructive way. But to me it highlights the fundamental issue at stake — the Doctor shouldn’t get to choose, particularly not on a set of murky and possibly shifting criteria of her own devising….
(I’m starting to feel that this might be the hill I’ve chosen to die on….)
Okay, so that’s now two stories (Skyfall and this one) where eugenics – not just the murder of the ‘unfit’, but the breeding of the ‘fit’ – is in the backstory. Skyfall with the Nazi’s and their breeding programme, and Tesla proposing the ‘deliberate guidance of the mating instinct’.
Good point. I wonder if that also feeds into the dark secret of the TLs that you and @juniperfish are moving towards…..19 January 2020 at 23:09 #6924619 January 2020 at 23:01 #69243
A huge improvement on last week and if I’m honest the episode from the Chibs period that I’ve most enjoyed so far. Certaintly, Nina Metivier has a stronger grasp of putting together a Who story than many of the writers of recent years and possibly even the showrunner himself.
That said, it kind of flags in the middle and feels a bit SJA at points to me. Certainly, Queen Skithra (?) seems to be scoring pretty high on the Zaroff Scale of Who villain hokiness. The Skithra were rather sketchily drawn and I found their similarity to the Racnoss distracting.
Goran Višnjić gave a great performance as Tesla and was a real highlight. Robert Glenister did good work as Edison too. But as with Noor in Spyfall, there seemed to be extreme selectivity at play in the presentation. That they wanted to gloss over Tesla’s support for eugenics and compulsory sterilisation of the criminal and insane is understandable in the context of the story they wanted to tell but does feel a little like the whole story is not being told. Personally part of me is kind of OK with the fact that he never became rich or powerful, considering the kind of abilities he had, coupled with the views he held. But this is mere cavilling and you’d have to level the same criticisms at the presentation of the likes of HG Wells and Churchill in the show too.
Instead I’ll moan about the Silurians being described as ‘aliens’ more than once throughout the story. This seems to be something of a schoolboy production error to make, particularly as the showrunner wrote a two-part story all about why they weren’t aliens. Surely Chibs has read this script multiple times and surely he would have picked this up? On a related note, where the hell was the Silurian gun during the final stand-off? I would have thought it more useful than a non-functioning death ray prototype.
And for that matter, was that the only ‘alien’ tech, the Scythra had? Because they didn’t seem to produce any more to use after that. The TARDIS forcefield extending like that also raises questions. I can think of several times when that would have made or broke an episode in the past.
And finally, the mindwipe issue (sorry to bang on about this). Noor and Ada get mindwiped but Edison and Tesla don’t? The argument at the time was that leaving Ada with the knowledge was dangerous. But she’s a couple of hundred years out of time, surely it’s a much more significant threat with these two with their abilities, resources and at the start of the 20th C, especially as it’s made clear that Edison in particular could be a menace if he got hold of future tech. It just reinforces just how much of a can of worms Chibs opened with that (frankly unnecessary) action.
All in all, a solid bit of Who, I’d say. For me, perhaps the best of the Chibs era so far but still nothing earth-shattering. Probably on a par with Shakespeare Code or Vampires in Venice. Entertaining but largely unremarkable.
Good point about the scavenging motif. It’ll be very interesting if the dark secret of the Time Lords does tend in that direction. I’d be quite happy if it did.16 January 2020 at 18:23 #6917416 January 2020 at 17:40 #69172
I too would love to see a blog on this subject. It does make me wonder what other analogies we can make. Would RTD be Verity Lambert, for being the midwife of Nu-Who? Does that make Moffat Barry Letts or Philip Hinchcliffe?
Was also wondering if this is the most comprehensive trouncing the forum has ever inflicted on an episode. I’m struggling to remember a worse one. Maybe there should be some kind of plaque….15 January 2020 at 13:26 #69114
Yep, it’s the Who references that stuck out a mile for me too. This veered rather a lot to be being a remake of The Mysterious Planet with a bit of The Leisure Hive thrown in. For someone so famed for dissing Colin Baker-era Who, Chibs seems to be doing a bang-up job of emulating it….15 January 2020 at 00:33 #69103
I suspect you’re right that this is a kneejerk reaction to the criticism of s11. And to be fair, Moffat went through the same process too. s6 was criticised for being too complex (ha!) and lo and behold we get the ‘movie of the week’ format for a while. I suspect that’s just part of the ongoing process.
Personally, I’m glad to see the return of an arc and thought s11 suffered badly for its absence. I’m hoping that the recycling does end up being some sort of actual plot point and not just the result of Chibs having to quickly rummage to knock an arc together quickly and to order. Happy to be wrong but I do have my doubts.
Also tend to agree about the Fam. I think with Whittaker there’s a fine Doc there still trying to come out but that she’s constantly losing valuable screen time to the other three. All the companions are fine on their own but together there’s just too many of them. Davison had the same problem and it wasn’t until Androzani when it was just him and Peri that you got a sense of the Doctor he could have been. The chemistry between WhitDoc and the Fam often feels forced and awkward to me. I am hoping that for her third year, she sheds a couple of companions, maybe even gets someone completely new.15 January 2020 at 00:13 #6910214 January 2020 at 17:04 #6909013 January 2020 at 23:03 #69063
Of course, now she is faced with a mirror of her Time War past – as her long-standing fremeny, The Master, appears to be responsible for Gallifrey’s destruction, again.
I’m not massively keen on Gallifrey’s re-destruction personally. It all depends how it plays out, of course, and as you say, we may see some sort of reset by the end of the arc but it seems to that Moffat took great pains to finesse the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey for very good reasons. I can understand why RTD made the move in the first place — to declutter the mythology for a relatively clean reboot but the whole Lonely God/Oncoming Storm thing had the unfortunate effect of heaping a shedload of angst and, in the case of Ten, arrogant exceptionalism onto the Doctor’s shoulders. We only saw a Doctor freed of that burden in 12 and now I fear we’re back to the Doc being Lil Orphan Annie again. So I have reservations but am keeping an open mind on how it develops.
