Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Diversity Program of The Doctor


There has been a push since at least the 1980s to make The Doctor in Doctor Who a woman.  More recently the push has been to cast a non-white actor, primarily but not exclusively a black actor. 

I would like to share my views on the casting possibilities of both a female and non-white Doctor.

In regards to the first, I oppose the casting of a woman as The Doctor.  I am sure that accusations of 'sexism' will be hurled in my direction.  WHY can't the Doctor be a woman?

Well, primarily because if we go by Canon, Time Lords and/or Gallifreyans (they are not the same thing) are not hermaphrodites.  Plain and simple, Time Lords have two genders: male and female.   They don't have dual genders within one body.  Time Lords when they have regenerated (such as The Master or Borusa, and I imagine both Romana and The Rani) have always regenerated as the gender they were prior to their regeneration.  For those who argue 'why can't the Doctor be a woman?', I would ask, "Why SHOULD the Doctor be a woman?"

Yes, in The Doctor's Wife the Eleventh Doctor says that a Time Lord called The Corsair had regenerated as both male and female.  However, two points on that.  That may not be literally true: it might have been either a joke or, to quote NuWhovians favorite line, "The Doctor Lies".   Second and more important, we never saw this actual regeneration, so can we say that it actually counts?

I know that today, this concept of 'cisgender' exists.  For those not in the know, to be 'cisgender' is to believe that you are the gender you were born into (if you were born male, you believe you are male, and the same for female).  Given the breath of sexual identification that has blossomed to the point of parody (I think one can be bigender, meaning that one can see themselves as both male and female, maybe even at the same time, depending on how he/she feels), I can see how calls to make a hereto male character into a female have grown.  However, this isn't a reason to cast a woman in a male role.

Casting against type isn't new.  The most recent version of The Tempest had Dame Helen Mirren play a female Prospero (which I didn't care for).  However, on the whole certain parts are male and certain parts are female, and to say that one gender cannot be excluded despite the intentions of the author(s) is not sexism. 

Why stop with The Doctor? Why can't a man play Eliza Dolittle and a man Henry (or Henrietta) Higgins (which would make Higgins' song Why Can't A Woman Be More Like A Man? very bizarre indeed), or a woman play Don Quixote?  I don't hear calls for a soprano to take on The Impossible Dream or a boy to belt out Castle on a Cloud.  Why not cast the part of Cossette as a boy?  Simply put, because this was not the intention of either Victor Hugo or Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil.  Similarly, as much as women may dislike this, the part of The Doctor was written for a man, not a woman. 

What really would be the point of a female Doctor?  Is it to show that 'all are created equal'?  Is it to somehow avenge sexism/misogyny (and yes, Doctor Who is in certain ways, still struggling to be equal with regards to women all these decades later).  What could justify casting a woman as The Doctor apart from a sense of 'fairness'? 

There is nothing in Canon (apart from one throwaway line) to justify or even rationalize casting a woman as The Doctor.  Some Time Lords are men, some Time Lords are women, just like in real life.  As much as I loath Steven Moffat, in this situation it is a case of a broken clock being right twice a day.  While he is sexist both behind the camera (there has been no female writer on Doctor Who since he took over and only one or two female directors) and what he puts in front of it (his female characters, particularly River Song, are fixated on the Doctor sexually or in some other ways dependent on him), he is right: casting a female Doctor would be as logical as casting a man as The Queen. 

If people want to fight sexism on Doctor Who, they should put focus on the lack of female input behind the camera (which is where the real female problem on Who lies) rather on a token of having a Doctor with a vagina. 

One last point on the idea of a female Doctor.  What would having a bigender Doctor really mean?  Imagine if you will, a female Time Lord who regenerates while giving birth into a male Time Lord.  Would the child be born at all (since, despite all the cis/bigender people, men still cannot give birth)?  Yes, it might seem all so silly to think on such minutiae, and I would say that that scenario is a bit absurd, but having a female Doctor (or Time Lords that can switch genders) opens the floodgates to these questions. 

In a nutshell, having a female Doctor is illogical and serves no purpose apart from having women feel 'included', in a 'it's our turn' way.  I don't think it would be right or rational to have a Queen Lear or Wilma Loman (Death of a Salesperson, anyone?).  I support fairness and equal treatment, I abhor the lack of female writers/director on television in general, but fairness cannot trump logic.

Now, on the other hand, the question of a non-white Doctor is one that merits much more study.  I find no reason why the Doctor cannot regenerate into a non-white male.  I repeat 'non-white' because unlike those who call for a black Doctor, I think the search should be expanded.  Why not an Indian Doctor, an Arab Doctor, a Jewish Doctor, an Asian Doctor, a Hispanic Doctor?

There is nothing in Canon to prevent the Doctor regenerating into another race altogether.  I do support casting a non-white Doctor BUT there is a proviso with that. 

Again, what would be the purpose of a non-white Doctor?  Is it again merely to satisfy a sense of 'fairness', of 'it's our turn', or is it because that particular non-white actor is the best one around?  If one is going to cast a black actor as The Doctor MERELY to HAVE a black Doctor, that would be tokenism and that would be unfair to everyone involved: actor and fan.  It should be the quality of an actor's talent, what he can bring to the role, that should be the deciding factor.  If one found a good non-white actor to play the part, then he should be cast. 

She'd put the "Lady" in "Time Lady"...

I for one think that casting Lupita Nyong'o or Shohreh Aghdashloo as the new Romana would be a brilliant idea (note that I cast women, not men, in the role of Romana).  Both have the elegance, the grace, and most importantly the acting talent to bring Romana to life.  We'd all be lucky to have them (or other British actresses of Indian, Arab, or Asian descent) as the legendary Time Lord.  Similarly, to have an Idris Elba or David Oyelowo as The Doctor would be great because they have the actual acting talent and could bring something to the role.

Each actor cast as The Doctor has brought a different interpretation to the part.  Tom Baker referred to the part of The Doctor as 'actor-proof', meaning that any actor with talent can make the part his own (Matt Smith proving the glaring exception).  I see no reason why a non-white actor could not do the same.

However, if casting a non-white actor is done in some effort to 'level the playing field', then I think again it would be unfair to everyone.  I'm Hispanic, and I never felt that I couldn't admire The Doctor because he didn't have a face like mine.  It's THE DOCTOR who is a hero to children of all races, and they (as well as the audience) really doesn't care what his skin is like, so long as he can BE The Doctor.

I don't think that can happen with a woman as The Doctor.  In that respect, a female Doctor really goes against continuity and common sense.  I repeat: Time Lords Are Not Hermaphrodites or Bigender, which is what you would turn The Doctor into if you cast a woman in the role. 

To sum up, I fully support the casting of a non-white male as The Doctor.
I oppose the casting of a woman as The Doctor.

It's not a question of 'fairness'.  It's a question of logic. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Doctor Days and Continuity Questions Always Bring Me Down

This is the third in my Day of The Doctor trilogy.  The first covered my impressions of the fanbase that watched TDOTD screening.  The second is the formal review of the episode.  This one is a question session, where I ask things of you, who may be smarter than me, to help me figure things out I did not quite get about the episode.

As I rewatched DOTD, I could not help notice some things that struck me as a bit peculiar, almost odd (or Ood, if you prefer).  With tongue slightly in cheek, I thought it would be nice to ask some questions and point out some things that to me, didn't make sense or contradicted both Classic and NuWho (and perhaps, even contradicted DOTD itself).  I hope that this 'investigation' is taken with the humor it is intended to have, and that any questions about plot holes or continuity errors or other such matters can be answered by readers. 
I realize this is a very long article (unnecessarily so, perhaps).  To skip over important points, check out the selections in green.

