Archive for May 2015
I adore this ridiculous thing.
This pass I watched the special together with its two mini-prequels: ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ which I previously watched many many times, the last not long ago, and ‘The Last Day,’ which I originally watched only once. ‘Night’ is as I said a gem and a tiny slice of perfection. I wasn’t so impressed on the first pass with ‘Last Day,’ but in fact it is rather cool, and sets up some of the war scenes nicely.
Both prequels are available on youtube (links above).
And then comes the main event.
We never find out how the Doctor and Clara got out of the Doctor’s timeline in ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ but we quickly don’t care. With original titles, Coal Hill School, and Clara’s Theme, details seem unimportant. Then we jump right in with UNIT, Malcolm’s ravens, Osgood, and the Queen.
(I’ve never been a fan of the Doctor/Queen Elizabeth storyline, but I suppose there are some things we just have to put up with.)
The 3D paintings are great. The war scenes are great, and terrifying. I didn’t observe it at the time, but someone quite wisely pointed out that we would never have been shown all those children if the planet was in fact going to end up destroyed. I don’t remember who that was, but they’re right: it’s just not that kind of show.
Then we get the epic John Hurt and spectacular Billie Piper. Other Rose/Ten shippers were disappointed – even distraught – that it wasn’t Rose featured in the special. I however thought it was a perfect execution. Rose’s story was complete; she’d already returned several times, and she got her happily ever after in the end. There was no need for more. On the other hand, Rose and Piper were a huge reason for the success of the reboot, and I like that the special was able to acknowledge that. Piper, older and wiser as a performer now, got to expand on her role and have a bit of fun. And the Bad Wolf was an excellent vehicle for the Moment – as well as a great moment for the Tenth Doctor.
The scenes with the three Doctors are pure joy. All the banter, all the wit, all the silliness and seriousness and brilliance a fan could hope for. Clara holds her own with the three of them. And their ultimate solution to the problem is not only brilliant but an absolute joy to watch.
“No, sir! All thirteen!”
Bonus points for best use of a future Doctor who doesn’t officially even exist.
Even that scene, however, is topped by the special guest feature at the end. Tom Baker’s appearance is the absolute highlight of everything anniversary-related. The man IS the Doctor, in so many ways: eccentric, arrogant, unfailingly loveable in spite of his worst qualities; the oldest surviving and longest-serving actor in the role; and the only one never before willing to return to the show. No one expected him; in fact, when I heard he said he was appearing, I was certain he was lying. The spoiler failed to spoil.
I’ve watched that scene at least a dozen times and it never gets old.
All in all, this special is a treat. It’s perfect Doctor Who: ridiculous and brilliant, hilarious and heart-wrenching, full of laughter and tears and things that make you gasp with delight. It can’t be said about a lot of things, but this one lives up to the hype.
Every bit of it.
I have many thoughts about this convention. It’s the closest I’m likely to get to Gallifrey One for the foreseeable future, so I hope it’s good. It’s an old event but it’s been on hiatus for the last 9 years, so it’s almost more like a new one. There have been some very slight suggestions of organizational problems. My con experience is limited to Geek Girl Con, an incredibly well-run convention, and smaller events like Sherlock Seattle and a couple of now-defunct Portland cons. I don’t know how big or how successful this one will turn out to be. I’m both anxious and excited to find out.
I’m very excited about the guests. The Sixth Doctor, Jo Grant, and Ace will be there. Yesterday, the programming schedule went up, and I learned I’ll have plenty of chances to see them without waiting in autograph lines – one per day each in fact. The companions have two companion-related panels together in addition to having individual Q&A sessions. Mr. Baker has two solo events, one discussing his more current projects and one TBD. Seriously, the description says “We’ll get Colin Baker to do something for you.” Having seen ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot’ I know precisely how hilarious this could be.
I’m also very excited about the costumes. One of the things I’ve always admired about my fellow fans is their vast reservoir of creativity; with a masquerade scheduled Friday night in addition to regular con-cosplay opportunity, I can’t wait to see what people do. And of course I have costumes of my own.
I don’t know if I’ll enter the contest or not – my costumes are not home-made, more ‘assembled,’ and I’m sure to be outclassed in any case – but for the masquerade I have this TARDIS outfit:
The two-layer chiffon circle skirt with lace trim I’ve had since my bellydance days. The corset is a slightly newer addition. I’ve worn them together for several events: they are reasonably comfortable and attractive. The hat was a ridiculous and awesome acquisition from last year’s Geek Girl Con. It lights up and has feathers and there is literally no other occasion when I could properly wear it. The necklace, purchased expressly for this event, is the Police Box sign from the TARDIS door, a very pretty piece from etsy. The galaxy tights are also a last-minute addition, thanks to my brilliant husband. 🙂
For the majority of Friday, though, I prefer to keep things simple and comfortable:
The dress is from Her Universe, a gift from my husband last year. I may or may not assemble an accompanying headband.
