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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who blogging: “The Snowmen”

Doctor Who Snowmen Jenna-Louise Coleman Matt Smith

(all spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode… or unless you don’t care if it’s spoiled for you. this is a love fest only — all complaints and bitching must come from a place of love / previous: “The Angels Take Manhattan”)

(get my downloadable discussion guide to “The Snowmen” for teachers, librarians, and everyone else who needs to keep kids amused, engaged, and educated at DoctorWhoTeachersGuides.co.uk)

It’s “The Angels Take Manhattan” all over. It’s “The Snowmen Take London.” Steven Moffat has once again taken a bunch of would-be cool ideas and wannabe iconic images and random science-fiction-ish notions and thrown them all together to make a kind of Doctor Who soup. This isn’t a story: it’s a wibbly-wobbly fuzzy-wuzzy ball of Doctor Who goo.

Lady lizard from the dawn of time is the “real” Sherlock Holmes! Would a Silurian say “Pray for a miracle”? Isn’t that not very not-human? But hey, she drinks a “refreshment” the color of red wine that is not red wine and probably not cherry Kool-Aid either, so we’re meant to infer that it’s blood. Vastra is scary! No, wait, she’s nice. No, wait, she’s not really any of these things. She’s not really a character at all. She’s merely a potentially interesting concept who is expected to stand on nothing more than that potential.

Carnivorous snow! Why would snow want to eat people? Even if the strange alien “snow” has memory and is telepathic, why would, say, Clara even think about carnivorous snow so that it can feed on her thoughts and manifest itself? How did that idea get into her head, and how did it happen to coincide precisely with the carnivorous snowmen she hadn’t seen (but we had)? Why does the presence of the alien snow represent a coming “last day of humanity on this planet”? What does that mean? This “Great Intelligence” “snow” makes the genocidal plans of the Daleks seem well-conceived, nuanced, carefully crafted, and elegantly executed.

By comparison, it’s barely worth mentioning such comparatively minor nonsense as Simeon walking around being generally creepy and no one finding that odd, and no one noticing that two dozen men have gone missing (having been eaten by carnivorous snow) and making the connection they were all working for Simeon on that day.

But this is what makes the least sense of all: The Doctor “doesn’t help anymore.” He “was different once, a long time ago” but “now he prefers isolation.” So why the hell isn’t he isolated? Why is he hanging around Victorian London? All this “not my problem” stuff is so woefully unconvincing, even if we try to consider it as a matter of the Doctor being in denial about what he does and doesn’t want. Because clearly — via Vastra and Jenny — the Doctor really has been “not helping.” But we aren’t really given any appreciation of what that means. Not in the slightest sense.

Doctor Who Snowmen

Instead, we are force-fed gobs of “magic.” There’s always been all manner of silly and/or fantastical stuff in Doctor Who, but the overall story has been generally rational, coherent, and relatively realistic on a basic narrative level. But stuff here simply makes no sense on any level. If the Doctor could hide the TARDIS up on an invisible cloud, why hasn’t he been doing that all along? (It doesn’t matter — Moffat just needed a hint of the fairy tale-esque.) How did Clara end up on the top of the Doctor’s moving carriage when she chased after him? (Don’t think about it — just enjoy the funniness of her popping her head in from upside-down.) Strax suggests “a full frontal assault with automated laser monkeys”… on what? on snow? (Never mind: he’s a psychotic potato!)

And there’s Vastra’s ridiculous “one-word test,” which is contrived solely to get Clara to say “pond.” Except there’s no reason at all why Clara would believe that word would mean anything special to the Doctor and hence draw him out of his “isolation.” And, indeed, we see that there’s no reason why the word pond, either in its context here or in the other context we’re aware of, would have the effect upon the Doctor that it inexplicably has. Because it’s not until after Clara’s “pond” has drawn him out and he goes — on no provocation whatsoever — to Simeon’s Great Intelligence Institute that he discovers Simeon’s interest in the pond in which the governess was frozen!

It makes my head spin just trying to figure out how any of this bears even the slightest resemblance to even the most loosely constructed attempt at a story.

This isn’t Doctor Who — it’s a pantomine of Doctor Who. (My brother Ken, whom I hope will comment here, suggested to me that what we see here is the fairy tale that grew up around less absurd “real” events.) It’s a cartoonish approximation of Doctor Who, not Doctor Who itself. This is not satisfying to me, as a fan who loves Doctor Who. I want real, proper Doctor Who, not some lashed-up approximation of it.

I dread Moffat’s 50th-anniversary story.

Random thoughts on “The Snowmen”:

• New credits:

Doctor Who Snowmen

Just because.

• Is this all the Doctor has been doing with all that time was he “wasn’t helping”?

Doctor Who Snowmen

Redecorating? And did he forget to replace the sensors and scanners?

Doctor Who Snowmen Matt Smith Jenna-Louise Coleman

Must he open the door and look out to see what’s happening outside now?

• Thinking about how the Snowmen manifest reminds me of Ray going bye-bye after accidentally choosing the form of Gozer the Gozerian. (The giant homicidal Stay Puft Marshmallow man was a helluva lot scarier and a helluva lot funnier, however.)

• The memory worm: it’s Torchwood’s retcon drug. So why not just use retcon? It’s already established in the universe, after all. Except… it’s not “funny.” It’s one thing to ignore established canon for a good story. But to ignore it for a few bad, obvious, juvenile jokes?

• Speaking of juvenile…

There’s a whole “girls are icky and strange” thing going on, as if Moffat thinks he’s writing only for eight-year-old (hetero) boys. Like with Strax’s “Sir, do not discuss my reproductive cycle in front of enemy girls!” (even though all of Strax’s other references to Clara involve him mistaking her for a boy). And this:

Doctor Who Snowmen Jenna-Louise Coleman Matt Smith

Really? He’s a thousand years old, he’s been everywhere and done everything, and kissing is strange and funny to him? What is Moffat thinking?

The director, however… Saul Metzstein is more like 13:

Doctor Who Snowmen Jenna-Louise Coleman

(Note that this is only the camera — and by extension, the viewer — leering. There is no other character present whose perspective this could be. On the other hand, when Clara checks out the Doctor as he’s climbing up the ladder to the TARDIS ahead of her, do we get an ogling zooming closeup of his ass, which would at least have some context? Of course not. Cuz that would be “icky,” I guess.)

• “Winter is coming,” Simeon says — twice. Is Moffat riffing on Game of Thrones? It’s all I could think of at those moments. And it’s impossible to imagine that Moffat is not aware of GoT’s most famous line, even if he’s never seen the show.

• So, Victorian not-really-a-governess Clara has the same birthday as Doctor Who:

Doctor Who Snowmen

Although she was born 97 years earlier. Should we read anything into this?

• I haven’t Googled it, but I have no doubt that someone has already written new lyrics for Les Misérables’ “Castle on a Cloud”: “There is a TARDIS on a cloud / I like to go there in my dreams…”

• Complete waste of the fine figure of a man that is Tom Ward.

Doctor Who Snowmen Tom Ward

He had nothing to do except stand around exuding stiff, cold Victorian fatherhood. Shame.

• I haven’t actually read any of the Darkover books so I don’t know if there’s anything to this.

Doctor Who Snowmen Darkover

Is there something going on in this episode that is Darkover-ish? Or is this a coincidence or a one-off joke?

• Thoughts on who Clara really is:

She has “an acute sense of time,” so perhaps a Time Lord? Romana? The Rani? Is she regenerating after her deaths? Can perhaps some Time Lords regenerate without changing appearance?

It’s all dreams within dreams! Oswin dreamed herself, in a way, as Soufflé Girl. Could the Doctor be dreaming Clara? (It was the Doctor’s line about the Great Intelligence and Simeon — “He dreamed you. How could you still exist?” — that prompted this.)

• Horrible quotes:

“Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words.” –Madame Vastra (as if someone couldn’t lie in a single word)

“Sir, please do not noogey me during combat prep.” –Strax (ugh)

“You’re not clever or funny, and you’ve got tiny little legs.” –the Doctor (since when does the Doctor make fun of people?)

“The ultimate fusion of snow and humanity.” –the Doctor (whut?)

“It’s not rain. It’s crying.” –the Doctor (*groan*)

(next: “The Bells of Saint John”)

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  • Chris

    I agree with basically every point you make.  I felt this was a VERY childish episode; I personally dislike the apparently endless cast of “the Doctor’s friends” that seems to pop up constantly.  The Doctor doesn’t need sidekicks.  He needs a good companion, then add adventures, and you get good Who.  I’m VERY weary of vast, barely coherent story arcs that seriously detract from the individual episodes.  

    In this episode in particular, I cringed at most, if not all of the jokes.  It was so grating.  I understand that the Christmas episodes tend to be a bit sillier, but yeesh.  I do like Jenna Louise Coleman so far, but can we please have a companion who is just a person, and isn’t some enigma?  I’ve just gotten back into Who after drifting away after the chaos of “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and the episodes following, and so far I’m teetering towards disinterest again.

  • DarkMagess

    It was weird how the Doctor kept insulting Strax. Although I did find Strax amusing in his many many calls for violence. It was just… the Doctor’s sad so he’s a jerk now? What?

    I don’t think Clara’s use of “pond” was supposed to be seen *by her* as meaningful as it was for us and for the Doctor. Clearly, the whole conversation was contrived by Moffat to get her there. But from her perspective she was giving the Doctor the locus of the problem and presenting him with a puzzle. Pond? What about a pond? Which pond? The trail begins and ends there, so what better piece of information could there be to give?

    The TARDIS in the sky was just weird. How would it even work? 

    The memory slug thing? Straight out of Farscape it seemed to me. 

  • bronxbee

    i was highly  disappointed in this episode… i miss the days of Russell Davies, when the episodes may

    have been a bit silly, but they carried an idea through to
    the end…  and stayed true to the Doctor’s character and the
    character of the Doctor’s companions and their friends. 

  • Cindy

    I actually liked the whole “Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words.” thing. It was obviously conjured up by Moffat just to get Clara to say Pond, but the thing where Vastra asks her why the Doctor would help her, and she answers something like kindness, and then Vastra goes on a rant why that would never happen…  I thought it was sort of clever that Clara just shrugged and echoed, “Words.” (remember: words=lies)

    Also, why the hell does the Doctor think the universe will bargain with him? It’s not sentient.

    And the Doctor being mean to Strax? That was too out of character for me.
    Snow is a bad villain, but i didn’t mind the fairy tale comparisons too much. 

  • Great recap. I agree completely. I was really looking forward to this episode mainly to see more of Madame Vastra and Jenny, but I was nonplussed with what we got. I’m always happy for more lesbian representation on TV, but this was cheesy and there wasn’t anything real shown, except a little in the background, mostly just silly dialog.

    This is off topic, but your mention of the Ghostbusters Staypuft Marshmallow man reminded me, when I was a kid I loved Ghostbusters and watched it all the time and the safe phrase my parents had that I was supposed to hear from any stranger before going anywhere with them was “Mother Pussbucket”.