I think a good title for this story should be The Two and a Half Doctors.  What do you think?

Moffat, if you are willing,
take this cup from me...

We start with The Name of the Doctor, where Eleven remembers the figure before him in his time-stream as one of his other selves (of which we the viewer know nothing about).  Before fainting, Clara however, doesn't recognize him even though she's been popping in and out of his time-stream and seeing his other selves.  How could she not realize that John Hurt wasn't the Doctor?  Who else would be running around the Doctor's time-stream?

In The Night of The Doctor, we see Paul McGann's Eight Doctor for the first time since his one-off television movie.  Night of The Doctor, if accepted as Canon (which I don't, Canon to me being only what is broadcast on television, not webisodes or audio adventures, though I won't belabor the point), contradicts the NuWhovian idea that The Name/Day/Time of The Doctor is a trilogy based on the titles. NOTD has the same title structure as Name/Day/Time, (Blank of The Doctor) so how does a trilogy have four parts?

The Eight Doctor says he was not and hasn't been part of the Time War.  Does this mean that fighting was optional?  Also, for someone who hasn't been fighting in the Time War, Eight is 'looking a bit tired, don't you think'?

The Sisters of Karn tell Eight that he was found dead.  How does the Sisterhood manage to bring back the dead (unless we have yet another example of Moffat's 'dead-but-not-dead' writing style)?

The Day of the Doctor begins with Clara as a teacher at Coal Hill School, where the very first Doctor Who story An Unearthly Child begins.  We ended the last episode of Doctor WhoThe Name of The Doctor, inside the Doctor's time-stream in his tomb on Trenzalore.  How did both Eleven and Clara manage to leave the time-stream and get back to Earth?  Or is this taking place within his time-stream?  Is this all just a dream?  Where did Madam Vastra/Jenny/Strax go?  How did they end up back to Victorian-era London?  The Doctor must have dropped them off, but again, how did Eleven and Clara get out of the time-stream and Trenzalore altogether?

The sign at the school reads that the Chairman of the school's governing board is a certain I. Chesterton.  If it is THE Ian Chesterton who served as the First Doctor's first Companion (along with fellow teacher Barbara Wright and the Doctor's granddaughter Susan Foreman), should he really be working at his age?  The most generous estimation of Ian's age when he began would be around mid-30s, so that would mean he's somewhere between 83-85 if indeed it is the same Sir Ian.  If we go by William Russell's actual age, Ian Chesterton is still tottering around at 89!

Is it odd that while Clara is working at the same school the Doctor's granddaughter Susan was when they came to Twentieth Century Earth and where his first Companion Ian is still tottering about, the Doctor apparently a.) never tells Clara about Ian or b.) never bothers to visit or even look in on Ian when both are in proximity to each other?  The Doctor's a bit of a dick!

Clara started out as a nanny (in contemporary and Victorian much for that 'Moffat is a sexist pig' nonsense).  Now she is a teacher?  How did she get hired?  What are her credentials?  Did she use psychic papers to verify certification? 

Has the TARDIS lost its ability to dematerialize?  The Doctor never starts or even bother to attempt to release the TARDIS from the helicopter's clutches.  In fact, the Doctor looks genuinely confused as to how he is managing to fly.  I'll grant the Eleven is by far the most stupid of all the Doctors, but would he not even attempt dematerialization in order to escape this bizarre abduction?

No, Osgood, I wasn't talking
about NHS Doctors....

Why does Kate Stewart's phone have the ringtone of a parking brake?
Why does Osgood have Kate Stewart's phone at all?

Is Osgood calling Kate Stewart "Ma'am" or "Mom"?

The spotting of the TARDIS must have been completely by chance, given that the helicopter was not aware anyone was inside.  Therefore, how long would it have taken to send a helicopter to pick the TARDIS up?  Did some random person just call up and say, "Hey, I was driving down an empty road and happened to notice an old police box just standing by the side of the road?"

"We had no idea you were still in there," Kate tells Eleven.  Why weren't they aware? Why weren't any UNIT agents monitoring the TARDIS prior to it being picked up to see if anyone came around to it?  If they were, they would have known that at least Clara was inside and thus putting her at great risk.  UNIT didn't bother informing Kate of this, even though it is more than likely that the helicopter would have spotted a lone motorbike speeding into the TARDIS (since the area around was flat).   Yet the TARDIS must have been under some form of observation since, after all, it would have taken time to get the helicopter, get authorization from Kate, and fly the helicopter to the TARDIS' location. 

Eleven nearly falls out of TARDIS, so I guess it doesn't have some protective force field.  In The Beast Below Amy is able to float in deep space and breathe without difficulty, and in The Time of Angels River Song was able to float to the TARDIS from another spaceship altogether.  Still, the Doctor is left hanging on for dear life.  (OK, on this one, he probably has to set the mechanism for it, but why wouldn't the Doctor just take the phone call inside the TARDIS rather than hang precariously on the ledge).

Clara is kind of a bitch by just standing there, admiring the view rather than help the Doctor who is clearly inches from falling to his death. 

***I was the only person who cheered in The Day of The Doctor screening when John Hurt's name appeared.  Not a continuity error/plot hole, but just a mention nonetheless***.

New Meaning to 'Degenerate Art'...

The Protocols came from Queen Elizabeth I, so I guess Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II doesn't have to be informed of anything really.

We are shown Elizabeth I's credentials: a painting called either Gallifrey Falls or No MoreGallifrey Falls/No More came to Her Majesty  Who painted it? When was it painted?  When did it become part of Her Majesty's collection?  Why is THIS Gloriana's credentials?  She's the Bloody Queen...why does she need to prove anything to him?  Hasn't the Doctor ever heard the phrase "royal command performance"?

Why would one of the titles be No More?  The graffiti the "War Doctor" (or as I call him, Doctor 8.5) put up wouldn't have been visible in a painting that large, so where did that particular title come from?

"Elizabeth told us where to find it and its significance" (Kate Stewart).  So Liz I knows about Time War?  Why would she have knowledge about that? 

The Fall of Arcadia (Gallifrey's second-largest city) is very Star Wars-like visually, isn't it? 

The Daleks stop killing in battle that they are winning because the Doctor is detected?  No wonder they keep losing!

The TARDIS bursts through a solid wall rather than dematerialize?  I didn't know the TARDIS was now a battering ram.

After the Doctor steals The Moment, the last unused weapon of the Omega arsenal, he takes it to an undisclosed location (probably where they hid Dick Cheney).  Where exactly is Doctor 8.5?  In a hereto unknown Gallifreyan desert? 

The Doctor steals a Doomsday Device he doesn't know how to operate?  How would he know it wouldn't just kill him by mistake?

Doctor 8.5 is in the middle of an isolated desert where anyone coming would be visible for miles around, so why does he think someone could sneak up on him without him noticing?

The Moment's conscience (aka Bad Wolf) is right: why DID the Doctor park the TARDIS so far away?  Why take that long desert walk, dragging the Doomsday Device with him when the TARDIS could have easily landed him inside this hut hidden deep within some isolated desert?

**Just a side note.  Sorry, Billie Piper, but you were hideous in The Day of the Doctor.  You gave a bad performance and were shockingly unattractive.  If it's any comfort, I would say exactly the same about David Tennant**.

Why is the Interface Conscience in the shape of Rose?  Doctor 8.5 wouldn't know what Rose Tyler looks like or frankly care.  If the Conscience knows all about all the Doctors past present future, how did she get the form the War Doctor would recognize wrong?

The War Doctor has been fighting this war for a very long time, yet he's apparently never been injured because he hasn't regenerated since the events of The Night of The Doctor (the second part of a four-part trilogy).

