Nu-View #18: Special Surprise


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.


    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.


    More Relatable Than Ever?


    Review of The Doctors Revisited - Tenth Doctor

    It still feels really weird to me to think of David Tennant's Tenth Doctor as an "old" or "past" Doctor. Since it was his episodes that cemented my fandom, and I don't think of myself as having been a fan for very long, even though it's been five years now, at a gut level I can't help but think of them as quite recent. Yet it's been nearly four years since Tennant's last appearance. So it was with a strange combination of "walk down memory lane" and "didn't we just get these episodes?" that I watched as BBC America Revisited my Doctor.

    Whether it's because this Doctor isn't yet very far removed, or some other reason, the list of interviewees in this episode is longer than any other: Doctor actors David Tennant and Peter Davison; Companion actors Freema Agyeman, Noel Clarke, and John Barrowman; Companion family member actors Camille Coduri, Bernard Cribbins, and Jacqueline King; supporting character actors David Morrissey, Dan Starkey, and Adam Garcia; writers Neil Gaiman and Tom McRae; and producers Marcus Wilson and Steven Moffat. All had glowing things (as always) to say about this particular Regeneration, and how he differed from all who came before.

    The Tenth Doctor was a starkly different man from the Ninth. Less someone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, he had an easier manner—like someone you'd know, it's pointed out—and was someone the audience could relate to, in terms of both fashion sense and mode of speech. Yet the darkness was still just under the surface. He doesn't cut his enemies much slack ("no second chances"), nor the friends who have disappointed him. As Tennant himself put it, "He can destroy a government by whispering in someone's ear. That's the essence of the Doctor. That sums him up."


    Confession #43: I Love/Hate the Ten/Rose Ship


    There's one thing that can divide a fandom faster than the Vashta Nerada can skeletonize a human: shipping. And the Dallas Cowboys (or Man U) of Who fandom ships—the one you either love or love to hate—is the Tenth Doctor and Rose. Let me break down the two camps, in terms of very broad generalizations (we're talking horoscope broad, so obviously, YMMV).

    On the one side, you have hardcore Ten/Rose shippers. They see Ten and Rose as an OTP (or "one true pairing")—the ultimate ship that cannot be sunk, no matter what else is written before, after, for, or about the couple. As far as I can tell, some of these shippers go so far as to deny that any story that doesn't involve Ten and Rose is innately inferior, and thereby beneath their notice, or at least a questionable use of their time.

    On the other, you have Ten/Rose shipper-haters. These fans actively hate the Ten/Rose ship, and in many cases even extend that distaste to fans who do ship it. Further, a fair number of these anti-shippers believe that the Doctor does not (or should not) ever be in a romantic relationship of any sort. A non-negligible subset of these fans seem to think very little of the post-Hiatus show is worth their time.

    And here I sit in the middle.


    Confession #32: I Miss the Time Lords


    [For those of you looking for a review of The Snowmen: I'm sorry; I'm afraid you'll have to wait another week. I haven't had time for a second viewing and analysis yet.]

    Recently, the comment thread on another post led me to reflect on one of my biggest pet peeves as a neowhovian who has become a fan of the entire fifty year run of our show: RTD's removal of the Time Lords for the series relaunch in 2005.

    Why, you may ask, do I care?

    First, it puts a huge, rather stupid wrench in continuity between the two eras of the show. I honestly don't know what RTD's motivation for inventing the Last Great Time War (LGTW) was, but I've heard it said that it was because the Time Lords would be too confusing for new fans. I hope that's not the case, because that just tells me that RTD basically thought I - and others like me - must be dumb.

    I mean, really; how hard can it be? We already know our protagonist is alien; we're with you there. He's got advanced, alien tech and can travel anywhere in space or time; still with you. He has a rocky relationship with the authorities on his home planet, such that he ran away and only works with them when he has to; nope! Sorry, now I'm lost. (Oh, wait... No, I'm not.)



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