Doctor Who?

What have you been watching?

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:18 am

Fear not, Marc, I'm gonna be giving my thoughts on every episode in this season. It gives me extra incentive to actually watch the show somewhat regularly, which I've felt less and less like doing since Series 9.

Onward to "Rosa".

Spoiler: show
First off, I just want to say that Whitaker continues to improve as the Doctor. She felt really solid in this episode -- in particular, I loved her giddy excitement over Space Klansman's weird suitcase. And Vinette Robinson is great as Rosa Parks, though I can't go any further into her performance than "great" as I'm typing this up at a very late hour and want to get all of my thoughts out before I collapse.

Now. This episode's about Jim Crow-era racism, and judging by the quality of the season so far and Doctor Who's previous attempts to tackle racism in recent years, I wasn't confident at all that it would be any good one way or the other. Credit where credit is due: for all the problems I have with this episode, this feels like a pretty potent picture of my country just a scant sixty-three years ago, and it doesn't too often pander for political relevance. A lot of the displays of overt racism were predictable and not all that compelling to me, but they showcased it and they made it feel as grim and disgusting as it should be. It's laid on a little too thick at times, but this episode has a very clear educational bent like old-ass bits of Classic Who, and I can imagine very young kids who don't know anything about this stuff getting something important out of it. And that's good. That's really, genuinely good.

But I will always champion this: something being "important" doesn't automatically mean it's good work. And when I say that, I'm trying my best to ignore my usual displeasure at all of the lunatics I've seen in reviews and forums preaching that this is a unique and bold episode full of issues that no other time travel show has ever tried to tackle before -- fuck off with that, have y'all ever watched a time travel show? Have y'all ever watched PREVIOUS EPISODES OF THIS SHOW? Blech. Anyway. To the nitty-gritty of the ep. As Marc covers, the plot here was pretty thin gruel and not much actually happens, so I'm bouncing around as my notes go.

To start, it really stuck in my craw how everyone seemed to constantly forget where -- and when -- they were. From the minute the Doctor said they'd landed in a Southern state in 1955, Ryan (and to a slightly lesser extent, Yaz) should've been on eggshells. I just don't buy that two people who have experienced racism in the modern day would be so cavalier about walking around and interacting with white people there and then. And then there are multiple times where Ryan is entrusted with an important job someone else could reasonably accomplish, even though it's already been clearly demonstrated that his skin color makes him a big flashing target, but no one ever brings up how dangerous it is -- the closest we get is the Doctor telling him urgently to "be careful" at one point. It actively sabotages the atmosphere of danger that should've been building, and it's one of the main reasons why I was never immersed.

I made a note of something that's entirely personal, but still bugs me. I didn't care for the invocation of Emmett Till's murder and then just having it brushed off with "they found his body in the river". This is a family show and this episode was, again, clearly meant for younger viewers, but I don't feel comfortable with how underplayed it is. What was done to Till was one of the highest atrocities of the Jim Crow era, and learning about it in my youth was one of the first times I felt genuine shame for my country. Any adult viewing the episode should know that Till was savagely beaten, mutilated, secured to a wagon wheel with barbed wire, etc, etc, fucking etc, all before getting shot and dumped like an animal -- but it doesn't feel like the people in the show's world know that. It just... irks me a little. Moving on.

It was pretty weird to me that Ryan spent much of the first part of the episode getting the history of racism and Civil Rights explained to him, while the elderly white Graham was consistently the most knowledgable and visibly disgusted by it. The show does justify the latter, admittedly, and part of the reason I don't buy much about Ryan is that Tosin Cole's performance still isn't making much of an impact for me. And don't get me wrong, I am glad they didn't go the most predictable routes with each companion in this setting. But it's still an odd thing that keeps popping up throughout the episode.

But now for one of the biggest problems: Chibnall is batting three for three on shitty villains working inside thin, narratively unsound stories. Krasko, time-traveling bigot fuckhead extraordinaire, is a boring thug whom I was never able to take seriously (and not just because he looks so much like Mac from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia trying to be cool). He has no personality and no unique gimmick, and his casual mention that he killed 2,000 people to get incarcerated doesn't make him sound dangerous, it makes him sound forced and unbelievable; you can't just have your random bad guy be personally responsible for a body count worth 2/3rds of 9/11 and have that be a tossed-off detail that's never elaborated on.
But worst of all is that he's a white supremacist from so many centuries into the future. This actively pisses me off, because the idea that we'll still be fighting the same old racial divisions well into a time of mingling with actual aliens strikes me as so unbelievable, ill-thought out, simple-minded, and plain pandering that his every appearance took me right out of it. And that's just from a perspective of pure logic, not how badly it grinds up against my optimistic worldview for the space-faring future. It feels like they just wanted to see what would happen if a racist bastard got his hands on a time machine, but would it not have been much simpler to just have some modern-day skinhead fumble his way into possession of alien tech?

Probably the thing I liked most about this episode was that unlike the previous two, it's full of lovely little character moments to make up for the paper-thin plot. Yaz and Ryan sitting behind the dumpster and chatting about the discrimination they face in the present somehow doesn't feel nearly as unnatural or pandering as Klansko, and Yaz's brief monologue on the bus about whether she's expected to sit in the White or Colored section finally gave Yaz something meaningful to do. And in the climax, my heart nearly broke for Graham when he was forced to be the random white man who got Rosa kicked off the bus, after a whole episode spent establishing how passionate he is about the subject. The last one is genuinely the most creative thing to come out of these first three episodes combined, which is great for the moment and a bad tiding for the series.

The group's separate plans to counter Krasko's manipulation amused me at first, but I'm with Marc in that they dragged on to the point of tedious absurdity. I did appreciate Blake's escalating frustration and confusion at seeing Graham popping up everywhere, but that ultimately didn't go anywhere. And after just watching this video today, it irritated me to see Chibnall once again relying on a ticking countdown to juice the story with tension, albeit this time not a completely visible one. Let's see just how many times he does that over the course of his tenure.

Back to Krasko, and to what might be the thing I most hate about this ep. Ryan deals with Krasko not with words or smarts, but by using his own time-displacement gun against him and stranding him in what we can only assume to be prehistory. There are many problems with this, but I'll boil down my biggest ones.

1) Just like Tim Shaw, it technically leaves him open to reappearing if Chibnall just can't get enough of the guy. The show has bullshitted its way out of much harsher fates for characters than merely being flashed offscreen to a date Ryan can only estimate, and I obviously don't want him to pollute any further stories.

2) Sending a time manipulating villain way back in time is just a logical bad move, no? Yes, he'll almost certainly die if he doesn't bullshit his way out, but who's to say he couldn't vengefully go around stomping on as many butterflies as he can in hopes of dramatically altering the future? He has the convenient neural implant stopping him from killing a human being should he encounter their prehistoric ancestor, but his mere presence could and should be fundamentally damaging to the proper flow of history. Unless he was sent so far back that Earth hadn't even evolved flora or fauna yet, which... jeez, Ryan.

3) Most pressingly, the Doctor warned Ryan not to mess with the time gun, but then he went and did it anyway, and when he told the Doctor, she might as well have just laughed it off. What Ryan did was tremendously unethical, tantamount to murder, even for someone as loathsome as Krasko. And given that the Doctor previously lost Amy and Rory to exactly this sort of sudden forced time displacement, shouldn't she be even more furious with him? Doesn't this breach every code of ethics she has?

