Doctor Who: XI and the Mysterious Metal Manservants

May 22, 2010 at 5:06 pm (BBC, Geekery, TV) (, , , , , , )

I’m behind on my Who, so rather than post about all three episodes I just watched in one excruciatingly long post, I’ll make it two painfully long posts, or – depending on how much I have to say about “The Time of Angels”, three alarmingly long posts.  Probably three.  I’d like to get back into the pattern I started out in; here’s hoping.

It’s hard to put a finger on it, somehow, the difference in the way the Doctor is portrayed.  Besides the obvious new face – and age – of course.  Three episodes in a row, a concentrated dose of Matt Smith, kind of helps.

First off, I think the verdict (on the Doctor alone) is, overall, favorable, although I made a note to myself while watching “Victory of the Daleks”:  Still not used to MS … It will take a while yet.  Matt Smith is a very fine actor, and I enjoy his voice; he’s got an odd face and unusual, clear eyes, and a mobile mouth, and on the whole he suits.   Thank God and Stephen Moffat.  At this stage I just don’t see myself getting as attached to him as I was to 9, much less 10.

Ah – I believe it was the SFX review in which they described 11 as a sulky, gawky teenager in geeky old-professor clothes. That almost hits it exactly, and tallies with something I was thinking but wasn’t sure wasn’t me still stuck in “my GOD he’s young” mode. He can act very young indeed, or very old … within seconds.

And another note I have to myself is “V bossy” – But which Doctor isn’t?

This Doctor is harder-edged.  10 was sharp and fierce and grieving.  He let off sparks – humor, compassion, rage.  11 is more physical in his anger, I think, and quicker to anger – where with 10 we sometimes saw a rage that was always simmering below the surface – my people were murdered! – 11 goes from cool to blazing hot in less than an instant.  He talks more than 10 – which is a stunning accomplishment; I should figure out a way to do a word count, and see if it truly is so or just seems like it because 11 just streams off words in long continuous barely punctuated paragraphs.  The 10th Doctor talked a very great deal too, but again it was like shooting off sparks – lots of them.  Well, there it is, I think – that difference I was trying to pin down.  This is subject to change without warning, but 10 was sort of umber and gold – dark darks, but filled with glints of light, and always warm.  11 is more sort of a cool brown shot with red – generally cooler, perhaps thinking less of others, with unpredictable moments of fury.
I’ll figure it out.  Eventually.

Meanwhile, I’m behind on my Who; as I said, I watched three the other night night, Thursday being a bit emptier now that the madness that was “Survivor” is over.  On which subject: Since almost the beginning I’ve been wishing for this season of “Survivor” on dvd, so that I could sit and watch it slowly and take notes, because I want very badly to write a fantasy novel based on the “Heroes vs. Villains” theme. There were parts that could be used almost verbatim. Someday.  Seriously.

Heh – to differentiate him from the other Matt Smiths in the database, imdb has ours listed as “Matt Smith (XI)”. Perfect.

VICTORY OF THE DALEKS (second viewing)

Not a cheery title, that.  You go into it knowing that the Daleks are back – again (as I think I’ve said, they’re more durable than twinkies or cockroaches).  Then it’s only a matter of waiting to see when they’d show up, and Mark Gatiss (the writer) intelligently didn’t hold off too long.  (A review I found somewhere expressed disappointment at the “early reveal” – but what would be the point of delaying it?  Look at the episode title again…)  I’m not too sure I like the phone line direct from the Prime Minister, though it made for a cute scene (“Which Prime Minister?” “The British one.” “Which British one?”) Then again, why not?  He’s obviously well known to the British government; I wonder if JK Rowling had anything like this in mind when she had the Minister of Magic showing up in new PMs’ offices.  I wonder when else (which incarnations) Churchill has worked with the Doctor; he seems to have a very long history with him, judging from the bit with the key and Churchill’s familiarity with “having a bit of work done”.

