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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “Mummy on the Orient Express”

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[previous: “Kill the Moon”]

warning: spoilers!

I’m about to say the saddest thing I can imagine saying about Doctor Who: I just don’t think I care anymore.

I have never felt like this before. Of course a show that has run for this long will have its ups and downs. But now that every episode is apparently meant to be epic and every season has a big arc, it’s tough to say, after a crappy episode, “Well, next week’s will be better.” This is no longer a guarantee. Next week’s episode might be completely awesome. But I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that.

Sure, this episode was better than last week’s abomination, but not by a lot. We’ve had the Titanic in space, so now we get the Orient Express in space… inhabited by another gimmicky monster. The Weeping Angels, say, might be gimmicky, but there is something elemental about their gimmick, about the fact that you cannot ever look away from them if you want to live, for all sorts of reasons (statues aren’t supposed to move; looking away from monsters or shutting our eyes in terror is the natural instinct in such a situation). But, you die 66 seconds after you see the mummy? That’s not particularly scary. It’s not even particularly interesting. And there’s no even halfhearted attempt to technobabble it away that arouses anything like an elemental fear in us.

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So we’re left with the Doctor running around in a place he cannot leave solving a problem no one else can solve — a pretty traditional format for the show, and that’s fine. But there is little resolution here. The Doctor stops the mummy that is killing people for no apparent reason, and there’s no explanation for why it has been doing this for 5,000 years, and it’s not even an especially compelling process involved in stopping the rampage. Oh, I know it’s all going to be down to Missy and her Heaven somehow — because everything is epic now, and “someone of immense power and influence has orchestrated this whole trip” — but if I end up not caring what Missy is up to, does it make a sound? There’s nothing necessarily wrong with an overall arc, but each episode should stand on its own, too.

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Once upon a time, it didn’t matter if the monster was cheesy and made of garbage bags and didn’t have a decent motivation, because the Doctor was fun to be around. Now, he suddenly has no understanding of emotion — Clara’s “sad smile” throws him for a loop? — which he never had any trouble understanding before. And he is wildly inconsistent, again in no way that is absorbing: after all his ragging on soldiers, suddenly he’s sympathetic to the plight of an old soldier? The Doctor may have been less of a jerk this week than he has been recently, but he still doesn’t feel like the Doctor. He barely feels like a reasonably well-written character of any description.

And then there’s Clara. After she told the Doctor, at the end of the last episode, to fuck off, and she did not appear in the trailer for this episode, I thought maybe we’d get an episode with the Doctor on his own. He could certainly use the breathing room — maybe even find a new companion who would actually enjoy life in the TARDIS! (Though those are rare on the ground lately: the chief engineer, Perkins, declines an invite. What is wrong with these people?!) It almost seems as if Clara was shoehorned in here: she spends a lot time on the phone with Danny or locked in a room away from the action — while the Doctor has plenty of people to bounce exposition off anyway, including the one scene in which he has a conversation with himself — so it’s not like she was needed, in the sense of helping to advance the narrative.

So why is Clara here (apart from contractual obligations on the part of Jenna Coleman)? To rehash the debate the show has been having this whole season about whether the Doctor is a good man and whether Clara wants to travel with him anymore, and coming to conclusions about these things based on absolutely nothing we can see. If the season wants to be about that, then we just skipped over what could be the most important chunk of it in between the previous episode and this one, the bit in which Clara decides that she doesn’t hate the Doctor but isn’t able to travel with him anymore (even though traveling with him was “good times”). I mean, we didn’t need an episode in which Clara mopes around and can’t get out of bed because she misses the Doctor, or whatever. And even though it’s clear that the Doctor has been off doing stuff on his own, we didn’t necessarily need an entire episode with him on his own. But the time apart and how it impacts them does need some dramatization, I think. Without that, Clara’s changes of heart are coming out of nowhere… and they are giving me whiplash. And we get another one at the end of the episode, when even though she’s angry — again! — at the Doctor for lying to her about what he’s gotten them in to, and even though he basically tells her that yes, he is “heartless” (even though his follow-on about hard choices is far from the definition of that), she changes her mind again and announces that she’s cool to keep hanging out with the Doctor.

And she lies to Danny about it. I guess having access to a time machine makes that an easy lie to get away with… or so she hopes, perhaps. I hope that comes back to bite her on the ass.

