dr who 2

Doctor Who catchup: libraries are great settings, don't you think?

So yesterday I talked Mr P into skipping over most of our current Doctor Who season backlog, and just watching the Steven Moffat-written two-parter that concluded this weekend. "Silence in the Library" and "Forests of the Dead": mostly we liked them.

Setups and payoffs: in the very first moments, we see everything. Library, kid, "spoilers", and "death lends heft". The principle of script parsimony is in action-- everything tells, and most things have multiple uses. Data ghosting and saving to the computer pay off several ways (the creepiness of "hey who turned out the lights?" and the ending).

I like that Moffat seems to think about the interesting issues of the "time" part of "travels in time and space". He's shown us in a couple of scripts the way the Doctor is a prisoner of time's rules as much as any of us; more painfully, perhaps, because he violates them in some ways. But his own timeline is fixed. Ouch.

Lame writing: Underlining the point about what she whispered in his ear. Have her do it, have him return to it at the very end in his last conversation with her. Don't remind us in a heavy-handed conversation with the Red Shirt. (Successful writing: I feel guilty for not remembering the Red Shirt's name, because we liked her as much as the Doctor did.) Also lame was his failure to connect "forests" with "books" immediately, because, you know, Mr P and I did when we saw the title of the episode. The Vashta Nerada, or however it's spelled, were not very convincing. ("Blink" was way scarier.)

I remain unsure about the "everybody dies" versus "nobody dies" thing at the end. It was a bit of a retread of "The Doctor Dances", only without Eccleston's manic energy in the delivery. Tennant has a different kind of mania. This might just be "Nine was my first Doctor and I'll never forgive the rat bastard who replaced him" in action, though. The glowing white yes-it's-heaven thing at the end was a bit creepy. Who were the other two kids?

Professor River Song rocks my socks. Mr P had her pegged for a Time Lord early on, which I think was incorrect, but says she was successfully coming across as the Doctor's equal. Mr P thinks it would be best if she didn't ever appear on the series as a Companion, thinking it's more poignant if this is all we see of her. (Since there is so much of the Doctor's life we don't see.) But I'd be fine with a strong, intelligent, educated, daring woman on my TV screen a whole bunch. There are some very obvious hooks to hang fresh plots on here: what is the one time he'd tell her his name? what are the adventures they have together? And Moffat's in charge soon, so at the moment I'm betting on seeing her again.

Donna didn't have much a role in this, though she was given the traditional woman's role of "show compassion for somebody". Am not particularly gassed by the implication that all she really wants is a gorgeous guy who can't talk and then she's happy. Erk. River Song is way more my role model, thanks. Donna doesn't have to be like this, either.
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Every one of Moffat's scripts has been worth talking about. When I first watched Who, that Eccleston season, "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" were my immediate favorites, before I knew the guy's name. And "Blink", yeah.

Mr P & I liked these two a lot, even with the quibbling.
Re: Donna. She was in an alternate reality where time and memory were different, to put it mildly. Stuck in that environment, isolated from 'true' reality, with no anchor apart from Doctor Moon and a sweet guy with a stammer... One might even be forgiven for changing one's sexuality under those circumstances.

XC
Heh, okay, that's a good point! I wonder how much subjective time passed for her. The jump-cuts were supposed to correspond with discontinuities in her consciousness, but did Dr Moon supply extra memories for her? That would make it even more likely that she'd build a life and feel invested in it.
LOL - To each their own!

I thought it was sort of typical that Moffat pushed Donna aside and treated her like that. He seems to prefer his OWN female characters.

That being said. Oh God. I disliked River Song with an absolute passion. Arrogant and annoying.

I also got the impression - maybe wrongly but I can't help it - that Moffat was laughing at us all with this one. Can't pin that down though to anything in particular.

Also this "nobody important can die" thing is getting VERY annoying. And I'm also one of those weird people who is against the "romances" for the Doctor. So yeah - sort of dreading Moffat taking over actually as his scripts seem choc-ful of soap-y relationships.
I absolutely loved this two-parter. Of course it wasn't perfect, but I'm afraid that's just not going to happen when you have one or two 45 minute slots to work with and the "rules" of television writing to work within.

