Eleven at eleven

11 in 11th Hour at 11

11 in 11th Hour at 11

Gotta head out soon today: going to Carl and Sandy’s house to watch “The Eleventh Hour” at eleven. We had a nice geeky discussion over dinner last night. They’re rewatching the Ninth Doctor at the moment so that Carl can catch up there, but we wanted to introduce them to the Eleventh Doctor. Sandy is the type of person who likes to digest shows before moving onto the next one, so she’s really not keen on diving into the Eleventh Doctor right now, but Carl is excited, so she’s been overruled.

Interestingly, the four of us have differing opinions on the companions. Our preferences in order are

  • Me: Donna, Martha, Rose
  • My husband and Sandy: Donna, Rose, Martha
  • Carl: Rose, Martha, Donna

Clearly, we need to recondition Carl. How can he not love Donna? Actually, the problem stems from his hatred of Catherine Tate’s character in The Office, but he’s starting to warm up to her. My husband and Sandy hate Martha because of her fawning love for the Doctor that started in her very first episode; Carl and I simply ignore those scenes and otherwise think she’s great. Carl has only seen a couple of Rose episodes, so his opinion of her might change after he’s seen all of them.

One other interesting thing that Carl said was that he didn’t like “Midnight” because the final part of it, when Sky pretended to be free of the Midnight Entity and started urging the humans to kill the Doctor, was unbelievable. To him, she was so different from the way she had been before the attack, the humans should have immediately realized that she was still possessed. The rest of us thought that the point of the show was that the humans were so panicked that they couldn’t recognize that she was acting strangely, and so the fact that they didn’t made the episode even more powerful.

Anyway, gotta get going. It is so much fun getting to talk about the show with friends.

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Difference of opinion

Two great Doctors.

Two great Doctors.

It’s a bit ironic that today on my WordPress newsfeed, I was presented with two different articles, one saying how much writer prefers the RTD and the Tenth Doctor, and the other saying how much the writer prefers Moffat and the Eleventh Doctor. The two posts didn’t really say anything that I haven’t heard before about these two Doctors, but reading them side-by-side, I see that there seems to be a clear break between preferences of the audience.

  • If you care about the Doctor’s characterization and his relationship with the people around him and don’t care so much about the show’s story, you prefer RTD and the Tenth Doctor.
  • If you care about the show’s story and don’t care so much about the Doctor’s characterization and his relationship with the people around him, you prefer Moffat and the Eleventh Doctor.

Yes, it’s a lot more complicated that than, but that seems to be the gist of the arguments that I’ve seen. Tenth Doctor enthusiasts cite his relationship with Rose, his retreat into his shell during his travels with Martha, his friendship with Donna, his love/hate relationship with the Master, and his descent into darkness and the fact that he had to condemn the Time Lords yet again at the end of his life, and individual episodes in which the Doctor suffers a tragedy or personal triumph. Eleventh Doctor fans point at the puzzles of Amy and the Impossible Girl, his story arcs of the Pandorica and the Silence and the Great Intelligence, and individual episodes in which the Doctor engineers a great victory. The Ninth Doctor tends to get shafted in this discussion: I’ve seen lots of debate about whether the Ninth or Tenth Doctor is better, but people who like the Eleventh Doctor tend to not even consider the Ninth Doctor at all.

I’m sure you know which camp I’m in (Tenth Doctor all the way!), but that doesn’t really matter to me. I like the Eleventh Doctor. He’s not my favorite, certainly, but he’s fun to watch and his episodes are good (well, some of them; like every Doctor, he’s got some real stinkers). But I like all the Doctors. The great part of the whole thing is the fact that there are millions of people out there who are all enjoying the show and are so invested in this brilliant fictional universe that they’re sitting there, in their free time, thinking about what it is about the Doctor that they like or dislike. It just amazes me that this TV show captivates so many people like this. I’m sure that it’s like this in other fandoms, but this is the first time I’ve seen it happen first-hand. I’ve been a fan of other things before (Star Trek and the Marvel superheroes come to mind), but I’ve never seen this kind of in-depth discussion happen between my fan friends for those other fandoms. With Doctor Who, the discussions I’ve watched and participated in can last for hours. The only thing I’ve seen come even close is Firefly.

So, bring it on, DW fandom! More discussion. More Moffat-hate or RTD-hate or whatever. More love for the Doctor. I want to see it all!