  • Epurple12

    It was pretty silly but there were a few things I liked. It was nice to see Vastra and Jenny, and Clara looks pretty promising. And as for Strax, I didn’t mind that he was played for comic relief. The Sontarans haven’t been scary for years. I think they were actually created as a criticism of America’s foreign policy. So it was fine for me. That scene with the staircase was breathtaking. Anyway, I have to watch the rest of the season, since Neil Gaiman’s writing another episode. Personally I think Moffat’s just stretching himself too thin by running two shows. Season 5 was wonderful and so was the first half of season 6. He’ll probably leave after the 50th anniversary. I would like to see Matt Smith under another show runner. 
    Well, that was a really long comment, but does anyone have an idea about who could replace Moffat?

  • kitty

    Huh.  I have been hating WHO for so long, and was amazed that I actually enjoyed this episode.  Which is funny, because I pretty much agree with all your comments.  I think I am just so relieved to have the Ponds finally gone, and was really liking Jenna-Louise Coleman so much, that none of Moffat’s usual idiocies bothered me as much as they usually do.  I will agree that this Doctor is a jerk and not very nice; I really started actively disliking him in the horrible Angels in New York episode, because he is just kind of a self-centered childish ass with really annoying mannerisms.  But I do have high hopes for Clara for some reason, although Moffat has dashed pretty much every one of my high hopes ever since he took over.  

    So now I’m just confused.

  • My problem with it was that it was so full of (in-) jokes and continuity references.

    And yet I was boggled to find, after I checked out reviews and comments on the web after watching it, that it was very warmly received. I took that as suggesting that what people wanted on Christmas Day was a collection of inconsequential, but amusing, fluff. And that was precisely what Steven Moffat served up.

    I’ve also been reading Lawrence Miles’ old blog entries in which he rails against Moffat (in intensely personal terms: Miles wrote some Doctor Who books and therefore met Moffat quite often). Miles’ critiques are worth reading, though they are very aggressive. So much so that I found myself questioning even the parts where I agree with him. But one thing Miles excoriated (about Davies, as well as Moffat) was what he saw as the inappropriate and ill-fitting insertion of standard “emotional-arc” tropes into the programme for no other reason than to please a certain segment of the current audience.

    But I’m very interested in the way Moffat is bringing out “anti-fan” tendencies: the way previous affection for the programme is transformed into vitriol when it stops being the particular combination that had attracted viewers.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Whelp, so much for the love fest. When you get to the point where you say say, without irony, “since when does the Doctor make fun of people?”, I have to wonder what show you think you’re watching.

    Anyway, every Xmas Doctor Who show has been bad. Every single one. Yes, even that one. Yes, especially that one. This one was at least perfectly innocuous, largely devoid of schlock, and avoided utter pointlessness by setting up something interesting.

  • ScottyEnn

    “Also, why the hell does the Doctor think the universe will bargain with him? It’s not sentient.”

    Surely the same reasons many people faced with dying loved ones will, in a moment of desperation, try and make a deal with God or Fate or whatever along the lines of “if you let him/her live, I’ll never do [X] again” or “I’ve always been a good person, [various deity or universal force or whatever] owes me”  or such — desperation. There’s a reason why ‘bargaining’ is considered one of the stages of grief, after all.

  • ScottyEnn

    Yes, much as I enjoy reading Maryann’s views on “Doctor Who” (even if it’s been a while since I’ve agreed with more than a few points she’s made), there doesn’t seem to be much love on display these days. 

  • Tattoosydney

    Ah yes, that Doctor who would never, ever, make fun of anyone….

    “Oh ho, ho, ho, ho, brilliant. It’s you. You’re my favourite, you are. You are the best! Do you know why? Because you’re so thick. You’re Mister Thick Thick Thickity Thick Face from Thicktown, Thickania. And so’s your dad.” – The Girl in the Fireplace

    “Harry Sullivan is an imbecile.” – Revenge of the Cybermen

    “You know, you are a classic example of the inverse ratio between the size of the mouth and the size of the brain.” – Robots of Death

    “Well, I’ll tell you something that should be of vital interest to you. That you, sir, are a nitwit!” – Inferno

    “Allow me to congratulate you, sir. You have the most totally closed mind that I’ve ever encountered.” – Frontier in Space

    “Well, my doctorate is purely honorary, and Harry here is only qualified to work on sailors.” – Ark in Space

    “You’ve had this place redecorated, haven’t you? I don’t like it!” – The Five Doctors

    The Second Doctor: Goodbye… Fancypants!
    The Third Doctor: Scarecrow!
    – The Five Doctors

    “Mickey the idiot, the world is in your hands.” – World War Three

    “An unintelligent enemy is far less dangerous than an intelligent one, Jamie. Just act stupid. Do you think you can manage that?” – The Dominators

    “The human brain, small though it is, can be quite effective if used properly.” – The Two Doctors

    The Second Doctor: Dastari, you have more letters after your name than anyone I know, enough for two alphabets. How is it that you can still be a stupid, incorrigable and thoroughly objectionible old idiot?! (Turns to Jamie) And what are you smiling at you… hairy legged highlander?
    Jamie: I’m just admiring your (quoting the Doctor’s words earlier in the TARDIS) diplomatic skills. – The Two Doctors

    The Second Doctor: Do try and keep out of my way in future and in past, there’s a good fellow. The time continuum should be big enough for the both of us. (Patting The Sixth Doctor’s belly) Just. – The Two Doctors

    The Second Doctor: Tea time already, nurse?
    Sontaran: I do not understand.
    The Second Doctor: Just as well; face like yours wasn’t made for laughing. – The Two Doctors

  • Making fun of villains? Okay. But making fun of those who are supposed to be his friends is rarer. And Strax appears to exist *only* to be made fun of by the Doctor. Strax isn’t a character. He doesn’t advance the plot. He’s just a punching bag. And there’s satire in a lot of the examples you provide, especially from the classic show. There’s no satire in how Moffat depicts Strax here.

  • ScottyEnn

    I’m going to freely admit that I really enjoyed this episode (not that it was the greatest one ever, but I had more fun watching than not), so this is probably colouring my response, but I do have to say that while I do basically agree that this was “a pantomime of Doctor Who” — the disagreement comes as to whether that’s a bad thing, since pantomimes can be lots of fun — I have to say that some of these points really seem a little bit … nitpicky. Such as: 

    “Simeon walking around being generally creepy and no one finding that odd”
    This was the Victorian era; you couldn’t swing a cat in London without hitting a dozen similarly buttoned-up creepy weirdoes like Simeon. 

    “and no one noticing that two dozen men have gone missing (having been eaten by carnivorous snow) and making the connection they were all working for Simeon on that day.”

    Again, this is the Victorian era; it came equipped with lots of poor, unemployed, unskilled and probably homeless labourers from all over the Empire who’s careers basically amounted to “walk around town today and see who wants some heavy lifting done and is willing to pay maybe a few shillings and a bite to eat”. They’ve been told they’re being paid in food, after all, that hardly suggests the existence of an obvious paper trail leading right to Simeon’s front door or anything.

    “Must he open the door and look out to see what’s happening outside now?”

    Is someone responding to a knock on their front door in person really a plothole? It would have hardly been thrilling television to have Clara knock on the door and … wait there while the Doctor checked the scanners.

    “as if someone couldn’t lie in a single word”

    You could, granted, but you’d need more and more words to MAINTAIN the lie, surely. 

  • I’m doing my best. I still love the show. I just don’t love what Moffat is doing with it.

  • Tattoosydney

    Type your comment here.Seriously though, Maryann, it makes me very sad that you seem to have lost the ability to enjoy what is, and has always been, a silly, nonsensical yet genuinely wonderful show, and that, instead of coming from a place of love, you seem to be trapped in nitpickery and humbuggery.

    How did Clara get on the coach? Maybe she ran after it and climbed on. More importantly, who cares? Why would you let this, or any other minor nit or collection of nits, so destroy your enjoyment of a fun Christmas romp?

    Why did snowmen eat people? Why did the Cybermen come up with a stupid plan to hide in crates so they could be smuggled aboard the Wheel in Space? Why did groups of scientists think that using a time vortex to transport dinosaurs to clear London, or drilling to the centre of the earth, or sending a robot to steal a disintegrator gun before bringing on a nuclear war were all brilliant plans? Who thought sticking a big green eye onto a shower curtain and calling it ambassador instead of “giant green penis” would convince anyone? Why would they devote almost an entire episode to a seemingly endless chase involving Bessie, the Whomobile, a gyrocopter, a hovercraft and a comedy yokel policeman?

    I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t think critically about the show, but I suspect your quibbles with everything have reached such critical mass that you just can’t let yourself enjoy it any more. And that’s sad.

    Perhaps you need to go back and watch some classic series again, and just let yourself revel in the silliness, the nonsense, the sheer shameless joy of it all for a while?

  • Tattoosydney

    Perhaps they thought (like me) that it was funny?

    Come on, “psychotic potato dwarf” is funny.

    The porter’s scene in Macbeth doesn’t really advance the plot, but good old Will put it in to keep the punters laughing…

  • RogerBW

    This is the way I’ve felt about the Christmas episodes for a while now, alas. I want to like the show but it keeps kicking me in the teeth.

    Narrative chaos means no narrative tension. If anything can happen, I stop thinking “how will they get out of this” and start thinking “oh well, something will get them out of this”.

    And if Doctor Who had always been so invested as this in making cheap jokes about people’s appearance, it wouldn’t have got the love as a celebration of diversity that it earned over twenty-five years…

    If this is Who soup, it’s boiling the audience goodwill off the carcase until there’s nothing left.

  • Jem

    I only dip in  occasionally to Doctor Who now, usually at Christmas (only saw Asylum of the Daleks and the cowboy episode from last year – didn’t mind Asylum but thought Cowboy very very dull) so reactions will only be as a casual viewer. Really hard to say how I felt about this. On one hand, more enjoyable than last year’s (and hubby didn’t fall asleep) but on the other, thought less cohesive plot than last year’s. The recording of both quickly consigned to the delete function. At least love didn’t say the day again – oh wait….. Hmmm, maybe based on the across the board critical and fan love for this year’s over last year’s, I’ll be swept along and put this one down as ‘meh’ rather than úgh’.
    The Good:
    – looked gorgeous
    – like the new intro and music – big improvement on last couple of seasons and a great nod to the past
    – Doctor’s new outfit is very stylish
    – much better interior – disliked the cluttered look of the most recent TARDIS – always felt to me like being mugged by whimsy
    – no more Amy (hooray)
    – Matt Smith reigned in the awful willy wonka impersonation from last year’s Christmas special and spoke clearly and slowly enough for someone of my advanced years to understand
    – the scene with the ladder leading up to the TARDIS was very lovely and Christmassy
    – the actress playing Clara has a great screen presence
    – I read the Ít’s not raining – it’s crying’as Moffat ironically self-referencing the nadir of last yéar’s vomity-womity ending in the Christmas special (well that’s my take as I can’t see why else he would include something so peurile)

    The Bad:
    – too much leery schoolboyish innuendo humour in one episode – even above the usual amount I have come to expect from Mr Moffat (as an aside, I am genuinely disappointed that both Steven Moffat and Matt Smith have spoken about the new companion as a ‘sexy babe’and ‘hot chick’ in public utterances. I am quite surprised that there ‘hasn’t been more criticism of this. Apart from being disrepectful to the actress it reduces the companion to a pair of pert breasts and/or good legs to leer at – rant over…. and on we go)
    – the ‘meet cute’on the carriage
    – the ‘Doctor Who?’repitition – we *get* it Steven
    – the gag with the memory worm went on for a tad too long
    – the jolly japing with the trio
    – why did Tom Ward bother to turn up?
    – couldn’t figure whether REG was deliberately acting in a stilted manner or had a toothache on the day of filming
    – plot was flimsy – another example of nice set pieces stuck together with audience goodwill and the fog of Christmas overindulgence

    The Ugly:
    – please stop already with the smugging” to camera and breaking the fourth wall
    – while the actresses who play Mdm Vashtra and Jenny are good, it felt like they were thrown in this to pad out the plot. I feel as if Mdm Vashtra and Jenny were only created as characters because there were some leftover Silurian costumes and Steven Moffat thought it sniggeringly funny to have a lesbian lizard (lizard, tongue – geddit).
    – the Sherlock reference
    – the POND one word shtick
    – the kiss (although I have read elsewhere that this was intended an ironic backhander to RTD as he introduced the trope that each companion must kiss the doctor and getting it out of the way signals that there will be no UST between these two). Personally I thought it was Moffat making sure we knew for sure that the new companion is a ‘hottie'”

    The future:
    I do hope Clara is not shaping up to be another spunky River Mary Sue. Less of the teenage prattling çhin boy’ and ‘souffle girl’dialogue and please can we see someone who finds wonder in travelling through time and space. But the actress is very appealing and look as though will work well with Matt Smith as long as the quippy one-liners don’t give way to the development of depth of character and plot.

