Archive for May 2017

“In extremis”   4 comments

def: in an extremely difficult situation, at the point of death

River makes a point: Virtue is only virtue in extremis. A good man is only as good as the choices he makes under the worst possible circumstances. The Doctor, she declares, is such a man: give him the worst, and invariably he delivers his best.

The episode is on the surface a silly one, full of Grand Moff gestures and contrived crises. In spite of this it manages to be genuinely captivating, with surprising hidden layers. What would any of us do with our backs against a wall? Would our best selves shine? Or would our base humanity, our natural drive to survive at all costs, overwhelm our intentions?

I’m not entirely sure how the episode showcases this. I suppose the threat of Missy’s execution might be considered extremis, though Michelle Gomez pleading and promising is some of the least believable dialogue I have ever encountered. The Doctor being faced with a deadly document – one he dare not ask anyone else to read to him – while blind might also be considered an extreme situation. Still I feel like the Doctor has been in graver circumstances. Davros in control of a reality bomb? Clara’s life in Missy’s hands? The choice to end humanity or let the Daleks enslave them? Somehow these cases feel more extreme – or more believably extreme – than the Master’s impending death (been there) or some strange video-game version of reality.

However, the story isn’t finished yet. We shall see what next week has to offer.

Posted May 24, 2017 by Elisabeth in Season 10, Themes and Ideas

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About Time   Leave a comment

How has it taken me so long to write about Season 10? Life intervened, as it does at times, interfering with anticipation and delight, as well as writing time. But as a third of the series passes and dust begins to settle, I can finally put my thoughts to words.

The Story So Far:

Bill! Her appearance, much like Rose’s in many ways, is magic. I like when the Doctor finds brilliance in unlooked for places: the “dinner lady,” the non-student who surreptitiously attends every lecture she can. I like her quirky turn of thought and phrase, and her imaginative relationship with her mother. I worry for her courage. She runs for the Doctor when things get weird, pushes him away rather than look bad before her mates, chooses – or would choose, if the Doctor gave choices – to return to the TARDIS rather than search for survivors in a station full of zombie space suits. I don’t begrudge her fearfulness – who among us wouldn’t share it? – but most companions have by their fourth story saved the Doctor at least twice.

She does, however, show appropriate wonder and excitement at visiting new worlds, and she asks interesting questions. I appreciate that.

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The Doctor: I like the parallels to with Reg/Chronotis, the sometime Time Lord from “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” or possibly “Shada.” The Doctor with an office is a fun first. His choice of job – lecturing on whatever he feels like – seems entirely appropriate, and his choice of Bill seems like the end of a long enjoyable-but-dull streak in his life. It seems he may have been collecting dust, and now he’s ready to shake it off again.

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I’m not sure about the thing in the vault as a season arc. Moffat is so much less successful with these than he’d like to be.

Alien companion Nardole is a mixed bag. He was funny in “The Pilot” but since has shown an annoying tendency to nag. The gentle prodding he employed in “Dr. Mysterio” has given way to full-on shrew. I hope he reverts soon.

The settings have been delightful. The writing has been great. We’ve been to past, present, and future, visited alien worlds and the edge of town. The season so far may lack the fireworks of Season 9, but it’s good fun Doctor Who and I’m ready for more.

Next week: the return of Missy!

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Posted May 19, 2017 by Elisabeth in Season 10

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