Forum Replies Created
18 November 2018 at 22:46 #65738
The question is whether this highly automated world is going to be like the Industrial Revolution – temporary disruption that eventually ended up in a much higher standard of living for everyone – or a permanent state of mass unemployment.
Well, that’s the thing I didn’t like so much about this episode. Nice-ish middle-management, historically, are not the engine of betterment.
The Industrial Revolution only resulted eventually in “a much higher standard of living for everyone” (although that hasn’t been an unabated trajectory) because workers and campaigners (and occasional civic-minded industrialists like the Quaker-owners of Cadburys etc. who built model homes and schools for their workers) fought tooth and nail to end 18 hour work days, to end child-labour, to improve industrial safety, to implement anti-pollution laws etc., like the famous Match Girls strike of 1888.
Before those long battles, the movement from agricultural to industrial life for ordinary people resulted in some drastic health and mortality and exploitation casualties.
I agree the episode played an interesting game, by over-turning set expectations, and it probably did so in order to spark this sort of discussion.
Politically, for me, this one pulled its punches in a way Rosa and Demons in the Punjab did not.18 November 2018 at 21:51 #65732
Well, a satire on Amazon can’t be bad, although their inner workings hardly need satirizing, they are so dystopian all on their own.
Charlie was essentially a Luddite and I can’t help but have a lot of sympathy with the Luddites, who didn’t wish their traditional crafts and skills to be undermined in the labour market by industrial machine innovation.
Luddites were proto-trades unionists and, in response to the harsh transformations of the Industrial Revolution, many of them were militant, not only smashing machinery but also organising as a fighting force and sometimes sending death threats (to magistrates, apparently).
Charlie was also cast as a terrorist, as he was prepared to murder innocent customers in order to destroy Kerblam’s reputation. Personally, I would have preferred it if McTighe hadn’t gone down that route. I likewise found it too glib a resolution that “nice after all” middle management (yeah when is that ever true) would somehow go away and create an “organics” centered company after all, just like that, profit margins of the invisible owner-capitalists (including the mysterious “First Lady”?) be damned.
Nonethless, I like the fact that McTighe set up the conditions for a good discussion. Because there’s little doubt that a world of work like Kerblam! is coming, with waves unemployment in the face of robotic automation. From driverless cars to automated shelf pickers in pharmacies and food warehouses, these changes are already rolling out.
The reality of death is everywhere in WhitDoc’s tenure, as sweet-natured Kira is turned to goo by Charlie’s deadly bubble-wrap bomb. This is a deliberate Chibnall choice and a little poke, in a friendly way no doubt, at Moffat, who rather famously couldn’t let death be the end.
I really love the fact that WhitDoc uses Venusian Aikido – it’s lovely to have that connection to Pertwee.
Also, the Fez was intriguing – a nice nod to Smith’s Doctor, but also a poignant object of remembrance.
Together these form a reminder that the Doctor is a very complex being, with many lives behind her.
Yaz is shaping up to be a very wise companion. She doesn’t ask to go back in time and save the Kerblam! worker who saved her (she has learned, and learned well, about not messing with time-lines) but her kind-hearted request that they take his necklace keepsake to his daughter moves the Doctor and they have a nice moment of harmonious sympathy. Amongst the “shipping” crowd, Yaz/WhitDoc is taking off quite nicely.
@pedant “Once again, the obvious baddie is not the baddie….”
Yes there does seem to be a theme developing. It is, I think, also about not being a bystander, even if you are a cog caught in a machine – it’s about standing up and trying to do something (as it turns out middle-management dude was doing, secretly investigating the worker disappearances).12 November 2018 at 20:11 #65588
On the subject of Yaz not looking back…
That sense of wanting the Doctor and Yaz to look back, wanting them indeed, to rush and save Prem, is created there deliberately (furthered by the fact they don’t, indeed, look back).
It echoes the moment on the bus in Rosa when, in particular mirrored for us through the eyes of Graham, we are encouraged by the story structure to want desperately for the Doctor and companions to be able to help Rosa and to feel gutted that they can’t.
It’s a really great piece of continuity narrative build, from Rosa to Demons of the Punjab, and we’ll have to see if it’s going somewhere in particular, but it’s creating a negative space in the narrative arc screaming, “We MUST DO something to stand up to bigotry!!!” which, as I’ve said upstream, Chibnall and team are thereby inviting us to apply in our own time.11 November 2018 at 21:11 #65550
Vinay Patel did an amazing job as the script-writer here.
And the music was wonderful, with all its Indian melodies and notes.
I loved the Vajarians. I mean, look at them withe their tusks and pointy ears and fabulous rows of eyes:
And of course, they weren’t the demons of the Punjab at all, but ex-assassins who had become religious guardians of lonely deaths throughout the universe, after the sad destruction of their own planet (perhaps another eddy of the Time War?).
They might be modelled on the Rakasha, who in Hinduism, are a sort of demon-class of warrior beings (not necessarily “evil” though) with long finger nails and illusionist powers.
The actual demons of partition were, of course, people, fuelled by sectarianism and the legacies of British colonialism. This seems to be a central theme in Chibnall’s Who. The “real” monsters have been human in Arachnids in the UK, Rosa and now in this episode, when they have followed paths of intolerance and chosen a desecration of the ethic of care (for one another, for the planet/s).
I like Chibnall’s vision for this Doctor – that we are living in dark times and so the Doctor has GOT to be a light shining in the universe. Her speech about love, officiating at Prem and Umbreen’s bitter-sweet union, was in that vein:
“Something I believe in – my faith – love – in all its forms – is the most powerful weapon we have, because love is a form of hope, and like hope, love abides in the face of everything….”
Of course Demons in the Punjab was perfect for Remembrance Day, not only because the Vajarians are “remembrance demons” but because WW1 was a global war.
There have been a number of debates in the British media-sphere in the past few days, some pointing out the horrid appropriation of “patriotism” to white nationalism by the Tommy Robinson crew, when, for example, one million Indian soldiers died in WW1 fighting on the Allied side.
We have to ask, are the lights going out on dreams of unity everywhere, right now?
If any of you saw Macron’s Remembrance Day speech today, a deliberate rebuke to Trump and ethno-nationalisms on the rise in Europe, about nationalism being the opposite of patriotism, you could see history weighing heavy on his shoulders. Where are we heading and what should we do?
The message I am getting, loud and clear, from this Doctor, is that whilst you can’t always interfere the way you would like to in historical time-lines, in your own time, you can stand up, like Rosa did, like Prem and Umbreen did.5 November 2018 at 20:46 #65428
@bluesqueakpip – Ohhh nice on the meaning of Tsuranga – so that means the title of the episode could be understood to be “The Salvation Connundrum” which makes perfect sense, given the pre-programmed self destruct in the hospital ship in what must, surely, be a war-zone, as we have a sonic mine, a General and a hospital ship combined….
For those of you torturing me with the Doctor’s red/blue rainbow stripe T-shirts, this is the pattern (or rather, lack of it) so far:
Blue – The Woman Who Fell to Earth ( Relative Present)
Blue – The Ghost Monument (Relative Future)
Red/Maroon – Rosa (Relative Past)
Blue – Arachnids in the UK (BUT changes to red/maroon in the last scene back in the TARDIS) (Relative Present)
Red/Maroon – The Tsuranga Conundrum (Relative Future)
Thank you i-player fast forward!5 November 2018 at 19:45 #65424
Oh, and @mudlark – it was really difficult to tell the colour of the Doctor’s T-shirt this week, because of the lighting, but I think it was her reddish maroon one as opposed to her blue one.
That means any plotting of red for past (relative to the Doctor’s companions) and blue for future, with reference to cosmological red-shift, is out the window, as I’d have expected a blue T-shirt this week in that case.
There could be another “code” at work, such as blue for places/times the Doctor has never been before (like Desolation in The Ghost Monument) and red/maroon for places/times she has. She had been to the 67th century before (the time in which this episode was set) because she chit-chats with the General about it.
