This is my Doctor Who blog.   Leave a comment

So, hi.

Sometimes I just want to babble about Doctor Who and not torment my friends. Sometimes I’m not interested in other people’s opinions. Sometimes no one cares what I think. And so I created my own place to put that stuff, where no one else has to see it and I can say what I like.

SPOILERS, SWEETIE!

I talk about what I see, when I see it, and I’m not waiting for you. If you don’t want to spoil anything, check the Categories for stuff you already know.

You have been warned.

Advertisements

Posted September 8, 2014 by Elisabeth in Piffle

“Glorious”   1 comment

This is interesting:

The music is an entirely new thing for DW as far as I know. “You know I’m back,” it begins, “like I never left,” and the sound of it reminds me of Black Lightning. The sound design – the ring of broken glass and magic – gives me chills. “I’m chasing dreams/but I never slept,” and the Doctor gives a most Doctor-y reaction to the chaos and destruction around her.

I’m intrigued by the direction the new composer seems to be leaning. Murray Gold’s music was always very classical in style, sweeping and swelling, orchestral even when he only had a synthesizer. Segun Akinola’s is something else entirely.

I look forward to finding out what.

Posted September 11, 2018 by Elisabeth in Music, Season 11, Speculation

Tagged with , ,

They Might Be Giants   Leave a comment

“Planet of Giants” is good clean environmentally friendly fun.

p00v0xsr

Don’t litter.

The Dicks/Letts era of the 1970s is famous for its environmental messages, but even in 1964 the Doctor and his friends were foiling the plans of Evil Corporations bent on destroying the planet. (I do wonder how the villain hoped to get away with it, but these people are not long-term thinkers.) The story is told in two parallel tracks: one full-size greed-provoked murder, and the inch-high struggle to solve it. The two interact delightfully, as Ian takes a ride in a matchbox, the Doctor and Susan are nearly washed down a sink, and the four friends save the day by knocking the phone off the hook and turning on the gas.

The sets are great fun – who doesn’t love giant insects and enormous notebooks? At only three episodes, the story moves at a good clip. Susan’s youthful exuberance is put to good use shoving corks and hauling matches. Barbara is nearly felled by Evil Poison, but refuses her friends’ assistance until after they’ve saved the planet. In the end, the Doctor saves Barbara, restores them all to size, and sets them off on their next adventure.

That adventure is “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.” Be afraid.

Posted September 2, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, Piffle, The Long Way Round

Tagged with , ,

The Reign of Terror   Leave a comment

vlcsnap-2015-04-25-17h00m46s84

Barmaid Barbara is ADORABLE

I think I’d appreciate this story better if I knew my history better. Instead, all I can think of is this:

start_the_revolution_without_me

Overall it’s a decent story with a few hiccups. Why is the Doctor suddenly in such a rush to get rid of Ian and Barbara? Why does he suddenly think he can control the ship with such accuracy? Why does Susan fail so much? Why does Barbara panic over a slight fever in a healthy adolescent?

(Suggested answers: the Doctor hates goodbyes and has a huge ego; Susan is a child; plot point.)

Episodes 4 and 5 are missing, and are replaced with animation on the DVD. Overall I think the animation is quite terrible: people move unnaturally, and everything twitches. However it does manage to capture Barbara’s beautiful skepticism at the Doctor’s suggestion that his plans always work out. I watched the Loose Cannon telesnap version of episode 4, and I’m still torn between them.

The story is a pure historical, with no aliens or monsters invading Earth’s past. It takes the point of view of moderates in a war of extremes: neither the nobles nor the anarchic rebels are the “good guys” in the story. In the end, as Ian and Barbara witness the downfall of Robespierre and the ascent of Napoleon, they revisit the lessons learned in “The Aztecs,” joking about the impossibility of altering events by writing Napoleon a letter, or shooting him. It just wouldn’t work.

(Coincidentally, this fits into the “time loaf” theory which I touched on here. Everything has already happened; nothing you can do will change anything, but possibly your actions are a part of what occurs. I find this amusing.)

Notable in this episode:

  • The correct use of muskets. Guns of the period could be fired only once before reloading, a fact happily ignored by entire genres of film and television. Doctor Who goes for accuracy here: once fired, the gun becomes a throwing weapon, and then combatants are forced to scramble for whatever other armaments they can find lying around. It reminds me of the dormouse mention in “Fires of Pompeii,” a small element that makes a big difference to the veracity of the production. (“Fires” is also a time loaf episode. I’m enjoying the parallels.)
  • The Doctor gets out of most scrapes with brains and bluster, but has zero qualms about bashing people over the head when he needs to.
  • Susan shows a touching affection for her teachers, fleeing to her room in tears when she thinks they’re leaving her. Her inability to participate in her own rescue, however, is problematic. To be fair, Susan believes that her grandfather died in a fire,* leaving her not only bereft of family but stranded in an ugly and dangerous time. Then she gets a fever, and an overcooked brain can be the source of all kinds of problems. Still, it would be nice if the writers could come up with some less pathetic characterization for her. (Though we all know it’s not to be…)
  • Susan claims that the Reign of Terror is the Doctor’s favorite era, a comment that is never repeated and never explained. Nothing about this makes sense.
  • Ian and Barbara remain consistently courageous, perceptive, faithful, and generally perfect. They are the adults in the story: parent figures for flighty Susan, kind and patient caregivers for the doddering Doctor. Sail on, sail on…

This story marks the end of the first season of Doctor Who, wrapping up in September 1964. On Halloween, “The Planet of Giants” began. I may be there sooner.

