How Doctor Who Became My Religion
September 25, 2011 6:54 PM   Subscribe

 
I read this yesterday, and it totally nailed not just why the show is so good, even when it sometimes isn't, but also the feeling of the most recent episode.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:56 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


Of this season, I've only seen Let's Kill Hitler and God Complex. I've got a theory that the villain of God Complex is actually a metaphor for Stanley Kubrick, but I'm pretty sure the writer meant what this site was saying more closely.

It's also odd that the sort of godlike aliens from God Complex were a staple of old Star Trek. The Doctor is both less and more than those silly figures...
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:58 PM on September 25, 2011


I've been pretty disappointed with the last couple episodes. The Bad Guys getting overcome by someone believing something really hard in both episodes? That's fucking trite. Let the Doctor beat them with quick wits and subterfuge.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:01 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I watched the last two episodes from the eccleston series the other night, and it was like watching ancient mythology being acted out - stories you know but havent seen played out before (Rose looking into the vortex, the thing that happened to Captain Jack). Also quite a different feel to the current series. Ecclestone had a bit more gravitas. That said, I think I like Ecclestone, Tennant and Smith pretty equally.
posted by memebake at 7:03 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there's a dissonance between the viewers who grew up with The Doctor and the people who came on board with Tennent and Matt Smith, like I did. The old viewers and the writers are like Amelia Pond, who grew up loving and believing in The Doctor and know that the can do anything, so they put that up on screen. The newer viewers don't have that instinctual connection, though it is forming pretty fast.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:04 PM on September 25, 2011


I think this current series has suffered a bit from assuming that the audience loves the doctor as much as Amy does, without really giving us space to decide for ourselves whether we are worried about him. I'm sure the finale will be a corker though.
posted by memebake at 7:05 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doctor Who is a British program that has been running almost continually since its 1963 debut.

Well, except for that pesky 7 year hiatus... You know how continually always includes gaps of 1/6 of the total time of something. Continually.
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of this season, I've only seen Let's Kill Hitler and God Complex.

That's a weird pair of episodes to only have seen from this season, bro.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:09 PM on September 25, 2011 [9 favorites]


I liked the last few eps, and I loved the picture of the cat nurse in The God Complex, bring back the cat nurses. Please no more River Song or crack in space-time about to to destroy reality eps, and bring back The Face of Boe. I do agree the "both of you believe real hard and we can break time" was kinda lame, but not as lame as the "I am like Santa clause or Jesus, if the population of earth believes in me I will be magically rejuvenated"

More one shot far future SF like Gridlock,Girl in the Fireplace, The God Complex, or Satan Pit please! No more weeping angles, they were cool in Blink but you guys ruined them.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:10 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Watching Doctor Who Is Like Having A Relationship With God"

Somebody on the Internet can't wait to tell you you're doing it wrong?
posted by Apropos of Something at 7:10 PM on September 25, 2011 [17 favorites]


Doctor Who certainly does some things wrong on occasion, but it's one of the few shows I've ever watched where I can just suspend my disbelief [all of it] and enjoy it, no matter how ridiculous. Not sure why this is.
posted by polywomp at 7:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


if the population of earth believes in me I will be magically rejuvenated
but that was because of the master's global telepathic control network, it wasn't magi .... oh, nevermind.

I like the article linked in the fpp, but imho what makes Doctor Who work is that:
a) He's an intellectual super hero (solves things by thinking and running around a bit)
b) Really really tight scriptwriting that balances between drama and comedy and works for a broad audience (ages 6 through to 60)
c) Proper sci-fi blending of 'wow' stuff with issues of relevance to the audience
posted by memebake at 7:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]



Of this season, I've only seen Let's Kill Hitler and God Complex.

That's a weird pair of episodes to only have seen from this season, bro.


It airs on Saturday night and I have inconsistent Internet.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:14 PM on September 25, 2011


It airs on Saturday night and I have inconsistent Internet.

Oh, I'm not blaming you. It's just a weird pair of episodes to wind up having seen. LKH especially.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:15 PM on September 25, 2011


The world of Doctor Who is actually pretty grim. The Doctor has a pretty high mortality rate on his adventures. It's sort of like Jessica Fletcher: if The Doctor arrives at a party you are attending, leave immediately. He realized that at the end of God Complex, but he's such a lonely guy, I don't think it will last.
posted by demiurge at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Er, of the second half of this season I mean. I saw all the episodes of the first half.

I swear God Complex started out as the writer trying to answer the eternal 'so what's with the room with the furries at the end of The Shining?' question (and to a lesser extent 'what's with the very ending?')
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:20 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


and bring back The Face of Boe

If you had Starz, you could have caught a 10-hour miniseries depicting an early adventure of The Face Of Boe.
posted by hippybear at 7:25 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I watched the first episode of the current incarnation of the Doctor, and it was so unbelievably silly and frenetic and AAAAAHHH OMG THE EARTH HAS 20 MINUTES BEFORE IT'S ANNIHILATED LET'S RUN AROUND A LOT that I just couldn't take it seriously at all.

I've become that which I once detested: The science fiction fan that loves the genre so much he can't stand most examples of it.

Sigh, off to go rewatch Planetes for the fiftieth time...
posted by pts at 7:27 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I keep meaning to get into this, but don't. One day.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:28 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: I've become that which I once detested
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on September 25, 2011 [10 favorites]


I thought the last episode (Closing Time) was embarrassingly bad. The music in the background has become much too much. They're pretty much following up jokes with musical rimshots and laughtracks now. I like Murray Smith's music for the most part, but only when used sparingly. Also, the whole episode felt rushed. Terrible pacing.

And yeah, the Love Conquers All ending, or the ending where an emotion saves the day, has got to go. It's been used three times this half-season out of six episodes. The Doctor Dances is the only episode that has done it well.

At one point I thought the episode was about to give us a fat Cyberman.
posted by painquale at 7:32 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find that Unitarian Universalist ministers love to blog about Doctor Who.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:34 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


7 year hiatus? More like 15 years with one Movie-Length episode for FOX in the middle.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:35 PM on September 25, 2011


I've never followed this show, at all, and I don't think I've ever seen a complete episode. Considering all the iterations, it's a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others? What would be a good introductory season?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:36 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you had Starz, you could have caught a 10-hour miniseries depicting an early adventure of The Face Of Boe.

Thank god I have Starz,I have been watching them on starz on demand,haven't watched them all yet. I think BBC America will also be re-airing the old seasons of torchwood.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:36 PM on September 25, 2011


The Internet likes Doctor Who. I must say, I am shocked.
posted by HostBryan at 7:37 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


But even with all the changes, actor-wise, writer-wise and style-wise, The Doctor still remains as reliable a "Supreme Being" as most Religions have....
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:37 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


7 year hiatus? More like 15 years with one Movie-Length episode for FOX in the middle.

Yes, I'm an idiot. My point still stands, however. "Continuously" obviously has different meaning at Cracked.com than in the rest of the universe.
posted by hippybear at 7:38 PM on September 25, 2011


My problem is that they're trying to do all these self-contained ep's with a minute or two of overarcing storyline cleanup at the end, so it's 20 minutes of running around, followed by a couple minutes tying up that storyline (which makes the whole plot seem really rushed and doesn't really fit) and then 1 minute of "Oh, by the way, I'm dropping you off here, here's your shiny new home and car and forget about that whole kidnapped baby thing because it'll work out in the end even if you never see her again or get to raise her, right?". I mean, if Amy and Rory had their baby kidnapped, would they really want to leave the Doctor behind? Even if they're done with the Doctor, by staying on present Earth, they're basically giving up any chance or hope of ever finding Melody (as a child) again. Not very Amy or Rory like (the girl who waited and the 2000 year old Roman).

That said, I still love the show and I really do like Matt Smith as the Doctor, he's funny and charming and the right bit of weird, without being too mopey or melodramatic. I just think that they really lost something this season, and I hope they can find it again before it ends. I also agree with ad hominem about the weeping angels, that was one of the best episodes (oddly, since it barely involved the Doctor for most of it) and those things terrified me, but they totally ruined them with that second angels episode.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:38 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is it confirmed, this whole nodding in the direction of t-wood when talking about the FoBoe? I thought that was just conjecture? A Theory?
posted by carsonb at 7:38 PM on September 25, 2011


carsonb: If I recall correctly, it was just a sort of joke put out there by either Moffatt or RFD but whichever one it was said that it wasn't canon, it was just a joke because of Jack's vanity, etc.
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:43 PM on September 25, 2011


Is it confirmed, this whole nodding in the direction of t-wood when talking about the FoBoe? I thought that was just conjecture? A Theory?

Someone must be typing on an impared device.

Anyway, In the episode "Last of the Time Lords", the immortal time traveller Captain Jack Harkness expresses concern about how he might look if he lives "for a million years", because although he can't die, he is still aging, albeit slowly. He tells the Doctor and Martha Jones that it's a matter of vanity, because he "used to be a poster boy when [he] was a kid in the Boeshane Peninsula", as "the first one ever to be signed up for the Time Agency," earning him the name "the Face of Boe". This astonishes Martha and the skeptical Doctor.

That's about as much as we know. It's explicit and completely indefinite at the same time.
posted by hippybear at 7:44 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others?

Tom Baker is and always will be the best Doctor ever (I watched all the old series, not the new one).
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:44 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


*RTD
posted by 1000monkeys at 7:44 PM on September 25, 2011


Doctor Who also showed up in punk comic Nothing Nice To Say, for some reason

I keep thinking Frank Turner would be a good guest star
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:47 PM on September 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think it's more like, um, lemme think, I know... Watching a tv show.
posted by spitbull at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2011


So now's the time for my annual ritual of figuring out where the hell the show is and how Steven Moffatt has been playing with us. Last season was interesting because, you know, I had to learn that this show doesn't have to really play by rules, and that The Doctor can save the day through ontological paradox. (I still adored "The Big Bang," though. It just sort of felt, not so much like cheating, and more like Moffatt was admonishing me for being bound by strict time-logic in a show known for discarding it.) SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY.

SO! Themes! (as good a place to start as any.)

1. Parent-child relationships. All over this season, obviously. Amy's pregnancy, The Pirate's son, the father and son in "Night Terrors," Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All, etc. Something interesting I only understood today while rewatching the first few eps of the season is that Amy has a moment to mirror Craig's at the end of "Closing Time." While he is brought back by hearing his son's crying, so too is Amy's knowledge of her pregnancy awakened... by hearing her daughter crying for help.

2. Settling Affairs. Again, all throughout the season. The Doctor most obviously, though Matt Smith's slow-burn through the season as he approaches his death has been fantastic. I need to rewatch "Curse of the Black Spot" (unfortunately) to see how it fits into that arc, emotionally, because that one and "Night Terrors" got switched, and presumably The Doctor should know about his impending demise in "Curse," performance-wise. But also there's Old!Amy and Rita dealing with inevitable death, and the paranoia of the Pirates and the Flesh who both know their clocks are ticking down fast. Not to mention River, who is rather having to deal with The Doctor slipping away from her because of their backwards time-streams.