I agree, there was really very little wasted time, which is great. The whole thing just ripped along and the week between episodes was a very long one! I don't think The Doctor's conversation with Anita was necessarily a bad thing when you remember that most of us had that week between episodes. I also think it's a bit harsh to complain The Doctor didn't twig the forest/book connection straight away when he doesn't get to see the titles like us lol.

I agree, Blink was WAY scarier, but then that's the one and only SINGLE Doctor Who or Torchwood that's ever scared me even a little. (In fact it scared me a lot!) But as a child, the Vashta Nerada would have scared the pants off me and I have at least one adult friend who was only semi-joking when she said she wanted to sleep with the light on. Fear of the dark is very basic and elemental and being unable to see the danger is pretty scary all by itself. Then there was the skeleton in the suit...

The ending was a bit... hmm... But I was crying and smiling after yelling at the telly both times I saw it so I must have enjoyed it! The other two children, I assumed, were the computer generated ones, there to give Charlotte some company. The idea of spending the rest of eternity (or at least the rest of time till the batteries run out!) in the universe's biggest library rather appeals to me and this way River isn't dead dead. And I don't want River to be dead, because I loved her. And so did the Doctor, which is fantastic. I'm a romantic and I hate the thought of the Doctor spending another 900 years alone. I can't wait to see some of their adventures together in the future, they had such great chemistry. And Alex Kingston is a fellow ginger ;-)

I like the idea that Donna managed to find some happiness in the VR and knowing that Lee was real means their happiness was real too, despite the circumstances. I don't think it's wrong for a woman to want a husband and kids and a "normal" life, we're just used to being told by the PC post-feminist feminists that women need men like fish need etc... Yes, Donna is capable of so much more, but that doesn't mean she has to be an archaeologist/astronaut/super-temp. She can be Mrs Donna MacAvoy and be happy with it. I just didn't get the point of Miss Evangelista talking to her in the VR. What did she hope to achieve?

Ultimately though, Doctor Who is for families, and patchy though it is, Torchwood is for adults. Kick the TW writers for treating viewers like idiots, by all means, but DW has to spell things out for the kids and their exhausted-by-Saturday-with-the-kids parents lol.

All that said, I'm always going to enjoy these things so much more than a lot of people because I can just lose myself in what I'm doing/reading/watching with no effort on my part. Unless something is really bad, I revert to my childhood self for the duration and just... accept. That's not any sort of jab at anyone, btw, just an observation.
So how kiddie a kid's show is Who billed as in the UK, out of curiosity? The classic Who was definitely marketed as kid's tv to us: I associate Tom Baker and his scarf with afternoon programming on WGBH aka public television. Sesame Street, the Electric Company, Zoom, and then Doctor Who at 5pm. The new show is marketed more toward adults with the SciFi channel's later-night scheduling.

I'm loving this season of Who overall, by the way. Love Donna.

I'm also puzzled by Miss Evangelista's goals in the AI. Was it just there to exposit to the viewers what was going on? Would have been cool to leave it unexplained and a bit ambiguous, but there I go not wanting kids' tv again :)
It's definitely marketed for families as it's on between 6 and 7pm on a Saturday night on BBC1. But they also use it as a lead in to the rest of their Saturday night viewing so there's a substantial adult audience they hope to keep hold of. Works on my mum, but much as I love John Barrowman, I've not been looking for Nancys. Oh, the milage everyone's got out of that gag these last few months... (He's a judge on a reality show looking for a Nancy for a new Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Oliver! in case you didn't know.)

DW has to try and tread the line and keep kids and adults interested, which to my mind does keep it more interesting. When the plot goes sideways in Torchwood they can chuck a bit of violence and/or sex in and hope no-one notices. The Sarah Jane Adventures, on the other hand, is an out and out kids show but I've only seen one ep so I can't really say much about it.