    I also hope we are not going to see some timey-whimey explanation of the mystery of Clara.

    Unlike last  year, I might just tune in to see how this will develop.

    P.S. For anyone in Australia, I hope you are watching UK TV each Sunday as they will present a treasure from the past taking us up to the 50th anniversary. Although I had seen Án Unearthly Child’ before, last Sunday’s ‘The Aztecs’was new to me and I thought it was fantastic. The costumes, makeup and incidental music were as good as anything we see today but with the benefit of a well thought out story, great characterisation and a genuine sense of wonder. I am *so looking forward to seeing what other delights we have in store this year.

  • I think you’re reaching here. Complaining that a copious list was a list of villains is just unreasonable. The Doctor himself, Harry Sullivan and Mickey loom large in a list of people whom the Doctor made fun of; K9 and Adric are just two more of many names that could be added to the list. 

    Dr Rocketscience was quite right. It isn’t a love fest. The fact that you (used to) love the show doesn’t mean this is coming from a place of love in anything other than a chronological sense; rather it makes you an anti-fan. And I write as someone who didn’t even like this episode much.

  • If this is Who soup, it’s boiling the audience goodwill off the carcase until there’s nothing left.

    Yeah, but is it? ‘Cos that was what I wondered, and when I hunted around a bit I found that lots of people seemed to like it. I think there’s a problem here, and it’s revealed by that expression “kicking me in the teeth”. Like MaryAnn, you seem to be taking your dislike with the current show a little too personally. It isn’t letting you down. It isn’t kicking you in the teeth. It’s just not to your taste. You aren’t owed anything simply because you want to like the show.

  • It’s entirely possible I’m being unreasonable. The Doctor’s behavior toward Strax just felt very un-Doctor-like to me.

    I’m sorry if how I’m responding to the show doesn’t seem like love. But I wouldn’t keep watching if I didn’t love it overall. And I wouldn’t be as disappointed by recent episodes if I didn’t love it so much.

  • I never understand this kind of reaction. I’m not “letting” myself enjoy it? How would that work? Do you often refuse to “let” yourself enjoy something? Do you often lie to yourself about what you’re enjoying and what you aren’t enjoying?

    Serious questions. I genuinely do not understand this attitude.

  • Bassygalore

    Maybe your expectations for Mr. Moffatt, on this show, are just too high. I’ve often felt that too many people put him on a pedestal, because he wrote a handful of decent episodes when he was just a writer and not a showrunner. I’m sure it’s quite difficult to put together a series of a show that’s been around for (almost) 50 years and keep it interesting/fresh. 

    From my point of view, RTD and Moffat have differing approaches. RTD brought the audience in (emotionally) as part of the experience, whereas Moffatt does not. We’re kept at arms length, just watching and when you feel like you’re not part of the experience, then you question. If you begin to question and it logically doesn’t hold up, then you nit-pick and wonder why you’re there. It’s easier to let go of logic and accept the fantasy if you’re emotionally involved. They are just different in their approach and it seems you prefer the way RTD approached it, which is not a criticism – it just is what it is. You won’t get true warmth and an emotional connection in anything Moffatt does, because that doesn’t seem to be…him.

  • silver_devastation

    I enjoyed the episode on a superficial, suspension-of-disbelief level, although I agree with many of the criticisms voiced here. It must be said though that my expectations were low to begin with, as I hated the Christmas special two years ago and refused to watch the one after that. 

    The bit about the TARDIS in the clouds was well done, I thought. It was a cheesy fairytale image to appeal to children, of course, but that’s okay, and it also served to underline the Doctor’s isolation quite beautifully — how much further can you possibly get away from Earth while still being on it? (Why he would be on Earth in the first place though is, as MaryAnn said, a huge and dissatisfying plot hole.)
    Plus, the new control room is just stunning. And I love MaryAnn’s insinuation that the Doctor spent his time away from people redecorating. Come on, let him pout and grieve and redecorate! Working on the TARDIS has always been his primary source of comfort. When he isn’t running from the past with the help of his companions, that is. Maybe we should just assume that the Doctor can’t let go yet. He’s not over losing Amy and Rory, obviously, not yet, and this is why he stayed high up in the clouds above Earth, his link to the Ponds: he’s there, but at a distance, keeping the world at arm’s length. 

    What I don’t like is how the Doctor’s female companions have gotten progressively more sexed up. Rewatching Season 1 of New Who recently, I was stunned by how underdressed Billie Piper’s Rose is. It’s baggy clothes and unflattering designs all the way. I didn’t even notice this the first time around, but it became painfully apparent coming back to Season 1 after watching Moffat’s Who. The only time the series is explicitly showing off Rose’s body is when frickin’ Cassandra takes over. And then it is clearly extremely off-putting to the Doctor: “What have you done to Rose? Give her back!”

    Now, we get Clara Oswin Oswald, first in a sharp red dress making soufflés in her own little fantasy world (though it continues to baffle me why that would be any sane woman’s fantasy world), then in corset-tight period costumes, emphasizing her waist and chest in ways the show has never done before. Including lingering shots on her cleavage. What the hell? 

    See also: MaryAnn’s spot-on commentary regarding the Doctor and Strax in this episode. I felt that the Doctor’s continual denigration of him was disgusting and juvenile. Oh, so you’re picking on someone because of his size and physical differences? Way to go, Doctor. Hope the children in the playground learn from you. 

    Moffat’s treatment of minorities — and with it the whole show’s — is pretty much on a downward trajectory. This is a sad progression for a show as amazing as this, and also for a show which, simply by virtue of its very alien but at the same time very human-looking main character, could so easily question received notions of gender roles, racial stereotyping, etc. 

    (I get that that’s not what the show is about. But it could certainly do better than going back to the 1950’s, what with women in fancy red dresses baking soufflés.)

  • RogerBW

    I’d agree with you that MaryAnn and I aren’t owed anything, but I think you may be misinterpreting our dislike – in my case at least, it’s not “this show is not giving me the specific things I liked about Doctor Who when I watched it as a kid”, it’s “this show is not even trying to supply a coherent narrative, it’s become a series of cool moments rather than a story”. If that’s all it takes to entertain people, bully for them, and bring on the moving shapes and sudden noises channel; but let’s not pretend it’s anything more than it is. Once in a while, the old show managed to do something really unexpected and impressive; the Moffat iteration of the new show seems to be deliberately avoiding any possibility of that, in its desperate grasp on the maximum number of easily-amused audience members.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Now you just sound like a snob. I mean, seriously, “the moving shapes and sudden noises channel”?

  • I think perhaps the issue is that Moffat is a far better writer (with some oversight and editing) than he is a showrunner. On *Sherlock* he does have Mark Gatiss as a balancing factor — there is at least one other person on his level who can tell him that something isn’t working. But he doesn’t seem to have that on *Doctor Who.*

    Is expecting a reasonably coherent story really having expectations that are too high? Are my comments truly nitpicky? I don’t think they are. I’m commenting on the very foundation of what Moffat is trying to do in this episode. It’s the exact opposite of nitpicky.

  • I agree too that I am not owed anything, and I don’t feel as if I am. But on the flip side, I do not owe the show love merely because it’s *Doctor Who.*

  • Roseblossom

     Excuse me, but The Doctor has always made fun of the people he loves the most. He’s teased Jamie, Ace, Sarah Jane, Jo and many others long before he teased Rory or Strax or anybody else.

    Doctor Who has always been quirky, ridiculous, silly-crazy fun. Don’t like it? Stop watching.

    Also… did you not see A Good Man Goes To War? Madam Vastra and Jenny deserve their own spin-off because they are that awesome. A real force to be reckoned with and you’re putting them both down?

    PS: A visual of Clara changing her clothes is simply Clara changing her clothes. It’s the first hint we get that she has a secret identity.

  • Bassygalore

     It was just… the Doctor’s sad so he’s a jerk now? What?

    The (9th) Doctor was p*ssed off after he destroyed his own planet and was quite abrupt and rude to Rose when he met her. I don’t think it’s unusual that he (or anyone else) would become a withdrawn jerk after losing something important. He is the last child of Gallifrey – he very, very often acts as a child (full of wonder, enthusiastic, idealistic, selfish and full of Ego), so I just don’t see this as out of character.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    You have cogent commentary and you have nit-picks. And that would be fine, but the nit-picks are getting to be mean-spirited.

    This episode may be a pastiche of a half dozen half-finished ideas stitched together into a something that feels as much like a contractual obligation as a story, but you’re not willing to allow even those pieces to exist on their own terms anymore. And that unwillingness belies the idea of a criticism coming “from a place of love”.

  • Danielm80

    I’ve never doubted that you love the show, but it feels to me, sometimes, that your complaints and bitching aren’t coming from a place of love, they’re coming from a place of heartbreak. If that’s the case, I can sympathize. When I saw the previews for this Christmas special, I thought: Steven Moffat is going to let me down again, isn’t he?

    I loved parts of the special and disliked other parts very strongly, which is how I feel about almost every Christmas special. The problem is that, at his best, Steven Moffat is so brilliant that he sets very high expectations. That’s a really good problem to have.

  • Jim Mann

    I don’t find the question of why the Doctor would hang out near Earth a plot hole.  If the Doctor is going to, frankly, sulk like Achilles in his tent, where else would he do it than near his favorite planet? 

  • Roseblossom

     In essence, you’ve become one of those annoying anti-fans who watch a show because they love to hate it.

  • bronxbee

    i’m with you RogerBW… i love the show, but all the things i loved — including a cohesive silliness — are lacking these days.