This last one is somehow a problem that's haunted all three episodes so far, and I can't ignore it. There's a hypocrisy in these characters regarding violence and its implementation, enabled by implausibly lazy writing that shouldn't have made it past the first drafts of any of these stories. The Doctor uses Tim Shaw's DNA bombs against him in a move that very well could melt him to death, and at the very least causes him excruciating pain, and then immediately gets pissed at the guy who punts Shaw off the crane for being unnecessarily violent. She dramatically chides Ryan for using a gun on the robots instead of solving the problem with his brain, and then solves the problem of the evil blankets by blowing them all up with acetylene. Now she makes a big show of telling Ryan how deadly and horrible the time gun is and that he should absolutely never use it, and then he goes and uses it -- condemning a man to death -- and it's accepted as a perfectly reasonable solution. This is unacceptable writing. I'm not sure Chibnall even gets the Doctor's code or beliefs beyond the most basic surface level.

Blech. Anyhow, the episode closes on Parks's protest and arrest, followed by a nice little educational epilogue for the children, and then a corny but I guess fine shot of the asteroid named after Parks. All good. What is not fine is the choice to back Parks's arrest to the insipid and overplayed inspiro-pop ballad "Rise Up", instead of, say, an actual protest song from the period. It's pandering shit, but it's not the worst pandering shit. It's just deeply annoying and made me feel like an old man waving my cane at the hip young kids.

The next episode is about spiiiiiideeeeeers! Woooowwwowowowoowowooooooo spooky! Then again, I'm a serious arachnophobic, so maybe it'll work on me.
  • 4

"Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it." - Eclipse Phase

Game Review: TALES OF XILLIA

Anime Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 3

KEEP FIGHTING FOR NET NEUTRALITY
User avatar
KleinerKiller
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1801
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 pm
Location: Newfoungengzealaustrermany
Show rep
Title: Prick With A Pen

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Australia » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:03 pm

I just wrote a thousand words on Daredevil so I'm not gonna bother with an in-depth review of a throwaway episode of Who that better writers than me just analysed, but I'd be close to calling the episode boring if it wasn't for the fact that I'm still background watching Yawning Dead, and the biggest thing to happen so far this season is Rick reading a book to a kid, which a non-boring show would at least make tense because a zombie could attack at any second but such a non-boring thought hasn't occurred to that show in years.

Anyway, the classic Quantum Leap episode where he jumps into a black guy in the fifties managed to tackle racism from that era and have an actual plot and that show didn't have the alien tech or literal monsters Who has, so they could have crammed a lot more threats or psuedo-science into the event rather than basically having the characters be spectators. Episode was fine, but my takeaway will be choosing to believe when The Doctor isn't saving the world and Lordsplaining ethics, she's vandalising London and that's like her one vice.

Also, I wish there'd been a coda where the cop visited his nephew and said, "It's your uncle, Marvin. Marvin Jobs? You know that new phone design you've been doodling? Well, listen to this idea!" Because I assume all the time travelling characters who introduce themselves as famous people just watched the Back to the Future trilogy (because anyone in any universe who hasn't is obviously a villain), even though I'm sure it was done before that. It is one of my favourite tropes though, so I'm glad Graham got a go at it.

So obviously I'm the one looking at the serious moments of Doctor Who unlike Marc and Kleiner who are just talking about someone sitting on a bus.
  • 2

YamI JamesT Eyebrows Edgar Logan Eric Michael Tess Sunny Notch Kate Jamish Lao Carp Moo FaceCitizen Aquila Nisi Qinglong Chaise Nullbert NotCIAagent JackRoad Delta MURDA Bert Czar Ambi JulyJack Adric Marcuse SilverMaple Nudge 52xMax Damiana Doma Pumpkin Toy Fry Andro Carrie Snarky Royal RLG Pikajew Windy skooma Kleiner Java Sellers Piter Gisarmbards Grimstone Recluse Esteban Syrup Krashlia Twistappel MacReady Funkotron mcfooty Pseudoman Creepy Kivutar nerd Ladki Jim Youghurt satan GL Angler
Halfheaditary
User avatar
Australia
Resident Dickhead
Resident Dickhead
 
Posts: 4167
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:15 pm
Location: Take a wild guess
Show rep
Title: Char-lie Graham

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby ghijkmnop » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:28 pm

Psychic paper would have nullified that entire hotel scene. Also-- did the last four docs constantly have their mouth agape? I honestly can't remember, but am really noticing it on Thirteen. Probably a male gaze-related, old man foible on my part.
  • 0

Erogenous zones, I love you.
Without you, what would a poor boy do?
User avatar
ghijkmnop
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1911
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 8:22 am
Show rep
Title: Oldest member of TCS

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Marcuse » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:15 pm

The Doctor Who Youtube channel does one of these for every villain now. Presumably to give Yas something to do.



I'd like to draw attention to the direct mention of how Krasko is dealt with, because it defies belief.
  • 2

User avatar
Marcuse
TCS Sithlord
TCS Sithlord
 
Posts: 6493
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:00 pm
Show rep

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby KleinerKiller » Wed Oct 24, 2018 9:01 pm

Marcuse wrote:I'd like to draw attention to the direct mention of how Krasko is dealt with, because it defies belief.


"Ryan displaced him in time. Quite right, too, seein' as his attitude belongs with the dinosaurs."

Image

The Doctor's primary antagonists are alien Nazi cyborg tanks fueled expressly by the sheer xenophobic hatred their culture feels for any race and species who aren't them, and they've murdered trillions throughout time and space. The secondary antagonists are people who turned themselves into machines and can't stop going on about how superior they are, a thinly-veiled metaphor for racial superiority and ethnic cleansing. Time after time after time, the Doctor has shown mercy and even empathy toward these monstrous beings and more despite beating them, demonstrating that innate kindness and intelligence will always triumph over hatred and ignorance.

But some greasy mass murderer from the 79th century who still inexplicably hates black people and believes everything went wrong with Rosa Parks*, and who never actually accomplishes more than inconveniencing the Doctor's companions for two days and shifting around the Montgomery bus schedule a bit? FUCK YEAH, LET HIM ROT IN PREHISTORIC HELL WHERE HE BELONGS

#wokeasfuck

* Which would be a bit like someone in 2018 having a violent and impassioned hatred for, say, Plato.

Say what you will about whether violence as a punishment is ever justifiable, I'm not getting into that right now. But a showrunner who believes that solving a problem with violence is not just fine, but often ideal, has absolutely no business running Doctor Who.
  • 4

"Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it." - Eclipse Phase

Game Review: TALES OF XILLIA

Anime Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 3

KEEP FIGHTING FOR NET NEUTRALITY
User avatar
KleinerKiller
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1801
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 pm
Location: Newfoungengzealaustrermany
Show rep
Title: Prick With A Pen

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Oct 30, 2018 6:12 am

Alright, let's crack on. It's time for "Arachnids in the UK" -- a good old-fashioned monster story, the likes of which are usually some of my favorite Doctor Who comfort food. And I'm a huge arachnophobe who is currently worried about the giant house spider that may have laid eggs somewhere in my house before I killed it, so this should work wonders on me.

Emphasis on should.