It’s a blue T-shirt at the end of The Woman Who Fell to Earth, which she acquires in the charity shop, but when Team TARDIS lands in the same time/place (Sheffield, Earth) for Arachnids in the UK, it’s her red/maroon one. So this might work. Dammit! I will have to keep a list – you have all (and I blame you @pedant) sucked me in again 🙂5 November 2018 at 19:28 #65422
@pedant “So Pting has proved spectacularly popular on Twitter. Watch out for the cuddly energy-sucking toy coming to a Christmas stocking near you.”
Yes, I’ve seen lots of positive comments about the Chibnall era more generally on Tumblr too. And Tumblr tended to be a space with a sizable audience which absolutely loathed Moffat’s Who (largely because of the way he wrote women).
Both us here @craig ‘s place and the basket of deplorables over on The Graun (not everyone of course, but egads there is a culture of entitled whingeing BTL on Dan Martin’s reacps which it is truly quite difficult to wade through) have to recognise that we are not the primary target audience for Doctor Who – kids and young people are.
I saw a really cute picture of a birthday cake on Twitter (can’t find it now or I’d link the pic) someone had made for their two delighted little boys, of the Stenza assassin’s face from The Woman Who Fell to Earth (a blue cake with loads of white chocolate bits to represent the teeth stuck on it) so, if the Chibnall era monsters are resonating with them, that’s the way it should be.
I remember when the farting Slitheen caused a stir back in RTD’s day with lots of pearl-clutching about the childish tone. I wasn’t that keen on the Slitheen myself, but again, the kids are Who’s future, so…
I am very much enjoying the rather melancholic luminosity Whittaker brings to the Doctor, even though I really do miss the timey-wimey pzazz of Moffat. I think that Chibnall’s vision of the Doctor as refracted light in the universe which I mentioned was reflected in Whittaker’s rainbow T-shirt costume, was confirmed by the words of the requiem litany for the General this week, which WhitDoc recited with real feeling (and which I quoted on Dan’s blog) as the camera panned to a close-up on her face:
“May the saints of all the stars and constellations bring you hope, as they guide you out of the dark and into the light, on this voyage and the next, and all the journeys still to come, for now and evermore….”
I think the WhitDoc probably feels that she herself has come out of a period of great darkness (the Time War and its long aftermath) and that she is now, in this new incarnation, finally in the light once more, and back to her pre-Time War, rather wandering credo, to be a Doctor most of all, of “hope” (as she says).4 November 2018 at 22:08 #65399
Yes, I like the idea of the P’Ting as an escaped bio-weapon.
Clearly the hospital ship and the General meant the Doctor and friends had arrived in some kind of a war-zone, that and the sonic mine. Not to mention the alarming fact that the ship was programmed to transmit a signal to base concering the P’Ting breach which would have resulted in automatic ship-detonation, life forms on board be damned (and which the Doctor therefore had to find a fix for).
I particularly liked the intriguing exchange between the Doctor and General Cicero when it turns out the Doctor has crossed paths with her history before, and has indeed a “whole volume” dedicated to her exploits. I wondered if it could have been an old eddy of the Time War and that was why the Doctor recited the words for the dead so movingly alongside the others at the end.
Plus, I forgot to say above, that naming the baby Avocado Pear was funny. It made me think of Deadpool 1 (which luckily none of the 9 year olds watching will have seen) – you’ll know the line if you’ve seen the movie.4 November 2018 at 20:54 #65395
Well Graham and Ryan’s dynamic continues to be the emotional heart of the narrative.
Their interactions at the birth were lovely, nuanced, funny. And we explored Ryan’s feelings of paternal abandonment, and grief at losing his mother so young as a result. So yay for added companion character depth.
This is still leaving Yaz as a bit of a third wheel though.
It was great to meet a humanoid species in which the males as well as the females give birth. That fits in nicely with our now expanded understanding of a gender diverse Whoniverse, in which Time Lords are a gender-fluid species. For all we know the Doctor may have given birth to Susan’s parent.
Being introduced to the admirable General Cicero, whose faithful android servant nevertheless seemed to belong to a class of second class beings without full rights, was left there for us to ponder on, particularly as there have been so many series about android rights recently from Humans to Westworld. This android seemed to imply he would simply be “de-commissioned” i.e. boxed or destroyed after the General’s death.
And this social blindness to injustice may be part of the developing theme of such in Season 11? We see it in the horrid war games of Desolation in Ghost Monument, the racist segregation of the Deep South of 1950s USA in Rosa, the capitalist greed and environment-trashing of Jack Robertson (cough Trump) in Arachnids in the UK, and now here on this advanced medical transport ship which nevertheless thinks it’s OK to “decommission” a life-form after the death of his “owner”.
Meanwhile, what is up with the Doc? The General’s own disease, “pilot’s heart” seems deliberately to have some resonance for the Doctor. Her exo-spleen is giving her considerable trouble. Why was she the most affected by the sonic mine? Moreover, why does she keep losing the TARDIS?
I really liked WhitDoc’s insistence on participating in the wake for the General, and saying the words of the litany/ prayer for loss at the end. This Doctor is ready to be present for grief in a way her recent previous incarnations have struggled to confront.
Having said that, the wee energy-sucking PTing, which was a sort of space locust really, except not travelling in a swarm, was, frankly rather dull. A sort of space Gremlin, only not nearly as much fun as the Gremlins! I do think Chibnall keeps missing tricks. C’mon, one Gremlin joke?!
And frankly, I don’t think he should be hogging writing so many of the episodes himself.
Whittaker’s performance is definitely mesmerising, but the writing is, I would say, uneven. Chibnall is great at some of the emotional relationships stuff but a bit less great at the aliens, so far.29 October 2018 at 00:08 #65099
I really enjoyed the exchange between Yaz and the Doctor when Yaz’s Mum asked: “Are you two seeing each other?”
The Doctor: “I don’t think so…. Are we?”
Yaz: <frowning at her Mum’s question> “We’re friends!”
Doctor <giving a silent “Oh, OK then!” look, of general agreeable cluelessness, in the background>
I love it both for leaving the new Doctor’s sexuality fluid (as befits a gender-fluid alien) and for the character continuity with previous Nu Who Doctors, who have often been quite awkward and unclear about human rules for intimacy.
Never forget SmithDoc bursting out of the paper cake at Rory’s stag do in The Vampires of Venice, only to announce that Amy had tried to kiss him, but not to worry, she was a “great kisser” – awks!!
@mrswho As was the wedging in of the inclusive lesbian character at the beginning. I mean, have lesbians! Just mention it in passing if it needs to be mentioned, not to score points for inclusiveness.
It was just mentioned in passing, that Mr Robertson’s employee was “family” because she was married to his niece. That was it.
That’s one of the consistent, and for my money, amazing (thanks RTD who started it all) threads running through Nu Who – LGBT people and aliens exist, and there they are, just part of the everyday fabric of reality. Remember the Cassinis (married couple) in Gridlocked?
Just like that. It’s not “scoring points”, it’s representing the universe as it is – as Mr. Spock would say, “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.28 October 2018 at 21:56 #65086
@bluesqueakpip I am now completely sold on the Whittaker Doctor.
Yes, me too, I love her.
And you’re right there were some decent comedy-horror moments.
The bit that made me laugh was all the spiders legging it double-quick towards the Stormzy track Ryan was blasting out. How did he know they were going to love Grime?!
I really wanted Jack Robertson to get his spidery comeuppance, and like you @jimthefish, felt quite unsatisfied that he didn’t. But, following on from Rosa, with its call to us all to stand up and not be bystanders, I guess the fact the Doctor didn’t fix everything – not environmental pollution, not gun-toting shark-businessmen who would be President, is the point.
We can’t wait for the Doctor, or anyone else, to fix earth’s problems. We have to do it ourselves. A rather sombre message, for sombre times.28 October 2018 at 21:07 #65076
@craig – ahh that’s a cracking good story, Planet of the Spiders, Metebelis III and the blue crystals etc.
