Friday, September 07, 2007

The Triumphant Return of the Doctor Who Discussion Post

Tonight's Doctor Who episode here in the US is "The Family of Blood," meaning that all you poor souls who had to wait for two weeks to see the conclusion can finally ease your suffering. As usual, if you've got something to say, talk! But no spoilers past the current episode, please.

55 comments:

  1. Tonites episode,IMO,shows how good of an actor David Tennant is. I thought his articulation as John Smith was very believeable. It will be interesting to see if the relationship with Martha will go any further. Wondering how the Cloak and Dagger from the past episodes will progress.

    I am also pleased with the way the Period Settings are handled.

    Finished 2nd tape of Farscape. Some episodes, to me, were not terribly good. Still watching and enjoying.

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  2. He is quite a good actor, yeah. I'll point out, by the way, that the voice he uses for the Doctor normally isn't his usual voice, because in real life he has a rather pronounced Scots accent. He's very good at doing different things with his voice, I think, and the way he makes John Smith sound subtly different from the Doctor is interesting. Somebody told me they thought his accent actually sounded different, I don't know if it's that or if his speech patterns are just a bit different, more subdued... But it works well.

    As for Farscape, the beginning of the first season is very uneven, and even I will admit that some of those early episodes are far from great. It's worth keeping going until the end of the season, though. If you're not at least reasonably impressed by then, you probably never will be.

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  3. I recently re-watched a little early Farscape myself, and it is almost like watching a different show sometimes, or at least a show struggling to be what it became. But there are some terrific episodes in the season, some really early groundwork for things to come, and a real natural progression. And, because there's no reset button in Farscape, a lot happens in a single season.

    On a slightly related topic, it's recently occurred to me that "Pilot" really wouldn't be Pilot's name, would it? I mean, that's his title or his species, but not necessarily his name. I don't think we ever got names for the few other Pilots we saw ("The Way We Weren't," "Crichton Kicks"), but is that because they don't have names, or just because nobody ever thinks to ask?

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  4. Agreed on all counts. And there's stuff that happens in the first season that turns out to have important consequences that are in no way evident on first viewing. I love the way the show builds on itself in that regard, but it does mean that it works best if you start at the beginning and pay attention.

    As for Pilot's name, either possibility is reasonable, but my own guess is that most species couldn't pronounce their real names, so it's just easier for everybody involved to go with "Pilot." It's not like you can ever really get two of them in one place in order for confusion to arise.

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  5. Wow
    Dad very good post regarding tonights episode. I couldn't agree more. I must say I was intrigued by the commercial for next week's episode. Gary is downstairs watching "Lady in the Water". I was coughing my head off so I'd thought I'd amuse myself with some Maximum Verbosity.

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  6. Next week's episode is brilliant. The guy who wrote it also did last season's "The Girl in the Fireplace" (which just won a Hugo award) and the first season's "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" (which also won a Hugo award), and he is my new favorite Doctor Who writer ever.

    I hope the blog's been sufficiently amusing! Poor you and your coughing. :(

    And when Gary's done watching "Lady in the Water," ask him if it's worth renting. I kind of went off Shyamalan after Signs, 'cause that movie just pissed me off.

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  7. It took me a bit to get into Farscape, but then it caught me. Season 1 is shakey in the beginning, but really picks up as it moves along.
    Just bought a Cyberman for Gavin's son Herman. Going to talk to Gavin about splitting on the dual remote control Daleks for Herman for Christmas. In the meantime I figure I will nab a Clockwork Robot, an Ood, some Autons and maybe the empty child for Herman along the way. I nabbed the ninth doctor for myself.

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  8. As an example of the kind of rationalizing my brain tends to do when it comes to talking myself into things I already want, anyway, I am now thinking, "See, I should get some action figures so I'm not left out!"

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  9. ...but my own guess is that most species couldn't pronounce their real names, so it's just easier for everybody involved to go with "Pilot."

    That's also a possibility. I'd sort of like to see more of the Pilot homeworld and learn more about them as a species and society. Maybe in the webisodes or whatever that leads to...

    And I quite like my Face of Boe "action" figure...

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  10. That would certainly be interesting.; there's something kind of fascinating about them.

    One of the cool things about Farscape, really, is how very rich the universe feels. There are so many species/planets/cultures/etc. that we get only little glimpses of, or know only through one individual. That one brief flashback scene on Pilot's planet is more than we see of most of the main characters' homeworlds! And yet there's a strong sense of all of them being real, complex, interesting places. There's way more of that universe to explore than they ever had time to get around to on-screen.