3. Secrets and Lies. Tons of incidents of people acting with incomplete information from the allies because those allies feel they can't divulge things. The Doctor can't know why he's going to 1969, Amy can't know about her quantum pregnancy, River can't tell anyone anything, really, and the Big Bads make those investigating them forget about their very existence. So TONS of mistakes have been made The Doctor finally had to set Amy and Rory down just for their safety.

4. Doubles. The Flesh, Old!Amy and Young!Amy. Places existing in two streams simultaneously.

QUESTIONS!

1. Are Amy and Rory back at where they started the season now? I believe so, but it will be with the knowledge of having been through it once before, somehow (or something.) This, I believe, is the key slight of hand for the season, and sharp-eyed viewers have bolstered the theory with the dates on the newspapers in "Closing Time." (They are dated mid-to-late April, 2011.)

2. Did River recognize that she was investigating herself in "Day of the Moon"? She didn't act like it, and maybe the Silence fucked up all of her memory of that time of her life, but I don't know.

3. Are we witnessing a Doctor Doppelganger? He pointedly ate an apple and solved a Rubik's Cube in "The God Complex," both things he has rejected as "rubbish" in earlier episodes.

4. Did "Mels" suddenly exist as someone who had grown up with Amy and Rory all of their lives only after the events in "A Good Man Goes to War"?

And more as I think of them.

MSTPT: Start with "Blink" to get a feel for the show and what it can be at its best. Then either start with "Rose" or "The Eleventh Hour." Moffatt's run basically references almost nothing from the RTD years aside from "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead," so it's a good place to start. The RTD years are a supremely mixed bag (IMHO) especially during the Tennant run, which has many of both the best and absolute worst episodes within it. YMMV, but in my opinion the series took a huge upgrade in overall quality and consistency with Moffatt and Smith.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:50 PM on September 25, 2011 [16 favorites]


The Bad Guys getting overcome by someone believing something really hard in both episodes?

How much of the new series have you watched? That's practically the current Doctor Who go to move, it happens at least three times every season. Last night's episode featured Craig saving the planet by believing something really hard for the second time.

I love the show, but that move is getting pretty stale.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:50 PM on September 25, 2011


The ending of The God Complex isn't a "Love Conquers All" ending; in fact, it's the exact opposite. The Doctor was certainly expecting that to be the case, and that's how everyone ended up dead. The answer that week was "If you don't care about anything, you can't be hurt." It was in a way a triumph of cynicism, which is like Kryptonite in the Whoniverse.

And so the Doctor dumps off his companions, from which he's always derived his real strength, to go off on a couple hundred years of dicking around (as mentioned in the first episode.) Seeing Craig is his last stop to closing the loop and heading off to Lake Silencio to die. Thematically you need that one last big hurrah for human emotions to restore our hero to balance before the big confrontation. It does come uncomfortably close to the same "Believe in Yourself!" ending as the dollhouse ep, but that was originally suppose to air right after the premier in the first half of the season, and thus it would bookend the arc nicely.

Oh, and while the TV show was out of production for quite a while in the 80s/90s, there was still a LOT of novels/audiobooks being produced in that time so Doctor Who has been being produced in one form or another for mostly continuously.
posted by Freon at 7:51 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tennant and Barrowman, both being huge Who fans, reportedly started jumping up and down and squealing after reading that Face of Boe revelation at the first script readthrough. I like imagining that.
posted by painquale at 7:51 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know, that Face of Boe thing is what's been bothering me about the show lately. I mean, think back to that moment when Captain Jack is leaving, and says "they used to call me The Face of Boe" and only the Doctor and Martha know what that means. That moment of wonderment shared between the characters and the audience, that built up through multiple episodes, has been totally missing lately.

And another thing that's missing is science. I mean hell, if I wanted to watch gothic horror, I'd watch Twilight or something. This is a science fiction show. I don't want to see somebody defeat the Cybermen with love, even if it's explained as a feedback loop that reboots emotions that makes the Cybermen's heads explode. I mean silly little things like the ending of The Pyramids of Mars, where the speed of light is a major plot element. That's science fiction.

The show has basically ditched all its higher elements and is now solely a kiddie show. That episode where the little alien kid has to confront his fears instead of stuffing them all in a little dollhouse? That's Moffatt trying to make a little episode with an "everyone clap for Tinkerbell" moment, for all the little kids watching. Even adult elements like the recent show "Closing Time' seems to be trying to give solace to adult men who think they might not be good fathers, that is just fucking patronizing to the audience. This is just bludgeoning the audience with a lame message. It reminds me of the famous Goldwynism, complaining about films with messages, "If you want to send a message, call Western Union."
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:54 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I've never followed this show, at all, and I don't think I've ever seen a complete episode. Considering all the iterations, it's a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others? What would be a good introductory season?

I was in your shoes about five months ago. I started with the new series with Christopher Eccleston (Season 1 of the new series), and it worked fine, as it was designed to be an entry point. I also folks who have started with Matt Smith (Season 5), and they've also managed to follow everything fairly well.

I've been catching up on the old series haphazardly with what's available in the library. Those episodes are pretty contained, so it's worked well enough for me. (I was actually told on metafilter not to worry about order too much for the old episodes, and they were right.)
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Considering all the iterations, it's a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others? What would be a good introductory season?

You would do alright starting with the relaunch as an introduction (the one year with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor). Yeah, you miss the 20 years that preceded, but the people who brought it back were aware that there were people who wouldn't have been watching or forgot about stuff in the interim and did a good job of laying the "so who the hell is this guy" groundwork.

There are good and bad episodes from that season, just as there are good and bad episodes from all subsequent seasons. I'll let others weigh in with their must-sees, but in general: during the first few years of the "relaunched Who", if a guy named Steven Moffat wrote it, it's one of the better ones. (Steven Moffat is now running the show overall; when he was just a writer his sensibilities proved to be a good foil against the previous producers' tendancy to make everything Enormously Big And Epic).

The newer shows do make occasional nods to The History, but either it's a throwaway joke that you don't need to worry about or they explain what the connection is sufficiently that you can follow along.

Tennant and Barrowman, both being huge Who fans, reportedly started jumping up and down and squealing after reading that Face of Boe revelation at the first script readthrough. I like imagining that.

Actually: Here's a clip of John Barrowman at Comic-con talking about that -- apparently David read the script several days before John did, and was so excited he nagged him for DAYS to hurry up and read it; and then when John did he says he sprinted to David's trailer so they could both have a geek meltdown over it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


The ending of The God Complex isn't a "Love Conquers All" ending; in fact, it's the exact opposite.

Sure, it's the inverse of the usual trope; that's why I also said "or an ending where an emotion saves the day." I don't like these sorts of endings not because I have anything against love in particular. I just think giving emotions or beliefs some sort of mystical power that can dissolve a problem is a fairly hackneyed device. (And it's not very sic-fiey, as charlie don't surf complains about above.)
posted by painquale at 8:00 PM on September 25, 2011


..is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others?

I think the general consensus is, whatever was the first Doctor you watched, that's your favorite. I am particularly fond of the Second Doctor. But everyone loves the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, since he ran the longest. And you have to love some of the writers during his time, like Douglas Adams.

If you have to start somewhere, I recommend you start with The Key to Time.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:06 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


FOB was a cool running theme even if he isn't Jack, he popped up unexpectedly in a lot of places, in the far future weakest link Rose only knew one answer, The Face of Boe.

One day I'm going to get this, I already have a sonic screwdriver and a talking Dalek.

BTW, can't we have one Dalek episode? We need more awesome Dalek lines like "Daleks do not accept apologies"
posted by Ad hominem at 8:07 PM on September 25, 2011


Watching Doctor Who Is Like Having A Relationship With God

Yes. Yes it is.*

*says the atheist
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: I've never followed this show, at all, and I don't think I've ever seen a complete episode. Considering all the iterations, it's a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others? What would be a good introductory season?

Consensus on which versions are better, no. Most of the time, the first version you really like will imprint on you, and all the rest get judged against it.

I also recommend starting with the new series with Season 1 (Eccleston) or Season 5 (Matt Smith), as per the comments above. As a modern production it may be a little easier to start with than going back to the classic series with older production values.

For an alternative take on where to start, the online reviewer sfdebris has a more detailed answer, in video form, as part of a "Dr. Who 101". He suggests 4 different starting points with brief pros and cons for each point. It's a good overview if you're looking for that.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:14 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone can correct me if I am wrong but I believe the first part of The Key To Time is on netflix instantso you won't have to buy the DVD or torrent it. I have only just started watching those old episodes.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:16 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


MSTPT: Also, check this out. A great brief history of the show.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:18 PM on September 25, 2011


Interesting that the show didn't appeal to the author when they were a kid. Well, of course, despite being cast as a children's show back in the day its interesting stories appealed to adults and young adults. Now, it truly is a children's show that has shed the most interesting parts of it's considerable mythology. It's a reboot, effectively, while pretending not to be. It's as bad as major network American television dramas these days. I always knew the BBC and British made really awful shows alongside their excellent ones, and now I've seen it first hand.

Like the author, Who makes me cry now as well, but only because of the depth of it's mediocrity. Was delighted to see it back but soon the scattered, over the top, let's just make up anything and make it bigger, badder, better, and bigger again bullshit came to dominate the series and obliterate anything resembling a half decent story.

It's a tragedy because the show has all the right things in place, great production, a usually great head writer, a usually great guest writer in Neal Gaiman, and good actors, but the show has gotten so horribly bad and over the top, with a total lack of respect for its audience so you have to make sure the audience knows that this is a good or bad thing, by the dramatic equivalent of posting it up on a huge flashing sign and screaming it out that even my Father, yes, my Father, who can watch some of the worst (and to be fair best) television on the air has stopped watching it. I was always a huge fan but I really can't take it anymore. I try but I end up doing the dishes or having a nap.

As for recommendations where one should start, I'd say with Pertwee, followed by Baker. Lots of core mythology established with those two. If the show appeals to you, go back to the beginning (Hartnell) and jump over the very bad episodes (these are readily apparent very quickly) but at least go back to Troughton. Finally, move on to Davison and you'll probably note a decline in writing and production (I know, the production was never top notch (i.e. Tom Baker dealing with a creature in the pit made up of a mattress)) as the BBC began to both lose interest in the show and became a bit focused on trying to create another Tom Baker.

That said, some of the Colin Baker stories are interesting but there is little mystery why the show eventually got canned. McCoy, well, he didn't have much to work with.