Giant spiders have also featured rather marvellously in Tolkein, especially the menacing Shelob we all know and love, and then there’s Aragog the flesh-eater in Harry Potter.
Arachnids in the UK (apart from the Sex Pistols title) didn’t really zing for me, as a script. Some Harry Potter or Tolkein jokes or mentions would have helped, as would the Doctor at least clearly checking to see if the spiders were aliens.
The greedy, trigger-happy, polluting American businessman/ Trump stand-in was suitably loathsome, but the fact that the villain was yet again a selfish scumbag human, just like Krastos last week (if we assume Krastos’ was of Earth-origin) could have been leveraged a little more.
I’d have liked a furious speech from the Doctor about the environment and keeping the planet in balance. I mean, if you’re going to go with an environmental pollution story, then fully leverage it, given the urgency of the times?
A speech to the dying spider mother would have worked too. If the Doctor can speak “baby” I don’t see why she can’t speak “giant spider”.
Obviously, the “real” narrative was about the companions feeling disconnected from their old lives in Sheffield on their return: Yaz not normally bringing friends home and getting ribbed by her rather mean sister; Ryan getting a letter from his Dad and feeling affronted by it (for inviting him to live with him, after not being at his Nan’s funeral) and Graham finding it deeply upsetting to be amongst all Grace’s things now that she’s gone. The Doctor’s own loneliness, evidenced by her ready eagerness to be invited to Yaz’s for tea, formed the other half of the magnetic pull of “Team TARDIS” back towards one another.
The Doctor was back in a blue T-shirt. So now we’ll have to wait for another “back in the past” (relative to the companions’ present) story to see if a red shirt accompanies that and we can starting mark blue for present and future and red for past as “a thing” in costume deliberations.27 October 2018 at 14:26 #65037
@blenkinsopthebrave Sorry you are having to wait, friend, to watch along. I can recommend VPN . A reputable one is ExpressVPN but you do have to pay a monthly fee. You can cancel anytime though, so you could just have it for Doctor Who’s run.
I’ve had a look at the Doctor’s T-shirt and she was wearing a blue one in The Ghost Monument like so:
and a red (maroon) one throughout Rosa like so:
Well spotted @anduril ! (I didn’t notice a change in-episode – although the lighting of the set makes it hard to see the colour sometimes especially during interior TARDIS shots).
As The Ghost Monument was in the future (relative to the Doctor’s current companions) and Rosa was in the past (relative to the Doctor’s current companions) we could revive the red shift/ blue shift theory (which comes from the phenomenon of cosmological redshift used by astronomers to estimate the age of stars) see:
Red for (relative) past and blue for (relative) future. I will keep an eye on her T-shirt colours!
Having a closer look at WhitDoc’s costume made me notice the lovely rainbow piping she also has on her coat. I am SO in love (as I may have mentioned once or twice already) with the rainbow theme for WhitDoc, both for gender-fluid alien LGBTQ+ reasons and for the Doctor as refraction-of-light reasons:27 October 2018 at 00:39 #65024
(@anduril – my icon is an old reference to the red/blue bow-ties of SmithDoc and the elaborate, some might say obsessive, theorising thereof, in our former home on Dan Martin’s recaps at The Guardian, before @craig created the Better Place).
In face I’ve been chewing my tail trying to find the link to an interview given by one of the costume or set designers towards the end of the SmithDoc era, about the red/ blue colour scheme and its significance.
@phaseshift posted the link originally, I remember, but sadly he hasn’t joined us for WhitDoc’s run as yet.
I’ll have to re-watch the episode for the shirt change and remember to keep my eye on set dressing for narrative content. Arwel, the new set designer, loaded the Sherlock sets with narrative meaning, so hopefully that will feature in Who too.25 October 2018 at 23:11 #64988
Yes, my fishy friend, we swim together.
Understandably, however, the reviewer is feeling raw and vulnerable about their minority situation in the US right now, and therefore very anxious about not having active allies, hence their take on the ep.
I too am very angry about the attack on trans rights, because it is a nasty and deliberate attempt to break-up the power of LGBTQ+ by atomising it, and the architects of the attack know exactly what they are doing, as trans-folk have reached less critical mass support amongst the “general populace” than lesbian and gay folk (bisexuals are still often just erased). “Love is love” has been such an effective and powerful piece of persuasion, whereas “my gender is different from the one I was assigned” is still breaking through in terms of public understanding (in a US/UK context).25 October 2018 at 22:32 #64983
Thanks for that – I enjoyed watching the above human give their take (not sure what pronouns they prefer).
They seem like a thinking person and I empathize enormously with the upset felt by trans/ non-binary people in the US right now, as the Trump administration seeks to trample on their rights to “feed” the festival of reactionary hate Trump continues to whip up amongst his “base”.
However, I disagree with the above take for the following reasons.
Malorie Blackman knew what she was doing. She was making use of negative space in her narrative. Meaning, you create a big jigsaw puzzle shaped hole in your narrative in order to invite your viewers to fill in the blank. It’s a great technique.
The reaction this reviewer is having is the reaction Blackman wanted viewers to have.
She wanted viewers to go away and think about this episode in the context of the contemporary present, i.e. a present in which white ethno-nationalism (neo-fascism) is on the rise in the US and across Europe. That’s why Krasko, the villain, was a white racist from the future.
She wanted viewers to say to themselves and one another:
a) Hang on a sec – yes, the US elected its first (and one and only) black President, but now look what’s happening! Look at the racist backlash! The fight isn’t over!
b) That was so painful, watching the Doctor and her companions have to stand by and NOT actively help Rosa! We empathised so much with their agony at having to be bystanders!
Re a), That’s why Blackman tells us, in our distant future, there are still people like Krasko. We can’t be complacent. The fight to overcome the “othering” of others is never over. It requires active work to prevent re-trenchment.
Re b) That was Blackman’s message – Did you hate watching people be bystanders? Did you empathise with Graham’s agony about not being able to help? Well, the Doctor and her companions had to protect time, but WE don’t, ergo, we don’t have to be bystanders now!
So, I think the above reviewer emotionally connected with Blackman’s story in just the way she was hoping viewers would connect, but wasn’t able to step back, look at the narrative structure and think – oooh there’s deliberately wrought negative space here, consciously setting up this cry for action, for solidarity, just the solidarity the reviewer longs for, for themselves, as a minority also under attack in the US at the moment.
So – in conclusion – I defend Rosa from the charges above and posit that Blackman’s story precisely invites us NOT to be complacent and not to be bystanders, right here and right now.24 October 2018 at 22:06 #64917
Krasko was also, with his “bad boy” smirk and haircut, very like some of the current alt-right leaders, like Richard Spencer, for instance.
So I don’t think he was lacking in nuance @kevinwho , just written with a different kind of nuance.
Alt-right ideology wants to turn back time. White male supremacy is their credo. I am reading a book by a political scientist on the rise of the alt-right at the moment, and if you ever want to gaze upon the absolute cesspool they are promulgating, then look up The Daily Stormer. Yes, deliberately a homage to the Nazi era Der Stürmer. Serious content warning though – it is vile.
So, alt-right ideology wants to turn back time – it is white ethno-nationalist, virulently anti-trans, anti-semitic, anti-feminist, anti-black etc.
And here is Krasko, a time-travelling alt-right style criminal escapee, literally travelling back in time to “undo” the trajectory of progress Rosa Parks and her fellow activists helped spark.