Spoiler: show
All right, let's get this out of the way, since it's the first scene. I hate President Donald J. Trump. Anyone who's seen me make any political post here knows that I loathe the childish, bigot-baiting fascist with a burning passion that I struggle to put into words. I am firm in the belief that he's destroying the country and the balance of the world, and practically every day I grow increasingly sure that neither of these will ever recover. He deserves to be scorned at every occasion. So when I criticize Doctor Who's insistence on constantly bringing up Trump or a Trump analogue or a Trump reference they think is clever, I feel the need to make it absolutely clear that I don't do it because I'm annoyed that they're mocking him.

We open this episode with the introduction of our latest and most thinly-veiled Trump stand-in, though this one is a bit puzzling. Jack Robertson is a massively successful American hotel chain owner who does a bunch of scuzzy business shit under the table, says "you're fired" very prominently as one of his first lines, loves gun violence, and is making a sickening presidential bid in 2020... and yet Trump also exists and is the president in this universe, and Robertson is making his presidential bid in direct opposition because he hates Trump to the point of being repulsed by the very mention of his name. Even though they're nearly identical individuals with functionally the same worldview and shit. It's nonsensical to the point of nearly compromising a plot that's not exactly sturdy to begin with, and his presence throughout the episode is never amusing outside of one funny bit where he's unexpectedly cooperative when the Doctor suddenly shows up. But, oh well. This is just business as usual. Moving along.

This is the requisite episode where the Doctor brings the companion/s home and offers them the chance to go back to their normal lives, and to the episode's credit, that side of the story is pretty strong. The tone at the start is very melancholy, and the sadness at Thirteen's realization that it simply must be over now is very effective, just as much as her failed attempts at small talk throughout the episode are. We get to see some of Yaz's family, who are quite fun and ought to have been in more of the episode (even her mother has a minimal presence despite being at ground zero of the monster stuff), though Yaz still feels like a half-sketched character without a lot to do or distinguish herself. And Graham's visit to his house where he's trying to healthily grieve his wife further showcases why Graham is the best of the new batch, even if Ghost Wife overdid it just a few degrees too much.

I like this part of the episode. It's good. It's entertaining, solidly written, and well acted all around, even if it doesn't feel much like Doctor Who proper. But that can't last forever, and so we move on to the actual episode.

After several ominous teases of big cobwebs, the reveal of a webbed-up corpse in a webbed-up flat is quickly followed by the introduction of our threat: a tarantula about the size of a large dog crawls out from under the bed. I wanted so badly to get the creepy-crawly feeling from this, but neither it nor any of the other spiders in the episode -- save the half-glimpsed one behind a hotel door a few minutes after this, and that was only a mild chill -- did anything for me. I'll forgive the dodgy CGI because that's just a Who staple, and the way they move is impressive for the budget, but they just never felt properly threatening or scary. Once again, more time is spent hyping up how dangerous the monster is than actually having it accomplish anything memorable. All they do is occasionally scurry after main characters and get stuck in things.

Anyway, after they're introduced, the Doctor hastily traces the spider to a genetics lab through the worker who was conveniently at the scene, and then traces them to Robertson's hotel via quick and convenient mapping. This gets us to the meat of the story: the Doctor's crew, Yaz's mom (who was fired by Robertson in the first scene), and Robertson stuck in the hotel and trying to stop the spiders. Good old "trapped in a place with a monster" plot, except in addition to the spiders not feeling like a threat, it barely feels like they're there at all. Robertson gets ambushed in the bathroom by the mama spider in a horrible, cartoonish scene, the mama spider then trounces around in the ballroom for a while, and at one point Graham and Ryan lure a dog-sized spider down a hall and trap it under a pot. Other than that, it never feels like the hotel is especially infested, and it's pretty safe wandering around for the majority of the runtime. If the "trapped in a place with a monster" never provides tension or the feeling of being trapped, it fundamentally fails. It's utilitarian execution, just like the planetside race with no complications and the 50s time manipulation battle where nothing of much interest happens.

After the bathroom attack and everyone getting together in the hotel's kitchen, the Doctor makes an Ed Sheeran reference by mistaking Robertson for him (because everyone's talking about them both, you see). I feel my youth slipping away from me episode by episode.

Further nothings happen, providing no major plot or character beats other than Jodie Whitaker just kind of being generally delightful with what little she's given (and Graham being awesome, and Ryan and Yaz doing nothing), we finally get to the sublevels of the hotel where the spiders are spreading out through subterranean tunnels. Here we get the answer to why the big spiders are happening, and it's about as grand as the answers to why there are dinosaurs on a spaceship or why an alien dropped the black cubes all over the place. Robertson built all of his hotels on massive underground landfills on the cheap, and all of the chemicals and fumes with nowhere to ventilate built up into a toxic miasma; meanwhile, the genetics lab was making super spiders for research and giving the carcasses to Robertson's company to dispose of, but Robertson's lackadaisical cost-cutting caused some spiders who weren't actually dead to be thrown into the miasma, suddenly mutating them by comic book logic. Yeah. It's a dumb explanation that kind of makes the whole story feel without point or purpose, so the mystery is a wash as well.

(Now, insects and arachnids could grow to tremendous size in the right atmospheric conditions, as seen in prehistoric times where the air was much more carbon-rich. The episode chooses to skip right over this far simpler idea and instead says that the experiments and mutations dramatically extended the spiders' lifespans, and because spiders grow larger the longer they live, they naturally grew this big. Feh.)

But then we get to Robertson's panic bunker, where the episode really falls to pieces. Because this episode continues the infuriating trend of Chibnall's tenure: the hypocrisy toward a violent or cruel solution. Robertson goes gung-ho on the guns just so the Doctor can have another on-the-nose anti-gun speech, and then they instead settle on the solution to "give them a peaceful, natural death" by... luring them all into the bunker and sealing them inside until they die of old age. The thing is, Chiball:

1) That wouldn't so much be giving them a "peaceful death" as condemning them to cannibalize each other until the last survivors starve to death. It is, in actuality, a far crueler fate than just going with Robertson's plan and exterminating them all quickly with very sharp and sudden lead projectile attacks.

2) The bunker has air filtration -- so the Doctor can safely say she isn't mass suffocating them -- so there's no real way of guaranteeing the spiders don't find a way out into the tunnels again. It's not like anyone's going to be conducting maintenance, after all, and these spiders will live for a good long time if they don't eat each other right off the bat.

3) THE DOCTOR OF OLD WOULD'VE AT LEAST TRIED TO SAVE THE SPIDERS AND TRANSPORT THEM SOMEWHERE OFF-WORLD THEY CAN LIVE PEACEFULLY. Fucking... ugh. Yes, the Doctor has solved many problems with cruel or even violent solutions (hell, when Ten dealt with spiders, he let them all drown in a pit), but it has never been the first plan pitched. It's always the last resort and the Doctors have never reveled in it. RTD and Moffat mostly understood this. Chibnall very clearly does not.

But no, they lure in all of the spiders throughout the tunnel system by blasting some awful dubstep-rap and successfully seal them inside without much trouble or even effort, and that's where we forget about the spider problem entirely with the exception of the mother. Yeah, after they deal with the mother in the next scene, the story just sort of ends with no real aftermath and we're suddenly back to the "will they stay or leave?" plot. More on that shortly.