Then try the new series and prepare yourself for a sky full of a million trillion Daleks (one thousand trillion just aren't convincingly threatening I suppose) and isn't the universe gee whiz wonderful tripe, despite the Earth and the Universe being constantly, always, never endingly, in apocalyptic peril!
posted by juiceCake at 8:20 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I adored the Tom Baker series of Doctor Who when I was a kid, so I was excited to try the New Who and started with the Eccleston series. It had a couple nifty episodes (particularly the kid with the gas mask), but the resolution to the overarching "Bad Wolf" mystery was so completely disappointing and stupid that I gave up.
posted by straight at 8:23 PM on September 25, 2011


Oh, goodie! Here's an opportunity to thank PhoBWanKenobi for this excellent comment which persuaded me to give the new Doctor Who another, better, more attentive viewing.

You would do alright starting with the relaunch as an introduction (the one year with Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor).

This is what I did and let me tell you, it worked a treat. In our household, each new evening of Doctor Who means several episodes of giggling madly, hollering delightedly at the TV, and just occasionally curling one's lip and, apropos of nothing and in a faux-humorously defensive tone, saying "Shut UP, I am NOT crying."

In the spirit of full disclosure: before he was The Doctor, Christopher Eccleston was already something of a household favorite, so the immediate appeal might be different in another household.

But as an introduction to The Doctor, he's wonderful: a really unsettling combination of approachability, intelligence, humor, and an underlying edge of something that might be malice or might be madness and you just can't know which.

Also, though the 1970s theme still makes me want to hide behind the sofa, the current rendition does not. So there's that.
posted by Elsa at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Someone can correct me if I am wrong but I believe the first part of The Key To Time is on netflix instantso you won't have to buy the DVD or torrent it. I have only just started watching those old episodes.

4 out of the 6 stories that comprise The Key To Time are on Netflix Instant. Two of them, "The Stones of Blood" and "The Armageddon Factor".

I think the new series is a much much more accessible starting point for Doctor Who then any part of the classic series. Those stories were created as multi part serials using older production standards, certainly not taking into account modern tastes in drama. Though perhaps if one is prepared for a show where stories could take hours to resolve, bare-budget effects, and a different idea of appropriate drama, then the classic series is worth a start.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:29 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I adored the Tom Baker series of Doctor Who when I was a kid, so I was excited to try the New Who and started with the Eccleston series. It had a couple nifty episodes (particularly the kid with the gas mask), but the resolution to the overarching "Bad Wolf" mystery was so completely disappointing and stupid that I gave up.

It is a rather different show under Steven Moffat. It should be noted that the tenor of the show can change dramatically when producers change, in addition to when lead actors change. Tom Baker's run covered a large number of production changes.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:32 PM on September 25, 2011


4 out of the 6 stories that comprise The Key To Time are on Netflix Instant. Two of them, "The Stones of Blood" and "The Armageddon Factor".

... are only available via DVD from Netflix.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:33 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is pretty much the opposite of why I like sci-fi, though not so much Doctor Who (though I liked Eccleston for his semi-ugly charm). All the humanity ego-stroking. "You are so wonderful! So unusual! So blahblah nothing like you in the universe!"

Wait, really? A whole universe of sentient beings in unimaginable variety, and we are the Super Special Snowflakes? How boring. How like us, to love fictions that make us the most important beings in the universe.

I remember some Star Trek episode with this conceit; we were special because we had good and bad in us and that made us human, and also awesome. Because other species don't have this? Or even do it better than we do? Pshaw.

The biggest flaw of the Who series, and to many its biggest charm, has been the mystery of the Doctor's obsession with humanity in general, but Britain in particular. He just loooves us! Sooo much! Can't leave us alone! Can't stop buggering about causing catastrophes! It makes no sense whatsoever, so the cover is that we are so very special (and perhaps the British especially so) that all this attention from a massively powerful alien who could, logically speaking, spend his time much more productively, is warranted.
posted by emjaybee at 8:36 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


The biggest flaw of the Who series, and to many its biggest charm, has been the mystery of the Doctor's obsession with humanity in general, but Britain in particular.

It's a British children's sci-fi show. Who is he supposed to be obsessed with, the French?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:38 PM on September 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


To the OP, the thing about the Doctor as a god figure is both can be infinitely powerful and yet ultimately mysterious, moving to patterns that we can barely see or understand.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember some Star Trek episode with this conceit

That is like half of TNG and SG1 and almost any pre BSG SF show you care to name. BSG and later SGU were fundamentally a reaction to that conceit. Humans are pretty much alone in an uncaring universe, there is nothing inherent in humanity that will always save the day as in so much other SF.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:41 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doctor Who is much more like fantasy (a wizard with a magic wand and a magic flying box fighting monsters) than it is like any of the popular sci-fi TV shows.
posted by demiurge at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, goodie! Here's an opportunity to thank PhoBWanKenobi for this excellent comment which persuaded me to give the new Doctor Who another, better, more attentive viewing.

Well, thanks! I'm glad you took another look.

Funny to read it now though. God, I loved River in June and before. As we've learned more of her story, I've loved her less. Though the writing has suddenly gotten better again after a very inconsistent half-season. For all I thought they were sprinkled with feminist fails [don't worry, guys, I don't plan on soapboxing again], the last three episodes were very well-written and charming, the kind of stuff that I'd hoped Moffat's run would be. I think things might have gotten too EPIC and SHOUTY for a bit. Anyway, I still hope that I'll watch the story backwards at some point and grow to love River for the awesomness that she is and was, even if I end up thinking she's kind of unbearable at the start. It'll be like the opposite of what happens with new Doctors. Or the same thing, but . . . backwards!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:47 PM on September 25, 2011


Before the modern era, the only Dr. Who I'd watched were the early episodes with William Hartnell. The later guys seem pretty popular but I still tend to think of The Doctor as a cranky old man in black and white. It has been a while, though, so a few months ago I started a long-term project to start again at the beginning and work my way forward. I'll catch up with you guys in a decade or so.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:49 PM on September 25, 2011


somewhere Jacob Clifton is very annoyed.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 PM on September 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I suspect that we've reached some sort of critical Doctor Who mass. I went to a Ren Fest yesterday. I expected to see some trendy steampunks, but didn't see a single one. There was, however, a trio of people (badly*) cosplaying the tenth Doctor, Rose, and the first Doctor.

*I mean, really, 10 was wearing a black suit without pinstripes! Impostor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 PM on September 25, 2011


That is like half of TNG and SG1 and almost any pre BSG SF show you care to name. BSG and later SGU were fundamentally a reaction to that conceit. Humans are pretty much alone in an uncaring universe, there is nothing inherent in humanity that will always save the day as in so much other SF.

I'd disagree, at least in the case of BSG. Sure, it started that way, but by the last season the show had explicitly ditched that idea in favor of treacly It's All About Humanity crap -- the part where the "good" Cylons (spoiler ahead) decide that they all have to give up their immortality because "now there's no difference" made me want to vomit.
posted by vorfeed at 8:54 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


somewhere Jacob Clifton is very annoyed.

In what sense?
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:00 PM on September 25, 2011


No worries about the soapboxing, PhoB, it's an argument that needs to be had.

Anyway, I just rewatched "Curse of the Black Spot," and while I wouldn't go so far as to call it "good," i works roughly a thousand times better in what was supposed to be its original context (i.e. placed between "Let's Kill Hitler" and "The Girl Who Waited.") The back half of the season is all about the need for companions vs the effects on them of traveling with The Doctor, and this episode is all about that as well, analogizing the young Toby to Amy, and making his fatherly view of her very clear. It might hit the nail a bit too hard on the head, actually, but in the right context it's the story of Toby, who idolizes his father, learning that his dad isn't as honorable a man as he'd believed, while all the same the Captain is inspired by his son to try to be the kind of man Toby thought he was. Basically, it's The Doctor's relationship to Amy and Rory, just before the Doctor goes through all of that himself.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:00 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If nothing else Peak Dr. Who means bunches of nerds cosplay as guys in nice suits.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 PM on September 25, 2011 [5 favorites]


BBC America will also be re-airing the old seasons of torchwood.

Has been for the past 2 Fridays, 2 a week. It serves as stark confirmation of how god-awful bad Miracle Day was.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:00 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


If nothing else Peak Dr. Who means bunches of nerds cosplay as guys in nice suits.

My red Converse are too dirty for cosplay.

Has been for the past 2 Fridays, 2 a week. It serves as stark confirmation of how god-awful bad Miracle Day was.

How could it be worse than the first two seasons of Torchwood? That was like bad fanfic on screen
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:02 PM on September 25, 2011


Sure, it started that way, but by the last season the show had explicitly ditched that idea in favor of treacly It's All About Humanity crap

I will accept your analysis. I have repressed many of the later episodes, like the one where Lee decides Lee decides being a lawyer is his true calling.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:04 PM on September 25, 2011


My red Converse are too dirty for cosplay.

So were David Tennant's (scroll down to see).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:10 PM on September 25, 2011


This is a science fiction show.
No Charlie it is not. Dr. Who is fantasy by anyone's definition. It's one of the few fantasy shows that I actually truly enjoy and the last few years have been marvelous.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:16 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


If nothing else Peak Dr. Who means bunches of nerds cosplay as guys in nice suits.


These days I'm seeing more clever and more abstract Dr. Who costumes, including Tardis-inspired wear (including this dress), and Dalek themes too, and lots of Weeping Angels. There also seems to be a bit of cross gender cosplay, mostly women playing the Doctor.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:16 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]




Doctor Who is much more like fantasy (a wizard with a magic wand and a magic flying box fighting monsters) than it is like any of the popular sci-fi TV shows.


As Clarke said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic".
Thus while I love the generas, I actually see little divide between most Sci Fi and Fantasy. Just because it's got a rocket on the cover doesn't make it fantasy. BSG is fantasy, Star Trek is Fantasy.. and so on.
posted by edgeways at 9:22 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dr. Who is an interesting genre show cause if he solves the problem with violence, he fails. Gaiman has said a few times why it was hard to write Morpheus/Dream stories cause he can't resort to violence to solve things, which makes storytelling easier.

Come to think of it the Sandman series reminds me a lot of Dr. Who.
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 PM on September 25, 2011


I was thinking much the same thing edgewise. Where do you draw the line between science fiction and fantasy these days? For me it has much to do with the plausibility of the propositions used throughout the story as well as the adherence to the rules laid out for those initial propositions. The Transporter can't just take you anywhere - it has limits and the stories adhere to those limits vs a sonic screwdriver which as someone pointed out upthread is actually just a magic wand. Of course there is much more to it than that and such things make for fine arguments :) but for me that is a lot of it.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 9:28 PM on September 25, 2011


This is a science fiction show.
No Charlie it is not. Dr. Who is fantasy by anyone's definition. It's one of the few fantasy shows that I actually truly enjoy and the last few years have been marvelous.


The genre depends on the episode, it seems. There's some soft sci-fi, some hard sci-fi, some gothic fantasy... the episode about The Flesh reminded me of David Brin's 'Kiln People' and was decent straight sci-fi.