Good point about moments of moral darkness in the Doc’s character. It’s not something that is ever going to be fully resolved, I think. Perhaps it pays to remember that with the Doc we’re dealing with an ancient alien psyche that is trying to ‘learn’ to act human under the influence of the company he keeps. But that alien psyche is still there and there are bound to be relapses. (Rather like a chronic alcoholic who will fall off the wagon every so often?)
As to alternate universes and the like, I am beginning to wonder if that’s going to play a part in this arc. I did briefly think when we saw the temporal maps in Skyfall that we were looking at alternate universes rather than the time-shifted ones we were presented with. Perhaps it was a hint that what we’re going to see belong to alternate universes after all. Maybe that wasn’t ‘our’ Gallifrey at all. (Weren’t there like Nine Gallifreys in the novels?) And it’s interesting that, as you say, it’s not a concept that Who has done a whole heap on. There was Inferno and then Pete’s World but isn’t that about it? Not sure E-Space can count as it’s still technically our cosmos, is it not?13 January 2020 at 22:49 #69062
My pet theory about Yaz is that she’s being set up to become disenchanted with the Doctor and switch sides to become the Master’s companion.13 January 2020 at 18:49 #69044
Interesting points re. Morality and the Doctor and I think we can say that Doc’s morality and system of ethics sometimes doesn’t resemble ours and is sometimes contradictory to what we’ve seen in the past (largely to do with individual writers). You could credibly argue, however, that the Doctor’s entire character arc from An Unearthly Child onwards was in cultivating a ‘more human’ sense of morality under the influence of his companions, ie. moving from a place where bashing a caveman’s skull in or risking exposing other people to radiation sickness just so you can go and explore a city to thinking and caring about other people (showing kindness in other words).
I think it’s also fair to say that the somewhat friable current state of our world is informing the direction of Chibs’ era but I think you could overstate the sense of difference from previous eras. It could be more that Moffat and RTD had just as much interest in social issues but that their approaches to portraying it differ considerably (Chibs, I’d argue, just lacks subtlety in how he goes about it.)
RE. Ker-Blam. I think the point — and failure — of Ker-Blam is that it demonstrated that the systems were not vital to the world, just the way that that world had fallen into thinking about them. There was no compelling reason for it to continue that way, just that it was less effort than changing it. And the Doctor is a revolutionary — stories from The Daleks, to Planet of the Spiders, to The Sun-Makers to Paradise Towers to Oxygen continually emphasise this. What are the Doc’s last words in Paradise Towers? — ‘That’s the sound of empires toppling.’ Sudden regime change — revolution — is the Doctor’s modus operandi. In fact, in terms of morality, it might be interesting to see a story where the Doctor returns to a planet where she’s previously instigated a revolt and deal with the messy aftermath that she usually conveniently disappears before having to deal with.
It’ll definitely be interesting if, as you say, this is some kind of ethical character arc for 13, but I’m doubtful that that’s what we’ll see. As far as I can see, a definite trait of Chibs’s writing is a laziness in seeing his concepts through — largely unlike when RTD and Moff introduced moral concepts (they might have dropped plot holes but the emotional throughline was usually kept intact. Thus we see Silurian scientists who are reptilian Dr Mengele until after the cliffhanger when they magically become nice guys. And I think 13’s characterisation is largely like that. He hasn’t thought it through, or rather he’s just a bit too happy to chop and change it to serve the short term needs of whatever story he happens to be working on at that moment. (Actually, my biggest problem with Skyfall was that it was trying to merge the heart and emotional drama of RTD with the twistiness and cleverness of Moffat and failed to do either.)13 January 2020 at 18:05 #69042
That’s a fair point re. Dinosaurs and I think you could be right. That was certainly a theme in s7 up to and including the 50th anniversary
Yes, let’s take the question of the Doc’s morality over to the Orphan thread. I’ve certainly got some thoughts on @missrori‘s interesting post above
I’d be very down for a Penny Dreadful re-watch if there are people up for it. Once s12 is out of the way seems like an ideal time to pencil it in. I should think I’ll have the time to participate. (Sorry for not being around. It’s been the submission year for my PhD, so things have been a bit hectic elsewhere. Happy to say I’m now ‘a’ doctor, if not the ‘definitive article’….)12 January 2020 at 18:55 #68986
Well, well, this is quite like old times, isn’t it? Hello to you both (and everyone else). Hope you’ve been well and had a good festive season.
Big yes to Dracula. The first couple of episodes are among the best that Moffatt and Gattiss have done. The third ep was a bit weaker but I appreciate why they made the move to the 20th century. Dolly Wells for my money absolutely stole this entire show and I’d love to see her as even slightly vampiric modern Van Helsing in her own show. I’m not sure there’s much more you could do with Drac himself though. And it does seem rather like a Victorian revamp trilogy with Jekyll and Sherlock, I suppose. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where they go next. I believe Moff’s got The Time-Traveller’s Wife adaptation up his sleeve (for HBO did I see somewhere?) but I’ve been thinking of late that I’d love to see Moffat and Gattiss have a go at a modern reinterpretation of Dennis Wheatley’s Duke de Richelieu. But all in all, Dracula as a great addition to a really quite impressive run of adaptations the Beeb has brought us of late — including His Dark Materials (great), War of the Worlds (pretty patchy) and A Christmas Carol (the surprising highpoint of the festive season for me).
I was very much a late adopter to Penny Dreadful, only really sitting down to watch it early last year, and I really loved it. Those kind of monster mashes can be terrible if done badly but I thought this was really excellent — with some committed performances from Eva Green and Rory Kinnear, to name but two. The final season is a little rushed perhaps but I liked it a lot. Might have been nice to do a group watch actually in the manner that we did for Buffy a few years back. And there is a new series of it in the pipeline, so maybe….