The group stumble upon the mother spider still stuck in the ballroom, having grown so large that she's now unable to breathe effectively and is slowly suffocating to death. This is why I haven't nitpicked the biology of the spiders beyond the problem of the square/cube law; I had a note about the problem of arachnids having lungs, but they at least addressed it (it doesn't excuse the spiders of similar size existing, but oh well). They argue about what to do, but Robertson ultimately pushes forward and makes a grandstanding speech about his election before putting it down with a single shot. Note that the Doctor hates him for it, but neither she nor any of the companions make any effort to stop him. Note also that the mother is now vulnerable to bullets after surviving many during the bathroom attack. Note FURTHER that Robertson makes a groan-worthy "fire and fury" reference before capping the beast.

And note still further that the show plays the mother spider's death as a big emotional moment we should feel outraged at Robertson about, even though it's just a big homicidal spider and the Doctor trapped all of its children in much crueler circumstances in the very last scene! Fuck off with all of that bullshit!

Anyways, yeah, that's where the story just abruptly stops and we cut back to the "stay or go" plot: Robertson walking away and Graham whispering "god help us" at the thought of him getting elected. We never address what happened to the spiders on the surface, who surely couldn't have been lured by the music miles away -- including the one left locked in the apartment from the start. We don't dwell any further on the entrapped spiders, or address what happened to the room-sized spider corpse and the many webbed-up human corpses on the grounds. The closest thing the episode has to a villain is never punished and just walks right out of the plot. There's never any further mention of the genetics lab or the toxic landfill situation. The main plot has no ending. It's as though the story wanted to forget about itself, and wants you to do the same. It's as though having to write this whole monster episode was an inconvenience for Chibnall.

Regardless, after checking back into their living circumstances, the companions all decide to rejoin the Doctor of their own accord. I do like Thirteen's clear anxiety over taking them on as full-time companions, as she's clearly going back over everyone she's lost over her lifetime and trying to make the risks clear to them. But they all go, and we're off to the races.

Next episode has a really vague teaser, but I guess everyone's trapped in a space hospital and shit's going bad? The look of it reminds me of "The Girl Who Waited", which in my opinion is one of the best episodes of Moffat's tenure (from what I remember, anyway), so there's a high bar to meet. I'm sure the Doctor will deal with whatever the enemy is by shooting them into space and laughing as they freeze to death.


We're four for four on episodes I'd put somewhere in the "B- to C+" range. Nothing is miserably bad like the worst of RTD's or Moffat's eras (the nadir of Series 10 in particular still haunts me), but so far Chibnall's episodes lack the spark either of them brought to the table. It's just so very mundane and non-compelling, and he's clearly more comfortable writing grounded family drama in the vein of Broadchurch or "The Power of Three" than he is with the sci-fi elements. And given that he seems to be sticking to this firmly neutral holding pattern, I have little hope at this point for things to change within this season.

a brief thing about the companions
Why is the show thus far refusing to go into any of the unique details of the companions' lives, except for Graham's marriage and grief?

Aside from a momentary remark from her father in this episode, Yaz being a police officer has meant exactly nothing to her character or the events she's caught up in. She never makes use of her training, or exercises authority, or even just maintains a cool head in a crisis. For all intents and purposes, she might as well be a random civilian they pulled off the street. And Ryan's dyspraxia bafflingly hasn't come up either, despite such a big deal being made out of it all throughout the premiere.

Judging by the politics of the series, the former might be because they don't want to associate Yaz with the cops, either on the belief that it would make her less sympathetic or to avoid pissing off their thinkpiece-writing, .gif-sharing online audience. But I have no explanation for the sudden absence of a physical impairment that should be affecting him in all of these precarious crises, pretty much the only thing that made Ryan unique. Without these details, Yaz and Ryan are just... plodding around, basking in the glow of Thirteen and Graham.
  • 4

"Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it." - Eclipse Phase

Game Review: TALES OF XILLIA

Anime Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 3

KEEP FIGHTING FOR NET NEUTRALITY
User avatar
KleinerKiller
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1801
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 pm
Location: Newfoungengzealaustrermany
Show rep
Title: Prick With A Pen

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby ftl » Tue Oct 30, 2018 4:10 pm

My wife and I mostly loved the huge spiders. We like spiders, and there were lots of cute scuttling guys around!

And the Doctor was great as always. I was a little dismayed to see Yaz's reasoning for leaving with the Doctor. Ryan and Graham's make sense - lost family, estranged from a jerk father... but Yaz's family seems just a bit annoying and that's it. Not really good reason to run away from them without even saying goodbye, justs saying you're off to get a loaf of bread.

Definitely agree that the solution to lock the spiders in a room seemed both a little contrived and not particularly nonviolent. Ah well.
  • 4

ftl
Commenter
Commenter
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:44 am
Show rep

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Marcuse » Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:56 am

Episode 4 - Arachnids in the UK

This review is late because...I just couldn't care enough.

Spoiler: show
A man in a room is a jerk to several people, for no discernible reason. The opening scene for this episode is notable in that I left it knowing nothing about what was going on, who any of the people were, or what the mystery is supposed to be. Obviously, with an on-the-nose title like Arachnids in the UK (even though there is precious little anarchy on show here so why the reference?) I know there's going to be spiders. But I found I learned nothing about the people, didn't know or care who they were and worse still, the scene didn't intrigue me in any way. It ends when a lady we don't know is "you're fired"'d which was what let me on; this is going to be Trump, isn't it?

Kleiner has pointed out that even someone who vehemently dislikes Trump can find the excessive and obvious references to him grating and annoying. I think from my perspective, I don't need a sci-fi TV show to tell me how to think politically. The kind of character assassination on show seems unnecessary. It also demonstrates how hard Chibnall is leaning into pandering to US audiences to promote BBC America. I have nothing wrong with stuff in the US, the Rosa Parks episode couldn't have been anywhere else, for example, but including stuff like fake-Trump in there just seems like trying to comment on the politics of somewhere else. My understanding was that the appeal of Who was that it was a British show, so detracting from that seems a mistake.

Take for example the "firing" of Yaz's mum at the start. Maybe that's how things work in America (I suspect it isn't there either), but in the UK it's not possible to just shout "you're fired" at someone and have them leave immediately. While I don't necessarily think it's a major point that ruins the episode, it definitely felt wrong to me.

The sub-plot with the companions getting home after some adventures was okay. It seemed strange to me that after a life or death confrontation with Tim Shaw, in which one of their number died, an enforced trek across a death world, and some dubious goings on in Alabama they would describe it as a "blast". I've often headcanon'd that companions like Rose and Clara etc have been adventuring in between episodes and we're only seeing the important ones. This doesn't feel like that very much (the Doctor mentions once they tried to get to Sheffield offscreen, but other than that there's no indication), and I'm struggling to believe that they actually had a good time being almost murdered all the time.

The spiders were okay. I won't say they were the scariest thing I've ever seen, but then I'm less scared of spiders the more old I get. The hotel really didn't feel infested except for that section where Graham and Ryan pot one of them and then a million come running after them. There were hints of menace here and there, but I felt like they played second fiddle to an extremely heavy handed attack on not-Trump. Kleiner pointed out that it makes no sense for this guy to be exactly like Trump and also hate Trump. My feeling is that this was a deliberate move to distance not-Trump from real Trump to avoid lawsuits. I read a review in Private Eye that suggested the toxic waste dump thing was a critique of fracking, but I think that's giving it too much credit. There wasn't a real environmentalism angle to the episode to justify that claim.