I know a guy who cosplays as a Dalek.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:29 PM on September 25, 2011


Dr. Who is an interesting genre show cause if he solves the problem with violence, he fails. Gaiman has said a few times why it was hard to write Morpheus/Dream stories cause he can't resort to violence to solve things, which makes storytelling easier.

Come to think of it the Sandman series reminds me a lot of Dr. Who.


I wonder how much of the British sci-fi, fantasy, and horror I love was influenced by Doctor Who. Is that why all of Micheal Moorcock's characters can leap easily through time and space?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:30 PM on September 25, 2011


BSG is fantasy, Star Trek is Fantasy.. and so on.

Though Star Trek gets very hand-wavy often, I still put it squarely in science fiction as it—more than most shows out there—is a series of thought experiments. What constitutes life? What are the limits of duty? If there are two of me, which one is me and which one is someone else? What does communication mean to us? Should we try to change our pasts to make us better people, or are our imperfections integral to the good we try to do? Science Fiction is thought experiment using the trappings of technology to ponder those big "if's" of human nature. Sometimes it helps explore those things by encountering aliens or having the technology to make transporters. So, yeah, the science is loose in Star Trek, but it qualifies as SF for me.

Doctor Who is something rather different and always has been. I mean, we're talking about a show that started off to teach kids about different historical periods. Even in the "good ol' days" of Tom Baker, the science was just window dressing for stories of a dramatic hero who comes in with a wink and a smile to help put right problems. And that's really fine, ya know? It is a show about, as he calls himself, a space Gandalf, an old man of the cosmos that for just a moment peels away all that seems ordinary and safe and shows how dangerous and wondrous the stars are.

There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do.
—The Doctor
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:32 PM on September 25, 2011


Dr. Who is like the Jupiter of British SF/F, it's been so big for so long that it bent everything around it. It's a bit like Star Treks in the US, it's what people think of when they think of a default "Science Fiction" thing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 PM on September 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


BTW, if you're unlucky enough to be stuck watching the show on BBC America, I would strongly suggest you get access to the unmutilated UK episodes by any means necessary. I'll cop to the fact that I use certain internet tools to access the actual episodes, but in the run-ups to the recent seasons, when BBCA has run a bunch of back episodes, I was shocked at how completely butchered they were in the US edits. I mean, check out the BBCA "Voyage of the Damned" vs the UK-aired version—it's not a particularly great episode, to be sure, but the vandalism wrought on the US version destroys what little pleasure there was in the episode. Whole key points of resolution go missing, and it's just...unwatchable. I've been watching the current episodes first on BBCA, but whenever I find myself disappointed, I'm always fairly certain a large part of the episode disappeared so they could insert more commercials for catheters and christianmingle.com.
posted by sonascope at 9:35 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]



Though Star Trek gets very hand-wavy often, I still put it squarely in science fiction as it—more than most shows out there—is a series of thought experiments


Yeah , using that definition of SF usually works for me, Science Fiction as Social Commentary and all that, it's a *type* of fantasy, with its own tropes.

That being said I agree with Spike Trotman that the science behind Star Trek is so hand-wavy it might as well be bikini parties fueling the warp droves.
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd like to recommend against making The Key to Time your introduction to Tom Baker. By his fifth season, Tom was starting to lose interest, and by that time there was nobody around who could or would rein him in when he got too jokey. His tendency to fool around was usually one of his many charms, but it worked better when somebody on the show (i.e. Philip Hinchcliffe, the show-runner for his first few seasons) was trying to keep most episodes serious. The first episode of The Key to Time, which is otherwise pretty good, is also arguably the first one (and one of the few) Tom himself somehow wasn't all that hot in.

Netflix instant does have a couple of top-ten old Who episodes featuring Tom: The Ark in Space, his second appearance, and Pyramids of Mars, an excellent and often dark episode in which his doctor is uncharacteristically (and perhaps alarmingly) cranky most of the time.
posted by Adventurer at 9:37 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory Doctor Who as imagined by Kate Beaton (of Hark! A Vagrant fame), who has never seen Doctor Who. Her portrayal is eerily accurate.
posted by just_ducky at 9:40 PM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


My first introduction to Dr. Who was CITY OF DEATH and it did the job nicely along with a few isolated shots of the older series. I went from there to the first reboot season, stayed on with Tennant until he screamed *satan* to *death* and then picked it back up with Matt Smith and have been pleasantly surprised by how well putt together it was.


I couldn't make it past Torchwood season one however, I've been told it gets better?
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 PM on September 25, 2011


Hey! I forgot about The Doctor "speaking baby" in "A Good Man Goes to War." Nice call-back!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:41 PM on September 25, 2011


I couldn't make it past Torchwood season one however, I've been told it gets better?

It gets worse, then better, then worse again.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:43 PM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


just like True Blood this season AMIRIGHT?


gods that was an uneven mess
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Science Fiction is thought experiment using the trappings of technology to ponder those big "if's" of human nature.

I see what you are saying Lord Chancellor, but I would argue the pondering of "if's" of human nature is not genera specific, and sometimes I have seen works classified as fantasy being more deft at it then most of SF. In addition, when the technology used is pretty much analogous to magic anyways...well I start to think that trying to separate out the two (SF/F) is an effort in self-delusion (for me).

There is plenty of fantasy that is internally self sufficient and runs by as rigorous in-world logic as any given SF, it's just a matter of how well written the books are, or how much detail a given author pays to that aspect.

I understand people tend to have the notion Fantasy must equal magic/elves/olde-worlde/swashbuckling and SF must equal space/technology/future but it is all fantasy in some fashion, as (I would argue) is most Horror as well. We spend so much time dividing things up we tend to miss the commonalities while seeking ways to make things unique.
IMO, there is fiction and non-fiction, those are the generas. Everything else is how accurate or how fantastical a given thing is.

and I say this all as someone who has been a lifelong reader of SF/F/slipstream/genera-cross overs/whathaveyou.
posted by edgeways at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


That being said I agree with Spike Trotman that the science behind Star Trek is so hand-wavy it might as well be bikini parties fueling the warp droves.

I think it is Jeffries tubes and tachyons. There was a pretty cool episode where Laforge and Will actually build a warp core I think.

trek really does tackle the Philip K Dick style SF questions. I just watched an episode of Enterprise that pulled a double whammy. Trip was in a coma, so they grew a clone of Trip that would only live 15 days in order to harvest the clone's orgams. Clone Trip actually had all of Trip's memories, ZOMG, who is the real Trip? The clone or the guy in the coma?? Is it OK to kill one Trip to save the other?

In TNG they usually rely on Data to tackle the What Does It Mean To Be Human issues, one episode in particular in which he asked why all star fleet does not require all members to have visors instead of eyes since visors are clearly superior comes to mind.

Oh well, off to find a trek thread.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:54 PM on September 25, 2011


It makes no sense whatsoever, so the cover is that we are so very special (and perhaps the British especially so) that all this attention from a massively powerful alien who could, logically speaking, spend his time much more productively, is warranted.

I never really see Doctor Who doing this sort of thing, the same way that ST:TNG does. Have I just missed it? I always saw it more like this: some people are dog-people and they have a lot of dogs; some people are cat-people and have a lot of cats; the Doctor is a British Human-person and he looks after all the British human people. I always figured this came about by accident... He finds himself on Earth, specifically this little island called England, and he's tickled by us. To The Doctor, we're awesome and neat and special.... But only in the same way that, to me, my two kitties are the best and most wonderful pets in the universe.

I think this is supported by The Doctor's general glee and appreciation for everything. We're special--the shopgirl is special, the old grandpa is special, EVERYONE'S special! He gushes about us so much, the same way he'd gush about just about anyone.

...Except those aliens from God Complex who are the most conquered species. He clearly doesn't like them.
posted by meese at 10:00 PM on September 25, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't watch Dr. Who and I don't have a personal relationship with god, and frankly reading some of the references in this thread feels like reading the obscure nonsensical parts of the bible,....

Yup, this all hangs together.
posted by Chekhovian at 10:10 PM on September 25, 2011


The bit in the beginning of ZeusHumms's link is one of my favorite things that The Doctor does: He has a (really high-powered) Presence Attack. And he's used it a LOT in the new series, and it pretty much always makes me giddy. His reputation is a weapon. Because he's defeated (or totally wiped out) so many enemies. I really dig that.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:11 PM on September 25, 2011


...Except those aliens from God Complex who are the most conquered species. He clearly doesn't like them.

But he still admires their survival instinct.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:12 PM on September 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


so god is usually really boring?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry for the derail into AskMefi territory, but let's say I've never seen a single Doctor Who episode. Not the old series or the new--not a single one. But I am interested in starting but don't know if I should just start with the new one and forget the old ones? What order should I go in? Are there whole episodes to avoid, or do I need to watch the whole thing?
posted by zardoz at 11:10 PM on September 25, 2011


I always figured this came about by accident... He finds himself on Earth, specifically this little island called England, and he's tickled by us.

I don't think it's an accident at all. It's just the show was written and produced in Great Britain and therefore features British actors in British locations much like French television shows are in French and are shot in France sort of thing. They occasionally refer to the Doctor having been all over the Earth in different points of time (Pertwee's Doctor was a friend of Mao Tse Tung for example) but I imagine the BBC doesn't have the budget to shoot a series of the Doctor's adventures in China during the formative years of Revolution, or his time in Mesopotamia, or his adventures with the Mayans, or his subsequent hilarious misadventures with a rogue friendly Movellan and a disenfranchised Dominator.
posted by juiceCake at 11:18 PM on September 25, 2011


I meant an accident, within the story, not within its production. I meant it was just chance that he and the TARDIS were in England, as opposed to anywhere else in the universe, at the time in his history when Doctor Who started. Of course a British show will have mostly British actors and locations. I was mostly concerned with what sort of rationale the show provided for why that was the case.

The AV Club just featured a review of an episode from the very first season where The Doctor went to visit the Aztecs. I wish they'd do more stuff like that. I really enjoyed the episode about Pompeii, too. And I wish we could see more of his encounter(s) with Elizabeth I.
posted by meese at 11:27 PM on September 25, 2011


But I am interested in starting but don't know if I should just start with the new one and forget the old ones?

It's been asked at least once on Ask Metafilter. I'd say that thread still covers it pretty well.
posted by Gary at 11:32 PM on September 25, 2011


I think juiceCake is suggesting that within the Who universe, the Doctor spends an equal amount of time all over the Earth, but the BBC only bothers to show us his adventures in Britain. There are plenty of unaired adventures. The Doctor presumably spends 200 years between The God Complex and the upcoming series finale, but all we see is a single Cyberman adventure with Craig. In Britain.

This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.
posted by painquale at 11:36 PM on September 25, 2011


All right, I know of Doctor Who, but my first thought was "what the fuck is wrong with this doctor?" who is, like, having a relationship with God.
posted by hat_eater at 12:07 AM on September 26, 2011


But I am interested in starting but don't know if I should just start with the new one and forget the old ones? What order should I go in? Are there whole episodes to avoid, or do I need to watch the whole thing?