But, you know, I’m not sure if I care what happens to her at all at this point.

Random thoughts on “Mummy on the Orient Express”:

• Would you like a jelly baby?

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At this point, though, nods to the past are not doing the show any favors.

• So, Clara was sleeping and the Doctor didn’t want to disturb her so he just scooped her up and carried her hundreds of feet away from the TARDIS and deposited her on some rocks to continue her nap?

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Seriously?

[next: “Flatline”]


posted in:
tv buzz
  • I thought it was a big improvement over the moon hatching and being replaced a minute later by another moon of exactly the same size by something that must have been born pregnant and that lays eggs bigger than itself.

  • That’s a *really* low bar, though.

  • jo

    Just happened across this and have to say I totally disagree with the view. This season has been terrific. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are fantastic together and the Doctor has become more like his vintage self before all the humanization. I enjoyed Eccelson, Tennent and Smith. In fact, Tennent and Baker are my absolute favorites. Capaldi is heading for a strong place as third in the tie. Not every episode of Doctor Who is going to be a classic. No one can write that way. They have all been entertaining, witty and funny. And, yes there have been a couple that come very close to being classics. I give a big Hurrah to Moffet. He has taken the Doctor in a new and different direction and utilized two very gifted actors to their best advantage.

  • Steve Gagen

    I haven’t really liked this season at all for the reasons you have given, MaryAnn. I have dutifully recorded them all, but I am not feeling a great compunction to watch the episodes I haven’t caught up with yet.

  • Is there anything specific you can point to that you like about Capaldi’s Doctor, and the stories this season?

  • Maria Niku

    Lately I’ve been wondering why on earth I faithfully tune in every saturday, for much the same reasons. All sorts of epic things are supposed to be happening on screen but I feel disconnected from them. It seems nothing is depicted (in any consistent way) in terms of how it affects the primary players, and consequently I don’t care. Clara’s reaction at the end of the last episode and the way this episode fails to show the impact of that in any consistent manner is a good example.

  • ketac6

    I could understand replicating a 1920s Orient Express but couldn’t understand why anyone on board would still have the same behaviour and etiquette as people in the 1920s. At least the Agatha Christie episode in a previous season made sense.
    Why do people keep turning down the chance to travel in the Tardis? Perhaps they’ve all realised how tiresome the format is getting. I hope Clara does leave and we can have someone a bit sparkier.

  • jo

    To answer your question, yes. First, the Doctor is an alien, always has been. While I have enjoyed Eccelson, Tennent ( top of my favorites with Baker) and Smith the trend seemed to be toward humanizing the Doctor. While this was fine it has been done. Giving the Doctor a new direction emotionally allows a sort of learning curve for him. Capaldi is a terrific actor infusing just the right amount of detachment without becoming unlikable. Sort of reminds me of Star Trek’ s Spock. Also, it’s given Clara a chance to shine.
    Secondly, while every story has not been a classic (none ever are), they are enjoyable. Each episode includes growth and quality interactions between The Doctor and Clara, watchable plots, decent dialogue and guest stars. I can’t say that about at least 85 percent of what they offer on TV nowadays.
    Thirdly, it’s not rocket science. It’s still a kid’s show. Throughout it’s long reign it has taken liberties with every known scientific fact there is. More power to it. It is not the kind of show you nitpick apart with how come this is this way or how come this is that way. You view it with a child’s mind and heart. The acting is terrific. Both Capaldi and Coleman are fantastic together. Each story has emotion, wit and humor. Not many shows offer that plus fantasy, imagination and mystery.
    I’ve been a Who fan for awhile. My brother and I started with Tom Baker. I’ve watched many of the older Who episodes and have Enjoyed them. got no the some of the old
    Have a great day.