  • silver_devastation

    Good point. If the Doctor truly never wanted to get involved again, there would be no reason to stay near Earth. There would be no story. But if he’s just hurt and sulking, then of course he’s staying. Sulking requires an observer — you sulk because you want someone to react. Which is where Clara comes in. 

    I guess the Doctor is written in a more child-like way because it’s a Christmas episode. That would explain why he treats Strax the way he does. The cleavage shot on the other hand is even more out of place then. 

  • RogerBW

    Not speaking for MaryAnn, but I think we’re coming from the same place: we’ve seen this show be so much better than it is now, and we want it to be better again. Not the same, not a clone of the way it was – we can watch the old show whenever we want to – but not the last season of Babylon 5 either.

  • bronxbee

    as i expressed to MaryAnn previously:

     if you’re such a curmudgeon and you don’t want to be bothered with humanity… why do you keep your TARDIS — which can go anywhere in time and space — anchored (and why is it anchored?) above earth? and not so far above that a human (or humanoid) can’t climb to it without oxygen deprivation? you would have parked it on the moon or something.  he knows he always gets involved with humans… so get away from the pesky creatures.

    also:  i kept thinking *why* is this woman running after the Doctor after only seeing him for a few seconds…. and why through snowy streets half naked? why do all the women in DW run through snowy streets half naked (rosita in that christmas episode a few years ago…) ? also, the kissing… believe me, i’m delighted to have DW kissing.  but not where the Doctor acts like he’s getting cooties.

    last:   i see “manic pixie dream girl” stuff going on with oswin.  why can’t we have a nice, hearty, brave but centered companion?  why can’t we have an alien companion?  why not another male companion (and not for the slash-fiction possibilities… just as a change!)?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    why does the Doctor hang around humans at all? Cause he wants too. You don’t have to read very deep into the behavior at all to see that he’s looking for an excuse to get involved. I suppose the story could have drawn us a picture, but it seemed obvious to me. I’m just glad they got the “the Doctor haz a sad” plotline dealt with in one episode, instead of dragging it out for the rest of season 7. 

  • And you “Dr”, almost always sound supercilious and obnoxious. You might want to check yourself as well.

  • Fionna

    Really? I get the impression it pains her to have to point some of these things out. So I still see ‘place of love’, noting that sometimes love can be a tricky beast. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Is there something I said you want to challenge? 

  • Cindy

    I think I found it a little weird because:
    a- The Doctor has never outright done this before (to the scale that his actions were actually affected), even though he has lost loved ones before. He doesn’t let his grief get in the way of his ‘job’
    b- It seemed that the Universe bargained back. I still holding out that the Universe is not sentient- you can ask for a rainstorm of tears to melt snow and you can ask it to reincarnate a friend… but for that to happen and just solve a whole episode? Um…
    But oh well, I still enjoyed the episode.

  • trigguy

    Agree with many of the criticisms, but funnily enough still enjoyed it.  Difficult to defend really, but let’s try this one: my kids loved it.  44 comments so far and no-one has actually mentioned its appeal to children yet.  Let’s remember it’s not all for us old fans.

  • Rebecca261

    Hated this episode.

  •  I’m with you on the Strax stuff. I was mildly amused at first, then surprised when it continued through the whole episode. It just seemed really mean to me, and not like something The Doctor would do.

  •  Reminds me of the “turn your brain off” people. I know I’m not capable of it.

  • Jim Mann

    Not only Clara.  He’s sulking in front of Vastra/Jennie/Strax, and in fact is still interacting with them.  He’s showing up from time to time to tell them that he’s not going to show up.  It seems very much the case of part of him wants to follow through with not helping any more, to go into hiding, and part of him really wants to be dragged back into the world.  So he sulks publicly. 

  • Tattoosydney

    If my niece wanted me to watch Twilight with her, I could either go in thinking that this is going to be a maudlin, nonsensical mess of sparkles and toothy dullards, or I could go in thinking that it’s going to be a maudlin, nonsensical mess of sparkles and toothy dullards that I might somehow enjoy… I could have a few drinks, crack a few jokes and, yes, let myself enjoy it, for all its flaws.

    And then if I wanted to, I could go away and write a review which made fun of its shortcomings, which reveled in its crappiness, which made light of the experience while still conveying how bone crushingly awful I thought it was. I could hate it, but still enjoy hating it.

    Or I could write 1000 ill humoured words bitchin’ and nitpicking about everything that suggest that I got no joy out of it, no, not even for a single moment.

    The thing that saddens me most when I read your reviews of Who is that you don’t even seem to enjoy hating the episodes and the comic possibilities of that, that you seem so primed to dislike the show that five minutes in you’re already complaining about how Clara got on top of the damn carriage as if that matters in any way at all, that your review exudes this visceral repulsion for, a personal grievance about, everything about the episode, as if Moffat has personally come by your house and crapped on your birthday cake.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, and perhaps you can’t change how you feel, but I miss the MaryAnn who wrote this:

    “Apparently some people look at this episode and see a giant goofy robot and bad FX and cheesy melodrama and come to the conclusion that this is somehow a problem. I am not one of those people. I look at this episode and I see a giant goofy robot and bad FX and cheesy melodrama and I find myself astonished — once again, and for about the 187,645th time since 2005 — that I’ve refallen so madly, stupidly in love with this ridiculous television show.
    Apparently, some people look at “The Next Doctor” and think, Russell Davies gave us socks for Christmas. I look at “The Next Doctor” and think, Russell Davies gave us Doctor Who for Christmas. What could be better?”

  • Tattoosydney

    No, she hates hating it, and that’s why it makes me sad, rather than annoying me like those reflexive haters on Gallifrey Base do.

  • Why would a Silurian say “Pray for a miracle”? Good question, but then, I’ve always found the Silurians rather too anthropomorphic  for my tastes. Are they brothers-from-another-phylum? But given that they exist, I don’t really see much basis for criticising the imagery they adopt in their adopted tongue (I suppose that the TARDIS isn’t translating).

    I also disagree about the “truth is singular” scene. It seemed perfectly justified as it’s a common idea that lying often involves over-elaborate justification, and the ambiguous answer “pond” seemed perfectly reasonable. And rather clever, actually.

    Overall, I think that I’m forgiving of the many unexplained elements of the story because it’s fairly clear that we’ve only seen half of the story, and I assume all the missing details will be provided. Mind you, I thought that about Lake Silencio and instead of a simple reveal, look how much more complex everything got!

  • My comment as I believe is fairly clear, was directed at your tone and manner of commenting, not the factuality or content in them.

  • “It just seemed … not like something The Doctor would do.” is perhaps a revealing sentence, because inevitably, “The Doctor” in that sentence is far narrower than “The Doctor” as a character that appears in a near 50-year-old show. For example, how about caving in the skull of a primitive human with a large rock? Would you say that’s like something the Doctor would do? Or pushing someone into an acid bath? Or getting ready to shoot Davros with a gun? Or a whole host of other examples.

    There are plenty of fans of a large swath of the series who passionately argue that “flirting with Madame Pompadour/Rose/Jack/whoever” is most emphatically not something the Doctor would do. But he did.

    The Doctor never fails to surprise. Not always in a “nice” way, I grant you. But it would be a stagnant show if it were any different (and to those of you who think it now is a stagnant show, I can only say, compare it now to the RTD era, and reflect that in a year or two it’ll change again).

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So… you don’t think I’m wrong, but… what? You just want to make a tone argument?

    OK, then, I guess. Sorry if I offend you. Can’t please everyone, I suppose.

  • Although I sort of agree with you, and Dr Rocketscience has put his finger on how MaryAnn is now looking for stuff to attack, I do think her point about the focus on Clara is correct. Undeniably, one of the strongest parts of the audience response to the episode was the male response to Clara, and as MaryAnn pointed out, the visual presentation of Clara was framed in a particular way.

    A visual of Clara changing her clothes is hardly simply Clara changing her clothes. I mean, you’re right in what it hints at about a secret identity, but you can’t seriously be suggesting that gynophile viewers of the show (many of whom went online after the show to express their appreciation of Jenna-Louise Coleman) generally missed the sexual connotations, can you?

  • I used the term “anti-fans” earlier in this thread myself, so I’d just like to point out that while I agree with the term “anti-fan”, I utterly dissociate myself from the term “annoying”.

    In the, er, technical sense in which “anti-fan” is used in the field of fandom studies, I think both MaryAnn and Roger are taking up an anti-fan position, at least partly. But this doesn’t have any intrinsic negative connotations. I mean, as Roger points out, there is the last season of Babylon 5, or he could have mentioned Lost or Buffy or, er, Doctor Who at numerous previous instances of its existence.

  • Your comment was fairly clear, but it was, as you point out, about “tone and manner,” which are not clear. There’s a lot of interpretation involved in them, especially since comments may be written in particular emotional frames of mind.

    For what it’s worth, although I can see why you would take Dr Rocketscience’s comment as supercilious and obnoxious, I can see it being a relatively mild questioning of a comment by Roger which others would have responded to far more forcefully.

    We all have various levels of acquaintance with each other here, and that colours how we interact and interpret each other. Roger, for example, I have known for many years, and that makes it easier to express disagreement with him, because he’s going to know who’s saying it — I’m not just an anonymous troll on the Net. Similarly, Roger has been commenting on Flick Filosopher for years, as has Dr Rocketscience, so they have quite a significant body of knowledge of each other. The comment that got you upset was extraordinarily mild in context, and I’d be very surprised to learn that Roger was even slightly offended by it.

  • Absolutely not. I completely agree. So why claim that you do?

    Again, I would like to reiterate that I don’t characterise anti-fans as “annoying”. But wouldn’t it at least be better to put the “love” element in (chronological) context? Instead of saying that you love the show, and then complaining about stuff like Clara climbing on a cab, as if it’s worse than the Earth being towed through space, why not say that you used to love the show, and here’s why you don’t any more?

    You seemed to be clinging on to the “love” aspect, which was why I commented that you weren’t owed anything (fan love is unrequited…).

  • Roseblossom

     I’m female and also a feminist, and I didn’t see it that way. It’s just a girl changing her clothes in the back of a cab, and what you mostly see is her fingers undoing a button. I honestly saw no sexual innuendo at all, but if it pleased some tweenage kids I’m happy for them.

  • Roseblossom

     I quite agree. If you go back to Classic Who The Doctor has always been an uptight little sod until he comes to know and trust his companion(s). The same with the post-regeneration insanity; always there.

    Or, to quote Ten, rude and still not ginger.

  • Let’s remember it’s not all for us old fans

    Oh, but it is. Or so many old fans would have you believe. Especially the ones who insist, when they don’t like an episode, that this means that Doctor Who is now doomed and racing towards cancellation. (This last comment is not aimed at MaryAnn, by the way, who has not fallen for this particular antifan tendency, thank goodness, however much she may wheel out the “This is not Doctor Who” line).

    My son enjoyed it too.

  • And I’ve been reading flickfilosopher for many years myself and and commented several times. His “expert on everything” attitude and superior demeanor grate on me, not just in this instance but habitually. He may be erudite, I don’t know, but you can be erudite and not sound like you’re talking down to people constantly.