Busy weekend

Too much to do today, no time to write. Here are some more images, just for fun. Ooo, and I found a nice brown tweed women’s blazer that fits me perfectly at the Goodwill yesterday. I guess that seals it as the Eleventh Doctor being my next costume project.

Love the hat.

Peter-Davison-1793939

 

 

The Seventh Doctor and Ace!

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Gorgeous photoshop.

threemoderndoctors

 

Production shot from my favorite episode – quite a small group for an episode. Apparently, they wanted to do a Children in Need spot, but had to be able to shoot it in a single day and use no special effects, and from those restrictions, “Time Crash” was born.

TIME-CRASH-1

My take on Moffat

Benedict Cumberbatch, Steven Moffat, and Matt Smith

Benedict Cumberbatch, Steven Moffat, and Matt Smith

I’ve spent the morning doing a bit of thought about Steven Moffat as the showrunner of Doctor Who, and it’s been somewhat disturbing. This was sparked by a blog post a friend of mine shared on Facebook, about sexism in Doctor Who and Sherlock. The post links to a couple of other interesting articles, so I’ve linked them below.

Now, I’m not going to address the question of sexism in Doctor Who. I think that accusing anyone of sexism – or any other form of discrimination – is a very serious charge and requires a lot of research and analysis that I have not done, and so I don’t feel qualified to make any such judgment. However, these authors make very good cases for their accusations and these articles are food for thought.

The thing that is bothering me are the mentions in these articles that people are starting to dislike the show, and I look back on my thoughts in this blog and have to agree, in a way. If you’re familiar at all with what I’ve written, you’ll see that I’m very entranced by the Ninth and Tenth Doctors, and I’m having a blast watching the classic Doctors. My history with the Eleventh Doctor is far shakier. I started out disliking him, but my last post about my feelings towards him stated that I like the Eleventh Doctor, but I don’t like his stories. I’ve seen most of his stories once only, and I find it difficult to watch them again. The ones I remember liking (for example, “The Eleventh Hour,” “Vincent and the Doctor,” “The Doctor’s Wife,” “The Lodger”) I’ve seen multiple times, but it’s hard to convince myself to watch the ones I didn’t like the first time. I watched “Time of the Angels” this weekend and have yet to feel compelled to watch the second episode in that story (“Flesh and Stone”). And so many episodes in the second half of season seven (Clara’s season) was so horrible, it so felt like a waste of time the first time, that I’m not sure I’ll ever watch them again.

Why is this? Mr. Moffat has proven himself to be a good writer: the episodes that are generally considered to be the best in the modern show are predominantly his. Here’s an article that ranks all 83 of the modern episodes from worst to best, and while this list is simply one man’s opinion, we can use it as a guide. Four of the top 10, and eight of the top 20, are written by Mr. Moffat. Russell T. Davies, the previous showrunner and the other most prolific episode writer, doesn’t have as good a track record, with only six in the top 20. However, I think it’s important to look at exactly which of Mr. Moffat’s episodes are highly regarded.

  • “Blink”
  • “The Empty Child” / “The Doctor Dances”
  • “The Girl in the Fireplace”
  • “The Time of the Angels” / “Flesh and Stone”
  • “The Pandorica Opens” / “Big Bang”
  • “The Impossible Astronaut” / “Day of the Moon”
  • “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead”
  • “Eleventh Hour”

Four of the episodes are from the Ninth and Tenth Doctor’s time, and the top three of those are usually considered among the best five episodes of the modern show. Of the rest, one is the Eleventh Doctor’s introduction episode, and two are timey-wimey episodes that either open or close their season’s story arc. The last one, well, I can’t really comment on because, as I noted above, I don’t like it, but the list author notes that it’s heavily marred by its destruction of what made the Weeping Angels so terrifying in the first place and its preoccupation with the crack.

Looking at this list, it’s very clear to me why series 5 through 7 are nowhere near as interesting to me as series 1-4 or the classic series. First, I think that Mr. Moffat excels at constructing plots that involve complicated time-travel and universal concepts, but when he applies them to season-long story arcs, they don’t translate well and the individual episodes suffer from having to keep the arc going while also dealing with their own stories. His best episodes tend to be season openers or enders, and not the ones in-between. He has stated before that the idea of the cracks being something introduced in the Eleventh Doctor’s very first episode and resolved in the very last episode, with story arcs for each season tying into that, was pretty much an experiment. If that’s true, then I have hope for series 8 to not be so epic and, well, confusing. (It might also be that he’s best when he’s writing for only one episode, when his scope is very constrained.)