  • Bob

    For what it’s worth, I am enjoying this season, mainly due to Peter Capaldi, but I share many of MaryAnn’s problems with the writing. I think this, along with ‘Time Heist’ has been my favourite so far. I thought the whole ‘the mummy will kill you in 66 seconds’ thing was actually quite interesting, because the legend surrounding it suggested that the mummy was not an unstoppable force-you might be able to prevent it from killing you in the time allotted, if you could work out what it wanted. This made the Mummy a mystery,, and not just another monster. I agree that the writers don’t really know what to do with Clara, though. She’s gone from being 11’s Impossible Girl, to a school teacher with some disappointingly mundane romantic problems. She’s like a different character altogether, which is a shame, because Jenna Coleman is a fine actress. I think it’s sad that MaryAnn has reached such a level of disenchantment with the show that she feels she doesn’t care anymore. If its any consolation, I had similar feelings about the show for most of the eighties. I never really warmed to Peter Davidson, and found the whole John Nathan Turner era to be a bit too silly, and just stopped watching it regularly. I dipped into it periodically, but I felt I needed some distance from it, in order to hold onto any affection I used to have for it. If I’d kept tuning in every week, I might have started hating it, which I didn’t want. Maybe MaryAnn should put the Dr Who blog on hold for the moment, and maybe re-visit it again later. Just a thought

  • Danielm80

    I agree that the writers don’t really know what to do with Clara, though. She’s gone from being 11’s Impossible Girl, to a school teacher with some disappointingly mundane romantic problems. She’s like a different character altogether, which is a shame, because Jenna Coleman is a fine actress.

    I really liked Oswin Oswald in “Asylum of the Daleks.” She was intelligent and funny and self-confident. She would have made a much better companion than Clara.

  • Chris Lockard

    I’ve been on board since the Time Heist episode. Each week has felt fun, and this Doctor feels like a call back to the first Doctor. While maybe not as great as series three and four, this series is a great improvement to last year’s unbalanced offering.

  • RogerBW

    I’ve discovered a tendency in myself to what I call inertia watching. I enjoyed the programme, whatever it might be, before, and so I watch it now, and it can take really quite a long time before I realise that, hang on, this really isn’t fun any more. And then I keep on with it for a bit because it’s got a lot of goodwill stored up from when it was fun, and it takes a while to burn that off, but sooner or later I get to the point that I just don’t care. If it really does get good again, someone else will tell me, and I’ll watch it then.

  • Stephen Robinson

    “Deep Breath” was about how Clara was supposed to see that the Doctor was still the Doctor. Even Vastra chastised Clara for judging the Doctor solely on appearance. Yet, the season so far has been about how the Doctor is a completely different man. Why would Clara or anyone stay with him? And when Clara talks about “good times,” is she referring to her travels with the Eleventh Doctor — the man who treated her kindly and had a basic grasp of human emotions?– or the unseen adventures she’s had with the current Doctor? If the former, that man is gone forever. If the latter, well, we’ve never actually seen those adventures.
    Rose, Martha, Donna, and Amy all loved life onboard the TARDIS. Who wouldn’t? But I think they all loved (romantically or platonically) the Doctor. They respected him. They admired him. They believed they became a better person and did better things when with him. Moffat has removed all that with the current Doctor. Clara travels with him because solely because of the lifestyle and she tolerates the crabby lying man (when 11 lies to Clara in “Time of the Doctor” it is to protect her, when 12 lies to Clara it is to deliberately expose her to a dangerous situation).
    If this is the intended character arc for Clara, it’s a remarkably adolescent one. Most of us remember enduring the obnoxious kid down the street because he either had cable or the newest Transformer toys. We later matured enough to know that was *wrong*. No matter how cool his toys were, if we didn’t like or respect him, we shouldn’t play with them.

  • bronxbee

    only you know how sad this makes me — i haven’t watched the episode yet, but now i’m not in a hurry either

  • G

    I would have liked it if it had actually been an effective Christie-like mystery. But the clues weren’t there, and the detective’s solution (He’s got some writing on — it’s the same as a scroll — it’s a flag — he’s a soldier!) was impossibly ridiculous extrapolation. Not clever. At least it looked nice. The train was beautiful and so was Clara’s dress.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I rate the completed seasons in this order: 5, (3, 4 tied)*, 1, 6, 7, 2, 4.5, [Any Christmas Special].

    Season 8 is sidling up behind the 3/4 tie. “Listen” was the episode that made this season start to work. The rest has been moving upward, with a spike at “Time Heist”.

    Where David Tennent and Matt Smith nailed the “old man in a young man’s body” aspect of the Doctor (and as good as Matt was at incorporating aspects of previous Doctors), Peter Capaldi is really making me feel just how ancient the Doctor is, and just how big his universe is that he’s still so lost in it.