Bad Wolf/The Moment Conscience, to prevent the War Doctor from using the Doomsday Device, resorts to using the Gallifreyan version of this...

Bad Wolf opens windows in time and knows all about the Doctors past/present/future, but is unaware of the fez or Eleven's fez fetish.

Back to the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Why is Gallifrey Falls/No More proof Elizabeth I is writing to Doctor?  Wouldn't the age of paper and Her Majesty's seal be enough to prove it was from Good Queen Bess? 

Given how in The Shakespeare Code, Elizabeth I referred to The Doctor as "my mortal enemy", it is surprising that in Gloriana's wrath and rage she never once decided to destroy anything connected with her 'husband'.  How fickle is woman...

Her Majesty names The Doctor (or rather, the Tenth Doctor) as Curator of The Undergallery.  Undergallery of What?  She can't be referring to the National Portrait Gallery, as that was founded in 1856, a mere 253 years after Elizabeth I's death. 

All those years with UNIT as their Scientific Advisor and never once did UNIT inform the Doctor of either the Undergallery or that he was the Undertaker to Gallery!

"Should any disturbance occur within (the Undergallery's) walls, it is my wish that you be summoned," (Elizabeth I).  The guy can travel through all time and space--how exactly will UNIT or any non-Time Lord 'summon' him?  Bat-Signal?  The Time Lords have the ability to recall their errant renegade, but how will UNIT do so?  Come to think of it, how will Elizabethans, Georgians, Regency-Era, Victorians, or Second Elizabethans be able to 'summon' the Doctor?  Torchwood wasn't formed until the Victorian Age, and UNIT wasn't created until the 1960s, so how would anyone prior to those 'summon' the Doctor?  Also, how could one compel the Doctor to accept such a summons if he didn't want to go?

McGillop receives a call from the future.  First use of timey-wimey to get out of things.

The Tenth Doctor MUST have posed for this portrait, but when? Where would he have sat for this? Why would he pose for this portrait in the first place?  Portraits, even now, take days to make, and it isn't like the Elizabethan Court wouldn't notice some strange figure at Her Majesty's side.

It is England, 1562.  Elizabeth I would have been 29 years old and Gloriana would have been on the throne for a mere four years, with the security of her throne still on shaky ground.

Given her lifelong passion for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, it is strange that she accepted the Doctor's proposal so quickly.  Also, Elizabeth I would drag out marriage negotiations for years and would be very hesitant to take action on many fronts, so her whirlwind romance with Ten is completely out of character for Good Queen Bess.

"You nearly took my head off.  It's normally me who does that."  In reality, Elizabeth wasn't fond of executions and was quite moderate of them (especially compared to her half-sister Queen Mary I).  In fact, she agonized over the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots and was always troubled by that act of regicide.

"I have wars to plan".  Again, Elizabeth I was a reluctant warrior, fighting only when there were no other alternative.  She was by no means a belligerent in matters of war.

What's that?  I'm NOT King?!
The Doctor said I WAS!

"I'm going to be King".  So says Ten upon learning that Elizabeth I has accepted his marriage proposal.  I don't think that's how monarchical succession occurs.  Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha didn't become King when he married Queen Victoria.  In fact, Parliament, the public, and even Vicky herself didn't think Albert should take much of a role in government affairs at first.  When HRH the Duke of Edinburgh (formerly Prince Philip of Greece and/or Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten) married Heiress Presumptive Princess Elizabeth, he didn't become King Phillip upon her Ascension to the Throne as Queen Elizabeth II.  At the most, The Doctor would have become a Prince Consort (though again I leave that question up to constitutional scholars).  Therefore, where'd he get the idea that he was going to be King of Anything?


The Undergallery is where Elizabeth I "kept all art deemed too dangerous for public consumption."  Given that the idea of 'public art' did not exist in Elizabethan times this is quite forward-looking for the Monarch.  Art was held in private collections of aristocracy and wealthy merchants, with the only 'public art' being that found in churches.  Given the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of her father Henry VIII it is curious that Elizabeth would have thought art would be seen by the common man.  Furthermore, how would Elizabeth go about collecting said 'dangerous art'.  Where would this 'dangerous art' come from?  How would she find it? 

The Doctor's Con-Fez-Sions

Among the articles in the Undergallery is a fez.  Why is a fez considered 'dangerous art'?  Furthermore, that fez is remarkably well-preserved given that the fez is only 451 years old.

When the time fissure appears in the Undergallery, Eleven has vague memories of it, but not of saving Gallifrey itself.  The Doctor has quite a selective memory.

In the Undergallery Kate Stewart says that nothing's out of place and nothing's got out.  Didn't she just tell us that 'figures' got out of the paintings?

Wouldn't Eleven remember his interactions with Elizabeth I?  Given the timeframe Day of the Doctor must take place prior to Shakespeare Code.

Exactly how many time fissures are there?  Eleven throws fez that goes to 8.5 but again his memory of all this is a bit sketchy.

Oddly, while the Tenth Doctor quickly realizes the guy with the big chin and fez is a future version of himself, Doctor 8.5 doesn't and mistakes both of them for Companions. 

Curiously, the fez apparently can travel in one direction, but fez and 8.5 can travel in both.  HOWEVER, when opportunity comes to escape when fissure between Elizabethan and Elizabethan eras occur, no one thinks of going through it to escape Good Queen Bess' guards.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen...

In Undergallery the Zygon Osgood knows of her prettier sister, but exactly how does she come upon this information?  The Zygon doesn't actually touch Osgood.  Getting ahead of myself, while the Zygon Osgood knew the thoughts of Osgood, the Zygon Elizabeth I didn't know about the knife Liz kept for her protection.

The Black Archive is located in the Tower of London.  Given that the Three Doctors who are there 451 years earlier carved the Activation Code of the Vortex Manipulator, how was it that no one in over four and a half centuries ever came across this mysterious writing?  Furthermore, isn't it strange that no one in 451 years found the Activation Code scratched on the walls but that in less than an hour McGillop's Zygon clone managed to find it.

Kate Stewart says that everyone has their memory wiped when leaving the Black Archive.  Kate therefore must be the exception, otherwise how would she know both about the memory wiping and what the Black Archive was?  There HAS to be someone/something that would allow someone with their memory wiped to be able to enter B.A., right? 

Among the Black Archive photos is one of Kamelion, a Fifth Doctor Companion.  Kamelion appeared in two stories, the first during King John's reign, the second on another planet altogether.  How exactly Kamelion came to the attention of UNIT remains unknown given he never worked for UNIT, existed before even Elizabeth I's reign, and never came back to Earth. 

The Vortex Manipulator was bequeathed by Captain Jack Harkness, so he knew of Black Archive and thus, didn't have his memory swiped?

Clara was given the Activation Code to the Vortex Manipulator and nothing else.  Therefore, how did Clara find the exact time and place where the Two and a Half Doctors are?  She's never used the Vortex Manipulator and at most she knows only the year (1562) and location (the Tower of London).  She doesn't know either the exact location of the Doctors or the date, so how does she manage to use the Vortex Manipulator and find the Doctors with the greatest of ease?

Back on Gallifrey, the children are burning.  You'd think Gallifreyans would have sent their children to safety during Time War.  The British sent their kids away from the bombing, but somehow the Gallifreyans never thought to do the same.  Therefore, Time Lords are dumber than the British.

The Eleventh Doctor tells Ten "Spoilers" (one of River Song's many catchphrases) when Ten asks Doctor where he was going.  However, why would Ten react so angrily to "Spoilers" when he probably would have heard this line just once since Ten's first meeting with River was her last meeting with him?

