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Dept. of Who Review

Because I'm Always Late to the Party

Everyone else has already long been embarked on their particular rewatches, but I've only decided in the last day or so that I wanted to try one of my own. I decided (with less than a week to go) that I'd at least rewatch S07, and started that late tonight with Asylum of the Daleks.

Boy, when you can have some interesting ideas, (Daleks of which even other Daleks are frightened), and some downright fascinating ideas (dead people who remain human, live people who aren't, the nature of humanity and the lack of it, and when and how that lack appears and disappears), and do as little with them as this episode did, you're really, really doing it wrong. Moff, I love you, but this one was saved by the actors, who sold even the most horrible scenes. I really got more out of Oswin this time, and she felt real to me in a way that she never did the first time, so I will add that to the plus side of the ledger. And once again, the reason that Moffat gave for Amy deciding she needed to "free" Rory are deeply problematic for me from a Doylist perspective, and pretty risible from a Watsonian perspective as well. Still, the ideas, and the solid acting gave it at least a C. Well, maybe a C-.

I decided to skip Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, because it's the one episode in S07 I've seen more than once (thrice, I believe.) I really, really like it, but all the dinosaurs and the fate of the Silurians make me deeply sad, and besides, I'm uncomfortable with liking a Chibnall episode. Well, no, that one's more or less a joke. More or less.

So tomorrow night, after the meeting I have to cover, I'll watch A Town Called Mercy, then gird my loins for The Power of Three.




This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/314610.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.

Comments

( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
dameruth
Aug. 18th, 2014 05:39 am (UTC)
This is awesome! Roomie and I are involved in a marathon watching to catch up with the season before the new one starts; I'd burned out from Moffat-itis and hadn't watched when it aired, and he hadn't really been keeping track, so we're right there with you this time. Just watched AotD last night, and, yeah, agree with pretty much all your points. DoaS next, so I'll check back to see what you said on that one . . .

(Also, Rory trying to give the Daleks back their "eggs" was cute, and the parallel with Oswin's story was, I thought, very clever -- if only Moff didn't distill women down to their reproductive systems and desire to get married . . . but that's a rant for another time.) :)
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:28 pm (UTC)
..if only Moff didn't distill women down to their reproductive systems and desire to get married .

For me, the problematic part of the episode was the assumption that Amy would - that anyone in or out of universe would - assume that the inability to bear children meant the inability to have children. It's much more complicated than that, and he boiled it down to that, which is completely wrong-headed, and smacks of hurried, lazy writing.

When it comes to Moffat's attitudes towards women, he's the complicated one; I believe that he respects them, loves them, finds life impossible without them, and possibly imbues them with kind of "superhero" ingredients. All of that can make one tend to forget that the people you're respecting, loving, etc. are actually people and not just these amazing beings.

But I think he's normally aware of the some of his own shortcomings in that area and often seems to be actively working against his own impulses, which I admire.

As I said, he's a very complicated writer, with complicated attitudes towards women, most of which I can live with when I realize how much of his writing is about love, and family (found families as well), and memory, and myth, and love, love, love.

Which is why, when he falls down, it makes me sad, mad, and crazy.
flowsoffire
Aug. 18th, 2014 07:00 am (UTC)
Yay rewatches! I'm not doing one, but will try to see a bit more classic!Who… ;)

Gosh, Asylum made me angry on first watch. Getting you on this… =P Eh. It has its good points, namely the acting, yes. But certainly not a favourite. Oh well.