    * I’d put 4 in front of 3 if I didn’t hate “Stolen Earth/Journey’s End” so much.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not a huge fan of Clara (trying to turn a plot device into a character seldom works out well), but I don’t think Oswin was any more intelligent, funny, or self-confident than Clara. Oswin was possessed of a few extra informed abilities that put her on the same power level as the Doctor.

    In retrospect, keeping Oswin, in her Dalek suit, might have been an interesting direction for a companion character. But, I can think of plenty of reasons not to do that, just off the top of my head. for example, the lack of a “touchstone” character that someone at the executive producer level or above thinks is important (and they’re not wrong). For another, keeping Jenna by herself in a single set all the time, or coming up with a workable mechanism whereby the audience sees Jenna, but the characters see a Dalek.

  • Stephen Robinson

    RTD introduced rich, interior lives for the companions, which at the time was novel. We had Rose and her mother, Martha and her family, Donna and her extended family. Moffat, I think, has struggled with this — Amy Pond’s family literally blinked in and out of existence, and Clara’s is equally a cipher. Clara’s job seems to function as a plot device and only minor rewrites could alter it — as opposed to Martha’s medical background or even Donna’s temp “career” were ongoing character touchpoints. (I’ve also argued that not only could Jenna Coleman pass as a college student, but Clara is not necessarily written that much older than one.)
    You’ll also notice that the major defining relationship between Moffat’s female companions are to their significant others. We have no Jackie, no Francine and Tish, no Mrs. Noble, and so on. And I think about as much screen time has been devoted to Amy and Clara’s personal lives as to Rose, Martha, and Donna’s — not much has been achieved with it. I’d commented somewhat in jest last year that Clara’s “family” was introduced just so that Moffat could do the “Swedes are apparently nudists” joke. Otherwise, a rewrite could have easily had Clara spending Christmas alone in her PJs watching “Love Actually” without causing any real harm to the plot.
    So, yeah, you’re going to have an empty character if you can’t ground them in an interior life that is logical and consistent.

  • Jemcat

    Peter Capaldi is extraordinary and I think his performance is masking some of the continuing weaknesses of the writing and pacing. I watched this one and chuckled a couple of times but if it wasn’t for a few bits of business by Capaldi (the Tom Baker impersonation; the wounded look when Clara spoke to Danny), I would frankly have trouble recalling any of the plot. This episode saw lightness returning to the Doctor (if we are going for gruff and rude, let’s settle on Jon Pertwee imperious levels rather than snarling beast, thank you) which allowed Capaldi to introduce more range into his take on the Doctor. Lots of people have loved the misanthrope from the get-go as an antidote to the previous two Doctors, but I like mine with honey on the side!
    The Clara part is the most problematic for me. Jenna Coleman is acting her heart out, yet she has the words ‘plot device’ or ’emotion pez dispenser’ stuck to her forehead for most of the time. The character doesn’t make any sense week to week and certainly looking back to the Impossible Girl (blech) arc. You can sort of get away with this for the Doctor (this is the conceit for why the Doctor has turned into such as misanthrope and suddenly can’t recall any of his previous positive interactions with humans, or indeed how humans express emotion), but you can’t have both of the leads veering off inexplicably into having their emotional state being determined by the needs of the plot.
    There is something vaguely anti-young people or anti-young women in the vibe of the show this year. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is certainly a distancing effect. Young people and young women don’t do what they are told to by middle aged men (think I am reading way too much into this). I really do hope Clara isn’t going to be *punished* by the plot demands later on for not doing what she is *supposed* to do, or by being all silly and female and young and emotional. With an emotionally distant Doctor, Clara remains our point of view character.
    Last minor gripe is that by resolutely turning its back on everything which had gone before in the 2005 series (and almost sneering at it), the nasty streak which Capaldi mined in the first couple of episodes still lingers.
    I think the show is starting to accommodate a better balance after a shaky start but based on Moffat plot resolutions, I have a bad feeling where this is all heading. I am hoping that the next two episodes will give us nice standalone adventures before we get to the ta-da! end game.