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  11. Definitely, which is the reason I think there's plenty of room for future stories in the universe. While I do think the miniseries was about as perfect as could be at tying up the loose threads of the four seasons (maybe even better than a fifth season, given the way most of the fourth before "Bad Timing" went), I do think there's a lot left untold. I'm optimistic about this new webisodes, not least of all because Brian Henson has referred to them as a jumping-off point, a way of getting into the next chapter of the Farscape story. So there's hope it won't just end with online eps.

    And, however uneven the first season might be, I don't think there's a single bad episode -- whatever the cast and writers might have had to say about "Jeremiah Crichton" aside. With episodes like "A Human Reaction" and "Family Ties," I'll take uneven.

    I'm trying to be as spoiler-free as I can, since some of the commenters are just getting into the show.

    By the way...any progress on that thing you owe me...? :)

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  12. I agree with Pop. Tennant was quite convincing as Smith contemplated leaving the life he knew and the woman he loved for the greater good of humanity.

    Hmm... he might make _Hamlet_ watchable.

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  13. Fred: I thought the miniseries generally did a great job in the time it had to work with, but some of the loose ends I was most interested in never did get tied up. And, I suspect, probably never will. Ah, well.

    I'm trying not to expect too much from the webisodes -- if I didn't think the miniseries could deliver everything I wanted in a few hours, there's no way it's going to happen in a few minutes -- but I, too, am really pleased about the possible implications of that "jumping-off point" comment.

    I am making progress on the thing I owe you, yes. Slowish progress, so far, I admit, but I've got the ball rolling, and I should have a lot of time to work on it this week, so I should have no problem getting it finished. You said you wanted it by the 16th, right? I promise, come hell or high water, you'll get it by then. I'm a little worried about whether it's any good, or whether it's quite what you were hoping for, but you'll have it.

    Captain C: Yes, I found his performance in those scenes really very moving. I, um, may at some point have cried. :)

    And I actually really love Hamlet, despite various English teacher's best attempts to turn me off Shakespeare completely. :) I wish I could see Tennant doing it.

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  14. Betty beat me to it. I was going to comment that I really like Hamlet as well and agree with Betty that it is despite English teachers! And since I wasn't in the "super smart" classes like Betty and Captain C. I only got to read some abbreviated version of Macbeth(yes I know I could have read it on my own, come on!I have since done so however as an adult I digress).Anyway, we still managed to be tortured by the teacher making us perform a scene on the stage in the auditorium. Our class was the only was in there, how stupid!!! I got to recite Julius Caesar in the classroom! Like Julius Caesar by the way.

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  15. By the way, speaking of David Tennant and acting did anyway see that Casanova movie he was in?

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  16. Us "super-smart" kids never did read Macbeth. I did... Let's see if I remember... Romeo and Juliet (in eighth grade, a year before we were supposed to, which made my 9th grade English teacher unhappy -- and me, too, because he probably would have made it much more interesting), King Lear (which damned near turned me off Shakespeare for good, it was so very, very badly taught), Hamlet (which I adore, possibly because the ending reminds me of Blake's 7), and Henry IV, Part 1 (for some unfathomable reason).

    I have a copy of Julius Caesar I keep meaning to get around to, but, like so many books, never quite do.

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  17. I think it was a TV series he played Casanova in, wasn't it? I haven't seen it.

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  18. The 16th or sooner would be great, yes. Thanks!

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  19. OK, you'll get it by then at the latest. I doubt you'll get it much earlier, but it's possible I might have it done by Friday or Saturday.

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  20. Hey there,
    I think we would consider the Casanova thing a "miniseries" since it was like 3 one hour episodes or something like that. It's gotten some really good reviews so I'd love to get a hold of a US compatible version, wink wink.
    Definately read Julius Caesar, I really liked it. How do make italics and quoting and fancy stuff like you all do?

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  21. OK, "miniseries" sounds good. I might like to get hold of a copy sometime, myself. If I do, I'll let you know.

    You can use HTML tags for things like italics. For example, if you want to italicize something, you put < I > before it and < /I > after it. Except without the spaces, because if I didn't stick those in there, it would think I meant to italicize the words between the two tags. Try it!

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  22. Ohhh that's what the little blurb under the commend box means! :)
    I don't really use html so I'm not real familiar.
    test

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  23. It worked! Yay! You can use "b" instead of "i" for bold, and you just put in links by doing: < a href = "URL goes here" > some text < /a >. Again, minus the spaces.

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  24. Fred: On General Hospital, the Quartermaines (the rich family) have a cook they call "Cook". During one episode years ago, we learned that her name actually is Cook.

    Betty: I might have cried. If so, that is a remarkable human suit you have! Much better than the Slytheen (sp?).

