Leave the Girl, It's The Man I Want: The Doctors Revisited (Sylvester McCoy)

(54 comments)

It's one of those days where, as I'm going to bed, I say "crap, I forgot to format and queue Last War in Albion, I'd better run a TARDIS Eruditorum in its place." Whatever am I going to do in a month when I don't have TARDIS Eruditorum for that? In any case, Last War in Albion is Friday this week.

I noted on Monday that it was an obvious mistake to ignore the fact that Moffat's ex cathedra statements on the history of Doctor Who have always been performative, both in his cranky Internet fan days and in his "not allowed to have opinions anymore" days. Which makes the introduction to Remembrance of the Daleks at the end of this episode something to behold, in that Moffat both admits that he thought Season Twenty-Four was a disaster (which I disagree with, but recognize that Moffat is exactly the sort of Doctor Who fan for whom the panto aspects of Paradise Towers, for instance, are going to be disqualifying in considering any other merits it may have), and then frames his reaction to Remembrance of the Daleks in terms of the fact that his own television career had begun at this point. His description of cutting short a production meeting to watch Remembrance and being blown away by it is visibly Moffat speaking as an outright fan, and not as a particular performance of fan opinions that he's putting on for a puff piece.

All three of the 80s-era episodes have felt like conscious decisions to build to the episodes they show, whether in a strangely subverting way, as with Earthshock, or as a concentrated and focused attempt to get an episode to shine, as with Vengeance on Varos. In this case, an odd weight is put on Remembrance to illustrate something that is claimed several times, but never actually displayed in any of the clips, which is that there's a darkness to McCoy's portrayal. The episodes used for clips here are tremendously revealing: there is not a frame from Season Twenty-Six. Everything from McCoy's first two seasons is used save for Delta and the Bannermen, which gets photos. The emphasis is overwhelmingly on the clownish aspects of McCoy's performance, at least in terms of what actually gets shown.

Nowhere is this clearer than the treatment of Remembrance, where the Doctor and Davros's confrontation is shown, only it completely evades all discussion of blowing up Skaro. Instead, it focuses on McCoy's performance of "mock the ranting bad guy," which does lead to McCoy's memorable description of Davros as "Hitler only rotting," but is an approach to talking about that scene that I don't think anyone had ever tried before. And yet the talking heads bring up the way that McCoy added mystery to the performance repeatedly, even as the clips ostentatiously lack all mention of it.

The shocking absence, of course, is the climax of The Curse of Fenric, which would have allowed them to press the fleeting claim that McCoy set up the modern Doctor in a real and sincere way. Instead we get a focus on the Rani, in which we must try to keep a straight face as Steven Moffat of all people tries to present a serious case that the Rani is a good and compelling idea. (And yet even there, his defense of her could serve as a description of GUS in Mummy on the Orient Express. Over and over again, one gets the sense of him drawing inspiration from this exercise in picking through the old toybox and coming up with a redemptive reading of everything.) But, of course, by then showing Remembrance of the Daleks, which is so straightforwardly a triumph, and which watches as well twenty-five years later as An Unearthly Child did when it was made, they end up making the case in the most compelling way possible. Instead of the darker notes being presented as aspects of a character, they're allowed to be experienced in terms of the storytelling they allowed. For a viewer who's been along for the ride and learning about the Doctors in monthly lessons, this must have felt like the revelation it did to Moffat, withouit even having to sit through Time and the Rani.

Another way of putting this is that the somewhat arbitrary simplifications of the earliest episodes start to become an advantage when turning to a relatively disputed era of the program's history, in that they give the opportunity to present a Seventh Doctor Experience instead of a definitive account of the Seventh Doctor. Or a Sixth Doctor Experience, let's be fair, since I am obviously much more fond of the Seventh than the Sixth.

Which seems an excellent place to leave off, given what comes next.

Comments

Blueshift 2 years, 6 months ago

In the UK showing of this, they ran Battlefield instead, apparently! Not sure what that says!