It is announced that German aircraft are flying in.
Churchill: “Out of range?”
“Normally, sir, yes.”

It’s odd – I did a bit of poking about, and I can’t find out the name of the dark-haired girl (WREN?  Or was that US?  Oh dear) whose lover was a flyer in danger.  I’ll have to watch it again, but I don’t think she was ever called by name (except at the end, when it sounded like “Miss Preen’s young man didn’t make it”); the credits list “Blanche” and “Lilian”, but I don’t know which was who.  I did see one review where someone said they expected the endangered boyfriend to be a more important part of the episode, and so did I.  And, like that other person, I thought at first that “Danny Boy” was bound to be the boyfriend – it’s a classic storytelling move.  He wasn’t; the boyfriend died over the Channel at the end of the episode.  It felt like that tiny little subplot was either a part of something bigger – part of the Pandorica thing, somehow? – or was just an odd quirk of storytelling.  And, not being rude, an unnecessary one; we didn’t to know Blilian well enough to care at all that her love was killed; she didn’t have enough presence in the episode to give it any impact whatsoever.  I would love to see it wind up meaning something – but I doubt it. But hey, if the lack of ducks on the Leadworth duck pond can be significant, why not this?

The Doctor was late again – not infallible, this regeneration, not hardly.  Only a month this time, at least; I wonder how things would have gone if he’d shown up at that earlier stage, when Churchill was more uncertain about the “Ironsides” – what would the outcome have been?

“It’s a Type 40 TARDIS, I’m just running her in” – huh?  Oh.  It’s always been a Type 40; I was just thrown by why he’s making that excuse now. Sweetie, I don’t think it’s the TARDIS.

Sorry as I was to see the Daleks back – for the Doctor’s sake, I mean – it was good to see 11 meet the archenemy.  Daleks are the one subject on which he will brook no argument, allow not the smallest hint of yield.  He’s 906 – sorry, 907 years old, and he’s been fighting the Daleks for most of those years (Gallifreyan years? Or is he tailoring his age for the humans he talks to, and he was born when it was 1103 here?  Wait.  Time traveler.  Er.) – “They are my oldest and deadliest enemy” (I doubt it would take long to find a blog somewhere where someone’s done a body count and a timeline to verify or disprove that) and he knows them as only a worst enemy can.  There was no other way he could have reacted to the Daleks in Churchill’s bunker, and they knew that – which means, of course, that they know *him* as only a worst enemy can.

Amy didn’t recognize the Daleks, didn’t remember them or the planets in the sky … It’ll be interesting to see how much of RTD’s timeline will be unwritten – or not.  That word, “unwritten”, will come back in a big way in “Flesh and Stone”, in a big way that gives me a chill.

How does a Dalek make tea, exactly?  Being thumbless?  Their own controls are engineered for the suction cup limbs they generally sport – how would a Dalek operate a human-designed teapot?  Along with from that genuine curiosity, the whole situation also had enormous absurd humor: “Would you like some tea?”  One of the funniest lines in the episode – which I didn’t see anyone else quoting, and I wasn’t sure I heard right, so I *will* need to see this again, was as the Doctor started whaling away at the one Ironsides:  “You do not require tea?”  Hee.

Amy: “Well, what does he expect us to do?”
Churchill: “KBO, of course.”

I liked the watchman yelling “Oi! Put that light out!” Given what was coming next, it was a nice little reminder that blackout conditions prevailed.

I liked Amy calling Bracewell “Paisley boy”. He did too. I liked Prof. Edwin Bracewell.

With that gravity bubble, why hasn’t Britain had a space program? Or was that part of what the Doctor destroyed at the end?

The Doctor holds up the, er, self-destruct (I thought it was a donut for a second, but that’s not very British), and looks into the Dalek’s eyestalk: “Don’t mess with me sweetheart!”  I think I was about the only person who hated that line.  Ah well.