Now that’s funny, and clever, and a sharp piece of commentary on the contemporary alt-right in the US.23 October 2018 at 20:12 #64859
And although I often deplore pieces of journalism which are just collections of tweets, some of them, full of positive reactions to this episode, are quite welcome right now, such as this one in the Radio Times:
and this one on Entertainment.ie (Irish media website):23 October 2018 at 00:44 #64826
@dogboythecat I don’t really know what you mean by “cost effective”. The viewing figures for “Rosa” are in and all three of the episodes in this Series 11 of Nu Who so far have smashed it:
Chibnall, the new showrunner, is definiely consciously pitching to younger viewers. They are the future of Who after all, and Rosa Parks’ story is brand new for them.23 October 2018 at 00:20 #6482223 October 2018 at 00:15 #64821
@dogboythecat This is a Whovian space which thrives because of the swift dispatch of those who have simply come to troll, it’s true, and we had a rather odious visitor just recently, so…
But, assuming you’re not trolling, the reason this kind of comment about “social justice” “turning people off” is so frustrating to encounter, and often gets a negative reaction, is because:
a) Which “people” are being turned off? You, I assume, from your comment. This fallacy, that the way you are reacting to the show is the way everyone is reacting (or ought to react) just requires some basic Googling. A whole bunch of people LOVED this episode – check out a variety of Whovian spaces e.g. Tumblr, Twitter, The Mary Sue, Den of Geek… Of course you are entitled to say you didn’t enjoy it personally, but that brings me to;
b) Complaining that “social justice” is a “turn off” signals that you are someone coming from a (relative) place of privilege, where you have the luxury of regarding social justice as an unecessary bit of preaching. For so many people on this planet (and no doubt in other galaxies too) social justice is an urgent necessity. A comment snarking about “social justice” in relation to an episode about the struggle for racial equality, comes across (speaking for myself at least) as lacking the imagination to empathise with other peoples’ lived experiences (especially people unlike yourself). Which just isn’t an interesting look.
Doctor Who (as many have said above) has always tackled themes of social justice. The Doctor lives for social justice for goodness sake!
Just think about the David Tennant story New Earth, where the cat-nuns have created incredible medical technology at the expense of an enslaved class of people kept in vats and used as disease guinea-pigs. It would be antithetical to who the Doctor is for him to swan in, high-five the cat-nuns, and swan off. Of course, he helps free the enslaved people – that’s who he is.
I bet you didn’t complain on a message board somewhere that that story was a “social justice turn-off”. So, I suppose, just ask yourself, why does a real historical event about social injustice from earth’s past get that reaction from you, when the Doctor simply behaves as she has always behaved – in solidarity with the oppressed?22 October 2018 at 16:55 #64808
The Doctor is canonically a gender-fluid alien, from a race of gender-fluid aliens.
Time Lords likely regard Earth cultures which insist on a rigid gender binary, given ample scientific evidence for complexity amongst our species (e.g. intersex births, Klinefelter sydrome XXY) as woefully off-piste, let alone from their own perspective of regeneration and shifting embodiment.
Stands to reason the Doctor would support transgender rights.22 October 2018 at 12:42 #64794
Your point about earth-bound racism as previously addressed in Doctor Who is interesting. These stories have previously, I think, always been set in the Britain where, even though racism has been endemic to some degree since the 17th century at least, chattel slavery on British soil was never recognised in common law and racism was never institutionalised in the way that it was under the ‘Jim Crow’ laws of the southern USA. This, I think, may have made us in the UK somewhat complacent, and this episode offers an important perspective.
I’d actually love the same theme of racism to be tackled by the Doctor in contemporary Britain, but I imagine the howls of protest from corners of the British press might make the Beeb a bit leery.
British racism is institutionalised too, but certainly differently from the US, as you say, because of different histories. However, we only have to look at the current Windrush scandal and the Grenfell tragedy, to understand that ethnic minorities are often treated with hostility and contempt by state powers and institutions in the UK, whether that be the Home Office or Kensington and Chelsea council.
Daily Fail comments on Grenfell at the time it happened were truly shocking – instead of empathy (to be fair there was some) I saw a lot of comments such as, “Doesn’t even look like Britain.” I am as worried about the resurgence of fascism in Britain as I am about its resurgence in the US at the moment, and there are alarming connections, such as Steve Bannon hobnobbing with Boris Johnson and being invited to do an interview with a BBC journalist at an upcoming media event – grrrrr – (and all praise to Nicola Sturgeon for pulling out of the event as a result):
Although Chibnall’s style as showrunner is, as many have said, markedly different from Moffat’s, and like others, there are elements of Moffat I do and will miss very much (e.g. his playfulness with time paradoxes), I feel quite excited by Chibnall’s understanding of the values the Doctor stands for, and how urgently and contemporaneously relevant they are, precisely as a beacon of light in the universe (re my earlier comments on WhitDoc’s T-shirt as a symbol of the refraction of light).21 October 2018 at 22:53 #64765
I watched In the Heat of the Night (1967) recently, starring Sydney Poitier, and Malorie Blackman’s episode really reminded me of that movie – the same hard-hitting (more so in fact) claustrophobic and dangerous climate of police-sanctioned racism.
I’m betting Blackman had that film in mind as one of her influences.
Poitier’s character, who is a black cop from the North, gets involved in a murder case down in Mississippi, and he does punch a white man in the movie, for insulting him and calling him “boy”. And apparently, movie audiences at the time would audibly gasp at this point, to see such radical defiance.
NB on my point above about Rose vs Rosa, the TARDIS is really the Doctor’s carer as well as companion half the time, and in both those instances, I reckon, took the Doctor where s(he) needed to be from a hearts-healing/ moral compass perspective.21 October 2018 at 22:15 #64759
@miapatrick sorry – see you mentioned Family of Blood above before me. I was composing my post and didn’t see yours ’til after!
And @jimthefish and @miapatrick I’d forgotten about Bill and CapDoc’s encounters with Victorian racism and the Doctor’s punch in Thin Ice. Good point. I think though, that CapDoc was probably free to do some racist-punching then because that wasn’t, unlike the Rosa Parks situation, a pivot point in history.
Here, WhitDoc was behaving (in a rather traditional Time Lord manner) as a custodian of time.21 October 2018 at 22:03 #64757
@bluesqueakpip “Is there a racism theme developing?”
I’d love that as an underlying theme, because Doctor Who at inception was strongly influenced by post-Nazism. And here we are, 70 years since the last time Europe made the mistake of entertaining fascism, watching it rear its ugly head all over again. It’s the perfect time for Who to tackle racism across the universe.
As we know, the Daleks are essentially space Nazis. And the Cybermen and Sonatarans too are “racial purity” types.
Of course, the Doctor has encountered all sorts of species-ism along the way, starting with her own people, who were very stuffy about all those they saw as “less developed” than themselves.
Nu Who has dealt with a more earth-bound racism previously too. Martha had to deal with Joan Redfern in Human Nature/Family of Blood, being unable to believe that she, a black maid, was in fact a doctor. The Zygon Invasion/Zygon Inversion two-parter tackled racial conflict and racism (human and Zygon purists vs human and Zygon assimilationists, with the two Osgoods symbolising the best of the latter).
It’s also worth thinking about this episode Rosa and the first episode of Nu Who, Rose together, as part of the Doctor’s own arc regarding race and war.
Then (Rose) the Doctor was running from his role in the Time War, in which he had been willing to countenance the genocide of both the Daleks and his own people. He was immediately confronted by the backwash of his war participation, as the Nestene Consciousness was only trying to turn the Earth plastic, because it blamed the Time Lords for the destruction of its own planet during the Time War. Rose Tyler became the Doctor’s escape, his solace, a young Earthling in whose company he could bury some of his grief and guilt. That often put an unfair burden on Rose. I mean, taking her to watch the destruction of earth for her first trip (The End of the World) because the Doctor wanted some other being to feel, just a taste, of the enormity of the grief he was feeling re Gallifrey – that was dark.
Now, the Doctor, having been through penance, atonement, and some timey-wimey Gallifrey-saving etc., is here (Rosa) with a re-sharpened consciousness that “purity” narratives (including those of the Daleks and the Time Lords) lead inexorably to violence and need to be combatted everywhere. WhitDoc (I like it) is ready to take on that fight, not as that antithesis, the War Doctor, but, like Rosa as a grassroots resister, one small, important, action at a time.21 October 2018 at 19:58 #64739
Well hats off to Malorie Blackman, that really made me cry.
