Archive for the ‘Series 10’ Tag

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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“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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3fer   Leave a comment

The latest piece of DW news is full of win.

The Return Of…

On the surface it’s all about the baddies. Capaldi has not been shy about his hopes for an encounter with the original Cybermen of Mondas. They of the spooky cloth faces introduced their race in the First Doctor’s final episode, and were never seen again. Until now…

But the buried lead is even more fun. A while ago I observed the empty space where a director’s name ought to go on the final two episodes of the season. Given how the last two seasons ended, I was hoping for another round of Rachel Talalay. And indeed, my hopes are answered.

Last but not least is the inclusion of one final name in the major cast: Michelle Gomez. Of course I’d already heard that she’d be back – but to have her for the final two-parter – very nearly the final of this Doctor’s career – is extra bonus fun.

More here, in the Who’s Day roundup.

Many Things*   Leave a comment

*what the TARDIS probably contains.

I have been remiss here of late. Other than the holiday special I have mentioned none of the fun DW related things that have abounded.

Well, maybe not abounded as such…

Ages ago, we finished watching the spinoff “Class.” As of yet the show has no future – it has not aired on actual TV and no second season is confirmed – although the series ended on a hell of a cliffhanger. It was a lot of fun overall: well made, well performed, with no more adolescent melodrama than you would expect from a show about teenagers and rather less than the supposedly grown-up Torchwood. Miss Quill, played by Katherine Kelly, is one of my new favorite characters. She is badass, vengeful, unfriendly, and unkind – the antithesis of the pretty blonde alien. I enjoyed the hell out of her.

Unfortunately our DW meetup group more or less disintegrated toward the end of last year. The organizer came down with a series of malignant viral infections, cancelling first the “Boom Town” and “Bad Wolf” screening and then the series-ending three-parter from “Bad Wolf” through “The Christmas Invasion.” Our S1 rewatch effectively ended with “The Doctor Dances” – not a bad place to stop, of course, but I was looking forward to finishing the season among my nerd horde. Still, we could resume come spring. A new organizer has stepped forward, and he hopes to add more social events as well as screenings to our calendar.

I thought I had posted earlier about a certain writer’s return to the show, but it appears I never finished the post. Ages back – last summer? last fall? it was teased that a classic DW writer would be writing an episode for S10. When I heard, I thought instantly of Ben Aaronovitch. Aaronovitch wrote “Remembrance of the Daleks,” in which Ace defends Coal Hill School with a baseball bat, and “Battlefield,” an Arthurian story with the Doctor in the role of Merlin. Both are strong, memorable stories from a difficult time in the show’s history. Since then, Aaronovitch has created his own ongoing series of novels about a young mixed-race London cop who can see ghosts and who learns how to do magic. The Rivers of London series is great fun and very nerdy – any DW fan will relate to Peter Grant right off the bat.

However, it isn’t Aaronovitch. The returning writer is Rona Monro. Monro wrote the very last aired classic DW story, with the oddly prescient name “Survival.” Since then she has written extensively for film, television, radio, and the stage. Her return, and that of Sarah Dollard, marks the second series in a row in which two (or more? 1 writer may still be TBA) episodes are written by women. Yes, a pittance against the 5 or more male writers appearing every season, but better than the long drought of series 5-8. (Not to mention 1, 2, and the vast majority of classic DW.)

I have not seen “Survival” but I plan to fix that before S10 begins.

On the topic of women behind the camera, I note that the director slot has yet to be filled for episodes 11 and 12 of the new series. Rachel Talalay has admirably taken that role the last two seasons. Dare we hope for three in a row?

Finally, the holidays may be over, but I only recently stumbled across the Doctor Puppet’s latest Christmas special. It’s adorable, as always. Enjoy.

 

S10 on tap!   Leave a comment

Here are a few new S10 tidbits (and some old ones too):

DW News

Favorite bits include set photos – those clothes! that hat! – and confirmed premiere date of Spring 2017. Since I was resigned to wait for fall, spring is good news. Even if it’s still forever away…

The source document from DW TV has some better images and mentions that the episode being shot is Sarah Dollard’s.

Neither has anything firm on other writers, just Moffat’s usual obscure tease. I hope some of them are worth the hype.

Days to go: too many.

Posted August 2, 2016 by Elisabeth in Cool Stuff, Season 10

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