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Dept. of two-plus months of DW memeishness

It's Ba-aaack ....

At some distant time, unimaginably alien to us, our ancient universe will die. Dead planets will swing around cold suns, circling through darkened constellations that themselves will wheel through galaxies dark and cold as black ice - each one streaming away in all directions from the rumor of light and heat, into the vast and endless Stygian dark.

And I'll still be plugging away at this damned meme.

Day 19 - The scene that made you cry the most

One of the things that made me love New Who with a ferocity that still surprises me is its ability to make me cry.

That, with some very rare exceptions, was not the case when I watched Old Who. I loved that iteration of the show for different reasons, and the times it engaged my emotions were noteworthy in part for their rarity as well as for their quality.

The new show, both as reimagined by RTD and as it has continued under Moffatt, seems to be built, in part at least, on the understanding that there is far more capacity for understanding joy and tragedy, sorrow and victory, in the stories of a madman in a dimensionally transcendent box, than viewers, writers or producers previously understood, or were willing to countenance.

Not all the efforts are successful, and sometimes the success in engaging our emotions can be bought exceedingly cheaply. I've cried at New Who episodes as a result of blatant manipulation and I've cried at beautifully written stories honestly told and acted. In the end, even the blatant manipulation stands some kind of twisted quality test because it is still an attempt to bring the Whoniverse to life, and to let us hear the beating dual hearts of the show.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the episodes, and the scenes in them, that made me cry.

Vincent and the Doctor - I've watched this at least four or five times, and I still cry, both at the scene where the Krafayis dies, and the scene where Vincent hears Dr. Black talk about his art. I cry for different reasons. The first time I cried when the Krafayis* died, I thought I was merely falling prey to cheaply manipulative plotting. On subsequent watches, I've decided there's more to it. I'm crying because the death of something lonely, in pain, frightened and confused is never totally manipulative. I'm also crying because this death has exposed both the Doctor's specific mistake about one individual ("I know evil when I see it, and that's it.") and - more tragic and intriguing - suggests that perhaps he and the universe were at least partly wrong about Krafayis in general. (Krafayans? Krafayii? Krafayites? Oh, bother.) And we feel the Doctor's despair and self-disgust at having made such a mistake. On the other hand, I believe I'm crying for joy when Vincent hears Dr. Black enthuse so eloquently (if floridly) about Van Gogh's work. It's a strange and lovely kind of pain, and more notable because crying for joy is such a rare bitterly-sweet pleasure.
*Krafayan for Giant Space Chicken, or Giant Space Chicken-parrot. Linguists are divided.

Gridlock - There's a lot to snicker at in "Gridlock," but only on an intellectual level. On the emotional plane, what this story says about the holiness of fellowship, and the reality of how we all help each other through life by telling stories that may only be true because they ought to be, is almost mythic in the power it has for me. It also speaks to my understanding of being an outsider, and finding outsiders with whom I am no longer an outsider - fandom. The scene where everyone on the Motorway stops to sing the ancient old hymns of salvation, and the scene when the the Face of Boe, who brought them from one form of salvation to another, at the cost of his own life ... salvation and the holiness of humanity in any form ... yup. Tearing up again.

Father's Day - A casual observer might call this scene blatant manipulation, too. It isn't; not for me, at least. "Father's Day" is the story of a man who thought he was small, and learned he wasn't, and a girl who did something wrong for all the right reasons, and had her heart filled and broken at the same time as a result. When Rose's Dad realizes who she is; when, only a short time later, he asks her who he is, and wins her tear-filled answer, then goes out to die ... I think of it, and I start to well up. "Who am I, love?" A Big Damn Hero, that's who.

Parting of the Ways - Perhaps I am in a minority here when I say that the scene that makes me cry the most in this episode, above all its other tremendously affecting and powerful scenes, is Jack's final moments before the Daleks. When he throws away the gun and opens his arms for death - even as he sneers at them, and in doing so dismisses their power over him - he has become the hero he didn't believe he could be. When I cry here, it's partly out of sorrow and partly out of overwhelming pride in the spirit of the man. And from a writer's standpoint, I love the fact that the power of the scene is amplified by the almost non-existent dialogue: "Exterminate." "I kinda figured that." Another Big Damn Hero.

The Satan Pit - This two-part episode (with The Impossible Planet) was one of the best episodes in the second season, and possibly my favorite, because it made me care about every character on the station; it was a story that rose above cheap red-shirting, and for that, I love it despite Tennant's McShoutypants scene at the last. And the scene in which the saturnine security chief Mr. Jefferson gives his life, saying his low-key goodbyes to Captain Cross Flane, gets me every time. This oddly sensitive man, who quotes poetry for the dead as the body of Scooti floats above him, was very real to me, as was his sacrifice. And even as I'm composing myself after John Maynard Jefferson dies, the waterworks start again in the split second that I see the Ood cling to each other as they die, frightened and confused.

Waters of Mars - I've written a lot about this episode, but I'm still struck by the emotional power and technical elegance of the scene where the Bowie Base team fights fruitlessly to save themselves as the Doctor watches, just before his breaking heart warps his judgment.