    You weren't in my high school by 9th grade, so you wouldn't know that we, too, read Romeo & Juliet that year. (We also saw the movie afterwards.) Then we read Merchant of Venice and had a party to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday.

    Thanks for the html lesson. (As you can see, I applied it liberally.)

    I have Macbeth on my bookshelf right now. It was one of my dad's books in the "to be disposed of" pile, so I thought I'd give it a chance before taking it to the . There also is my great-uncle's copy of Shakespeare's complete works on a bookshelf at my mom's house, but I haven't had the heart to tackle it yet. I feel that seeing a performance (live or movie) makes The Bard (note: "the definite article") much more understandable.

    I wish I could see Tennant doing it. Road trip!

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  25. Oops. That link was supposed to be just for words "used bookstore" (which didn't appear at all). Maybe I ought to stay with italics, as I seem not to have messed that up. :(

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  26. On General Hospital, the Quartermaines (the rich family) have a cook they call "Cook". During one episode years ago, we learned that her name actually is Cook.

    Of course, from the very little we see of the Pilot homeworld (and what Pilot himself says), I do get the sense that there are some of them who are never bonded to Leviathans, or who at least spend many more years before they're deemed ready.

    Interestingly, Leviathans all seem to have individual names. There were Builders, who created the Leviathans (or at least the original ones), but that's not an idea they came back to often.

    It would be interesting to see how the Pilot/Leviathan symbiosis came about. In theory, the Peacekeepers and control collars are only a relatively recent addition, and there are presumably free Leviathans (not just escaped ones like Moya). But without the Peacekeepers to help join the two together, it's unclear how the Pilots would ever even see a Leviathan. Unless the Builders created them, too.

    I feel like I need to re-watch a couple of episodes. They're not really favorite episodes, but I've been consistently amazed at how many little details and hints the writers snuck in, even early on.

    As for Tennant, I'd never actually seen him in anything before Doctor Who -- excluding Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, since I really didn't remember him in that. I liked elements of his performance in the second season, but I think I was still missing Eccleston and thrown by the difference. In the third season, though, he's been really terrific. Some of that, as Betty's noted, is probably due to Martha being better suited to him as a companion than Rose. I'm disappointed that hey may not stick around for more than another season or two.

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  27. Captain C: Somehow, that Cook thing is far too amusing. :)

    And we watched the movie version of R&J in the ninth grade, too, even though we'd read the play the previous year. But, as I recall, they'd cut the sex scenes out. High school kids never get to have any fun. I agree that seeing Shakespeare performed really helps one appreciate it, although reading the plays is good, too, because it means you can take your time understanding the language. I think the ideal situation is to read it, watch a good performance, then read it again, then maybe watch a different performance. Assuming one has the interest or dedication, anyway. I sort of did that with Hamlet, actually, come to think of it.

    You just need more practice with the HTML. :) You can always hit "preview" on the comment to see if you've gotten it right.

    Also, yeah, road trip! Although a road trip to England is kind of problematic, really.

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  28. Fred: Yes, one definitely gets that sense about the Pilots. Whether Pilots who aren't, er, pilots are still called Pilots, I don't know. My guess is that the Peacekeepers, at least, don't give a crap what they call themselves and tend to refer to them all as Pilots because that's the only context in which they're interested in 'em.

    I don't know whether the Builders created Pilot's race as well as the Leviathans or not, but I do get the impression that they set up the whole symbiosis thing at the beginning. Maybe there were/are other species that help bring them together, too. Or maybe... Well, yeah, again, Farscape leaves lots of gaps in which there's ample room for speculation.

    Personally, I think "The Way We Weren't," in which we do glimpse the Pilot homeworld, is way up there on the list of best episodes. It makes me cry every damned time. Which is sort of embarrassing, but, hey, I don't think I'm the only one.

    The only thing I've seen Tennant in other than Who is Harry Potter, really. I wasn't too sure about him as the Doctor at first, myself -- he is a heck of a change from Eccleston -- but he really does grow on you, doesn't he?

    I don't believe there's been an official confirmation, but everything I hear seems to indicate he's almost certainly going to be around through at least 2010. I can't imagine why they'd make 2009 a light season if it weren't in order to keep him around for at least another year, despite his commitments. And by all accounts, he loves doing it. We may in fact be seeing him as the Doctor for quite a while. Who knows?

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  29. Personally, I think "The Way We Weren't," in which we do glimpse the Pilot homeworld, is way up there on the list of best episodes. It makes me cry every damned time. Which is sort of embarrassing, but, hey, I don't think I'm the only one.

    Oh absolutely. You can definitely see why Claudia Black said she added scenes with Pilot (who, remember, is basically a very big puppet) to her clip reel.