I though the companions were also woefully underused. Yaz in particular seemed to forget her status in present day Sheffield. When not-Trump confronts her when she arrives at the hotel, she could easily have said "I'm a police officer, thanks" when he's asking who she is. But instead she stands mute while he berates her mum and acts generally like a dick. I'm not a fan of a trained (trainee?) police officer not having any skills handling difficult situations or being able to talk down an angry moron, because that's like 85% of the job. Ryan also forgets his dyspraxia again, and Graham (despite spending time mourning the loss of his wife) forgets that she died and why to describe their adventures as a "blast". I get that subsequently it's helped him forget his grief, but they don't provide good enough writing to help a decent performance from Bradley Walsh (normally a game show host) to deliver a conflicted adult with less one-dimensional opinions of things.

I'm in agreement that the spider plot has no end. It seemed entirely purposed towards "proving" that the Doctor cares about life, by locking cannibalistic spiders in a place with no food. I'm assuming they can't open tins. The giant spider was very abruptly turned from a faceless elemental menace into a sympathetic being and it didn't work. It's a giant spider, and regardless of how much the show wanted to make not-Trump a gun toting dickhead it doesn't make me cry over the death of a giant carnivorous spider whose only prior interaction we had was literally eating people. Hell, Rusty had a more nuanced opinion of the Doctor than Cibnall seems to. Also, for a UK audience, the concept that guns are bad is not really in question so it falls really flat here. I really want to know what happens when that giant spider they abandoned in the flat two doors down from Yaz's flat gets out. Because last time I checked there's a dead body in there, and they start to smell after a while. Or the spider will eat it I guess. I wonder if the Doctor's reverence for life extends to the other people who live in that apartment block? Guess not. Theoretically at least, Yaz only said she was going to be popping out for some bread so they intend to come back close to when they left, but if they don't have to handle the last of the spiders in that return episode I will be disappoint.

Generally, this was a poor episode. It was drowning in political message it was aching to tell, and the story was the background to it, to the point where it didn't satisfactorily end. I don't need a TV show to tell me Trump is a dick, I need TV shows to tell me about something I don't see in real life.
  • 3

User avatar
Marcuse
TCS Sithlord
TCS Sithlord
 
Posts: 6493
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:00 pm
Show rep

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Marcuse » Mon Nov 05, 2018 1:07 am

Episode 5 - the Tsuranga Conundrum

Double pooooost.

Spoiler: show
Boy does Chibnall write every episode this series? Say what you like about Moffat, he didn't stick his hands into every episode like this. But this time we're in space, we catch up with the gang after having the kind of offscreen adventures I've mentioned in my episode 4 review, on a junk planet doing something with modified metal detectors. I never quite caught what it was, per se, but it seems really important so I'm sure this will...oh a bomb.

This one is a sonic bomb, so presumably it doesn't do wood. This is likely why the companions were basically unharmed by it. Nevertheless, the Doctor wakes up all wonky in some futuristic medbay. She's basically fine except for some "oh me aching tummy" doubled over hunching, but they carry on with it way too long. It's too long because it doesn't actually affect the plot, and so is little more than an annoyance. Jodie sells it, but to no real plot end.

They're on a medical ship run by two people whose names the regular cast say far too often for it to make sense, which I still can't remember. There's a dude who has experience, and a woman who has less. There's also a pregnant man (???), a famous general, her (sex?) android and her surly engineer brother. There is also a tiny evil alien that can jettison escape pods to ensure the crew die, but appears to act on nothing but instinct.

Basically there's three plots here: Ryan and Graham get to help the pregnant man give birth and come to terms with the idea of being a parent while simultaneously being the archetypical useless male stereotype. They do this so Ryan can have a tiny character moment where he complains yet again about his archtypical absent dad and then convince this guy not to be that guy.

The general is sicker than she's letting on, and ends up having to give her life to save the ship. The android is covering for her and her brother suspects but doesn't know what's wrong. She's in denial and doesn't want to admit she has an imaginary illness called "pilot's heart" which we find out next to nothing about. Her species and affiliation doesn't appear to be a reference to anything, and it's hard to care about her. Her brother is similarly anonymous, and the android is literally anonymous (he has a name but is not explained in the least).

The Doctor and Yaz get to fight the alien, the Pting. It's a joke. A tiny goofy looking alien with all the menace of a sleepy toddler, it undercuts all the menace of its introduction by being rather cute. But apparently this thing is insatiably hungry, indestructible and toxic to touch. So the Tsuranga conundrum is how to get this thing off the ship when you can't just pick it up and chuck it out the airlock, nor can you just turn up at base because they'll blow you up. It all feels very alien by way of a pre-school, and ends in much the same way with the alien blown out an airlock.

The big problem is that almost all the episode is predictable and as a result rather boring. They make some stupid decisions based on what they're saying. The Doctor insists they travel through a dangerous asteroid field to get back to base faster (despite the general being incurable and the bloke having given birth) even while planning to launch the Pting into space. Surely she might need more time to do this, not less? Doing so condemns the general to death for no reason. The android is verbally identified as immune to the toxic skin of the Pting, but when they do grab it he allows Yaz to grab it with nothing more than a blanket which works completely and has no consequences. After setting up a dramatic tension with the less well experienced medic being left alone to handle the patients, the episode never shows her in trouble because her mini plot is subsumed in the need for Ryan and Graham to crack pop-culture jokes amid the medical emergency. The other medic is suicidally stupid, to the point where the dialogue calls him walking into an empty escape pod to be jettisoned and blown up a "rookie mistake". No shit walking into a place where you can be easily killed with a button press is stupid. But it's even sillier because by the end the doctor doesn't even think the Pting did this deliberately, it just happened to break both the escape pods together and then happened to trigger the only working one with a guy in it and rig it to explode too.

The last thing that bothered me was that the Doctor spent a long time very upset at having lost the TARDIS, being very distraught at the thought she had left it behind on the junk planet. But by the end of the episode nothing happened to resolve this and she seemed to even have forgotten about the whole issue. The next episode is set in the past so I guess we're supposed to assume she got it back, but why not have that be a plot point if you're going to spend a good ten minutes having her complain about not having the TARDIS?

Overall this episode felt more like a doctor who episode. It didn't have those faux hero moments where they played stupid hero music and the doctor saved them all with the power of awesome. But on the other hand the plots either didn't make sense or I didn't care enough about the characters to give a shit when they died. The monster was poor and silly and an alien ripoff, while the companions once again had little to do. I'm not really sure where this is going.
  • 3

User avatar
Marcuse
TCS Sithlord
TCS Sithlord
 
Posts: 6493
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:00 pm
Show rep

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby ghijkmnop » Tue Nov 06, 2018 3:33 am

Some silliness.

Spoiler: show
When the computer warned about the Pting, all I think of was this:

  • 2

Erogenous zones, I love you.
Without you, what would a poor boy do?
User avatar
ghijkmnop
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1911
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 8:22 am
Show rep
Title: Oldest member of TCS

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Nov 06, 2018 8:00 am

"The Tsuranga Conundrum" is dumb and I don't really want to write anything about it but I will anyway.