Second, I think that Mr. Moffat is a fantastic writer when he’s using someone else’s characters and are constrained by the world they’ve already built, but he is weak when having to create his own characters and his own rules. His first four episodes written for Doctor Who were with Mr. Davies’ Doctors and companions, who had defined personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and all of those episodes are excellent. The last one of those, “Silence in the Library” / “Forest of the Dead,” introduced his own recurring character, and while River was strong and interesting in that episode, there has been plenty of debate about the merits of the character in her subsequent appearances. When he became the showrunner, he had to create the Eleventh Doctor and all of the companions, and suddenly the episodes are not nearly as good. I’m not going to comment on Amy, because I don’t feel like I have enough of a feel for her to make any argument for or against her, but Clara is a simply walking plot point, with little personality or purpose other than to exist. Except in her origin episode (“The Bells of St. John”), she seems to follow the Doctor around like a puppy and then suddenly save the day or prompt the Doctor to try again when the Doctor’s best attempts fail (especially in “The Rings of Akhaten,” “The Name of the Doctor,” and “The Day of the Doctor”).

I do have hope for the next season, reasoning that if the Twelfth Doctor is going to be more dynamic and less personable and considerate than his predecessors, Clara will have to develop into a stronger character to realistically be able to stay with him (or, perhaps, she won’t work out with him and be replaced), and it looks like they won’t be doing such convoluted story arcs. And meanwhile, I’m going to try to keep an open mind while rewatching the Eleventh Doctor’s seasons, to find the good stuff, because I know they’re there.

Favorite Scenes: Eleventh Doctor

Matt Smith as the Doctor

Matt Smith as the Doctor

First, I should note that I’m less familiar with the Eleventh Doctor than I am with the Ninth and Tenth Doctor, so this list is probably not comprehensive. I’m spending some time rewatching series 5-7, and I bet this list will change at the end of that. Second, it seems that my choices are very different from other people’s choices, as I had a hard time finding videos of the scenes I like. Ah well.

“The Eleventh Hour” – The Doctor vs. the Atraxi: In the modern series, each new Doctor’s introductory episode does a great job of establishing the character of the Doctor, and this one is no exception. From this scene, we see exactly who the Doctor is: his bombastic nature, his courage, and his disdain for his enemies, and he completes his costume.

 

“The Big Bang” – Timey-wimey: What I mean here is how the Doctor escapes from the Pandorica, saves Amy, and then saves the universe through the creative use of time travel. The “scene” is something like twenty minutes long, so it’s probably a good thing I didn’t find a video for it. When you first watch this episode, this sequence of events (actually, it’s more like a big ball of events) breaks your brain, but when you think about it, it all works out and it’s brilliant.

“A Christmas Carol” – The Doctor goes back to young Kazran: This episode was fantastic, and there are tons of scenes that I’m sure others would point to as better, but my favorite is when the Doctor gets old Kazran Sardick to start watching the movie, then walks out of the room and appears in the window in the movie. It’s another scene that highlights the non-linear nature of the Doctor’s thinking.

“The Doctor’s Wife” – The Doctor realizes who Idris is: I prefer this scene to any of the other emotional Doctor/Idris scenes. The Doctor is still figuring out how to relate to Idris, and Idris is still figuring out how to be a living creature. Gorgeous.

“The Almost People” – The Ganger Doctor appears: I love it when the current Doctor’s actor is given the opportunity to do their own interpretation of previous Doctors. It doesn’t happen often – the Fifth Doctor just after regeneration comes to mind – but it’s always cool when it happens.

“Nightmare in Silver” – The Doctor vs. the Cybercontroller: I couldn’t find a good video for this, so I had to take what I got. Mr. Smith’s performance as the two very different characters is just amazing.

“The Night of the Doctor”: Ok, I’m sorry, this isn’t the Eleventh Doctor, but this minisode was published during his tenure, so I counted it. This minisode is fantastic. It answers so many questions about how the Doctor got involved in the Time War, and in only a few minutes, establishes for a whole generation of viewers the personality of the Eighth Doctor. It also gives the Eighth Doctor a beautiful end (sacrificing himself, yet again, for the greater good) and fills in the lacking regeneration.

“The Day of the Doctor” – Firing the Moment: While there are plenty of other scenes in this episode that I love, this is the absolute best. After the centuries of self-recrimination of their actions in the Time War and denying the existence of the War Doctor, and then after meeting him again, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors return to the Time War and support him. They have realized that he made the hardest decision in the universe, and, by joining him at the Moment, show him that they no longer deny him, that they believe in him and are willing to make that decision again, right alongside him.