The ask me thread covers this pretty well. To add to it:

At the moment, for some reason Xfinity on Demand has all of season 5 as well as the current season. This has only been valid for a few months, and could go away without notice.

If you have Amazon Prime Instant Videos, the current run through the end of season 5, including the David Tennant specials, is available. Also several classic stories are there as well. This is only available to direct membership holders, not guests or those with Amazon Mom memberships.

Most of the current run that's on DVD is also streaming on Netflix, with listed availability end dates of Dec 01, 2011 for seasons 1-3 and all remaining specials and classic stories, with the following exceptions:

Season 4: Dec 20, 2011
Season 5: May 09, 2012

I have hopes that Netflix will renew streaming deals for Doctor Who, but two of the David Tennant specials ("The Next Doctor", "Planet of the Dead") are already DVD only.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:09 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


7 year hiatus? More like 15 years with one Movie-Length episode for FOX in the middle.

Well, hey, the Icelandic Althing had a 45-year hiatus, but still gets to claim that it's been in operation since 930 AD.
posted by baf at 12:23 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]




I think juiceCake is suggesting that within the Who universe, the Doctor spends an equal amount of time all over the Earth, but the BBC only bothers to show us his adventures in Britain. There are plenty of unaired adventures. The Doctor presumably spends 200 years between The God Complex and the upcoming series finale, but all we see is a single Cyberman adventure with Craig. In Britain.

This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.


He admires their spirit of exploration and ingenuity?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:34 AM on September 26, 2011


And another thing that's missing is science. I mean hell, if I wanted to watch gothic horror, I'd watch Twilight or something. This is a science fiction show.

Hoo boy. You do understand that if there is any single genre into which Doctor Who must fall, then it is ... horror?

I admit it took me, an unabashed hard-as-diamond sf fan, to accept and understand this. I mean, my first viewing of Doctor Who was one of the Fourth Doctor's episodes that was straight out of Arkham. But I eventually imagined that it was sciencey because of its emphasis on intellect and Baum-like defusing of various Oz mythologies as found here and there. But the Gothic emphasis, even if it wasn't exactly original to the show as conceived, had taken full root by the glory years of the show. The classic descriptions of the show are the way it sent kids "behind the sofa", or how the characters spent time "running down corridors" -- away from things, you see. It's rather fundamentally a scare, and that is closest, in genre terms, to horror.

To be sure, Who is a rather esoteric form of the genre, with time travel and the far future and robot dogs and all. But it isn't really about the technology, or about humanity's future, the way that most hard sf is. After all, it isn't humanity that is faced with the problem of time travel (usually). Sf, particularly of the Trek variety, is often social, whereas horror is quite often personal.

What I have loved about Moffat is his very obvious willingness to set up old school episodes and tropes. Even though horror per se is very much not what I read, other than having a cursory understanding of it all, it's definitely what old school Who is all about. So when I see a monstery shadow looming out around the corner of a long corridor to run down, I just have to chuckle. We're definitely back, in many ways, in the familiar. The production values are way beefed up, and the stories are compressed to fit in an hour, but this is very much back to basics.

About which, I have also really liked the writer's thought process that Moffat has obviously gone through to distill the concept of the Doctor down to a "mad man in a box" (a phrase that I am certain predates Moffat, but I can't find evidence for). I hear that and I think -- yes. This is his essence. Make him a little more of a madman, a little harder to understand, a little more alien, and don't get hung up on too much other than that the box is the story device that Makes All Possible. In many ways this has worked beautifully. The deliberate deconstruction of all that this season has been fascinating. As I noted in the last thread, the BBC even used the promotional phrase Trust Your Doctor this season, yet the storylines have all been about how that is folly -- or at least the Doctor has come to believe so. Particularly when viewed in the light of the heroic, winning Tenth Doctor portrayal, it's an extremely interesting direction to explore.

zardoz, this season has been largely one long story arc, so it's a bad time to just jump in, but you could start with most any episode and still get up to speed rather quickly. It isn't so much about the long story with all sorts of interlocking pieces -- most individual episodes are standalone. The New Who stuff tends to have some light arcing going on most of the time (this time is unusually heavy and an anomaly), but for the most part it isn't necessary to the enjoyment of the show. Personally, I've recently enjoyed starting over with Eccleston (episode "Rose") and pushing forward, but then I've also taken completist detours to Torchwood. Next easiest place to start is probably the first Matt Smith episode ("The Eleventh Hour" -- he's the Eleventh Doctor, get it?). You could start with "The Impossible Astronaut" but you'd miss a bit of the Rory and Amy backstory, not to mention River Song, which makes it problematic -- as I said, this season is unusually heavy on the interlocking bits. But Doctor Who is pretty famously unworried about canonicity and continuity and exists with contradictions galore.

This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.

Shared love of tea.
posted by dhartung at 12:35 AM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.

Yeah, humans aren't special. The Doctor just likes us, is all. As for England, well, it's a British show so that's where he landed. And the Tardis is stuck in an iconic British outer form, and the Third Doctor was grounded there for ages, so I think he just got a feel for the place.

If anything, I found it more distracting that the budget episodes of the RTD era so often took place in Cardiff. (And I've got some healthy Welsh pride, but come on.)

moving on, and sticking with my Pond/Williams Time-Loop theory, I'm wondering if maybe the switch-over from non-knowledge to "we have knowledge the Doctor can't have" happened between "A Good Man Goes to War" and "Let's Kill Hitler." It would explain the ambivalence towards Melody's fate, at least.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:47 AM on September 26, 2011


Maybe this has some resonance here?
posted by eric1halfb at 12:48 AM on September 26, 2011


I know I've mentioned it three times, but even if you've never seen Doctor Who but you're a Kubrick fan you need to see God Complex. They got the carpet right! And the bar! And even a brief shot of the kitchen!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:00 AM on September 26, 2011


LiB, look up this week's season premier of Community if you haven't already.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:02 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering all the iterations, it's a bit overwhelming to know where to begin. I could go chronologically, sure, but is there any general fan consensus on whether some "versions" of Doctor Who are better than others? What would be a good introductory season?

Everyone seems to be suggesting that you start with the beginning of the new series, but if you have any desire to start off with OldWho -- and I hasten to add that no one will think less of you if you don't, and I'm not sure I'd like the old series at all if I watched it for the first time today -- then I suggest starting with season 7, which introduced the 3rd Doctor. Like the new series, it was intended as a fresh start and a jumping-on point for new viewers, and doesn't rely on familiarity with previous continuity. It's also the season that introduces UNIT, a military organization that crops up occasionally in the show to the present day.

Coincidentally, the first episode of this season, Spearhead from Space, uses the same monster as the first episode of the new series. Or maybe that's design rather than coincidence. It's the kind of sly wink that the new series writers seem to like.
posted by baf at 1:08 AM on September 26, 2011


If anything, I found it more distracting that the budget episodes of the RTD era so often took place in Cardiff. (And I've got some healthy Welsh pride, but come on.)

That at least had an in-universe explanation. There was some temporal fissure or whatnot there. That's why the Torchwood Institute set up shop in Cardiff.
posted by painquale at 1:40 AM on September 26, 2011


Hmmm. This seems like more of a light-hearted, left-brain concept of Who, but not a helpful insight.

I started with Who in the Baker years, after growing-up immersion in Dominator religion. Quit it, left the show behind -- spent a bunch of time studying multiple religions of the world, symbolism, psychology --- and only recently I returned to Who to enjoy big chunks of the latest 3 Drs.

Never - in the Baker or modern incarnations - had any sense of GOD about Who. Compassionate, logical, fallible, foibled, personable ancient geek, yes. But too fragile and too limited for a Supreme. More like a sci-fi ancient ... more like a Pak Protector. I 'spect people's sense of Who depends on the vocabulary they bring to the experience, hmm?
posted by Twang at 2:21 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trek really does tackle the Philip K Dick style SF questions. I just watched an episode of Enterprise that pulled a double whammy. Trip was in a coma, so they grew a clone of Trip that would only live 15 days in order to harvest the clone's orgams. Clone Trip actually had all of Trip's memories, ZOMG, who is the real Trip? The clone or the guy in the coma?? Is it OK to kill one Trip to save the other?

Doctor Who does stuff like this all the time. We had two copies of the Doctor (and of most othe characters) in the Flesh episode. Amy had to decide which one she thought was real. But to the Doctor it didn't matter, cos he 'got' it. There were plot points based around identity all over that episode.

OK here's a fun game: someone name a Philip K Dick style SF question and lets see whether Doctor Who has played with it?
posted by memebake at 2:45 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.

They haven't been, actually. some haven't even been from Earth. (Can't find a complete list, but Peri was American -- unfortunately, the actress playing her had a hideously bad "American accent," supposedly - and I think Adric was from another planet.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:25 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


This doesn't really explain why all his companions are British.

Well, since he spends a lot of time in Britain, then his interaction with Brits is signficantly higher than non-brits.

I'm letting my inner geek run wild, but from memory as well as Peri being American, Tegan was Australian and Adric, Nyssa, Leela and Romana were all alien to Earth. This is not a complete list.
posted by biffa at 5:02 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, can't we have one Dalek episode? We need more awesome Dalek lines like "Daleks do not accept apologies"

I don't know...I'm a little wary of the Daleks after they all turned into Cooper Minis in that Winston Churchill/Spitfires-in-space bullshit episode.

The Daleks are responsible for one of my favorite lines from the Tennant era of the show, though, in the episode where they confront the Cybermen:

Cyberman: You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?
Dalek Sec: (dripping with contempt) We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek!
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:03 AM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Turlough, Kamelion and K9 could also be added to non-British companions (and possibly Grace Holloway if you want to. I'd be less keen m'self)
posted by Hartster at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2011


Susan and Turlough were also aliens.

Zoe, although human, probably also counts as not from Earth, as she was living on a space station when the Doctor met her. I suppose she may have lived on Earth before that, though. And even if she didn't, she could plausibly consider herself British by heritage.
posted by baf at 5:20 AM on September 26, 2011


3. Are we witnessing a Doctor Doppelganger? He pointedly ate an apple and solved a Rubik's Cube in "The God Complex," both things he has rejected as "rubbish" in earlier episodes.

Navelgazer, I think this is it. My memory might be wrong on this, but we didn't actually see Ganger Doctor die in "The Almost People," did we?
posted by jbickers at 6:08 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sad someone beat me to the Community joke but I had it all ready so I'm still gonna use it, sorry folks:

I don't know, I'm more of an Inspector Spacetime fan.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:15 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is Doctor Who fandom like a religion, or are religions like fandoms?
posted by LogicalDash at 6:21 AM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Was the entire Doctor Who joke on Community the little 2 minute parody I saw on Topless Robot? At the risk of sounding like the Comic Book Guy, I found that pretty underwhelming. At least Kate Beaton's parody acknowledges that she's never seen it.