"It's the same screwdriver", says Bad Wolf to explain how doing calculations would be going on after 8.5 started them.  Is this the same screwdriver that was destroyed in the Tenth Doctor story Smith & Jones and the Eleventh Doctor story The Eleventh Hour? Obviously it cannot be the same screwdriver (and DOTD establishes 'same software, different hardware', paralleling 'different faces, same Doctor), but unless the calculations weren't uploaded unto the TARDIS how would the calculations keep going on devices that had been destroyed (and this isn't counting the Fifth Doctor story The Visitation, where the sonic was destroyed). 

Why is the door to their prison unlocked or no guards at the door?  Elizabeth says to see how Doctors got out of this, so does this mean Liz just let Clara wander around?

When Osgood comes across Kate Stewart, she calls out, "Kate!  Goodness you're not actually dead."  Therefore we find that Osgood is not Kate Stewart's daughter, otherwise why call her "Kate" at this point?

How did Zygons get a hold of both Stasis Cube and Time Lord art?  Why is Elizabeth not just wiping out Zygons rather than allow them to invade her realm?  Why not mention all this when Liz appoints Doctor as Undertaker?  Why doesn't Elizabeth just allow the Zygons to enter the paintings and then destroy them rather than keep them around even though she knows of their insane invasion plans?

So the Zygons themselves can't tell the difference between the copies and the humans, otherwise they would know Elizabeth was NOT a Zygon.

Is the Doctor a bigamist?  He's married to Queen Elizabeth I and married to River Song, but is it at the same time? 

When War, Ten, and Eleven all enter the TARDIS, the TARDIS console changes twice. 8.5 comments that "Three of us from different time zones.  It's trying to compensate."  Oddly enough, when the Second and Third Doctors in The Three Doctors and when the First and Fifth Doctors in The Five Doctors shared the same TARDIS console, there was no 'compensation' in the TARDIS structure.

Even by Black Archive standards, wouldn't the Guard at B.A. be puzzled as to how there are now TWO Kate Stewarts and Company?  Do the memory wipes work THAT fast?  If they do, why isn't Kate Stewart's memory swiped?

Next to the Brigadier's picture on the board who is next to him?  It looks like either Nyssa or Peri, but it can't be either because the former is a Traken who was left on Terminus (and visited Earth only three times, and only once in what can be called 'contemporary times').  Peri was last seen living as Queen to King Yrcanos in Mindwarp, so when did she or Nyssa get interviewed by UNIT?

Since Doctors 8.5, 10, and 11 don't have Gallifrey Falls/No More in front of them, how'd they get into the painting?

If the humans and Zygons don't know who is who, how do they set terms for negotiating?

Companions All...

Among the photos Clara admires of past Companions we have a bevy of beauties.  Let's examine some:

Susan Foreman: the Doctor's Granddaughter.  She was last seen in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, living on a Dalek-ravaged Earth in the far future with her husband.  As a Time Lord herself (she was the only Companion to immediately recognize Gallifrey in The Five Doctors, and was the figure running off with the First Doctor in The Name of the Doctor),  it is unknown whether she too perished in the Time War.  However, given she left the Doctor before UNIT's formation, how would they know of Susan?

Possibly thanks to two other Companions, schoolteachers Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.  Given how Ian and Clara are known to UNIT, it is strange that UNIT wouldn't mind having TWO Companions work in the same vicinity. However, Ian and Barbara left the Doctor again prior to UNIT's creation.

Two more figures are Able Seaman Ben Jackson and Swinging Sixties girl Polly.  Doctor Who established that Ben Jackson and Polly (nicknamed "Duchess" by the Cockney sailor) were returned to Earth by the Second Doctor on the same day they left with the First Doctor.  For all intents and purposes, neither Ben Jackson or Polly really 'disappeared' (compared to Rose Tyler, who went missing for a whole year).  Therefore, why and how would UNIT (which once again wasn't created until AFTER Ben and Polly left the Doctor) know of either of them?  

The biggest question involves the last photo.  It has a picture of Captain Mike Yates and Security Officer Sara Kingdom apparently together.  Captain Yates would be known to UNIT, as he worked for UNIT and the Third Doctor.  HOWEVER, while it is good that Sara Kingdom has firmly been established as a Companion (a point of fierce debate within Whovian circles), she was with the First Doctor in one story only (The Daleks' Master Plan) and technically was both not born and already dead by this time.  Therefore, a.) when did Sara Kingdom and Mike Yates meet, and b.) how did UNIT know about Sara Kingdom (let alone managed to get a photograph of her and Captain Yates together)? 

"You know the sound the TARDIS makes?  That wheezing, groaning?" Bad Wolf Rose tells 8.5.  You mean this sound...

You mean, people derive hope from the sound of a parking brake?

What happens when people hear the parking brakes of the TARDISes of The Master, or The Rani, or The War Chief, or even The Meddling Monk...all of whom apparently 'leave the parking brakes on'?

The Time War is time-locked, so while I can accept that perhaps Bad Wolf could let them in, one wonders why she didn't just take them to the start of the Time War and stop all this nonsense before we got started.  I guess certain 'fixed points in time' are 'time-locked'...unless the plot requires them not to be. 

Given how Doctor 8.5 left his TARDIS far from the hut in the desert, how'd he get back?  I guess Bad Wolf spirited him away back to the time-locked Last Day of the Time War, but if she could do that without either the time fissures or Gallifrey Falls/No More, it does seem a waste to go through all those hoops, then doesn't it? 

Ten hears the name "Bad Wolf" but then the matter gets dropped immediately afterwards.  Eleven has no reaction to it.

Not being overtly familiar with the events of The End of Time, how does sealing Gallifrey up in stasis affect the Tenth Doctor's stopping of the High Council from bringing Gallifrey to Earth's atmosphere?

The Two and a Half Doctors come up with a plan to freeze all of Gallifrey, like in a painting, to save it and have the Daleks (who really never seem to ever die out: anyone know how many times they themselves have been 'exterminated') destroy themselves.  Is it me, or is freezing Gallifrey (and the CHILDREN!  Won't someone PLEASE think of THE CHILDREN?!) just as bad as letting them burn, unless they mean like when one plays 'Freeze' and they are basically 'frozen' in an instant rather than literally frozen, so I can let that slide.

So how did Doctors 8.5, 10, and/or 11 contact the First Eight Doctors, plus Nine and Twelfth to have them all coordinate this Master Plan to save Gallifrey?  Did they cross their own time-streams to reach out to The First Doctor and tell him, "OK, here's the deal: Gallifrey is about to be destroyed, so we, the Future Yous, are here to tell you to start calculating the figures to save Gallifrey from total destruction.  Also, you have to keep the calculations going throughout all your regenerations and even though they won't be finished in your First regeneration, or your Second, or Third...or really they won't be finished until your Twelfth and Final regeneration, we'll give you the exact time and place to meet all of your versions to lock in together and coordinate all our TARDI simultaneously."

Wouldn't the Ninth Doctor, cantankerous as ever and still overwhelmed with guilt, be a little dubious to see his future selves (A Dandy and a Clown) tell him this tale?  Wouldn't Twelfth, for whom this is long in his past, know that Gallifrey is still out there? 

With Peter Capaldi's Doctor being declared the Thirteenth, wouldn't that basically invalidate The Time of The Doctor where Eleven declared himself the Thirteenth and Final Regeneration? With this calculation, the so-called War Doctor really is the Ninth, which pushes Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor to the Tenth, Tennant to Eleven, Smith to Twelve, and Capaldi to Thirteenth and Final regeneration.  However, in TOTD Smith declares that Tennant's abortive regeneration was indeed an actual regeneration where he could keep his prior appearance (which must have come as a surprise to all previous Doctors when/if they were told).  If Tennant is TWO regenerations, shouldn't there have been TWO Tennant Doctors flying about in space? 