Enjoy the rest of s7! :D
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'll be working hard on the rerun, and I'm looking forward to finding out what I really feel about S07. And I need to get BB back into rewatching Classic Who; we're about two adventures into Three right now, I think, but it's been a while.
flowsoffire
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:32 pm (UTC)
That's great! I'm still at Two, the last season of his run ^_^

Part 2 is my favourite part of the season personally, partly because I really liked Clara… looking forward to seeing your reactions to the rewatches :)
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 05:38 pm (UTC)
I really, really want to get to know Clara better. I have a positive feeling about her, but I really want to see her start again, to solidify my impressions. And oh, I definitely want to see Two's adventures, what there are of them, at least.
flowsoffire
Aug. 18th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I get that :) Get a better feel of her…

Two is just wonderful! A lot of that era is missing, unfortunately, but it gets better as you carry on :) s3 and s4 are the worst as far as recons are concerned, unfortunately…
a_phoenixdragon
Aug. 18th, 2014 01:07 pm (UTC)
Och. I guess I'm one of the few that actually likes that episode. Eeep! I do have issues with Amy's reasonings, but it was still well-acted and I enjoyed the interactions of the Ponds and their Doctor and the intro of Clara.

DOaS is one of my favs...Solomon's demise was chilling and I just...yeah. Love that one. Arrrghhh. I rather loved S7, though the tone threw me off the first time around.

*HUGS*

Hope you have an awesome day, lovie!
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:46 pm (UTC)
It's definitely the acting that shoulders the load of AotD; we can enthusiastically agree on that. Otherwise, however, it annoys the hell out of me that so many good ideas were, in my eyes, so criminally under-developed.

DoaS was awesome! And the whole thing actually holds together for me more than one might think. Solomon definitely received his day of reckoning, and it was a necessary reminder of who the Doctor is.

Thanks for the good wishes - same to you, my dear!
eaweek
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
Season 7, probably my least favorite of New Who. Still, I thought Asylum was okay, and I really liked Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. I liked the Christmas episode and Bells of St. John, but the second part of the season was mostly a hot mess, as far as I remember it, and I don't have the energy to go back and re-watch those episodes. However, we did get Day of the Doctor directly leading out of it, which was awesome.

I'm really hoping the writing will be more cohesive in season 8, because man, it was all over the place in season 7.
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 02:48 pm (UTC)
Part of the reason I'm rewatching is that I didn't get a good feel for the last half of the season - and I freely admit it's because I was still mourning the loss of the Ponds. I'm looking forward to a rewatch so that I can get my Who-eyes back in time for S08.
eaweek
Aug. 18th, 2014 04:15 pm (UTC)
I bought my season 8 pass from iTunes, which includes free downloads of promotional stuff. I'm using that to get back into the Whovian swing of things prior to season 8 beginning (it's THIS WEEKEND, how is that even possible???) and to get stoked for the new Doctor. : D

I don't think I have it in me to rewatch a lot of season 7. In New Who terms, it's kinda down there with season 3 for me--a couple of hits, but lots and lots of misses, mostly to do with the writing. At least S3 had the advantage of being show all in one piece; the slicing and dicing of S7 into itty little bits didn't really help matters any. : (
kaffyr
Aug. 18th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
I am so glad that S08 is going to be shown all at once; the split season thing enraged me when it was BSG and it frustrated me with Who.

Also, I love your icon!
eaweek
Aug. 19th, 2014 05:41 pm (UTC)
One of the things I'm still kind of mourning about Matt is that it feels like we had so little of him. And it's odd, because he and Tennant had roughly equal amounts of time on the show, but it feels like David was around a lot longer because seasons 2, 3, and 4 were uninterrupted. Matt only had one full season, then the two "divided" seasons, then 50th and his regeneration episode. So it felt like Matt's Doctor was there in bits and pieces, which makes his overall run on the show feel terribly incomplete.

Given that Who seasons are pretty short by US standards, it's especially maddening to have them split up. It feels like you just get into the swing of things, and boom, it's over. It would be different with a 22-episode US show, if you got 11 episodes and four months later, another 11 episodes.

Also, splitting the season means you get a cliffhanger in the middle, which sometimes feels artificially jammed in there to get people to come back. It worked okay in season 6. In season 7, it was less a cliffhanger and more like two mini-seasons, which made the show feel even more disjointed. In hindsight, I almost wish they hadn't brought back Amy and Rory for the first half, though then we wouldn't have had the awesome dinosaur episode. So I'm torn. : )

Glad you like the icon. I'm kind of a dinosaur geek. : )


Edited at 2014-08-19 05:42 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Aug. 19th, 2014 06:15 pm (UTC)
Yeah, technically their times in the role were roughly equivalent, but we really didn't have an uninterrupted chance to enjoy Matt's Eleventy. (Mind you, I confess that Tennant's time dragged horribly for me; he's a talented enough actor, as long as he has a good, strong director, and he seems like a genuinely lovely, likable man, but ... not a fan of his interpretation.)