“Scientist, strategist, drone, eternal, and the SUPREME!” – Gosh, they’re like Federation Daleks now! Look out, red Dalek!  Don’t let them send you on away missions!  I’ve seen them compared to Lego, Kitchenaid, and Teletubbies, and also called iDaleks … I lean toward a Skittles comparison.  “Taste the deadly rainbow!”  If only there was a purple Dalek.  “Scientist, strategist, drone, eternal, supreme, and decorator!”  “Nice paint job. I’d be feeling pretty swishy if I looked like you.”  *snert*  I’ve read that they’re now taller – probably partly to match up to 11’s height, and partly to accomodate the drivers better; they’ve always been rather cramped, I take it.

So the Doctor will blow up too if he uses the TARDIS self-destruct?  “Occupational hazard.”  Right enough.  Excellent line.

It wasn’t a donut, but I was close! “All right, it’s a jammie dodger, but I was promised tea!” Brilliant.

The Spitfire space battle was awfully Star Wars – sounded like it, looked like it.  Again, elsewhere on the ‘net I saw a mild protest against the silliness of the premise, to which someone replied along the lines of “we’re talking about a show that features a blue box that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside that travels through space and time…”

Um. I know this is an age-old sort of a question, but … why didn’t the Doctor just hustle Bracewell into the TARDIS and whip him out into space (preferably near the Dalek ship)?  It wouldn have been sad, of course, as he was a fun cyborg and quite a nice fellow, torn up about what he really was – but honestly I would think under the circumstances 11 would have been better off using him to blow up the Daleks, and then feeling a bit badly about the Professor later.  I mean, too, what on Earth – literally – is this big old cyborg gonna do now?  Go look up Dorabella (“Dorabella?!”)? Seriously?  “What this?  Oh, my hand was shot off in … battle, yes, that’s it.  The, er, circuitry and wiring is, um … prosthesis.  Didn’t work.  Still in development.”  He drank tea, so possibly he has enough human … functions to pass under close scrutiny, but … he’s not going to die of old age, is he?  Or is he?  Battery failure or something?  And how will he avoid contaminating the planet’s technology with the inventions he may (or may not) be capable of?  Which isn’t to say that since the Doctor didn’t let him blow up he could hardly decommission him at the end, even if he should – but.

“Shall we say adieu?” Doctor? That’s the permanent-ish one. Unless you don’t plan on seeing Churchill again…

The Iwo Jima recreation was very peculiar; the original was US soldiers, and they had just won the battle to occupy the island for the next twenty-odd years.  These guys hadn’t finished winning anything, yet, and in fact had lost their most powerful weapon … Huh. 

Amy:  “So, you have enemies, then?”
The Doctor:  “Everybody’s got enemies.”
Amy:  “Yeah, but mine’s the woman outside Budgens with the mental Jack Russell. You’ve got, you know, archenemies.”
 – Again referring to SFX’s review blog, someone pointed out that this all wasn’t exactly what Amy Pond signed up for.  She remembered her raggedy Doctor, and probably expected a romp.  It’s doubtful she ever anticipated her life to be endangered on an almost daily basis … She didn’t anticipate monsters. 

I’m not terribly happy about the Doctor taking the wrong tack with Bracewell and Amy Pond once again being the one with the intuition and empathy to step up and save the world.  Again.  It’s beginning to seem like in every episode the Doctor plunges ahead with an arrogant I’m-the-Doctor-so-of-course-I’m-right plan, and just before it fails utterly and the world ends Amy steps in with something brilliantly intuitive.  And then we see a crack in the universe.  They really, really need to break at least the former  pattern. 

And speaking of patterns, and Daleks …  I really should start knitting again. 



1 Comment

  1. Geekiness+Hobby=Obsession « Hand Stitch said,

    […] By taking pen to paper, one laid the foundation for almost all of modern engineering (and technology) and the other established the equivalence of matter and energy and made nuclear energy possible. (Picture below: Courtesy of Walk in the Dust.) […]

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