Series 7

Taking Satisfaction


The Angels Take Manhattan (Series 7, Ep 5; 2012)
Viewed 16 Apr 2018

Doctor/Companion: Eleven, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song
Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
Preceding Story: The Power of Three (Eleven, Amy, Rory)
Succeeding Story: The Snowmen (Eleven, Clara)

    This coming weekend, I get to take my daughters to their first Doctor Who con—in fact, their first con of any sort since becoming fans of the show. As you may recall, the three members of the Paternoster Gang were slated to be the guests of honor, and I was trying to figure out how to give the girls enough background to appreciate said guests.

    Since then, Neve McIntosh (Madame Vastra)—the first of those guests to have been announced, as I recall—has had to cancel, and my kids have blown through so much Doctor Who that they've now seen not just one, but every extant episode in which the Paternoster Gang appears. I'm no longer worrying about their excitement for meeting these actors; now it's a matter of which Doctor do we watch next (and next, and next...).

    Not only are we watching lots of episodes together, but it's also been a ridiculously long time since the Ladies have gotten together to watch anything other than the most recent series (scheduling can be a real bear). And since a commenter suggested it might be fun to read more about what my daughters think about these new-to-them stories, I thought I'd choose a few during which to record their reactions and reboot the NuViews section of the blog in earnest.

    At the time I made that decision, we were in the middle of Series 7A. A Companion departure story seemed like a really good one to capture, so when it was time to watch The Angels Take Manhattan, I got out my clipboard and—with the girls' permission—started taking notes.


    That Turkey Never Did Quite Get Cooked


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

    I suppose my expectations finally sank to the cellar when the first "nude Doctor" promo pics hit the Web. You'd think there would be no room left for crushed hopes after that, but apparently you'd be mistaken. It seems I had an iota of optimism left that Moffat could tie shit together coherently—I really ought to know better.

    Usually I enjoy Moffat's episodes in the moment; it's not till later when I have time to think about the plot that I realize how riddled it is with holes and other offenses. Most times he manages to catch me up in the emotion of each scene (which is, after all, his strong suit) and I can take an episode as it was intended on that first viewing.

    Not this time.

    Maybe it had something to do with all of the interruptions (mine were familial rather than commercial, but I'm sure the effect was much the same for those who watched on BBCA). Or maybe it was the painful running "gag" about nudity (which just... No.). At any rate, from the very first chirping tones of the message—the Question—and the Mother Superious's droning voiceover, I was a detached observer, uninvested (at least in a good way) in the proceedings. I was pissed at Clara for not listening when the Doctor said he was in danger, I was pissed at the Doctor for blatantly ignoring human social mores (with which he is damn well familiar), and I was pissed with Moffat for thinking that "for kids" and "juvenile" were interchangeable.


    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.


    Reader Poll Roundup


    You may have noticed that every week there was brand new Who, I posted a reader poll inviting visitors to the blog to rate the latest episode. It's been fascinating to see the results, watching the overall trend toward high or low score - often away from my personal rating - and the distribution of votes. I had so much fun playing with the data, as a matter of fact, that I decided to share some of my findings publicly. (You can always go back to the poll archives to check my work yourself, if you feel so inclined.)

    To start, I'm going to present the chronological list of ratings for all the Series 7 stories (7A, 7B, and the Christmas Special). These are the average (mean) ratings over all votes received. In other words, I took each star rating and multiplied by the number of votes the rating got, then added all those results and divided by total number of votes. This is how it panned out:

    As you can see, the season overall was very uneven. I find it interesting that Series 7A yielded an inverse bell curve, with A Town Called Mercy being the nadir according to the sampled voters. In 7B, there were several dips, but the low point of the entire series - again, according to the votes received - was The Rings of Akhaten.

    For those of you already trying to figure out how they all stack up against each other, try this on for size:

    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.



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