Nu-Views

Nu-View #20: Brave New Worlds

Aug
13

New Earth / Tooth and Claw (Series Two, Eps. 1-2; 2006)
Viewed 05 Aug 2014

Doctor/Companion: Ten, Rose Tyler
Stars: David Tennant, Billie Piper
Preceding Story: The Christmas Invasion (Ten, Rose)
Succeeding Story: School Reunion (Ten, Rose, Sarah Jane Smith)

    Our latest WhoFest was meant to be the first in my new home. The depressing fact that it wasn't (and that our move is rapidly receding into the realm of myth) was somewhat alleviated by jO's return to the fold after an extended absence.

    The early, jaunty Ten had been similarly absent from all of our Who viewing in recent years. "Look how young he looks!" exclaims jO. "When was this?"

    I remind the Ladies that Series Two went out in 2006, and jE summarizes our common reaction perfectly: "We're getting old."

    Old we may be, but at least we're not hanging onto our youth in sheer desperation like Cassandra. And she's a crafty one, redirecting Rose to her lair for her own nefarious purposes. "[Rose] knows she's not on Ward 26," observes jE. "Why doesn't she just get right back in the lift?" It's one of several plotting flaws we notice this evening.

    I found it interesting to realize how I always think of this story as having a lot of Zoë Wanamaker (Cassandra) in it, when she actually only plays the character for a few minutes. With all the body-swapping, even Sean Gallagher (Chip) spent nearly as much time as Cassandra as Wanamaker did. And, by the way, kudos to Gallagher; Chip was a physically awkward character to play, especially running through corridors with his arms straight down at his sides.

    But I digress. Comedic body-swaps aside, the supposed main storyline of the episode is about the mass of humanity that's been vat-grown to use as medical guinea pigs. The Matrix-y vibe of the endless rows of pods in the Intensive Care ward is stronger this time around than I've previously noted. Then another precognitive similarity stands out. Defending her order's actions, Novice Hame explains that these creatures aren't real people. "The Sisterhood grew its own flesh," she tells the Doctor. "That's all they are. Flesh." Why do I get the feeling Moffat found some inspiration in that moment?

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    Nu-View #19: Enter Number Ten

    Jul
    16

    The Christmas Invasion (Series Two, Ep. 0; 2005)
    Viewed 08 Jul 2014

    Doctor/Companion: Ten, Rose Tyler
    Stars: David Tennant, Billie Piper
    Preceding Story: The Parting of the Ways (Nine, Rose)
    Succeeding Story: New Earth (Ten, Rose)

      As the Ladies gather one last time at the current Chez Neowhovian, the impending move to a new house is top on everyone's mind. Next time we get together (hopefully jO will finally be able to join us again; it's been too long!), we'll be at a completely new place.

      We barely even mention in passing that we've tried before to watch this episode (though there's a little muttering about it as Mickey shushes his coworkers to listen more carefully to the TARDIS materializing). The next thing we know, Jackie's delivering the classic joke line ("Doctor who?") and the opening credits crash across the screen.

      Poor Mickey is still getting the short end of the stick. "Can you just let it be Christmas?" he begs Rose. "Not so much," jE answers for her. On screen, Rose herself is trying a little harder, nodding acquiescence.

      "You promise?"

      "Yeah," she assures him.

      "Well, yeah, until the life or death stuff," amends jE. "Then I'll renege on my promise." And so it goes.

      We watch the mystery of this new alien threat unfold while Rose, Mickey, and Jackie try to figure out what to do on their own. Memories of our first experience with this new Doctor bubble to the surface, too. He's kind of scary serious when he briefly wakes to defuse the murderous Christmas tree, and send away the "pilot fish" St Nick-costumed brass players. No wonder everyone looks at him like they've never met him before. In retrospect, it's really interesting to see that side of him so early; he had that ominous presence a lot in his later stories, but it's anomalous for Series Two.

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      Nu-View #18: Special Surprise

      Jun
      11

      Planet of the Dead (Series Four Special; 2009)
      Viewed 03 Jun 2014

      Doctor/Companion: Ten, Lady Christina de Souza
      Stars: David Tennant, Michelle Ryan
      Preceding Story: The Next Doctor (Ten, Jackson Lake)
      Succeeding Story: The Waters of Mars (Ten, Adelaide Brooke)

        Having finished the Ninth Doctor's tenure last time, the Ladies and I are ready to leap into the Tenth Doctor's debut. Fate is, however, against us.