  • Stephen Robinson

    Here’s where I differ: I don’t think “alien” = “asshole.” House and Sherlock aren’t “aliens” with an “alien perspective,” they are damaged human beings. If the argument is that the 10th and 11th Doctors were “more human” than 12 because of their knowledge of pop culture, that’s one thing, but I have to categorically reject the notion that 12 is more “alien” simply because he’s a jerk to everyone. I’d like to think that “alien” could mean less prone to the very real human frailties that House and Sherlock display.
    If 10 and 11 seemed more “human,” it could also be character development. After a certain point, you can’t write your lead character the same way you did when he’s a literal stranger on Earth and only extended interactions with humans were the schoolteachers he kidnapped. Moffat commented on this somewhat in “Time Crash.” But I feel like he’s writing 12 like the Beverly Hillbillies who can’t figure out what a doorbell is after 9 seasons. The Doctor spent 800 years on a planet filled with humans but he can’t understand that humans have “sad smiles” and he writes “go away humans” on walls. Who else has he even seen for 1000 years? Surely not his own people.
    Something I noticed about people who travel quite a deal is how well they adapt to different cultures. They understand how to order at a French restaurant. They get how pub culture is in England. They’ll shrug and eat a guinea pig in Peru. So, the 10th Doctor, the guy who could probably make you forget he’s an alien if you even noticed at first, is arguably *more* alien, more representative of someone who travels “all of time and space.” 12 is written like the crotchety old man who never left his home town and grumbles about the twin beds at a European hotel the one time he ever traveled there. The Doctor in “School Reunion” made sense. The Doctor in “The Caretaker” didn’t.
    So I repeat again: You can’t do the 1st Doctor again. Or even the 4th. Your lead character has lived countless lifetimes since then and his behavior should reflect it.

  • Maria Niku

    I got the feeling that this episode tried to establish that Clara travels with the Doctor because she’s addicted to it, and she lies to Danny on the phone at the end like addicts lie to keep getting their fix.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I lowered my head when the addiction theme was raised because I can recall few instances in which addiction was handled well on a sci-fi series. I’m still reeling from the “magic is bad” after school special on “Buffy.” Moffat seems to be throwing motivations at Clara and seeing what sticks, but this is an especially depressing one for a 27-year-old woman.
    The new series has what I think is a big problem in its inability to write out companions without fanfare. When Adric died, it was a big freaking deal because tragic ends for a companion was rare. They usually left voluntarily, and even when Jamie and Zoe were mind-wiped, you got the sense that either could have walked away from the Doctor without an issue if they’d decided to settle down someplace. Now, though companions have to be sent to parallel universes, mind-wiped, or trapped in the past due to plot device. Even Martha couldn’t just leave and go back to normal. She wound up at UNIT.
    If “Kill the Moon” had been Clara’s last episode, it would have had the rug-pulling effect of Tegan’s departure 30 years ago.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Given the reverent tones of this post, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to know what I think about how RTD handled companions. :-)

  • Stephen Robinson

    Well, I was not a fan of how RTD often made the series *about* the companions, but Moffat has continued that pattern but with far less success.
    The new series has severely limited its options with companions. Ian and Jamie could travel with the Doctor for vastly different reasons that also make internal sense. Barbara, Ian, Ben, Polly, Harry Sullivan, and Tegan are the types of companions the new series doesn’t do anymore: normal people stuck traveling with the Doctor because they wandered into a police box. The Doctor can pilot the TARDIS too precisely for companions to be “stuck” with him (and when people are “stuck” with each other, it allows greater story potential — they don’t have to like each other, but they have to now rely on each other to survive).
    In the classic series, Danny Pink would be “stuck” with the Doctor. And there’d be tension. Glorious wonderful, story-building tension. But instead, he’s chatting on the phone with Clara. (And by the way, I hate the “superphones.”)
    The new series has chosen to go with “girlfriend” or “best friend” as the model and there’s only so many times you can return to that well. And if you do, you need a Doctor who can “make friends.” Otherwise, you’ve got Peri and Mel both inexplicably (literally so in Mel’s case) traveling with the most obnoxious man in the universe.
    I noticed that two “classic-style” companion introductions (“Into the Dalek” and “Mummy”) ended with the Doctor either rejecting the potential companion or the potential companion rejecting the Doctor. It was almost a deliberate tease, as though the writers knew that both characters would provide more entertaining story possibilities than Clara does.

  • Lady Tenar

    YES THIS!!!!