  • I think being female and also a feminist actually makes it harder for you to see this. I’m (gynophile) male and also a feminist (insofar as feminist theory permits me to be), and the second of those two characteristics makes me well aware that the former of those two, presented with the still photo MaryAnn used to make her point, leaps straight away on the sexual aspect. She’s right: the framing of the shot is very clear. And I don’t have to be a teenage kid to have that reaction (indeed, I suspect that teenage kids are less likely to be aroused by something as subtle and merely suggestive as fingers undoing a button). You can tut tut at me for that all you like, and you’d be right to do so. But I think you’ll find it’s true of a large proportion of the gynophile audience.

  • ScottyEnn

    “Blimey, you know how to sulk, don’t you?!”

    Seemed appropriate. :-)

  • Sjhshj

    I thought this was the best christmas episode so far. It is a christmas episode, kids are watching it, it’s meant to just be heart warming family entertainment so why, why, why are you nitpicking and looking for plot holes that don’t matter at all? While I believe that everyone is entitled to an opinion, I couldn’t help reading your article and thinking ‘Wrong, wrong, seriously?’ I think people haven’t been enjoying doctor who in the Moffat era because they purposely want to catch him out and look for faults now. if you go back to Tennant’s time the show was riddled with holes and there were episodes like ‘Love and Monsters’. If this same episode had been written by anyone else I’m sure everyone would love it. Also 90% of the people that describe the doctor’s actions as ‘un-doctorish’ don’t know what they’re talking about. Tennant’s doctor not only made fun of Mickey but he had no problem stealing his girlfriend from him. And the episode would hardly be interesting if the doctor was sulking on a planet, by himself. The cloud visuals were stunning and magical (kinda like chirstmas) and the whole point of it is that he can’t stay away even if he wants to.

  • ScottyEnn

    “though it continues to baffle me why that would be any sane woman’s fantasy world”

    To be fair, she’s been converted to a Dalek at this point. Suggesting she’s not entirely a ‘sane woman’ under those circumstances doesn’t seem entirely like a stretch. 

  • Roseblossom

     You are most likely correct on this particular subject; I can see why it might come across as a sexual thing, but I personally wasn’t feeling it (although, granted, Jenna is very pretty and has a lovely figure). Possibly I’ve seen too many TV shows in which the protagonist – of any gender – has to get changed in the back of a cab for their “other” job and so it didn’t strike me as anything more than that. I assumed that the frame they shot was due to lack of space and not to specifically concentrate on her cleavage (they already did that with River just a few too many times). When you think about it, we’re supposed to be looking at Clara through a cab window, and her torso would be pretty much all you’d be able to see. Gah, I’ve got my history buff head on now… sorry :)

    I still don’t understand why the OP is talking about Clara running around half-naked though; that was typical Victorian dress unless you were moneyed. As for the girl in “The Next Doctor”, she’d been attacked by and rescued from the Cybermen, so I doubt there would have been much time for her to replace her damaged clothing :)

  • Roseblossom


  • What you say is quite right. The problem is that when the media is saturated with sexualised images of women, it’s hard to protest that any given image is “innocent”. Even if it is “innocent” in a production sense, it can be far from innocent in a reception sense. In other words, the dirty minds of an audience are quite capable of corrupting the angelic imaginings of an author.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Thanks, man.

    Still, Erin’s gotten some “likes”. Seems I have an anti-fan club. *sigh* 

    For the record, i had to look up “supercilious”. >.>

  • Your fan

    What interests me, and which no one else has mentioned (unless I skimmed comments too fast) the Doctor’s utter infatuation with Clara.  When has he ever gotten so googly-eyed and kissy with a companion at first sight?  We saw him kiss Amy gently and lovingly on the forehead, but The Doctor’s clutching her hand, closing her fingers around the Tardis key twice, kissing again, “I never know why, but I always know who.”  Hours after being inconsolable at the loss of the Ponds he seems, frankly, like he’s fallen in love.

  • Your fan

    Should have proofread.  He kissed Amy gently on the forehead …and the rest of the sentence was about Clara…

  • Chris

    Mary…you are slowly turning into Lawrence Miles. google him, specifically his Doctor Who blog, and you will see what happens when Doctor Who obsession goes caustic…it’s not pretty.

  • ScottyEnn

    To be fair, it’s Clara who’s instigating most of the kissing (hence Maryann’s criticism that he acts like a twelve-year-old when it happens). Take that out, he’s not that much more touchy-feely and lovey-dovey than he was around Amy.

  • Roseblossom

     True enough; some people will sexualise just about anything these days. As gorgeous as Jenna is though, and as cute and quirky and bouncy as both of her characters have been so far, I’m just not feeling the sexual thing. She kissed The Doctor merely to test him, and he’s intrigued initially by her sparky charm, and then intrigued further when he discovers that he met her previously, when she was a Dalek in the future. He knows that she is destined to be his travelling companion (“I never know when; I only know who”) and so he needs to find the version of her that isn’t going to die.

    I have my theories on Clara, kind of based on Astrid, but I’ll keep them to myself for now :)

  • Ide Cyan

    Maybe his obsessiveness isn’t pretty, but Lawrence Miles makes some great points and writes insightful articles about Doctor Who. It’s just a shame he ends up deleting most of them soon after they’re posted.
    His Dr Who blog is here, btw: beasthouse-lm2.blogspot.com

  • ScottyEnn

    I think part of the problem with Miles, though, is that his great points and insightful articles are kind of tainted by the fact that he clearly has some kind of personal beef with Steven Moffat and a tendency to get carried away with his arguments until he just ends up throwing around ridiculous ad hominem accusations (like the time he accused Neil Gaiman of all people of ripping him off) and generally looking like someone who has an axe to grind (and a barely-restrained desire to ram it into Moffat’s back afterwards).

  • Actually I agree with you within the story. I was just commenting on the well-established “Please the dads” aspect of the production.

  • A couple of hours after I posted, I found myself chortling at the idea that I was whiteknighting you.

    The likes are inevitable. You argue your corner, and that’s always going to put peoples’ backs up. And Erin is right: you certainly could be more diplomatic (says black Mr Pot). Whether the fact that you could be necessarily means that you should be is, of course, a whole different ball game.

    I read Erin’s comment shortly after reading a Charlie Brooker piece in the Guardian complaining about the excessive Internet habit of taking offence, that seemed to be relevant. Now I just need to curb my own tendencies towards offence-taking.

  • VanessaDK

    “Clara Oswin Oswald, first in a sharp red dress making soufflés in her
    own little fantasy world (though it continues to baffle me why that
    would be any sane woman’s fantasy world) ”

    I don’t know who you are but I love you!

  • VanessaDK

    “why can’t we have a nice, hearty, brave but centered companion?  ”

    yes please!

  • Isobel_A

    In wish fulfilment land?  Neil Gaiman.

  • InkAshlings

    It seems to me that the issue is understandings of ‘love fest.’ A love fest by this websites own definition is:

    So the assumption here is that you’ve seen the episodes I’ll be talking about — there will be spoilers galore, and I’m not gonna waste time recapping the plots — and that you love them, even when they’re not very good. (And there are a couple not-very-good ones coming up, I’m sorry to say. But Doctor Who is like sex: even when it’s bad, it’s good.)

    It does not mean that you generally love the show and therefore know it can be better/other variants of the same thing. No one is denying MAJ’s right to dislike and even nitpick at the episode. No one is denying MAJ’s right to say that Moffat’s Who no longer works for her. People ARE saying that to claim that this site still engages in who episode love fests is spurious, and pretty irrefutably so. 

    I agree with Dr Rocketscience and Paul? (apologies if I confuse usernames because there is a lot of comments to follow now) when they say that a love fest as defined by this website previously would entail finding things to love even within the incoherence or general episode annoyances. And deliberately pointing out awful quotes rather than good ones (and surely there were some good ones eg Clara’s quotes to the children about fish and time) instantly sets the tone for the comments to be negative about the episode- the amount of negativity in the initial review is more likely to encourage negativity in the comments rather than the love fest hoped for. There is a difference between poking gentle fun at a bad episode and being mean spirited about it. 

    But enough meta about a review ;) re the actual episode- I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as good as A Christmas Carol but it was better than the others since 2005 and like Rocketscience, I was happy that this special actually moved the overall series plot forward, which is arguably more than any other Christmas special has done. I liked the literary references to Sherlock (complete with Murry Gold’s take on BBC Sherlock’s theme), The Turn of the Screw and Mary Poppins all at once. I didn’t like Eleven being mean to Strax but I liked the return of Jenny and Vastra and I hope they come back. I loved Victorian Clara and I wish she could have been the companion. That would have been way cool! I am in the thoroughly sick of modern female human companions camp (which to be fair RTD started) and I am nervous about series seven part 2 but I enjoyed all of series 7 part 1 far more than s6 part 2 so feel optimistic in a wait and see kind of way.

    And re various comments about fairy stories. Moffat has gone for a more fantasy based/fairy tale vibe since The Eleventh Hour. He’s worked the rules of the Whoniverse to fit that, just as any other show writer creates their own canon. Moffat has set up his Who so that it is canon for stories to have a literal power in the whoniverse, so that The Doctor doesn’t interfere with people or planets unless there is somebody crying, so that the Doctor is a mad man with a box/an aloof wizard figure at once. It works for me personally because I prefer that approach. Not everyone does and that’s fine but to say that he has only started changing the rules now is bizarre. It’s permeated Moffat’s entire approach right from the get go of s5. If you criticised it now, you would have to go back in all fairness and criticise the same thing in most of s5 if that makes sense?

    Anyway, I think I am rambling now and fear I no longer make much sense. 

    Ps: New credits just because? I thought it was pretty clear that the credits are redone in a way that ties back to classic who due to the 50th anniversary- the show is reaffirming its roots with its new titles- at least that is the intention.

  • Fionna

    On the other hand, I enjoy watching you periodically slam the trolls; it’s like you’re using your superciliousness for the forces of good, not evil. ;-) (I had to look it up too….)

  • Fionna

    One of the inherent weaknesses of the internet is that comments that might otherwise be considered innocuous – or at worst, the object of some friendly debate – become completely incendiary in the absence of body language, historical context and a nice bottle of merlot. The time lapse between comment and response doesn’t help. It’s a pity, really, particularly on a site like this where people generally have intelligent things to say, even when they disagree with each other. 

  • InkAshlings

    But that’s the point. You can’t have it both ways. By virtue of your own reviewing manifesto for Doctor Who it can’t be a love fest if you no longer love the show under Moffat (which is still, no matter how much you wish it otherwise, canon Doctor Who) . 

  • There ain’t no such thing as “canon” Doctor Who…

    (Otherwise, of course, I agree with you)

  • Interestingly (given Isobel’s suggestion upthread of Gaiman as a potential showrunner after Moffat) Miles rates Gaiman far lower than Moffat, and that is despite Miles’s almost pathological hatred of Moffat.

  • Moffat has set up his Who so that it is canon for stories to have a literal power in the whoniverse, so that The Doctor doesn’t interfere with people or planets unless there is somebody crying, so that the Doctor is a mad man with a box/an aloof wizard figure at once. It works for me personally because I prefer that approach. Not everyone does and that’s fine but to say that he has only started changing the rules now is bizarre.

