Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:26 am

You make an excellent point about The Doctor's helplessness throughout these past eight stories.

Despite how there's never really being a pleasant time period in human history, there really was a kind of "security" to Doctor Who pre-1982, in the sense that, no matter what The Doctor & Co. are put through for four to six episodes, they will get back to the TARDIS for the next serial unless a cast change is announced months in advance in the Radio Times. I've been getting the feeling, looking back on the past decade, that kind of almost-invincibility that made then-audiences cheer on the main star is felt to be insulting these days. With every year that passes, the more the unfortunate path seems to be the one humanity is sliding down, I guess it's hard to accept a cheerful outcome in the entertainment we watch or even have "cheerful" entertainment that isn't in some way making metatextual commentary on itself to mock such a disposition. Probably not to bring anyone down but to make an attempt to even resonate with an audience; for better or worse, usually worse.

(In a way, that's the very appeal of the Raggedy Ann film for me, it's saccharine suicide, it's nothing but cheery overbearing optimism, it infects you with happiness and one can't help be happy, even the Camel's song has a Silver Hammer effect where the tune is so upbeat and catchy you can't help but sing the disturbingly sad lyrics along with it.)

I find most of the "entertainment" I consume in the background while I'm doing something to be either highly mocking or sarcastic to extreme levels, I rarely even think to just watch a film or read something fiction-rich anymore cause it feels like a waste of time, instead of inspiring or absorbing whatever it is becomes a reminder that I wouldn't need fantasy if life were currently worth living, which is a stupid mental loop to become trapped in, it's so depressing.

The fact the 13th Doctor doesn't swoop in and solve absolutely everything definitely harkens back to the Hartnell/Lambert/WIles eras of Who far more than anything done last year, serials from that time would so often end with some kind of idea that the good inhabitants left were going to "rebuild" or "try harder" and The Doctor becomes a kind inspiration in the end for them, or when Wiles came in and decided to make him fail in saving anything on a small scale for the most part, only helping to make sure some kind "bigger picture" is assured to happen. Jodie's 13th Doctor definitely seems to be in the Lambert Zone more than Wiles thankfully, but with that darker adult quality that a David Whitaker-penned or Douglas Camfield-directed serial would have.
This is the best I could've hoped for with Chibnall at the helm, I'm happy with what's aired so far overall. Back then I didn't like his announcement because all the previous shows he's helmed that I've watched have been too bleak and un-envigorating for my tastes, no matter the cast. He's brought some of that bleak sensibility to Doctor Who, but thankfully in a more digestible and oxymoronically uplifting format, dealing with family and societal issues which are both given when needed: substance, weight and more importantly to me - hope. Definitely could use some hope in my life right now, we all could.

Also, I love slightly-witty friend-banter so finally having a larger TARDIS crew is ticking that box.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Nov 26, 2018 10:37 pm

Well put.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:07 am

Finally, some new lore that wasn't referencing or retconning something! Today's episode was quite charming, plus a nice landmark step in Graham and Ryan's story arc, definitely what I'd call "a good episode on its own, but a great episode in the context of the season."
Love the flipped effect, so simple, but so effective, that's a proper Doctor Who FX idea.
Odd note: This was the first time I noticed Yaz's training as a police officer being brought up since the premiere. (It finally clicked for me, outside of naturally being a family-person why she's kind of the main PR person of the TARDIS group when the Doctor separates them all.)

Some subtle touches to the Doctor's character in this one: Making Ryan stay to look after Hanne instead of Yaz, knowing that he'd accept the idea that the dad wasn't coming to help better than the others, and maybe also make sure he might have time to show he's not as rude a person as his quip about abandonment made him seem. The Doctor's discussion with the Solitract, my goodness it has been FOREVER since I've seen the Doctor written and performed in a way that he/she is speaking equally (or on-a-similar-level) as someone/something else. It's something that as far as I'm concerned should happen every now and again to balance the endless "I'm the greatest thing ever" way the Doctor is usually written.
Even Graham Williams/Anthony Read had the Timelords written in more and the Guardians invented to balance Tom's Doctor. It gave him something "above him in class" to grumble about.
Also, cool points: Eleanor Wallwork, first actual blind actor in all of Doctor Who! Another bit of First Icing to add to the "About Bloody Time!" cake.

