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Dr. Who: Impolitic views

I Should Never Put Up Polls, But I did
     I asked, and my legions of fans (for various powers of single-digit legions) answered. Tell us your impolitic views on Doctor Who, kaffyr, they demanded. And so I shall, at least some of them. Under a cut, of course. Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot, or a genius, or gaze at me blankly, or skip on to the next person on your f'list, or roll your eyes, or tell me you think I might want to take a few deep breaths and calm the fuck down.
     (Brief detour into serious territory here. I have many good acquaintances and friends who hold some or all of the views that make me froth at the mouth below. They have every right to hold those views. Anything I might say below does not for one minute suggest otherwise. What's more, they have every reason and right to think I'm an idiot when it comes to my views. We're all part of Who fandom, and I'll defend to the death their right to hold their views, and to sound off just as loudly about them. I'm just inveighing, and venting, and exercising my rights as a grumpy old broad.)
  1. David Tennant made a jolly Doctor, and is endearing in his own nerdy love for Doctor Who. I like him. He's got wonderful comic timing, and is intermittently capable of some emotionally honest and affecting performances. He is not sexy, nor romantic, nor even particularly attractive to me, except as any good and lively person is attractive. His features are too sharp and his lips are too thin. I shall miss him in the way I miss lovely neighbors who move away, but his place in my heart was always the front room, not much farther in.
  2. I think Christopher Eccleston, while probably occasionally a tad too earnest for his own good and far too enamored of roles that end in death, madness or both, is twice the actor Tennant was for my tastes, with three times the general and sexual attractiveness, (again, for my tastes.) He's craggier, but his lips are full, and his eyes are the only things that are sharp. Like knives, in fact. Two minutes after I met the Ninth Doctor, he walked into my head and my heart - kicked down the doors to both, as a matter of fact - and started living there. He's still there. I miss him like whoah, both intellectually and emotionally.
  3.  I shall miss Russell Davies a great deal. I like his sense of humor. I like his love for the characters he builds. I respect his ability to write characters in such a way that they demand my attention, my love, my care. I respect and adore his respect and adoration for the franchise. I am heartily tired of Old Who people, or New Who people for that matter, who at best can offer Rusty lukewarm thanks for reviving the show but still want him gone, or at worst blame him for bringing sex into the show, for bringing Rose into the show, for taking himself too seriously, for not taking The Tradition seriously enough, and for the sinking of the Lusitania. I know he stumbles about when it comes to plot lines and pacing, and I don't care. I know he's done awful things to characters I care about - hello, Donna! - but, while I don't think a severe talking-to, or a bitch-slap, would necessarily be amiss (or perhaps just a non-confrontational chat over a beer, where he doesn't joke his way out of it), I still love him. I love him for Donna, despite what he did to her, because he gave her to us in the first place. I love him for Captain Jack, and what he's done with, and to, Captain Jack, but perhaps that's next door, in My Impolitic Views on Torchwood. I love Uncle Rusty because he speaks to me in a way many show-runners, writers and producers don't, and because he probably doesn't mind when people call him Uncle Rusty.
  4.  I love what he does with religion, and may be the one person in 2.6 billion who was enchanted and moved by the concepts and at least three-quarters of the execution of Last of the Time Lords. In fact, I will only with difficulty restrain myself from regaling you with my theory about how LotTL is actually a paean to the power of humans, and not at all a slavish worship of (augh, I hate this self-consciously clever little phrase) Tinkerbell Jesus. It wasn't sickly sweet, it wasn't Doctor ex machina, it was imagination, exploration of spirit and love all interwoven with, and of a piece with, the cheerily cheesy tradition of Who. (What, "The Moment Has Been Prepared For" wasn't religious imagery? Borusa turning into a laughably plasticene statue wasn't Lot's Wife, the Golden Calf and Eve Eating the Apple all in one, plus half a dozen other bible stories I can't recall at the moment? Oh, please.)
