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This episode functioned a lot like "The Lodger" did for me, in that this was the episode where I finally completely forgot that I was watching an actor turn in an (admittedly brilliant) performance and instead just saw The Doctor. Like, I've really enjoyed Peter Capaldi in every single episode before now, but there was still that part of me that hadn't gotten used to him being the Doctor yet and was still very aware that he was an actor playing the part. I was the same with Matt Smith before "The Lodger". But after that episode (and now after this one) the actor completely disappeared into the character and I just completely bought it.

3 weeks, 4 days ago on Rate & Discuss The Caretaker

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Incidentally, this plays into my belief that the only real difference between the Master and the Doctor is that, ever since they both left Gallifrey, the Doctor has traveled with people and the Master has traveled alone. (And that this is the reason that the Master ran out of regenerations way before the Doctor did, because he never had anyone to watch his back.)

3 months, 2 weeks ago on Is the Doctor a Good Man?

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I've always said that the Doctor is the least interesting when he's a straight-up Good Guy. He's not Space Superman, after all. There's always been a tinge of darkness to the character since day one, even though it ebbs and flows.  

I tend not to think of the Doctor as primarily an embodiment of Goodness as much as an embodiment of Change, for better or worse. He's less a superhero and more of a revolutionary, landing on planets and tearing down any social structure that doesn't fit in with his own personal ideas about morality. We're okay with this because it usually aligns with our own ideas. But sometimes it doesn't. And really, the whole enterprise is wildly irresponsible, seeing as he rarely knows very much about the societies he's visiting and he never sticks around to clean up the mess he's made. ("The Face of Evil" is a great example of how this can backfire magnificently.) And it's all motivated by hubris as much as anything. He's helping people, yes, but he's doing because HE knows best. It's a massively egotistical way to lead your life. 

One thing that I think the new series has been marvelous at is illustrating how the companions ground the Doctor and how he can go a bit over the edge without them. If anyone's the agent of Goodness in Doctor Who, it's the companion. The Doctor can be incredibly compassionate, to be sure, but without a companion to remind him what it's like to be one of those people that he's saving, that compassion can become incredibly abstract and theoretical. He becomes like the politician that tries to help his constituents yet doesn't really know what they want anymore. The companions help keep that compassion alive and immediate. 

Because the Doctor basically IS Change, right down to the way he regenerates every once in a while. And ultimately Change doesn't really play by the rules of Good and Evil. Change doesn't automatically make things better. It just makes things different.



3 months, 2 weeks ago on Is the Doctor a Good Man?

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This is actually very similar to an idea that I’ve always had in my head for the FINAL Doctor Who story:


It would start at an archeological dig on Gallifrey where a Time Lord engineer working at the site unearths an ancient Time Lord weapon, the Hand of Omega. But the real discovery isn’t the weapon. Inscribed onto the weapon, the Time Lord finds three names, the founders of Time Lord society: Rassilon, Omega, and his own. The Time Lord realizes that, at some point in his future, he has to go back in time and help found Time Lord society. If anyone else knows this, he realizes, they could stop him and cause a massive, universe collapsing paradox. So this Time Lord goes into the Matrix (the repository of all Time Lord knowledge) and wipes his name from Time Lord memory, replacing it with The Doctor. Of course, he can’t stick around, so he gathers everything that has his name on it (the Hand of Omega, his crib from when he was a baby, his Gallifreyan granddaughter Susan who isn’t a proper Time Lord and thus isn’t affected by the memory wipe), steals a TARDIS, and sets out for a safe haven. 

Meanwhile, in the current time, the Master has a thought that’s been bugging him for a long time, ever since he learned that the Doctor is half-human: he shouldn’t be. They’ve known each other since the Academy. There’s no way he should be half-human. Then there’s the matter of that time the Time Lords turned the Master human using a chameleon arch: why would the Time Lords have the technology to turn a Time Lord into a human? How did it actually work? The third thing that’s bugging him is Utopia. When he had found the last remnants of humanity on Utopia, it was clear that there HAD been a civilization there. And what’s more, it had looked FAMILIAR. Suddenly, it all clicks: The Utopia project had worked. Someone HAD saved humanity, by sending it back to the beginning of time to found a new society: Time Lord society. The chameleon arch didn't give him NEW biology, it restored an even older biology. Realizing this, the Master finds the ultimate way to control the universe: get in on the ground floor of the oldest, most powerful civilization that ever existed. And of course, the only one who can stop him is The Doctor who, in the process, is finally able to close the time loop that started his whole adventure.