    When I mentioned episodes that weren't necessarily my favorites, but that do have some Pilot lore in them, I was thinking more about "Look at the Princess" (where the Builders turn up) and "Meltdown" (where you have, I guess, the anti-Builders). Although I do actually like both, "Princess" especially, so...um, never mind.

    And yeah, until I see a confirmed statement that he's leaving, or that someone else has been cast, I don't have a clue what's up. He definitely comes across as a longtime Who fanboy in the commentaries and interviews -- whereas I think Eccelston was more a fan of Russell T. Davies.

    Tennant definitely grew on me this past year. I think I mentioned this before, but whereas Eccelston's Doctor made love that show, Tennant's has made me start to love all of Who. (Well, grow absurdly more interested, at any rate.) I think they were trying too hard for similarities to Ecceleston's Doctor in the second season. (The unspoken love between the Doctor and Rose seems very much a remnant of that, for instance.) But in the third, with Martha to really push him and offer a very different dynamic, I think Tennant has really been able to grow into the role.

    From what little I've seen, his seems a much more typical Doctor than Eccelston's.

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  30. Betty: But, as I recall, they'd cut the sex scenes out. Not in our school, baby. ;b... Pity you didn't move to Cherry Hill a year earlier.

    Fred: (Well, grow absurdly more interested, at any rate.) Ditto. Betty and I have had e-mail discussions about this (Eccleston vs. Tennant, Rose vs. Martha), but if you're curious, I can add some of the comments here (and push this string to 50 comments).

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  31. Well, it would be a novel concept, using these Doctor Who comment threads Betty's set up to actually discuss Doctor Who for a change...

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  32. Fred: Yeah, "Look at the Princess" is good, actually. And I very much like "Meltdown," although, although I may be the only Scaper in existence who fast-forwards through the John/Aeryn bits and watches the Stark scenes, instead of the other way around. :)

    Tennant is apparently a huge Who fanboy. I read an article once where he was given a Doctor Who trivia test (which even I didn't know all the answers to), and he got a perfect score. I also saw a quote from Paul McGann recently, where he said that the first time he'd met Tennant, many years ago, he thought the guy was incredibly rude because he hardly spoke to him, and only realized much, much later that the guy was in fact utterly tongue-tied at being in the presence of "the Doctor." Which strikes me as pretty much the most adorable thing ever. :)

    You're quite right, I think, in that Tennant is a much more typical Doctor than Eccleston. I love Eccleston's Doctor to pieces, but he's definitely atypical.

    (Is it snarky of me, by the way, to say that I kind of wish the "unspoken love between the Doctor and Rose had gone more unspoken?)

    And I'm really enjoying all the conversations in these threads, Who-related or not. But, hey, you can never have too many Who-related comments. :)

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  33. Hmmm I think I remember a sex scene in Romeo and Juliet too. We watched it in the 9th grade at West. However, when I say sex scene you know I'm sure there is a version with nudity or whatever.

    As far as David Tennant. I read a thing that he was a big Doctor Who fan and that's one of the things that got him into acting. Also agreed that I didn't care for him at first in season two, but I think I rather like him more than Eccleston. I am very found of his portrayal of The Doctor.

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  34. Yeah, I think there was nudity, and that's what got cut. At least in Pennsauken. West might have been more progressive for all I know. :)

    I think Tennant was recently voted the Most Popular Doctor Ever in some poll or other, but it's hard to know whether that means much, as the current guy always has a huge advantage.

    (I have another "David Tennant is a big Whovian fanboy" story, too, but it's a teensy bit spoilery, so I think I'll wait a few more episodes. :))

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  35. (Is it snarky of me, by the way, to say that I kind of wish the "unspoken love between the Doctor and Rose had gone more unspoken?)

    Not at all. I liked that we could see Rose's infatuation with the Doctor (she is only human, after all), but I would have preferred that the Doctor's response not go further than affection. Eccleston seemed more touchy-feely, which probably contributed to him leading Rose on.

    And, so far, I'm liking the interplay between Tennant's Doctor and Martha. Martha has now voiced her feelings, "I love him to bits," (which we already sensed because Agyeman is an excellent actress, too), but the Doctor has been almost as obvious with his unwillingness to reciprocate (almost as if his relationship with Rose scared him, and remembering how some previous companions left him, I don't blame him for not wanting to become attached to anyone).

