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 11: What’s it all about?

by William Hohmeister

I’m trying to figure out what series 8 was about. Before “Dark Water” I had this list: Clara, trust, lies, understanding who you are, and the definition of goodness. Early into part one of the series 8 Doctor Who finale we see Clara betray the Doctor for Danny, and hear so many lies and partial truths that their difference almost doesn’t matter. It’s bizarre.

Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) dies while talking to Clara (Jenna Coleman) on the phone. We watch Clara drift through time in a way that doesn’t require the TARDIS: she goes from Danny’s death, to his memorial, to standing in her kitchen with her grandma. Grandma says what we expect when a loved one dies; Clara refutes the normal platitudes and says that Danny’s death was mundane, simple, and stupid, not tragic. She says she doesn’t deserve better, but she is owed.

Then she looks at her phone, which rings over and over as it tries to contact the TARDIS.

We’ve seen what Clara plans to do before, though not so deliberate. When the Doctor collects her, Clara asks for a volcano. While the Doctor argues with her, Clara collects all of the seven TARDIS keys, and a “sleep patch.” When the Doctor agrees to take her to a volcano, she slaps the patch on him.

I try not to write “good reviews” because the internet is full of those by smarter people. I want to write something you like, and that matters to me. My favorite moments of Doctor Who aren’t the over-the-top cool moments (though I do like them), but the personal in the middle of the grandiose. I love the Doctor when he promises Rose Tyler, “I’m coming to get you,” and for the look on his face after he loses her.

Clara’s personal moment, as the volcano… acts like a volcano around her, is my favorite personal moment in the past four series. It’s strong, it’s striking, and despite not being real I think it still holds power. After she destroys the last key, the Doctor reveals the patches actually induce hallucinations, and they don’t effect him. After Clara tried to knock him out, the Doctor put the patch on her and let the fantasy play out.

At first I thought this was terrible. I still dislike flashbacks, dreams, flash-forwards, and other forms of narrative “lying”, but I tried to see this moment as a concrete example of the new Doctor. It’s easy for him to turn his back on people like Journey Blue. But, although Clara betrayed him, although he knows she’d do it again, he says:

You betrayed me. You betrayed my trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!… Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

Series 8 is about truth in the middle of lies, I think, and whether the distinction even matters. Is the Doctor good? I don’t know, but does it matter? He’s mean, rude, insulting, and kind of a jackass, but he saves the world every other day. And he forgives.

This idea becomes even more important when the Doctor and Clara meet Missy (Michelle Gomez). While Danny talks with Seb (Chris Addison) inside the Nethersphere, the Doctor and Clara explore 3w, a strange funeral home that houses skeletons in water tanks. Misi introduces Dr. Chang, who explains that the dead suffer horribly, and 3w is based on the three words: “Don’t cremate me!”

Clara and Danny connect via IPad, while the Doctor and Dr. Chang explore more of 3w. Clara promises to commit suicide if Danny proves he’s real, so of course Danny convinces her of the opposite. I had little use for Danny throughout series 8, but this moment felt real and sad. Again, I think it ties into the idea of lies used for truth: Danny wants Clara to live and move on, so he has to lie and pretend he’s a fake by telling Clara “I love you.” He lies by telling her the truth.

The Doctor and Dr. Chang find Missy. Earlier, she pretended to be a robot helper named MISI, and made out with the Doctor. There’s some strange stuff going on here, so I’ll explain how I thought through this. When she put the Doctor’s hand over her heart, I thought ‘Of course, she’s a Time Lord.’ This lead me to the Master, but I reasoned my way out of this. ‘She can’t be a Time Lord, and definitely can’t be the Master. They’re all trapped in the Time War, and I’m pretty sure the Master exploded from lightning magic anyway.’

Doctor_Who_-_The_End_of_Time_Master

She’s not the Master; she’s the Mistress! And as crazy as ever.

Maybe not that crazy.

Missy kills Dr. Chang and unleashes the Cybermen on London. The Nethersphere, the Promised Land, the afterlife are actually a piece of Time Lord technology that can capture or absorb dying minds and place them in a virtual reality. The minds inside remain connected to their newly-upgraded bodies. Each mind is also given the chance to purge their emotions, and then probably deposited back into their body to act as a Cyberman.

Where the other Time Lords are, Gallifrey’s fate, and how the Mistress is even still alive are all important, as-yet unanswered questions, and I have no real speculation. I didn’t see the Master coming. At all. But we can be sure the last episode will go off the rails. With the Mistress/Master involved it always does.

Conspiracy theory: Is there a 4-beat rhythm in the Doctor Who theme that matches the beat the Master hears in her head all the time? I’ve been listening to it… too much, but I can’t confirm it. Anyone else notice it?