    Character development is A Thing and it matters. Obviously,the Doctor as a character changes through his different regenerations but I still like to think that he has a core self that remains, despite his different quirks. I think the transition between 9 and 10 really worked because a) the Doctor changed but remained consistent in important ways and b) the way he changed made sense. Eccleston’s Doctor was kind of a ball of shell-shocked rage and guilt, which frequently flared, despite his goofiness. Tennant’s Doctor was much more outwardly light-hearted but the darkness was still there, just subverted. The rage and guilt were still there, just not as close to the surface. And this made sense, given that he’d had a season to grow as a character, especially in his relationship with Rose.

    I had a much harder time with 11, honestly. Right out of the park, I thought Moffat hit “reset” a little too much in an effort to make the show his own. There seemed to be too little continuity between 11 and his past few incarnations. But I stuck with it because I’d admired Moffat as the writer of many of my favorite stories in the RTD era and because there seemed to me many promising things going on too. It wasn’t until partway through season 6 that Moffat’s sexism and just general sloppiness started to get to me and I pretty much got fed up. I watch sporadically now and MaryAnn’s writing seems to vindicate that decision, although I find no joy in that…

    But, trying to re-create the first Doctor? That is “reset” to the max. You can’t do that because it doesn’t make sense. There needs to be a consistent trajectory of growth and development in the Doctor’s character, across the different regenerations, or else he’s not really a coherent character anymore and what reason do I have to be invested in him? 12 should not be like 1 because the Doctor is a person and people change and are changed by their cumulative experiences. If that’s not the case with the Doctor, than he’s not really a person, he’s just a gimmick. Booooring…

  • Lady Tenar

    Yeah, I hit that point a while ago, I’m sorry to say…

  • Stephen Robinson

    I also don’t get the sense that this Doctor *literally* has a new lease on life. Curiously, Matt Smith played a Doctor who you’d buy as starting a new regeneration cycle. Capaldi’s Doctor feels like a man who is staring at his final death.
    Oh, and I agree about Tennant’s Doctor having “dark” moments. That complexity is what made the character engaging. When he unleashes hell in “Family of Blood,” that has resonance because of how he comes across in other episodes. Same with Smith’s Doctor.
    For Capaldi’s Doctor to work, then you have maintain the complexity even if it means flipping what’s normally hidden: So, he’s mostly dark but will have rare moments of unbelievable kindness and tenderness. We’ve yet to see that, which works about as well if Tennant’s Doctor was constantly chipper and flip.

  • alienwizardling

    hello Jo – came across this and found it interesting reading, but I do have to say, I strongly disagree with just about every line of what you wrote and have a totally different view not only of your opinion on this , but perhaps on the series and the entire show as a whole – first, cards on the table – Ive been a whovian since 1970 and don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode. I love ecclestones portrayal and Tennant – thought that Matt smith was a nice addition though I honestly dont think ANY of his episodes would count in my top 50. and Capaldi? Capaldi is for me…the quintessential portrayal of the character. I LOVE what this guy has done with the role and while Moffat isnt my number one ‘show-runner’ to use the american phrase, (thats still Phillip Hinchliffe during the fourth doctors run for me) I love the logic of what hes doing.
    Id love to go into just why I think Capaldis doctor makes so much sense to me, but this post is already going to be too big – maybe I’ll do a blog of my own. but to answer some of the points specific in this episode

    Its made clear in the episode the soldier was killing because the ancient tech and weaponry he had been fitted in some forgotten war with which was keeping him alive had malfunctioned and was forcing him to kill against his will (which was why he always tried to kill the sick and elderly first, the doctor was sympathetic if you like because he realized the soldier wasn’t killing willingly. The doctor didn’t say he was heartless – he was trying to tell her that yes he would have sacrificed the girl IF there was no other choice – it was emotionless yes but practical, rational and above all, the right solution – but not heartless- what else did you want him to do? stand around saying ‘Im sorry, Im so soo sorry” like er ..his previous two incarnations did ENDLESSLY – sorry but hes over that – Life with a capital L is whats important to this Doctor – a doctor born fighting the last battle in a 900 year old war himself remember (Christmas). It always has been, always will be.
    Anyway sorry to be so long winded – I’ve never been very good at summarizing thoughts but I truly am sorry you’re not enjoying the current run – even with Clara, I’m sorry but I totally understand her character and her decisions..or indecision. I’ll try to be more succinct next time, still keep blogging always good to read other views as articulate as yours……….even if they’re wrong ;)

  • Vorbes Banchesney

    Wow… I know opinions are subjective and everything, but I’m afraid you are totally wrong about this episode.There’s literally nothing else to say. You’re just wrongo x 1000.