You and I are definitely in synch about such short seasons (by American standards) being cut in the middle. Bad enough when you have a 22-episode American series cut in two. It ruins the flow.

Yay, dinosaurs!
eaweek
Aug. 20th, 2014 04:05 pm (UTC)
LOL, I **loved** Tennant's Doctor. I think his performances tended to vary, though, depending on the script and the director. He was sometimes too over-the-top in his delivery, and I really felt like the directors should've reined him in, but he did it so often I can only assume either nobody minded, or they actually wanted him to play it that way. :::shrugs::: Then he'd do things like the scene in the café with Wilf, and it was just heartbreaking. So he's more than capable of subtle, but I wish he'd shown that side more often that his "toddler on a sugar rush" side. : )

That said, he's still my favorite of the new Who Doctors. As much as I admired Eccleston and loved Smith, Tennant just hit a sweet spot with me. When he came back for "Day of the Doctor," I realized just how much I'd loved him in the role.

The only part of his tenure that seemed to drag for me was the specials, and "End of Time" was so over-the-top and drawn-out that by the time Ten was staggering to the Tardis, accompanied by the angelic Ood chorus, I was actually laughing and saying "just f***ing regenerate already!" (My friend who is on LJ as Ragdoll watched both episodes with me, and we were, no word of a lie, ROTFL during that whole sequence). I think everything that RTD hadn't managed to put into any of his prior episodes, he crammed into those two hours. My running joke is that there are households in Wales still missing their kitchen sinks because RTD stole them for those episodes. So season five with Matt and Moffat was an incredibly refreshing change. I loved Tennant, but at the end, I wasn't sorry to see him (or RTD) go. : )

Edited at 2014-08-20 04:08 pm (UTC)
kaffyr
Aug. 20th, 2014 07:18 pm (UTC)
Hah; I love the response you and your son had to the specials. It was a bit silly, but because I'd become used to Monumentally Silly as an RTD trope, I only rolled my eyes a little.

And it's fun talking with Tennant fans like you; people who don't worship him, but who see where his strengths and weaknesses are, even as you really love him. I may be like that with Eccleston; I adore his Doctor, and I think he's an incredible actor, but I recognize that he has weaknesses. He eventually learned to handle the humor, and you can see how much better he got at it (he was always good at "sly", but seemed uncomfortable with slapstick until near the end of the season. Also, bless his talented, principled heart, he can be a little bit of an earnest pill in person.
eaweek
Aug. 25th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
And it's fun talking with Tennant fans like you; people who don't worship him, but who see where his strengths and weaknesses are, even as you really love him.

I loved his Doctor, but as an actor, he's not without weaknesses. But he was sooo good in stuff like "School Reunion," it more than made up for his lapses. It's a head-scratcher to me that DT wasn't reined in more often, but I got the feeling that both RTD and Julie Gardner were madly in love with him, and he kind of got away with things another actor might not have. In Tennant's defense, no actor really does "shouty" well--Matt Smith had exactly the same problem: he could do subtle menace like nobody's business, but the moment he had to get shouty/ ranty, you stopped seeing the character and started seeing the actor. As for blindly worshipping, well, I try not to do that. I don't always succeed, mind you. : )

I may be like that with Eccleston; I adore his Doctor, and I think he's an incredible actor, but I recognize that he has weaknesses. He eventually learned to handle the humor, and you can see how much better he got at it (he was always good at "sly", but seemed uncomfortable with slapstick until near the end of the season. Also, bless his talented, principled heart, he can be a little bit of an earnest pill in person.

