Archive for the ‘Season 10’ Category

How does he do it?   Leave a comment

We’ve been through a lot of Moffat season arcs by now. Some of them have been meh; some of them have been really terrible. At least one has even been amazing, but we know better than to expect it.

That expectation is key.

My husband and I both sat on the edge of our seats throughout “World Enough and Time.” The reveal of Simm’s Master blew our minds. (I saw it coming about 1 min before, my husband about 10sec.) Cyber-Bill broke our hearts. And Nardole – Nardole! Running away! I haven’t thought that much of him over the course of the season but somehow I knew him for no coward.

As a result, anticipation for this week was high. But we’ve been burned plenty before. Even after everything we’ve been through with this Doctor, we just didn’t know what to expect. We braced ourselves for disappointment. And when we didn’t get it – when instead we got everything we never knew we wanted and more – the reward is just that much sweeter.

He doesn’t have to be that good; just better than we expect. And then, when he IS good, he just seems that much greater.

Let’s keep going out on top. 🙂

Posted July 3, 2017 by Elisabeth in Piffle, Season 10, Writers and Writing

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The Fall   Leave a comment

It’s not often an episode leaves me blubbering like a tiny child.

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SPOILER ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

It’s been rumored that Pearl Mackie would be leaving the show after one season. The rumor has never been confirmed, nor conclusively denied. Officially we don’t know for sure if Bill will be back.

She made one hell of an exit.

Bill’s is (assuming it in fact IS) the companion departure I’ve long been hoping for: neither death, nor return to ordinary life. Instead, Bill gets to travel onward into eternity. Not with the Doctor – his friends never linger long – but with a companion all her own.

The slow-burn love story is a bonus twist.

As much as it pains and embarrasses me to say it, I am a Moffat-style nerd. I believe, as Moffat does, in the eternal optimism of this show. I adore, as he does, the fun little references to the past, the inside jokes, the Jelly Babies. My heart caught at Heather’s invitation, so similar to the Doctor’s words to Rose. I enjoyed yet another iteration of “I don’t want to go,” and the echo of Eleven’s last words. I loved seeing my (yes my) companions’ faces again. I miss each one of them terribly, and I’m so glad I got to know them.

The Christmas special looks to be a big fat heap of goodies for fans, starting with Capaldi and Moffat himself. The outgoing Doctor already got his first wish: Mondasian Cybermen. The Moff got his multi-Master story, a trick no one before has had living actors available to pull off. Now, the First Doctor returns. I can’t help but remember what Capaldi said when asked which past companion his Doctor would most like to encounter.

“I think he’d like to see his granddaughter again.”

Carole Ann Ford is still alive. Is it too much to hope?

Whether or not the Doctor meets Susan again, the toys have all been strewn about, the best ideas ransacked, all the going-big gone home. Moffat and Capaldi say goodbye with a bang Davies and Tennant can only envy. And what’s next? A new Doctor, a new companion, a whole new show.

Good luck, Chris Chibnall.

Coming up:

  • The secret of Moff’s success
  • How the Doctor is like Wonder Woman (or vice versa)
  • The next Doctor

Stay tuned!

Posted July 3, 2017 by Elisabeth in Season 10

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Eaters of Light and other monsters   Leave a comment

Lady creators are on my mind of late. I’ve seen Wonder Woman twice, with a possible third pending later this week. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are heroes of the hour. Rachel Talalay’s third two-part season finale blasts into space next week. And now, I’ve finally spent some time with Rona Munro.

First, “Survival.” The ironically-titled final serial of classic DW is – like much of the rest of DW – a good story marred by questionable effects and costumes. Still, its heart is there. The final line – written not by Munro but by script editor Andrew Cartmel once he learned that the show was definitely not coming back – is a lovely bittersweet conclusion to 26 years of madcap adventure. The influence of Ace on Rose is glaringly apparent. Costar Anthony Ainley and showrunner John Nathan Turner would not live to see the show’s return. Lisa Bowerman, who played furry Karra in blazing heat, returned as Bernice Summerfield for 50-plus (and counting) Big Finish audio stories – a few with Ace and the Seventh Doctor, but most on her own. Rona Munro went on to a full and fruitful career writing stage plays and radio dramas. And now she’s back.

“The Eaters of Light” features a strange segment of history with which I was not previously familiar: the disappearance of the 9th Roman Legion sometime in the second century. The episode makes fun use of the popular (if slightly out of date) theory that the 9th was annihilated by Celtic tribes in northern Britain. The tribes, in this case, had the assistance of an inter-dimensional photon vampire.

(I’m not sure about the physiology of this. There was a bit of hand-waving.)

First of all, I love the bookends of this episode. The Scottish setting (actually Wales according to guest star Rebecca Benson) is brooding and ethereal. The little girl who hears music coming out of the ground sets a creepy stage – and the truth about that music is at turns inspiring and sad.

I also really enjoyed the crows. (We replayed that one bit – it DID say “Master!”) Our neighborhood is full of crows: waking up to cries of “Kar” the following morning made me smile. I’ll certainly never listen to them the same way again. I also enjoy that the Doctor was wrong about them – “They’re not brooding, they’re remembering!”

