[personal profile] magister
To quote the Sixth Doctor, "Didn't go very well, did it?" Which is sad, because in many ways, I feel Moffat's intentions were sound here. The idea behind this felt like a reaction against the Tennant Doctor's death. Where 10 runs from his foretold death, 11 waits in one place for his. Where 10 rails against sacrificing himself for Wilf, 11 talks of each life saved as being a victory and asks Clara to let him save her as one last victory. Where 10 is desperate to remain the Doctor, even down to regenerating into himself, 11 welcomes the fact that a new man is coming.

So, given that Moffat's instincts for a Doctorish farewell seem to have been sound, where did it go wrong?

Well, a plot would have been nice. What we have here is - the Doctor defends a planet and his people for 900 years. Then he dies. And that could have been fantastic. A man who has travelled for 900 years, compulsively moving on to somewhere new is compelled to stay in one place. Sadly, it was thrown away. This feels like something cut down into an hour of tv. Given the rumours for the last year or so that there was meant to be more Who than we got, was this intended to be a multi-episode storyline? The Doctor settling into his role as protector, forging links with the townspeople, becoming accepted by them, being the fixed point in their lives as the generations are born, grow and pass on as new ones take their place and as he reflects that once this would have happened to him, once he would have moved on and his place been taken by a new Doctor. No time for any of this, sadly. The townsfolk are barely differentiated from each other - even the Doctor has difficulty telling them apart.

But there are new characters who get some time on screen. Clara's step mum and granny and also Tasha Lem. All of whom seem depressingly familiar.Clara's step mother seems to be straight from the RTD book of Mothers Who Hold Their Children Back. She snipes and grouses and appears to be made from off-cuts of Rose, Martha and Donna's mothers. Clara's gran was perky, fancied the Doctor and had a romantic side and generally obeyed the rules of Old Ladies - Aren't They Wonderful. And then there was Tasha Lem. She's powerful. She flirts with the Doctor. She can fly the Tardis. She has an inner psychopath.

Now, something that makes criticism a little difficult here - given that Moffat has a definite type of female character that he reverts to, what can we read into the fact that she appears to be River with the serial numbers filed off? Is this going to be revealed to be another timey wimey iteration of River? Or are we to presume that River was modelled on Tasha when the Silence created her? After all, she's already been reduced from the strong independent woman from Silence in the Library by the revelations that she does everything to get the Doctor to notice her. So finding that she's actually modelled on another person would seem just part of the same process, really. Or shall we just put it down to bad writing? To be fair, the latter category pretty much encompasses the first two, so I suspect that's the one to go for.

And of course she's also there to show that the Doctor has problems understanding consent. It's disturbing that sexual assault is being used as a means of showing that the Doctor doesn't understand social mores. It happened previously in Crimson Horror and, like this, was played for laughs. What makes it more disturbing is the Doctor leching over Clara at the end of Nightmare in Silver. If it is just being used as a means of showing social ineptness, then that's a miscalculation. If there are suggestions that it reflects something about the Doctor's predelictions, then that heads into increasingly unpleasant territory. I grew up watching this character. I don't like feeling that there are areas where I have to look down on him for his morality. I have to say, it's perhaps not as unpleasant as the 10th Doctor bragging about deflowering the Virgin Queen, but that's not really saying much. I am not against the Doctor having a sexual element to his character, but surely it should be handled better than consent issues and bragging "I've had her."

Regeneration episodes are onto a bit of a loser. Everything in this is leading up to one thing. The Doctor is dead. Long live the Doctor. We'll pass over the fact that the Doctor was there 900 years and never thought to mention that he was running a bit low and could do with a top up. Why not? Moffat did. We'll also pass over the latest firework display and Clara, the current companion, being sidelined in favour of Amy. Because Peter Capaldi appeared. And the prospect of Doctor Who starring the man who played Malcolm Tucker, directed by the man who directed Sightseers and written by the man who wrote Day of the Doctor is pretty damn enticing. Sadly, it'll also be written by the man who wrote Time of the Doctor. Shame, really.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 12:25 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
All good points, of course.

ETA: Someone on Facebook who has seen your post basically said that you had the guts to write the things I didn't. Some of the sexism I didn't notice on the first viewing. I think I blacked it out.
Edited Date: 2013-12-29 12:50 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-30 12:11 am (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
There are a large number of people whom I respect saying how brilliant the whole thing was. I thought the central concept was great and the structuring surprising, but the execution and the top dressing of gags very awkward and obviously offensive to many people.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-12-28 03:38 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
I think after Day of the Doctor, even Andrew and I were a little excited about this. He even checked to see if we could trick my tablet into thinking it was still in Britain so we could watch it. We couldn't, and it sounds like that was just as well. I'm sorry it was so disappointing for you, and I do hope Capaldi's era lives up to the optimism it's given us good reason to have.

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James Brough

August 2017

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