I like when Craig Ferguson does Doctor Who stuff. He just oozes fanboy love.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:01 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The biggest flaw of the Who series, and to many its biggest charm, has been the mystery of the Doctor's obsession with humanity in general, but Britain in particular.

Well it's because he's half-human, of course!

*ducks to avoid hurtling retcon rockets*
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:03 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


the heroic, winning Tenth Doctor portrayal

I just had a horrible vision of Matt Smith regenerating into Charlie Sheen. *shudder*

we didn't actually see Ganger Doctor die in "The Almost People," did we?
We do -- he and the other Ganger go liquid when they blow up the building and destroy the Ganger monster, although as someone pointed out in another thread, the "real" Doctor did say that the Ganger Doctor might be capable of regeneration.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:11 AM on September 26, 2011


I would be extremely happy to have Ganger Doctor and Ganger Person Whose Name I Can't Remember come back.

Also, the Doctor is a century or so older when we first see him in TIA. I wonder, where has he gone? Or is he not really older - is that number some sort of code for River to decipher?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:15 AM on September 26, 2011


Question: did I imagine a continuity error in the last ep? Previously, we've seen River imprisoned for the Doctor's death before she had her doctorate, right?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:19 AM on September 26, 2011


> implying River wouldn't simply travel through time through grad school to continue to add marvelous research to her dissertation
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:20 AM on September 26, 2011


I grew up watching Tom Baker on PBS. Also saw Hartnell, Troughton, and Pertwee when they were rerun, and followed through Davison, C.Baker, and McCoy (and McGann). Didn't start watching NuWho until about a year ago, when my wife and I were living in separate states for 3 months due to moving, new job, finishing school, etc. I watched all of the new series (at the time through Matt Smith's first season) as well as Torchwood seasons 1-3.

When she finally moved up, I decided that before I introduced her to NuWho, she had to get grounded in the classic. So we started at the beginning. The VERY beginning: An Unearthly Child, William Hartnell, I.M. Foreman, all that stuff. It was also a good excuse for me to rewatch stuff I hadn't seen in 20 years. We watched a good bit of Hartnell, through to Troughton -- the few episodes of his that survive, that is :( Then we started in with Eccleston. (Or maybe we started watching Eccleston but put off seeing him regenerate until Hartnell changed to Troughton, not sure). Then went through a good bit of Pertwee, and perhaps even Baker -- I wanted to introduce her to Susan and the original K-9 before their return during TENnant's first season. Also wanted to introduce her to the Master as well. Watched through the rest of TENnant's run while interspersing with Davison (I wanted to get to Davison's run before his cameo in NuWho). Finished up TENnant and Smith's first season, while also making it through Davison, C.Baker, and some McCoy. Now caught up on all of it.

So, I say watch from the very beginning! It's all awesome (well, OK, some is quite crap, but still, fun!). If you can't put aside modern expectations and enjoy some classic Who, then you are missing out. That said... watch the new series at the same time. I am a big proponent of being a "completist" though.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:22 AM on September 26, 2011


> implying River wouldn't simply travel through time through grad school to continue to add marvelous research to her dissertation

No no, I mean specifically the title. I think it's in their second meeting with the weeping angels when the Doctor introduces her to Amy as Doctor River Song and she squees about becoming a doctor.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 AM on September 26, 2011


Wait no, I'm wrong. It was Professor. I forgot that these things work differently in Space England.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


No no, I mean specifically the title.

I know.

Another as-yet-unanswered question: who imprisons River Song? It's strongly implied that, Joker-style, she allows herself to be imprisoned and frees herself at will, but who runs the prison? Is she ever "arrested," or does she turn herself in?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:33 AM on September 26, 2011


PhoBWanKenobi: I assumed her glee was over getting a JOB, in archaeology of all things. Plenty of PhDs without positions as professors, as many of recently out of grad school are all too aware!
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:35 AM on September 26, 2011


*as many of us who are
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:39 AM on September 26, 2011


Saxon Kane, I like that reading. But I do think her glee might have something to do with the way academic rank works in England. Being a professor is a[n even] bigger deal there than it is in the US.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:43 AM on September 26, 2011


Was the entire Doctor Who joke on Community the little 2 minute parody I saw on Topless Robot? At the risk of sounding like the Comic Book Guy, I found that pretty underwhelming. At least Kate Beaton's parody acknowledges that she's never seen it.

It's part of a greater joke on the show and isn't really meant to be a huge Doctor Who thing. Basically Abed's favorite show (Cougartown) is moved to midseason and he's upset it's going to be canceled. Britta tries to find him another show, which turns out to be the (not real) original British series Cougartown was (not really) based on: Cougarton Abbey.

There's a joke about how British series run in smaller numbers with intentional expiration dates which is brilliant and I will not spoil, but it makes things worse for Abed and as an attempt to repair things Britta then brings him Inspector Spacetime which she says is a British show which is sci-fi (the sort of thing Abed likes) and has been running since the sixties.

There is then the clip you saw, with the bad FX and all, and Abed then says "This is the greatest show I've ever seen."

It kind of seemed to be a joke very much like the Beaton comic, where it's not really about Doctor Who but about how the show looks to people who only have a passing familiarity with it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:11 AM on September 26, 2011


The pilot was great.
It's never been quite the same since, although Genesis Of The Daleks was OK.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sviclRMEy0s
posted by codmate at 8:16 AM on September 26, 2011


It's part of a greater joke on the show and isn't really meant to be a huge Doctor Who thing. Basically Abed's favorite show (Cougartown) is moved to midseason and he's upset it's going to be canceled. Britta tries to find him another show, which turns out to be the (not real) original British series Cougartown was (not really) based on: Cougarton Abbey.

AH. That makes a gagillion times more sense. On TR, it was billed as a hilarious DW parody and the comments were all like, "This is so great! Yay for two great tastes that taste great together!" and I watched the clip and was pretty much, "Buh?"
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:37 AM on September 26, 2011


I wonder if they're going to play with Inspector Spacetime later in the season. It's Abed's favorite show by the end of the episode, and they haven't done a time travel episode yet...
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:40 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's Abed's favorite show by the end of the episode,

It's Abed's favorite show by the end of the sentence.
posted by grubi at 8:55 AM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Courgerton Downton Abbey

If Cougertown was really based on Downton Abbey I would watch.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't think metafilter enough for introducing me to Downton Abbey. It's the best.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:09 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think HBO should do a series like Downton Abbey or Upstairs, Downstairs a run-up to WW 1 period drama.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:20 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


People at this rate we're going to run out of periods to have charming pastiches in.
posted by The Whelk at 10:24 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I couldn't make it past Torchwood season one however, I've been told it gets better?

I never could get into Torchwood; every episode I checked out was disappointing. I may have missed some gems in the first two series since I didn't follow it closely, but oh well. Then Series 3: Children of Earth came along and it was excellent. It's only 5 episodes, and they did everything right, so I recommend checking it out sometime.
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]




just like True Blood this season AMIRIGHT?

gods that was an uneven mess


Why This Was the Worst True Blood Season Ever — and How the Show Can Be Saved
posted by homunculus at 10:55 AM on September 26, 2011


I tried resuming last season where I'd left it, in light of this resurgent Internet acclaim lately.

Didn't take.
posted by everichon at 11:26 AM on September 26, 2011


If anything, I found it more distracting that the budget episodes of the RTD era so often took place in Cardiff. (And I've got some healthy Welsh pride, but come on.)

I don't know that the ones set in Cardiff were "budget" in any different sense than the ones where Cardiff doubles for London or wherever else. The real budget squeezers (although more for schedule than anything else) are the Doctor-lite ones, like Love & Monsters, Blink, and Turn Left -- all of which are explicitly set in London (but again, pretty much only using establishing and master shots there).

I don't mind them using Cardiff as per se Cardiff. To me, it's earned by the tremendous success and high quality of the BBC Wales production. (Even if I wonder why the Doctor never shows up in, say, Manchester or Newcastle all that often.) In real-world terms, it helps the show avoid and balance the all but overbearing London focus that the RTD years gave it.
Of course, Greater London does have about 12% of the UK population, a distinction to which no American city can comparably aspire.

Another as-yet-unanswered question: who imprisons River Song?

One may surmise it is the same Justice Department that was running the Robot Nazi.
posted by dhartung at 11:27 AM on September 26, 2011




For the most part, "The Wedding of River Song" is a lovely finale, as long as you don't think too much about some of the plot mechanics.

This interests me, because what Moffat has over Davies is plotting (well, and also writing creepy stories, in the good/scary way), and if the finale doesn't work on that level, on what levels does it work?
posted by jeather at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2011


Come to think of it the Sandman series reminds me a lot of Dr. Who.

This whole seasons seems ripped from Sandman: immortal trickster accidentally reproduces, dies, and is replaced. The cuckoo episode clinched the wholesale ripoff for me, and now there's all this "rest in peace" nonsense.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:58 PM on September 26, 2011


Of course there's a Doctor doppelganger... you've noticed the two different coats all season, right? Moffat thinks that sort of thing's a clever subtle clue.

Of course, he probably still thinks River Song is awesome and not a refuge from a lost season of Coupling so who can tell?
posted by davros42 at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2011


Of course there's a Doctor doppelganger... you've noticed the two different coats all season, right? Moffat thinks that sort of thing's a clever subtle clue.

And they both have Tardises? How would that work?

10th Doctor often wore two different suits in different episodes, and he was the same guy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:26 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]



It's part of a greater joke on the show and isn't really meant to be a huge Doctor Who thing. Basically Abed's favorite show (Cougartown) is moved to midseason and he's upset it's going to be canceled. Britta tries to find him another show, which turns out to be the (not real) original British series Cougartown was (not really) based on: Cougarton Abbey.

AH. That makes a gagillion times more sense. On TR, it was billed as a hilarious DW parody and the comments were all like, "This is so great! Yay for two great tastes that taste great together!" and I watched the clip and was pretty much, "Buh?"


oh based on the AV Club screencap of Jeff sitting in an all-white room I thought that Community had done a Kubrick episode.

why hasn't Community done a Kubrick episode?

and why is Cougertown, the show with the silliest title, the only real show in that paragraph?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:31 PM on September 26, 2011


I assumed the coat/non-coat thing would be used in the finale to visually disambiguate different stages of the Doctor's life. Kinda like the fez was used in the previous finale. Fez Doctor =later Doctor. I don't think the coat necessarily entails there's a doppeldöctor.
posted by painquale at 4:33 PM on September 26, 2011


And they both have Tardises? How would that work?

