Series 10

Confession #113: I Like In-Doctor-nating Newbs

Aug
09

When I started writing this blog several years ago, I still considered myself a new fan. The original concept of the blog was to talk about the show—particularly the Classic/pre-Hiatus era—from the perspective of someone who'd only "discovered" it ~2.5 years before. It was also less common at that time to see women blogging about Who, so it seemed like a nice little niche I could carve out for myself in fandom writing.

Somewhere along the way, I seem to have morphed into something more akin to Old Guard. I'll certainly never have the same kind of cred as fans who grew up with the show in the UK, or even those here in the US who had to scramble for access via many-times-copied VHS tapes. (Along those lines, I'm really looking forward to the release of Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America by Steven Warren Hill et al., due out in less than two weeks.) However, I've noticed that as the show evolves and gains new young viewers, I have more in common with those long-term fans than the new.

I think that commonality has much to do with the fact that I am of an age with the fans who grew up with the show. As such, I relate to television in much the same way. Having been raised on 70's and 80's television, I don't find those periods of Doctor Who as foreign or off-putting as many fans of younger generations do. Nor does 60's Who seem as far out of my norm.

These are things I have to keep in mind when I want to introduce new people to our show. Depending on the kind of television the individual in question is used to, I might have to make different selections or give a different set of preparatory comments.

The general openness of a subject to the entire experiment is also important. For example, there is a big difference between a thirty-something fan who's seen all of modern/post-Hiatus Who and is interested in exploring more of the older Doctors; a twenty-something who came in with Smith's Eleven and doesn't really connect to Capaldi's older, crankier Twelve—and is pretty dubious about that whole black-and-white nonsense; and a pre-teen who mostly only knows about the show because their parent(s) watch. That necessary customization is part of the fun for me.

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Reader Poll Roundup: Series Ten Edition

Jul
26

Every year when I examine the readers' reactions to the series's episodes, I have more data from previous years (S7, S8, S9) to compare and contrast, thus giving context to the current year's ratings. Because I eliminated the zero-star option in all of the Reader Polls this year, I won't be able to do an "apples to apples" analysis, but will do what I can with what I've got.

I'll begin, as usual, with the average (mean) ratings. For each episode, I multiplied any given star rating (e.g., 5 stars) by the number of votes it got, added the results, and divided that sum by the total number of votes. The relatively even-keeled results are below:

The Doctor Stands

Jul
05

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

The fact that I came out of this episode without a bad taste in my mouth pretty much makes it the best Moffat finale ever, as far as I'm concerned. Not to say that it was an over-the-top awesome episode—it was very good, though not great—but it didn't have the characteristic "tripped at the finish line" feeling I usually get from a Moffat two-part finale.

Coming off last week's gut-punch, I was truly worried about how Bill's story would be resolved. I honestly expected either full-on tragedy (as implied by the end of World Enough and Time) or something out of left field that left me squinting in puzzlement at the screen.

Frankly, I found a combination thereof most likely, e.g., a Frankenstein's monster replacement body in the same style that Nardole seems to have accumulated parts over his adventures (h/t to Verity! podcast for that thought). You can imagine my unease, then, when the first character we follow in the pre-credits sequence is a young Black girl; my first, disturbing thought was that she would end up providing the body that Bill's mind would eventually occupy. I cannot fully express my relief that such was not the case.

Given how focused I initially was on Bill, it's a testament to the execution of this plot that I didn't feel that everything else—and there was so much else!—was a mere distraction. With five main cast members, there was a lot to cover to keep them all relevant, and damned if Moffat didn't manage it.

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Science Enough and Horror

Jun
28

Review of World Enough and Time
Warning: This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

I have got to learn to stop watching the "Next Time" trailers.

I don't know who is in charge of deciding what parts of any given episode get put into those trailers, but they come across as if the party responsible has become drunk with power. "Look at all the cool shit that happens this time 'round," I imagine this person crowing. "Put a little of THAT in there, and watch them come running!"

The trouble is, all that cool shit is the stuff that brings tension to the story—specifically, not knowing that it's coming is the source of tension. So despite having had publicity about both appearances well before the series started, reminding us in that trailer that we had yet to see either the promised Mondasian Cybermen or Simm Master really ruined the mystery of the episode.

That said, there was a different, truly horrifying sense of tension if one remembered even only the former was involved. And, to be fair, the script telegraphed it pretty hard for anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Cybermen of any era. (I'll be interested to see what my daughters make of it, when they see it. I refuse to subject them to this without its conclusion at the ready, though.)

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The Breathers of Fresh Air

Jun
21

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

We're rapidly winding down the time we have left with what has become one of my favorite TARDIS teams of all time, so I really want to love every episode. We're also hurtling towards a Moffat series finale. You may be able to spot my dilemma...

Aside from the TARDIS-interior scene tacked onto the end of the episode, The Eaters of Light could reasonably have come at pretty much any point in Twelve and Bill's adventures after she's come to trust him; e.g., starting from about her fourth episode. (Yes, I know Nardole is part of this crew, but he takes up a Harry Sullivan-shaped slot in my mind. While I've come to like him fairly well, and he even has some sort of role to play in the adventure, he remains an afterthought for me ("oh, yeah—him!") when I envision who is in the TARDIS.) Perhaps that unanchored sense—and, again barring the final scene, the ability mostly to pretend we aren't charging inexorably toward this Regeneration's doom—is what helped me enjoy it more than I have the last several.

Right off the bat, we have the lovely sense of an ongoing friendly disagreement coming to a head. In fact, it felt very like a graduate student holding her own against her advisor in an academic argument about her thesis topic/area of expertise. I cannot say enough about how much I adore this dynamic between the Doctor and his Companion. (Come to think of it, as the other TARDIS team vying for first in my personal rankings is Seven and Ace, there may be a trend.) More, I love that there is a very particular reason that the TARDIS has come to this specific time and place.

Then we get the talking crow. I wasn't sure how to react to that at first. Despite my own personal fondness for corvids that can speak to humans, it felt cheesy and completely extraneous. By the end of course, there's a deliberate, sweet (some would say sickly so) reason for it, and I can't find it in me to begrudge the indulgence.

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