And finally - This is not a scene from the show. It's writing about the show (a recap of "Doomsday") and every time I read this final segment from "Hold the Line With Me" by Jacob Clifton, over at Television Without Pity, I cry, starting with the very first sentence and going from there, because he understands Doctor Who the way I understand it: Blue Boxes, grace, love and all that comes after. "Once there was a boy, loom-born and Academy-taught, who went out into the world with a magical machine, and had adventures."


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 3rd, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
"Who am I, love?"

Dec. 3rd, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
Such a simple question, to evoke such an amazing response in so many of us.
Dec. 3rd, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Would you believe we re-watched Vincent and the Doctor not two hours ago? One of my closest friends missed a lot of New Who when it was fresh on the aether, so once or twice a month for much of the past year we've been having dinner, drinks and Who catch-ups (in order, of course). She was duly moved by the episode, and yes, I cried again. But here's a thing - one of the little bits that moved me to tears this time was the Doctor being bored and then amazed by - and somewhat aghast at - his own boredom, being stuck living a space of time all in one go and all in the 'right order'.

Oh, and right after that*** we watched The Lodger (again for us, first time for friend). 'It's a lightweight episode, but quite sweet,' I warned her up front. And yet, seeing it immediately*** after V&tD, I was deeply moved by the Doctor's attempts at being human. He went at it with all the energy and enthusiasm of a half-grown puppy, but leaking through that was the loneliness of nine hundred years of experience and loss. Absolutely mega!

*** Oh all right, there was tea in between. But that's like saying 'we continued to breathe' :P
Dec. 4th, 2010 12:08 am (UTC)
I wonder if, at least some of the time, we respond to emotional prompts that we recognize because we've dealt with the same sort of things ourselves? In my case, there could arguably be daddy issues ("Father's Day") my ambivalent feelings towards God and my love of liturgy, fellowship and fandom ("Gridlock") and such.

I must watch The Lodger again. I always have one episode every season that I keep forgetting; it's not that I don't like whatever episode it is, it's just that it falls in between neurons or something.

There is always time for tea.
Dec. 4th, 2010 12:56 am (UTC)
I wonder if, at least some of the time, we respond to emotional prompts that we recognize because we've dealt with the same sort of things ourselves?

Sho nufficles! Or even if we recognise something we know of others' lives. The opening double of the latest season of Sarah Jane Adventures - The Nightmare Man - resonated so much that I pronounced it 'one powerful emotional wallop for what's generally a lightweight kiddie series'. OTOH my husband, who's led a soft, uneventful life wrapped in emotional cotton wool and who has never been betrayed or backstabbed by anyone, thought it was 'all right'... Some years ago, I left a man I loved so madlydeeply that that love occluded my sanity, but leaving was the only way forward. Watching Rose in inconsolable floods of tears and clutching at the blank divide between universes near the end of Doomsday destroys me every time I've seen it - because it resonates so much. And so on.

I'd recommend watching Vincent... and The Lodger together. It was the follow-on feel that really brought out the qualities I mentioned above, for me at least :-)
Dec. 4th, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
I will take your advice on the two episodes.

(Oh, and I've been loving the latest season of SJA. I'm looking forward to seeing the last two episodes, which we've had for a while now, but haven't yet indulged in. My Best Beloved adores Sarah Jane; says she's his favorite Doctor.)
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
SJA is so damn charming! So long as one remembers that it is pitched at an adolescent audience - unlike DW, which really, really isn't, especially in this century. I'll admit there's a piece of my secret heart that wishes that the Sarah Jane character, and her post-Doctor(ish) life, could get the same dark-tinged, fully adult treatment as New Who, but I'm so happy that she got a series at all (and that it's carried on through four seasons with a fifth in the works) that I'm not complaining. And anyway, Luke and Clyde and Rani are HAWT. And so is Mr Chandra, a bit. Definitely no complaints there :-)

I hope you enjoy Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith as much as I did, which is quite a lot!

Speaking of charming things relating to SJA and Sarah Jane, one of my RL besties runs a sweet website called the Sarah Jane Smith Wardrobe Appreciation Society. Go have a shufti...
Dec. 4th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
I understand the wish to see a slightly more adult tinge to SJA - but ultimately I'm glad that it's not there. It's aimed squarely at intelligent older youngsters/young teens, and they deserve an entry in the Whoniverse, something to introduce them to its wonders, and something that addresses the victories and challenges of growing up.

OOoo, thanks for the link!
Dec. 3rd, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
I loved that scene with Jack, and remember bawling my eyes out at that point (also when he runs for the Tardis and sees it go without him, the look of devastation sets me off again...)
Dec. 4th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
I think the only thing that kept me from crying at that point was my fury at the Doctor and Rose leaving him behind. The look on his face is just heartbreaking.
Dec. 4th, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
Its those small moments I point to when people claim JB only does loud, 'back of the stalls' acting. (Also I saw him doing A few good men' where he was acting Rob Lowe off the stage frankly)

Its the sudden transposition of joy (I/We survived/were reborn against the odds)to despair (why I am left behind?). I was furious when it was revealed to be deliberate.
Dec. 4th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
The more I've seen of JB's acting, the less I've believed the "he's a stage actor, and a stage actor only/he's a hammy actor" crap. He's grown as an actor in the five years or so since he first appeared on DW.

And let me second everything you say in your second paragraph.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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