3 months, 3 weeks ago on An Earthly Gallifrey

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This is actually a really great example of the importance of structure to our enjoyment of stories. The reason that "Vincent and the Doctor" is a classic and "The Power of Three" is an underrated but still-not-Great story is that the script for "Vincent" understands that it's a character piece. In "Vincent", the climax of the story isn't the defeat of the baddie, but the trip to the museum. Meanwhile, "The Power of Three" makes its climax the defeat of the baddie even though that wasn't the story that it was primarily interested in telling. So PoT feels like it peters out while VatD crescendos. 

4 months ago on Unpopular Opinion? The Power of Three

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@SonicTheHedgehogRules I've always assumed that there was some sort of force field holding in oxygen, like the one around the TARDIS whenever they open the doors in space, just on a massive scale. 

Even if they had offered an explanation, it would have just been some technobabble nonsense that someone pulled out of their ass anyway that it honestly doesn't make a difference to me whether or not it's actually explained. It would be one thing if the any specific plot points turned on the ability to breathe in space, like for example, suddenly someone loses the ability and asphyxiates. But it's just something that's built into the setting. This is a place where they have a big festival in the rings of a planet and you can't do that if you can't breathe but they clearly did it so they figured it out somehow. The universe is vast and complicated and ridiculous and sometimes, very rarely, breathing in space just happens. 


Which kind of leads into one of the things that I find redeeming and special about RoA. There was an article here the other day about those rare moments in Doctor Who where nothing's going wrong and you get to see what happens when the TARDIS crew isn't in crisis mode and gets to just be. Rings of Akhatan is one of the longest sustained looks at what that looks like. Up until the queen of years gets taken, we're mostly just watching the Doctor and Clara exploring. Presumably the Doctor and his companion does this sort of thing all the time but we don't get to see it. But with Rings we do. And the fact that we do get to learn more about Clara at the same time makes it even more compelling. Clara is such an underdeveloped character that it makes Rings stand out all the more because it's one of the few times we actually get to know her better. It's a very impressionistic Doctor Who episode, less concerned with tight plotting and more concerned with revealing character and giving us all these intimate moments, evocative music and gorgeous visuals. Plus, it's quite funny on top of things, with a quick witted script that reminds me of Moffat at his best.  

I totally get why everyone might not love it, but I don't get the hate for it. Every time I watch it, I grow to like it more and more.


4 months ago on Unpopular Opinion? The Power of Three

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@Planet of the Deaf @Galactic Yo Yo Yeah, something like that. And maybe something that the Doctor could have only done because he'd stayed in one place for a year. Hell, maybe the Doctor shouldn't have solved it at all. Maybe the Ponds should have been the one to solve it to simultaneously show their growth as characters and illustrate how well they operate on their home turf.

4 months ago on Unpopular Opinion? The Power of Three

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@SonicTheHedgehogRules You know, I like this episode a fair amount, but I'd probably watch "Rings" before watching this again. I'd love to write an "Unpopuler Opinion about RoA, because it's FAR from the worst Eleventh Doctor episode. Hell, it's not even the worst episode from series 7B. (That's a toss-up between "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" and "Nightmare in Silver")


4 months ago on Unpopular Opinion? The Power of Three

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I wrote a whole, long write-up about this episode when we were rating them a while back, but the fact of the matter is that this 3/4ths of a great episode ruined by a crappy ending. Pretty much all the character stuff is great (the little chat with Amy and the Doctor is one of my favorite moments between them ever). The problem is that the ending of the episode is pretty much completely unrelated thematically to anything else that happens before it. The episode is about the relationship between the Doctor and his companions, and how it changes when he's a companion in their lives. However the ending doesn't involve that relationship at all. He doesn't save the day because of something he learned from living with the Ponds for a year or anything like that. It just sort of happens. And thus the episode becomes a bunch of great moments that don't build to anything.

That said, I still enjoy this one a lot. I still think that it has more life to it than most of series 7A (which felt like so much going through the motions).

4 months ago on Unpopular Opinion? The Power of Three

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This is one of the reasons that I like "Rings of Akhatan". It has one of the longest sustained looks at what it's like when nothing is really going wrong. 