I did wonder if the non-white Roman soldiers were going to cause a flap among that more annoying segment of fandom. I know very little of history generally, but given how widespread Rome’s impact and influence was, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that their garrisons would include people from all sorts of backgrounds. And if I’m wrong about that, I still think a show that features an inter-dimensional photon vampire can get away with a couple of black Romans. I appreciated that they weren’t both killed right away; I had my doubts after the first one.

The side characters in this episode get some wonderful depth. Of course to the Doctor all humans are children: our lives too short, our experiences too limited. But these “soldiers” are children even to Bill, young people far out of their depth and with a weight of responsibility on their untested shoulders. Together Bill and the Doctor take their hands and help them grow – and in the end, when the Doctor wants to keep holding on, to save them from the burdens of adulthood, Bill and the young people themselves demand that he let them go, to make their music under the hill for eternity.

(Again the precise logistics are mystifying – the Doctor claims his lifespan, his regenerative ability, make him the better choice to guard the gate, but somehow a handful of human soldiers can do the same job? Wave-wave.)

“I can’t promise you won’t die. But I can promise you won’t die in a hole in the ground.”

Other high points are the popcorn distraction and Nardole’s instant adaptation and acceptance into the community. I enjoyed Nardole more this episode than any since the Christmas special. The coming together of enemies as friends and partners is a trope I’ll never get tired of – and the Doctor’s speech on the topic is perfectly on point.

The denouement with Missy remains a mystery. I still don’t buy that she’s going to turn good, whatever the Doctor does. I think she’s fooling him on some level. But I also think she’s maybe going through something a little unexpected. Perhaps she’s really experiencing remorse or compassion in ways she thought herself safe from. Perhaps if not a full shift, she may still make a small one.

Husband and I expect her to sacrifice herself for the Doctor or a companion in the finale. (Will we see that regeneration – a new Master? or will it be a surprise for next time?)

Or will it be John Simm! When I first heard that he would return, I thought it unlikely; when I learned it was true, I realized we’ve had many multi-Doctor stories but never a multi-Master one, and how much fun would that be? We don’t know how the Master got from Simm to Gomez, or whether there were any versions in between, Simm’s Master having been sent back to the Time War with Rassilon in “The End of Time.”

On a related note, Derek Jacobi is returning as the Master for Big Finish. And in further speculation, there is the theory that in honor of Missy’s sacrifice the Doctor will next regenerate into a woman.

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The Pyramid and the Lie   Leave a comment

The two make an intriguing pair: the low and the high of the season so far. “Pyramid” suffers from that variety of plausibility problem that Peter Harness is about to become known for. Eggs that gain mass as they grow? Spidery single-celled organisms? Biological laboratories with timed ventilation that can’t be turned off? Not to mention obscure Middle Eastern/near Asian locales not remotely real enough to believe in.

(It’s the same country, Turmezistan, that Harness created for “The Zygon Invasion.” It doesn’t work any better here.)

I did enjoy the setup, the end of the world already in motion. I really liked the scientist Erica. As Whithouse did in “Under the Lake,” here Moffat/Harness introduce a character who is different – and whose difference has zero impact on their competence or their humanity. I wish Erica had returned in “Lie.”

However I had serious questions about the resolution of this episode. The Doctor unable to cure himself is already a stretch. The combination lock with no tactile element pushes things further. But the lack of a video component in the sonic sunglasses takes things right over the edge. There is no way he can’t transmit an image of that lock to Bill’s phone. There is no reason a) the lab should vent to the outside under any circumstances whatsoever, b) the Doctor should be unable to get himself out of this particular mess, or c) Bill should decide that giving over to the Monks is the best option. I like that Pearl gets to stretch emotionally here, but I wish she had better motivation.

(My husband points out that like his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor can do anything – as long as it’s plot-convenient. Otherwise he suddenly can’t.)

And then Toby Whithouse returns, with one of his strongest episodes and definitely one of the strongest of this season so far. Post-Brexit, post-Trump, so full of fake news and fake history it’s hard for even the toughest to resist. The Monks’ world is beautifully depicted. The turncoat Doctor so close to believable, it’s no wonder Bill loses her faith. And there’s nothing better than imaginary Mum saving the day. I loved it. I start to wish that Whithouse instead of Chibnall were taking over next year. His stories just keep getting better.

Mark Gatiss’ episode next week looks simply delightful. “The Empress of Mars” brings to mind classic Edgar Rice Burroughs, Empress of the Racnoss, Kage Baker. The Empress herself may be the first female Ice Warrior we’ve seen. I look forward to meeting her.

“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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Anticipatory Absurdity   Leave a comment

I was going to post a bunch of links related to the new trailer, but as it turns out, I only have to post one: Doctor Who’s Day Trailer Roundup

Missy’s reaction and of course The Fan Show were key for me. Michelle Gomez is a delight in everything she does, and Christel’s squee level nicely matches my own. But plenty of other stuff at the link looks fun too. And then there’s ANOTHER Fan Show waiting which I haven’t even seen yet: Fanimation

We are rapidly running out of weekends on which to screen “Survival” before the premiere. After such a long wait it’s hard to believe that it’s almost here. Knowing it’s Capaldi’s last makes it bittersweet, but my excitement remains undimmed – as does my intent to watch Rona Monroe’s classic before her triumphant return.

Posted March 17, 2017 by Elisabeth in Cool Stuff, Season 10, Speculation, Video

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