Spoiler: show
We start in a junkyard of some sort, looking for things of some nature that aren't even given a cursory explanation, for reasons that are never quite clear, under circumstances we don't see, all so the plot can be rushed into starting but still feel like it's dragging. It's a Chibnall script, all right. Jesus, man, let someone else play with your toys already! You're clearly shit at writing sci-fi, you've proven it in every Who episode you've ever masterminded, so let someone with actual skill take a turn!

Also, once the Doctor realized the sonic mine they uncovered was counting down to detonate anyway, why would she not even try to jump away? The thing is going to blow up anyway, so there should be absolutely no harm in trying to minimize the damage. This is lazy writing to incapacitate her for the duration of the episode -- even though the plot ultimately doesn't change in any meaningful way because of her condition. Barely a minute in and we're at gold star quality.

Marcuse wrote:This one is a sonic bomb, so presumably it doesn't do wood. This is likely why the companions were basically unharmed by it.


I just want to highlight that this is a cleverer bit of writing than anything in the season so far.

We then get to the hospital ship, and I have to keep my eyes from glazing over. Just like "The Ghost Monument" and "Arachnids Do Nothing In the UK", this episode is super poorly structured and wastes a lot of time getting to a place that ultimately isn't worth the buildup. We can somewhat slice it into three parts: the Doctor shambling around trying to get back to the TARDIS while Dr. Sacrificial Lamb messes with her (the first 10-15 minutes), the Doctor learning about the strange alien on board while her companions tool around (the next 15), and then the actual meat of the plot kicking in almost at the exact halfway point of the episode. And while none of these chunks work particularly well, if at all, the first bit is especially egregious. It's not interesting to watch, it's a waste of time that probably could have been spent developing a character or two, and it reeks of just needing to fill time on a script.

I don't care about the pregnant alien man subplot. Some people on the internet are pissy about it because DA SJW AJENDUH, and some other people on the internet absolutely love it not because of its quality but because it made those first people mad, but in a vaccuum, it's just a waste of time with a weird character I didn't care about. It felt like a flailing first-draft excuse to have the companions do something useful, and given that this episode barely even makes the fucking Doctor feel useful, there's your barometer for how successful it is. Now, I like seeing unconventional humanist stories in sci-fi that bend social rules, but that alone is not enough for something to work. It has to be... you know, good and well-placed in the episode.

Also, between this and "The Ghost Monument", Chibnall really likes to have a couple of different species of aliens who all conveniently look and act exactly like humans with not even the slightest physical differences, just somewhat abnormal clothing. This is a particular kind of lazy hack writing that has no place in science fiction, and it's something that really gets on my fucking nerves.

Let's talk about Dr. Sacrificial Lamb, aka Astos. I kind of liked the idea of the Doctor having to contend with the authority of an actual medical doctor, but Astos is a character with all the depth and shading of a chalk outline, played by an actor who might as well have been sleepwalking. He's around for the duration of the first act but still feels like one of those characters who gets killed by the threat in the cold open, and his death scene, his fucking death scene...

When he wanders blitheringly into the escape pod for no reason right after the Doctor warned him that the other pod had ejected, gets trapped inside by the alien (which makes no sense given everything else we learn about the thing), and then blows up, it just doesn't work on any level. It's played as a big emotional moment, but since we don't care about Astos, it's out of place and tonally confused. It's also mind-blowing incompetence bordering on the level of hilarious slapstick, like that scene in Alien: Covenant where two genius space engineers manage to get themselves killed by a tiny newborn alien because they repeatedly slip on the same blood pool, take entirely contradictory actions in the span of minutes, fail to even hurt the tiny baby at point blank with a knife and a shotgun, and then the longer-lasting one manages to accidentally cripple herself and blow the entire ship up (clip is hugely NSFW, but if you can stomach the body horror, it's unintentional comedy gold -- and way more fun to watch and write about than this episode).

Anywho, Doctor Who, or the shambling shell that remains of it. We're introduced to the main enemy of the episode, and it's just Nibbler from Futurama or Stitch from Lilo & Stitch (it actually looks quite a bit like the latter). It's a cute little baby called a Pating or Pting or P'ting or something (I nicknamed it Putter for simplicity) that likes to eat technology. It could not possibly look less threatening, and while you might expect it to then do something to make it fulfill the "cute, but deadly" archetype, it mostly just totters around and sticks bolts in its mouth; Astos is its only casualty, despite a "Ghost Monument"-style list of unexplored and entirely irrelevant dangers related to it.

The subsequent long exposition dump because of a convenient data entry on the creature is beyond lazy writing. I don't care that this is a semi-common predator in the region and therefore it makes sense that people have written about it, this is not how you write a story. Fuck you.

I said it before, but I hate how Ryan has been boiled down to "angry kid with an absentee asshole dad", when his disability made him so potentially interesting despite his actor's shortcomings. Anyone willing to bet me on dyspraxia not even being mentioned until the season finale, if even then?

Finally, after lots of putzing and futzing around, we finally get to what should have been the main plot of the episode about half an hour in: getting close to the base that has their only hope of survival will result in them being warned to evacuate and then fired upon because of the dangerous predator aboard, but the ship has no means of evacuation without the jettisoned escape pods and they can't just toss Putter out of an airlock because his skin is toxic or something. Thus, the Doctor has to flex her brain muscles to figure out an answer to the episode's titular conundrum. If you've seen any Chibnall-penned episode before, particularly "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" where a nearly identical missile-based ticking clock is implemented, you can imagine how rich and satisfying the resolution to this semi-interesting puzzle is -- especially when he has to construct the setup and the payoff with barely thirty minutes to go.

Interesting note: when the Doctor learns that she's in the 67th century (by which point we're mingling with alien men who look identical to us but give birth, but there will still be a space Nazi in a few hundred years who still violently hates black people and also dresses exactly like we do today), she makes reference to "things getting tricky around the middle" but turning out alright in the end. I thought this might be a reference to a prior episode or something, but looking it up, it might actually be in reference to some pre-NuWho audio stories involving a galactic war with the Dalek Empire. If this is really what Chibnall meant to reference and it's not just a dumb throwaway line, I somewhat respect the deep cut.

Since Putter eats technology and the ship has an antimatter drive, the Doctor assigns Yaz and the creepy android (who's so nothing I didn't even make note of him or the other one-shot characters before now) to guard it. While doing this, she goes on a monologue about how much she admires the great leaps forward for human technology and how it's the "iPhone equivalent of the Large Hadron Collider", and I've got to say, this is the only scene in the episode I liked -- mainly because it's the first scene since the premiere where Thirteen has felt like her own unique Doctor, rather than just a generic Doctor-y amalgamate played by a wonderful actress. I want Chibnall to keep exploring "mad inventor who loves tech" as Thirteen's type, because any time Whitaker gets to play that up, it's great. But alas, Chibnall has not shown a great fondness for originality and creativity.

But after that good bit, there's a bit more pointlessness before Putter shows up in the drive chamber, only for Sexbot to stun it with an energy blast and Yaz to... grab it with a bag and carry it away, suffering no ill effects from the supposed skin toxin. Yeah, so, this one scene negates the entire plot the episode just spent time setting up. There is now no reason they can't just toss it into space right the fuck now -- it wouldn't even be another cruel or violent solution, since Putters live in the vacuum of space and they eventually do that anyway after letting it have its fill. The plot doesn't matter now. Straight up. Nice one, Chibnall, you finally settled on a thriller premise and then immediately walked it back without even realizing it. That. Takes. Effort.