 

* Whoa, the regeneration questions this raises. The Tenth Doctor once died (“Turn Left”) because he could not regenerate in the ongoing hostile environment of a flooded tunnel. Surely a house fire would have a similar impact. Would Susan be aware of this? (Never mind that regeneration hadn’t been invented yet in 1964.) What does a very young Time Lord know about regeneration, given that they likely won’t experience it for centuries? Do they see their parents and grandparents go through it? Or do Time Lords move on from their families and create new lives across the decades, leaving regeneration something of a mystery to the young? Would this movement explain the ease with which the Doctor has apparently left his family behind? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted September 2, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

Tagged with ,

The Sensorites   Leave a comment

This story features more development of the Doctor and Susan’s backstory than any previous. Susan longs for the burnt-orange sky and silver leaves of home; I’m curious as to how closely the Tenth Doctor’s words echo hers. She struggles with growing up in the Doctor’s shadow, while he tries to keep her safe in his own shouty and completely ineffective way. It doesn’t help that he’s almost as much a child as she is, accustomed to getting what he wants and pouting when he doesn’t. We’re reminded here that no matter how personable they may seem in the moment, the Doctor and his granddaughter are not human.

The Sensorites are an extraordinarily vulnerable race. Disabled by darkness, terrorized by noise, they’re justified in their fear of loud, brash, courageous invaders. Still, the main antagonist’s strategy of goading his fellows into irrational terror in his quest to grab power annoyed me a lot. A little too close to home, perhaps; I get enough of this garbage in real life, don’t need it in my show.

Barbara is clearly the queen of this story. She is calm, courageous, and perceptive throughout. She protects Susan while also offering compassion to the John. Her appearance in the final episode pretty much saves the day.

The ship sails on…

Next up is “Reign of Terror.” I remember seeing this one before, but I didn’t remember that two of its episodes were missing. I must have seen them animated, but I don’t recall it.

In fact we own the DVD. Perhaps when I watch it it will begin to seem familiar.

Posted August 23, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, Piffle, The Long Way Round

Tagged with

The Aztecs   Leave a comment

The villains are the worst of this one. Though the Doctor explains to Barbara that the High Priest of Sacrifice is motivated by perfectly understandable fear – he sees her as a threat to his culture, as well as a threat to his position – the character isn’t played that way. Instead, Tlotoxl is all cackling evil. Ixta too could have been a sympathetic character if played sincerely, but his exaggerated portrayal makes him a caricature.

Otherwise, “The Aztecs” is an excellent serial. Story shines here, as Barbara sets out to make a difference and fails utterly, almost at the cost of all their lives. The native culture in which the time travelers land is portrayed sincerely and believably. The costumes are as gorgeous as those in “Marco Polo,” the sets even more so. Ian convincingly shifts a slab of foam as if it were a hundredweight of stone.

The Doctor himself is a much more familiar character in this story. He’s affectionate toward his granddaughter, hugging her protectively in an effort to shield her from the horror taking place outside the temple. He’s considerate of Barbara – for the first time, he speaks to her as if he might persuade her rather than berate her, and even apologizes for being too harsh. His insistence that some things can’t be changed – “Believe me, I know!” – reminds me of Ten’s post-Time War agony, and left me wondering what trauma this Doctor has endured. He befriends Cameca with flirtatious charm. Their surprise engagement via cocoa is a comic moment, but authentic too: he cares for this woman, admires her, regrets the necessity of breaking her heart – and ultimately can’t bring himself to leave her token behind.

There’s a lot of food for thought in this story. The Aztec practice of human sacrifice is looked back on with horror, as if we would never do such a thing today. Yet tens of thousands of lives each year are given over, without honor, to our need for cars and guns. Untimely death is normalized as a cost of personal freedom. Further, much as Barbara even as a goddess fails to persuade the Aztecs to change, so we today fail to win hearts and minds by telling people their way of life is wrong – even sometimes when they agree. Humans just don’t work that way. The Doctor knows it; Barbara learns it, to her regret.

The other question I’m left with is Cameca. She wanted to come along; what if the Doctor had accepted? What kind of companion might she have made? The affection between them is sincere. Perhaps he thought – perhaps she agreed – that she was content where she was. Perhaps she wasn’t truly the adventurer she wanted to be. Or perhaps he feared losing her in time and space as he had so nearly lost the others so many times. He’s responsible for Susan as her grandfather, and for Ian and Barbara by accident – perhaps he doesn’t want to be responsible for Cameca as well.

