“Nobody likes the tangerines.”
Is that really true? I always liked that big bright orange that weighed down the toe of my stocking. It fit perfectly, and provided a satisfying end to the parade of tiny tissue-wrapped packages and loose chocolates. My siblings and I would take turns peeling and sharing each one as we played with our new toys and ate our candy.
Also, is this another British tradition I inexplicably grew up with, like putting milk in tea? Or do other Americans do this as well?
ETA: I asked around, and the tradition seems to be pretty universal. My father in particular, growing up in postwar Poland, treasured the bright-colored fruit at the bottom of his Christmas stocking: it was the only orange he got all year.
Well that was entertaining.
A vast improvement on ‘The Time of the Doctor,’ ‘Last Christmas’ is fun, scary, nonsensical, thoughtful, and sweet. It’s full of wonderful little moments – was that comment on fairy tales a direct reference to Neil Gaiman? And how DO we know, ever, that we aren’t just dreaming? And of course, is Santa real? Is the Doctor? Is anything?
It doesn’t resolve any threads from last season, or answer any questions, and I think it’s time (past time) to accept that that’s how Moffat rolls. Tons of setup will never play out. And that’s fine. We can make up our own answers, or ignore the questions. They aren’t important. Somehow we just got into this game of expecting things. It’s fine to let them go, and just be entertained.
I do think it’s funny, though, that what happened was exactly what I thought would happen, just because it was unexpected. We had no real reason to think Clara wasn’t coming back, and yet we all did. For once the lies by omission worked perfectly. Until the very end I wasn’t sure whether she was staying or going. I imagine that if we had all gone into the episode expecting her to stay, it would have played very differently – even if the final result was the same. Moffat is the game’s biggest troll, after all.
Plenty of things remain unresolved for me, but I am content to let them go and look forward to Season 9.
Moving on… Nick Frost as Santa is brilliant and hilarious. The use of Santa in the story is wonderfully clever – the question of whether you believe in him is important, because it will answer whether or not you are awake. Frost and Capaldi work beautifully together. The elves were annoying in a Disney sidekick kind of way, but still funny. The reindeer were ridiculous, and pointing out their ridiculousness was a brilliant moment. Still, the sleigh ride at the end was a perfect way to wake up.
I like that Clara and Danny are finally more or less resolved, and we can be done with him. I liked him in bits, but I didn’t like THEM. It was too much emotional drama with too little investment. I didn’t see their love for each other and I didn’t care about it, and it detracted from the stories around it. I did like that the Danny she dreamed up was exactly the Danny she needed – the Danny who would sacrifice himself and their life together to save her.
(What was up with that house? Was it a dream the whole time? What happened to her cute little apartment? These are the questions we do not dwell on.)
I really liked the side characters, both in their dream and real lives. Shona was hilarious and sweet, and I love that all the horror movie references turned up on her watch list. I like that she decided to do the forgiving, and I hope she gets to make something of her life. I like that Fiona was a gran in a wheelchair, and I hope she isn’t too sad. I wonder if she was once a formidable scientist, and her mind provided the setting. I enjoyed the appearance of Patrick Troughton’s younger son. I did wonder about the abundance of women. Moffat seems to be struggling with his image; he knows what people think of him and wants to shake it, but he’s really bad at it. Casting mostly women as the scientists, and killing the lone man, seems to be a clumsy effort to show his feminist credentials. I wish he’d stop; as long as hiring women is in the front of his mind, he’s going to be terrible at it. Better to let someone else handle it, someone unaffected by his boys’ club upbringing and self-consciousness.
(Yes, I still think it’s time for a new showrunner, even if some of his later stories and recent choices are awesome.)
And Clara. I have mixed feelings about the return of Clara. On the one hand I like her and still don’t feel she’s had a fair shake in her time. On the other hand I was looking forward to someone new. Still, I’m glad that she and the Doctor have a chance to maybe have some fun together for once. Her time with Eleven was all about him figuring her out, and S8 has been a lot of them figuring each other out. Now that’s out of the way maybe we can have a proper romp – and maybe a few more Time Lords. 🙂
Overall, a fun way to spend Christmas night, and a great launch point for Series 9.
In my post about family, I completely forgot (and so did Moffat apparently) that Danny came from some kind of children’s home, and may not have a family in the traditional sense. It is of course possible that he was adopted and acquired a family; he is also never clearly stated to be alone.