4 months, 1 week ago on 11 Doctor Who Instances When It Was Just… Blissful

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Yeah, I had always assumed it was because she was, not just a space-time anomaly, but specifically a space-time anomaly involving the Doctor's grave. Given the way the TARDIS reacts to reaching Trenzalore, I figured that was confirmed already.

6 months, 2 weeks ago on Why Does the TARDIS Dislike Clara? Moffat Teases Answers

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Ouch, this one's tough. I think I have to give it to "Father's Day", seeing as the other capital G Great episodes are both the first halves of two-parters.

6 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 8

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Really? I mean, there's some good episodes here but I think this one is clearly "Amy's Choice".

6 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 1-7 Face-Off: Episode 7

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Whether or not Series 7 is better than 1 depends on whether or not you include Day and Time of the Doctor.

7 months, 1 week ago on Best of Matt Smith: Series 7 (2012-2013)

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@Nightmarish  Yeah, I think that series 1 is RTD's second best series. For me it goes like this (this is based on averaging all the episode's scores and rounding): 

Series 5: 8/10 

Series 4: 7/10 

Series 7: 7/10 

Series 1: 7/10 

Series 6: 6/10 

Series 3: 5/10 

Series 2: 4/10

7 months, 1 week ago on Best of Matt Smith: Series 7 (2012-2013)

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One of the most interesting things about this whole poll thing was how much higher series 7 went in my esteem. Watching it live, I wasn’t super fond of a lot of it. It was my least favorite Matt Smith series. However, going through it again and thinking about it for this poll, it’s gone up a fair amount. If I average all of my ratings together, I rate series 7 as about the same as 6 (even though I enjoyed 6 more than 7 at the time). And if you factor in Day and Time of the Doctor, then it becomes my third favorite of the new series. I still think the first half is overrated and the second half is underrated, though. Even though everything in the first half is competent (except for "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", which I think is mostly terrible), it all feels like the writers were playing things too safe. Even the best episode, "A Town Called Mercy", feels a bit like it's trying too hard to be a Great, Important Episode. Whereas the second half seems to have regained the sense of playful experimentation that the best Who embodies, even if not all of those experiments succeed. 

AOTD = 6/10, DOAS = 3/10, ATCM = 8/10, TPOT = 7/10, TATM = 7/10, The Snowmen = 8/10, TBOSJ = 5/10, TROA = 8/10, Cold War = 7/10, Hide = 9/10, JTTCOTT = 3/10, TCH = 6/10, NIS = 4/10, Name = 8/10, Day = 10/10, Time = 9/10 Which gives the whole series overall a 6.75 (which I'll round up to 7 for the poll)

7 months, 1 week ago on Best of Matt Smith: Series 7 (2012-2013)

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Oh, I forgot about "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe", which was a 4/10, which makes it 6.33, but that rounds down to 6 anyway.

7 months, 1 week ago on Best of Matt Smith: Series 6 (2011)

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I've said it before, but series 6 is massively underrated. I mean, the arc mostly doesn't work (although the two-parter that kicks it off is pretty stellar), but most of the standalones are rather great. "The Doctor's Wife" and "The Girl Who Waited" are classics, with "The God Complex" being just shy of a classic itself. And "Closing Time" is one of the most fun episodes of Doctor Who ever, while also having that great speech from the Doctor to Stormaggeddon. I think the Flesh two-parter is pretty solid, too. So, Impossible Astronaut/DOTM = 9/10, COTBS = 1/10, The Doctor's Wife = 10/10, Rebel Flesh/Almost People = 6/10, AGMGTW = 7/10, Let's Kill Hitler = 4/10, Night Terrors = 2/10, TGWW = 10/10, God Complex = 8/10, Closing Time = 8/10, TWORS = 7/10. Which comes out to an even 6/10 for the series as a whole, which feels about right.


7 months, 1 week ago on Best of Matt Smith: Series 6 (2011)

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I think if you ignore the actual plot arc episodes of series 6 (at least the ones from 6b), it's actually pretty strong. I'd say the opening two parter, "The Doctor's Wife" and "The Girl Who Waited" are all pretty unassailable in their greatness, and "The God Complex" and "Closing Time" are right behind them, quality-wise. 