    (runs away laughing)

  • Danielm80

    It would have been amusing to see a Dalek roaming around the TARDIS as the Doctor’s companion, but I wasn’t being quite that literal. The Impossible Girl plot device would have allowed them to transfer Oswin’s personality, more or less intact, into a young woman living on Earth in the 21st century. Parts of “The Bells of St. John’s” made me think that we’d get to see a companion who was almost as intelligent and as arrogant as the Doctor, which could have been an interesting dynamic to watch. Instead, for most of that season, she had no personality at all. She was just a mystery to be solved.

    This season, she’s developed actual character traits. Unfortunately, in the past couple of episodes, they’ve been the character traits of a person in a co-dependent relationship.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    What I’m saying is, take the Dalek out of Oswin and you get Clara. Sure, they could have used the Impossible Girl device to have all the Clara’s be the not-quite-Dalek-assimilated Oswin. It’s a story conceit, not a law of physics.* But that might cause one to wonder, how can you take the girl out of the Dalek without taking the Dalek out of the girl?

    * I wouldn’t even have an issue if it was a law of physics. Seriously, if Peter Harness wants to write a story wherein the moon is an egg that hatches every 100 million years and is reformed, he’s welcome to it.

  • Bluejay

    I know opinions are subjective and everything, but I’m afraid you are totally wrong about this episode.

    Your opinion is subjective.

  • Danielm80

    Here’s some dialogue from “Asylum of the Daleks”:

    The Doctor: How can you hack into everything? It should be impossible. You’re in a crashed ship!

    Oswin: Long story. Is there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?

    The Doctor: Doctor. You call me the Doctor.

    Oswin: See what you did there.

    Clara doesn’t sound like that.

  • Danielm80

    Wow. Meta-trolling is just as irritating as regular trolling.

  • Michael Suggitt

    Heres the thing…the 12th doctor has never lied to Clara, hes brutally, frustratingly hnest to her and everyone else in this incarnation, thats the thing that people cant seem to get their head around, theres no mealy mouthy soft soap with him.

  • Stephen Robinson

    I could respect that approach to the 12th Doctor, but I’m hesitant to consider “disrespect for others” and “dismissal of an individual’s value” as being “brutally honest.” That is something I’d like to think most people grow out of after college: “I’m not gonna say ‘plus-sized’! You’re fat! And I’m just being honest.”
    Perhaps part of if is also delivery or tone or admittedly my own bias, but it just felt different when the Doctor told Amy in “Flesh and Stone” bluntly that she’s dying and snapped at River that lying to her wouldn’t make the situation better. Maybe it’s because the Doctor was so… glib about the fact that someone was about to die in 66 seconds.
    If I take a step back, I think my issue with the 12th Doctor is a critical matter of execution. This is a Doctor we needed to see start completely fresh — no Clara, no Vastra, no Jenny, no Strack. Much like the Doctor in “The Eleventh Hour.” Actually *seeing* this type of Doctor built a life and social network for himself — especially after spending 800 years away from the people I just mentioned — would give us a better sense of who he truly is. As of now, there’s still that niggling feeling that Clara is sticking around of who he used to be. And if *this* Doctor had been the one she’d met in “The Bells of St. John,” she’d have never gotten into the TARDIS.

  • Daniel

    Welcome to the way I have been feeling for the entirety of Moffat’s run.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Come to think of it, we never did find out what happened to Tegan after her last episode. Unless you count the explanation we’re given in The Sarah Jane Adventures — which doesn’t quite explain how she got off that planet but then the old series never adequately explained why Mel came from.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I think we’re all going to learn a lot of things in the next few months…. You’re just like that Buffy person; you still don’t get it. It’s not about right. It’s not about wrong. It’s about power! ;-)

  • Tonio Kruger

    But some characters eventually get tired of life on the road, of being constantly travelling and never quite settling down. Otherwise, the character in Bob Seger’s song “Turn the Page,” — who is obviously far older and more experienced than the character in Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” — would make no sense. And otherwise, you wouldn’t see so many characters — fictional or otherwise — who traveled widely in their youth (usually courtesy of the military) who grew up to be relatively conservative grumps.