On the morality of mindwiping, it’s one of the things I’m currently having big problems with. I can kind of get behind the rationale for Ada, more or less. She was a scientist and would go on to do big things in that field. (Although why she needed her mind wiped is open to question. She saw some teleportation, some aliens and the tissue compression eliminator in action. But she didn’t see schematics or any indication of how these things actually worked so I have doubts as to the necessity of wiping her memory.) Noor is even more problematic. She’s not a scientist; she’s a wireless operator and spy for the Allies. Bearing in mind that in a matter of a few months after this story is set, she’s going to be arrested and tortured by the Gestapo before being executed at Dachau, I’m struggling to see the justification for the mindwipe. I suppose she might tell the Germans something under torture but what exactly? And what that they would believe? And mindwiping and sending her off to what the Doc knows to be her death with a few platitudes about ‘darkness not enduring’ seems to me to be pointlessly callous. My other main gripe with it is what about all the countless other historical figures the Doctor has encountered over the years, the ones we’ve seen onscreen to the ones merely namechecked? The obvious one, especially with reference to Noor, is how come Churchill didn’t get mindwiped, particularly as he seemed to have designs on the TARDIS? But then there’s also Dickens, Shakespeare, Marco Polo, HG Wells etc etc. And if they’ve all been getting mindwiped offscreen then that makes the Doctor more of a time-hopping menace rather than an innocent traveller.)
But it’s the casualness of it that bugs me. RTD had Ten mindwipe Donna as a last resort to save her life. It was made clear that it was not done lightly. And Moff went further in emphasising the morality of the thing. 12 was going to mindwipe Bill because he didn’t want his cover blown and the fact that he didn’t is key — the inner intervention of River/Susan/TARDIS underlines who to have gone through with it would have been un-Doctorly at best. In fact, it’s the whole point of Bill’s arc. When the Testament version of her insists that she is real ‘because of her memories’, the Doc is still resists the concept but I’d argue accepts it by the end of Twice Upon A Time. At the very least, it’s not something that should be undertaken lightly, is as @phaseshift says, a violation of self. For 13 to be so cavalier with it doesn’t sit well with me at all.
What makes it worse is that it seems to be just the latest in a series of ethically questionable acts from 13. We’ve had her proposing the slow suffocation of an innocent lifeform, playing headgames with a distressed blind girl, propping up a pointless corporate regime because profits apparently count more than people, and now we have her not only seemingly weaponising the Master’s new ethnicity against him but also getting a mind-rapey with carefree disregard. This seems more a problem with how Chibnall writes the Doctor and I’m reminded of the bizarre way he made 11 all murderously revengey at the end of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I suspect I’m just at odds with how he sees the character.19 July 2019 at 10:55 #67847
Cheers for that, @pedant. I plan to dive into Chernobyl soonest. Time is at a premium at the moment as I try to wrangle this damn thesis into shape for final submission. But I’m looking forward to it. (Hope you’re taking care yourself btw)…
btw, if anyone is looking for something a bit timey-wimey over the summer then I’d heartily recommend Russian Doll too. It’s great. And Natasha Lyonne has just rocketed to the top of my list of potential female Doctors.13 July 2019 at 02:00 #67793
I’d heartily add to the Years and Years recommendations. It is very RTD-esque but none the worst for it. It’s also a long overdue BBC foray into drama dealing with contemporary issues rather than desperately trying to avoid them in costume and/or crime drama.
I’m very much looking forward to Chernobyl once I can figure out a (legal) way to get hold of it. Must also try and check out Good Omens too.5 June 2019 at 14:25 #67732
Yep, sorry about that. The etheric beam locators must be on the blink….3 June 2019 at 17:46 #67726
Just a bit of drive-by bad news. Paul Darrow, best known as the mighty Avon in Blake’s 7, has passed away. He’ll also be remembered as Captain Hawkins in the Silurians and (more notoriously) as Tekker in Timelash. The man was a legend and will be sorely missed.22 December 2018 at 00:42 #66869
OK, here’s a cool thing for Christmas. Neil Gaiman talking about new apocalyptic poetry and its inspiration on him and with added Peter Capaldi reading The Magic Wood by Henry Treece. (Available for the next 29 days only).21 December 2018 at 18:04 #66863
The regular Xmas films Chez Fish go something like this:
A Christmas Carol (various versions on rotation but more often than not the Muppets win out)
In The Bleak Midwinter (of A Midwinter’s Tale if you’re American. Much overlooked and a great little film)
And of course, as @pedant says there’s lots of special TV episodes. I’d give shout outs to:
Homicide: Life on the Streets ‘All Through the House’
Bones ‘The Santa in the Slush’
And, of course, there’s the now sadly defunct Who Xmas specials. Personally, I find the Capaldi era surprisingly strong in this department as I wouldn’t have expected it of his Doctor and my go-to choice is always ‘Last Christmas’20 December 2018 at 01:14 #66831
I think I guess the owner of that little gem, which actually makes me think that you might be right and that we’ve been getting visited by some botskis of late. Which is kind of a compliment, I suppose….10 December 2018 at 00:54 #66417
It’s pretty much the same as the gap between Series 9 and 10
I’m not sure comparing it to the gap between s9 and s10 is that helpful, partly because the gap between the actual series is almost exactly two years between series proper. Where do you include Dr Mysterio? As the start of s10? Which still makes a year gap, with one special and then another four months until the actual series proper. But let’s not forget what it did to s10’s ratings. There’s a case to be made that it’s still long enough to knacker the good work that’s been done in rebuilding audience awareness.
This is what the American commentators and Youtube noise generators can’t seem to grasp. The BBC definitely does not want to cancel the show
I haven’t seen anyone anywhere seriously suggest that the show is under threat of cancellation. A few of the broflakes might be calling for it/wishing it but no one with the remotest credibility. I don’t think there’s the remotest chance the show will be cancelled not until it’s really gasping on its last legs. More likely it will end up becoming a co-production with something like Netflix sooner or later.