    "I wuv you. I wuv you," said the little blue man. "I wuv you. I wuv you to bits." He loved me, he loved me, said the little blue man - and scared me right out of my wits."
    "The Little Blue Man", sung by Betty (appropriately enough) Johnson
    http://www.rockabilly.nl/lyrics2/
    l0066.htm (that's an "el", not a "one")

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  36. but I would have preferred that the Doctor's response not go further than affection

    It's debatable whether or not it did, or to what extent. (Watch out! Fan grenade! :))

    almost as if his relationship with Rose scared him

    This is sort of my take on it... The Doctor, IMHO, is sort of the universe's biggest commit-o-phobic. And his relationships tend to be -- by his standards -- very much short term. After all, given that he mostly tends to hang around with humans, long-term by Time Lord standards isn't really an option. I think he did let himself get a bit too attached to Rose, after imprinting on her as the first person to come along after the Time War with all its attendant guilt and loneliness, but Rose a) couldn't possibly last long-term any more than anybody else, and b) was showing signs of wanting things, relationship-wise, that he couldn't give her. (Note carefully the scene in "The Impossible Planet" where she's talking about maybe being stuck there and having to get a mortgage together, where she's smiling and he's... not. :))

    I do think it makes sense that that leads him to want to hold Martha at a bit of a distance, or at least not encourage her the way he did Rose. Which leads to some rather contradictory behavior, as he at first seems to be leading her on a bit, then turns an extremely blind eye to her obvious interest, but is still being his affectionate, huggy self the whole while.

    Unfortunately, all this, and some stuff later on, has led some fans to object that this constitutes really, really bad treatment of Martha and implies that the Doctor thinks she's not as good as Rose, or even that there are weird racist undertones to the whole thing. I most definitely don't see that myself, but I do kinda-sorta see where it comes from.

    The Little Blue Man", sung by Betty (appropriately enough) Johnson

    Heh. I've got that on CD. It would never have occurred to me to realize it was relevant. :)

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  37. I may be the only Scaper in existence who fast-forwards through the John/Aeryn bits and watches the Stark scenes, instead of the other way around.

    I dunno, I like the Stark stuff there, too. Actually, that's most of what I remember from the episode. I don't feel like the character was handled terrifically well in the fourth season...but that might just be me, misremembering things. And, even if true, might just be because Paul Goddard was only an occasional guest star at that point, or because Stark was off "finding himself" and coming to terms with a lot of things. (I feel like I really need to re-watch the fourth season and re-evaluate. "Crichton Kicks" and "Bad Timing" may be the only two I've watched more than once.)

    Is it snarky of me, by the way, to say that I kind of wish the "unspoken love between the Doctor and Rose had gone more unspoken?

    I dunno. I think it's an arc that worked well in the first season but that felt very much tacked on in the second. I know there's some divide among Who fans about just how romantic or sexual the Doctor ought to be. I don't have a real history with the show, so I don't know about that. I think the Doctor's sort of asexual nature is maybe part of what makes the character work...but, at the same time, a totally asexual (or at least unromantic, un-passionate) character really isn't as interesting to me. It's a tricky situation, and it'll be interesting to see where they go next year given the developments with Martha.

    About which I shall not speak yet, for spoiler reasons. Although I do get the vague sense that they're working up to showing us more of Galifrey and the Doctor's past. I know there are probably Who fans who would be just as happy to leave that alone and keep it vague, but I can't help but be intrigued by lines like "I was a dad once," and want to know more.

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  38. Tennant is apparently a huge Who fanboy.

    In the commentary for "Gridlocked," he and Russel T. Davies spend some time discussing obscure Who monsters and acknowledging how geeky that makes them.


    Unfortunately, all this, and some stuff later on, has led some fans to object that this constitutes really, really bad treatment of Martha and implies that the Doctor thinks she's not as good as Rose, or even that there are weird racist undertones to the whole thing. I most definitely don't see that myself, but I do kinda-sorta see where it comes from.


    I felt more like a) The Doctor didn't really want another companion at that point, and b) the writers didn't want to make Martha just a replacement Rose. Of course, the whole thing's a bit muddied by that brief interlude with Donna, the runaway bride, in the Christmas special and...damn. Well, "stuff to come," let's say. I'm both interested and worried to see where things go next season. I quite like Freema Agyeman.

    I worry just a little that I liked this season so much because I watched it online and -- until about now, actually; until "Blink" -- I could watch one right after the other without a chance to breathe.

    Then again, it might just be because this was a really, really cool season and some really fun television.

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  39. Paul Goddard's availability issues caused a lot of problems as far as the handling of Stark's character went. I find some of the stuff that was done with him in S4 great, and some of it slightly problematic, and almost all of it surrounded with great big giant question marks. He's definitely one of those "loose ends" I was complaining the miniseries didn't actually address. Which is odd, considering how big a role he played in it... My vague understanding is that they had a whole big arc worked out for him for season 5, that was basically going to culminate in the kind of stuff we saw in the miniseries. Man, I would have liked to have seen that.