A whole lot of fun, a lot of character and lore growth in 50 minutes, and for the first time in this season I actually felt the pacing/editing flowed just right.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Oliver Judd » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:11 am

Yeah it could well only be context, but that last episode charmed the pants off me. Best Doctor Who of the season by a mile, and personally preferable to anything since 'Heaven Sent'. Just a rock-solid piece of sci-fi, and for the first time since the pilot I really bought into all the character moments (especially from the Doctor, Ryan, and Graham), and laughed plenty. And that weird, weird final reveal! So odd but so sweethearted. The show could do with a few more outright surrealist moments like that, Jodie could easily pull it off.

Not to forget Ribbons.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:04 am

Doctor Who: "It Takes You Away" by Ed Hime.

Hearing this episode referred to (not just by Oliver) as the best this year damaged it a little for me, as I was hoping to be a little more impressed than I was. It's a smaller episode in terms of scope - it doesn't look particularly expensive, though it plays with some big ideas - new ones even, for the series.

At heart it's a small character piece about grief and letting go. We've had a few episodes this year where not all of the four lead characters get a chance to shine. With the storyline of the week taking priority, Ryan, Yaz and Graham haven't always gotten much to do that's interesting, or that shows off their unique qualities as characters. The writing this week is unusually focused on these characters, and we get a clearer sense of who they are than in almost any episode this year. It works as a companion to "The Woman Who Fell To Earth." Yaz's police training, Ryan missing his father, Graham missing Grace, and The Doctor's unique point of view as a Time Lord all come into play. There's some subtle stuff going on that gives the actors a chance to show what they're made of.

Ubiquitous comedy actor Kevin Eldon also turns up, unrecognizable in Buffy-like makeup as an untrustworthy trader in a darkened cave between worlds, in scenes which walk the line between funny and dark. (It's supposed to be literally dark in the cave but we'll just have to take the blue and red lighting's word for it.) And in an admirable stroke of representation, the series casts blind actress Ellie Wallwork as the blind girl Hanne.

It all becomes a bit cliched as it goes, although admirably surreal, and calling to mind the stranger stories in old Doctor Who, such as Enlightenment, Kinda and The Mind Robber. The main-cast actors perform it all admirably, but it's hard to shake the feeling that they're setting up interesting ideas that they don't do a whole lot with. It's all over a bit too quickly, and too cheaply, with an amusingly unconvincing animatronic in a sparse white set. It's just good enough to leave me wanting more, and shaking my head at the production's lack of ambition.

At this point in the series, it's great to get an episode which really does some strong character work, and presumably lays some ground for what we're going to see in the finale. The episode does a lot to make the three companions feel like real people, continually going to a more subtle place with the characterizations than I would have expected. Wouldn't mind more like this.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby SirQuacky » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:30 pm

Lovely season finale, a bit too slow in the first half, but that ending was everything I wanted and more. I'm very happy with how this season turned out.
Over the whole season: The cast did a fantastic job, the crew too, the writing was heavy in some spots but a breath fresh air (FRESH I SAY) after eight years fanservice effluvia.

I usually like to count the specials as the epilogue of seasons rather than beginnings, so I feel it won't truly be complete until New Years, but for the 10 main episodes/serials/storylines, what a lovely sequence.

The only mark down I can give "The Battle" is that it's only major rewatchability value it has is in context with the season, but as far as I'm concerned, that's what a modern-day single-parter finale should be, so it's no big issue, just worth mentioning.