I’m sure there will be some moaning and groaning in certain corners of the Whoniverse, but I will never forget the impact watching Terry Nation’s Genesis of the Daleks had on me as a kid (and obviously that was a political allegory for the rise of fascism), and I think this was a brillant episode which will have the same impact on kids watching now.
The time-travelling alt-right dude from the Stormcage was intriguing on several levels. Firstly, as part of the political narrative, to show us that yes, there are still racists and would-be fascists in the future, the fight goes on, and secondly because any mention of the Stormcage invokes River, of course, so now I have hopes she’lll get a mention at some point (if not an appearance).
Also, where the hell did Ryan zap alt-right dude to, and won’t that lead to some unintended time distortion of its own? Perhaps we haven’t seen the last of him?19 October 2018 at 18:33 #64680
“@juniperfish I really like your take on all this, especially “a refraction of light in the universe””
Thanks 🙂 The new Doctor’s outfit is always a topic of much conversation, following a regeneration, whether (s)he is male or female embodied, so at least we can say there has been no less scrutiny of previous Doctors’ attire.
Although, of course, it has been much rarer to speculate on what the male embodied forms’ attire has to say about their relationship to either masculinity or authority. Nevertheless, the Doctor’s relationship to Time Lord authority has always been rebellious. and that has been encoded in his outfits frequently (dandy, hobo, eccentric flouter of convention) especially in relation to the very formal wear favoured by Time Lord officialdom. (S)he remains however, anti-authoritarian dress sense aside, a renegade member of the Time Lord “aristocracy”. “Officer class” as Danny put it.
“Clearly any feminist credentials I may have don’t stop me from having absorbed the lessons of the patriarchy – authority speaks in a male voice. Gravitas comes with that male voice. Even those of us most passionately enthusiastic about the gender switch have some adjusting to do, but at least we’re willing to do it, and to give it time to work rather than expecting everything to be fixed by episode 2.”
Yes, as I think @bluesqueakpip and others concurred, this hits the nail on the head, which is why I think it is the responsibility of the audience to interrogate their/ our own responses to this latest female embodied incarnation of our beloved alien.
“My father’s family were Quakers, and in those circles no titles were used and in formal circumstances people addressed each other by their full names, both forename and surname. On the other hand, in the archaeology department at Edinburgh University in the 1960s everyone, from the eminent professor down to the lowliest first year student, was referred to by their forename.”
I think the Quakers “do power” better than almost anybody else (I grew up partially Quaker too, as my step-Dad’s family were Quakers). Their concept of “elders” as a rotational and time-limited function within the community has prevented the abuses of power so frequently found in other religious iterations favouring a permanent class of priests.
Heh yes, my department does firstnames for everyone too. Which has the interesting effect of making “invisible” (or rather, rendering openly speechless) the continuing highly structured hierarchies of status and power.
Re Ryan’s relationship with his Dad. Yes, this could be much more interesting than “deadbeat Dad.” Thinking about narrative mirroring again. We now have a grandfather/ grandson relationship aboard the TARDIS which has immediate resonances with the first Doctor and his grandfatherly role re Susan, and then we have an apparently “deadbeat Dad” in the background. That could also mirror the Doctor, as we have no idea about his/her relationship with Susan’s parent, the Doctor’s child. I look foward to seeing whether this mirroring takes us anywhere within Chibnall’s larger narrative.
I have no doubt Chibnall does plan an emotional arc, if nothing else. Simply the arrival and departure of new companions presents an emotional arc, in Nu Who, as the Doctor grows fond of her/his latest TARDIS co-occupants (in whatever way) and then has to let them go, for one reason or another.17 October 2018 at 20:23 #64600
@pedant Yes, you’re right!
Although, there are interesting arguments about this.
For instance, in citations, many systems just use the first-name initial so you can’t tell if the paper or article is by a man or a woman. Some argue that’s best, as it eliminates the bias (proven by data) that women are cited less than men.
But on the other hand, there is the argument that retaining the first names makes gender more visible, so the bias can be actively monitored/ guarded against. I prefer that method.
But, as you say, the informality of using the actor’s first name for a woman and surname for a man, a common occurrence, definitely does have connotations of greater informality potentially equalling lesser deference.
I am already in love with Jodie/ Whittaker’s Doctor. I tend to fall in love with them quickly, whatever the embodiment 🙂17 October 2018 at 19:28 #64598
Oh, and also, I love her rainbow-esque streak T-shirt more and more the more I think about it. Not only, as I mentioned above somewhere, is it an intriguing nod towards the fact that the Doctor is now officially “out” as a gender-fluid being (the rainbow as LGBT reference) but a rainbow is also the refraction of light.
And I think that encapsulates the essence of the Doctor – in an often dark universe, the Doctor is a refraction of light – a being who embodies “our” best values – kindness, intellectual curiosity, helping others (Jodie’s “When people are in trouble, I never refuse”), an adventurous spirit, compassion and respect for all beings (unless they are oppressors).
This Doctor, I feel, after all the darkness of becoming the “War Doctor” (the antithesis of The Doctor as far as the Doctor is concerned) and his/her long streak of guilt and atonement for that, can now be a refraction of light in the universe again. That’s my sense of who Jodie’s Doctor is going to be.17 October 2018 at 16:09 #64597
@ichabod So how does a female authority figure assert herself without wearing a version of male “authoritative” attire?
Ahh, well, that is the question. In television drama, female authority figures are often in “professional” dress as part of a role of one sort or another, like Gillian Anderson (detective) in The Fall or Keeley Hawes (politician) in The Killing. Both these roles, for example, employ sexuality as part of the projection of female power – authority job + projection of dominant sexiness. That’s a common way female power is depicted in drama. Male authority (in drama) is far more likely to be un-coupled from sexuality as a display dimenson of power (e.g. Giles from Buffy or Magneto from the X-Men movies) although it is coupled also (e.g. James Bond).
The Doctor, in his male embodied incarnations, has not had his authority linked to his sexuality – at all in BG Who (or barely) and in AG Who, the way his sexuality was depicted in fact, it could be argued, deliberately undercuts his authority. He is portrayed as gauche, shy, awkward and tongue-tied in relation to his possible attraction to Rose (Ecclestone and Tennant) and likewise as gauche, awkward, flummoxed and off-balance (Smith) in relation to his attraction to River (she is always, always depicted as more sexually confident than him).
Jodie’s Doctor, thus far (although it’s early days) seems to have returned to a more BG Who in that the Doctor’s sexuality is not an evident dimension of character or narrative. That was also more true of Capaldi than previous Nu Who Doctors, but not entirely (his relationship with Clara still contained some kind of charge, left from the Smith-Clara dynamic e.g. Capaldi feeling the need to tell her he *wasn’t* her boyfriend).
I hope the writers’ room has had some deep conversations about authority and a female-embodied Who. But the writers’ room remains male dominated (although Marjorie Blackman and Joy Wilkinson are on board) so…
Jodie will no doubt have thought about this element of her character. And the script is giving her continuity-Doctor “authority markers” like his/her tendency to be somewhat self-aggrandising (or just brutally honest) by voicing, “I’m very, very clever” etc. on occasion.
I think it is also the responsibility of the audience, to interrogate their receptivity (or otherwise) to female-embodied authority, as this question is thrown up by a female Doctor.
Jodie seems to have gone with a practical, down-to-earth, somewhat understated and self-doubting version of “authority” so far. But she’s still in the unstable post-regeneration phase, so I’m intrigued to see more of her Doctor.16 October 2018 at 16:32 #64568
I love the Graham and Grace theory.
Not sure about the reason for Ryan’s Dad’s absence though. Got the impression from Ryan he was a bit of a deadbeat Dad full-stop. We shall see.
I do agree with several folk above that Yaz has been short-changed as a character so far. Hopefully we’ll get to know her a bit more next episode.15 October 2018 at 23:54 #64536
@jimthefish Agreed on the class perspective.