    On the Doctor being asexual or not... It's definitely one of those issues fans have argued over. I really do think that at this point the "Time Lords are completely asexual" ship has not only sailed, it's disappeared well over the horizon, although I'm sure there are people who've come up with ways to cling to it.

    I was never heavily invested in that particular idea, myself. If he wants a little nookie now and then, good luck to him! And there's no question about the fact that the Doctor is, in the broadest sense of the term, passionate and, also in the broadest sense of the term, loving.

    What I do dislike is the idea of him being "romantic" in a conventional, clihed, date-movie kind of way. One of the refreshing things about the Doctor is that he doesn't do that stuff. He never has been obsessed with sex and romance in the way that humans tend to be. He's always seemed like a guy to whom other emotions, other motivations were primary.

    And I very much like the idea that he can be allowed to be genuinely alien in this sort of respect and not have exactly the same kinds of responses and attitudes that your average TV hero would have when, say, stuck together in a police box with a cute 19-year-old blonde. And some of his interactions, I think, do get a little closer to that tradition than I'd ideally prefer.

    As for what they might or might not be working up to... My confident prediction is that this kind of thing is going to keep going very much as it always had in the past: infrequent revelations about various bits of backstory that ultimately raise more questions than they answer.

    "I was a dad once" is a fascinating line, because it seems like this huge, shocking, significant bit of character revelation, but if you think about it for two seconds -- and if you do know the series -- you realize that it's really not telling you anything you couldn't have figured out by watching the very first episode in 1963.

    Hmm. I might have more to say about both that and about this and about the romance thing, but I think they'd both take me wandering into spoiler territory, so, perhaps fortunately, I can stop here. And, um, answer your other comment. And then I really should get some sleep. :)

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  40. One of the very nice things about Rose and Martha is that, by and large, I think the Doctor likes (or loves) them because they're smart, capable, and fully engaged with the world -- and not simply because they like or love him.

    I really haven't seen enough of the earlier episodes to see how they stack up against his other companions, though.

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  41. In the commentary for "Gridlocked," he and Russel T. Davies spend some time discussing obscure Who monsters and acknowledging how geeky that makes them.

    One thing I do love about these guys is how unabashedly fanboyish they are. I mean, that can be a negative, because it's entirely possible to be too self-indulgent in that respect. (And I think RTD has very likely crossed that line a few times here and there.) But I love 'em for it anyway. Especially John Barrowman, who has a Dalek in his living room.

    b) the writers didn't want to make Martha just a replacement Rose.

    I think this was a lot of it, actually. They were in a bit of a tough spot here, because they were trying to replace Rose with an entirely different and at least equally good character. But they were also in the position of worrying about new viewers for whom the show had always come across as "The Doctor and Rose Show." It actually seems oddly out of character, based on past history, that the Doctor goes on about Rose so much after she leaves -- he's usually a "love the one you're with" kind of guy, in a sense -- but they doubtless worried about giving the impression that this character they'd strongly encouraged the audience to invest in and identify with was being forgotten, or rejected, or replaced. I think, unfortunately, that this reacted very badly with Davies' predilection for using unrequited love as a character motivator. The result is an uncomfortably lopsided relationship, which is unfortunate, because it's the one sour note in what is otherwise basically a terrific dynamic. Tennant and Agyeman have wonderful chemistry. The whole thing would work absolutely beautifully if the whole romance angle simply didn't enter into it. (See? Yet another reason why conventional romantic tension doesn't work so well for me when it comes to the Doctor.)

    Then again, it might just be because this was a really, really cool season and some really fun television.

    It is! I really believe that it is. It's got some flaws, for sure, and some of them are annoying and some of them are just fascinating to analyze, and some of them are both at once. But it's also just really, really, really cool.

    One of the amazing things about Doctor Who for me, if not necessarily for everyone, is that I can be perfectly, vividly aware of its imperfections, including some really honking huge imperfections that might even ruin another show for me... And it works anyway. Because, at its best -- and this is pretty darned close to its best -- its incredible coolness makes all kinds of flaws bearable, and sometimes even makes them downright endearing.

    (Not that I've just spent most of today writing about exactly this or anything. :))

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  42. One of the very nice things about Rose and Martha is that, by and large, I think the Doctor likes (or loves) them because they're smart, capable, and fully engaged with the world -- and not simply because they like or love him.

    This, I think, is one of the wonderful things about the Doctor. :)

    I really haven't seen enough of the earlier episodes to see how they stack up against his other companions, though.