I'M HAPPY FOR ONCE, eeeee.
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Re: Through Time & Space: The Doctor Who Thread

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Mon Dec 10, 2018 3:30 am

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DuCR570WsAEnenO.jpg

Doctor Who : The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos by Chris Chibnall. The title is a mouthful, especially compared to comparable episodes "The Stolen Earth" and "The Pirate Planet." As Entertainment Weekly put it, this is a solid if underwhelming finale to a solid if underwhelming year. An enemy returns, and Graham and Ryan's character arcs don't conclude but reach a destination. I was happy with it, and fans of this year's series get a fair amount of payoff. There is also a New Year's special coming shortly which may deliver more of a conclusion, though I doubt it. I get the feeling the show is happy to continue on with this cast for 2020 - yes, they're apparently skipping another year, something which killed enthusiasm in Moffat's tenure.

The Doctor references Russell T Davies episodes The Stolen Earth and Boom Town in this episode to remind us what the TARDIS is really capable of. Jodie has been a more humble Doctor, underselling herself without all the world-shaking confidence and bravado that previous Doctors could summon up at times. The Stolen Earth was as overblown as RTD's era got, bringing back all his lead characters and believe its own hype. This episode also deals with stolen planets but could almost pass for just another adventure of the week. It looks great, with lovely location filming, but it's not selling itself as a universe-shaking television event. This got very old in the RTD and Moffat eras, as the series got increasingly and obnoxiously self-assured. Most of what we got sick of with the previous showrunners is absent this year, but in its place there's a void. The series isn't as silly this year. It's not as embarrassing. And it's not as ambitious or as fun. As with last week, there's a lot of big cosmic ideas happening here, and some new lore for Doctor Who, and it's all very interesting, and plays reasonably well as straightforward sci-fi. But it's still very low-key for a Doctor Who finale. We've gotten too used to the delirious nonsense of The Doctor and All His Recurring Friends fighting The Daleks and the Cybermen and The Master to save the universe and All of Time Itself.

This episode delivers a huge cosmic threat, and makes it very personal to the main cast, but it really doesn't feel like that big a deal. Much like The Ghost Monument, this could be an episode from any sci-fi series since the 90s, not just Doctor Who. Alternately, it's not too hard to imagine the classic series of Doctor Who doing the same plotline in an even more casual way. It could be a Key to Time story like The Pirate Planet, or something with The Fifth Doctor.

As a sci-fi piece it was more ambitious than the show has been this year, and I'm not going to pretend that the RTD and Moffat eras actually delivered on their grand-scale ambitions. But knowing this was the last regular episode of the year gave me a distinct sense of "Was that it?" The lack of returning enemies from the show's past has given it a chance to forge its own identity this year, even if it doesn't give the fans as much to talk about. The ratings have gone way up, and Jodie's debut outperformed Eccleston's. It's all been solid enough stuff, dealing beautifully with issues of racism, family and grief. It's almost the opposite tactic Moffat used toward the end, when he brought back two Masters, the Hartnell-era Cybermen and the Hartnell-era Doctor.

The show isn't embarrassing this year, and its lows aren't as low. Its highs aren't as high either, and I was left wanting more, wanting a few more episodes which really tick all the boxes for Who fans. Another year of episodes in this vein would probably do the trick for me, and the lack of big moments here means the show can presumably just continue as it has. But we'll have to wait for 2020, which is a shame.

Interestingly, the teaser for the New Year's Special shows Jodie Whittaker's Doctor channeling the confidence of either Smith or Tennant, saying this planet is protected. Her Doctor hasn't usually hyped herself up in that way, saying things like "I'm just a traveler." That's not a bad thing, as it's truer to what the Doctor has been like traditionally, and that confidence would probably look strange coming from a female Doctor. But she has felt a little ineffectual, and the whole series has had a more subdued, muted tone.

That being said, it's all been pretty good. There's a lot less to complain about than there's been in previous years, with few cringeworthy moments and a general sense that this is a solid sci-fi show where those involved know what they're doing. I just wish they'd go a little more nuts with it. It's strange to see a series of Doctor Who that's mostly sensible rather than silly.
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