I’ve been re-watching Christopher Ecclestone’s Doctor again (Netflix) and lamenting that he only stayed one season. Him and Billie Piper are still absolutely wonderful together, and chosen quite deliberately by RTD as actors from working-class backgrounds.
As for Chibnall’s themes – a planet called Desolation which is a) environmentally poisoned b) dedicated to warfare above all else and c) the site of brutal competition where there are only “winners” and “losers” (zero sum) and which insists on playing a “game” where no co-operation is allowed. That’s a pretty heavy reference to the state of our own little planet right now, as we hurtle towards terrible climate change impacts, merrily selling arms to the Saudis whilst Yemen starves, under a rapacious late capitalism which seems intent on cannibalising itself. He ain’t playing!14 October 2018 at 22:47 #64483
Also, look, the TARDIS, with adorable self-reflection, has created a small “ghost monument” version of herself as part of her interior controls!
She has got so used to her chamelion circuit being stuck that her self-concept is now “earth police box”:14 October 2018 at 22:22 #64480
Oh, and I forgot to say something about the resonances of the episode title.
The “ghost monument” is, in fact, the TARDIS herself. As Gallifrey is still outside this universe, in its own bubble universe, as far as Capaldi left it when he high-tailed it out of there after his aeons of imprisonment, the TARDIS is indeed a sort of ghost monument to a great civilisation-that-was.
However, as we know, the TARDIS has a mind of her own, and we have to wonder why she brought the Doctor to that particular hideous weapons-testing planet, for their reunion in the Doctor’s new incarnation. Perhaps because the Doctor’s own participation in war (the Time War) and the long emotional aftermath of that, including his atonement, is now laid to rest, and Jodie’s Doctor can now re-dedicate herself to peace throughout the universe.
So, in that sense, the TARDIS is a ghost monument to the phase-of-war-that-was, but she has redecorated herself in beautiful blues and golds with the daisy wheel solar symbol of life, in order to become, now, a vehicle, once more, of peace.14 October 2018 at 21:32 #64476
Thanks for the TARDIS interior clip @craig . Arwel was the designer on Moffat’s Sherlock, and he did an amazing job, so it’s great to have him on Who.
I absolutely LOVE the new TARDIS interior and felt quite emotional when the Doctor and the TARDIS reunited. The custard cream dispenser is brilliant, but the pinwheel design (which Arwel, in the clip, said he got from the fractal patterns of trees) made me squee a bit, because I’ve just been to a talk on folk magic archaeology, and the daisy wheel (with the six spokes) which patterns the new TARDIS is also a pre-Christian solar symbol associated with sun goddesses, which is found throughout Europe:
Later, its symbology passed to being associated with the Virgin Mary, as clever Christianity did its syncretic absorption thing.
And the Doctor as a bringer of light fits. He’s been referred to as a “God” several times on Nu Who, notably by one of the cat nuns (as the “lonely god”) in New Earth (not that he would accept “godhood” unless having a grandiose off-the-rails moment like in The Waters of Mars). And now that he is a she, so the ancient solar goddess symbol seems wonderfully apt. Plus the blue and the gold together, very cosmic.
The “Timeless Child” reference mentioned by @miapatrick and @mudlark definitely felt like an arc note. I didn’t take the reference as referring to the Doctor herself though, and immediately starting wondering afresh what happened to Susan and whether the Doctor will ever come across her or her descendants. Particularly as she is now travelling with a grandfather and a (step) grandson, I feel this resonance has legs, because it’s already mirrored in the companions (and mirroring is a wonderful narrative technique).
@jimthefish Hey fishy comrade. Yes, I didn’t like Peter Davidson’s cricket gear at all, so each to their own.
I’m not bothered by Jodie’s costume myself though. Yes, I’ve always liked the frock-coat end of the Doctor’s sartorial extravangances, but Jodie’s gear is practical, sort of belt and braces, which goes with her scientist-engineer flair, with a hint of rainbow on the T-shirt which I find intriguing now that she is fully out on the show as a gender-fluid being. In terms of her having authority, that is going to be, in part, also up to audiences re-examining their ability to recognise authority as personified in a female incarnation. Like @mudgodson above, immediately latching on to the oldest dude companion and seeing him as the Doctor by default, we are used, culturally and historically to bestowing authority more commonly upon men. Which makes the whole question of authority, and how the Jodie Doctor wears it, carries it, wields it, and is recognised or not recognised (in show and out) as having it, highly intriguing.
The Doctor’s “We’re better together,” line made me smile. I see there have been calls for the Doctor to come to earth and fix our hideous environmental crisis recently in The Guardian. While she’s at it, if she could sort out the sink-hole that is Brexit, we’d be much obliged.10 October 2018 at 15:51 #64382
Ha ha – those honest trailers are great – Doctor Who does look really weird from the outside!
I’m glad The Doctor Who Forum under your reign Emperor @craig has grown to the size where you are invited to “press” events. Sadly am nowhere near Blackpool myself either, but someone else might be!9 October 2018 at 18:22 #64358
You know, I don’t think we’ve fully appreciated (it’s just occured to me now as I’m cogitating on a train) how funny the occupations of the new Doctor’s companions are:
An apprentice mechanic
The mechanic’s apprentice thus replaces the magician’s apprentice. The Doctor was more of a magician under Moffat (and Clara was rather a magician’s apprentice) but, under Chibnall, the Doc is clearly going to be a scientist-mechanic.
A retired bus driver
The TARDIS and her well-know lack of reliability in terms of flight destination (except when River is in charge!).
An apprentice police-woman
Well, the TARDIS is still stuck in its obsolete (in our time) police-box form, and the Doctor does operate as a kind of rogue detective-cum-fixer-cum-freelance-policer-of-alien-ill-doings, more of a Sherlock Holmes than a regular constabulary member of course, but still…
So – mechanic, vehicle driver, police-woman – all lovely reflections of elements of the Doctor, and with particular ready-made ways to bounce off her.8 October 2018 at 21:12 #64295
@nearlysane Welcome (twice!) I am a fan of dopplegangers.
@ Everyone – Sorry, I feel the need to lower the tone somewhat, by pointing out that Chibnall does a rather amusing turn for adult viewers with the sonic.
As we know, the sonic has, on occasion, been something of a penis metaphor under Moffat (who can forget Tennant and Smith comparing sizes during the 50th anniversary?).
So Jodie’s Doctor shows up without her own sonic, but sets to work manufacturing one for herself instead (with a touch of Sheffield steel). And design-wise, given the bend and curve of it, it does look a little more sex-toy than usual, right?
I’ll let myself out. But it did make me smile. It was done with greater subtlety than Moffat’s metaphor, but a charming additional, gentle, dig at the female-Doctor-inevitable-travesty crowd methinks.
Oh, and thankfully, having encountered it elsewhere on the interwebs, I’m not the only low-brow type to have noticed this little Freudian twist 🙂8 October 2018 at 12:39 #64266
<Waves at comrades, old and new>
@scaryb I thought you’d like the Delia Derbyshire tribute in the theme tune! Did you see she got honoured with a posthumous PhD last year?
@jimthefish “The VC was probably relegated to a broom cupboard somewhere”
Heh – if only.
@pedant “It was a warning not a lure!”
I know – I couldn’t resist and now I am eating the sickly sugary snacks of regret.
Like @craig I like the 13th Doctor (or 15th depending on how you count) Barbie Doctor just because I know it will make certain curmudgeonly corners of the “fan-boy” universe explode with outrage 🙂 Even though, frankly, Mattel don’t deserve the kudos really, as their Barbie has presented such a problematic body-image for girls all these years with her strange inhuman insect-like proportions. Perhaps she’s been an alien in disguise all this time…
I had a Tom Baker plastic Barbie-size figure as a kid, which came with removable hat, scarf and sonic. It was called a “figure” and not a “doll” but it was the same damn thing, so in fact, having a Jodie figure is nothing new. It’s just all about gender framing.