  5. I shall miss Russell a great deal, but I am heartily tired of people - Old, New, Who Knows Who - who fear or hate the coming of Steven Moffat because he hates Rose (the truth of which is sketchy, and really doesn't matter, frankly) and will dishonor What Russell Wrought. I think he'll do just fine, and I'm not going to stop watching the show because he's on board.
  6.  I think Moffat's very clever, and just as prone to Not Thinking Things Out as his predecessor. Quantum angels are cool, but stupid, and Sally Sparrow is cool, and plucky, and more than slightly insufferable, and not very nice to anyone.
  7. I'm really looking forward to Matt Smith.
  8.  I'm getting tired of having to wait for more male companions. Jack had better not be the last one.
  9. I adore Rose. I neither think her a Mary Sue, nor think she was built up by RTD as a saint, and indeed am apt to break out in hives at the term The Blessed Saint Rose, used by people who, again, think it's clever. I found her a dynamic, engaging, intelligent and attractive character, played with remarkable skill by a young, brilliantly intuitive actress who happens to be breathtakingly beautiful as far as I'm concerned. I am also tired of the assumption on the part of too many people who don't like Rose that all folks who do like her, are NuWho fangirls who don't understand or appreciate The Tradition. I first watched the show in 1963, people,and fell in love with it then, back when the Doctor was a crotchety old man with white hair, an Oscar Wilde fashion sense and a nervous granddaughter. It was magic for me then, and it was magic when the Second Doctor came along. I watched them, and then the Fourth Doctor as a teenager, and then the Third Doctor and the Fourth - again - as a 20-something. The Fifth and Sixth Doctors followed, and I liked them, (Six only in the sense that one must love that relative, but still, I did.)  I'd have loved the Seventh Doctor, too, if the North American broadcasts of Who hadn't dried up in the 1980s, and I really liked the Eighth Doctor. Three is still my second-favorite Doctor. I have, at the very least, decent North American street cred when it comes to DW. And I'm a Rose fangirl. A 54-year-old-happy-in-a-relationship-mother Rose fangirl.
  10. I also adore River Song, and that's that. I roll my eyes when people hate River because she's not Rose. I roll my eyes when people declare she's smug and arrogant when she came across to me as a vital, independent, intelligent, forceful, brave character who didn't suffer fools gladly, even if the fool was the Doctor. I am uncomfortably reminded of the male/female, assertion/aggression, self-confident/smug, strength of character/bitchiness disconnect in our society and I'd roll my eyes more about it, except that doing so has already given me too many headaches. And Alex Kingston is gorgeous. And no, River wasn't consigned to some anti-feminist half-life backwater by Moffat - or if that's what he wanted to do, he failed, because I saw her as free to live every adventure she ever wanted to. She cared about her team, why shouldn't she care about some kids as well? And why the hell should she not get to shuck a sweaty old environment suit for something that looked a hell of a lot more comfortable? I'll repeat: I don't think Moffat meant it that way. If he did, he can go hang, and I'll enjoy the story my way.
  11. Jon Pertwee is cooler than Tom Baker.
  12. Donna has a place in my heart almost as deep as Nine. (Wait, that's not an impolitic view, is it?)
  13. I keep avoiding S3 of NuWho became I keep remembering Martha as pleasant but boring. And yet, when I can bring myself to watch the best of that erratic season, she's really not boring. It's the writing that's boring, and the direction that's largely uninspired. I think they could have done a lot more with Freema Agyeman, and I wish they had.
  14. Sex does so have a place in Doctor Who, and in the Doctor's character, and in the stories. If we can have Maccra and Sontarans and Daleks and Slitheen and Gas Mask children and scientists turned scorpions and giant wasps and such, why the hell is anyone going to deny a tired old Time Lord the relaxation of a roll in the hay? With anyone?