It was so weird for me: I didn't start watching the show until the first season was over and Tennant was already on board. I binge-watched season one in a week and didn't look at any of those episodes again until the DVD set came out. So I never got too attached to Eccles, because he was basically gone before I got there. I would have loved to have seen more of his Doctor, but I gather he had other plans, so he never had the chance to lodge arrows in my particular heart. It also didn't help that Tennant struck me immediately as MY Doctor, the same way Tom Baker had back in the day. I even felt like, if I'd put together a list of everything I'd like to see in a Doctor, the result would have been a Doctor very like David Tennant. So it was hard for me to remember that Eccles had even been there.

I was sad, however, that he didn't come back for the 50th. That would've been so awesome. : (
kaffyr
Aug. 25th, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
but I got the feeling that both RTD and Julie Gardner were madly in love with him, and he kind of got away with things another actor might not have.

I think you're right; and, given that he really is apparently a really lovely man, that's perhaps not such a surprise. There are actors who do get away with things, and sometimes aren't even aware that they're "getting away" with stuff, because everyone loves them. It's not directly their fault.

I will part ways, gently, with you on the shouty bit, but only to state that as a matter of personal taste, I was much, much happier with Smith's shoutiness than with Tennant's. Possibly because Tennant bares his teeth when he shouts, and when he does, I'm inevitably and helplessly thrown back into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or whichever movie it was in which Tennant played Barty Crouch. That's where I first saw him bare his teeth and ... gah. Just ... gah. Whereas Smith's shouting seemed to come, for me and I stress it's a personal taste thing, more organically from his earlier stages of anger.

So I never got too attached to Eccles, because he was basically gone before I got there.

Chris was my first New Who Doctor, and he hit me in that sweet spot where Tennant hit you. (Add to that the extremely shallow fact that Eccleston's bony, angular looks are exactly what I fall for in my media crushes, and I was lost the minute I saw him tell the Nestene Consciousness that he wanted to stop The War and couldn't. Not to mention the Single Manly Tear when he was speaking to the Mistress of Cheem in The End of the World. Come here, Nine! I'll comfort you!!!! Heh. /shallow old lady ....





Edited at 2014-08-25 07:10 pm (UTC)
eaweek
Aug. 26th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
I think it really was a case of Tennant being able to get away with things because everyone liked him so much. But everything I've seen of him makes him seem incredibly nice and also potently charming. It didn't always make for the best on-screen results, however.

For me, Smith's vs. Tennant's shoutiness was more a difference of degree than of kind. Smith's was less annoying, but only marginally so. LOL about the teeth-baring. I loved Tennant's Barty Crouch Jr.! But that kind of OTT teeth-gnashing craziness is fine for Barty; not so much for the Doctor. But IIRC, Barty Crouch is part of what got Tennant the audition for Casanova, which is in turn got him the job on Who, so maybe everyone was expecting the teeth? LOL! Who knows?

I liked Eccleston's Doctor (and ROTFL about wanting to comfort him), but his time on the show went by in such a rush. When I finally got the DVDs and re-watched his episodes, I was surprised at how much I'd missed. He's hot in his own way, but not really my type ("hot" for me in a guy basically depends on how much he departs from or conforms to the David Bowie template--tall, skinny, English, amazing bone structure, great hair, long fingers, nice voice, nice eyes, charm, wit--see also Hiddleston, Tom). However, if bony and angular is what you like, then wow, Eccles is definitely the guy for you. ; )
kaffyr
Aug. 26th, 2014 06:09 pm (UTC)
so maybe everyone was expecting the teeth?

*snort*

"hot" for me in a guy basically depends on how much he departs from or conforms to the David Bowie template--tall, skinny, English, amazing bone structure, great hair, long fingers, nice voice, nice eyes, charm, wit--see also Hiddleston, Tom

Bowie is incredibly attractive, and I'd argue that Eccleston's type partly intersects with the Bowie type: he's got the bone structure, and when he chooses to grow his hair, it's gorgeous. Skinny? Check. Voice? Well, for me, check (sand and gravel mixed with deep resonance). Nice eyes? For me, again, the blue, blue, blue, blue, blue ... er, where was I? The charm? Oh, he can turn it on when he wants to (have you ever seen his Iago? There's charm there. Behind the anger and the danger, mind you ....)