I’m pleased to hear various people’s reports of kids loving the new Doctor’s first episode. If it doesn’t capture new generations it’s not doing its job – so hurrah. Not at all surprised that the kids, boys and girls, don’t bat an eyelid at the gender switch. They are always more open-minded and ready to imagine the world anew, thankfully.
I am so terrified that Google’s parent company Alphabet will actually crack the code for ageing (it’s working on it, some for real sci-fi s*** right there) and then hideous old rich people like Trump will rule over us forever. Not being age-ist (can hardly be as I approach 50!) but unfortunately our wise-est elders don’t generally sit a-top of the rapacious capitalist heap!7 October 2018 at 22:58 #64238
@pedant Noooooooo, you tempted me to read the Daily Fail’s review and now I need to bathe my eyes with salt water.
The reviewer moaned (at great length) that Jodie’s Doctor wasn’t more “Beyonce” or “Daenerys Targaryen”. Now I have a weird “All the Single Ladies” dance routine as performed by the new Doctor and companions flashing before my eyes. That would actually be pretty funny.7 October 2018 at 22:31 #64237
@miapatrick Yes, you’re right Moffat was aware of his class “issue” after RTD, but he just didn’t know how to include working-class life convincingly in the same way. He had Clara’s grandparents apparently living in a tower-block (that awkward Christmas do when she invited the Smith Doctor as her “boyfriend”) but that just didn’t feel as if it fitted with the rest of Clara, whereas with Rose and her Mum it was totally believable.
And Bill was the dinner-lady (for five minutes before she became a student) at a very posh-looking university! Only Oxbridge colleges have rooms for Professors that look like the one the Doctor was inhabiting.
It did make me smile that we have a real police-woman companion, Yasmin, setting off with Jodie instead of Amy’s strip-o-gram version. I can’t help feeling that was a tiny Chibnall dig at Moffat!
Yes, the grand-parent theme does have continuity with the end of Capaldi’s run, particularly his closing adventure with Doctor One, and I like that.
On the companion front, Bradley Walsh’s retired bus-driver looks like he’s going to be hard work, being adventure-averse, grief-stricken and kidnapped, but I suppose that’s the point. He’s going to be the useless one isn’t he, in contrast to Yasmin and Ryan. Having a female Doctor throws up all sorts of interesting dynamics. When do you ever get a show where an older white guy routinely defers to the expertise of a younger-looking woman, as Graham clearly will do to Jodie’s Doctor? Yes, she’s an over a thousand year old gender-fluid alien, but still :-).
Bring it all on, and let’s see where the chips fall!7 October 2018 at 20:55 #64222
I thought Jodie did a great job. I know what you mean @miapatrick about whether the Doctor as more openly empathetic (compared to Capaldi who needed Clara’s cue cards to help him formulate appropriate emotional responses!) dovetails, in a gender-stereotyped way, with the switch to a female incarnation. I am taking it however, as the Doctor having finally worked through all the trauma of the Time War, the guilt, the PTSD, and, in this new incarnation, at the start of a new regeneration cycle, being less bottled up by the emotional choke-hold which, previously, all that had on him/her.
Several things to note about the new tone for the new team.
The Doctor as a scientist (inventive and improvisational as you say @miapatrick) was always a significant element in the Who of my youth (Pertwee in particular with his UNIT lab) and it’s good to see that back. He’s been rather more of a wandering officer discharged from a great war and desperate to run away from that since the reboot to date.
And honestly, seeing Jodie’s Doctor messing on with cables and coils and spark-plugs and the like made my heart sing a bit, given all the issues with women’s welcome (or lack thereof) in STEM subjects. Having a mad-cap alien scientist female Doctor is just brilliant. (yes I loved Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot to bits as well).
Class – Russell T. Davis was better at it than Moffat – i.e. at making sure the Doctor didn’t just hang out with Earth’s middle classes. And it looks like Chibnall is going for a bit of Russell’s legacy on that front. I’m so pleased the Doctor went shopping for a new outfit in a charity shop and not some flash department store. Also it’s fab the new sonic has a touch of Sheffield steel in it.
The scary mysterious tone from the opener reminded me of some old Tom Baker storylines like The Talons of Weng Chiang and The Horror of Fang Rock and The Brain of Morbius. I’m up for some horror-inflection.
Quite a lot about grandparents in this first episode. Ryan’s Nan and Step-Grandad of course, but the construction guy on-site, who got murdered by our toothsome alien bounty hunter, was also talking to a grand-kid by Skype just before he was offed. So the Doctor as a grand-parent is resonating like a bell in the undertow of the narrative, particularly as she is asked whether she has any family and replies that they’re gone.
It’s quite fascinating to look at the way the Doctor/ female companion dynamic has hitherto been written in the reboot, with its recurrent (although not exclusive) dynamic of the hundreds of years old Doctor/ and a teen or early twenties Earth girl, who is either a love-story or a crush going one way or the other (Ecclestone/ Tennant and Rose, Tennant and Martha, Smith and Amy and Clara, Capaldi and Clara). It would, I think, cause instant outrage and cries of creepyness if Jodie’s Doctor had any sort of similar dynamic with several young Earth men, or indeed young Earth women. Jodie’s new ensemble TARDIS crew looks rather Hartnell-esque, with her in a grand-parent-like role, possibly. Is the Doctor asexual/ a-romantic again? <foolishly opens a can of fandom worms and tries to move swiftly on>.
It’s too early to pronounce exactly on what the new Doctor’s hearts are going to get up to, of course. The last incarnation lost a wife, River, only a blink of an eye ago, by Time Lord standards of time.
Dan seems less than enthusiastic about the Chibnall debut, over on The Guardian recap, but I am overjoyed myself, as I confess I was worried Jodie wouldn’t be enough of a “character” to carry the first female Doctor off. I was rooting, in my personal fantasy land, for Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But actually, I think Jodie is going to great. I really loved her mix of vulnerability and authoritative get-up-and-go.6 October 2018 at 23:46 #64195
<Sidles up to the sofa with a bag of jelly babies and a pack of jammy dodgers>
I believe there’s something on the tele-box tomorrow?
It’s about time….
to hop aboard the TARDIS with you lot!
Prep the popcorn and pop on your multi-coloured scarves, bow-ties, frock-coats and fezes.
Next stop, everywhere….25 December 2017 at 18:46 #62730
Merry meet, one and all!
Lovely way to bow out, a character piece in which the First and Twelfth Doctors get some cantankerous banter in, and Peter Capaldi sings his swan song beautifully at the end.
Moffat has always been a bit marmite, hasn’t he, but he’s given us a wild gallop of good years through the universe and, I will miss his particular love of time paradoxes and loops, and the criss-crossing of paths.
Delighted to see Bill again, and I’m sure Clara fans felt the same. The one thing I missed was a mention of River, when the Doctor was advising his new incarnation never to tell his name to anyone. I felt her presence very much then, however, and I think we were meant to – meaning no one could ever replace her, the woman the Doctor did tell his name to.
I do hope Jodie Whittaker isn’t going to be without the TARDIS for long!
Look forward to the gathering of the tribes to cogitate below.
Midwinter salutations to you all x J-fish.1 August 2017 at 12:04 #61574
@nerys Yes, like you, I relaxed once Bill arrived!
However, I am appreciating the tricky and difficult Clara/ Twelve dynamic more now that I have begun a S9 rewatch. In hindsight all the tarot card speculation makes complete sense not just for the Doctor with his re-birth/ return to Gallifrey, but for Clara, with her re-birth as a time-traveller in her own right.
Michelle Gomez needs her own thread I think. I love her take on the Master/ Missy. She is full of tics and twitches and mercurial danger made all the more terrifying by the Mary Poppins attire.
Having just watched The Magician’s Apprentice/ Witch’s Familiar two-parter again, it’s also interesting to note another hint that the next Doctor would be female. Missy says to Clara that she’s been friends with the Doctor since he was a “girl” (although she allows she may be lying). In addition, there’s the intriguing and still left unfinished mention of the Doctor giving her a brooch on the occasion of her daughter… I would LOVE it if Susan did turn out, as we’ve speculated before, to be the grand-daughter of the Doctor and the Master.
