This is Sure to Interest Someone

Video

I drew a blank on the weekend music last night, so have a Doctor Who Series 9 trailer instead. I’m not sure how excited I am about this season yet. Certainly not as stoked as I have been in anticipation of previous seasons. But I remain a fan, oh yes I do.

What made me think of the trailer was a conversation I had with Hannah, L.M., and Robin earlier this week about Hayley Atwell wanting to play Doctor Who and that turned out interesting, to say the least. Happy to discuss that further on the thread here if anyone’s interested in playing.

Happy Weekend!

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Blogging A to Z Day 4: The Doctor and Doctor Donna

temp from chiswick

This lady

I am a fan of Donna “the temp from Chiswick” Noble. Donna “Oi, watch it spaceman” Noble. Donna “The Doctor” Noble. Those are the three best nicknames I can think of to sum up her character: she’s ordinary, she’s tough, and she’s amazing. Donna’s Companionship best demonstrates the hope and heartbreak that Doctor Who is all about.

Rose and Martha were just a little too lovesick to stand up to the Doctor, and a little too good for their own well-being. Amy and Rory were the Doctor’s sidekicks while he played super-hero. Clara exists.

Donna is the only Companion to beat the Doctor at being a savior. I don’t mean this to lessen the Doctor’s accomplishments, but let’s look at the scoreboard while they traveled together:

Pyramid of AwesomeSavior of the universe

Unlike the Doctor, Donna accomplishes most of her feats by saving someone, or by sacrificing herself, as in Turn Left. That version of Donna – the one who had never met the Doctor – died. This resurrected the other Donna. I left out episodes where they both helped save the day, like the Adipose and Sontarans. I also didn’t account for what they are, since it seemed unfair: a Time Lord and the woman handpicked by all of time and space (also known as the Tardis) to save the universe.

world's best granddad

One kicks ass, the other takes names

Not to mention Donna has the best granddad in the universe.

Donna is all about hope: after she declines traveling with the Doctor she travels the world. It doesn’t quite measure up to the Tardis, so when she returns home she begins investigating the Adipose situation. And she watches the sky with Wilf, hoping to see the Doctor again. When the situation seems impossible, like Fires of Pompeii, Donna sees a little bit of hope by rescuing at least one family. The Doctor is godlike, and when he can’t save everyone he despairs. Donna is human, and when she can save someone she rejoices.

Donna also breaks our hearts. When she is at the top of her game after saving the universe, she loses everything, including her sense of self. Because she absorbed the knowledge of a Time Lord, but her biology can’t cope with it, the Doctor has to erase her memories of him and their travels to save her life. Everything Donna did still mattered, but she’ll never know, and her dream of traveling with the Doctor forever comes to nothing.

That’s the heart of Doctor Who: triumph tempered by loss, saving the day while still knowing there’s so much to do, and hope weighed against heartbreak. Doctor Who is a romantic show. But don’t let me just tell you, listen to Craig Ferguson sing it:

I’m hardly the first or last to note Donna’s awesomeness as Companion. They had their own takes on Donna Noble, if you’d like some additional reading:

The Temp from Chiswick: Why I love Donna Noble

Best Female Companion

Why I love Donna Noble

Doctor Who Season Finale, Death in Heaven

David and Holly are on vacation for the next couple of weeks, and I’m a bit swamped, so giving Comparative Geeks some love for the next couple of Wednesdays. I chose this post today rather than a comics post because I like the way Holly breaks down the Doctor’s relationships here, and it this seems like a good post to share as the last word on series 8. I’ve got a couple of comics posts in progress, so we’ll be back up to our usual tricks on Wednesdays soon enough.

Comparative Geeks

Doctor Who Death in Heaven

There were a lot of people who have been praising this season finale as the best ever. Now as a combination of two episodes for the season finale this would definitely be pretty high up there. As a stand alone I felt that the first part of the two-parter was actually stronger. This episode beautifully finished out what the previous episode had started, but it did not quite have me at the edge of my seat as part 1. I enjoyed it, but there was just not the same tension. At the same time they did a beautiful job of tying up some of the relationship drama that has been going on and showing more of the heart of the Doctor. Here are a some of the relationships that the season finale dealt with. (Spoilers for Doctor Who finale after the jump.)

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Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 12, “Death in Heaven” Review

by William Hohmeister

I think sometimes I’m too hard on Doctor Who. Series 8, for all its flaws, is so much better than series 6 and 7 that there’s really no comparison. And while the finale did not meet my expectations, I think it was good. I had a few problems, which I’ll deal with right now, in several open letters to people both fictional and real.

Guards. If the woman currently locked in the cargo hold of the plane talks about killing people soon, openly displays that she is no longer restrained, and then saunters over to take a hostage, at some point you need to shoot her. Maybe even just look surprised as you’re murdered.