    Not only is it ridiculous to claim that Moffat is changing the rules during his tenure, in fact this approach has form in the history of the program, most notably in The Mind Robber, which is all about the power of stories, and in which the Doctor becomes the Master of the Land of Fiction. And flashes of the same idea have sparked at various points in the show’s history (off the top of my head Greatest Show in the Galaxy, any Gallifrey story involving the Matrix, Logopolis — where mathematics is a form of story).

  • You’re gonna have to explain what you mean by “you’re not willing to allow even those pieces to exist on their own terms anymore.” I honestly have no idea what that means. Are you saying that I should allow a “half dozen half-finished ideas stitched together into a something that feels as much like a contractual obligation as a story” some integrity of their own?

    And what’s “mean-spirited” about what I’ve written? To whom am I being “mean”?

  • I can absolutely promise you that I am NOT “looking for stuff to attack.” Why on earth would I do such a thing?

    I certainly don’t need readers to agree with me, but I’m baffled at how I’m criticized for expressing honest opinions, which is all I’ve ever done.

  • Don’t like it? Stop watching.

    That’s helpful. Thank you.

  • A girl changing her clothes in the back of a cab did not *have* to be presented that way that it was.

  • Possibly I’ve seen too many TV shows in which the protagonist – of any
    gender – has to get changed in the back of a cab for their “other” job
    and so it didn’t strike me as anything more than that.

    Have you seen a scene of man changing clothes in the back of cab that zooms in on his crotch?

  • Are you suggesting that there’s some way that a camera zooming in on the half-naked cleavage of an attractive young woman as she prepares to reveal more of that cleavage can be in any way NOT sexualized? (Even that fact that the scene cuts away before she does reveal more is sexualized: it’s meant to tantalize the viewer that s/he is going to see more.)

  • You’re wrong. I do NOT “love to hate” the show. I don’t waste my time on such nonsense.

    If I’m so annoying to you, you don’t have to read what I’ve written.

  • I miss the MaryAnn who wrote this:

    I’m STILL the MaryAnn who wrote that! “The Snowmen” does not have goofy villains, bad FX, and cheesy melodrama. It has state-of-the-art FX, a plot that makes no sense on any level, and characters who are inconsistent, and yet it’s labelled “Doctor Who,” so we’re all supposed to be automatically enthralled by the false sense of magic and wonder it tries to create?

    The magic and the wonder of *Doctor Who* used to be that the stories transcended the limitations of their budget. I can see past wobbly sets and aliens made of garbage bags because the *ideas* and the characters that propped up the stories were wholly engaging. Here, with “The Snowmen,” I see a story that *looks* great but is all but empty of meaning, of heart, of soul, of consequence. It’s trying to force something that arose naturally, even accidentally, in the past.

    Give me stories that don’t have to force anything, and maybe I’ll be able to love them again.

  • Plot holes are often forgivable if there’s otherwise something to distract from them. But this episode is nothing BUT plotholes and contrivances and stuff that makes no sense whatsoever. There’s nothing to distract from it!

    Perhaps you could explain what you found “heartwarming” about this episode…

  • Maybe I should give up blogging about Doctor Who if it’s making so many people so unhappy.

  • RogerBW

    I think it’s interesting to explore what is making people unhappy. (Paul, you’re the pro here; please eviscerate my oversimplifications…)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Consider the “one word answer”scene. The idea here is intriguing: if you take away someone’s fabricated story, and force them to answer under these bizarre conditions, it would take an exceptional liar to maintain the fiction, and most people are not exceptional.  When Vastra says, “Truth is singular. Lies are words, words, words”, she isn’t wrong, even setting aside the Shakespearean allusion. Here, you get yourself hung up on “as if someone couldn’t lie in a single word”. You’re not usually that literal.

    As for the payoff, “Pond”? Yes, there’s a pond in the story, it seems cheap. How could she know that word would have another meaning to the Doctor? How, indeed. Here (and later with “run, you clever boy”) we see Clara knowing things, on an almost instinctual level, that she simply can’t know. Yeah, it’s thin, but it wouldn’t be inconsistent with what Steven Moffat has done in the past. 

    Rather than exploring these kinds of possibilities, as you did for most of 6+ seasons, you’ve taken to poking at any and every perceived inconsistency. And I’ve read you pull more meaning out of far less material in even the most disjointed episodes. The sense I get reading now is that you’re watching out of obligation, and are then resentful of that obligation. You can’t seem to be bothered with possibilities. I mean, is it really the best explanation for Clara that you can come up with that she might be the Rani? Because the Rani was a thing that happened a couple of times on the show back in the ’80s? (OTOH, if you’re right, I’ll eat my fucking hat, because really?)

    And what’s “mean-spirited” about what I’ve written?

    To that I say, “New credits. Just because.” No comment on the credit sequence it self. No thoughts on how it compares to past versions. No real criticism at all. Just a contextless remark that says “Since I hate everything about this, I’m gonna snidely make fun of this part of it too. Just because.”

    FWIW, I get that you’re just not feeling it right now. For my part, I am feeling it. So I recognize that I’m more forgiving, even if this episode is at best loosely threaded. And i haven’t always been this forgiving, either. someone on this thread quoted your entry on “The Next Doctor”. I remember reading that and asking myself, “Why is she letting them get away with this shit?” I suppose I have my answer.

  • Bassygalore

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you give it up and in no way should you ever do something (or not do something). While this may sound selfish on my part, you’re the only review of Doctor Who that I read and mostly because you’ve always been so *excited* about where you think it’s going. I look for your posts because *I’m* excited about *your* thoughts.  

    I think that people are upset because it hasn’t felt like you’ve been coming from a place of love for quite a while. Does that mean that you should force yourself to be excited or pretend that you love it just to make your readers happy? Absolutely not. You should always be true to yourself, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t express sadness that you are no longer excited about the show.

  • Bassygalore

    Forgot to finish my thought…that should be: I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you give it up and in no way should you ever do something (or not do something) just to make others happy.

  • Danielm80

    Oddly enough, I feel a lot of love for Doctor Who on this thread. People care about the show so much that they’ve posted more than a hundred comments on this page. A lot of those comments are from people who really disliked the episode. You have to have an emotional investment in a show to get worked up about plot holes. This may not be the usual sort of love fest (it’s more like an S & M love fest), but there’s a lot of love here all the same.

  • trigguy

     Please do continue, it’s the only review I’ve found that’s worth reading.  Been checking every day for some time for it to appear.

    To cheer you up, no seems to have mentioned this one yet:  “It’s smaller on the outside”.
    You’ve got to love that one, surely. 

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The show had that in Martha Jones. She was neither the most popular, nor the most unpopular, companion ever. You, dear reader, are probably thinking to yourself right now, “Oh yeah, Martha”, which should tell you something. She never inspired the kind of love or hate that Rose, Donna, and Amy did. Rose was, in New Who, the “original” companion, the one with the most overt “will they/won’t they” subplot, and was also Billie Piper, which seems to have carried some importance in the UK. Donna was also brave and hearty, though less nice and centered, but there was a constant stream of portents about her fate. Amy was, evidently, the single most important woman in the universe.  There was nothing special about Martha.  She was just sort of there, being nice, hearty, brave, and centered, which in the end I think translated to “boring”.

  • InkAshling

    I think you should do what you want to do on your own blogging platform- though I would comment here a lot more if there was the love fest claimed.

    People AREN’T annoyed that you hated an episode and have an opinion that you were honest about. People ARE annoyed that you claim to love fest while belying that claim by pointlessly pulling an episode apart by looking for things to be snarky about (and you can claim you haven’t all you like but see below…)

    Case in point: the opening credits. Another one- How did Clara get on top of a moving cab? Really? She ran after it and grabbed on is the most obvious assumption to make and why does it matter in the context of the overall episode? It doesn’t. One word test? A way to test Clara. If she would have said another innocuous word like ‘danger’ or ‘help’ The Doctor would not have come in his state. She needed to intrigue him which she did with ‘Pond.’ And as RS says, Clara is an impossibility making it less of a coincidence for her to hit that word. TARDIS on a cloud? No more or less silly than the TARDIS towing earth.

  • InkAshlings

    What is making people unhappy? Divergent understandings of ‘love fest.’

  • InkAshling

    Really? Who on earth would question Gaiman’s ability after The Doctor’s Wife?

  • InkAshling

    The same thing plenty of others found heart warming- The Doctor getting a new companion after the Pond’s and acting excited about it with the promise of new adventures to come. At a guess.

  • InkAshling

    I get what you mean, Paul but I just meant that Moffat as showrunner- his episodes- are official Who. A Doctor Who love fest can’t be a love fest for all official showrunenrs but Moffat/insert random show runner here or it would no longer be a general doctor who love fest.

  • InkAshling

    Not looking for stuff to attack? Given the nature of your review your claim is pretty unsubstantiated.

  • Bob

    Please keep blogging about Doctor Who. Although I’ve felt more positive about the recent direction of the show than yourself, you always write from the heart, and with complete sincerity. Your detractors on this thread seem to me to be mainly motivated by a need to show off. At least one of them is not writing from ”a place of love”, rather from a place of profound self regard. Don’t let the ubermenschen of fandom get you down. There will always be rather sad people who construct elaborate and over intellectualised theories about TV programmes, perhaps in compensation for personal inadequacies, and they are probably best ignored. Tell it like you see it. If being disagreed with makes some people unhappy, then that is their problem.    

  • Well I for one am not unhappy as such. But I think InkAshling (and ScottyEnn) nailed it.

    I won’t say any more. I wouldn’t want to “show off” and further stoke what appears to be a grudge deliberately and willingly held, by someone unaware of the irony of their complaints in the context of a continued delivery of abuse.

  • silver_devastation

    Aww, thank you. That was my very first comment up there (apparently I had a lot I wanted to get off my chest) and now I feel all warm and fuzzy.

  • ScottyEnn

    I would argue that it’s not making people unhappy at all — I’m certainly not unhappy. People are clearly interested in  your views and discussing them and, as I’ve said before, I personally respect them even though I’ve had more reason to disagree with you than agree recently.

    Where the issue lies is simply what others have noted — the claim that your reviews come from a place of love, even when you think the episodes themselves are not very good, appears to be getting a bit tenuous. Again, I’m not trying to suggest you don’t love the show in general or as a general concept, or that you don’t have a perfect right not to enjoy the show or express your lack of enjoyment of it, but just reading through your recent reviews it’s immediately clear that you don’t enjoy the Moffat era at all, or at least have very little that’s positive to say about it, which kind of belies the claim that this is a love-fest — as much as you love the show in general, your own definition of love-fest suggests that you try and see the good in even the worst, whereas with a lot of Moffat’s “Who” you seem to be doing the exact opposite and trying to find even the smallest things to pull apart and criticise. 

    I mean, to take one of the things I highlighted in an earlier post, you suggest that the villain being presented as pretty creepy as a ‘comparatively’ minor flaw — as if it’s something that you WOULD have critiqued upon at length had there not been other issues with the episode that drew your attention further. Which, frankly, doesn’t seem like a problem with the episode at all, since (a) he’s clearly SUPPOSED to be creepy, (b) his creepiness comes through the actor’s performance, and the other characters remarking on how creepy he is would arguably have been redundant (show don’t tell and all that), (c) his creepiness also comes from the fact that he’s clearly repressed and misanthropic and (d) he lives in a society which famously valued repression and in which you were encouraged to bury things down and mind your own business, which also explains why no one confronts him about it. There are plenty of issues with the episode, and several of which you quite correctly identify, but this arguably isn’t one of them — so you presenting it as not just a flaw, but one you could have made an even BIGGER deal out of, seems a bit of a stretch, to be honest. 