Regardless. The Doctor comes to the conclusion that Putter actually doesn't care about the crew or the ship at all, it just wants the energy the tech provides. Leaving aside that this is so blindingly obvious from the start that it shouldn't be treated as a revelation (I can't believe nobody else ever realized this by accident or experimentation, since capturing and disposing of these hyper-deadly alpha predators takes one gun and any thick bag or blanket), notice how the "innocent animal just following its nature" hypothesis doesn't gel at all with the bit where it maliciously tricked Astos into a malfunctioning escape pod and then shut and launched it, as well as launching the other one just to trap the crew? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. YEAH.

*ahem*

The ultra-convenient reveals don't stop there, folks! It's abruptly revealed that the base is only lying about launching missiles; it actually destroys the ships via a hidden bomb in the antimatter drive that none of the crew knew about. The Doctor figures this out because the range of destruction is too far away for missiles, I guess. It feels really random and only exists so they can instantly kill two birds with one stone, removing the bomb (which is entirely safe to handle and has no safeguards against tampering) and luring Putter into eating it in the airlock right as it blows, giving it all of the energy it will need to remain fed for "a very long time" before sending it flying back into space. Glad as I am that Chibnall doesn't find a needlessly cruel solution again, the fact remains that the creature is nigh-invulnerable and will eventually get hungry again, so it's just kicking the can a few years or decades down the road.

Doctor Who's official creed: "Never cruel, nor cowardly."

Chibnall's creed: "If you can't kill it, make it someone else's problem."

Anywho, another side character dies at the end of her meaningless story, and her untrained brother is conveniently able to pilot the ship safely down to the base with his mind. The pregnant man gives birth and has an out-of-place but vaguely amusing bit where he questions why he would do the predictable thing of naming the child after Ryan and Graham, and the episode subsequently ends with creepy android... leading a prayer for his deceased captain/lover, I guess? I don't know. It's a super weird note to close on and I was struggling to pay attention.

It's worth noting that the Doctor made a huge deal about being separated from the TARDIS and someone potentially stealing or scrapping it on the junk world, but by episode's end, they haven't gotten back to it. Or if they did, it was so minor and sudden that I completely missed it.

Next episode deals with... Ye Olde Pakistan, I guess. I didn't quite catch the date it takes place in, it's either 1247 or 1547 or 1947, but it will focus on Yaz interacting with her ancestors as some nebulous and surely disappointing threat encroaches around them. I'm once again not left excited for what's next, but hey! It's one of four episodes in the season that won't be written by Chibnall! And maybe Yaz will FINALLY GET SOMETHING TO DO!


This took me way too long to write because I just kept drifting off in the middle of typing. Really speaks for the season.

Hey, Marc and anyone else who watches this show and reads this thread, since Chibnall's run so far has been a run of absolute boredom and stifling mediocrity, I feel like reflecting on the extremes: what are y'all's favorite and least favorite episodes of the whole show? Or at least of NuWho, if you've seen classic episodes?

After running my favorite of each series against each other, my all-time favorite is stuck at a three-way tie between the tense and superbly-paced character thriller "Dalek", common favorite "Blink", and the more contested Time Lord Victorious shithouse craziness of "The Waters of Mars", with the "Family of Blood" two-parter and "Vincent and the Doctor" as close runners-up.

As for the worst, there's no contest: "The Rings of Akhaten". While "The Lie of the Land" is a far worse episode overall and both end with an eerily similar "the power of Moffat's waifu's sheer love solves everything" groin kick, it came at a time when I'd already grown disillusioned with the show and capped off one of the worst three-parters ever. I still had faith when "The Rings of Akhaten" aired, and I've never felt more embarrassed and miserable watching Doctor Who than I did when Clara pulled out the leaf.
  • 3

"Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it." - Eclipse Phase

Game Review: TALES OF XILLIA

Anime Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 3

KEEP FIGHTING FOR NET NEUTRALITY
User avatar
KleinerKiller
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1801
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 pm
Location: Newfoungengzealaustrermany
Show rep
Title: Prick With A Pen

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby ghijkmnop » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:49 pm

Nit-pick

Spoiler: show
The bag was described as a medical/biohazard shielding bag.


Regarding the worst episode-- I've been watching this since it was on PBS back in the late 60's. I've never regarded it as high art, so I find myself far more forgiving toward these stories-- after all, I watched first-run Trek, Lost in Space, The Invaders, Land of the Giants, Mission Impossible, Six Million Dollar Man, SPACE: 1999, UFO (in syndication) and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. NONE of it holds up under the level of scrutiny being applied here, including old Doctor Who, the one exception maybe being UFO.

Setting all of that aside, I judge my appreciation of NuWho based on whether I will watch it again during reruns. There are less than 10 I could devote another hour of my life to-- but because it's not high art to me, I don't consider the series a failure because of rewatchability.
  • 1

Erogenous zones, I love you.
Without you, what would a poor boy do?
User avatar
ghijkmnop
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1911
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 8:22 am
Show rep
Title: Oldest member of TCS

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Australia » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:58 pm

I just came here to note that apparently Nibblonians get uglier and stop pooping dark matter by the 67th century but Kleiner beat me to that particular comparison. As for favourite episodes, he also stole the first two that always pop into my mind, "Blink" because it balances tension and humour perfectly and "The Waters of Mars" because it's a crazy character piece on what happens when there's no human to ground our favourite immortalien. I really like "The End of Time" as far as satisfactorily tying up an arc. I'm pretty sure the four timid knocks gave me chills. And I don't know how popular this is with Who purists but I love "The Day of The Doctor" just because it's endlessly entertaining. For the most part, the fun ones are my favourites.

As for least favourites, the terrible ones I kind of like because I can laugh at them and thus get enjoyment out of them so I guess the forgettable ones are the ones I like least because they obviously bored me so much, I can't distinguish them from the rest. Which has happened a lot the last few seasons. I'm sure if I looked up the names, I'd go 'oh, yeah, that episode' but as of now, I can think of maybe three plots from last year like the one where Bill meets a puddle of water. I guess if it's a third episode in a row that's set on Earth, I usually get impatient and want them to go intergalactic, but that's less to do with the episode content itself. So long-winded way of saying 'I dunno'. I get haten' on "Rings of Akhaten" because it's dumb squared but I enjoy it for the effects and music and I somehow managed to both laugh at the melodrama and feel for the Doctor basically screaming at himself and it's probable that both of those are unintentional. I like episodes that try to be huge and fall on their face more than episodes that don't do much of anything. Oh, you know what, I almost didn't bother watching the show after the pilot because of the infinite things you can do to introduce the insanity of the universe, it was an episode about mannequins. But most pilots are garbage so it seems harsh to single that one out.

