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Dept. of DW Fairy Tales

Color Me Re-Moffatized

I watched  Forests of the Dead tonight on PBS, after having watched Silence in the Library last week. I'm so glad I did.

I always liked the two stories; I was always impressed by them - some brilliant ideas, done rather well, with only a few glitches in logic, all easily disregarded. And I loved River Song, and I cried when Ms Evangelista died, and when Anita died, and when Donna lost her children, and Lee, and when River spoke of her time with the Doctor, and willingly burned out her brain so that he could go on. Altogether an excellent couple of episodes, I thought at the time.

After the episodes first aired, I watched a lot of fandom wind itself up over River. I avoided those discussions, because I thought River was an astonishing and wonderful character. The conversations to which I paid a bit more attention were the ones in which people debated whether or not River would appreciate having been saved in the manner she was; whether it was being saved, whether it was Moffat hamstringing and domesticizing his own creation, whether that betrayed his true feelings towards strong women. Most of those discussions were thoughtful, even when they were heated, and they did make me think, and wonder a bit at Moffat's thought processes.

Ultimately, though, I decided that I'd appreciate being saved as River was, thank you very much; that River still had all the universe in which to run and make discoveries, plus people with whom she could share that great heart of hers - a heart large enough to rival the Doctor's two, and a spirit strong enough to drag him into her gravity well. She had her team with her.  She had seen them saved, and she had some newcomers, little ones who would become part of the team. Not bad. Not bad at all.

But now ... after having seen S5, meeting the Eleventh Doctor, and seeing the universe saved by seeping into and out of the heart of a little red-haired girl who the Doctor believed in ... after seeing a younger River meeting that older younger Doctor ... after going back and revisiting the older River with the younger Doctor, I've changed my mind.  I don't like the episodes. I love them.

They are magnificent. They're filled with powerful language - how could they not be, birthed, killed and brought back to life everlasting in the largest library in the universe - and magic and a lot of love. They are another hint (if The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances hadn't been enough of a hint) that Moffat understands the strength of myth and fairy tales, but knows how to bring real characters into those tales - not the easiest thing to do.

The episodes have given me a lot to think about, all over again, and I may write more about it if I can get those thoughts in order. And they've reminded me that I think Steven Moffat, weaknesses though he does indeed have and as nervous about him as I once was, is a worthy successor to Russell Davies.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
penguin2
Jan. 31st, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
But now ... after having seen S5, meeting the Eleventh Doctor, and seeing the universe saved by seeping into and out of the heart of a little red-haired girl who the Doctor believed in ... after seeing a younger River meeting that older younger Doctor ... after going back and revisiting the older River with the younger Doctor, I've changed my mind. I don't like the episodes. I love them.

THIS.

As for your paragraph about fandom discussions of River Song (not being a part of the world of fandoms, I wasn't aware that there was anything there to get wound up about), it's yet another reminder of why I've no interest in interactive fandoms. IMTAO there's loving a telly series/film/book/author's body of work and occasionally discussing or deconstructing same with a very small, select circle of patently intelligent and thoughtful people, and then there's fandom. ~shrug~ My discussion room has bouncers on the door, and with good reason :P
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
The episodes, which I watched over a two week period, have been giving me a lot to think about, in terms of fairy-tale, of happy endings, and about Moffat in general. It's also made me think about a lot of off-stage stuff from within the story, which may well find its way into stories of my own. We shall see.

As for the fandom thing, I know you and I see fandom differently, which is not a big thing in the least. As I once said to someone who probably wasn't you, with a large group of people, I can often meet someone I never expected to, and find them and their offerings of great worth. If I get too overwhelmed by the press of bodies (either actually or figuratively) I can always carve out a small space for sanity-saving isolation. If I'm dealing with a very small group of people, the possibilities of finding new and wonderful things are statistically much, much lower, so, for me, interacting with a large group is far more of a win-win situation. You, and a number of other people I know, find it to be otherwise - which is why the Internet can be a great thing for both of our types. We get to pick and choose without having either to physically escape crowds, or physically hunt for our chosen society mates.
penguin2
Feb. 1st, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
Ah, it was me, in the midst of one of our slow-motion LJ conversations - though you may also have said it to someone else :-)

I don't have a problem with our different views, and you don't have a problem with our different views, so all's good...
kaffyr
Feb. 4th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
Eminently satisfying, all around.
promethia_tenk
Jan. 31st, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC)
They really are astonishing episodes, aren't they? And I love stories that can become stronger in retrospect, with time and greater knowledge.

River's voice over at the end gets me all choked up every time. I tend to think of it as Moffat speaking directly to the audience, giving us his vision of what Doctor Who is all about, and I find it very true to the story we've been given in the new season. It's also a fantastic mirror to the bedtime story scene with Eleven at the end of season five, which I think serves some of the same purpose.

Re: River's ending in the computer. I too feel that, on balance, it is a good end. Have you read elisi's fic River's Choice (and its companion piece Donna's Choice)? I rather love them both for taking some of Eleven's self-reflectiveness and applying it to the endings of both these characters, teasing out some of the consent issues and arriving at a bit of peace over them.
kaffyr
Jan. 31st, 2011 06:17 pm (UTC)
It's also a fantastic mirror to the bedtime story scene with Eleven at the end of season five, which I think serves some of the same purpose.

Oooh! I hadn't thought of that - it is an elegant mirroring, isn't it?

I think I've read "Donna's Choice" and liked it a great deal. I shall have to go off immediately and read "River's Choice." My own attitude about informed consent, or consent issues in general, are often very rubbery and situational, but I always find consideration of them fascinating.
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