Rosa Review

A strange case where the episode itself matters less than the standards you decide to apply to it. What, exactly, do we want out of “Doctor Who meets Rosa Parks”? What is this supposed to do? A lot of us, myself included, reacted with a measure of wariness to, really, the whole affair. There are a lot of very obvious ways to do this wrong, and very little sense of how you’d do it right. The news that it’s by Malorie Blackman was comforting, but the fact that Chibnall saw fit to rewrite a black woman on Rosa Parks was ominous, and Blackman’s absence from the publicity and relative silence about the episode on Twitter seemed a bad omen.

In light of that, the easiest emotion to feel about the episode itself is relief. This is tightly constructed and coherent in ways previous episodes haven’t been. The character work is appreciably more lively. As a technical object, it’s vastly improved over both of the episodes before it. And despite a few clumsy moments, most obviously the bathos of the “they even named an asteroid after her” sequence, this is mostly considerably more subtle and intelligent than one might have feared ...

Eruditorum Presscast: The Ghost Monument

In which shit is shot by Shana and me, mostly on the subject of the Ghost Monument, but often by whatever shiny thing caught our attention.

Get it here, dear listeners.

Shabcast 37 - 'The Lodger' & 'Closing Time' Commentaries

Shabcast 37 is here

Waaaaay back in May, Daniel and I got together to record commentaries on 'The Lodger' and 'Closing Time', both by Gareth Roberts.  We did it pretty much for shits and giggles, but here it is anyway, for the listening pleasure of anyone who wants to hear us moaning on and on and on about the Moffat era one last time.  Think of it as the end of an era.  In more ways than one, I'm afraid, as this will probably be the last Shabcast.  The format seems dead.  Too bound up with Doctor Who.  But I shall continue podcasting with Daniel, Kit, and James as Wrong With Authority, and may create a new solo podcast at some time in the future. 

By the way, the musical interlude in the middle is Mona Haydar's Hijabi (Wrap my Hijab), suggested by Shana.

 

The Ghost Monument Review

There’s a typical review structure where I talk about the good things for a while and then lead up to a “but” that brings it all crashing down. I liked this, though, so let’s do it the wrong way around. The biggest problem is in the resolution, and what it ends up doing to the sense of pacing. Having Angstrom and Enzo simply vanish into thin air with all the implications of their characters being left entirely unresolved is deeply weird, or at least it would be if it came from someone other than the guy who found no implications to consider in the Doctor committing stone cold murder in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and who wrote the bewilderingly misshapen The Power of Three. As it stands, it’s a deeply worrisome “ooh, you still aren’t real big on dramatic unities are you?” moment. Jumping from that to a bizarrely unearned moment of the Doctor giving up hope when the TARDIS isn’t on that specific rock at that specific moment is clearly a problem. And similar problems abound. The “Ryan charges out with a gun” sequence is put together with no real thought towards the degree that it renders the ...

Eruditorum Presscast: The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Here's the first of our Series 11 run of podcasts, in which I'm joined by the ever-wonderful Caitlin Smith to talk about Jodie Whittaker's debut episode.

Thanks as ever to Pex Lives for hosting our podcast. James continues to be bad at logging into the site to announce his new releases, but there's been an episode on Snakedance and an installment of City of the Dead since the Ithaca thing I did with James over the summer. Here's the full list of recent episodes.

The Woman Who Fell to Earth Review

Well here we go again.

The easiest way to approach the Chibnall era, as a long-term fan, has been with a sort of hopeful dread. So much of the pre-publicity has been spot-on, feeling at once new and aggressively of its time. The diversity both in front of and behind the camera is demonstrated a show with its heart in the right place. It all looked very promising. The only problem is, well… we don’t need to pile on Chibnall’s past career. With more riding on this than any episode since Rose, there was a real sense of “oh god don’t fuck it up.”

Reader, they did not fuck it up. It’s comfortably Chibnall’s best Doctor Who script to date. Neither of these are the loftiest bars to clear, but they are sailed over comfortably. The Woman Who Fell to Earth never threatens to be a classic, but it never flirts with disaster either. It’s a solid, workmanlike episode. Indeed, what stands out most about it in contrast to the preceding six seasons is how straightforward and uninterested in being clever it is. Heck, the preceding ten seasons. This really isn’t invested in impressing the audience.

But that turns ...

Outside the Government: The Abominable Bride

If you remained flummoxed/couldn't be bothered to look for it, Husbands of River Song is here.

It’s January 1st, 2016. The Justin Bieber/Adele block are back to occupying the top four spots, with Fleur East, Coldplay, and Mnek & Zara Larsson also charting. In news, Bill Cosby is arrested on sexual assault charges, while a bevy of storms and flooding hits the UK. 

While on television, The Abominable Bride. In some regards a Doctor Who blog is the worst context from which to look at this story, as it forces us to ask “was Under the Lake/Before the Flood worth this?” For a story that already suffers from taking the inflated expectations that Sherlock’s ninety minute structure saddles individual episodes with and adding being a one-off special to it. Really, any terms that are rooted in setting expectations for the story to live up to are going to set it up to fail. This is a bit of fluff that elevates itself unexpectedly in its final act—a bit of goofy filler that turns out to have teeth. 

In this regard, though unquestionably a minor work in the Moffat renaissance that runs from The ...

Fascism, Imperialism, and Trumpism

Fascism, of course, always had a lot more in common with classical liberalism than most people realise.  Fascism was built around the defence of private capitalism.  Far from being the ideologically ultra-statist economic nightmare of right-wing mythology, fascist economics was complex and opportunistic.  It sometimes used nationalisation as well as privatisation.  Indeed, as Germa Bel has shown, the Nazis did so extensively, to the point where one could call them forerunners of neoliberalism.  But there's no denying that statism was a part of the Nazi economic strategy... but then so did liberalism always use the state as a way to protect and extend capitalist interests.  Indeed, fascism – being a product of twentieth century capitalist imperialism – is the product of an era when the interests of the state fuse, to a large extent, with the interests of blocs of domestic capital, thus making state-run imperialism essentially a form of public-financed ‘primitive accumulation’ on behalf of national capitalists.  Many big capitalists - generally from heavy industry, for material reasons, as Daniel Guerin pointed out - understood this and sympathised with and/or subsidised fascist movements.  But more generally, fascism emerges from the liberal capitalist epoch ...

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