Curiously, the Zygons in The Day of The Doctor pretty much disappeared after they went into the Black Archive.  It does seem a bit of a waste to not use the Memory Swipes to defeat the Zygons, but we never do learn the end results of their negotiations, do we?

Oddly, while Gallifrey Falls/No More is still in the Undergallery, it doesn't make much sense now does it?  After all, Gallifrey is frozen, so then how did Arcadia fall?  I also wonder exactly how Gallifrey Falls/No More get to Earth?

So we won't remember this either?
"Time streams are out of sync.  You can't retain it." The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors tell the War Doctor that, so their time-streams are too confused for him or his future regeneration until Eleven to remember anything of their meeting (up to and including saving Gallifrey).  Oddly, when the Second and Third Doctors met for the second time in The Five Doctors, they had perfect recall of their last meeting in The Three Doctors.  Shouldn't the 'confused time-streams' have prevented them from remembering their prior meeting as well?

The War Doctor's regeneration is unique in Doctor Who history in that it is the only regeneration NOT caused by either imminent death or Time Lord interference (as was the case with the Second and Sixth Doctors).  It just sort of...happens.  There is also no guarantee that The War Doctor will regenerate into what had been previously known as the Ninth Doctor (back when it was thought McGann had regenerated into Eccleston).  Yes, there is a suggestion that Hurt will turn into Eccleston (the ears comment) but on the whole, given we've already been introduced to a hereto unknown version of the Doctor, what's to guarantee there really weren't more between Hurt and Eccleston?

In The Name of The Doctor, the Doctor arrives in his tomb on Trenzalore (which Eleven tells Ten about, which is OK since he won't remember it), but in Time of the Doctor the Doctor doesn't actually die.  On the contrary, he gets a whole new set of regenerations thanks to Time Lord pixie dust.   Therefore, doesn't TOTD already contradict both NOTD and DOTD?

Elizabeth I had appointed The Doctor as Undertaker of the Gallery...I mean, Curator of the Undergallery.  Clara heard all this earlier.  However, she now tells him that the Curator is looking for Eleven.  IF this Curator is an older version of the Doctor (more than likely the Fourth Doctor, maybe the Watcher), then really what is a Time Lord's retirement plan?

**As a side note, I think this is less about honoring the past and present by having the Fourth and Eleventh Doctor meet and more to coddle Tom Baker's ego and possessiveness towards the part of the Doctor.  Baker had turned down flat a request to appear in The Five Doctors and agreed to appear in the 30th Anniversary Dimensions in Time (part of the Children in Need special) with the proviso that he be featured alone and not share scenes with former Doctors or Companions.  Baker's appearance in The Day of the Doctor is unique in that he is the only Classic Who Doctor to have any role in the 50th Anniversary Special, even if technically he isn't playing the Fourth Doctor.  His appearance does beg the question, if they could squeeze in Tom Baker for a cameo, what was to prevent Peter Davison, Colin Baker, or Sylvester McCoy from doing likewise?  Only reason I can think of is that it would have irritated/infuriated Tom Baker, who in the Twentieth Anniversary events similarly refused to share the stage with his predecessors/successors.  Time has softened Baker somewhat, but apparently not enough.  Then again, this is just speculation on my part.** 

With all the Doctors joining for a brief scene, it does look nice, but again it's puzzling why they just stood around together, looking at what appeared to be Gallifrey.

I'm with Stupid.

Well, there it is: a jolly jaunt through The Day of The Doctor, which is being hailed as one of if not the Greatest Doctor Who story of All Time.  Having seen the story twice, I think it is not a 50th Anniversary Special.  It's not even an 8th Anniversary Special.  It is a celebration of Steven Moffat's vision of Doctor Who, a celebration of Matt Smith's Era and David Tennant's fandom. 

I gave it a grade of 3/10 and in retrospect, that might be too high. 

Again, all this was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but if people can be nice enough to give explanations to certain points without being mean or abusive, I'd appreciate it very much.

All I ask is that explanations not resort to 'timey-wimey'...

And in case anyone was wondering, I think I'm not the only one who picked up on a few things...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Death and The Moffat

Don't Fear the Reaper...


This isn't some esoteric question about the goings-on of Steven Moffat's mind.  This is a serious, straightforward question because Mr. Moffat, like many writers, has a particular motif that he keeps hitting on over and over.

In Moffat's case, it is death, or rather the absence or denial of it.  The Moffat Method of "killing" off characters only to have them come back to life (usually in some bizarre way that even within the confines of the show doesn't make sense) is so familiar and so cliché that it is among the easiest things of his oeuvre to parody.  I'm always amazed someone hasn't come up with a comedy routine where Rory Williams (or Pond, however you know him as) from Doctor Who gets bumped off and comes back again and again in more and more outlandish ways, ending with Rory explaining his umpteenth return with "It was thanks to timey-wimey".

Rory Williams (who has earned comparisons to Kenny from South Park, difference being that South Park is a comedy which is not meant to be taken seriously or literally and is basically reset every episode) is the nadir of Moffat's necrophobia, as it among other things made death a waste of time.  Why would one feel for a character's end when you know he is coming back, usually in ways that were never or vaguely explained.  The "Let's Kill Rory" bit became tiresome and then into a sad commentary on the dearth (or death) of ideas on the show.  How many times has Rory actually died?  My Rory Death Count stands at 7.  That's seven times that I counted Rory die in an episode only to come back.  Yet I digress.

This question, which has been nipping at me for some time, has come to my full attention with His Last Vow, Sherlock's season three closer.  Now, while I haven't seen His Last Vow yet, I know enough thanks to the grapevine to be absolutely horrified by how Sherlockians can prattle on endlessly about how 'brilliant' both Sherlock and Steven Moffat can be when anyone with the IQ of a turkey baster can see the whole thing is idiotic to the core of its own dark, twisted soul.

Let's use our Wayback Machine to go to The Reichenbach Fall, Sherlock's season two finale.  Here, Andrew Scott's Jim Moriarty and Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes appear to both die: Moriarty shoots himself in the mouth and Sherlock jumps off a roof.  Not having seen The Empty Hearse I am not discussing Sherlock's resurrection (which at least is keeping within Canon, though whether Sherlock pulls off a logical explanation remains to be seen). 

While it would be tempting at this juncture to discuss how with Sherlock's character Moffat again shows his inability to actually kill anyone off permanently, I think the greater revelation is that of Moriarty (a character who frankly I'm tiring of, thanks in no small part to Scott's wildly camp and grandiose performance which makes Blofeld from Diamonds of Forever seem almost Machiavellian-like).   In The Reichenbach Fall, Moriarty literally pulls the trigger on any chance of making a return appearance. 

In our world, when you have a character blow his brains out, with blood spilling out all over, that pretty much means said character is dead.  Not just merely dead, but most sincerely dead.   Oh, but on anything Steven Moffat is in charge of, Death is NOT The Only Answer.  In fact, Death never becomes real.  It can be wiped away with a handy-dandy sonic screwdriver or some bizarre plot twist that NuWhovians or Sherlockians can't be bothered to explain.  For them, it is all about the emotion Sherlock or Doctor Who releases, rarely about the logic behind any of it.

If they really wanted Logic on Doctor Who, they would have started complaining when Rory kept getting killed off repeatedly to get an emotional reaction.  Instead, most NuWhovians think Rory, like bow ties, is cool or awesome or even bad-ass BECAUSE he keeps coming back, damn the logic.