    Travelling all sorts of places can be quite fun when you’re young or even when you’re in the early part of middle age. But eventually it can get tiring. Especially when going back home is not an option.

  • I think you’ve nailed what a lot of people are thinking about the show. It’s maintained a pretty solid first viewing audience in Britain but I feel that this is the fan / obsessive audience and that it won’t sustain casual viewing any more, and hasn’t for a couple of years.

    That is tremendously sad for a family show that used to inspire so many people to get into science, detective work and exploration.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Well, that’s debatable. Jenna Coleman still uses a rapid-fire delivery, and the writers still give her clever things to say, just not with the same density as that particular episode.

    Here’s the thing: Oswin doesn’t sound like that either. Or rather, didn’t prior to crashing. She’s not actually a “screaming genius”, she’s part Clara, part Dalek. That’s kind of the whole point of her character in that episode. To me, that comes through on re-watching “Asylum” (which I did, about 2 weeks before “Deep Breath” aired, as part of my kids marathon catching up), after seeing Clara in season 7.5. Also, while they certainly could have transferred that character, the half-human/half-Dalek Impossible Girl, to the rest of the season, I don’t know that that would necessarily have been better. I already mentioned the whole host of other issue to address. I also don’t think having a companion basically mirroring the 11th Doctor, in terms of intelligence and mannerisms would have been a good idea, either (also debatable).

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You probably also don’t want to know what I think of classic “Doctor Who”. >.>

    The “People stuck together” model doesn’t, in and of itself, allow “greater story potential”. It simply gives the writers access to a particular set of tropes. It is itself a well which can only be gone to so many times.

  • RogerBW

    Eh, to kids these days “classic Doctor Who” means Russell T. Davies.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    eh, they’re not wrong.

  • Melly Bean

    The stories for me have been hit or miss, but Capaldi has been pretty spectacular. I do not view him as an ass, or not caring. There is a distance there, but lines that would have come across as sweet maybe from Matt (such as the lie to the girl to get her to the front of the train bit in this episode), do come off as harsh with him. I’m okay with that. I’m done with a doctor that floats about and makes it seem like everything he’s doing is okay. This doctor knows that it doesn’t.

    I also wonder if he was pared up with a companion that could better match his wits, if he would come across as uncaring. Have too many people just viewed Clara as an impossible girl that has taken care of the Doctor for so long? Have they been tricked into thinking that she is a girl that can’t make choices, except to tell the Doctor that she is wrong? I loathed the moon episode only for her. The fact that she had to make an impossible choice, such as he does every day, seemed to shake her to no end. In watching the older RTD episodes, companions would be shaken, but would understand (example: Fires of Pompeii). It’s hard to find Clara likeable when she can’t handle the job.

    I do agree that I no longer care about the Missy plot line. Not that I really ever did to begin with.

  • Not that it matters, but I’ve been a Whovian since 1982ish, and I’ve never missed an episode either.

  • Trackrick

    Not only was there a nod to the jelly babies, but stuck within his rapid-fire speech when he can finally see the monster, The Doctor says “Are you my mummy?” I kept rewinding and replaying to catch everything he was saying to the mummy, and I caught it on the second or third go-round.

  • althea

    I just finished bailing in the middle of this episode after spending most of the time thinking, “I’ll just give it a few more minutes.” Big scary mummy was cheesy. Train in space cheesy, contrived. Doctor prattling, when is this going to resolve itself? Clara is here, explain please? Oh, never mind…

  • Yeah, I caught that right away. I didn’t find it particularly interesting.

  • Maria Niku

    The fact that Beeb pushed it one hour later to make room for Strictly Come Dancing speaks of that, I think. Not the first time that it’s been pushed around in programming, either.

  • Jurgan

    Eh, I’m going to say I really liked this one. The mystery worked, and the characters seemed likable. I get your point about the motivations switching often, and that’s fair, but at least the two leads seemed to like each other. There was none of the “negging” of Clara that so many other eps have seen. It’s a pretty good one-shot- its flaws relate more to its position in the story arc. But that’s always been Moffat’s problem- he writes good one-shots, but his long-term arcs get convoluted and confusing. I just finished it, but this is possibly my favorite of season 8 so far. Granted, that’s not saying much…

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