And yes, it’s obviously a budgetary decision but what irks is the rather sneaky way they’ve been dripping all this out, trying to hide and spin it. What I’m struck with is that for someone who’s apparently ‘a fan’, Chibnall doesn’t really be that bothered about Who. Moffat split seasons to avoid too long a break (while also juggling Sherlock) and compromised his big finale to save the Christmas slot. At a time when he should really be brimming with ideas for his ‘five-year plan’, he really does give the impression that he doesn’t really give that much of a toss.9 December 2018 at 23:22 #66407
Yep, I posted that earlier on the News thread but it kind of got lost under the ‘finale’ posts. And I suspect you’re right, that the move was to ensure there was at least some new Who ‘in’ 2019. It’s a mistake, I think. Gap years never do the show any favours.
Although as the rumours have mostly turned out to be correct so far, I’d wager that s12 will be JW’s last one and that spinning it out like this means she can remain at least the marketable face of Who for another two years before moving on.9 December 2018 at 20:25 #66399
More like The Twin Dilemma.
And yes, that was true of the pretty flat progression of the BG show but we’re in a whole different world now. Unless you’re actually a soap opera then there’s no drama that doesn’t build up to something more than ‘wooo, it’s that utterly mediocre second-tier villain from the first episode’. In this day and age, that’s really not nearly good enough. Whichever way you cut it, that was the most mediocre and unsatisfying last episode (if we’re not calling it a finale) of any series of AG Who’s entire run. If nothing else, I’m certainly looking at Hell Bent and Death in Heaven in a whole new light.
Right, off to ruminate. Will be back later to give it a proper kicking.9 December 2018 at 19:30 #66396
Well, at least it answered that age-old fanboy question: ‘What would Timelash have looked like on a decent budget’.
For a mid-late-series episode this would have been passable but for a finale it’s pretty damn poor.9 December 2018 at 19:23 #66391
So, looks like it’s 2020 after all….8 December 2018 at 17:21 #66353
Yeah, this doesn’t contradict anything that was coming out of the rumour mill. Whittaker and Chibbers were always going to on board for s12, as far as I know.
Not sure about spurious though. A single source so far but I’ve seen no denials of a delay or a split season. I wouldn’t be massively surprised if either of those came to pass. I daresay we’ll hear one way or another in due course.8 December 2018 at 01:27 #66331
oooh, I’m hearing Giles say it and I’m thinking still when he’s in school librarian mode, so I’m going to go for s2 or s3.
(rummages around on IMDB.)
I’m going to go for I Only Have Eyes For You…..7 December 2018 at 19:42 #66281
It’s an interesting analogy and I think it’s definitely there but (and this feels oddly like something we’ve discussed on the Buffy threads) its kind of comparing apples and oranges. Who has not been ensemble show for a long time and I suspect that the way its mythos has panned out means that it never can be again.
The issue I think is that ensemble shows need a geography to ground them. Sunnydale. Angel Inc. Torchwood. Even if its something theoretically mobile like the Enterprise or Serenity. Who in its classic form doesn’t have that. The characters aren’t rooted in a place or a situation, they’re just dropped into new ones. They can’t flit between familiar locales interacting with characters other than the Doctor (in the way that, say, Xander and Willow or Cordelia could have moments not rooted in the A plot of a particular story). Probably the last time Who could have really managed this was during Pertwee’s Earthbound phase, I’d say. If Chibbers had decided to leave WhitDoc earthbound for all of Series 11, as it looked she might be initially, than I think this current companion configuration would have worked brilliantly.7 December 2018 at 14:24 #66259
Nothing to apologise for. It was an interesting post.
In answer to your question, I think Who’s real strength is that it does something audacious every so often. It’s the episodes which push the envelope slightly that seem to get remembered. All of the ‘classic’ stories are atypical in some way or another. Genesis of the Daleks is unusual in that it makes the Nazi allusions so much more blatant than they ever were before and ramped up the moral dilemma aspect. City of Death because it’s the most full embrace of the pantomimic aspects of the Williams/Adams era. Ghost Light or Fenric because they re-embrace narrative complexity in the show.
It’s the reason why Blink or Midnight or Heaven Sent are so good and stand out so much. It’s also the reason why It Takes You Away is by a country mile the best (although still flawed) episode of Series 11. (I’ve even changed my mind about the frog and kind of like it now.)2 December 2018 at 21:24 #661102 December 2018 at 20:08 #661042 December 2018 at 19:54 #66102
When it’s representing a sentient universe, one is enough…..2 December 2018 at 19:45 #66100
For a while there, I thought I was going to have to eat my words of this week and call this a pretty good episode. Then frogs happened.
Let’s just say that if I ever hear anyone diss Kill The Moon for moon eggs ever again I will not be responsible for my actions.1 December 2018 at 22:44 #66086
And, of course, the mighty but short-lived Long Blondes….1 December 2018 at 00:30 #66075
yeah, I saw that earlier. As usual, CoG is one of the voices of reason among the WhoTubers and on this he’s dead right.
I suspect the Whovian obsession with ratings comes from when ratings were used as the excuse for cancellation in the 1980s. It’s a hangover from a time when they actually meant something and they live in fear of a time when bad numbers means the end of the show.
I suspect we’re past that now, at least for the time being. It would be my guess that at some point Who will find a home on a streaming service, whether that’s some current or future version of iPlayer, or Netflix or something else but there will come a time when a Series will be batch-released online and ratings will cease to even be released, let alone be of relevance.30 November 2018 at 18:13 #66066
Should we start calling this the divisive Chibnall era?