And with that, I'm going to stop. Impolitic, and purely my own pompous, self-important own. There. That's done and dusted. On to


( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 4th, 2010 09:42 am (UTC)
Well, I enjoyed that grumpy old broad's rant! And agree with an awful lot of it (though purely personally, my Ten/Nine adoration rankings are the other way round. Agree with everything you say about DT as an actor and his Doctor as a character, except that I also happen to find him Sex On Legs, ever since Casanova. But that's each to their - oh, I wish! - own...)

Anyway, would love to comment more now but am at work! So later...
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC)
"But that's each to their - oh, I wish! - own..." I like the way you put that. Heh. Glad you had fun reading!
(no subject) - azalaisdep - Mar. 5th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 6th, 2010 09:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:22 am (UTC)

Well said.

  • I disagree: I try to feel about Davies the way you do, but I don't quite bring it off. I dislike the painting of Rose as the Doctor's One True Love not because I dislike Rose (which I don't, what you say of her here is spot on) but because it opens the door for other showrunners to bring in their own One True Loves, which'll only cheapen the whole concept, and that's why I'd rather it hadn't been brought in at all.
  • I agree: I for one have never before typed the words Tinkerbell Jesus Doctor and never shall again. The problem with Season 3 Season 2007 is that the best stories are the ones with the least Doctor. I eagerly await finding out which of his predecessors' innovations Moffat is keeping and which he is tossing out.
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
I think your commentary about One True Love is a very valid argument. Perhaps, with more nuanced writing, or a second Eccleston season, a more accurate message could have gone out. Say, "One of the loves that he'll always remember." I've fully believed that a multi-centenarian has had true, genuine, great love - of friends, of lovers, of family - significantly more than once. And I've always thought that no true love ever dishonors or cheapens another true love.
I'm excited and nervous (but more excited) over the coming season.
Heh: I note your use of the year; that's a good way to handle it. I've gone with Sx of Nuwho Sx of Oldwho, but yours probably is closer to neutral and accurate.
(no subject) - scarfman - Mar. 5th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 6th, 2010 09:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ljgeoff - Mar. 5th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 6th, 2010 09:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
1. David Tennant
I do think David Tennant is more attractive (physically) than Christopher Eccleston, but that's probably just my reaction to the physical type; sharp and thin an lively and dark-haired, I do like. However, you make good points about his uneven performance; or is it simply uneven writing? I can't really tell. There have been some awesome moments with him.

2. Christopher Eccleston
I hadn't really thought about Eccleston's acting ability; I don't think I'm acting-aware enough to be able to judge.
Despite my remark above about attractiveness, Nine is my equal favourite Doctor (with Eight and Five). Or he might be my very favourite, by a little bit, because I do miss him terribly. I don't think he's sex on legs, but he's in my heart anyway.

3. Russell Davies
Rusty is neither a devil nor a saint; I am tempted to roll my eyes at those who jump up and down about him being sexist/racist/whatever-ist with every new episode he penned. He has strengths and weaknesses. His greatest strength is characterisation. His greatest weakness is plot; or at least, the plot-logic required to write internally consistent SF. I can understand why Eccleston said he wanted to do Who because of Rusty: I assume that if Rusty was as good at characterisation in other things (such as Queer as Folk) as he was on Who, then he would be very much admired (because things set here-and-now don't require the rigorousness of SF plotting).
However, it does no writer any good if he is surrounded only by people who praise him.

4. Rusty, Religion, Tinkerbell Jesus
Yes, I hated Tinkerbell Fairy Jesus Doctor. You have a good point about the "celebration of humanity"; it was good in intent, but IMHO, failed in execution. I think the thing I loved best about LotTL was Martha walking the world, saving the world with stories; a celebration of the power of hope and imagination, IMHO. And of course, Tinkerbell Fairy Jesus Doctor was the climax of that. But I think the problem, at least for me, was that it was being hit upside in the head with a sack of sugar. It was overkill. If there had been less floating and less glowy effects, and more... charisma, I think it would have worked better.

5. Steven Moffat
I have encountered more often the attitude that Steven Moffat is the Second Coming; generally from the same people who want to slap Rusty. But Moffat, again, is neither saint nor devil; I am rather baffled by the assertion that Moffat hates Rose, and even if he did, that's rather irrelevant, isn't it? Rose isn't a companion any more. She's not even in the ruddy same universe any more. The likelihood of Moffat writing for Rose is as close to nothing as makes no difference.
Comparing Moffat to Davies, Moffat is much, much, much better at SF plotting. Perhaps he doesn't reach the same heights of characterisation as Davies, but he does do a jolly good job of it. I'm looking forward to his tenure, though I'm a bit worried that, since he's the show-runner, he won't be able to dedicate as much headspace as he needs to the writing part of it.

6. I think Moffat's very clever, and just as prone to Not Thinking Things Out as his predecessor. Quantum angels are cool, but stupid, and Sally Sparrow is cool, and plucky, and more than slightly insufferable, and not very nice to anyone.
Huh, what you say about Sally Sparrow, I would say about River Song.

7. Matt Smith
My jury is out about Matt Smith. I shall wait until I see more.

8. I'm getting tired of having to wait for more male companions. Jack had better not be the last one.
It's nice to have an ensemble; not too many, but three is a nice number.

9. Rose
I loved Season 1 Rose. She is "my" Rose. But in Season 2, she lost her Awesome, and never got it back again.

10. River Song
River Song irritated me, but I can't quite put my finger on why. She just seemed too good to be true.

11. Jon Pertwee is cooler than Tom Baker.
Hmmm. I agree that Jon Pertwee is cool, but I still like Tom Baker better.

12. Donna has a place in my heart almost as deep as Nine. (Wait, that's not an impolitic view, is it?)

13. Season 3 and Martha
I love Martha.

14. Sex
(shrug) It's a family show. I'd rather the sex was in the fanfic.
Mar. 4th, 2010 04:51 pm (UTC)

I am rather baffled by the assertion that Moffat hates Rose

Moffat was quoted shortly after the airing of Journey's End that the Doctor had come up with a great way to get rid of the clingy girlfriend. Also, Moffat wrote The Girl in the Fireplace, the bane of Doctor/Rose 'shippers everywhere. Circumstantial, but since when has 'shipping been about rationality?