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Time of the Doctor

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The first time I watched this, I was thrown because it really wasn't what I expected, but every time I watch it, I like it more and more, to the point where I give it a 9/10. Though it might go up to 10/10 when I watch it again.


7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Time of the Doctor

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@supermoff  I did this same thing a while back, and ranked them thusly:


1."The Pandorica Opens" (Part 1)"The Big Bang" (Part 2)


2."Vincent and the Doctor"

3."The Day of the Doctor"

4."The Doctor's Wife"

5."The Girl Who Waited"

6."The Eleventh Hour"

7."A Christmas Carol"

8."Hide"

9."Amy's Choice"

10."The Lodger"

11."The Time of the Doctor"

12."The Impossible Astronaut" (Part 1) "Day of the Moon" (Part 2)

13."The Time of Angels" (Part 1) "Flesh and Stone" (Part 2)

14."The Name of the Doctor"

15."The God Complex"

16."The Snowmen"

17."The Rings of Akhaten"

18."Closing Time"

19."A Town Called Mercy"

20."The Vampires of Venice"

21."The Angels Take Manhattan" (autumn finale)

22."The Wedding of River Song"

23."A Good Man Goes to War" (spring finale)

24."The Power of Three"

25."Cold War"

26."The Rebel Flesh" (Part 1) "The Almost People" (Part 2)

27."The Hungry Earth" (Part 1)"Cold Blood" (Part 2)

28."Asylum of the Daleks"

29."The Crimson Horror"

30."The Beast Below"

31."The Bells of Saint John" (spring premiere)

32."The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe"

33."Let's Kill Hitler" (autumn premiere)

34."Nightmare in Silver"

35."Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"

36."Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS"

37."Victory of the Daleks"

38."Night Terrors"

39."The Curse of the Black Spot"

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Time of the Doctor

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This is another episode that I doubt I'll ever be able to view objectively, seeing as I saw it in the absolute best possible condition: in a cinema full of costumed Doctor Who fans, armed with the knowledge that I was seeing it at the same time as millions of other people. Feeding off the energy of a couple of hundred fans meant that all the big moments landed extra hard for me: the glimpse of the Twelfth Doctor and Tom Baker's cameo in particular. However, I still feel pretty comfortable giving this a 10/10. It's easily Moffat's best script since series 5. The decision not to go too overboard on the spectacle and cameos for most of the story is a wise one. Instead of having a giant, congratulatory party for the 50th where everyone comes back but not a lot happens (like "The Five Doctors"), he decided to tell a story worth telling for the anniversary. It's a great examination of the Doctor on quite possibly the most important day of his life. And while it's chock full of references to the past, it's never overwhelmed by them. The ending has been seen by some as betraying the Doctor's character development over the past seven series, but I see it as the culmination of it. The whole point of the story is that the Doctor of the Time War couldn't have saved the Time Lords, but living with the grief for so long turned him into a man who could. It's a great ending to a great story and, most of all, it's a perfect push into the next 50 years. 

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Day of the Doctor

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@dschram  That's exactly what they were. They were basically less paintings and more like photographs you could enter.

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Day of the Doctor

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So I like “The Name of the Doctor”. I like the resolution of why Clara was showing up in the Doctor’s life over and over. It feels organic, which it easily couldn’t have been. (For example, take a look at the resolution of how the Doctor survived being shot by the astronaut in “The Wedding of River Song”.) The design of everything is great and the emotional moments land. My one beef with this episode is that it doesn’t really have a story. It’s just the Doctor and Clara reacting to stuff for forty minutes until Clara finally saves the day. It answers our questions about Clara and Trenzalore before finally giving us a great big new one, but it feels smaller for its lack of an actual story to tell. If the Doctor and Clara had a bit more proactive, this wouldn’t have been a problem, but for most of the episode’s running time, they’re just riding the rollercoaster towards the end.

Still, everything about it is well executed. Matt and Jenna kill it. The Great Intelligence is a bit of a nonentity, but that’s not too much of a story killer. Also, I want to take a moment to single out “Trenzalore” from the episode’s score. Ever since that episode, the piece has become my favorite Murray Gold composition from the entirety of his run as composer. It’s just so otherworldly, yet profoundly sad. As appropriate a mood for Doctor Who as any. Honestly, I think Gold’s work during series 7 has been the high point of his work for the show, as “The Long Song” and “Clara’s Theme” are also aces. But “Trenzalore”, that just …hits me.  