    Honestly, I think Martha is now somewhere in the Top Five of my personal All-Time Best Comapanions list. :)

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  43. Tennant and Agyeman have wonderful chemistry. The whole thing would work absolutely beautifully if the whole romance angle simply didn't enter into it.

    That may very well be the case. I get Martha's unrequited love but there's only so far that can take you before it has to be resolved, if not actually requited. Pining for the largely oblivious Doctor can make for amusing scenes, but it can also undermine the character and her strengths. Which is why I like where they ended things but worry about where they go from there.

    But anyway, obviously the real unrequited love story is between the Doctor and Captain Jack.

    Because, at its best -- and this is pretty darned close to its best -- its incredible coolness makes all kinds of flaws bearable, and sometimes even makes them downright endearing.

    This is the thing I am growing to love about the show -- by which I mean the long history of the show, not just this incarnation. It is staggeringly bad in places, and sometimes things just don't work, but there is this sense of "let's just try it and see!" that's quite infectious. The show can have all these weird tonal shifts -- this week it's comedy! no, horror! no, science fiction! no, wait, all three! -- and because of the nature of the show, it all somehow works. Largely because the Doctor is often just thrilled by it all.

    It's that sense of, "I don't know what's going to happen next. Isn't that great?!"

    There really isn't another show like it.

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  44. I think the aopparent asexuality of the Doctor up to and including Seven had more to do with what at the time was thought suitable for a notionally children's show than anything else. There was one notiable exception, but that was due to Tom Baker and Lalla Ward having a relationship in real life and being unable to keep the obvious chemistry between them out of their scenes together.

    However I had got so used to that aexuality that it took some tome foe me to convince myself that his having sexual relationships - at least with humans - wasn;t wrong.

    You're quite right, I think, in that Tennant is a much more typical Doctor than Eccleston. I love Eccleston's Doctor to pieces, but he's definitely atypical.

    At first I was going to disagree, but on reflection I think you're probably right. However I think the two most atypical Doctors are still One (the only one without much of a sense of humour) and Six (the only one to be gratuitously nasty to a companion.

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  45. It is amusing that the original could be considered the most atypical...

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  46. "Time Lords are completely asexual" ship has not only sailed
    Considering that they populated a planet, that was a boat which sank in drydock.

    the real unrequited love story is between the Doctor and Captain Jack.
    It's amazing how Jack keeps popping up. ;)

    this week it's comedy! no, horror! no, science fiction! no, wait, all three!
    When Betty asked me to give it a chance at the start of the first new season (Eccleston), it was the Charles Dickens episode I saw first, and I thought, "If I had known that Dr. Who was about mysteries, I would have started watching years ago!" Since then, of course, I see that they can have lots of themes - although they usually have to solve some sort of problem in each episode.

    I think it's great that previous series (and the books) set the precedent of variety. The Doctor can go any place, any time, and encounter any being in any situation, so let's have him do it. Even The Brain started running dry of ideas for taking over Earth.

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  47. Oh, look how many more comments came in while I was sleeping. :) OK, taking them in order...

    Fred:

    there's only so far that can take you before it has to be resolved,

    I remember seeing a comments somewhere that someone had quoted from an interview with RTD, where he said he'd now realized pretty much exactly this. I really do hope he has.

    To add an element of irony to the whole thing, you know, there's a Seventh Doctor episode in which he's asked "isn't there anything you just hate?" Unrequited love, apparently, makes his list. (Along with burnt toast, bus stations, tyranny and cruelty.)

    But anyway, obviously the real unrequited love story is between the Doctor and Captain Jack.

    More the other way around. But very, very true. And...

    Um. Possibly it's time to leave this particular topic here for the moment, because it keeps very nearly inducing me to violate my own spoiler policy. :)

    And, man, I could not agree with you more about what makes this show so incredibly cool. I love that sense of variety... I mean, I'm the person who puts her entire music collection on random shuffle half the time, and is quite happy to change entire musical genres with every song. :) And even when I don't think the Doctor Who writers quite hit the mark, I give them huge points for daring to try stuff that is ambitious, or out there, or just plain nuts. To me, that's infinitely more interesting than watching a show that plays it safe and delivers up the exact same stuff week after week.

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  48. John: Well, of course that's the reason for the apparent asexuality. The interesting result of that, though, is that you get what looks like an odd shift of characterization as standards for what kind of thing it's appropriate to include on a show suitable for children change. There's also the fact, that, at least for those of us who aren't in the UK, it doesn't necessarily come across as very obviously a children's show. In the US, we might call it a family show: not necessarily primarily aimed at children, but considered suitable for everyone in the family. And even then, it doesn't actually feel like your stereotypical family show, either. The point is, the lack of a romance angle, sexual tension, etc., kind of stands out as something that seems like it ought to be explained in character terms rather than just accepting that, if something were going on, we'd never see it. (Which, in itself, probably tells you something about the usual preoccupations of TV shows.)

