Doctor Who: Worse than everybody’s aunt

May 2, 2010 at 1:33 am (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , )

OK – two episodes in.  I’m late with writing this up, what with having a sincerely bloody week and all, but – second thoughts on “The Eleventh Hour”, and first thoughts on “The Beast Below”.

There were some really marvelous lines in “11th” (I do like a title with multiple meanings):

  • So is the swimming pool.
  • I’m still cooking.
  • Am I people??
  • Count the rooms – why?  “Because it will change your life.”
  • Nothing says nonterrestrial like a sonick screwdriver.

So Amelia Pond takes the Doctor inside and watches him spit food everywhere – I do hope he helped her clean up, and seriously, did her aunt not take food missing/all over the kitchen, a plate smashed against a tree, and especially the shed pounded into the ground with a TARDIS-shaped indentation in it as evidence that Amelia was either telling the truth or dangerously lunatic? Anyway.  I disliked the spitting – but “new mouth, new rules” was actually quite good.  But
… fish fingers and custard.  Oh.  Dear.

This exchange was interesting:
I don’t have a mom and dad. Just an aunt.
I don’t even have an aunt.
You’re lucky!
I know!

– And he means it.  Not only a new mouth – a new outlook?  The grieving process is over, and he’s adapted?  Or he’s shunted all of the horrible past into a quiet corner where he can ignore it? I hope that’s addressed sooner rather than later, because the fact that the Doctor’s the last of his kind (more or less) was a defining aspect of the character.  Jumping ahead, in “The Beast Below”, he dodges the question of whether or not he’s a parent, where 10 spoke of his past on several occasions, obliquely mentioning Susan and other family members.  Strange…

Love this:
So, your aunt – where is she?
She’s out.
And she left you all alone?!
(scornful) I’m not scared!
‘Course you’re not. You’re not scared of anything. Box fall sout of the sky,
man falls out of the box, man eats fish custard (takes huge bite and continues
while chewing) – and look at you! Just sittin’ there. So you know what *I*
think?
What?
Must be ‘ell of a scary crack in your wall.

And this:
You know when grownups tell you everything’s going to be fine and you think
they’re probably lying to make you feel better?
(disgusted) Yes.
(smiles falsely) Everything’s going to be fine.

And it doesn’t take him long to say “Trust me. I’m the Doctor.”  Right.  The jury was still out on that at that point, mate.  Give me a minute.

Amelia packs very neatly for a little girl in a great hurry.  And the shadow passing suddenly through the field of vision was beautifully creepy.

And, funny and sympathy-making all at once –
You’re Amelia.
And you’re late!
You’re Amelia Pond, the little girl.
I’m Amelia, and you’re late.
What happened?
Twelve years.
You hit me with a cricket bat!
Twelve years!
A cricket bat!
Twelve years and four psychiatrists!
Four?
I kept biting them.
Why?
They said you weren’t real.

  • You’re worse than my aunt!
    I’m the Doctor – I’m worse than everybody’s aunt! (clears throat, glancing at elderly neighbor)  And that’s not how I’m introducing myself.
  • Twenty minutes to the end of the world…
  • Then I grew up.
    Ah – you never want to do that.
  • Just believe me for twenty minutes.

– – Smart line that last, applying to the viewer trusting Matt Smith and through him Steven Moffat for twenty minutes as well as to Amy Pond trusting the Doctor. Give the team twenty minutes to prove themselves.  ‘Kay.

Your friend, what was his name, not him, the good-looking one.
Rory – Thanks.
Amy – Jeff.
Rory – Oh, *thanks!*

This is when you fly. Today’s the day you save the world.
Why me?
It’s your bedroom. Now go go go! (runs out closing door behind him)
OK, guys. Let’s do this.
(Doctor returns) Oh – and delete your internet history.

I read a review in which the writer was disappointed that Moffat would be carrying on with the RTD device of a seasonal arc, a la Bad Wolf; I don’t mind.  It’s not just RTD – it’s a fairly long-standing tradition with DW.  I kind of enjoy the clues dropped here and there, now and then, until it all culminates in a big season finale.  I don’t necessarily want it every single season, as that
will become monotonous, but – now and then, good.  And this one sounds intriguing: the crack in Amelia’s bedroom wall isn’t just in the wall – knock down the wall and the crack will remain, because it’s not just in the wall: it’s in the skin of the universe.