The Doctor (Peter Capaldi). You saw the Mistress (Michelle Gomez) melt Dr. Chang only a short time ago. Take the weapon she used far away from her. Do not leave it within easy reach. This is what gets great supporting characters like Osgood (Ingrid Oliver) incinerated.

Steven Moffat (writer/showrunner). Maybe I’m wrong for wanting the Doctor to grow and change. I think the Companion is supposed to experience a character arc. But Clara doesn’t change until the end of the episode. I think you’re trying, but we need reasons to care about these people. Even Danny Pink.

Dan the Cyberman (Samuel Anderson). Let go of your death certificate. We only need one shot to establish that it’s you (and really, not even that). You’re also unreasonably angry at the Doctor, but I think you’re just adjusting to life as a soulless automaton. What an Afterlife, right?

Clara (Jenna Coleman). You did really well this episode. You learned and changed more this episode, as a minor character with nothing to do, than you have during all of series 8. I’m incredibly glad you’re gone.

The first twenty minutes are all set up. The Mistress uses “cyber-clouds” to infect all of earth. UNIT takes the Mistress and the Doctor prisoner, then swears the Doctor in as President of Earth. Danny rescues Clara and takes her to a graveyard. The Mistress wrecks the plane, the Doctor starts to plummet to his doom, and Seb (Chris Addison) geeks out when the Doctor escapes.

The Mistress’ casual violence is spooky throughout the episode, as she kills Osgood and Seb on a whim. Despite the utter failure of the guards, and the Doctor’s brain fart (mentioned above), the Mistress seems capable and forceful. I expected her to kill Clara after the reveal that she kept Clara and the Doctor together, but… huh.

Okay, new letter. The Mistress. Why did you bother to get Clara and the Doctor together? Because she’s a control freak? Why go to the trouble?

Dan the Cyberman and Clara argue about their relationship until the Doctor lands. They all argue, Dan the Cyberman reveals the Mistress’ plan, and she appears like a psychotic Mary Poppins.

I said in my review of “Dark Water” that the personal in the middle of the grand makes Doctor Who appealing to me. Dan the Cyberman gives a big speech, there are a lot of explosions, but the short conversations between the Doctor and the Mistress make the episode work. On the plane, she tries to gain control over the Doctor by teasing him with Gallifrey’s location. He responds by telling her how easy ruling the world is.

I know only a little about the past relationship between the Doctor and the Master. I know they’ve always been antagonists, except for a hinted-at past as children on Gallifrey. I know the Master wants to conquer everything, but the Doctor most of all. The Mistress demonstrates her complete control of the Cybermen (except Dan), wishes the Doctor a happy birthday…

And the Mistress gives control of the Cybermen to the Doctor. She has two explanations, one cliché (“We’re not so different, you and I”) and one true, when she says:doctor_missy

I need my friend back.

The Mistress can’t change. Even if she no longer hears the drums, she’s still crazy and deadly and effective. It’s possible she arranged for the Doctor to be elected President of Earth as well, to give him all the power he wants. He can, as she says, save everyone. He can make the universe exactly as he wants it to be. She’s saying: Be the Master. You don’t know if you’re the Doctor anymore, so be the Master.

I guess that the Doctor’s response, that he is not a general, a hero, or anything but an idiot in a big blue box, is Steven Moffat speaking through him. I wrote about Nine and Ten’s transformation into a Satan-like character, and I think Eleven was meant to be a mix of gallant fairy-tale hero and old monster under the bridge. Twelve lets all of that go, and reestablishes his identity as the Doctor.

After Danny destroys the clouds, the Mistress gives the Doctor the coordinates for Gallifrey, and offers to go with him. Clara is about to kill her, but the Doctor offers to do it. The Mistress seems surprised, but delighted. She poses. Before the Doctor can pull the trigger, The Brigadier, Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart (originally played by Nicholas Courtney) resurrected as a Cyberman, disintegrates the Mistress and flies off.

Danny has a chance to return to life, but sends the kid he shot instead. The Doctor checks out the coordinates the Mistress gave him for Gallifrey. I’m not certain that the Mistress lied, but we see the Doctor destroy part of the Tardis console in rage, so it’s likely. At the end, Clara and the Doctor meet up in a café and lie to each other.

clara_12It sounds simple, but it’s tricky with their relationship. The Doctor thinks Dan the Cyberman returned from the dead and Clara lets him. Clara thinks the Doctor found Gallifrey restored, and he lets her. They both lie to give the other a chance to move on, which finishes the characters’ history together. If they got back together they’d have to admit the truth, and neither is capable of that.

The Doctor leaves, but the final shot is of Clara. She was special and now she merges back into the crowd, part of the mundane again. It’s a quiet, strong end to a “meh” relationship that needed to end. I wish the Mistress had lived, but I doubt it’s the last we’ve seen of her. And I’m interested now in series 9.