    Furthermore, you don’t seem to acknowledge that this could have been the point. See also, your complaint that Tom Ward did nothing but stand around ‘exuding stiff, cold Victorian fatherhood’ which, in connection to Simeon’s role in the episode, is clearly part of the point of his character and the episode, as also evidenced by the Doctor’s character arc — the theme of which is that this is clearly a bad thing to do. The episode is clearly making the point that this is a bad thing to do and only leads to harm, and while I’m certainly not saying you have to like the episode or how Simeon or how Ward was used with his character or the Doctor based on this, you don’t even acknowledge it at all — whereas I’d argue that if you were truly trying to find the positive in the episode, you would have at least acknowledged that the episode was TRYING to make a point about this even if you went on to say that the way it was presented didn’t work for you at all.

    Again, I certainly don’t think you should quit doing your blogs about “Doctor Who”; I honestly respect your views, even if I don’t agree with them. However, I do think you should perhaps consider being a bit more up-front about your dislike of this particular form of the series and stop trying to present your views as a ‘love-fest’ (at least with regards to this version of the show) when it’s pretty clear you have little love for what you’re currently watching, even if you love everything else that is called “Doctor Who”.

  • ScottyEnn

    To briefly add to this, the “it’s not Doctor Who” claim you make probably doesn’t help either; it IS Doctor Who. It’s ALL Doctor Who. It’s just Doctor Who you don’t happen to like very much. Framing it as if it’s not just bad Doctor Who (or, rather, Doctor Who you happen to think is bad) but that it doesn’t even deserve the NAME “Doctor Who” is arguably just a tad bit confrontational towards those people who love this form of Doctor Who, or even those who accept that it is Doctor Who even if it’s not to their preference. 

  • I really liked Martha in her first episode. And then they just gave up with writing her. So although I agree with you, I think she became boring because the writers didn’t write her the way she had been introduced (to be honest, this happens with many companions), rather than that the idea of an ordinary person was intrinsically boring. Oh, and the “unrequited love” thing was ill-judged too, I think, and deliberately designed to appeal to a market segment.

  • “At least one of them”

    Why not name names, Bob? Wouldn’t want to waste that abuse by leaving some people in the dark about its target.

  • Michael Elamson

    A few years ago I was part of a discussion board that covered various topics, from politics to religion to pop culture, and one of the big pop culture topics was the show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which was current at the time.

    Most of the threads were along the lines of “I love this show, I just hate all the characters, the stories and the writers.”

    Lately, all of the Doctor Who postings on this site remind me of that.

  • InkAshlings

    RTD episodes a bit silly? Staying true to the Doctor’s companions and maintaining an idea to the end? I beg to differ :) I frankly hope RTD never touches Who again but there we are. It’s good that everyone enjoys different things about the show. I wonder who the next show runner will be, however.

    Given that you are over Moffat/judging from previous comments here have never liked him, who would you like to take over as show runner?

  • InkAshlings

    Re Tom Ward’s father role- he was also an obvious riff on the father in Henry James’ Turn of the Screw.

    Yeah I don’t get the Simeon thing. He was MEANT to be creepy. I thought Richard E Grant did a brilliant job with what he had.

  • InkAshlings

    Urgh yes. I hate these false fandom either/or dichotomies. It’s ALL Doctor Who. Just because you don’t like Moffat’s Who doesn’t make it any less Dr Who. Frankly, I could be just as confrontational in saying that I think Moffat’s Who is far more Who in line with the classic era than RTD era Who was, but that would be unnecessary, especially as I still enjoyed RTD’s episodes and don’t see the point of getting everyone’s backs up- which of course is the problem with claiming these reviews are love fests. They aren’t. By the stipulations of MAJ’s own love fest manifesto they aren’t. So why claim that they are? It just makes people annoyed and less likely to take any number of perfectly valid Moffat criticisms seriously and means that people aren’t discussing the episode itself- they are discussing the sheer ludicrousness of claiming to adhere to a love fest manifesto for a show that the OP no longer loves. And Moffat’s Doctor Who is *Doctor Who* just as much as RTD’s Who or anyone else’s is.

  • InkAshlings

    But a place of love is not the same thing as a love fest. There lies the rub.

  • Bob

    Oooh, touchy. Well, if the cap fits…..

  • Roseblossom

     Which is why I won’t touch Gallifrey Base with a barge pole. I’ve heard some very unpleasant things about that forum.

    I do understand your point; I began to hate “Misfits” – a show I used to love – and that made me sad too. Because I felt that I’d somehow lost something. A certain Doctor (who I won’t name because a lot of people liked him) utterly killed Doctor Who for me, and I’d be devastated if that were to happen again.

    To MAJ: Please accept my apologies for any offence caused. I’m autistic and often can’t find the words to put myself across in the way I intended – and I know that I can appear very ascerbic. This was not my intention at all.

  • InkAshlings

    On the one hand, I have continued to shamelessly enjoy the show under Moffat more than I ever did under RTD so if Dr Who is moving to the shapes and sudden noises channel, sign me up. On the other hand, my friends tell me I am an utter TV drama snob who watches the high culture stuff and needs to lighten up and enjoy things for what they are more so eh. 

  • InkAshlings

    I am more entertained by the notion of Moffat as never unexpected. Moffat is the master of the unexpected- good and bad unexpected. s6 was many things, but predictable was not one of those things. 

    But then I think that every show-runner has brought something innovative to the show at some point. *shrugs*

  • Roseblossom

     For historical accuracy, it did. We are supposed to be looking into the cab from the outside and – if Clara didn’t put a shutter down (or pull a curtain, whatever) – that is exactly the view the outsider would get.

    Also, this was the best way to explain why she steps out of the cab in a different outfit.

  • Roseblossom

     No, because that’s not what you would see if you were looking in from the outside.

  • Roseblossom

     I am honestly beginning to wonder if this was your entire issue with the episode? You seem very hung up on a shot that lasted mere seconds and cosisted of a hand, a button and a little bit of cleavage which would be historically correct in the sense of clothing in that time period.

  • Roseblossom

     The Doctor has *always* been a jerk. Each and every incarnation. He’s grumpy, self-centred, insulting, sarcastic and – yes – often just plain mean. We are not supposed to love him all the time; he is not perfect; he is not some kind of perfect God to whose standards we could not possibly measure up.

    He’s a jerk; and that is precisely why I love him – because that’s what makes him believable. The “annoying mannerisms”, as you call them, have always been there because he is an alien and we need *something* to set him apart from humanity – social awkwardness and flapping and flailing works just fine for me and I find it rather endearing when someone playing the part does it right (Troughton and BakerT for instance).

  • InkAshlings

    Burned MAJ ;) 

  • Roseblossom

     My issue with Martha was that – as you say – she was boring. I’ve often used the term “limp, wet lettuce” to discribe her – which is a shame because I think she could have been so much more than a mere “just there” accessory-type character.

  • silver_devastation

    I agree with MaryAnn here. If it’s all about making sure that the viewer realizes she changed her clothes, they could have just given us an outside shot of the carriage with her visible through the window and fumbling around switching outfits. Which could even be the sort of glimpse a passer-by on the street might accidentally catch. 

    Instead, they zoomed in on her cleavage from inside the carriage and lingered. Who’s watching here? Why her cleavage? Why not show her fastening the new dress instead of unfastening the old? There are a lot of ways it could have been resolved differently.

    The problem for me is this: Even though I’m attracted to women (and men), I don’t want to ogle the Doctor’s companion. It just feels kind of wrong. But the extreme close-up on her cleavage forced me to do just that. There is literally nowhere else to look. It’s all about the framing of the shot, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And this is not even getting into all of those theories about the male gaze in cinema.

  • Roseblossom

     I respect your opinion but stand my ground on this point. I too am attracted to both sexes but I didn’t feel as though I was being “forced” to look at anything. If I blinked I would have missed it, and if I didn’t like it I only had to briefly look away.

    If we’d seen her buttoning up the *new* gown it would have been too predictable as to where the cab was taking her, I think. We’ll never know now though, will we :)

  • Roseblossom

     I see your point on “please the dads” – it’s always been an aspect of Who, but I don’t remember anybody compaining about Leela’s bikini. We saw a lot more of Leela’s flesh than we got of Clara’s! :)

  • Roseblossom

     I know that Matt has signed on for 2014, so you might get your wish! I’d be interested to see if things were much different too :)

  • Roseblossom

     If Gaiman stepped up to the plate I could die happy!

  • Roseblossom

     I still haven’t forgiven RTD for stomping all over my heart in Children of Earth – it was gut-wrenching, horrific and terrifying in its brilliance.

    But I still don’t want him even poking a stick at Doctor Who ever again.

  • silver_devastation

    It’s totally okay if we disagree — actually, it’s kind of interesting that what I read as a weirdly exploitative shot comes across as pretty much value-neutral to someone else. I still think it’s a leery and unneccessary close-up. I guess it comes down to the fact that I’d personally find it disrespectful to stare (i.e. the close-up) at a woman’s breasts/cleavage while she changes and thinks she is unobserved (in a carriage with no one else). 

    Plus the way she is undoing the front of her dress suggests the viewer would have seen a lot more if the scene went on for just a bit longer, which is pure audience titillation in my book. (Well, a certain subsegment of the audience.)

  • Roseblossom

     Agreeing to disagree is never a bad thing – it’s mutual respect, and I thank you for it. I agree that the camera didn’t have to zoom in quite so much, but it honestly didn’t bother me. Rather, it added to the mystery (“Why are you changing clothes? Where are you going?”) but we all know that Moffat likes pretty women with pretty figures and so I choose to ignore that side of him. I still think that it was a lovely, fun episode and it really made me smile :)

  • Roseblossom

     So you have contradicted yourself. You call this a Doctor Who love-fest only to haste on it very strongly. The only love I’m feeling here is from the people commenting!

  • MaryAnn and anyone else who is infuriated by Moffat: you might find
    this site of some interest.

  • InkAshlings

    My favourite part is the twitter section. Classic stuff.

  • Fionna

    I think you’re probably right that expectations about the introductory blurb are the issue – and possibly what one focuses on? You (and most people here) are focusing on “love fest” while I’m focusing on the next line, “all bitching must come from a place of love”. To me, there’s nothing problematic about this review, or spurious in terms of the introductory caveat, because while love can (and should) be about forgiving people their minor quirks, it can also delve into the realm of disappointment when the object of one’s affection is failing consistently to deliver the goods. As in, “I love you, I’m not leaving you…..but you’re really driving me nuts!” (This is probably a sad indictment on my previous relationships :p )

  • PJK

    I know which thread will end up on top of the most visited list this week!