Well, to quote Mythbusters, there’s your problem.

Prisoner Zero: The cracks in the skin of the universe – don’t you know where they came from? … The universe is cracked, the Pandoric will open, silence will fall. … Silence, Doctor – silence will fall.

A few things on that… Silence, stillness is antithetical to the Doctor.  He is very rarely silent himself, and his world is filled with the sounds of the TARDIS – every application has a sound effect, and even K-9 was the same – and activity.  That’s the reason he gives Amy for wanting a Companion again – he’s been talking to himself so much he’s got earache. So he needs someone to direct the talk to – admittedly, someone to dazzle with his brilliance, someone who will respond to
his natterings.  A voice other than his own.  The Doctor’s world is one of static and whirring
and beeps and buzzes, and the TARDIS materializing and de-, and talk – always talk.  If you’re with the Doctor, plan to talk.  Or, rather, listen. He ranks with Lord Peter in the piffle department – his constant stream of words serves to distract, disarm, occasionally inform, and to help him think his way through the issue at hand.  He thinks out loud.  Silence…  He can do it; he has an appreciation for it; but a silent Doctor is a frightening Doctor – there’s something wrong.  So Silence falling sounds very very ominous…

“The universe is cracked, the Pandoric will open, silence will fall” … A cracked universe can’t be good.  The Pandoric – and that seems to be the accepted spelling, whether it’s an internet decision or from an official source – is it too facile to think that it’s to do with Pandora?  That something is to be opened which will release into the world – or the universe – a great many ills, closing again upon hope?  (It was, I find, a jar and not a box.  Huh.)  (Enter wild conjecture) My first instinct on this idea is that Pandora opened the jar out of curiosity.  Recall back to “Christmas Invasion”, and the big red button which the Doctor absolutely could not resist… Give the Doctor a jar or box or other receptacle and tell him it mustn’t be opened, and under a great many circumstances I think you’ll have a short wait before klaxons are blaring and lights are flashing.  Though … has the Doctor ever been the direct cause of any of the Issues he’s had to deal with?  He has indirectly sparked problems, but has something he’s done ever led to a situation he had to wade in and fix?   I don’t remember any such stories, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen most DW; I kind of like the idea.   It might stop him righteously grousing about having to clean up other people’s messes.
Another possibility that comes to mind here is that someone very like the Doctor, with his sense of insatiable curiosity combined with his arrogance  (Trust me – I’m the Doctor), does the opening of whatever… And the Doctor, in being called in to fix things, realizes the similarities…. That’s what I would write, that last, were I writing the story explaining “the Pandoric will open”; I’m sure
it’ll be more interesting than that.

Back to “The Eleventh Hour”…  “Did you think no one was watching?”  What a lovely idea that is – Earth’s own personal guardian angel. A lonely angel … not quite so lonely now, I guess.

“Did he just save the world from aliens and then bring all the aliens back again?”

Yup. It was arrogant – but then, is arrogance really arrogance when it’s justified? I loved it.

You are not of this world.
No, but I’ve put a lot of work into it.

Hello. I’m the Doctor. Basically … run.

And they did.  Interesting nod backward to #9’s introduction – “I’m the Doctor by the way, what’s your name?”  “Rose.”  Nice to meet you Rose. Now, run for your life!”  And also back to “Look me up”, and of course his statements about Earth being protected in “Christmas Invasion” – only more succinct.

Amy Pond, the girl who waited. You’ve waited long enough.

You wanted to come fourteen years ago.
I grew up.
Don’t worry. I’ll soon fix that.
– Good. Very good.

The Doctor, rather full of himself, asks if there isn’t something Amy wants to say now she’s in the TARDIS – go ahead, he’s heard it all: expecting some variation on “It’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside!”  And instead she realizes, “I’m in my nightie.”  If Amy Pond continues to defy expectations and conventions, we’ll get along just fine.

I’m fine. It’s just – there’s a whole world in here, just like you said.  It’s all true.  I thought – well, I started to think that maybe you were just a madman with a box.
Amy Pond, there’s something you’d better remember about me, ’cause it’s important because one day your life may depend on it.  I am definitely a mad man with a box.

