Ten

Confession #90: I've Underrated Martha

Jul
22

Martha Jones came on the scene at an awkward time—awkward for me, that is. The way I was introduced to the show, I had zero time to process the loss of my first Companion before another was thrust upon me, and I was not ready to move on. Sort of like the Doctor, then, I didn't really give her a fair shake. She didn't get the affection and respect from me that the character really deserved.

As I look back on her time in the TARDIS, though, I realize that I really have given Martha short shrift. Just by being there, by taking up space on screen and refusing to be shoved aside, she did more for representation of diversity than anyone else in the show's history.

It's not just her existence as a black Companion that makes her significant (and a better character than I've been able to internalize before); she has some brilliant moments that turn the old, comfortable "standard operating procedure" on its ear.

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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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        Retcon of the Doctor

        Nov
        25

        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.

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