(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 4th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 4th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kerravonsen - Mar. 4th, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 6th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 4th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)
I read all of this with interest. I agree with some, and disagree with others, but I think I read your paragraph on RTD with interest, mostly because you write of him as loving his characters. I think he probably does -- I don't think that's incorrect, I can't imagine a writer who writes about characters he/she doesn't love -- but I think RTD loves splashy melodrama more, and that's always been my issue with him. I really have no point to this comment, other than it was just interesting to me, as I've always considered RTD a terrible character-writer, and I love how two people can look at the same thing and have such similar opinions on some things (Moffat and Matt Smith and Rose, etc.), and such different opinions on other things. Ah, the world is a funny place!
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC)
Isn't it, though? Thanks for reading!

When it comes to melodrama, someday I'll try to unpack the difference between drama and melodrama for myself, past the idea that melodrama invents organically false dramatic climaxes with no realistic anticlimaxes (think soap opera), versus dramas that unfold organically from plot and/or character. I know I'm missing something.

I have "met" (in books and movies) characters who were obviously unloved by their creators, even when they were the heroes and had nothing go wrong for them within the story. I don't think Kubrick loved any of his characters, for instance, and I'm rather sure there are a bunch of other writers I could remember, if my brain was working even at quarter power, which it isn't right now.)

Edited at 2010-03-04 05:50 pm (UTC)
Mar. 4th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, God, I adore you for saying this. I don't agree with all of it, but I adore you anyway.
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
Bless you! And thank you, too!

Just had to get some of it off my chest, I guess, and I'm glad it could spark discussion, or generate a few laughs.
Mar. 5th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
I agree with your comparison of Nine and Ten so very much. I don't agree with everything else (most, but not all, but isn't that the beauty of the world?) I've been known to poke fun at Rusty, but like you've said, he's openness and excitement is endearing. And I had to smile at Uncle Rusty.

8. I'm getting tired of having to wait for more male companions. Jack had better not be the last one.

If you don't mind spoilers... ;)
Mar. 5th, 2010 01:21 am (UTC)
OOooo! Spoil me in a private message!
(no subject) - ljgeoff - Mar. 5th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaffyr - Mar. 6th, 2010 08:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2010 06:08 am (UTC)
I think my preference for Moffat stems from [a] his writing of the "Coupling" series, [b] the care and affection he put into scripting "The Curse of Fatal Death" and [c] his terrific work on "Blink." Oh, and [d] he laid the groundwork for Captain Jack with his scripting for "The Empty Child/The doctor Dances" two-parter.

Frankly, I want to see Moffat write (even if it is never produced) "Gallifrean Spank Inferno."

I'm perfectly willing to believe the Doctor to be one of the universe's great serial monogamists; he loves each of his companions and then pushes them away. So Rose was his one-true and Donna was and Martha was and Sarah Jane was...
Mar. 6th, 2010 09:01 am (UTC)
I liked "Coupling," too - and you made me laugh out loud with Gallifreyan Spank Inferno." Heh. And I'd forgotten (how? How??) that he introduced us to Jack. Bless him for that, since Jack may be one of my favorite dramatic creations.

"Blink" was tremendously entertaining if, as I've mentioned before, </i> I don't gaze too long upon it. Definitely high quality writing.

I agree with you about serial monogamy and the Doctor. However, I'd amend that to say he loves each companion, even after he pushes them away. And while there are some who are his one-true erotic/maybe-erotic/could-be-erotic loves, there are others who are his one-true best friend, others who are both ... each love is strong, each love is different because of personality and each love is of a different type; Rose and Romana and Sarah Jane and Jack might have had the same type of connection with him; Ace and Jo might have had a relationship similar to that of Susan; Donna and Barbara might have been similar ... anyhow, I'm rambling now, I suppose.