Yet again though, I'm wandering off topic.  This is an examination of how Steven Moffat may fear death so much that he is using his writing and producing from metaphorically stopping it from ever happening.  Let us look at the evidence.  The following is a catalogue of Steven Moffat's work on both Doctor Who and Sherlock as either writer (in red) or producer (in green), with particular emphasis on how said episode treats death and resurrection.

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances: "Just this once, everyone LIVES!"  The Doctor, thanks to some space medicine, is able to bring back to life everyone who had died as a result of its misapplication.

The Girl in the Fireplace: the exception to the rule, where Madame De Pompadour HAD to die, pretty much because even Steven Moffat can't rewrite actual history.  However, De Pompadour did survive somewhat, as the spaceship did bear her name, granting her a certain form of immortality. 

Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways: a rare non-Moffat penned resurrection, as Captain Jack Harkness, killed by the Daleks, is brought back to not just life, but eternal life thanks to Rose's absorbing of the TARDIS core.  However, Captain Jack was Moffat's creation. 

Blink:  characters important to solving the mystery of the Weeping Angels 'die' (basically disappear) in their own time period only to emerge alive in the past, making them dead and not dead at the same time.

Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead:  River Song, a character who knows the Doctor intimately (read whatever you like in that) but whom the Doctor doesn't know since this is his first time with her and her last time with him (again, read that any way you like), sacrifices herself to save him.  Fortunately, he uploads her into the data core, where she can remain alive (in a form) forever.

The Beast Below: the Doctor is willing and ready to kill the Space Whale (or at least leave it brain-dead) until Amy, seeing parallels between the Space Whale and the Doctor, prevents its death and finds it is willing to continue living for the sake of Spaceship UK.

The Time of Angels/Flesh & Bone: the soldier-priests killed by the Weeping Angels can communicate 'beyond the grave' so to speak.

Amy's Choice: Rory's first dead is found to be not real, as he is actually still alive in 'the real world'.

The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood: Rory Dies Again!  Shot by a Silurian as he, Amy, and the Doctor are about to flee, Rory not only dies but is erased from all history. 

The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang: Rory (in Auton form) is alive and well (sort of), not only having lived but having lived for thousands of years as "The Last Centurion". With Amy's memories restored, so is Rory and thus, he is alive again.

The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon: The Doctor is killed by the shores of Lake Silencio, only to come back almost immediately after, fully alive and apparently unaware of who or why he died.  Given it's a 'fixed point in time', there's nothing he can do about and therefore he must die by the shores of Gitche Gumee...I mean, Lake Silencio.  Rory himself is shot, only to have it all be a fake-out to get him and Amy to Area 51.

The Curse of the Black Spot: Rory Dies Again...Again!  Killed by the Siren, we find that in reality he was just spirited away to a medical spaceship where he will be revived.

The Doctor's Wife: Rory appears to have died when Amy comes across his body, but we find that it was all an illusion by the villain, House.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People: Amy, we discover, has been a doppelganger or Ganger, and while her double is disintegrated we find that she is alive and about to give birth on Demon's Run. 

A Good Man Goes to War/Let's Kill Hitler:  Strax, a Silurian whom the Doctor calls in a favor from, is killed on Demon's Run.  Mels, the childhood friend of Amy and Rory, "regenerates" into River Song in her current phase and "gives up her remaining regenerations" to stop the Doctor from dying. 

The Wedding of River Song: The Doctor, we find in the end, despite it being a 'fixed point in time' and seeing the Doctor begin to regenerate, is in the end alive, as he got a machine to take his place.  In this manner, the events of The Impossible Planet/Day of the Moon have been retconned.   

The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe: Reg Arwell, the RAF pilot killed over the English Channel, is returned alive and well to his family thanks to the Doctor using the Widow as a 'mothership' to return to her own time and world.

Asylum of the Daleks: Jenna-Louise Coleman, advertised as the Doctor's next Companion, is found to be actually dead, having been killed when her ship crashed onto the titled world.  Oswin, however, believes herself to be fully alive and thanks to our knowledge of her future role, we are aware that she is somehow alive. 

The Angels Take Manhattan: Rory dies at least three times in this episode thanks to the Weeping Angels and his jumping off a roof (and like Sherlock, survives the plunge).  Even though Amy and Rory have gravestones marking their deaths, they get to live in another time.

How did I get here? 

The Snowmen: The Silurian Strax, last seen killed in A Good Man Goes to War, is found alive, manservant to the same-sex bestiality of Silurian Madame Vastra and her human chambermaid Jenny Flint.  A prequel, The Battle of Demon's Run: Two Days Later, was filmed to explain his resurrection.  Adding to the (non)death count, Clara Oswald (governess/bar-wench), dies when she plunges to her death, but Clara (or a version of her) stands literally over her own grave.

Hide: The Witch of the Well, who people believe is a ghost, is in reality a time-traveler trapped in a pocket universe.  The Doctor brings her back to our world (i.e. he brings a ghost back to life).

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: the molten zombies, who are in reality the salvage company brothers, are restored to full life.

The Name of the Doctor: The Doctor goes to his own grave where we find that Clara is one person split into millions of versions of herself when she enters the Doctor's time-stream, thus allowing her to live and die endless times throughout history.  Further, River Song, who now has returned to a hologram form after spending all her time being active, is still stubbornly alive.

The Day of the Doctor: The Time War, where the Time Lords were all wiped off, is now erased from reality, as three Doctors (Tennant, Smith, and John Hurt as a hereto unknown incarnation dubbed "the War Doctor") is avoided thanks to them interfering with a 'fixed point in time'.  Thus, all those dead Time Lords are saved (where, however, remains to be seen). 

The Time of the Doctor: the Doctor, who is on his final regeneration thanks to a questionable counting system, finds a whole new set of regenerations (i.e. an endless number of resurrection) granted to him by the Time Lords, still trapped behind the cracks in time (themselves being resurrected).  After living to a ripe old age, the Doctor is able to regenerate (and avoid that 12-regeneration limit placed in Canon since The Deadly Assassin in 1976 and reaffirmed in other episodes), return to his usual youthful appearance before regenerating. 

And these are just the ones I could find without going into the minutia of Doctor Who episodes, which I'm sure others can do and find more not-dead people lurking about. 

Now a quick jaunt through Moffat's other wildly popular show, Sherlock.

Not for long.
Note there are no Birth and/or Death Dates...

A Scandal in Belgravia: Irene Adler's Dead!  Sherlock Holmes identifies her decapitated body in the morgue.  Irene Adler's NOT Dead!  She keeps reaching out to Holmes, asking him to dinner.  Irene Adler's Dead...Again!  Mycroft tells John Watson she was executed in Pakistan.  Irene Adler's NOT Dead...Again!  Sherlock, unbeknownst to both Mycroft (THE British Government) and Watson (the man so close to him people think their lovers) rescues Irene from beheading (as a side note, what is it with Moffat and cutting women's heads off).

The Reichenbach Fall: Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty are both dead by the end, the former by having leaped off a building, the latter with a bullet to his head.  In the end, we find Sherlock Holmes very much alive.

His Last Vow: the final shot is that of Moriarty, apparently back from the dead, asking the world, "Did you miss me?"

Eventually, something's got to give. Why should we as a viewer care or invest emotional interest (which is what Doctor Who and Sherlock are descending to: an appeal to emotion rather than intellect), when we know that somehow, in some way, said character's death will be reversed?

Despite logic we haven't hit a point of diminishing returns with Moffat's writing and producing because fans of 'The Moff' will not question all this.  However, at some point he will either have to kill off a character permanently and never bring them back in any way (highly unlikely) or we won't really care that a character has died because he/she will return alive and well, as if nothing ever happened (with the Moffia, equally unlikely).