    There was one notiable exception

    There was also the first Doctor flirting with that nice old Aztec lady in "The Aztecs," very early on in the series. :)

    However I had got so used to that aexuality that it took some tome foe me to convince myself that his having sexual relationships - at least with humans - wasn;t wrong.

    Again, though, we certainly don't know that he is having sexual relationships with humans. The most we've ever seen him do is kiss them. Admittedly, that thing with Madame de Pompadour? Not a platonic sort of kiss. But it doesn't necessarily imply anything else.

    Agree on the atypical Doctors. Don't get me started on Six... Actually, it bemuses me a bit to see people who are, for one reason another, dissatisfied with the current series wailing and crying that they don't like the Doctor any more and RTD ruined the show, and so on... That's how I felt about the Sixth Doctor era (although I've mellowed a fair bit on the subject since). If you don't like something that's being done in Doctor Who, you wait, and it passes.

    But I think I've probably said something like that to you before...

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  49. Finishing up the comments. (Whew! Never has my blog's name been more apt.)

    Fred:

    It is amusing that the original could be considered the most atypical...

    That's Doctor Who for ya! It's interesting to consider that in character terms and talk about how the Doctor has changed throughout his lives, but in production terms, the fact is that Doctor Who ended up going in very different directions than it started out in, and the original conception of the Doctor was rather different than what we ultimately ended up with. Put Hartnell's Doctor and Tennant's side-by-side and... Well, you'd notice a few highly important points of similarity, maybe, but it's hard to imagine anyone writing those two specific characters to fill the same exact dramatic role. I think that's kind of cool, actually. I love the organic way the show has evolved, keeping the things that turned out to be the essential core of the character and being willing to let everything else vary.

    Captain C:

    Considering that they populated a planet, that was a boat which sank in drydock.

    Not necessarily. They're very technologically advanced. One of the ideas put forward in the book series is that they're basically created fully-grown in, essentially, vats. :)

    t's amazing how Jack keeps popping up. ;)

    You know, double-entendres involving Jack are just way too easy. :)

    Doctor Who's actually kind of fond of mysteries. They keep coming back to them in one form or another. Of course, they're not necessarily traditional mysteries, in that it will often turn out that an alien space monster dunnit.

    And I'm one of those who would like to see them get off Earth more, and especially leave both London and Cardiff behind for a while. Bring on the adventures in time and space!

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  50. Not necessarily. They're very technologically advanced. One of the ideas put forward in the book series is that they're basically created fully-grown in, essentially, vats.

    Argh. There's that spoiler policy again. I worry it's a spoiler even to suggest something I want to say about this is a spoiler...

    And I'm one of those who would like to see them get off Earth more, and especially leave both London and Cardiff behind for a while. Bring on the adventures in time and space!

    Bring on the rock quarries!

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  51. I worry it's a spoiler even to suggest something I want to say about this is a spoiler...

    Yeah, I know what you mean... If it helps, um, I'm quite sure you're not saying the exact same thing that I didn't say, and we can just nod at each other and pretend it's been said and agreed on without actually having discussed it. :)

    (Is all of this cryptic and confusing enough not to be spoilery? *waves hands around distractingly, attempting to add to the effect*)

    Bring on the rock quarries!

    Yes! Rock quarries make me feel all happily nostalgic. :)

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  52. It's an idea I may want to come back to in a few weeks (or months, depending on the Sci-Fi Channel's schedule). When it's aired there, it's fair game for discussion, right?

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  53. Absolutely. And I'm fully planning on putting up discussion posts for the rest of the season, as they've been wildly successful so far.

    Sci-Fi's schedule says they'll be showing the rest of them with no more breaks.

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  54. "There's also the fact, that, at least for those of us who aren't in the UK, it doesn't necessarily come across as very obviously a children's show. In the US, we might call it a family show: not necessarily primarily aimed at children, but considered suitable for everyone in the family."

    I think that it's now called a family show over here as well. In the beginning, though, I think that there was a divergence in what the BBC thought they were getting - a children's show - and what the producers and writers were actually doing. If you like, the lack of sex was a figleaf that the producers used to cover the fact that they were actually coming up with something that in places could be remarkably adult (in the correct sense of the word).

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  55. I think you may very well be right about that. And a hearty "good for them!" if so. There should be more shows in this world that are both appealing to kids and adult in the correct sense of the word.

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