Which (as @pedant says) implies that there was ever a non-divisive era. Afraid to say no such animal exists. Take a look at the audience reaction reports for pretty much any BG era of the show and you’ll see that Who fans have always been a bunch of moaning arses. In fact, I remember the Mrs Fish of the time and I went along to a meeting for a Who fan society in Sydney many years ago (during the interregnum, I think) and were quite gobsmacked at just how tribal and schismatic it was. There were, no word of a lie, three or four factions assembled, none of whom would have any truck with the other but all of whom courted us to see if we could be recruited to their cause. It was bizarre and comical but it pretty much made up our minds not to return.
And his daughters are loving it
Which reinforces a point that @bluesqueakpip raised earlier and I meant to address. That by any metric you can care to name, Series 11 is a major success. That there are quarters of the broflake contingent trying to call it a ratings failure just shows how idiotic they can be. As Pip and Pedant point out there are thousands of new fans, many of them young girls delighted to have someone they can cosplay and emulate. All you have to do is look at the endless tweets of them delightedly in their rainbow-stripe coats and sonics.
And that’s as it should be. They are who the show is for, after all. This is what the likes of bowelstreak and his cohorts forget, and which I try never to forget. While I have a right to my opinion, that opinion doesn’t really matter a whole lot. Not as much as those of the emerging generations of fans. My opinion probably counted for something when Tom Baker was facing off with Jagaroth or Davison with Mawdryn, but not anymore. Now, I’m strictly along for the ride. If I enjoy where the show is going, fine. If I don’t, then really there’s many other things I should be getting exercised about. And that’s why I’ll always try to register my opinion here, or sometimes on the Graun, focus as much on the positives as I can (not always succeeding obviously) and then shut the hell up and let the show get on with it.
What I’m hoping is that Chibnall and any future successors can sit down and analyze what makes the show appeal to both groups
Well, in an ideal world, yeah. But I don’t think it’s ever really happened. As I’ve said elsewhere, RTD had the smarts to draft in writers like Moffat to bring what he couldn’t to the writing table. And to an extent, Moffat continued that tradition (if he perhaps let it get a little too stale). Chibbers’ mistake, I think, is failing to do that. He’s not providing variety and he’s not providing continuity. Deliberately so, I think. And I suspect it’s a mistake. Because this is where the dullness is coming in for me. As I said, I don’t find it bad, just kind of samey and there’s been nothing standout, not in terms of Who anyway, although the historicals have had significant dramatic power in their own right. But by this time, Ecclestone would have had Dalek, Tennant would have had Girl in the Fireplace, Smith would have had Eleventh Hour and Capaldi Listen. It’s not too late, of course, but we’re quite far on now and for me it makes this series rather flat narratively speaking.
But no showrunner is ever going to please anyone. RTD was always going to have a ‘gay agenda’ for some people (he didn’t), Moffat was always going to be too complicated (he wasn’t) and Chibnall is always going to be PC gone mad (he’s not really). A mix of voices can help, but as with any creative, any showrunner has to be true to their voice and vision and if there are people who don’t like it (there are always going to be) then they just have to suck it up and either get with the programme or sit it out until the next regime change.
Not liking a Doctor is not necessarily a reflection on how well they inhabit the role as they see it – it can just mean that the role as they see it is not how you see it
There’s certainly an element of that for sure but I’m not sure it’s the whole story. Take Hartnell, for example. I don’t really like the First Doctor. Never have done. But do I accept him as a character? I definitely do. Same with Colin Baker. Really dislike his Doctor but I’m convinced by the performance. I was never convinced by Ecclestone. And I’m not really by Whittaker either. Even when this week she got her ‘Doctor moment’ with King James, I didn’t really get a sense of conviction from it. It felt like a recitation rather than a character moment to me. Rather like how when Ecclestone said ‘fantastic’, I was always left thinking ‘you don’t really think this is fantastic at all, do you?’
And sometimes it can happen with a Doctor’s era. I didn’t really buy McCoy’s doc when he started. It was pastiche and annoying, trying too hard to be what JNT thought was Troughtonesque. But by the end of the run, McCoy had found the true voice of his Doctor and I totally bought the character. Same in reverse with Tom Baker actually. Pretty much from the off, he nailed his Doctor but just look at him in s18. He’s really not trying that much anymore. There are occasional flashes but really to me the Fourth Doctor’s last story is Horns of Nimon (let’s say Shada to make it slightly more palatable).
But I suspect we’re never going to reach agreement on this one and that’s totally cool. And you’re essentially right, that the character of the Doctor is so vague and multi-valent and is unique in just how much an individual actor brings to it that you’re never going to please everyone. As you say, everyone has a personal interpretation of how the Doctor should be and there are several ‘types’. For instance, I think people are right when they say that Whittaker’s Doc is somewhat in the Davison mould. Now Davison was very much ‘my’ Doctor when I was the target age for the show but he’s never going to make my list of Top Docs. And consequently, I suppose, WhitDoc with her ‘happy-clappy let’s put flowers in our hair’ approach is never going to appeal either because I tend to align her with that subset of Doctors. (And it’s maybe complicated slightly by her being the first female Doctor and I imagine that most of us have been formulating our own headcanon of what that should be like for years.)
the thought of an episode consisting entirely of the Whittaker Doctor on her own would make you break out in hives the way Heaven Sent did me
Actually, I think I’d totally love to see that and that it might be the best thing for WhitDoc to see her operating away from her gazillion companions. Maybe a Lodger-style scenario where she’s separated from the TARDIS and companions and has to find a way back. But at the same time I think Heaven Sent (which needless to say I think is probably the highest bar AG Who has reached) is one of those episodes that wouldn’t work for any other Doctor. In the same way that Rosa could only really have worked with WhitDoc or City of Death for Tom Baker.