How fantastic is it?

Click to see the animated gif.

Yesterday, my husband and I were having a discussion about catchphrases (specifically, is it necessary when writing fanfiction to include a catchphrase to appease the reader?), and we wondered, just how often do the modern Doctors say their catchphrases? We picture them saying them all the time, but do they really? So, like a good obsessive, data-driven fan, I went through the transcripts of all the modern episodes (including webcasts) to see, and here are the results.

Ninth Doctor: “Fantastic!”

This was a little difficult to work out, because sometimes the Doctor uses the word “fantastic” as part of a sentence, rather than standalone, but I decided to include those instances because he tends to emphasize the word even in the middle of a sentence.

  • Total episodes:  13
  • “Fantastic”: 15 times in 10 episodes
  • Episodes in which he doesn’t say it: “World War Three,” “The Empty Child,” “Boom Town”
  • One instance is a repeat, in “Rose, before I go, I just want to tell you, you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And do you know what? So was I.”

Tenth Doctor: “Allons-y!”

This only counts the times that the Doctor used this standalone. It doesn’t count the time in “The Fires of Pompeii” when he describes a chase scene as a “Nice little bit of allons-y.”

  • Total episodes: 49
  • “Allons-y!”: 11 times in 9 episodes
  • Once in series 2, in “Army of Ghosts.” Technically, he says it six times here, as he’s rambling on about liking the phrase and wanting to adopt it as his catchphrase.
  • Twice in series 3, in “Evolution of the Daleks” and “42.”
  • Four times in series 4, in “The Voyage of the Damned”  and “Midnight” (two uses apiece).
  • Three times in the four specials (not “The Waters of Mars”).
  • Once in “The Day of the Doctor.”

Eleventh Doctor: “Geronimo!”

  • Total episodes: 49
  • “Geronimo!”: 12 times in 11 episodes
  • Once in series 4, in “The End of Time.”
  • Twice in series 5, in “The Eleventh Hour” and “The Beast Below.”
  • Three times in series 6, in “A Christmas Carol,” “The Almost People,” and “The Wedding of River Song.”
  • Six times in series 7, in “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” “The Power of Three,” “Hide,” “Journey to the Centre of the Tardis,” and “The Day of the Doctor.”
  • In addition, three companions say it: Craig (“The Lodger”), River (“The Pandorica Opens”), and Amy (“Asylum of the Daleks”).

Analysis and Conclusion

The Ninth Doctor’s catchphrase is by far the most useful, as it can be used in casual conversation and in any situation in which the Doctor is pleased. This is in contrast to the other two catchphrases, which are only useful in circumstances in which the Doctor is going somewhere or starting to enact a plan. Thus, the Ninth Doctor said it very often, in fact more often than the number of episodes that he was in. However, I think that the phrase is iconic not because of the frequency of its use, but because of the inflection and facial expression of the Ninth Doctor when he used it. It wouldn’t feel special to the Ninth Doctor if the phrase had uttered in an ordinary tone of voice.

Between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor, the Eleventh Doctor’s catchphrase is less recognized in general in the fan community, perhaps because “Allons-y!” is unusual for English speakers; “Geronimo!” while not a common phrase, is something that has been used before in English media, and outside the fan base is recognized as a battle cry. (It’s of American origin, so maybe a British person will find it more unusual than the American ears of this blog writer.) In fan art that I’ve seen, “Allons-y!” is represented very often, while “Geronimo!” is actually very rare.  Comparing the two in the data, “Allons-y!” is used less often than “Geronimo!” but only by a very small amount. Another interesting trend is that it was actually used very sparingly throughout the Tenth Doctor’s tenure, and then suddenly appeared four times in his last five episodes (counting “The Day of the Doctor”).

In conclusion, the catchphrases were actually used a lot less than you’d think they were. The reason why they stick with us is because they capture the personality of the Doctor who uses them, and not because of frequency in which they were used. Another important conclusion to draw from this analysis is that this was an incredibly silly topic to write about, and I am such a geek. And proud of it.

Making it all work

I am so buying that jeweler's loupe. I bet it'll be useful while crafting.

I am so buying that jeweler’s loupe. I bet it’ll be useful while crafting and painting minis.

Happy new year, everyone! Here’s wishing you the best in 2014!