7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Name of the Doctor

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 I think it was something that became problematic during his episodes in series 6. "Let's Kill Hitler" and "The Wedding of River Song" in particular suffer from an overabundance of ideas without much time to focus on any of them. I don't find them difficult to follow, but the overstuffing has a tendency to blunt the scripts' impact.  

I do think that he took those criticisms to heart, though, because generally it wasn't as much of a  problem in series 7. If anything, he overcorrected a bit, as a few of his episodes in series 7 probably could have stood to have a bit more going on. Like, I enjoy "The Name of the Doctor" but it doesn't really have a story to speak of, and "The Bells of St. John" is pretty bland. 

It's worth pointing out that this is a problem that, when it exists, is pretty exclusive to his scripts in the series. Like, I think series 6 is probably the low point for Moffat as a writer, but I really enjoy most of the scripts from that series that aren't his (moreso than I do for series 7). I do think that his tenure as showrunner has led to sharper writing for the standalone episodes, which oftentimes didn't have ENOUGH going on during RTD's run. 

Plus, even when the episodes became overstuffed with plot, I did appreciate the epic sense of scale that he's brought to the show. The show has felt bigger since he took over. Some might argue that it's too much or that the show put too much focus on the Doctor, but I think the "Doctor" trilogy puts a lot of that in context. If the Eleventh Doctor's run WAS one big story that was ultimately about the reset of the regeneration limit, the scale and the focus on the Doctor make sense. 

Anyway, that's probably a much longer answer than you were looking for, but there it is. Also, your profile name makes me giggle. Kudos.

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Nightmare in Silver

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I feel like I can't be objective about this episode. You see, Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite writers ever. Hell, he's one of my favorite PEOPLE ever. If I ever need an ounce of inspiration, I turn to a Neil Gaiman book. There's something about his work that speaks to me very personally. So when I first heard he was writing for Doctor Who, I was ecstatic. And when I first saw "The Doctor's Wife", it exceeded my expectations. 

So when I heard he was writing another episode, my expectations were even higher. So when I saw it and it was...less than perfect, I didn't know what to think. Was it actually pretty good but I was judging it too harshly because of my expectations? Or was it actually abysmal but I was judging it too kindly because it was by Gaiman? I still don't know which is which. 

The best way I can describe the difference between this and "The Doctor's Wife" is that TDW feels like one of Steven Moffat's episodes from the RTD era, whereas "Nightmare in Silver" feels like one of Steven Moffat's episodes as showrunner. While everything was perfectly balanced in "The Doctor's Wife", there's a whole lot of ideas competing for attention in "Nightmare" without any of them really getting enough focus. And, aside from the awful kids and the cop-out ending, all the ideas are good. Which makes it all the more disappointing that we don't get to explore any of them enough. "This should have been a two-parter" is a refrain that's heard a bit too often in fan circles, as if stretching a story to the length of two episodes will always make it better. But this really would have been a masterful two-parter. As it is, however, it's an episode that' can't be classed as anything other than an interesting failure.




7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Nightmare in Silver

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"Do you know what these are, Doctor? The wrong hands!" It goes without saying that Diana Rigg absolutely steals this episode, so let's get that out of the way. The unique structure and the surprisingly low key approach to it all all make this episode feel refreshing if nothing else. There's not a lot that's particularly GREAT about it, but it's a lot of fun nonetheless. Plus, it has Matt Smith doing his best northern accent in yet another lovely hat.

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Crimson Horror

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The irony is that he's also much better at witty comeback conversations than some of the other writers as well.

7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Hide

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I can never really hate an episode that shows us this much of the TARDIS, but, god, was this a wasted opportunity. Everything with the brothers is awful, which wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't so much of them. To me, the most telling point in this whole episode is when the brothers are arguing about their ridiculously shallow, poorly written conflict and then we cut to Clara and she just looks bored, waiting for the actual plot to get into gear. Furthermore, normally I like it when the Doctor gets secretive about what's going on, but the constant "What are they?"/"You don't want to know" over the Time Zombies gets tiresome really quickly, because it plays less like the Doctor being secretive for Clara's sake and more like the script trying too hard to create suspense by keeping us in the dark. Still, the bits that we see of the TARDIS are pretty cool and it's nice to see the Eye of Harmony again. I just wish we could have had a decent story to go along with it all.