Moffat had three for an awful lot of the Smith Doctor’s run
He had the sense though for them not to be permanent additions. Both River and Rory dropped in and out as regulars and there’s really only one or two stories where they’re all in situ. A TARDIS team of four is just too much I think. One of the AG innovations that does work, I think, is having the companions not confined to the TARDIS but dropping in, as it were, continuing to have their own life back on Earth. I think that worked and suspect Chibnall should have maintained that. That way you could have a, say, Yaz-free story without it being some weird issue. She just happened to be working that day.
you really sound like me versus the Capaldi Doctor
Now, I really will try to dispute this one. As I said above, I’m not pining for Moffat or Capaldi. That era is done and it was done well and I’d even argue that it lasted at least one episode too long. I really want the WhitDoc to work and I really want to like her more than I actually do. I really do believe that I’ve been willing her to succeed, not fail and that it’s with the greatest reluctance that I offer these criticisms. These things take time to bed in and I kept waiting and waiting, saying ‘OK, that didn’t quite work but let’s give it a bit longer’. If anything, I’m reminded of when Colin Baker became the Doctor. I was quite excited and after the whole ‘change, m’dear’ thing I thought ‘this is going to be good, this is going to be great’ and I sat through The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen and Vengeance on Varos and I think the first episode of Mark of the Rani before I reluctantly came to the conclusion that ‘yeah, this is what it is and I don’t really like it’.
And at that point, the only thing to do is to maybe casually drop in every now and again to keep an eye on it but to move on for the time being. That’s what I did then and chances are that’s what I’ll do now. And as others have said, the advantage of now as opposed to then is that we have the whole show at our fingertips. Even if the current iteration isn’t floating your boat, you can occupy yourself with blogs, Big Finish and other media, and even previous eras while cheering on the show in the abstract from the sidelines.
(Again, apologies for the extremely epic nature of this post. And thanks for reading.)29 November 2018 at 23:14 #66044
I too have been looking forward to a woman Doctor and part of me thinks that the reason it’s become such a charged issue now is because it kept getting put off for so long. Probably, it should have happened after Smith (although I’m glad we got Capaldi). Really, it would have been wise if the Beeb had followed Sydney Newman’s advice and cast a female doctor back in the 80s.
I think a fair amount of it is just that inevitable sadness that comes when you have to move on from something you really enjoyed to something new
There’s always an element of that, of course and transition from one era to another is sometimes a wrench. (Moffat had the smarts, for example, to continue to give his era an RTD feel at least initially. Whereas Chibbers’s approach seems to be to break with tradition as much as he possibly can. As I’ve said before, too far maybe. WhitDoc doesn’t seem to have access to her previous incarnations’ memories and experiences a lot of the time, I’ve felt.)
Certainly there’s a feeling that this is like coming to the Williams years after the Hinchcliffe era. There’s just no way of expelling the notion that it’s certainly different and just not as good. But at this stage this is definitely not my first rodeo and I’m really not pining for Moffat and Capaldi to come swooping back. That era was great but it’s done. I really want to get on with the Chib/Whittaker era but it’s just not happening. Not yet, anyway. I’ve been holding off and waiting but I’m genuinely surprised at just how much clock-watching I’m doing through episodes, wondering just how long I’ve got left.
But, Chibbers isn’t Moffat. He’s RTD
I get what you mean and S1 was definitely clunky as hell. There’s some really bad stuff there but to me it works because there’s enough cracking episodes sprinkled through it to make it work.
But I’d say Chibs is far more JNT. More specifically JNT with Bidmead riding his coat. In the sense that he seems to want shift the thematic tone of the show far more dramatically than had been the case for years before. Which is totally fine — I’m very much on board with what he wants to do, just not with the way he’s going about it, which strikes me as clumsy and unsubtle.
The historicals are a case in point. The four-person TARDIS crew might superficially look like the first crew but it reminds me far more of Davison’s first ensemble really. I’ve always felt that the historicals worked back in the day because we were still learning about the show, learning to know these characters, so seeing them embroiled in a historical setting was an interesting way to see them tested. But after a while, as the show inevitably picked up its own cultural mass, its own tropes, they just became less interesting. The show had irrevocably drifted from that mission statement and I don’t really think there was any going back.
Having said that, the historicals are the best thing about this series. Rosa and Punjab are great bits of dramatic TV, I think, but I’m not convinced they’re particularly good bits of Who. Certainly they don’t integrate the historical and the Who elements nearly as well as the Hartnell ones did. We never, as far as I recall, got anything as clumsy as that little lecture at the end of Rosa in the Hartnell days.
The problem for me is that a lot of the time this really doesn’t feel like Who. What it does remind me of, oddly, is Class. But I think at times even Class had more life to it. Certainly Katherine Kelly was a lot more Doctor-ey a lot of the time than Whittaker seems to be. (Ditto Michelle Gomez at the later end of her Missy days.) Class, I think, is really quite underrated — maybe that’s a blog right there.
Whittaker, I feel, lacks conviction (in much the same way that Ecclestone often seemed to). Even when she’s doing her breathless enthusiasm bit, I’m just not feeling that it’s sincerely meant. Which worked for Ecclestone in the sense you could say that he was covering for his post-war PTSD. And maybe you’re right, Pip, in that its meant to mask her discomfort with the gender change.
But it will be interesting to see how just how Series 12 goes. If the current gossip is true then we could potentially be more than halfway through this era. I’m not convinced that’s going to be the case but it’s a bizarre thought in itself. But what frustrates me most about this era is not that it’s bad — it’s not, there’s stuff to love in just about every episode — but just that it’s boring and underachieving. The Colin Baker era was objectively bad. It was over-acted with illogical stories and production problems that were transparently played out on screen. But it was never dull. It had the fascination (and feeling) of watching a wasp trapped in a pantomime horse. But this is often dull to me. Too often I seem to get the feeling that it’s trying to use (admirable) conviction as a substitute for ideas. The lack of arcs isn’t helping this but for the first time in the reboot it feels like narratively the show is treading water, not moving forward, not evolving. And in a series that sees the first female Doctor that’s pretty worrying, I think.