I realized the other day that I really love images of the Tenth Doctor wearing his glasses. Not the 3-D ones. Those pictures actually annoy me, because that look has become so iconic for the Tenth Doctor (so many t-shirts showing all eleven Doctors have Four with his scarf and Eleven with his fez, and then Ten with the 3-D glasses), and he only used them in one episode! It’s the horn-rims that should be his iconic accessory! Anyway, that’s beside the point. It occurred to me that one of the reasons why I do so love the glasses is that I identify with him: the Tenth Doctor is a science nerd. While all the Doctors are all scientists and engineers, some are more so than others, and Ten is one of the nerdiest. He loves to tinker and find tech solutions to problems (“It’s a machine that goes ding. Made it myself. Lights up in the presence of shape-shifter DNA. Ooo. Also it can microwave frozen dinners from up to twenty feet and download comics from the future. I never know when to stop.”), spouts technobabble all the time, and loves to explore. I really love that the Tenth Doctor saves the universe wearing nerdy glasses.

Another thing that I was thinking about recently is how much we rationalize things in this show. “The Day of the Doctor” had people upset because they felt it invalidated the show’s history from 2005 until that episode. I didn’t have much of a problem deciding that all those events did happen and that the events in the episode also happened, but that didn’t stop me from coming up with my own theory of how it all really works out, and that took a bit of work. Now we have “The Time of the Doctor,” which is causing the same consternation: if the Doctor didn’t die at Trenzalore, then he could have never gone there during “The Name of the Doctor” to see his timestream and have the Great Intelligence and Clara jump into it. This means that the entire second part of series 7 didn’t happen, since most of it has to do with Clara being the Impossible Girl from jumping into the timestream. I tried to work it out for myself the way I did for “The Day of the Doctor,” but it doesn’t work without bringing in the “it’s timey-wimey” excuse. I plan to try harder to make it work sometime later.

As I thought about it more, though, the problems with the show and how we deal with it tells us a lot more about ourselves than it does about the show. If you think about it, this show, with its 50-year history in TV, books, audio, and comic books, and its differing narrative objectives over the myriad of producers, writers, and directors, has always been at odds with itself. You can’t hand the show to a new set of people and expect that everything is going to stay consistent. Heck, it’s even hard to stay consistent with your own work. Here’s a few examples:

  • The UNIT dating controversy: The shows in the 70s and 80s differ on when UNIT began and who was where when, which is why in “The Day of the Doctor,” when Kate Stewart asks for the Cromer files, she says it’s either in the 70s or 80s depending on the dating protocol.
  • The Doctor’s age: The Seventh Doctor says he’s 953. The War Doctor implies he’s in his 800s, and the Ninth and Tenth Doctor say their in they’re 903-906.
  • “Blink”: The Doctor states that the Weeping Angels turn to stone, but the final montage, which implies that any statue could be an angel, includes bronze statues. This is an inconsistency within a single episode.

So, it really comes down to how big an inconsistency must be to bother you. The UNIT dating controversy and the inconsistencies in “Blink” (there are actually quite a lot of them) don’t bug me: the first really doesn’t matter, and the second can be overlooked and should, because that episode is fantastic if you don’t think too hard about it. The Doctor’s age bugs me, because his age adds to the feeling of timelessness associated with the character and he should be able to keep his claims consistent. I’ve rationalized this as either the Doctor doesn’t know his age because he’s jumping around in time all the time and it’s too hard to keep track (I’d think the TARDIS could keep track for him, though), or he’s lying and choosing an age that sounds good to him. As for the can of worms opened by “The Time of the Doctor,” I’ve just decided that all of the season happened and left it at that.

You might already see where I’m going with this. The reason why we pick apart the show and get upset about these problems is that we care: we’re immersed in the Doctor Who universe and we desperately want it to make sense beyond just watching the episode for the adventure of the day. And, we’re going to get a lot more upset about the inconsistencies of the characters we care about. For me, I care so much more about the Ninth and Tenth Doctors than I do about the Eleventh Doctor, so I’m willing to hand-wave away the problems with “The Time of the Doctor,” but I spent hours crafting an explanation for “The Day of the Doctor” to make sure that the trials of the Ninth and Tenth Doctor didn’t get invalidated.

It’s interesting that our love for the show can manifest as anger, but then I suppose that’s completely natural: we get angry when people we love let us down, too. I suppose the real challenge is finding the happy medium, in which we as the audience can accept the inconsistencies and move forward with them while the show itself doesn’t mess itself up too much.