Oh, we could go on all day about the gorgeosity of various types, couldn't we? Heh. (Yes, gorgeosity is a word. Totalz.)
betawho
Aug. 18th, 2014 11:52 pm (UTC)
I agree, I thought Asylum of the Daleks had great ideas, and the cinematography was certainly awesome, but there were just too many plot holes, too many contradictions, and too much stuff too all over the place.

We pretty much got three different stories, the Daleks, Clara, and the Ponds. But the only story that made sense (Clara) didn't make sense. (At least not at the time. And I'm still not quite sure how she ends up in this situation because she's a shard and supposed to be protecting the Doctor. 0.o

I actually didn't have much problem with Amy's actions about pushing Rory away because she couldn't give him kids of his own. It's dumb, but it feels like something Amy would do. (And, I will give it to Moffat, that he did at least have, Rory say, "I know," which I think gets lost in the mix sometimes. So they had apparently talked about this at some point.

But, yeah, it would have worked better if it was an isolated incident, rather than another of the rather odd examples of how Moffat views women. (Heck, we don't even ever find out if Amy, the one who'd have to have the kid, actually WANTS kids. No one asked her. She's great once they're born. But we have no idea if she actively wants to be a mother for herself.

Somehow the guys always seems to come out on top in the relationships, despite all the cringing they do around the "dominant women."

It's River who gives up all of her lives, even her final one, for the Doctor. And spends most of her life in jail for his benefit.

And then Amy feels like she has to give up Rory because she can't give him kids. And, as far as I can tell, Amy never has any real ambition to do anything other than to drift along as Rory's intended then wife. We don't even know if she wants to be a housewife. Only that she can't seem to decide on any particular job.

Sorry. Ranting. It bugs me more I think because otherwise Amy and most of Moffat's female characters are great. They are strong women, but they all seem to have only one focus. Guys. (Or kids, so I guess that's two.)
betawho
Aug. 18th, 2014 11:52 pm (UTC)


Anyway, other than that, Asylum is an awesome idea, if they'd just fixed the plotholes first.

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was a divided episode for me. It literally felt like to movies. One, a nice fun rompy one for kids, full of dinosaurs on a spaceship, a Silurian ark, pteradactyls on a beach, funny robots, and a friendly Triceratops.

And on the other hand, we have ANOTHER strong, dominant woman throwing herself at the Doctor. Nefertiti. And crass "flirtation" between her and Ridell. Then a literal suggestion of rape from the baddie after having killed all the Silurians one by one, and repeatedly shooting the friendly dinosaur.

All supposedly for the "adults" in the audience.

So, to me, it felt like they didn't belong together. The "adult" stuff was just a bit too adult and too "hard" for the tone of the rest of the episode. I'm an adult and I was shocked by them shooting the Triceratops. But not in a good way. Not in a "this is quality drama" way, but in a "that's going to traumatize some of the kids" way. Then to immediately have the bad guy getting off on how he was going to "break" Nefertiti.

No. sorry. The story could have been good if they'd gone with either/or. Make it an adult story, or a children's story. But both together just makes it feel squicky to me.

The story itself is fine, but that "line" down the middle dividing it between adult and kid's content just makes it not really work for me.

Which is sad, because the idea for the story was awesome. And I honestly couldn't believe how many dinosaurs we got! And how many kinds. Heck, we got TWO anamatronic dinosaurs (the baby T-Rex, and "Tricey" and then two Ankylosuars,a whole flock of Pteradactyls, and several Raptors. I was amazed to see that on Doctor Who! Awesome!

And the ship design and sets, (both of the Silurian ship exterior, old Egypt, the Indian Space Agency, Ridell's Camp, the beach, tunnels,etc.) Was all awesome!

I think that was probably one of the best looking, and most diverse episodes they've ever done, for sheer imagination.

Too bad about the varying tones. (I could see how they might have been trying to make it seem like a kid's jaunt on the surface, but a "serious" problem underneath. But I think they went too far in opposite directions. So it sort of clashed for me, rather than making it "more layered."