Unlike Joss Whedon or George R.R. Martin (the other two in a famous joke about their penchant for killing off beloved characters), Moffat never resists pulling a bait-and-switch with dead people.  Whedon and Martin's dead characters stay dead (or at least Martin's do; the Marvel Universe's Agent Coulson being a glaring exception and frankly I am not well-versed in the Whedon-verse to know the intricacies of his mind).

For myself, I again am left wondering why Steven Moffat keeps killing characters off only to bring them back in irrational ways.  There HAS to be something within Moffat that has him coming back to this scenario again and again.  It could be that he, in a deeply psychological manner, is subconsciously so terrified of death (or worse, of being forgotten) that he wants to metaphorically avoid that by having characters cheat or defeat death.

Or, going for the easier answer, he's just a generally lousy writer/showrunner who backs himself into corners and pulls the 'they're not really dead' bit to get out of the boxes he finds himself in because he isn't clever or smart enough to find any other way out. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Monster Mash-Up


Despite constant pleas from her fans, Dame Agatha Christie never had her two most famous characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, meet, let alone work together in a story.  Her reason was quite simple: she said she didn't think either would enjoy it.  When asked why she never had a Poirot/Marple crossover, she replied in her autobiography, "Why should they?". 

"Hercule Poirot, the complete egoist, would not like being taught his business by an elderly spinster lady," she added. Poirot was a professional detective, Marple an amateur one, so they would never truly fit in each other's worlds.

These words should be something Wholockians, who dream of having the TARDIS land in front of 221 B Baker Street and have the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes meet/work together, consider every time they fantasize about a Doctor Who/Sherlock crossover.  

Despite this, the characters did meet in a way.  Dame Margaret Rutherford, who had played Miss Marple in a series of successful films, made a cameo in an adaptation of The ABC Murders with Tony Randall as Poirot.  Even in this quick scene, I think neither really enjoyed their brief encounter.  It wasn't until 1990, during the Agatha Christie centennial celebrations, that Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple finally formally met.  The two actors best known as Poirot and Marple, David Suchet and Joan Hickson, met as the character, and by all accounts got on splendidly.

I mention all this because the two-part season/series finale Doomsday Parts I & II (Army of Ghosts/Doomsday), has two most famous Doctor Who monsters (the Daleks and the Cybermen) finally face off each other after nearly fifty years.   When one thinks longs and hard about this, while this might have pleased NuWho (and I imagine, some Classic fans), for me it was a bit of a wash (not to mention leaving some curious continuity issues), and if it weren't for some of the performances, Doomsday I & II wouldn't have worked. 

The Doctor (David Tennant) and his Companion, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) come to Earth to see Rose's mum, Jackie (Camille Coduri).  Jackie is delighted that her family reunion will be bigger, seeing as how Jackie's father is coming too.  That surprises Rose, since her grandfather is dead.  Nonetheless, something shows up.  Jackie is convinced it is her late father, and this phenomena is not strange.   Even the soap opera EastEnders gets in on the act, where we see a storyline involving the ghosts in the pub on television.  "Ghosts" have been appearing for two months now throughout the world, in specific intervals.  The Doctor is not convinced of 'the ghosts' and decides to trap one.

Meanwhile, at the infamous Torchwood, they have been conducting nefarious experiments to bring something from another realm to our world, and the Doctor traces the ghosts there.  Torchwood Director Yvonne Hartman (Tracy-Ann Oberman) is thrilled to see the Doctor, because now the TARDIS, like all alien technology, can be hers.  "If it's alien, it's ours," she declares.  In Torchwood you also have a strange sphere which does nothing.  We learn that it is a Void ship, which can travel between dimensions.  Jackie, having been mistaken for Rose, is taken with the Doctor, while Rose attempts to investigate on her own.  For once, the psychic paper does not work, but it does lead her to the Void Ship and to, improbable as it sounds, to Mickey (Noel Clarke) whom we last saw in the alternate world fighting Cybermen.  The Cybermen have escaped from their world and Mickey has now gone after them, with a few more surprises in store.

Oh, but this is just the beginning, for not only have the ghosts really turned out to be the Alternate World Cybermen, but that Void Ship has finally been activated.  Just when the Cybermen will all delete and reprogram humans on this world, out of the Void ship come beings that only Rose would recognize...the DALEKS!  That's right, the Daleks vs. the Cybermen in an epic battle royale for galactic domination. 

The Daleks are protecting the Genesis Ark, which is related to the Time Lords and the Time War.  The Cybermen, who prefer homogeny, are at first too busy converting people to really care, but soon both parties investigate the other.  In a Mexican standoff with a horrified Doctor looking on, the Daleks and Cybermen take each others measurements.  The Cybermen propose an alliance, which the Daleks (who recognize them while the Cybermen do not), immediately reject.  "This is not war.  This is pest control," the Daleks inform them.  When the Cybermen tell the Daleks if they can possibly defeat them with four Daleks, they reply that they can defeat the Cybermen with ONE Dalek.

Doesn't seem much of a fair fight, then, does it?

The humans fighting the Cybermen in the alternate world, including Pete Tyler (Shaun Dingwell), now come to fight the Cybermen with the Daleks thrown in for good measure.  The Doctor tells them that he was at the Fall of Arcadia, which he will come to terms with somehow (sooner than we imagine).    We learn what the Genesis Ark is: it's a prison ship holding millions of Daleks.  How?  Well, like all Time Lord technology, it's bigger on the inside.  A terrified Jackie, having escaped Cyber-altering (which her counterpart didn't) finds Alternate World Pete and it all becomes confusing for them.  Yvette has been altered, but not enough for her to realize that she still can stop the Cybermen.  The Doctor sends them all through the Void to the alternate world, but Rose won't leave him.  However, as the Daleks and Cybermen are killing each other and humans all over the place, the Doctor and Rose manage to send the Cybermen into the void. 

However, she loses her grip and is sucked into the Parallel World.  Somehow the Doctor appears to her, where she informs him that Jackie and Pete are going to give her a brother (I'd rather not know) and that she loves him.  The Doctor loses the temporal power before he can answer, and now he is alone, except for the Bride who suddenly without reason appears in the TARDIS.

I imagine NuWhovians hit all the emotional buttons that Doctor Who 2.0 appears to play like master musicians.  I bet they squealed when the Daleks appeared at the end of Army of Ghosts, and cried their eyes out at Rose's farewell.  I don't blame them: NuWhovians have probably never seen any Dalek stories prior to Dalek, and probably believed that the genesis of the Cybermen was in Rise of the Cybermen Parts 1 & 2, not say something like The Tenth Planet.  Therefore, those pesky little questions of continuity wouldn't be asked by the lemmings NuWho fans have become.

Questions like, "If these Cybermen are from an Alternate Universe, how do the Daleks recognize them?"

Questions like, "If travelling from one Parallel World to Another was so difficult for the Doctor, how has become almost routine for the humans?"  (Was this just a way to throw Clarke into the mix)?

Questions like, "How is it possible for Jackie Tyler, who is at least 38 (by the most generous standard if she had been 19 when Rose was born, with Rose being 19 now), to be pregnant?" (It should be pointed out she was 45 at the time Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 was made). 

In short, Doomsday Parts 1 & 2, after a lot of reflection, didn't hold up for a wide variety of reasons.  I would put the biggest reason that the Daleks were...unnecessary.  The whole story would have worked just fine with just the Cybermen travelling from their world to ours, without having the Daleks anywhere in there.  I actually, again after a lot of thought, thought Doomsday would have been more thrilling if we had made them the exclusive villain.