Capaldi and Gomez are absolutely gorgeous together right from the start. Gomez conveys both her desire to hurt and to love the Doctor in equal measure in a really consummate performance. Missy is genuinely worried when the Doctor sends her his time-dial confession and also genuinely delighted at the ruse which may get Clara inside a dalek, killed by the Doctor himself.
Capaldi conveys, better I think, in a more reserved manner than the high emoting of the Tenant/ Simm combo, that the Doctor both loves the Master/ Missy and is appalled by him/ her. In fact, he is so patient with Missy, that, combined with her “daughter” reference, some backstory involving them both where the Doctor feels he made a mistake and owes Missy as a result, would make a lot of sense.30 July 2017 at 13:58 #61550
Lots of great comments and I’m pleased we’ve got a thread to celebrate Twelve – thanks @craig .
@drben and @ichabod Yes, I think there’s a reason why Twelve doesn’t want to regenerate, beyond that he’s grown attached to this version of himself (that was Ten’s schtick). I do think he’s tired, and part of him would just like it all to be over. He’s now over two thousand years old. That’s a long time to be running through the universe. As for whether he’s manic depressive. Well, certainly some neurodivergent viewers, particularly those on the autism spectrum, have read the Doctor as someone they can relate to. So, perhaps some bipolar viewers might feel the same.
My pet theory re the reluctance to regenerate has been that he’s still worried about becoming the Valeyard, but I’ve just re-watched The Time of the Doctor (as part of a full Capaldi Doctor re-watch currently in progress) and I’m guessing not now, because I forgot that Ten regenerated as himself. Time of the Doctor lays it out so that Smith’s Eleven is actually the Doctor’s thirteenth incarnation (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, War Doctor, 9,10,10, 11). So our Twelve is actually the first of a new regeneration cycle which the Time Lords grant him, at Clara’s insistence, through the crack in the universe at Trenzalore. In other words, he’s got over his Valeyard hump already.
Still, the fact that we are going back to the start and meeting the first Doctor again at Christmas, does point to a crisis of self brought about by the new regeneration cycle. The Doctor we know as Twelve (who is actually One of the new cycle) needing to be convinced by the original One that he needs to carry on.
@drben and @jimthefish I share some of your combined Season 8 favourites – Listen, Time Heist and Mummy on the Orient Express. It’s a delight watching Capaldi now. I do think the initial encounter with a new Doctor, at first, is always coloured by the grief of losing the last one, for those not coming to the show fresh. I was very sad to see Smith go and it took me a while to get over that, so Capaldi didn’t feel quite “right” to begin with. Now, on re-watch, I can see how much that was about my own emotional processing, and in fact I think he nails it right from the start – just – his version.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned on this board, it’s that all of us have slightly different elements of Who which work, or don’t work for us. Personally, I struggled, on and off, with Clara as a character and that affected my enjoyment of the Smith/ Clara and Capaldi/ Clara eras compared to the Smith/Amy/Rory and River era. Whilst I loved her introduction as Dalek Souffle Girl, she never really lived up to that initial promise, for me, and the “Impossible Girl” narrative didn’t really do it for me either. I do think framing her that way was a mistake or a flaw in Moffat’s writing. Amy and River had both been mysteries for the Doctor, and that worked as a self-contained arc. Making the next female companion a mystery too, suddenly began to look like an inability to write a woman companion who wasn’t a mystery. Not the fault of Jenna Coleman, who is clearly a very good actor.
By the end of her run with Smith, I thought their dynamic, of fancying each other, but dancing around it, knowing it wasn’t right somehow (for either of them) was wearisome. I was very committed to Eleven and River of course, so again, I acknowledge bringing an emotional dynamic of my own. I wanted Moffat to write something un-flirty, for once, post-River. He got there eventually, with Bill.
This is on topic (promise!) because Capaldi inherited that awkward flirty dynamic with Clara from his predecessor, and although he immediately changed the relationship up-front, by telling Clara he wasn’t her boyfriend (whilst admitting it was his mistake in the first place) their subsequent relationship, because of that history, was tangled, complicated, scratchy, addictive, push-pull. It made Capaldi’s initial run somewhat difficult, I think, because his central relationship (which is always with his companions) was difficult. This is all perhaps entirely subjective, however, as I know many adored Clara and celebrate her as their favourite Nu Who companion.
I’m still mulling Twelve’s run over, as I get further into the re-watch, so I’ll be back!24 July 2017 at 12:31 #61377
@wolfweed and all – yes what an exciting trailer!
@jimthefish and @serahni Yes, I’m very sorry PM is leaving. I would have liked more time with her, and would have really enjoyed having a companion along for the ride who’d known the Doctor as a “he” before she became a “she”. That could have led to some great exchanges:
Bill: “Well you didn’t like liquorice when you were a grumpy old man!”
Doctor: “Didn’t I? Taste buds always change a bit with a regeneration – love it now. Liquorice is delicious! Say that fast when you’ve had two or three Arcturian brandies…. What do you mean, grumpy?”
@Thane15 Aspiring to grow up to be like Peter Capaldi is definitely a good aspiration to have. He seems absolutely lovely doesn’t he (and “quietude” is a word).20 July 2017 at 23:48 #61199
@Conchobarre and @mirime – You sound as if you have both done a great job explaining the change from male-presenting to female-presenting Doctor to your young sons. I look forward to hearing their reactions to the new 13th Doctor in action.
@wolfweed – Thanks for the Barrowman clip. I love him and I love him for wearing his TARDIS glittery frock.
@antaus and @nick I agree with @nick that film and television likes to take a bet on an already proven loved property from a ££ point of view (which is why we get remakes) and that, combined with the social revolution enacted (partially – still a way to go) by feminism, has led to the recasting of some male characters as female in older but refreshed genre shows. Because, historically, women were more frequently cast in supporting roles in sci-fi film and television.
Look, we all love original Star Wars and original Star Trek, but boys wanting to identify with male characters got to be Captain of the Millennium Falcon, or a Jedi Knight, and Captain or First Officer or Doctor on the Enterprise. Girls wanting to identify with female characters got to be a space princess who needed help (made awesome, nevertheless, by Carrie Fisher) or a Comms Officer or a Nurse. The male and female roles were not equal and that reflected society in the 1960s/ 70s. And yet these shows were ground-breaking in their time, and already impacted by feminism. Princess Leia was not a damsel in distress by any means and Uhura was groundbreaking as an African American woman treated as an equal by her crewmates. As the next iterations of these franchises rolled on, we got a female starship captain in Janeway and now a Jedi Knight in training in Rey. Because these shows moved with the times.
Doctor Who, like Trek and Star Wars, was born at the start of second wave feminism. As I mentioned earlier on this thread, Who was, for its time, very forward thinking, helmed (unusually) by a woman, in Verity Lambert. Nevertheless, boys wanting to identify with male characters on the show got to imagine themselves with ease as the Doctor for fifty years. Girls either learned to identify across gender in order to be the hero, or to accept that a woman’s role was as an assistant.
So, I do find complaints of gender insult and unfairness regarding the casting of a female Doctor to be akin to a child who has been allowed to eat 100% of a cake for fifty years, now being asked to share 1/13th of it and throwing a tantrum.18 July 2017 at 15:20 #61010
Looool at Dad as a “daft mansplainer” – haha – I’m not sure CC is as much of a troll as Moffat, however, although I would enjoy this a lot.
I do hope Jenny and Vastra are revisted at some point. I love them.
My guess is that Doctor 12 will be with Doctor 1 at the time of his regeneration into Doctor 13. So we’ll get a very brusque, “Stop dilly dallying about staring at yourself in the mirror for heaven’s sake. Be thankful you’ve lost the eyebrows and let’s get a move on!” from Doctor 1.