7 months, 2 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

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I remember before "Time of the Doctor" aired, I was convinced that Tasha Lem was a Time Lord who was going to give up her regenerations to the Doctor.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 8: Episode 4 & 5 Writers Confirmed

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And considering that "The Reichenbach Fall" was the finale of series two, I'm betting that all the real heavy lifting of that plot was done by Moffat and Gatiss when they were breaking the series' story.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 8: Episode 4 & 5 Writers Confirmed

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Is it possible that the fact that we haven't heard of a writer for episode three means that there WILL be a two parter in episodes two and three?

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 8: Episode 4 & 5 Writers Confirmed

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@Lord Styro the Drashig  I'm so glad that I'm not the only person who cares this much about this episode! This is honestly one of my favorite episodes of all time!

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Hide

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Ugh, Stephen Thompson is the guy who managed to take two exciting concepts (Pirates! The inside of the TARDIS!) and make them terminally boring. (And I'm highly convinced that his Sherlock episodes that don't suck have more to do with Moffat and Gatiss than him.)

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Series 8: Episode 4 & 5 Writers Confirmed

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@KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys @FMOB11 @parrot999  I always thought that series 6 was the most Moffat-y of them all. It's certainly the twistiest and most-plot heavy series. It's also the one most dominated by his own creations (River and the Silence), while simultaneously being the only series that doesn't reintroduce a Classic monster into the new series.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@KingOfTheInterWebs has Kidneys @dalek WHOnews  Yeah, I wouldn't put him in charge of the show, but can we have him back for an episode? I also love "Amy's Choice" to bits and want to see if he could do something to top it.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@NeutronFlow @Galactic Yo Yo @Iris Wildthyme  I could be wrong, but writing a Doctor Who is probably one of the more sought after writing gigs at the BBC. I'm sure there's lots of people making it known that they want to write one, both male and female, but I'm betting that the amount of names that actually reach the staff of the show is more heavily weighted one way, due to the perception that writing a Doctor Who is a male writer's thing. 

Furthermore, one of the great things about Doctor Who is that it's a show that can be completely different from week to week. So it would make sense to bring on a wide variety of voices to help facilitate that, instead of a block of writers all from the same gender and cultural backgrounds. Not to mention the fact that Doctor Who definitely does have a large female fan base now, one that would be served by someone who could write towards their experiences.

There's also the fact that there's a lot of female characters on the show that would be well served by a female writer. Everyone says that Clara has no personality. I'm more than sure that if you allowed a woman to write an episode, she would do a much better job of writing for her, just do to her own personal experiences.

I'm not saying finding some random woman and forcing her to write a script that she doesn't want to write in the name of diversity. But there's lots of reasons why it would be worth the effort to try a little harder to find the women that I know are out there that want to and would be great at writing for the show.



7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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I've never been a huge fan of Mark Gatiss's work on Who, but I think having specific goals for his episodes in series 7 (reintroducing the Ice Warriors, doing a Paternoster Gang episode) gave him a greater sense of focus. While this will never be my favorite episode, it's probably my favorite Gatiss episode by a mile. Mostly because it's one of the few very good episodes for Clara. I've always thought that the interesting thing about Clara (that never got explored enough) was how different her original meeting with the Doctor was from any other companion. Normally the would-be companion stumbles into adventure and, by the end, the Doctor asks them to come along with him. However, the Doctor showed up on Clara’s doorstep and all but begged her to come with him. So it’s not surprising to find that she’s not as adventurous or bold as other companions. She clearly likes the idea of travel more than the practice of it. (She had that book of places to visit yet never left. The Doctor asks her to come with her and she says “Come back tomorrow.”) For an “impossible girl”, she’s arguably the most “normal” companion of the new series. And this episode is at its best when it’s examining what happens when you put a person like that in a situation like this. She sees a man eviscerated by the Ice Warrior and it really shakes her. The most telling moment in the episode is where the Doctor tells her to stay in one place and she doesn’t protest. She doesn’t go after him like Amy Pond would. She stays put. It’s what any of us would probably do. And it makes anything she does in the episode seem all the braver because she’s so scared. This characterization of her got muddled as the series wore on and the Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations meant that developing her character got backburnered. But here it works masterfully, and hopefully we’ll get it back in series 8.