        It turns out that my Doctor Who evangelism is as disorganized as the rest of my life right now. Around New Year's I'd loaned my DVDs of Series Two to a friend whose kids were just getting into Who, and never asked for them back. I only discover this oversight for our WhoFest viewing plans as the Ladies are setting themselves up with wine and snacks.

        Not to waste one of our increasingly rare opportunities to spend time together with each other and the Doctor, we decide to postpone our watch-in-order exercise for another time and select an episode that we collectively know less well, at jE's request. It's an unexpectedly good choice; not only has jE seen it only once, but we discover that jA has never seen it at all! (I'm not sure how this egregious error came about; it's good we're correcting it now!)

        So off we go on the Lonely God's last "romp." First we meet our bored, aristocratic cat burglar as she takes advantage of the "worst security system ever" (as jA puts it). For someone who's meant to be so clever, Christina's a bit of a dullard for ripping off her identity-concealing mask whilst still inside the museum she's in the process of robbing.

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        Nu-View #17: The End of Our Beginning

        Mar
        26

        Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways (Series One, Eps. 12-13; 2005)
        Viewed 20 Mar 2014

        Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
        Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
        Preceding Story: Boom Town (Nine, Rose)
        Succeeding Story: The Christmas Invasion (Ten, Rose)

          The Doctor plops himself down into a big, red comfy chair in the Diary Room, looks straight at the camera, and declares in disbelief, "You have got to be kidding!" Oh, Doctor... How could you predict my reaction to this past weekend so perfectly?

          As the Ladies sit down together to watch the final two episodes of Nine's all-too-short tenure, I'm finally happy and relaxed. I've spent a frantic week preparing to put our house back on the market, and it's finally wrapped up; the listing will go live the next day. The only downer is knowing we're saying goodbye (again) to the Doctor who started my love affair with this whole crazy show.

          We're all ready for a good time. As the TARDIS crew each settle into the games in which they've been inserted, the quips fly around the room. Trin-E and Zu-Zana use the defabricator on Jack, who then assures them, "Ladies, your viewing figures just went up."

          jA's eyes sparkle. "I'd like to be watching that channel!"

          Over with the Anne Droid, Rose's competitor Rodrick (played by Paterson Joseph, an actor whose name has popped up now and again in "who could be the next Doctor" lists) explains the most basic rules of the Game Station to her. "It's play—or die."

          "Sounds like it's play and die," corrects jE.

          When the tension rises, though, we fall mostly silent. I can't help but admire RTD's skill with a slow burn. He knows how to reveal each plot point, little by little until the audience comes to the obvious conclusion just as we're meant to. The story is lent even more gravitas by Eccleston's masterful performance. He is powerful here, a man visibly damaged by his recent history.

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          Nu-View #16: Dining with the Enemy

          Feb
          26

          Boom Town (Series One, Ep. 11; 2005)
          Viewed 11 Feb 2014

          Doctor/Companion: Nine, Rose Tyler
          Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper
          Preceding Story: The Doctor Dances (Nine, Rose)
          Succeeding Story: Bad Wolf (Nine, Rose)

            The fact that we happened to watch this particular episode the day before I left for Gally was totally fortuitous for me. Among other things, having it fresh in my mind helped me appreciate having Annette Badland (who played Margaret / Blon Fel-Fotch Passameer-Day Slitheen) at the con.

            Better yet, the re-watch reminded me what a profound episode it is.

            It begins with a reminder of how we first met the unfortunate Slitheen family. "I hate those guys," interjects jA. "They're ishy." And it seems "Margaret" hasn't changed much beneath, even if she has taken on an air of public service, heading up the Blaidd Drwg project.

            And so it proceeds, though the first half of the episode is mainly the slightly silly, doesn't-make-sense-if-you-look-to-hard fare we've come to expect from Who. RTD exhibits a bit of a tin ear for dialog in a place or two—e.g., when Blon takes Cathy the reporter to the loo with her, so she can shed her skin suit and kill the woman, then makes a seemingly rude noise upon entering the stall. Cathy comments, "Sounds like we got here just in time!" Incredulous, jA asked, "Who does that?" Perhaps we can give RTD a pass on that one, though, as he's presumably never experienced a communal ladies' room moment firsthand.

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