I don’t think the troll conversation was particularly directed at this site, just a general discussion of the timbre of current fan discourse.29 November 2018 at 13:57 #6603328 November 2018 at 16:37 #66008
I do have a lot of sympathy for that view and I’m no one to talk about not taking on the trolls with the amount of flame wars I’ve become embroiled in. And you’re right, I think, that silence is counterproductive in the current climate and it’s not what I advocate by and large. I just think that it’s more productive not to join the fight on their terms. Take it elsewhere. Make it a multi-valent conversation rather than just their voice and everyone else just lost among the babble of dissenters.
To continue with the Farage analogy, which is, you’re dead right, the biggest dereliction of journalistic duty in this country in decades. What you don’t do is to continue to invite him on Newsnight. You make serious news programmes highlighting exactly the sort of hypocrisy that you outline above. We just didn’t see that in the last years, or at least not nearly enough of it.
It’s possible that you’re entirely right in your ‘take the fight to them’ approach and that I’m just too weary and very much in ‘time to leave the battlefield’ mode. Who used to be fun*. Talking about it, debating it used to be fun. Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s what got me through some very tough times in my life. Right now, it just doesn’t feel like fun.
(*And that’s not an argument for non-political, non-serious stories as it’s often interpreted. I’m all for them.)28 November 2018 at 16:13 #66005
Forgive me, the last thing intended is to slap any wrists. I’d probably argue that @pedant‘s colourful language was aimed at a generality and a concept rather than a group of people but it’s a fair point. If we expect a higher standard of discourse that should be across the board.
Yes, unconscious bias is definitely a thing and certainly Moffat was more guilty than most of slipping into having a little clique that was largely a ‘white boys’ club’ for at least the early years of his tenure. And I’m not really trying to put forward that tedious ‘meritocracy’ argument that the broflakes often do. You should absolutely say ‘I’m going to cast a woman Doctor’, ‘I’m going to have at least two Asian writers’, ‘two female directors’ etc but I don’t think that’s what I was saying. I think it was more that once those decisions have been made, you don’t try and shape their stories, or the series in general, by saying ‘we’ve had two leftie stories now, so I want a rightie one for a bit of balance’. You give the writers their head and let the story take them wherever, the political thrust (or not) of the story coming from their own process and not externally imposed upon them.
It’s slightly more complex than that, of course. We don’t know for sure if, say, Malorie Blackman wanted to write about Rosa Parks and pitched it to Chibbers or whether he wanted a Rosa story and asked her specifically to write it.
It’s also worth being aware of the biases that we ourselves bring to the show and I try to do that as much as possible. It’s never lost on me, for example, that I’m probably more likely to gravitate towards CapDoc because of the fact that he’s white and Scottish and that there are resonances to WhitDoc that I’m blind to because of my gender. But as long as I’m aware of that, it shouldn’t overly affect my ability to critique the show. Would I have been any less harsh on Arachnids or Conundrum if Kris Marshall had been the Doctor? I don’t think so. If anything, it might have been worse.28 November 2018 at 14:58 #65998
Certainly bowelstreak is one of the worst of the red-pill end of the Who commentariat and the increasingly high profile he’s gained over the course of this series has alarmed me. I’m not sure he can even believe half of the inflammatory crap he comes out with and I’m convinced he’s just playing up to the crowd now. He’s basically imported the Trump playbook into Who and I’m of the mind that just ignoring him and not even engaging with him is the best policy. (Because if we’d maybe did that with the Tango Twat a few years back we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. Ditto with Farage.)
Arguing with these guys just increases their visibility and gives them the presence, if not the validity, they crave. The best way to call out their BS I think is not on their own thread, not even to reference them but to make a new post, or a new video or tweet or whatever that counters their views with fresh argument. That way, I think, they stay at the fringes where they deserve. There’s lots of arguments of this approach I think, not least it keeps the blood pressure down but if you deprive these idiots of the hits and long trailing comment threads then it means there’s less chance of the MSM picking up on them and mistakenly using them as representative of the views of the fanbase at large rather than as the few maladjusted weirdos from the margins that they actually are.
I too really like the idea that the Doctor just rummages for her new outfit from a charity shop. My main problem is that this outfit itself seems to be way too coordinated for that to have actually been the case. I would have preferred something more raggle taggle for the WhitDoc personally. It’s the same reason I prefer SmithDoc’s first outfit to his later burgundy ensemble (or CapDoc’s later hoodie look to his early one). It just looks more ‘found’. And as a personal preference I do also think that colours that are too light don’t seem quite Doctorly enough for some reason. The best example for me is that the instant McCoyDoc swapped his white jacket for the dark brown one he instantly inhabited the role much more in my view.
@bluesqueakpip (and all of the above too)
No, Who shouldn’t really be party political but it almost certainly never has been. In fact, the closest it’s come to it has been with Arachnids and its Trump pastiche and the actual mentioning of the Orange One. I don’t have any particular problem with mocking the so-called POTUS but I still think it was a mistake narratively. It just made the show far too parochial politically in a way that the show had deftly avoided for 55 years before that. Notice how RTD was careful not to identify Harriet Jones with one particular party or who even the most blimpish of the Pertwee bureaucrats were not specifically aligned to one party or another (although you could probably make pretty educated guesses about the affiliations and beliefs of the likes of Mr Chinn or Sir Reginald Styles).
The best way to do that is to make sure you’re deliberately commissioning writers you don’t agree with politically
I don’t think so. You hire writers on the strength of the story they’re pitching and the commitment they bring to that idea rather than filling quotas. It’s ‘is this a story that’ll work on Who’ rather than ‘right, we better get a Tory writer in now to balance things up a bit’. And at the end of the day, KerBlam! for me doesn’t work not because of its politics but because it’s a pretty prosaic, by-the-numbers slab of Who that could have come straight out of mid-period Tennant or even early-to-mid McCoy.
