Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:50 am

Doctor Who: David Tennant has returned as the Tenth Doctor for Big Finish audio. The first set of three features Catherine Tate as Donna Noble, and the second features Billie Piper and Camille Coduri as Rose and Jackie Tyler.

The Rose stories are standard stuff for Big Finish, and it's interesting to hear Piper and Tennant take on stories that could have been written for Peter Davison. The Donna stories are the better ones, as they make more of an effort to include the big character moments, emotion and universe-shattering life changes that the Russell T Davies era was known for, and at least in audio form Tennant and Tate have a better rapport. (Though it's wonderful to hear Piper and Coduri again.)

In the audio format, characters need to be instantly recognizable on every line, and Tennant is the ideal Doctor for audio, always cranked up to 11. He's also still the most iconic Doctor of the new series. And these actors are still in their prime, if they were to return onscreen, but standard-issue Big Finish CDs will do.

Shockingly for me personally, the first story, Technophobia, is similar (at least in terms of the threat the Doctor is under) to a Sixth Doctor play I wrote in 2009 titled War of the Words, intending to submit it to Big Finish. I had hoped that it might get made someday. It's different enough, but still. It seems I can't watch a lot of genre material these days without being very strongly reminded of something I wrote years ago ...

https://youtu.be/9ErzS-zlaUA
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:20 pm

JOHN NATHAN-TURNER: So he says to Tegan, "Easy as pi,' the Greek letter pi. Surely you know some basic mathematics, child?"

WILLIAM HARTNELL: That makes no sense whatsoever.

JNT: We can replace you, you know
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:20 pm

STEVEN MOFFAT: So souffle girl says, "Don't steal that one, steal this one, the navigation system's knackered but you'll have a lot more fun. Now run, you clever boy, and be a Doctor!"
WILLIAM HARTNELL: I've never heard something so absurd.
MOFFAT: We can replace you, you know.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Dec 25, 2017 8:13 pm

Twice Upon a Time - Peter Capaldi's final Doctor Who story, in which he meets David Bradley as William Hartnell's first Doctor. It's certainly worth watching and about half of it works really well. This is mainly because of the brilliant cast. Just about nothing actually happens in the story, and the writing does a great disservice to Capaldi's Doctor. It starts (and ends!) with a refilmed version of bits of William Hartnell's final story, The Tenth Planet, lasting only about thirty seconds and cut like a trailer. This is the most exciting bit to see for a Classic Series fan, and should have lasted much longer - although "Polly" and "Ben" look nothing like themselves. This was also true of the docudrama film where Bradley played Hartnell (rather than The Doctor).

The whole cast is excellent. Although much older than Bill Hartnell was, David Bradley does a terrific job of playing the First Doctor, and it's actually clever how the script both celebrates him and calls him on his old-fashioned views about women. It's self-indulgent to bring (Sherlock co-creator) Mark Gatiss in for Steven Moffat's last story but to his credit Gatiss plays the heck out of the role. Pearl Mackie returns as Bill Potts, reminding us of everything that worked about the character, and Matt Lucas and Jenna Coleman also turn up briefly, for what is much less of a victory lap than "The End of Time" was. There's also Nick Briggs as a (specific returning) Dalek, if that even counts at this point.

I've been sick of Steven Moffat's style of writing for awhile now. It worked at first but got old very fast, and the main emotion I got out of this story was relief that there won't be any more like this. Just like Sherlock or Jekyll or just about any other character Moffat has ever written, Capaldi's Doctor Who is full of himself. He's obsessed with himself, and the show is obsessed with him. He shows very little concern for or interest in anyone else in this episode. While "Bill Potts" isn't exactly "Bill Potts" in this episode, it's odd that she seems to be doing her usual companion acting to a brick wall - neither Capaldi nor Bradley's Doctors are really engaging with what she's doing as a performer.

The storyline, such as it is, finds Capaldi's Doctor refusing to regenerate (into a new actor) for some reason, and preferring to die (for some reason) rather than keep on saving the universe. For me this makes Capaldi's Doctor sound like a tired, self-centered old narcissistic prick who can't see over his own dick. Capaldi is a terrific actor with great passion for the show and he deserved to go out as a hero rather than this. He's already "died" in the previous story, he's just delaying matters here.

No real heroism is required of him in this story and his final words are a self-indulgent, lengthy monologue delivered to himself about what he thinks the Doctor should be like. The next Doctor is actually a woman, Jodie Whittaker, so Capaldi will go down in history as the Doctor who mansplained himself to death. I don't recall any other regeneration requiring an instruction manual. We've had regenerative temper tantrums where the Doctor didn't want to die, but it's very odd, in this one, that he does want to die.

This is compared and contrasted with Bradley as the Hartnell Doctor, who apparently also didn't want to regenerate. This early Doctor expresses surprise at Capaldi's darkened Tardis, and at his sonic screwdriver and sonic sunglasses. The script doesn't make note that "The Doctor" didn't refer to himself as "The Doctor" (except as a name that others called him) until the Pertwee era or so. (Although it's in keeping with the Five Doctors Hurndall performance.)

Ah, but I'm getting fanwanky about this, which is what any of the joy of this episode is -- seeing a version of the First Doctor Tardis again (albeit one redesigned for this story), and seeing the First and Capaldi Doctors together. That's enjoyable, and so is a moment on the WWI battlefields of Ypres 1914.

Capaldi's hair has grown throughout his tenure and is now comically long - longer than his replacement's.

Directed by Rachel Talalay, one of Who's better directors, it all looks gorgeous and the cast give it their all. I just wish Capaldi's Doctor were written as less of a jerk, and I'm glad that we won't be hearing more from Moffat on this topic.

There's been a lot to love about Moffat's whole tenure, but like this story it only half worked, and so much leaves a bad taste in the mouth. He also inherited - from Russell T. Davies - the over the top tone where everything must be fast, loud and intense as much as possible - but it's the quieter moments that work best.

As for Jodie Whittaker, we don't see much of her - the TARDIS explodes and she's thrown out of it, and we're off to the races for whenever the show returns. She's a pretty, youngish blonde, but that worked all right for Peter Davison. As long as Adric doesn't show up.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:25 am

Doctor Who. It's madness that they filmed and then cut a more extended recreation of "The Tenth Planet" from "Twice Upon a Time" ... For some of us, this was the most interesting stuff in the episode. That being said, it probably didn't work as an intro to the episode itself, pulling focus from Capaldi's Doctor. This fanedit puts some behind the scenes iTunes clips into context ...

https://youtu.be/j-qeJZz8RXs?t=30
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