However, rather than undermining what I said yesterday, this supports it. It’s an enormous gap in our knowledge and understanding of Danny. Moffat likes to say that of course such and such happened, we just didn’t see it. Well, I want to see it, dammit. If it happened, if it’s part of the story, put it on screen.
On the subject of Orson Pink…
In his apparent dismissal of Orson as Clara’s descendant, Moffat speculates that upon his death Clara kept in touch with Danny’s family, ultimately bequeathing the unarmed toy soldier to a young niece or nephew. It made me realize that we know nothing of Danny’s family. Mickey’s mum gets a mention in his very first episode, so it’s not just because he’s secondary. Moffat seems to have dropped the whole family aspect of the show that Russell began so beautifully.
Classic companions never had any family left behind. Tegan’s aunt and Nyssa’s father were killed as quickly as they appeared. Introducing Jackie, Mickey, and Pete – and later, Francine, Clive, Tish, Leo, Sylvia, Geoff, and Wilf – created a depth the show had never had before. It grounded the Doctor’s companions and made them real in a new way. Personally, I think it was a great choice.
Moffat, however, has let it go. Amy’s parents appear in two scenes and are otherwise hardly mentioned. Rory’s dad gets some screen time, but not until the very end of the Pond’s run as companions. Clara’s family is confusing. We know her mother is dead. Her father appeared in flashbacks in ‘The Rings of Akhaten,’ and in ‘Time of the Doctor’ with a pair of ill-defined female relatives – an aunt and a grandmother, supposedly. The elderly woman appearing briefly in ‘Dark Water’ may or may not be Clara’s grandmother. But with the exception of Brian Williams we get to know none of these people a fraction as well as we know Jackie or Tish or Wilf.
It’s a missing for me. I wonder if it explains why I don’t have the emotional attachment to Amy or Clara that I had for their predecessors. They’re characters more than they are people, while Rose, Martha, Donna, and even Mickey were people as much as they were characters.
… which he shouldn’t do, because he’s terrible at it, but while we’re on the speculation train let’s have a look anyway.
I’m not going to dig up the exact quote, because I can’t be bothered to read his tripe again, but he commented that there are ways in which Clara could be a part of Orson Pink’s family history without being his direct ancestor. Of course, he once again explained a thing that didn’t need explaining, but the fact that he did explain it may or may not have significance.
A few theories:
- He’s lying through his crooked Scottish teeth, Clara is pregnant and Orson is her and Danny’s direct descendant.
- He wants to dispel rumors and expectations that could detract from his actual story: fans expecting a pregnancy may oppose an alternate too harshly? Moffat’s relationship with fans is odd enough that he might actually have that concern.
- He’s sincere. Orson Pink’s relationship with Clara was a side trip that didn’t pan out, and he wants to clear that up for the fans. Unlikely I know, but possible.
Also, the newest teaser for the Christmas special includes the words ‘You Are Dying,’ apparently addressed to Clara. A few more theories:
- This is for real, and the ‘dying’ theory pans out. (Wishful thinking.)
- This is a big fat red herring.
- This is a feint, a distraction from what’s really going on, much like Clara’s speech about Clara Oswald never existing in the ‘Death in Heaven’ teasers. Someone else is dying, or no one is dying at all.
Further, I encountered a highly suspect and unsubstantiated rumor that Jenna Coleman had changed her mind about leaving after Christmas and instead would remain for the first half of S9. Given the source I consider it unlikely, though it would help explain the confusion about her contract status, the straightening of which might be considered spoilery.
All the more reason to watch the Christmas special. (Four more days, four days, four days…)
Though it has appeared more than once on my other blog, I really want to share in this space a piece I wrote about fandom. It was, after all, instigated and inspired by Doctor Who. I wouldn’t be a fan without this show; I wouldn’t have encountered this whole rich crazy world of fandom, and my life would be a smaller, duller place.
‘A Brief History of Fandom,’ courtesy of The Mary Sue.
I included this video in my post about ‘The Doctor’s Wife,’ but it really needs its own space:
Massive fanboy (and writer) Neil Gaiman joins his wife (and fellow fan, I understand) Amanda Palmer and DW actor Arthur Darvill (Rory
Pond Williams) on stage to support Palmer’s performance of a song written by teenage fan Allegra Rosenberg and inspired by ‘The Doctor’s Wife,’ written by Gaiman. Palmer stops in the middle to comment on the ‘realness’ of a song about a love between a fictional alien and a fictional magic box, based on an episode by a world-renowned writer, written by a 15-year-old and performed by a world-renowned artist on the 50th anniversary of the fiction in question… It’s meta gold.