And it’s easy to forget when we’re busy defending Who from idiotic accusations of SJW/NPC flapdoodle that the show has always been home to a multitude of political outlooks, even if they largely gravitate around humanistic/liberal/very soft left centre of gravity. Yes, The Daleks is an anti-nuclear, anti-fascism parable but it’s also pretty blatantly anti-pacifism and pro-military intervention. Given the times it was written, I’d say it’s a pretty straightforward rebuke to CND disarmament rhetoric, coming from a place somewhere on the right. Similarly, the Peladon stories, often held up as textbook Political Who, are deeply conservative — and royalist — in their outlook. Just look at the representation of the workers in Monster. They’re easily manipulated idiots, for want of a better word.
And what we’ve got at the moment with the fandom is all the little white boys who never grew up complaining that their show is no longer about them
No, that’s the fringe morons like bowelstreak and while they often shout the loudest that is not all of fandom. Contributing equally to the increasingly toxic atmosphere are the positively evangelical pro-Series 11 fans who shout down any criticism (and there’s plenty to be critical about) by screaming sexism and misogyny, whether that’s justified or not. I don’t see much evidence that they’re being shouted down and are in fact doing just as much shouting themselves and in just as reductive a way as the red pill contingent. Who are being shouted out at the moment are all the fans who are somewhere in the middle and who are to varying degrees sympathetic to the current series but whose misgivings are being drowned out by the extremists at both ends of the spectrum. Don’t believe me? Look at the latest videos by the traditionally more moderate vloggers like CrispyPro, TheWhoAddicts and CouncilOfGeeks. It’s becoming an increasingly identifiable problem.
And, much as I hate to say it, the fact that rhetoric like ‘Shouty Little Boys’ is making an appearance on this site tell me that it’s not a problem relegated to Twitter and YouTube and that @pedant is right in that it is infecting all of fandom in the same way that it’s already infected Star Wars and Star Trek. We used to be better than this. I remember in the days when @htpbdet was still with us that we would tend to disagree more than agree but I don’t ever recall it becoming fractious or dismissive. Something has definitely changed since then and so, yeah, @pedant, I think a blog on this might be very timely.)
Finally, @craig I’m sure we’ve discussed this quite recently but I think that the current moderation policy is the right one. The more idiotic of the trolls are essentially drive-by’s who get bored easily and to start deleting their posts willy nilly (save for the occasional one that is downright abusive or offensive) would just feed into their sense of grievance.27 November 2018 at 02:03 #65942
I must admit I think the new scarf is really quite spiffy. That and the stovepipe hat (or fez) should be permanent additions to WhitDoc’s wardrobe.
I’m hoping that the fanboys don’t get up in arms about the colours. After all, the Doctor wore multicoloured stripes years ago. Just because they’re horizontal rather than vertical shouldn’t make a difference. It will, of course. But it shouldn’t.
I must admit the sheer combativeness in fandom around this series is making me so weary now. It really shouldn’t be like this.25 November 2018 at 21:10 #65923
Social Messages are everywhere
Lawks. As they have been ever since the show started.25 November 2018 at 20:07 #65918
Alan Cumming was lots of fun in this and, um, that’s it really. Spent much of the episode being reminded of The Mark of the Rani, which, oddly enough, was the story that made me check out of the show back in the 80s.
I think I’m done. At least for the time being….21 November 2018 at 22:33 #65830
it seemed to me that all the consciousness was in the system, not individual robots.
Which seems to me be the problem. If the System is in control of the bots, then why bother with a needlessly cryptic SOS? Why not just turn off all the bots? Presumably because Charlie had hijacked the control protocols in some way. But I’m still thinking the CharlieBots seemed rather autonomic in their actions for their mass forced suicide to be entirely comfortable (c.f. The Vardies in Smile).
the reprimands being given in (admittedly creepy robot) positive way
We’re probably venturing into the realms of digressionary interpretation here because I didn’t find those reprimands in any way positive. Creepy, yes. But very Black Mirror-esque in their passive-aggressive quashing of the human instinct to commune. Personally, I doubt that they’re meant to be seen as signifiers of KerBlamm being ‘essentially the good guys’. At best, it’s another instance of them failing to understand the human cost of their business model.
I think at the moment we’re rather over-programmed to think of corporations as bad things
There’s certainly a case to be made that it’s an overused trope, particularly in Who and I’d agree it’s refreshing that the episode attempted to engage with an alternative viewpoint, not to mention a social issue that’s actually a lot more burning than many are still giving it credit for. (I wouldn’t say ‘over-programmed’ however, otherwise the tossers would be less inclined to flout popular opinion and actually pay their taxes, perhaps.)
The problem is the deeply dated and unambitious solutions it presents. (You’re possibly right that McTighe started digging into the implications of the subject and just threw up his hands and gave up as the deadline approached.) Invoking a deeply Victorian enlightened overseer and ‘take comfort in the dignity of work’ approach is simply not good enough, not for Who at any rate. The fundamental problem, as the Doctor identifies, is that the work is pointless and unnecessary. Putting more people in that position isn’t a solution. It’s perpetuating the problem, possibly in a way that’s just going to lead to more Charlies further down the line, especially as they’ve seen that his homicidal strategy actually bore some fruit. It would have been nice to have seen at least some attempt by the Doctor at something a little more radical. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean anti-capitalist. The Doctor essentially solved the problem of the Vardies by introducing them to capitalism and yet it was a far more satisfying ending to a story than this one.)
This is, as far as I can remember, the first time that the Doctor put the needs of an institution (even a nominally benign one) over the needs of individuals and it’s also one of the few times where she’s upheld the status quo, despite it clearly remaining against the interests of at least half the people involved. That’s like solving The Daleks by setting up a few conflict resolution counselling sessions (which to be fair is essentially what did happen at the end of the Zygon two-parter) or maybe even like asking Rosa to be happy with getting unlimited access to half the seats on the bus but to make no more fuss than that.
And that makes it possibly the most un-Doctor-ey thing I’ve ever seen to the point that I can’t imagine any other incarnation acting in that way, not even the First in his earliest, most ambivalent, phase.