And finally: Where did Ian learn the Vulcan nerve pinch?

screenshot-the_aztecs_episode_2-the_warriors_of_death

Posted July 30, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

Tagged with ,

Adventures in Comic-Con   Leave a comment

San Diego Comic-Con was not on my bucket list.

I’ve known of it of course. It’s the mecca of nerd fests, the original, the largest and most famous of its kind. My husband attended as a youngster in its earliest years. (I wrote about that – and how things have changed – here.) But given the costs and the crowds, we had no intention of attempting it in these times.

Circumstances intervened.

Through an unlikely series of events, I received a four-day membership at no cost to myself. An even more unlikely scenario – improbable to the point of unbelievable – got my husband a Saturday day pass. His father lives in the area, offering an inexpensive place to stay. We were replete with Southwest Airlines miles.

So venture southward we did.

(Before you get too excited, I didn’t find out about the DW panel until after we’d bought plane tickets, and our landing was far too late. Not that we’d have camped out overnight for wristbands in any case. Especially since the entire thing is available here.)

The stories are all true. The crowds are mind-boggling. The cosplay is amazing. Everyone is there: Supergirl, Aquaman, Luke Skywalker, Doctor Who. I met Paul Cornell! Hours, even days spent in the dealer’s room will not get you to every table. The big rooms have big lines: we waited 40min to see Supergirl‘s panel and didn’t get in. I just made the cut for Science of Star Trek, featuring NASA scientists Dr. Morgan Cable and Dr. Jessie Christiansen and TV writers Hallie Lambert and Andre Bormanis, moderated by Bad Astronomer Phil Plait. Dozens behind me in line were disappointed. But there was no wait and plenty of room for Titan’s Doctor Who: comics are where it’s at.

I am grateful for the experience, but I would not repeat it. Instead, I’ll take advantage of my smaller local cons: OryCon and Anglicon this fall, NorWesCon and Rose City Comic-Con next year. I’ll meet up again with Paul Cornell’s newsletter group at Gallifrey One some day. I’ll stick with the smaller crowds and never see 150,000 people in one place ever again.

comicconcrowd

No thanks

A few highlights:

  • Cosplay! Slave Lando and Rose Tico with fathier were among my favorites. Thirteen was heavily featured – Her Universe had the entire outfit for sale at their booth – and both men and women got in on the act.
  • Titan Comics! There’s a ton of new 13 coming out, including an Alice XZ cover!
  • Time Lord of the Dance
  • Paul Cornell’s newsletter meetup! This was beyond cool. About 8 blog and newsletter followers turned up – including fellow featuree Heather Berberet. We chatted about our favorite panels, and Paul let us know what he was up to, kind of like a live newsletter. Afterwards we got a group photo, and anyone who wanted got an autograph and personal photo as well. Seriously, follow the newsletter. Paul’s a genuinely nice guy who’s interested in meeting like minds and helping his fellows along with their careers whenever possible.
PaulCornell

Dorks. (Yes of course I bought the outfit!)

As a final note, I heard that Jodie Whittaker crashed the Her Universe fashion show in spectacular fashion, but did not witness it – until now:

Next season is going to be amazing. ❤ ❤ ❤

Posted July 24, 2018 by Elisabeth in Cool Stuff, Events, Squee!, Video

Tagged with , ,

Further thoughts…   Leave a comment

A few more thoughts on the last few stories.

Female friendships: Verity! just completed a mini-arc of female “companions’ companions.” Ace is the inspiration and main culprit of the arc, but she is far from alone. In “Marco Polo,” Susan develops a proper teen-girl friendship with Peng Cho, whispering together in the dark about dreams and fears and the future and occasionally even boys. In “Marinus,” Susan and Barbara collectively adopt Sabetha, who overcomes hypnotism to become a contributing member of the team. I know there’s more to come: one of my strongest recollections of “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” is an entire episode of Barbara and another woman driving around saving the world. It’s a trend I can get behind – and one of the reasons I particularly adore S1 Rose Tyler.

Plot inconsistencies: A heck of a thing to bag DW for but this one really stood out. Throughout “Marco Polo,” Tegana comes up with a series of “evil plans” which one after another fail to work. Each seems unnecessarily complex, and none seems to forward his finally-revealed mission to kill Kublai Khan. There are a few cases of things changing on the fly – a sandstorm thwarts one attempt, the TARDIS presents a new unlooked-for opportunity – but I was still struck with a remarkable sense of flailing.

Of course, these episodes are designed to be watched once a week and never seen again, under which circumstances the flailing would hardly be noticeable at all.

Major Character of Questionable Morality: Marco Polo brazenly steals the Doctor’s TARDIS for his own gain, and he’s still the good guy. Fortunately his arc includes realizing that he was wrong, and apologizing – though I’m left wondering why, after rejecting all Marco’s offers of an escort home, the Doctor never offered Marco a lift instead. In “Marinus,” Arbitan has created a giant mind control machine, and blackmails the Doctor into helping him repair it. He never gets called out for it, though he does get murdered – and the Doctor disapproves in a general way in his final speech.

These stories are definitely of their era, but there’s good fun in there too.

Posted June 24, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, The Long Way Round

Tagged with ,