While I don't know how a Doctor doppleganger storyline could work thanks to this question, there is a question I've been wondering about ever since the season opener: what happened to the TARDIS of the Doctor who died? The TARDIS's absence seemed rather notable to me, and I can't imagine the Doctor would just leave her alone to die somewhere. Surely he'd want someone to know where she was or take care of her, if only so she doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
posted by yasaman at 4:54 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I assumed the coat/non-coat thing would be used in the finale to visually disambiguate different stages of the Doctor's life. Kinda like the fez was used in the previous finale. Fez Doctor =later Doctor. I don't think the coat necessarily entails there's a doppeldöctor.

Coats aside, that means he's been wearing the same outfit for over 200 years. You'd think with all of time and space at his disposal that he would want to change it up a bit now and then. Especially since he was presumably seducing/romancing River during that period.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:25 PM on September 26, 2011




I think I've come to the conclusion that Dr. Who is one of those things that gets worse the more I read about it
posted by edgeways at 7:32 PM on September 26, 2011


Inspector Spacetime has its own massive TV Tropes page

"Sonic crowbar" made me laugh so hard, I had an asthma fit.
posted by meese at 8:16 PM on September 26, 2011


Also, out of its long list of made up associates, you get "Rory Williams." I'm not sure why that also cracks me up, but man does it ever.
posted by meese at 8:19 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inspector: I'm the Inspector, by the way. What's your name?
Lily: Lily.
Inspector: Nice to meet you, Lily. Leisurely saunter for your life!


This page is going to kill me, if it keeps this up. This is the best thing ever.

I promise now I'll stop posting everything. Just, everyone, click that link. Seriously!
posted by meese at 8:24 PM on September 26, 2011


what do you expect from a site full of Abeds?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 8:57 PM on September 26, 2011


LiB, The Jeff-in-a-white-room screencap was form an in-depth 2001-parody sequence also in the season premier.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:01 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, some more thoughts:

1. I don't really care about whatever the ultimate question is. I have trouble believing even Moffat can back that up. But I find it fun (and almost entirely coincidental) that in the season premier they went from 2011 to 1969. So I'd like the question to be, "how many years did the Tardis travel backwards after the Doctor's death?" That would tie into Douglas Adams quite nicely.

2. I'm almost certain of my Time Loop theory by this point. Based on the dates of the newspapers in "Closing Time," all of that stuff with Craig occurred in mid-to-late April 2011, days before the Doctor's date with death. Which means that Amy had already seen her success when they received the mysterious invitation. Moreover, she had implicitly been through the events of "The Doctor's Wife" by that time already, since the perfume is named "Petrichor." In a strange way, I think this points towards a solution to why Amy and Rory were so blase about Melody having gone missing.

Specifically, the time-loop gives them some foreknowledge. We don't see it in the first half of the season, but in the second half, we join Amy and Rory once they've done this already. They're no longer worried about Melody because they know it gets handled. maybe crazy, just my theory. (Also, there's the unmentioned issue of rescuing Melody which echos "The Girl Who Waited" very fiercely. If they go back to take baby Melody themselves, they are destroying the River Song they know. She will have never existed and god knows what that does to their own timestream as well. Even if the reason for them being cool about Melody's fate is simply that they know where it leads - which is weak as hell but whatever - at least it makes sense that they are refusing to take "the days" from her.)

3. I want an episode just centered around Rory, so that we can all bask in his Rory-ness. I am shocked with how far he has taken the character this season, and almost all of it subtly. He has succeeded in making Nurses badass, and not through his Centurion stuff, but through his caring, and through his not-like-the-Doctor wisdom and insight into people.

4. Moffat is almost certainly fucking with us, and it's not really River in the spacesuit.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:37 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh! and:

5. It still might be Rory who River kills. There were 2 "good men" who went to war in that episode, and one of them arguably isn't that good after all, and in that episode, when Rory comes to recruit River, she looks like she's seeing a ghost.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:39 PM on September 26, 2011


Does Moffat take requests? Because I'd like to see the Doctor go back to Cretaceous Earth in the Fox time stream and destroy the probe that allowed humans to go back and create the Terra Nova youth camp for whiny teenagers.
posted by homunculus at 10:47 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've seen a bit of the old Doctor Who (especially Tom Baker, especially written by Douglas Adams), but most of my experience comes from the 2005 reboot and reading wikipedia.

Still, I think Doctor Who being about science as we know it was the exception. The series started with lofty goals of teaching children history, but it quickly became distracted by the ability to write stories in any place and time. Ultimately, I think the idea behind Doctor Who is that everything is real. There are unicorns, werewolves, leprechauns, fairies, and more, but they all have a rational scientific explanation. It's the complete embodiment of "a any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". And maybe that's why it's so enduringly popular - because it co-opts many fantasy concepts, but relates them all to a character who is ultimately a rationalist. The premise of Doctor Who is that in an infinite universe, everything is possible, and yet it's also all understandable. I think that's why, for me, Doctor Who is science fiction - because the premise is that there's some rational science underlying everything, even if it's beyond our comprehension.

The reboot of Doctor Who takes it one step further, and is also about the idea of the Doctor as a cultural icon. RTD's take was that we all love and worship the Doctor, which is why his seasons always felt like fan fiction. Moffat's seasons are deconstructions of the nature of the character and the premise of the show. As far as I know, even though the series was ostensibly about a time traveler, very few of the earlier stories dealt with actual time travel. Yet almost all of Moffat's ideas have hinged on time travel. We've had monsters that attack you by throwing you back in time. Amy Pond has had her life defined by the Doctor - from his perspective, he spent a few hours with her, but her entire life was shaped by the memory of that encounter. We've also had stories where Amy waited for the Doctor to save her for her entire adult life, or where Rory waited for and protected his love for thousands of years. It's amazing to me how much of Moffat's two seasons have been an exploration of time and mortality.

Doctor Who is science fiction to me because the premise is that ultimately everything has a rational explanation, even if we may not understand it. It uses that as a jumping off point, to explore any possible incarnation of the human experience that we can imagine. And that's why it remains so enduringly engrossing. Because Doctor Who is about a creature who is so much more advanced than us as to be a god, yet who is still fallible and bound by reason.
posted by heathkit at 11:07 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


heathkit, if nothing else you've given a solid explanation for why I hate "The Satan Pit" so very, very much.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:50 PM on September 26, 2011


I think there's a simpler reason I agree with the article - I know that because the Doctor is around everything is okay.

I have a little motto, ripped off from Evangelion - 'The Doctor's in his TARDIS. All is right with the world'.

I remember when Neil Gaiman was on Craig Ferguson. During the 'awkward pause' bit Neil reached for Craig's TARDIS toy, as a comfort. My friend gave me a Sonic Screwdriver keychain and I use it the same way.

I know he's fictional. I know I've been a fan for less than one tenth of the show's run. But there's just something so comforting about him, no matter how much he tries to subvert it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:57 AM on September 27, 2011


The Darsit
posted by Gary at 12:59 AM on September 27, 2011


I have a little motto, ripped off from Evangelion - 'The Doctor's in his TARDIS. All is right with the world'.

And they ripped it off from Robert Browning
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:39 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


heathkit: "The premise of Doctor Who is that in an infinite universe, everything is possible, and yet it's also all understandable."

Yes yes YES! I've tried to explain this point to my fiance (for whom Matt Smith was her first Doctor) when I occasionally begin grumbling. In cases like "The Satan Pit", season 3's magical Jesus Tinkerbell Doctor and the "Doctor's Wife" the show explains the woo with "science" that still feels like woo (or in some cases, like the "Doctor's Wife", seems to embrace the woo). Sometimes I wonder if the issue doesn't have to do with improved special effects. In old Who, the alien behind the curtain was usually much more down to earth in its manipulations and itself was just just as earthbound as any other living being. The special effects in NuWho allow for the aliens to be flying around, immaterial and still doing stuff that looks like magic even after the denouncement. Yes, they're aliens and not magical witches, but after you pulled the curtain back they still look like magical witches even of you say they're not.
posted by charred husk at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2011


Yes, they're aliens and not magical witches, but after you pulled the curtain back they still look like magical witches even of you say they're not.

*gets funny look on face*

....Or, some of that may be unconcsciously influenced by something I've heard in parascientific/paranormal/pseudoscientific circles -- that the stories about magical creatures may have actually been accounts of early Close Encounters, reported by people who just didn't yet have an extraterrestrial context in which to put them. In other words, the conceit may be that our stories of magical witches describe them as looking like that because they were aliens all along that just happened to look like that, and back in the Middle Ages they didn't know enough to KNOW that "aliens" was an option, so we got stories about magical witches with that physical description.

Then again, this is probably way more thought than the writers put into this kind of detail. But it struck me that the whole prehistoric Close Encounters/Chariots Of The Gods stuff was a "new idea" during the first run of Who, and may have saturated the collective unconscious a bit more while it was on hiatus so that it may now be turning up a little more in the relaunch.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


....Or, some of that may be unconcsciously influenced by something I've heard in parascientific/paranormal/pseudoscientific circles -- that the stories about magical creatures may have actually been accounts of early Close Encounters, reported by people who just didn't yet have an extraterrestrial context in which to put them. In other words, the conceit may be that our stories of magical witches describe them as looking like that because they were aliens all along that just happened to look like that, and back in the Middle Ages they didn't know enough to KNOW that "aliens" was an option, so we got stories about magical witches with that physical description.

Yeah, its a kinda common idea. Supernatural had a lot of fun with it.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:21 PM on September 27, 2011


....Or, some of that may be unconcsciously influenced by something I've heard in parascientific/paranormal/pseudoscientific circles -- that the stories about magical creatures may have actually been accounts of early Close Encounters, reported by people who just didn't yet have an extraterrestrial context in which to put them. In other words, the conceit may be that our stories of magical witches describe them as looking like that because they were aliens all along that just happened to look like that, and back in the Middle Ages they didn't know enough to KNOW that "aliens" was an option, so we got stories about magical witches with that physical description.

Yeah, its a kinda common idea. Supernatural had a lot of fun with it.


See also the Overlords in Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 11:46 PM on September 27, 2011


There's also this response to Amy's new story, or perhaps "story".
This was a false binary Amy had internalized and then rejected. The same was true about reconciling her fierce independence with being in a committed relationship. She did not have to choose between Rory/love and the Doctor/pursuing her own adventures, her own desires.