7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: Cold War

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@NeutronFlow @Iris Wildthyme  That seems a bit of an oversimplification. The classic series did have some female fans (many of whom I bet went on to be writers) and the new series has been on for several years now and by now I'm sure there's plenty of talented women who would love to write for the show. It's merely a question of the people in charge making the effort to find them. However, I'm not sure they're doing that at the moment, possibly because of this very perception that it's mainly male writers who would be interested in doing the show.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@ilyootha @Galactic Yo Yo  That's a fair point. Doctor Who canon, if such a thing could be said to exist, is a bit of a nightmare to parse and it all ultimately doesn't matter a huge amount.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@NeutronFlow @Galactic Yo Yo @ilyootha  True, but a few of those companions traveled with other Doctors (I know Charley did. And Lucie traveled with...the Monk? I need to listen to more of those.) So if all the things that happened to those companions are canon, that would include those travels with the other Doctors which would make those Doctors' audio stories canon by association. It's a bit of a liberal interpretation, I know, but it makes sense.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@ilyootha  If we could somehow get Nick Briggs away from Big Finish a while to do the show proper, that would be amazing. Especially since the Big Finish stories and characters are now one hundred percent officially canon and possibly be brought into the show.

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@Galax  This mirrors my thoughts pretty accurately, although Phil Ford and Tom McRae don't have as much experience running a show as Whithouse and Cross, so I'm wondering if that would affect their chances. And I definitely agree about keeping Gatiss away from the job. But Cross would be the best fit for the job. I think he has just the right voice for the show. 








7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@SonicTheHedgehogRules  I really hope it's not Gatiss. His work on Who has never been particularly inspired. (Even if I do admit that his last two scripts were his strongest and he might be improving.)

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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It's funny reading this today since just yesterday I wrote a long, detailed comment on the "Rings of Akhatan" article about how Neil Cross should be the next showrunner. I can see why Whithouse would be the more obvious choice, since he's been writing for the show longer and already has a genre show under his belt. However, I think Cross has more of that creative spark in him. Plus, as I said in the other comment, he seems to possess a mix of the inventive cleverness of Moffat and the character depth of RTD, making him the ideal person to carry on the legacy of the previous two eras. 

7 months, 3 weeks ago on The Speculator’s Guide to… The Next Showrunner

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@HopeAbigailMacLeodLovely write up, though you left out my favorite part of the Doctor and Clara's exchange:



"It's really big."

"I've seen bigger."

"Really?"

"Are you joking? It's massive."


There's some truly great dialogue in this one.






7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Rings of Akhaten

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So, if you asked me right now who should take over the show when Moffat leaves, my answer would be Neil Cross. “Neil Cross?” you ask, “the guy who wrote ‘Rings of Akhatan’?” And before, I might have equivocated on that and talked a lot about “Hide”. But now, I say, “Hell yeah, they guy who wrote ‘Rings of Akhatan’!” I’ve grown to really love this episode. And it’s for reasons that had nothing to do with That Speech.

This episode is one that seems to have a bad reputation, though it’s nice to see that it’s being reconsidered. I think the reason that it was received badly was because it’s a very atypical Doctor Who episode, especially for its era. Matt Smith-era Who has always been very plotty. However, one of the things that I love about this episode is how, for most of its running time, it dares to not really have a plot at all. For most episodes, this would be a weakness, but Cross turns this into a strength. He does a great job of building a real world and populating it with fascinating peoples. The culture that we see all feels genuine and lived-in. The first half of this episode plays less like a traditional narrative and more like a travelogue, allowing us to just be in this world. So often in Doctor Who, we drop in on the times when things go horribly wrong for the Doctor. We rarely get to see the Doctor and his companions just exploring the local color. But that’s what we get to do in ‘Rings’ for much of its running time, and it’s a better, more unique episode for it.

Cross also fills the episode with tons of clever ideas and funny lines, but I think the thing he does best is flesh out Clara’s character a bit. The prevailing line on Clara is that she has no personality. But that’s not quite true. It’s that she doesn’t have a consistent personality. In a manner funnily befitting for her character, there are many different Claras: Steven Moffat’s Clara, Mark Gatiss’s Clara, Neil Gaiman’s Clara, etc. However, I think Neil Cross’s Clara is the one that feels the most real.  It helps that this is the episode that spends the most time defining her character: a quieter, more compassionate companion who shares the Eleventh Doctor’s ease with children. I’m looking forward to Cross’s writing for Clara next series and hope that other writers take notes from his characterization of her.