Donna is by far the best Companion of the new DW. She's smart and funny and grown-up and not mooning over the Doctor. I love her cutting comments. She's the breath of fresh air the show needed for the new series!
I'm with you on all accounts. Not nearly as good as his other DW episodes and "Forest..." wasn't as menacing as the first part but I enjoyed it enough. Though I was a bit miffed at how uselessly cast aside Donna was. I've been told by flisters that Moffat can't write for female characters unless their ones he's created and I think his handling of Donna certainly shows this. Still, I enjoyed the emotional extremes.

I must admit I'm liking Tennant but I still miss Chris. He had such a darkness about him. Oh well. Tennant's enthusiasm is very appreciated as well.
I bet it's not so much that he can't write women characters he hasn't created so much as that he hasn't yet figured out how to write Companions. The longer-term friend- and other-ships the Doctor has along the way.
(Anonymous)
I assumed Song was a Time-Lord because of the implication from the beginning that she and the Doctor had a relationship, and he doesn't do bestiality. In the end, though, there was nothing implied that wasn't typical Doctor-companion fare, and as for the idea they were married, that was implied by the idea she whispered his name in her ear, and not some convenient Gallifreyan phrase she only thought was his name. By the time he whispers it he already knows what she whispered.

I thought she would make a bad series companion because they played her up too large. She was also quite a bit too smug.
I didn't like Forest of the Dead as much as I liked Silence in the Library. I thought the first part was just creepy and edgy, and kept me guessing. I felt like the Donna portion of FotD really slowed the episode and was a pointless use of time. And seriously... Lee better show back up in the season or else I will be royally pissed.

Am not particularly gassed by the implication that all she really wants is a gorgeous guy who can't talk and then she's happy.

Even though Donna herself pointed that out, I didn't really take that away from the episode. I saw it more as Donna finally found someone who accepted her, flaws and all, because she accepted him the same way.

Of course, maybe I'm just a romantic.

The glowing white yes-it's-heaven thing at the end was a bit creepy.

While I agree that was a bit anvilious, I found it less creepy than TW's insistence that there's only nothingness when you die. So, I was glad that River ended up in the computer hard drive instead of that.

Interestingly enough, I haven't made up my mind about River Song. I do, however, like the fact that she represents the fact that the Doctor actually got over Rose and moved on with his life. (There has got to be wank showing up on Fandom_wank about that sometime soon. I can't imagine the Rose/Doctor shippers where happy about that.)
I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, although I try to not let that blind me to faults of the show. (Try being the operative word there).

River Song, to me she can't be a Time Lord or the Doctor would have felt that immediately. They can always tell another Time Lord. I didn't like her in SitL, I think for me she had that smug, I know more than you and going to hint at it but never tell you, thing. It just annoyed me, and I couldn't get around it. In FotD, I don't know why but I did manage to get around it, it wasn't so much that she stopped doing it, I think I got more of an understanding of how much it hurt her not to have "her" Doctor there.

Donna's love of the VR. For me, this was the Donna before she met the Doctor in Runaway Bride. Dr Moon had convinced/conditioned her to forget all about the Doctor and her adventures with him, so she resorted back to the Donna that first appeared in Runaway Bride, a Donna that really just wanted a husband and a rather simple life. She loved whatshisname because he showed her attention, didn't push her that much. That Donna, ok she was portrayed as pretty shallow and.. well stupid. Now I'm not saying Donna in the VR was that way, there were occasional snaps of her questioning, going beyond the programming, but without the memory of how the Doctor had effected her life she was going to find joy in the "normal" life.

There has been a lot of complaint that Moffat can't write strong woman, or has a sexist attitude. Not sure i agree, I mean yes, there was a lot of comments about Donna's ideal life being about being a wife and mother, and how girls are told they can't be pretty and smart. But then there is River Song, and Sally Sparrow, and even Anita, who as a Red Shirt still showed strength of character. At least that's my view

Blink was still a whole lot more scary, to me the scariest Doctor Who ever. Even now after all the time watching it I still try to yell at Billy not to blink. This two parter didn't scare me really, although it definitely creeped me out on a number of occasional. The only real jump moment for me was when Miss Evangalista (sp?)face was reveal, because I was prepared for a skull.