Weirdly, Series 7, despite some amazing stories, and the best cinematography ever, just felt hollow to me. Things happen, but it didn't really feel like anything meant much.

Part of it may have been because no one stayed around. EVERYONE seemed to be in the process of leaving all the time. The Ponds all stayed home and only "occasionally" went with the Doctor. Then Clara stays home and only "occasionally" goes with the Doctor (on Wednesdays apparently.)

It left me with this feeling that the Doctor was being left out to dry a lot. What was he doing between all those visits.

And if no one is impressed enough with time travel and all he can show them, to stay around, why should I care?
kaffyr
Aug. 19th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
And if no one is impressed enough with time travel and all he can show them, to stay around, why should I care?

I think I end up thinking of it from a different angle; the season examined what I think is the reality that, for some people, "all of time and space" isn't all their lives; it can't be, because life is also the little things and the little moments. When I look at it from that point of view, I'm still interested in how the Doctor responds to that.

For me, the darkness and light in DoaS wove together better than it did for you, possibly because I remember my son being able to take in things much darker than this, in one of two ways - it either went over his head, or he'd surprise the hell out of me by understanding concepts that I never expected him to. And I recall childhood being a much darker time - or at least a time in which more children understood darkness - than most adults think of it as. So the apparent dichotomy didn't feel forced to me.

I thought that Solomon's violent objectification of Nefertiti was the darkest point of the show, and I felt that the moral and ethical outcomes for Solomon were strongly shown, which balanced it out for me. Importantly, Nefertiti's own response came first: she told him what would happen if he ever tried to touch her; and of course, the Doctor eventually gave the final sentence, an act of which he has always been capable, going back all the way to his first incarnation, and up through most every other regeneration.
kaffyr
Aug. 19th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
Somehow the guys always seems to come out on top in the relationships, despite all the cringing they do around the "dominant women."

I do have problems with the way Moffat sees women, but he often redeems himself for me with what I see as his own self-understanding. I think he's aware of his predispositions and often tries to work against them. I think he's very comfortable with strong women, more comfortable than with women who are pliable; that doesn't mean he understands women, or completely recognizes that we're, you know, humans as well as these amazing creatures ... but he's working on it.

His big blind spot does seem to be kids; he blindly loves kids, possibly even more than the Doctor does and I think that can lead to some of his strongest and weakest writing, because, while his love of children sometimes can lead to his most gorgeous writing, it all too often is as apt to lead him into using a lot of traditional "family/woman's role therein" tropes that I think he would otherwise be on guard against.
clocketpatch
Aug. 19th, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
Today one of my co-workers ran up to me smiling and screamed, "FIVE DAYS!" and... I had no idea what he was talking about.

Very out of the loop, apparently. I had no idea it was so close!

Series 7 is... odd. I enjoyed it more than series 6, but both suffered from being divided. I will also add my voice to the chorus of joy that this divided series nonsense has been stopped. Of the first half of 7, I enjoyed DoaS and The Power of Three... the rest, not so much. I disliked Asylum less on rewatch (I'm not re-watching it again, though I feel like it doesn't need three viewings), but... yick.

The second half, I liked mostly everything but Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and the boring bits of Rings of Akhtan.

As a whole, it's a very disjointed series. I think of it more as two seperate series in my head, because there are very clearly two separate stories being told. The cinematography and acting are consistently beautiful. Sometimes the writing even matched it in quality.

And other times it didn't, but I think that it finished on a strong note, and I hope that the up coming series takes more inspiration from the good bits than the bad.

kaffyr
Aug. 19th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC)
Today one of my co-workers ran up to me smiling and screamed, "FIVE DAYS!" and... I had no idea what he was talking about.

I know; it's crept up on me, although my fanboy son has helped keep me apprised of everything, which is why I'm finally doing my delayed rewatch.

I enjoyed it more than series 6

I am in a distinct minority that liked S06 as much as, and possibly better than, S05 (and I really liked 05); I acknowledge that the reasoning and logic just aren't there, but there's something emotionally that responds so much to S06.

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