  • BrianHaunton

    Speaking as someone who hasn’t ever articulated any thoughts in this forum before…

    I think *my* irritation with Steven Moffat’s derives from disappointment. RTD’s tenure resulted in a series of escalating threats (I lost track of what was being threatened: the Earth, the Universe, Reality). When Moffat takes control and he’s been responsible for my favourite episodes of the rebooted Who, things start on a promising tack: I like Matt Smith; Amy and Rory look like interesting characters because I don’t think anyone’s acknowledged how knowing The Doctor could screw people up; River Song returns; threats are quieter.

    But things have gone wrong. The ratio of Cool Idea! to I’m Really Not Sure About That has dropped and That does vary over quite a wide range of values now. I think he’s too interested making people go ‘Cool!’ at seeing Richard E Grant, remembering Yeti on the underground and laughing at the hilarious amnesic Sontaran but not interested enough in producing a worthwhile piece of drama. I think the major source of some of the problem is that there’s no-one telling Moffat that things don’t make sense or that he might just need to think about the way he writes women (and men and Sontarans and Silurians and…). 

    On Sherlock he has Mark Gatiss to juggle ideas with and even then they came up with a racist episode and screwed up Irene Adler. Which is quite impressive in only six episodes, now I think of it. I really wish he would write xor run the show. It’s not a matter of his being self-indulgent, unlike some, but someone needs to edit his writing at the very least but this won’t happen. And, yes, I will keep watching and get more annoyed. It’s immensely frustrating,

    Hello, Paul, by the way.

  • BrianHaunton

    And I just remembered that I’m tired of seeing Feisty Women. How my heart sinks when a female character is described as ‘feisty’. Are there any that aren’t? I daren’t go and check if there’s a TVTrope, because I’ll get distracted, but there should be. 

  • Fionna

    Heh – that comment ended up in a weird spot; was actually responding to something InkAshlings wrote further down. Sorry!

  • RogerBW

    It’s even sillier when you consider the derivation of “feisty” – it used to be used of dogs rather than women, and derives from the Anglo-Saxon “fistan”, to break wind. For many years it was rightly considered an insult.

  • I know what you mean, but to be honest, making all women ‘feisty’ is less of a crime than making all women ‘merely decorative’. And I did like what he did with Rory.

  • InkAshlings

    And I get that. I really, really do. And I would buy it. Except that love fest is the part hyperlinked with a blurb on how doctor who at this site is being reviewed which is with the stipulation that even when it is bad, there is stuff to find to love by viture of the show *being* Doctor Who. The bitching coming from a place of love is in *relation* to the hyperlinked part.

    It’s changing the rules and pretty blatantly so. And just because I am sure I will be asked why am I still reading then? Because I once enjoyed the love festing done by MAJ here and am annoyed that what I am continuously promised is now no longer evidenced. I hold out in the hope that she will return to love festing at some point in the future. For now I just wish that she would stop claiming she is engaging in anything close to a love fest. The review itself is not spurious- it is MAJ’s perfectly valid opinion no matter how much I disagree with it. The claim of love festing IS spurious. See the difference?

  • promethia

    This! I mean not necessarily romantically in love (I laughed at the way he . . . gives her her hands back after she kisses him). But he becomes just desperately tender about her with a suddenness that is shocking. We have certainly not see him display anything like this level of concern with anyone else in anything like this span of time. It was the most interesting part of the episode for me too.

  • bronxbee

    i liked martha a lot.

  • LaSargenta

     Me, too.

  • LaSargenta

     Yes. I loved that first Martha story. The rest hardly made sense to have her except as a Mary Sue.

    I did like her in the story with Donna and the Sontarans.

  • Eve

    I agree. It was just so… none of it made sense! It was like ‘hm well I like this idea but can’t be bother to develop it or make it good oh well’. 

    And the creepy camera leer – wtf?!

    I must admit that I did like the silly memory worm jokes – but I feel that added to the Doctor’s weird being horrid to Strax it was a bit… ehhhh.

    Also why is Strax there?
    Are Jenny and Vastra not enough?

  • BrianHaunton

    ‘Feisty’ is just used as way of making the character seem active: nothing, nothing, bit of feistiness, nothing, nothing, nothing. And yes, it is better than regarding them as decoration but it’s a wee bit patronising as RogerBW implied above. Moffat has written interesting and active female characters in the past – Nancy in The Empty Child, for example – but he doesn’t seem to want to now.

    It’s not as if there aren’t people writing good female characters on British TV at the moment that you can point to as models: I have criticisms of Last Tango In Halifax (the title for a start) but there were five women in fairly central roles, none of whom was feisty, but they all were seriously treated and individuated. Sod it, even the Head Teacher’s PA, who only appeared in a couple of scenes was present in a way that a lot of the women in Steven Moffat’s in Dr Who writing aren’t. And the male characters were taken seriously, too, even if it threatened to turn into Last of The Summer Wine amusing scrapes for the elderly at times.

    I liked what he did with Rory, too. I always felt he was the Xander of Dr Who (Buffy -> River Song, Giles -> The Doctor, Willow -> Amy???).

  • NorthernStar

    I disagree that Mary-Ann isn’t coming from a place of love.  Quite the opposite.  She’s pointing out flaws in story structure, character motivation and plot lines that need to be fixed.  Think of it this way: a real, true friend will risk hurting you to tell you it’s time to switch deodourants because you smell.  A lesser one won’t and will happily ignore the problem even as others are making fun of you.

    Part of the problem with Moffatt it that no-one appears to be saying “that stinks” when he comes up with an idea, a challenge which he can rise to and fix what needs to be fixed about his ideas so that they truely are great.  I have thought, increasingly, that this was what RTD must have done when faced with Moffatt’s scripts.  And it worked, his stuff under RTD was brilliant.  I want that again.  As I’m sure Mary-Ann does.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    So did I, though never as much as in “Smith and Jones”. But I really do think the consensus – but not unanimous –  opinion on her as a companion is a resounding “Meh”.

  • Plenty of people are saying it. I gave a link to a website that does nothing but. The problem is more that Moffat isn’t listening. And given the tone of some of it, that’s hardly surprising. 

    RTD claimed that Moffat was the one person whose scripts he didn’t touch. I can believe that. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need someone to look at them now.

  • Interesting analogy, though I’m troubled by the later Xander. I’m glad Rory didn’t go that far.

  • ScottyEnn

    To be honest, I’m not sure that ‘Moffat isn’t listening’ is entirely fair; IIRC Season 5 was more-or-less well received, and the big complaint everyone seemed to have about Season 6 was that it was over-complicated and didn’t really resolve anything, which Moffat addressed by making Season 7 a bit more stand-alone and straightforward.

    Whether he’s listening to / addressing the RIGHT criticism is, of course, another matter, but I don’t think it’s just that he shuts out dissenting voices. Plus, as you point out, the tone and source of criticism counts as well (to take the example you linked to, let’s face it, no matter how well-meaning a blog basically called ‘Shut The Fuck Up Moffat’ isn’t exactly going to strike one as a particularly reasonable or fair-minded source of constructive criticism on first glance).

  • NorthernStar

    I don’t mean websites, but those who work with Moffatt on production.  People who are paid to ensure the finalised product is as good as it can be.

    Also, I believe that Moffatt was the only writer who re-wrote his own scripts as part of the editing process rather than RTD, but they were still edited.  

  • kitty

    No, please don’t.  If people are unhappy no one is forcing them to read.  This is pretty much the only place I come anymore to read WHO discussions because whether I agree or not it stays civil and people make good points.

  • kitty

    Amazingly enough, I know a lot of people who HATED that episode.  I thought it was the best ep of the season.

  • Snowdrop

    “He dreamed you. How could you still exist?”
    That is a straight lift from ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (the Red King dreaming Alice), where it is a reference to  the empiricists, particularly Berkeley.

  • Your fan

    NOOOOOO!!!!   As in many cases, it’s mainly the malcontents who post.  Yours is the only Doctor Who blog I take seriously!  I anxiously awaited your views on Snowmen.  Reading the comments are amusing, and I write when I have a question about something that hadn’t been mentioned yet.  (like the Doctor’s sudden tenderness toward Clara, which we never saw so immediately with any other companion.)

    Really, people should add their thoughts to any blog, and maybe disagree on a few points, but the nitpicking on details of what I thought was a fun episode has gotten a little out of hand here.  I’d like to focus and discuss the interesting details.  There is no need to bash MaryAnn for her opinions.

  • InkAshlings

    Haha wow. What an amusing comment this is! The irony of this particular statement astounds:

    Really, people should add their thoughts to any blog, and maybe disagree on a few points, but the nitpicking on details of what I thought was a fun episode has gotten a little out of hand here. I’d like to focus and discuss the interesting details. There is no need to bash MaryAnn for her opinions.

    People aren’t bashing MAJ. They are pointing out quite respectfully that her reviews no longer are the love fest she promises and that her review therefore sets the tone for bashing rather than discussing interesting who details. I too thought it was a fun episode.

  • InkAshlings

    Clearly I speak to all the wrong people ;)

    I thought it was the best episode too!

  • So your relationship with MAJ’s Doctor Who reviews is sort of analogous to her relationship with Doctor Who?

    How’s that for a recursive occlusion?

  • InkAshlings

    Point taken though of course I would argue there is still a difference. I assume that is why you added the ‘sort of.’

    The last bit made me laugh! DAMN IT PAUL BUT NOW MY BRAIN HURTS :P

  • For what it’s worth, with the Doctor being mean to friends complaint, he treated Mickey like shit.

  • We could go on about details forever, but the bottom line is that Moffat is overstretched. You only have to skim The Writer’s Tale to see that running DW alone is too much for one person to do and retain any kind of sanity. But he’s also helming Sherlock and whatever they have lined up for the Big 50.

    Hence the scribbled-on-the-back-of-an-envelope feel to the whole episode. Moffat is sensitive to crit, but when the pressure’s on, like most people, he reverts to type. A shame because there’s some fine acting talent on show here.

    And, BTW, there’s absolutely nothing inconsistent about being critical from a place of love. Quite the reverse.

  • Bob

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your comment. It’s a combination of Moffat doing too much, and being initially over ambitious for Dr Who. As an example of the latter, I’d refer back to his first season, where he introduced too many ”big” story arcs, and then failed either to resolve them satisfactorily , or at all-exploding Tardis, anyone? Having thought about my negative reaction to the Christmas special a bit more.I think it can be partly explained by a sense of disappointment. I really enjoyed the five episodes leading up to the Christmas special, and had the feeling that Moffat was getting it right-good, solid stand alone adventures, which had all the best qualities of both classic and new Who. And then the Christmas show was terrible, and seemed to be a step backwards, or , as you put it, Moffat reverting to type.  

  • Whutevah

    As countless others seem to have stated more loquaciously before me: oof.

  • To be fair, the Fourth Doctor really laid into Harry Sullivan a lot. And let’s not forget Nine’s nickname for Mickey Smith: “Idiot.”

    I do agree, however, that it’s off-putting to see the Doctor being mean to the good guys. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen.

  • Wifi

    I used to really enjoy reading these write-ups – they were funny, insightful and obviously from a place of love. Now they just seem like lists of complaints. This is a love-fest?

  • Rodolfo

    I loved Strax’s jokes! The thing about the worm and “I’ve been run over by a cab!” I guffawed!

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