The rest of the weekend is Doctor time.
Leather jacket from Goodwill, appropriately colored camisole, black pants and boots a normal part of my wardrobe. I wore this ‘closet cosplay’ to GGC last year, and hardly anyone noticed. I’m hoping it’ll be more obvious at a Who-centric event.
This is my latest and greatest, a $200 women’s business suit found at Goodwill (Goodwill!!!) for $40. I pictured it before with a blue shirt and a tie – I even bought a Tenth Doctor-inspired tie on etsy to go with it – but I was never happy or comfortable with the look. Something about the neckline didn’t work for me. I decided to go full femme instead with an open collar shirt and jewelry, and it looks MUCH better. The tie remains (so far) the one and only etsy impulse purchase I kind of regret.
I do have the shoes though. 🙂
My husband, currently sporting a goatee, plans a Delgado Master look for Friday; then, following a shave, the Third Doctor for Katy Manning on Saturday. Sunday remains to be seen, as he is less over-saturated with costumes than I am; however, since (I keep forgetting) this is a British media convention and not solely Doctor Who, both Gene Hunt (Life on Mars) and Bond villain Blofeld are possibilities.
We are going to have a really good time.
ETA we also have this to look forward to: brand new art by Studio Catawampus!
A variety of unimportant things…
If you have never seen ‘The Ballad of Russell and Julie,’ now is as good a time as ever. I thought of it as I was thinking of a title for this post; the phrase ‘ming-mong’ came to mind, which I only know of via this video (and accompanying research. Nerd.)
A tumblr post, which I can no longer find and therefore link to, pointed out another problematic aspect of ‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon’ – which I originally expressed my feelings about here. The post observed (and I paraphrase) that the Doctor who answered without pause for consideration that an unaware slave is still a slave would be unlikely to then enslave 6 billion unaware people in the service of genocide. After taking an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the post was talking about the Silence, I thought about it further. Not only is it unlikely that the Doctor would engage the human population in this way – subliminally, and without their consent – it is unlikely in the extreme that he would essentially trick innocent people into murder. I think this is another arena where Moffat’s demonstrated writing skill fails him: surely the creator of ‘The Empty Child’ and ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ could have come up with a better solution. A trick to defeat the forgetting, perhaps, or some other innocuous error – or hubris – of the Silence turned against them. That would be more in character than hypnotizing an army of unwilling zombie killers.
Anglicon is coming up! The staff have yet to post a programming schedule, so I wait on the edge of my seat to see if it will all be worthwhile. $65/person plus travel expenses to walk around in costume for three days would not be the worst money I’ve ever spent, but I’d rather I could learn something as well. Still, I am very happy with my costume selection. I plan to post preview photos this weekend – and of course action shots after the event. My sister will also be there, with some of this fabulous collection, as well as new pieces I can’t wait to see. And it’ll be the largest gathering of DW nerds on the west coast after Gallifrey One – no small potatoes may I say. The Sixth Doctor, Jo Grant, and Ace will be there, among other less-acclaimed (though no less worthy) guests. I hope they’ll have a panel or a Q&A, as autograph lines and breakfast banquets are not my thing.
As I speak – programming has just gone up. Off to squee now, more later.
Chaotic good is one of a set of nine possible character alignments created for D&D. The system aligns characters by morals and ethics: good vs. evil, order vs. chaos, with neutral in the middle. A chaotic good character is guided by conscience rather than statute. They want to do what’s right, without regard for what’s legal.
I’m sensing a theme among my favorites:
Emphasis on ‘chaotic’
The Doctor has little regard for the laws of the lands he visits. He has his own moral compass from which he rarely strays. Commanded by the Time Lords – and begged by his friends – to destroy the Daleks before they can grow into their evil, he asks, “Have I the right?” He’s been chased by the police countless times. He considers a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign an invitation. He’s not big on rules and firmly opposed to being told what to do.
Wants to be Lawful Good
Matt Murdock would prefer to work within the system; that’s why he became a lawyer after all. However, he knows that the law is imperfect. It doesn’t always serve justice. That’s why he also became the vigilante Daredevil. By night he breaks the law he swears by day to uphold, but he does it in service of good.
Bruce Wayne/Batman also fits much of this description.