It’s not even a problem and you are solving this non-problem by first telling us in season five “THIS IS NOT A REAL PROBLEM, IT IS A SYMPTOM OF PATRIARCHY AND SOCIETAL CONDITIONING,” then reintroducing the problem and “solving” it by forcing Amy to forfeit some piece of her identity to satisfy her partner and admit her deference to him
I do not think that the story in season 5 was quite as obviously what the autho thought, or solved in quite the same way as she thinks it was, but it's also interesting.
posted by jeather at 6:28 AM on September 28, 2011




Yeah, I didn't get the model vibe either. I got the vibe of some kind of Tyra Banks/young Oprah queen of media.
posted by jbickers at 5:56 AM on September 29, 2011


jbickers: "Yeah, I didn't get the model vibe either. I got the vibe of some kind of Tyra Banks/young Oprah queen of media"

When the little girl came up to her asking for an autograph, I first thought that she had become a writer of children's stories about the Raggedy Doctor.
posted by charred husk at 10:23 AM on September 29, 2011


The corridors in this case are those of a hotel, and this story ,with its scary things inside each hotel room, impossible photos, and people in a confined space going mad, owes more than a little to Kubrick’s film of The Shining, and the direction plays up to this, finally calling in a debt which has been owed since 1966 (when Kubrick phoned Who director Douglas Camfield and found out how he’d got the shots of weightlessness in The Daleks’ Master-Plan, using the same techniques in 2001).

via
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:58 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I first thought that she had become a writer of children's stories about the Raggedy Doctor.

That would have at least made sense. So would her being a model. But I'm having trouble connecting the dots from her being a Kissogram to her developing her own scent in a few years.
posted by Gary at 6:14 PM on September 29, 2011


1. That was a lot of fun.

2. All my grand theories wring again. And not just mine.

3. Yeah, she is quite handy with a pencil, for a kick-ass resistance leader with her own train. So maybe a designer, yes.
posted by Grangousier at 12:17 PM on October 1, 2011


I can't even write "wrong" right. *sigh*
posted by Grangousier at 12:19 PM on October 1, 2011


I didn't catch it...who was it the Doctor called, and a nurse informed him he had died?
posted by Windigo at 2:19 PM on October 1, 2011


The Brigadier.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:22 PM on October 1, 2011


That ending felt kind of like....a copout.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 PM on October 1, 2011


I thought it was all crazy fun, though I've spent all day now trying to make it (and by extension this season) make even the slightest bit of internal sense. The episode didn't solve the time-loop problem of the season, which still seems extremely intentional to me, but in fact made it even more complicated. Basically there has to be a literal time-loop or two simultaneous Amys (and Rorys) just sort of living their lives in England, or both, and even that doesn't make sense of it all.

Also, we still haven't found out what was up, exactly, with the pseudo-TARDIS above Craig's flat in The Lodger, nor what was going on with the Amelia projection in Let's Kill Hitler, and I really hope that attention paid to these things is going to be rewarded eventually.

That said, I loved the collapsed-time universe, and Rory's big moment tonight goes in the Rory pantheon of awesomeness, further making him the best Companion of NuWho in my humble opinion.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:57 PM on October 1, 2011


Just watched. That was fun! Though I guessed "the question" the moment they mentioned it.

Also, at some point he does have to tell River his name. Maybe when (dun dun dun) the question is answered. Ooh, maybe the silence is actually River's silence. Hmm.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:13 PM on October 1, 2011


I assume that we all realise that the eye-patches were a reference to Inferno, and another jaunt into a parallel universe that collapses.
posted by Grangousier at 12:32 AM on October 2, 2011


That was fun. The ending was still a bit of a cheat (it had to be, honestly) but felt more satisfying to me than the "half the time it was the ganger Doctor" theories going around. Especially since they already played that card twice with Amy and Melody earlier in the series.

As far as alternate timeline universes and close-ups of eyeballs go, it was much better than Lost.
posted by Gary at 12:43 AM on October 2, 2011


Also, the Doctor trying to stay hidden is going to be very different from the beginning of Matt Smith's run when The Doctor kept reminding everyone of his history.
posted by Gary at 12:56 AM on October 2, 2011


That was great! At the end of every x minutes, I would think, "the first x minutes have been phenomenal! There's no way they can keep this up." This ended up being true for x=46.

So frenetic, so many good ideas. The whole episode had the speed of a pre-credits sequence 'previously' montage.

I think watching Moffat's five episodes this season in sequence would be very satisfying.

The episode didn't solve the time-loop problem of the season

I'm guessing that some sort of error was made, but maybe Moffat will later revisit Amy's modelling career and explain how she can sell a fragrance called Petrichor before the events of The Doctor's Wife. In the absence of an explanation, things clean up pretty nicely if you posit that they made a mistake in dating the events of Closing Time and assume that those events happen after April 22. Here's the timeline I like: Amy and Rory get dropped off at home sometime after the end season five, before April 22, 2011. They get a blue invitation, April 22 comes and they see the old Doctor die, and the young Doctor picks them up. They have all this season's adventures. At the end of The God Complex, the Doctor drops them off at home after April 22, 2011. Not long after, River comes and visits them in England after having her Byzantium adventure, giving them the good news. Then Amy gets her face plastered on a perfume ad, and the Doctor and Craig have an adventure.
posted by painquale at 3:19 AM on October 2, 2011


Thinking more about it, my only frustration is that River's wedding was so coerced ("I don't want to marry you")--and that the Doctor seemed so contemptuous of her even in the moments leading up to it. io9 was really unhappy with this. I'm not so sure I'm quite so angry--that I think that River is ruined as a character by this. For all that I thought that this was an instance of Moffat showing his wimmin-problems, again, I still like her loads. In Let's Kill Hitler (her first meeting with the Doctor, ever), he seems genuinely loving toward her (why she falls in love, I guess). Several lines in this episode--about him forgiving her, about her nights being his--seem to imply that as well. Still, you don't want to disappoint the Doctor, I guess. He's definitely got a temper. Don't really see what was so bad about her plan to save him.

io9 and other places are saying that her plot is over, that there's nowhere we can go. I think the last mention of her spending her nights with him implies that's not the case--I suspect we'll see their yet-unseen adventures* next season. Really, there's no reason to think that the Doctor wasn't lying in that diner. He needs River to believe they're all caught up so she'll accept his death. At the very least, I can't believe that Moffat would turn down the opportunity to show her meeting a new Doctor after the "fall of the eleventh," in "a new suit and haircut" in their second-to-last meeting. It's just too narratively perfect not to work it in.

Also, I take it back. I'm pretty sure he whispered her name to her when he was dying during "Let's Kill Hitler." I think we'll get some confirmation of that, and its meaning, in the seasons to come now that the identity of the Doctor is the big new question.

Also also, hee.

*Unseen adventures, according to tardis.wikia:
The Doctor and River had a picnic at Asgard. (DW: Silence in the Library)
The Doctor and River shared an adventure in "the Bone Meadows". (DW: The Time of Angels)
The Doctor and River visited Easter Island together. (DW: The Impossible Astronaut)
The Doctor and River met a being named "Jim the Fish". (DW: The Impossible Astronaut)
The Doctor took River to London in 1814 on her birthday to go ice skating on the River Thames. (DW: A Good Man Goes to War)

posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:24 AM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and because I can't stop thinking about this: Amy is once again more awesome without a dude around. And yeah, it's a big injustice that River takes the fall for not-killing the Doctor. But this is River's choice, not the Doctor's. She told them the first time they met not to rewrite her history.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:30 AM on October 2, 2011


...When did River say she didn't want to marry the Doctor? I thought she was saying what she didn't want to do was kill him.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on October 2, 2011


No, he says he doesn't want to marry her.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:34 AM on October 2, 2011


I thought that was just him being snarky, without any truth behind it.
posted by Windigo at 8:31 AM on October 2, 2011


He also says that River and Amy should be ashamed of themselves. He seems pretty genuinely cheesed.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:33 AM on October 2, 2011


I guess I am just not as big a fan as I used to be. It was fun but it didn't finish off much in the way of plots -- it was cliffhangery, and again I miss having some sort of emotional resolution, and the plot didn't totally make sense from the time travel/time loop side. It was nice that Amy was there being effective, and sad that yet again, that was an Amy who was in a different timeline and stopped existing by the end of the series. (At least this time she remembered herself.)

I did, however, love the Tesselacta reveal. (I thought they were fun from the outset, and I am happy about how they were used.) I wish there were more clever plots like that in this episode.

(We still haven't been given any further clues about why Amy was so famous? I still hope it's because she did something, not because she's pretty.)
posted by jeather at 8:38 AM on October 2, 2011


I'm with jeather. I spent the entire episode saying "Oh come on!" Gob-style every five minutes or so. I was right about the faking-his-own-death bit but it didn't seem like most of the important loose threads from the past year were tied up.

And now I hatehatehateHATE River Song, who is apparently not going anywhere. That aspect of the ending didn't make sense at all--he marries her to placate her long enough to do the right thing? And then that business about her "nights" (which, by the way: EWWWW)--so it was a real marriage?

I love Rory, and that's about it for me. Clearly I should just stick to the classic series; Moffat's view of the show and mine are fundamentally incompatible.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:55 AM on October 2, 2011


(We still haven't been given any further clues about why Amy was so famous? I still hope it's because she did something, not because she's pretty.)

Perhaps she is selling alien technology that River brings back? We've seen that they spend a lot of time together now. River couldn't bring major technologies that draw unwanted attention, but small things like perfumes they could fake a back story for. It's not the kick-ass lifestyle that Amy was living in the other dimensions, but spending a nice life together with the one you love (and your time traveling super daughter) is not a bad ending for her or Rory.
posted by Gary at 10:42 AM on October 2, 2011


That ending felt kind of like....a copout.

The whole episode was a copout. It was one of the worst episodes I've seen; Moffat just didn't seem to know how to wrap it all up, and ended up with a dumb, frenetic mess. Sad.
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also also, hee .

It's been a while since I've watched that. Seeing it again, it reminds me of a bit of a problem I had when they first introduced River Song: a simple archeologist is just too boring for the Doctor's major romantic interest. Someone, with just a basic timeline, living in a rather linear fashion? It didn't feel right.

Going back now, I feel they've got River Song to live up to the premise. She's not just some regular person. Instead, both because of her actions and because of her nature that's beyond her control, she's someone on par with the Doctor. She has to be around more after this, since her character only now is really mature. Only now can we see her and the Doctor interact as contemporaries, as equal partners.

He seems pretty genuinely cheesed.

Given the ending, I think he was genuinely cheesed because they messed up his plans, but he didn't want to tell them what his plans were. The Doctor loves being brilliant, and he especially loves other people realizing just how brilliant he is. I figure, his anger his is more of a, "No! Geez! I've got this great plan! Didn't you realize I'd have a great plan? Why'd you have to ruin my great plan!?"
posted by meese at 6:16 PM on October 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Disappointing, especially the dialogue choices. Last season's finale had great dialogue, people were performing the Doctor's speech on Youtube, but now we get things like "The first question, hidden in plain sight" = "Doctor Who?" and "What happened to time?" "A woman." Eh, no thanks. But obviously Moffat is pushing the whole "Doctor as original Time Lord" story-line from Old-Who, so maybe it'll be alright eventually.

Also, I really wanted a female Doctor, and I thought they could pull off some sort of River Song-replaces-the-Doctor-and-regenerates-as-some-other-actress-than-Alex-Kingston. But no.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:18 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clever t-shirt.
posted by Windigo at 4:52 PM on October 6, 2011


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