Of course, this episode isn’t perfect. The villains are underdeveloped and the distinction between Grandfather and the Old God is unclear. (Of course, this is a plot point, but it’s still not executed as well as it could be.)  And the Doctor straining to hold up the door is probably the most ridiculous use of the sonic I’ve ever seen. However, the resolution with the leaf works well as a character moment for Clara and manages to be equal parts clever and emotionally resonant.

Which is the thing that makes me want Cross in charge of Doctor Who. One of the more astute observations of the last eight years of Who is that RTD and Steven Moffat’s flaws and strengths were complimentary. Davies was great at character development and emotional resonance, but suffered from a tendency towards overly goofy humor and weak plotting. Meanwhile, Steven Moffat’s Who is full of clever plot ideas and witty dialogue, but sorely lacking in character consistency or emotionally genuine moments. If you could find someone who could combine the better qualities of both, they’d be the ideal showrunner. And, to me, Neil Cross is that person.


7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Rings of Akhaten

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@MowTheFrontLawn @Galactic Yo Yo  Yeah, but those are more mysteries about the Doctor's future than mysteries about her identity. We pretty much know who River Song is now, which means that's not really hanging over her anymore. Now she's just simply allowed to be. Which is why I really wish we could have gotten a whole episode like that "Rain Gods" short from the DVDs. Just one episode to see what it's like when they go out and get into trouble together. It would have given that relationship a lot more depth. 

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Angels Take Manhattan

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I still don't know how to feel about this episode. It has some really cool moments and some really serious flaws. But one thing that I do like about this episode a lot is that it has probably the best use of River Song. One of the things that was nice about series 7 is that River wasn't a mystery anymore, so she was allowed to be a character again. 

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Angels Take Manhattan

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So, let’s talk about endings. Because I’m going to argue that the ending of this episode keeps it from greatness, while, a week’s time, I’m going to argue that the ending of “Hide” doesn’t. So it’s important to talk about why endings do and don’t work.


This is an episode that I actually like a whole lot. In fact, out of the entire first half of series 7, this is the episode that I enjoy revisiting the most.  This is the first episode of series 7 where it doesn’t feel the writer came up with a setting and reverse-engineered a character story to fit that setting. “Asylum” was the “let’s do a Dalek one” episode. “Mercy” was the “let’s do a Western one” episode. And “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”… well, it’s in the title, isn’t it? Whereas this episode came from a more character-based concept: “What happens when the Doctor has to stay with the Ponds for a change?” And the plot with the cubes was reverse-engineered to fit with that story. Which means that the bits about the cubes are the weakest parts of the episode. However, all the bits with the Doctor and the Ponds are amazing. Everything with Doctor trying to assimilate into the Ponds day-to-day life is fantastic. Actually seeing more of the Ponds’ day to day life is nice too. Finally, the bit where the Doctor and Amy sit outside and have a quiet chat about how important they are to each other is one of the most emotionally real moments of their entire relationship. That moment is what this episode is about. The story isn’t about the cubes. It’s about them.

Which is why the ending stops this episode from being anything better than, say, a 7. You can have several different plots in an episode, all about different things. But when you get to your climax, you have to make your climax about what the story was about. To see a great example of this, take a look at another story that isn’t really about the monster: “Vincent and the Doctor”. The climax of that story isn’t killing the krafayis. It’s those two trips to the museum at the end. Because exploring Vincent and his depression was ultimately what that story was about. However, the climax of “The Power of Three” is all about the cubes and nothing about the Doctor and the Ponds’ relationship to each other. The fact that the Doctor had stayed for a year didn’t impact the way he solved the problem at all. Which would be okay if the previous forty minutes hadn’t been mostly about that very thing. Instead, everything worthwhile about the story (of which there is a lot) gets shoved to the side for a few minutes for a bit of by-the-numbers world saving. Which lessens the impact of those previous forty minutes in a way that an ending that acknowledged his stay at all wouldn’t have.

So this gets a 7. (It might have been a 6, but this is also the episode that gave us Kate Stewart. And Kate Stewart is wonderful.)

7 months, 3 weeks ago on Best of Matt Smith: The Power of Three

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