“I aim to misbehave.”
Not much explanation is required for Malcolm Reynolds. He is an outlaw who cheats and steals for a living. However he also has a strong sense of right and wrong. He refuses to steal medicine from poor people, regardless of how rich or dangerous his employer. He can’t put River off the ship when she gets in trouble. He looks after his friends, and his fellow Browncoats – or anyone who opposes the Alliance.
Han Solo is a similar character.
What is it that’s appealing about these characters? As a timid person, I admire their independence. I lack the audacity to throw caution to the wind. I do, no matter how I try not to, worry about what others think. Spending time with these characters gives me a taste of freedom – and if I’m lucky, a little of their courage will rub off as well.
In the Doctor’s case, there’s always the bonus of something really weird and unexpected happening along the way. 🙂
I don’t pretend to understand what makes good writing. I don’t know why I’m captivated at some times, left cold others. I can’t point to a feature of this or that and say, “This is why.” But I can show you something that doesn’t work, as I did in my last post, and then something that does.
This brief episode is almost perfect.
It came out of nowhere, a surprise gift, and it delivered on some of the wildest expectations of the anniversary. The Doctor, the mad man with a box, arrives somewhere there is trouble – but this time the object of his intended rescue rejects him most forcefully. He has tried to stay out of the war, but the war drags him in, as it has dragged in every living thing in the universe. Fight or die are the only choices. The Doctor would prefer to die, but only by fighting can he save anyone at all.
I knew Paul McGann slightly, having just listened to ‘Storm Front,’ the first of his audio series with Big Finish. The voice was known to me, and the face was a wonderful, delightful surprise. “Not the one you were expecting,” he says, and he could not be more right. From that moment we have everything that makes Doctor Who great: humor and drama, tragedy, magic, and a hero who will go on to save the day. We have Cass, who wanted to see the universe, and whose courage saved her shipmates. We have Karn, a world the Doctor has visited before. We have the range of regeneration possibilities laid out before us. (Yes, he’s still a white male, but we’ll get there. The ground is laid.) We have real drama, real heart. I felt Cass’s frustration with her ship, her delight turned to rage at the Doctor. I saw him make his final choice. I felt, heart-wrenchingly, his love for his companions – Charlie, C’rizz, Lucy, Tamsin, Molly, all of Big Finish. I watched the final scenes through tears.
It’s only a tiny piece of the DW universe, but it shines among the brightest of them all.
I could watch it again and again. I probably will.
‘The Name of the Doctor’ does not improve with repeated viewings.
I’ve said before, no one retcons Neil Gaiman. Clara was not there when the Doctor stole the TARDIS. In my headcanon, in fact, neither was Susan. I imagine the young Doctor had been tinkering with her for some time, dreaming rebel Time Lord dreams. Maybe he’d even gotten her going, taken a trip or two. It wasn’t until he recognized himself in his troubled young granddaughter that he decided to invite her to run away. Maybe she was the only thing binding him to Gallifrey in the first place. When she agreed to go, then they got in the TARDIS and went. And there was no impossible girl to help them along.
But that’s all beside the point.
I like the classic series references, including the Valeyard name-drop. I like Clara’s past-era looks. (She does especially well in the eighties I think.) But that’s really it for this episode. The major plot point is the impossible girl: “I was born to save the Doctor,” Clara tells us, “and now my story is done.” But every companion saves the Doctor. And every companion – and every human – has their own story independent of him. Moffat’s choice to entwine them all together irritates me to no end.
In the same vein, the emotional arc comes from River, the long-dead, finally-confirmed wife he never visits. Why should River pine for him from beyond the grave? Where did this love they speak of come from? I liked the dropped hints in ‘Library;’ at that time even the Doctor had no sense of who she was or what she would mean to him. But this Doctor is supposed to know, and yet we’ve seen nothing. We are expected to accept this grand love story taking place behind the scenes. As I’ve said before, it’s a choice, but not one I agree with or even respect.
What else? Where did the Great Intelligence get its acrimony? Simeon is almost Master-like in his bent for revenge. What’s up with the Doctor being “blood-soaked?” The latter series keep trying to sell the idea of the Doctor as a great warrior, and I don’t buy it. I never have, and from Pandorica on this idea has annoyed me. Never mind the danger of visiting one’s own grave or the plausibility of the whole timeline situation. (We never do find out how they got out. Shades of Sherlock?) It’s a mess of an episode, and at no point was I engaged or enticed to suspend my substantial disbelief.
To make myself feel better, I will now go watch ‘The Night of the Doctor,’ with the inimitable Paul McGann.