Russell T Davies, in his script, probably thought having the two face off would thrill fans, and I know many who were.  However, for the casual viewer or one who had never come across either, the whole thing came off as laughable.  How do I know this?  Because I saw it for myself.  I had talked my very reluctant non-Doctor Who fan Fidel Gomez, Jr. (who may or may not be dead) into watching this 'epic confrontation' after the disaster of Love & Monsters.  When he heard the Dalek tell the Cybermen they could defeat them with ONE Dalek, Fidel burst out laughing.

He simply couldn't take any of it seriously afterwards. 

Even if it had been a tense moment (after two viewings, it still isn't for me), the actual battle between them was such a ridiculous thing.  The Daleks made mincemeat out of the Cybermen, and what is the point of having an 'epic confrontation' between two legendary villains if one is going to be a pushover?  I think Davies favors the Daleks and gave them all the power, cheating us out of what could have been a great confrontation.  Honestly, I don't understand why so many fans think this is good, because the Cybermen weren't all that impressive.

All that 'jumping through parallel worlds' seems equally silly, giving people an easy way in and out of things.

However, credit has to be given where it is due, and the final scene between Rose and the Doctor was beautifully directed and acted.  If Davies did anything right, it was to give NuWhovians what they love: a great excuse to cry their eyes out at a science-fiction show.  I honestly think that there was less crying at Schindler's List or a September 11th memorial than there apparently is in an average Doctor Who 2.0 episode, but that's for another time.

For most of Doomsday Parts 1 & 2, Piper's Rose came off as a bit whiny and clingy, but her final scene with Tennant is indeed quite moving.  Those who were worried that former pop star Piper couldn't deliver the goods have been proven wrong.  She and Tennant made an excellent team, and I can see why NuWhovians both rank Rose as one of the Greatest Companions and why they are so enamored of Rose & The Doctor. 

I don't share their views, but I can understand it. 

Tennant is in top form here.  He is authoritative, whimsical (the 3-D shades not looking as idiotic as they could have), and his genuine sadness at it all show why even Classic Who fans (most of them anyway) think well of Tennant. 

The other cast did well as well.  Coduri's innocence at having her 'father' return and her horror at being pursued, nearly altered by the Cybermen were excellent.  When she and Dingwell reunite, I thought THAT was more emotional than Rose & The Doctor's farewell.  Still not a fan of Clarke or Mickey (for too long he was a wimp, and now he's all action-star), but it wasn't bad.

This episode is important for another reason; as far as I can make out, the first time the Doctor says, "Allon-sy", which would become his catchphrase (for good or ill).   

Ultimately, the acting did Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 immense favors, because for me the story doesn't hold.  I admit that because I don't cry at Doctor Who, and don't get emotional at a character's good-bye, I don't have this passion this two-part story demands I feel.  I look to things like acting, plot, story, character development.  I am not easily impressed by flashing lights and big guest stars.

I can't shake off the idea that the Cybermen/Dalek confrontation was both a waste and rather uneventful, even boring.  I didn't get excited by having them meet.  Actually, I wish they hadn't.  In a curious turn, Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 upon first watching, earned an 8, then I found myself thinking that was too high, so down a point it went.  Then I kept thinking, "that Dalek/Cybermen thing just didn't work for me", and thought 7 was too generous. 

In the end Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 was good, not great, and despite its best efforts I hope we never get two villains fighting it out if the results are going to be as weak as this.


Next Episode: The Runaway Bride

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Only Thing We Have to Fear is More Bad Stories Like This


Fear Her has earned a reputation of being not just perhaps the worst NuWho story of all time (in the most recent poll, it ranked 192 out of 200, the lowest revived series episode in the rankings) but perhaps one of the worst Doctor Who stories of all time (Classic and NuWho).  I was so appalled by Love & Monsters that I deliberately skipped Fear Her and ended my Doctor Who watching days with Doomsday Parts 1 & 2 (Army of Ghosts/Doomsday), not watching again until at least Waters of Mars.  It is only now, in my efforts to watch every Doctor Who available, that I plunge into the one episode I deliberately skipped.  After watching Fear Her, I concur with the general opinion that it is pretty bad.  Well, perhaps not bad, but terribly weak, trying to find its way in what appears to be a good idea and then getting lost in its call for sentimentality and silliness.

The Doctor (David Tennant) takes Rose (Billie Piper) to London 2012, the opening day of the Olympic Games.  However, there is something evil afoot.  In a neighborhood where the torch will run past, children have been disappearing.  The old neighbor Maeve (Edna Dore) is concerned, but most of the neighborhood isn't too concerned with all this.  About the only parent who doesn't register concern is Trish (Nina Sosanya), who has worries of her own.  Her daughter Chloe (Abisola Agbaje) doesn't want to go outside, doesn't want to do anything other than draw.  She draws the children that have disappeared, which also come to life.  I believe Trish knows that the pictures come to life, because I think one of the pictures she has (that of her late father) has on occasion come to life.

The Doctor and Rose soon trace the disappearances to Chloe, whom we learn has an alien within her, the Isolus.  This is a lonely demon, part of a large group that were separated.  In order to make up for the Isolus' loneliness, she had made Chloe (whom it sensed was lonely too) draw her companions.  However, just as the Doctor is needed most, Chloe draws the Doctor and TARDIS, trapping both in the drawings.  It is now up to Rose to save the day (and apparently the Olympics).  She does so by finding the hottest place around (a filled pothole) that has the Isolus' tiny spaceship.  With the torch coming past, Rose is able to release the Isolus from Chloe and free her and everyone trapped in the pictures.  This includes all those at the Olympic stadium, which the Isolus trapped in a picture.

However, where is the Doctor?  It is at this point that we see that a man with a trenchcoat picks up the Olympic torch and races to the Games.  Now, with things restored, the Doctor and Rose look at the stars.  Rose dreams of perpetual travels with the Doctor, but he senses a storm coming.

After watching Fear Her I don't think it was a horrible episode.  It tries, it tries so terribly, terribly hard to be sentimental and thrilling, but there are so many things wrong with it that it all ends up failing badly.

First, the resolution to this crisis is so quick and silly that it boggles the mind how anyone thought it would resonate.  Oh, look, all the 'villain' needed was just a touch of love.  "Feel the love" I think Rose says as she throws the Isolus' ship into the incoming Olympic torch, and with that, the Isolus is able to leave Chloe.  There was no tension, no excitement, no sense of this having taken up our time.  It all seems too pat, to quick, for us to care.

Second, some of the performances were pretty bad.   I don't know if one can blame Abgaje for being terrible in this story (this as far as I know is her only acting job).  However, as bad as Matthew Graham's script is, Abgaje came across as whiny and obnoxious, someone I couldn't care for.  Same goes for her mother, who was weak and at times slightly dumb (she had one thing to do: watch that Chloe not draw, and she leaves her alone twice!).  Going back to Chloe for a moment, from what I understand the little girl favors her abusive father.

I also wonder whether having a major plot point be the brutal father was a good idea. 

Third, Fear Her has moments that are just embarrassing for all concerned.  Having The Doctor pop up and carry the torch may have been a nice patriotic touch but it only makes Tennant (and the Doctor) look foolish.  Really, what was the point of all that?  I also think that this whole 'love is the answer' bit is silly and trite, having no real reason and making it all a quick resolution

Despite all this, I kept thinking that somewhere in all this there WAS a potential for a good story.  The ideas behind it weren't all that bad, but the execution just didn't pan out.

Looking back at Fear Her, I don't think there was ever a real threat.  Even when we were given something of a threat (the evil father coming back to life), it appeared to be there only to stretch out the story.  I found Fear Her to be instantly forgettable, boring, and not worth our time.  Yes, it's bad.  Not horrible, just bad.

You've been a bad, bad girl... 


Next Story: Doomsday Parts I & II (Army of Ghosts/Doomsday)