Retcon of the Doctor


Review of The Day of the Doctor
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I said recently that I could forgive Moffat almost anything about this anniversary special; I knew not everything on my personal wishlist would make the cut. And as it turned out, plenty I'd have liked to see happen didn't. Overall, though, there wasn't much to forgive.

From the get-go, there were plenty of nods to the past. Starting with the original opening credits—down to the policeman strolling by Totter's Lane—certainly set the right tone. I could go on for pages listing all those little moments, but I'm sure someone else will write up a definitive list you can find, if that's your cup of tea. I'll just say that I personally loved the reference to the UNIT dating controversy and one of the Brigadier's reactions to the events of The Three Doctors ("Codename: Cromer"—and I really do recommend watching that tenth anniversary special if you've not seen it.)

So much happened in these seventy-five minutes that it could be a little difficult to wrap one's brain around it all on a single viewing; I agree with others who have commented that it's all clearer the second time around. The things I liked the first time, I still liked, and the things I didn't... well, they didn't irritate me quite so much when I knew they were coming.

The entire Zygon gambit felt secondary—and honestly, I quite think it was there simply as a way for the meeting of these three Doctors not to be boring as all get-out—but made surprising sense by the end. It was at least self-consistent, which is more than I can say for some episodes. The entire idea of the Zygons is great, too; they're a well-loved adversary that was long overdue a return. As executed, they were proper scary, even if the change from human back to Zygon form was too CGI to be believable. At least it was gross.


What's in a 'Name'?


Review of The Name of the Doctor
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

So many conflicting emotions. Parts of this finale were brilliant, and I really wanted to love the whole thing. I'm afraid I'm going to have to admit that I'm turning into something of a curmudgeon, though; this show is not entirely for me anymore.

I'm betting there are few Moffat fans (perhaps more specifically "River fans") who didn't adore this episode. For my part, as someone who has been a Doctor/River denialist rather than a shipper, the otherwise lovely bits of the story were somewhat tarnished by the saccharine (Brits would say "twee," I suppose) farewell between them.

I'll admit the way River was used through the rest of the episode was clever, and overall I like her. I've just never bought that there was a strong, romantic love between them (at least, not reciprocated by the Doctor), so while I was completely caught up in the "you can see me?" conversation, as it ground inexorably toward a big, wet smoochie, I found myself thinking, "Oh, no. Please don't. He's gonna - aw, damn!"

One thing that really gets me about this new, post-Library River (who knew that was even possible?) is the fact that we're left to conclude that she has literally been haunting him for years. I'm not sure I care for that idea. Makes him rather a jerk to ignore her that whole time, doesn't it? Is she less "real" - does she "count" less - because she's in the mainframe, and so it's OK for him not to think about her feelings at all? Way to respect the person you supposedly love, Doctor.


Don't Wake Me


Review of Nightmare in Silver
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I've read (OK, skimmed) a fair number negative reviews for this episode, but I have to say I just can't relate at all.

This series more than any other, I've observed a vast array of opinions among fans. For any given episode, there seems to be a "best thing since sliced bread" camp and a "disastrous blight besmirching the face of Our Show" camp. Occasionally, there's a "Weeeeell... It wasn't awful, but it sure could've been better" contingent, too. As best I can tell, the residents of these camps don't all stay together as they switch campgrounds, either. I'm not sure if it's really this series, or that I'm a little more connected these days than I used to be that's responsible for my observation of the effect, but nearly every episode has been divisive to some degree.

I'm all for every fan having (and voicing) their own opinion, and I know no one's line up exactly with anyone else's - heck, things would be boring if they did. I like to believe that most times I can wrap my brain around the differences enough to say, "I don't agree with you, but I can understand why you feel that way." But this time I just don't get it.

It must come down to a visceral reaction. I don't know whether or not I'm part of the "target audience" that's supposed to be left cold by this reportedly awful episode, but I thought it was spectacular. It entertained me the whole way through both times I've seen it so far. Yes, there were bits that irritated me, but those were the parts I thought I were meant to irritate me (~cough~Angie~cough~). For the most part, I thought it did a brilliant job of its number one task: make the Cybermen scary again.


Invasion of the Leeches


Review of The Crimson Horror
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I can't help but wonder if the Doctor isn't doing some universe-hopping with Clara on board. After all, it would explain both her comment that her current home "looks different" when she comes back to it and some of the nonsensical parts of their adventure this week.

Despite the fact that bad science often irks me when I see in in Who, something about the way Mrs. Gillyflower's rocket was the epitome of steampunk allowed me to put a perception filter on the whole thing and take it in stride. (Even if I can't buy that this "prize-winning chemist and mechanical engineer" could devise both a viable preservation process and a functional rocket with only the help of a millions-years-old leech.) I know others were bothered by the flurry of anachronisms (and I also don't believe that Vastra, Jenny, and Strax can work unmolested in Victorian London, but that's another issue), but somehow - while other episodes this season have really put me off - I was mostly able to roll with this one.

I can't honestly say I was over-the-top thrilled, though. After all, I've never really been a fan of the "penny dreadfuls" (or Hammer Horror films, to which I understand there were a great number of references). So the genre wasn't my thing. That means the bodies that had succumbed to the Crimson Horror grated on me, the all-around nasty old lady put me off, and Mr. Sweet was simply 100% icky.


Like a Box of Chocolates


Review of Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I think that nearly every fan, upon hearing the title of this episode, felt their heart skip a beat. Indeed, Moffat himself has indicated in interviews that his own fannish disappointment with the results of similar hype surrounding the end of The Invasion of Time (the pursuit "through the labyrinthine corridors" consisting primarily of tromping through the same stretch of an abandoned hospital building) was the inspiration for Doing It Right, so to speak.

Well, at least they tried...

I find myself weirdly ambivalent about this one - so much so that I was hard pressed to make myself sit through a second viewing. Even though there was a lot I liked - pretty much anything that had to do with the TARDIS herself I loved - there were so many parts that didn't work for me that I've had a tough time mustering any enthusiasm for the episode as a whole.

Let's go with the uncomfortable bits first so we can go out on a high, eh? Starting with the social commentary, I was rather disturbed to realize it took me till that second viewing to realize that we'd finally got some people of color in key roles, but they were depicted as the baddies. That troubles me.

What troubled me more, though, was those characters' story. I found it horrific - I suppose from a storytelling point of view, that's good. After all, it was small anomalies that proved out over the course of the episode without being heavily telegraphed. Good stuff, right? Maybe, but it just made my skin crawl, and not in a good way.



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