Somehow the Doctor Who ripoff (Legends of Tomorrow, which admitted as much by making Rory the captain the first few years) is currently more entertaining than the show itself, maybe because it doesn't take itself seriously at all. If Doctor Who started doing things like defeating a demon with a giant Furby, it would be out of tone, sure, but I'd enjoy it a lot more. Twelve Monkeys wrapped up this year and that's better at the compelling timey-wimeyness. So Doctor Who is currently stuck in the middle and ends up as just another show. I've always said time travel is my favourite, uh, sub-genre, I guess, so the more the merrier (If I didn't have a mumbling problem I'd have a podcast called The Flux Capodcasiter). I don't dread watching Who but I'm not in any real rush for the episodes to come out anymore.
  • 3

YamI JamesT Eyebrows Edgar Logan Eric Michael Tess Sunny Notch Kate Jamish Lao Carp Moo FaceCitizen Aquila Nisi Qinglong Chaise Nullbert NotCIAagent JackRoad Delta MURDA Bert Czar Ambi JulyJack Adric Marcuse SilverMaple Nudge 52xMax Damiana Doma Pumpkin Toy Fry Andro Carrie Snarky Royal RLG Pikajew Windy skooma Kleiner Java Sellers Piter Gisarmbards Grimstone Recluse Esteban Syrup Krashlia Twistappel MacReady Funkotron mcfooty Pseudoman Creepy Kivutar nerd Ladki Jim Youghurt satan GL Angler
Halfheaditary
User avatar
Australia
Resident Dickhead
Resident Dickhead
 
Posts: 4167
Joined: Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:15 pm
Location: Take a wild guess
Show rep
Title: Char-lie Graham

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby KleinerKiller » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:52 pm

Australia wrote:Somehow the Doctor Who ripoff (Legends of Tomorrow, which admitted as much by making Rory the captain the first few years) is currently more entertaining than the show itself, maybe because it doesn't take itself seriously at all. If Doctor Who started doing things like defeating a demon with a giant Furby, it would be out of tone, sure, but I'd enjoy it a lot more.


This is me seconding that everyone go watch Legends of Tomorrow. Despite the first season being melodramatic ass, from the second premiere onward it's quite possibly the most underappreciated goofball sci-fi show on TV.
  • 0

"Your mind is software. Program it. Your body is a shell. Change it. Death is a disease. Cure it." - Eclipse Phase

Game Review: TALES OF XILLIA

Anime Review: MY HERO ACADEMIA SEASON 3

KEEP FIGHTING FOR NET NEUTRALITY
User avatar
KleinerKiller
Time Waster
Time Waster
 
Posts: 1801
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:34 pm
Location: Newfoungengzealaustrermany
Show rep
Title: Prick With A Pen

Re: Doctor Who?

Postby Marcuse » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:24 pm

Episode 6 - Demons of the Punjab

Spoiler: show
I had a little time before I wrote this review, because it's difficult for me to assess this properly when I'm, essentially, on the wrong side of history here. This is a piece about the partition of India into India and Pakistan and the people it affects. I'm not going to get into actual history and nitpick elements of that because I don't feel like that's a good way to look at this.

The premise of this episode is essentially a character point, and it's best to see this as a character piece within a period setting. Also some aliens are about. I didn't see the first couple of minutes of the story so I can't comment on them, but the gist is that Yaz wants to find out about her grandmother's history and they end up bobbing along to India on the day the partition was announced. Her grandmother is a young woman, looking to marry a man named Prem, who is a Hindu. Yaz is confused by this because she was never told about this, and Prem is wearing a watch she was (presumably) shown by her grandmother in the present day. But she and her family are Muslim, so we have a moment where the Doctor warns her against interfering with her history and says they're going to go.

But then a holy man, whom they met on the road (complaining about the youth of "today") dies in the forest, and it's the evil intergalactic assassins who're to blame. They have spooky black spiky armour and when they speak it's painful for everyone including the Doctor. But they teleport away and leave the holy man covered with presumably evil gunk. We also meet Manish, who is (probably?) a Hindu nationalist, and doesn't want Prem marrying a Muslim. Prem himself is a Second World War veteran and all round decent guy. Their mother is a superstitious old person who only seems to be present to justify the "demons" label in the title.

The Doctor, Prem and Ryan go off alien hunting, while Yaz and Graham go back to prepare the holy man for burial, which is strange because I thought general Hindu custom was to cremate, but whatever. The alien gang end up inside a monolithic space ship, where they have to convince Prem to explain why he hasn't yet baulked at the sight of literal aliens. He says he saw them before, they killed his friend during the war. The Doctor then elaborates that she's never met them, but they're famed as assassins. It does somewhat beg the question why they would be around a nothing couple of farmsteads in rural India, but nobody really asks that question. The Doctor nicks a canister of stuff from the ship, and the aliens appear to accuse her of desecration. She retorts the same back and demands they leave Earth, but they don't care. She hijacks the teleports to get them out, then nicks the units to protect the farmstead.

While the Doctor conducts a supposedly humorous experiment (chicken poo???) to the stuff the objective becomes...strangely... to marry Prem and young Umbreen. I'm not entirely sure why really other than the Doctor seems to have some vague idea that this will fulfil history and keep Yaz about. Has everyone forgotten the stuff where giant alien dragons murder everyone if the timeline is screwed with? I guess so. They then...separate along gender lines and Prem spends his night before the wedding with his brother who hates him and doesn't want him to do it, and two Englishmen whom he blames for the partition. Meanwhile the Doctor makes really on-the-nose transgenderism jokes which make no sense and just aren't funny. They also gloss over the gender inequality of segregating men and women without even a comment.

The Doctor then married Prem and Umbreen, and they do some nice cross cultural stuff. But Manish isn't having any of it, when Umbreen tries to include him and thank him he freaks out and goes to call a mob to kill them all. Meanwhile the Doctor is spirited away to deal with the alien threat. Except they're not a threat at all, they decided to stop being assassins and now venerate the forgotten dead by...um...adding them to the toxic biosludge of their murdered world? The Doctor apologises and allows them to do what they want. It turns out that Manish killed the holy man (despite him being of the same religion as him) because he was going to marry a Muslim to a Hindu. How the Doctor and the gang missed that the holy man had a gunshot wound is beyond me.

Meanwhile Umbreen and her mother have decided they need to flee into Pakistan for safety. Prem tells them to run, while he goes to confront Manish and his faceless mob people. They are looking to take over the land from Muslims and more or less are willing to kill anyone in their way. When Prem stands in their way, he's killed for it.

The Doctor and crew retire to the TARDIS to recover. That was some deep shit. While it doesn't shy away from discussing the situation at partition, it seems to deliver a strangely skewed view of it. Manish is a cartoon villain who hates Muslims he's lived and worked with for years for almost no reason. Prem is uniformly good and kind and meritorious and seemingly only so because it makes it more tragic he was killed. Umbreen is weird in places, her obsession with Sheffield is bizarre and only makes sense because we know she ends up there. It would have been funnier if she was obsessed with, like, Doncaster, for no reason but ended up in Sheffield. The aliens are a wash, they look spoopy and act aggressive for no reason and even the Doctor doesn't have a clue about them even when their actions don't match their reputation. The sci-fi is tacked on again, and the main plot doesn't hold enough water to be interesting, it relies on tension manufactured by killing people we just met to chug along.

Overall this is passable. I'm appreciative of it handling a historical event that's not normally covered. I'm happy that it centered the Indian characters in the narrative and made them people you at least kind of care about. But it doesn't really say anything about partition or the morality of people killing each other for ethnic and religious reasons when that shit is literally going on today and is a serious problem. It dips its toe into the politics of the region but fails to really say anything, and the aliens barely even connect to that plot at all.
  • 5

User avatar
Marcuse
TCS Sithlord
TCS Sithlord
 
Posts: 6493
Joined: Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:00 pm
Show rep

PreviousNext

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests