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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:00 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
I've grown so sick of Moffat's Doctor Who, but this anti-war speech from Capaldi is brilliant. And something we need to hear.

The show has been good this year. A little dull, but more than ever it's attempting to copy 60s/70s Doctor Who, when the show was at its best. I can almost forget Moffat's casual sexism [and sexual harassment of characters] and how his plotlines are so often just convoluted nonsense that doesn't even make sense as a joke. If I could forget all that, maybe I'd fall for the show all over again. I certainly did during this scene.

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:58 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
Doctor Who: Sleep No More. I'm pretty sure that made no sense at all. There's a lot to discuss there, because maybe it made sense to somebody. Kids should like it. They won't understand it at all and it'll scare them. The ending is genuinely creepy, maybe the creepiest we've had. But when does it take place, and how? And what happens then? Capaldi also creepy in the right way, giving the material the right amount of gravitas. Which it lacked otherwise. Monsters came off kind of goofy and generic, and the show was literally gunshy, not wanting to show them getting shot at in most scenes. The Doctor seemed to be jumping to conclusions very quickly at first, without the evidence to back it up. They're clearly attempting the "base under siege by monsters" so familiar from old Who. But with more episodes and more time, the 60s/70s Doctors, Troughton especially, always knew more than they were saying, remaining quiet until all the evidence was in about what the threat was. Here, Capaldi accuses the scientist right away, and it sounds farfetched because we haven't seen it yet. The whole thing ends up being a bit farfetched and odd, even for Who ... but, did the bad guys win? What order is this all taking place in? When exactly is the last time we see the scientist "alive?" All his narration was clearly shot at the same time, but I guess it's supposed to take place at different times? Because of the ending? So he wins?

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:18 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
Too tired to work so kept watching.

Face the Raven .... seeing those unfinished black and white workprints last series has spoiled me. Whenever there's voiceover and ADR I'm reminded of how that was always unfinished in the workprints, and added to cover gaps. To cover things that were cut out or shortened, and seemed to need explaining. In Face the Raven, the music blares louder than the dialogue like the 2005 series used to do, and there's constant voiceover and ADR for awhile. Until Game of Thrones shows up in Diagon Alley, the entire episode feels unfinished. Like they only had some footage and slapped it together. Maybe they cut a lot so they could really milk the Clara situation later.

Bless them, Capaldi and especially Coleman are acting their hearts out. If I were less cynical I'd call these iconic scenes for the series. Coleman certainly gets a big speech and handles it perfectly.

It feels like they let Clara fall because of protocol, because of agreements, because it wouldn't be polite. It's so odd, and felt like an RTD episode. Maybe it always will when we have to say goodbye and they milk the emotion. They just kind of stand around letting the Thing happen, and it inevitably feels like something very small puffed up to bloating. Where's the Doctor who could "do anything?" Who would break the rules and save somebody? Well, not this time. I suppose that's coming in the next episodes.

Here's the thing ... Doctor Who used to look cheap and video-y. It was famous for that. Even the first 2005 series looked cheap and video-y in a different way, with their soft gauzy filming. The scripts and performances in the classic series always made up for how cheap it all was. Everyone took it seriously. Now the series looks less cheap every year, but the scripts got more cartoony. Like it could finally be a show you could take seriously visually and scriptwise, but the scripts just weren't up to snuff.

Well, the HD era of Doctor Who has been a bit like that. Now the picture is crystal clear and even the effects are often pretty good. Although they color correct it to teal and orange so it looks like colorless garbage. Because that's a default for HD now. Because someone - a lot of someones - watched Lord of the Rings and decided that real life has too many different colors in it. The crisp HD picture raises our expectation that maybe we're seeing a sort of adult drama series. But nah, it's Doctor Who. And there's still a feeling that things are a bit cheap around the edges.

There's nothing "bad" about this episode either. And the series has been kind of on a roll this season. But being somehow crap will always be part of the series' DNA, one way or another. I think it's because the show will always get our hopes up higher than it can actually achieve. It's a show that will always reach for the stars on a TV budget, and with the help of writers who learned to write by watching Doctor Who, and learned some of the right lessons and some of the wrong ones. It's a show that will always overreach. And that's worth celebrating.

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 6:45 am
by Garrett Gilchrist
Heaven Sent -- Wonderful and ballsy for television, to cut down on the words and have Capaldi star almost single-handedly. It's also something the show has been hinting at for awhile, that they might do more with Capaldi on his own. It makes for gripping television and a change of pace, with - for once - a mystery that comes together like clockwork. I had read the "bird" speech that sums up the episode before seeing this, and if I hadn't I wonder if I would have even followed the speech, since we only hear it in bits and pieces. It's rather an important idea for the episode.

As for Capaldi's acting, we know he was a fan of the series but one has to wonder just how much time he spent watching the series when he was younger. He's a gifted actor, but I hear and see so much of Tom Baker in him here. I wonder how much influence Mad Tom has had on him. You can throw in a physical resemblance to Jon Pertwee as well.

An episode I can recommend whole-heartedly. And a sign that when the show tries to do something different, it's usually for a good reason, and with a real idea behind it.

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 4:10 am
by Garrett Gilchrist

What a good year of Doctor Who. I should dispense with the snark. I really tried to hate it this year as per usual, but for once Moffat and company didn't make it easy. This was a throwback to 60s and 70s Doctor Who, when the show was at its best. Restrained and even classy. At first I thought this year was simply a bit dull and boring, but what it was really doing was growing up a bit and not embarrassing itself in the ways it constantly was before. Maybe they listened to the complaints - about the nonsensical plots, about the sexism and sexual harassment. Maybe this team of die-hard Doctor Who fans reconnected with why they loved the show in the first place.

Peter Capaldi has grown a shock of Jon Pertwee style hair and is presented as an aging rock and roller with guitar in hand, inevitably making me think of Rick and Morty. At times he looks eerily like the Third Doctor. Or the fourth - he often plays the part like Tom Baker would. Capaldi seems to understand that the scariest thing on Doctor Who back then was The Doctor himself. His Doctor speaks darkly, making sure we understand the danger of the situation.

While I'm not sure this year's finale made much sense either, it was also a gift to fans in some ways, presenting Gallifrey, The Time Lords, The Sisters of Karn, and a 60s-style TARDIS. Things weren't nearly as goofy and ridiculous as they've been in past years [Deep Breath, The Snowmen, Smith's finale]. You could almost watch the series as proper drama. This series actually worked hard to make the 50th Anniversary Special make more sense and have more weight in retrospect, spending a lengthy three episodes properly exploring the plot threads that went whizzing by during that show. I wasn't looking forward to seeing more of the Zygons and the all-female UNIT, but any hint at cartooniness gradually went out the window with a final anti-war speech from Capaldi that ought to go down as one of the series' best. As for Gallifrey, we see more from characters we only saw briefly in the 50th and it fleshes things out into more of a world, one that future writers could expand on. The whole Time War situation still doesn't make a ton of sense or carry the weight it did as an unknown, but the more we see of these characters the more sense it makes.

The series got downright experimental in its last few episodes, with an episode in which The Doctor is very nearly the only actor involved, as he tries to escape a trap in a castle, often wordlessly. For once the episode is smartly written and makes complete sense, and without focusing on dialogue it nearly comes across as art. Capaldi, for his part, carries the episode perfectly.

As for Jenna-Louise Coleman's Clara Oswald, she is given an extended goodbye that at first comes across as a little drawn out, over-sentimental and RTD-like. But Coleman is given big acting moments and extended speeches which she handles brilliantly. And in the final episode she returns to be given a proper goodbye which is complicated in all the right ways and really shows what the character is and what she stands for. In short, she becomes The Doctor while Capaldi becomes the companion left behind. And it could only have been this way. With Clara's presence in the series as such a long-running character now, and one so crucially involved in the 50th Anniversary, and teaching at Coal Hill School with a birthdate matching that of the show itself, and usually dressed in 60s schoolteacher mode, Clara Oswald has often been presented as the living embodiment of the television series Doctor Who. In her first appearances as "The Impossible Girl" she was more of a mystery than a character - a generic Doctor Who companion. But that's both a weakness and a strength. By this series, Jenna Coleman knows exactly what sort of character she's playing. She has a strong will and strong opinions. She makes her own decisions. She seeks to inspire The Doctor. Make him do the right thing. While I'm not sure her ending makes sense exactly, it is a delight to see and perfect for the character.

I find it hard to criticize what the show did this year. And that's surprising. I'm not sure I've had that reaction since Matt Smith's first series in 2010. There was nothing which made me want to wash my eyes out with bleach, nothing I'll be unable to unsee. Nothing like Matt Smith's finale where everyone's naked. Or Matt thinking about Clara's skirt. Or anything that happened in Love and Monsters or John Simm's appearances.

I wonder if it's Capaldi's influence. It certainly seemed, last year, that he toned down a lot of the worrying things about Smith's Doctor [which had crossed the line into sexual harassment] by simply not playing the scenes that way. Playing the part in a more traditional fashion, That has to have leaked out into how they've been writing him. And how Coleman has been playing Clara has affected the scripts as well.

So, okay, fine. I wonder if the general public liked it. For the first time in awhile I'm happy to see more of this.

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2015 10:25 am
by Garrett Gilchrist

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Tue Jun 20, 2017 6:42 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
The Doctor's "fakeout" of Bill in "The Lie of the Land" makes him a psychopath who doesn't care about her trauma. And it's exactly why, despite his other talents, Steven Moffat should not be running Doctor Who (or any other show to be honest).

The ending is a typical New Who copout too. Cliche at this point. The episode had a ton of atmosphere and good performances which they pissed away on a bad script, which is also very familiar.

This fellow put in words what I've been thinking for a long time. Moffat is a good, even great writer on other people's shows but lacks the qualities of a showrunner who can handle the long haul. And like RTD, if his worst instincts aren't reined in it's instant embarrassment:

Fuck it



So he manipulates and forces her to murder him? To murder her friend? Then plays it off like it's a surprise birthday party and none of that mattered? Not allowing her to process the psychological trauma of all that? Has anyone involved in this show ever been or met a human being?

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:18 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Doctor Who, these days, is almost a good show.

God, Doctor Who is almost such a good show.

But it's not, not, not, not, not.

Modern Doctor Who is a hot air balloon. It always has to be the biggest, greatest thing ever without actually doing the groundwork of being good. There's no substance because there's no restraint. It's the whole hog when a slice of bacon would do. It works in bits and pieces because those are the quieter, connective moments before it all goes too far to be taken seriously. And because they're a good cast and they're trying. Trying too hard.

What the old show did in four episodes over 90 plus minutes, the new show does with ten times the intensity in half the time.

12 years into the "new" series I can tell you with all certainty that this isn't a good thing. It was either RTD or Moffat who said that every episode burns up a feature film idea, in half the time. It shows. They need to look at the pace and feel that "normal" television and films actually have and calm down a bit. They need to find the everyday grounding that most shows have, even if they're not returning to the same characters and locations every week.

JG: "Bill's been the saving grace of this season."

It really stood out how much better Bill was than the recurring character who turned up at the end.

Which sums things up - half of it lets the side down somehow. So much stuff that just didn't work, but half of it was clearly working really well?

I've also missed John Simm's Master, who has never gotten a Doctor Who story to appear in which isn't embarrassing on some level. He is so good together with Michelle Gomez, but it's still fanwanky with scenes that go off the rails with overblown loud music etc.

(There's a scene at the beginning of the episode where the Doctor has defeated them in the way he usually would at the end of an episode, and it is so over the top that these three good actors are left just looking like imbeciles, whereas doing it in a much more subtle way, conversationally, would have been terrific.)

Simm made it work but as usual deserved better. At least he wasn't Crazy RTD Master. Small mercies.

Playing a more "normal" Master, Delgado style, I would happily have watched more of that. In a story which didn't already have a billion things going on and a cliffhanger that recalled Time-Flight of all stories ...

These days Doctor Who looks like a good movie, and it does all the things the old fans would want -- and I'm an old fan -- but it's just so far up its own ass ... .. . . .

It half works. Like, it gets halfway to being really good drama, and half just in love with itself and terrible, and clearly they can't tell the difference?

I'm a big 60s Who fan but I would trade any reference to the fucking Keys of Marinus (and 80s comics and audio dramas) for a show which knows how to set a tone that doesn't go completely over the top and lose itself.

It was kinda shocking how many characters/actors they bring back in this as Canon Companions and Major Characters in quick glimpses, just to canonize their own work as Important. They do a rundown of RTD companions, and then it's .... uh, a few extra characters you wouldn't have thought would count on that level. (Including Missy.) Technically he's thrown in two extra Doctors into the timeline as well ... . .

I actually feel bad about not liking it, but basically the same scripts, with the same cast, could work if they were less in love with themselves and knew where to draw the line. Which is the similarity to RTD's work, although he was emotional and empathetic where Moffat is just pretending to be ...

It's the headwriters -- first RTD and now Moffat, for some years now. They only work in small doses?

I've heard it said that every writer has one great Doctor Who story in them, and that if given the keys to the show they tend to write it over and over again .... . .

The character they suddenly make canon at the very end (no spoilers), are they doing an Xmas special with him? Sounds very fanwanky and odd. I don't know what to think. One of those "be careful what you wish for" situations. We liked the old Who because it was often well acted and subtle and worked as television. Just bringing back those characters and waving them in our faces only gets you so far. Halfway perhaps ...

Because it's odd to see them in such an overblown setting. The cliffhanger of the second to last episode was just a case of too much thrown together at the same time. Oh, it's the fifteenth origin story for these classic enemies, like you haven't seen them in a long time! Oh, it's your oldest enemies! Oh, it's etc etc etc. I mean, it worked fine but would have worked better with a lot less going on?

Doctor Who, when it's this fannish, demands at gunpoint that you sit in childish glee and think it's the GREATEST THING EVER. If you don't, what you're seeing is nonsense beyond parody.

I liked the 2015 series but it's been a long time to wait when the result leaves a bad taste in the mouth on a regular basis.

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 6:17 am
by Garrett Gilchrist

This is Doctor Who canon now. It bothers me that they purposely filmed and acted this amateurishly, when the original 1963 version exists and came out just fine (even though they worried enough that they reshot it). 60s crews knew what they were doing. They had to. Shows were basically shot live to tape. They couldn't screw up in any major way.

David Bradley also 20 years older than Bill Hartnell was, certainly now. Still, he mostly does the role justice.

Bill Hartnell isn't known as the best actor to ever play The Doctor, but he was the first and there is a certain magic about Hartnell's performance which impersonators fail to capture.

(Richard Hurndall's Doctor in The Five Doctors was also about twenty years older than Hartnell and played the part in an entirely different way. Though his presence was welcome regardless.)

David Bradley will now play the Doctor officially in a special, and I do expect a lot of that old magic will come along with him somehow. ... mages-info

Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:24 pm
by Garrett Gilchrist
Honestly, Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who will probably save the show. She's a star, and Steven Moffat's vague sexism was causing viewers to leave in droves.

Russell T. Davies, in 2005, built the show around Rose Tyler and courted the Buffy audience, seeking female fans openly in a way the show never had before. Women and gay men drove the show's success, but Moffat's "old fashioned" Who wasn't made for them.

I wasn't excited about Chris Chibnall taking over, as his work on Who spinoff Torchwood was abysmal. But something needed to be done to get the female fans back.

I was a lot more negative and disinterested in Moffat's Who than I expected, or than the show deserved considering how frequently great it still was and is. I have to remind myself that I loved the "Heaven Sent" series and the first Smith series, and lots of stuff along the way. Moffat did a lot of things right, masterfully even, but his work left a bad taste in my mouth enough times that it stuck.

And his attempts to reference and remix 60s and 70s Who were aimed at the old fans, not the evolving fandom. I'm saying this as someone who loves 60s/70s Who, and loves the show mainly because 60s/70s Who left such a great legacy.

But I got into the show because of the 2005 series. It was accessible, and it was about Rose Tyler. Moffat's jokes about looking up Amy Pond's skirt, or Amy Pond being attracted to herself, or Matt Smith's Doctor being naked in front of Clara, or this or that, it all adds up. Peter Capaldi was playing - brilliantly - a classic, old fashioned Doctor. That made a certain kind of fan check out too.