Edited at 2010-03-06 09:08 am (UTC)
(no subject) - rmjwell - Mar. 6th, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 5th, 2010 06:29 am (UTC)
This was a very interesting read. Some things I agree with passionately (Rose Tyler FTW!), others I disagree with respectfully. I wish I could feel the same way you do about River Song, but even on rewatch I disliked her thoroughly. I don't know how much of that dislike is based at least sort of on reason and how much is the fact that as much as I believe the Doctor will and should love again after Rose it was a bit too soon for my shipper heart to be fully accepting. *shrug* I'm glad what Moffat was trying to do with the character worked for you.

And no, River wasn't consigned to some anti-feminist half-life backwater by Moffat - or if that's what he wanted to do, he failed, because I saw her as free to live every adventure she ever wanted to.

Of course Moffat wasn't consciously trying to be anti-feminist. That doesn't mean it didn't end up as a creepy half-life that tossed aside what we know of River Song's passions--the Doctor, archaeology, adventure--and set her in some sort of involuntary domestic gilded cage with the same imaginary children given to Donna. Just because he didn't intend to oppress women doesn't mean that the creation isn't disempowering.

I have come to the conclusion that I think I would have liked TLotTL if the Doctor didn't levitate when he got the power of Earth's thoughts. That detail pushed it over a cliff from rather awesome and moving (in a somewhat cheesy Who way) to over the top, dragging everything around it into the silly column too. Some great ideas that you discuss, not brought to fruition really well.

I'm with you on Eccleston being a better actor than Tennant. Tennant improved a fair amount as he went on and put in some really outstanding performances, but Eccles was stunning from day one in both the show-off moments and the smaller moments. I think I would rather have dinner with Tennant, though. We could have a really amazing and geeky conversation. Both of them are outlandishly attractive in my book.
Mar. 6th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
That doesn't mean it didn't end up as a creepy half-life that tossed aside what we know of River Song's passions--the Doctor, archaeology, adventure--and set her in some sort of involuntary domestic gilded cage with the same imaginary children given to Donna.

I think perhaps I ended up focusing on the fact that the very first thing River did upon awakening in that world was to see her professional colleagues and friends; to me, that indicated that her first love would continue to be the adventure and research they all undertook in the outer world.

I agree that the imagery - while comforting and full of 'everybody lives, even the little imaginary ones!' goodness for me - probably did veer carelessly and thoughtlessly into sexist and near-sexist tropes. Perhaps there could have been a final image of River and the team reading to the kids all together (because I think that was the image Moffat was trying for; River was telling the kids a story, because they were in a place built for telling stories - a library.)

I was probably in the minority in not thinking of River's life in the library as a half-life. Perhaps that's because I have always thought that any life in which you are self-aware and self directed is a real one.
Mar. 5th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Reading this, I just realized that I can't separate series Who and fanfic Who; the awsomeness of Rose in Ever/Was, in rallalon's Non-Linear Love Story and in rosa_acicularis' The Devil You Know; the lovely, easy relationship of the Doctor, Jack and Rose, in your own Com Estrelas and Gossamer. I can't even strain out the outragous, like robling_t's outragously funny (as well as piquant, wistful and Very Silly) Number One with a Silver Bullet. It's all Who.

In fact, I can easily say that I would not love Doctor Who half as much if it was not for the fanfic.
Mar. 6th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
You know, I believe you're right! I've found myself thinking this or that about the Doctor, considering it canon, when, upon further review, I've only read about this or that "fact" in fanfic. I think fanon developments during the hiatus (as well as canon and quasi- or would-be- canon developed in the various novel series and the audio books, etc.) helped strengthen the Whoniverse immensely. By the time we reached 2005, and the latest wave of fic started, there was a tremendously realized universe built with both canonical and fanonical blocks.

And wordy mcword to your final sentence.
Apr. 12th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
11. Jon Pertwee is cooler than Tom Baker.
YES. By a long shot. This weekend Chris asked me who my least favorite Doctor was. I paused, couldn't think of anyone, and then picked Tom Baker by dint of being the one I'm least familiar with. Which is in and of itself several kinds of ironic. Three is *my* doctor. I love him to bits. Absolutely my favorite and absolutely the coolest.

And I also like River and don't understand all the haters.
Apr. 12th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
Pertwee is so fantastic — an action hero with both kindness and arrogance, the ability to wear crushed velvet capelet coats, and the best yellow flivver in christendom, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Tom Baker was probably never anything less than adequate and more than occasionally brilliant, but he rarely touched me (and that means more than simply engaging my sympathies. It means that he rarely engaged my intense interest or belief.) When he did, that was excellent, but ... no, not cooler than Three.

And I'm so glad to find another member of the River Song Appreciation and Admiration Society.
(no subject) - belsum - Apr. 13th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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