On the trailer of episodes to come, I made the note:  “Cybermen – horses – River?  Queen Elizabeth?  The Doctor with a gun????”  Cybermen – well, naturally; it was only a matter of time, and not much of it at that.  Horses – interesting; I don’t recall ever seeing the Doctor ride.  They’re pulling out the big guns to win me over, are they?  River – I do believe we’re about to see River
Song again.  I wonder… a lot of things, so I’ll just leave it as “I wonder.”  The note I had on Queen Elizabeth had nothing whatever to do with “The Beast Below” – there was a glimpse of what could have been Elizabeth I, redhead with excessive ruff Elizabeth, not kickass Elizabeth (though I was pretty kickass herself, when you think about it).  Maybe we’ll find out what it was he did to seriously tick off Queen Bess.  And … that had better not have been a gun being used in any manner against any person of any sort.  He has adamantly refused to as much as carry one
in the past – I can’t believe Moffat would make such an error as to give him one now.

And, on to:

THE BEAST BELOW

Funny; I didn’t note down nearly as many quotes for this one.  Maybe it was because it the first go-round…

Thing one: We are observers only. That’s the one rule I always stick to in all my travels: I never get involved in the affairs of other peoples or planets.

*disbelieving pause*rewind to make sure that was heard correctly*dissolve into gales of laughter* *wiping away tears*  Oh my.  We may have our first truly delusional regeneration.  That was one of the funniest lines ever – particularly followed by his disappearing from Amy’s side and showing up on the scanner with the little girl.

Can I just say: Steampunk! Love the look of the place – and the extreme creepiness of the Smilers. I’d have liked a little more about them, and the Winders – Innnteresting.  And, you know, creepy. Not great as enforcers, but threatening nonetheless.

What are you gonna do?
What I always do. Stay out of trouble. Badly.

– Maybe not so delusional after all…

A long time ago tomorrow morning. I wonder what I did.

Amelia Jessica Pond. Age 1306 (this is supposed to be the 29th century, isn’t it?  Waitaminnit).   Marital status: Undetermined. (darn)

You look human.
No – you look Time Lord.  We came first.

I loved Amy’s reaction to “Big day tomorrow!” – how did he know? And I don’t want to go back yet! And them, one of the best time travel-y lines ever: “It’s always a big day tomorrow! I’ve got a time machine – I skip the little ones!”

Liz X – Sophie Okonedo… There’s no other way to put it.  She was kickass.  “I rule” – why, yes, you do.  Woo hoo.

It was a fine episode – “fine” in this case being “serviceable, not bad at all” as opposed to “rare and wonderful”.  Acting: check; dialogue: check; story … erm.  It galumphed along fine, but thinking about it after was where it all unraveled a bit.  Amy’s sudden decisiveness, along with the Doctor’s extreme anger (he’s manic-depressive?) before and after, were odd: the decision, when pondered after the fact, wasn’t really based on fact, and the anger was perhaps a bit much when directed at those present.  I thought it was somewhat odd that the kids – Mandy at least – played such a brief part in the story.  I would have expected them to contribute something a bit later.  There were a few elements like that, including the Smilers – not as well woven into the story as I’d have wished.  I wonder if the “star whale” was anything like what showed up in Torchwood, “Meat”… Another thing that didn’t bother me at the time, but which does now, was the similarity of endings in “Beast Below” and “Girl in the Fireplace”.  The very last shot of both showed a ship the Doctor had just had dealings with the running of (and yes, there has to be a better way to say that), showing the hull of said ship after the TARDIS had left, focusing on something significant on said hull.  In this case, a crack like the one in Amy’s wall… And I will confess it took reading it elsewhere for me to realize that the crack shouldn’t have been moving with the ship, based on what the Doctor said upon examining the first one.

Something I didn’t know, which adds resonance to the episode: “This episode aired just weeks before they’re about to have a general election in Britain.”  (I stupidly didn’t make a note of where I got that quote – sorry!)

So far, so good.  As of a couple of hours ago the third episode isn’t up On Demand yet; I have to say I’m looking forward to it.  The way the rest of the week’s gone, I half expect it to be a catastrophe, but – – only half.  Which is better than I’d hoped.

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2 Comments

  1. accountantgrrl said,

    You would be so proud of me…..I’ve started watching “Dr. Who”. Squeee!!!!

    • stewartry said,

      *squees back* Oh cool! I AM proud of you! We must discuss soon.

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