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Blueshift 2 years, 6 months ago

And before anyone asks, I don't know if they cut out the Remembrance intro, left it in awkwardly, or replaced it with Stephen Moffat crying and saying 'BOOM' over and over again.

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John Seavey 2 years, 6 months ago

The description of Moffat as "him drawing inspiration from this exercise in picking through the old toybox and coming up with a redemptive reading of everything" seems to me to be a perfect description of the Wilderness Years in general. The books and audios pored over those old stories, turning them over and finding new things to say and to do with them because they weren't allowed to regenerate the Doctor, and I think that the New Series came back all the better for the experience.

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Oliver Dimsdale 2 years, 6 months ago

When the BBC did a retrospective in the run up to the 30th anniversary, they also picked Battlefield to represent the 7th Doctor. If memory serves, the earlier picks were Time Meddler, Mind Robber, Daemons, Genesis, Androzani, Revelation.

Also worth noting that the original broadcast of Battlefield still holds the record for lowest viewing figures of any DW story to date, so we can only guess the thought processes that led to it being chosen.

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Adam Riggio 2 years, 6 months ago

What's most interesting about the redemptive readings of flawed and problematic old stories that happened habitually over the Wilderness Years is that it let us see that redemptive readings are possible. The crotchety and hostile dismissals of Doctor Who (or any cultural product that's produced in a complicated circumstance and has its hits and misses) is to focus on what goes wrong. Redemptive reading focusses not only on what went right, but analyzes what went wrong so that we identify the good ideas that underlie the screw-ups.

Phil's point about GUS goes beyond even this. Phil gave one redemptive reading of Time and the Rani in the actual TARDIS Eruditorum that focussed on how, despite the abysmal and ridiculous script and story, Doctor Who had actually vastly improved as a television production, having significantly advanced its technical cinematography.

But GUS reveals another redemptive reading of Time and the Rani, identifying the absolutely brilliant idea behind the character of the Rani. She embodies, to the most intense degree, the utter ruthlessness of the notion that the end can justify any means whatsoever to achieve it. She makes whole civilizations and histories into mere instruments for the sake of whatever progress emerges from her scientific research.

She embodies in children's television the vision of the scientist whose model is Josef Mengele, the medical schools whose anatomy textbooks are based on knowledge from anatomical diagrams of death camp victims (that is, most of them).

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peeeeeeet 2 years, 6 months ago

It was The Sea Devils for Pertwee - The Daemons was repeated as a lead-in to Genesis, but because it was the first story fully restored with the colour recovery technique by what would become the Restoration Team. (It also wasn't a retrospective repeat season(s) particularly connected to the 30th anniversary, having begun in early '92 - that fell to, of all things, Planet of the Daleks...)

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

She's also the no-bullshit version of the Master, a person who does things not just because of an obsession with the Doctor (I'm looking at you, "Death in Heaven") or out of simple megalomania but because she has a legitimate problem she's trying to solve or goal she's trying to achieve to which the Doctor is either an obstacle or a tool. This is probably not rationale enough to bring her to the new show, since apart from the fact that Michelle Gomez has made the Rani redundant to the untrained eye (there really was a fleeting moment in "Dark Water" when that's who I thought she'd be -- they took a lot of pages from the Rani, right down to the disco ball / big brain full of smaller brains), there's no special reason for a character like this to be a Time Lord. Ultimately you can do this type of plot with any sufficiently equipped "mad" scientist.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

The whole "let's make the Doctor dark and mysterious again, and more than just a Time Lord" came to me at exactly the wrong time in my life, just as Tom Baker came to me at exactly the right time. I was at just the age where such gambits seemed desperate rather than brilliant, a last-ditch attempt at a retcon in a show whose production values I was getting too old to look past. I'm younger than that now, and I'm warming to McCoy's Doctor more and more these days. I haven't dared to try and rewatch "Dragonfire" yet, but it'll happen.

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brownstudy 2 years, 6 months ago

Are Moffat's intros available online anywhere? iTunes? Youtube? What would I search for?

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inkdestroyedmybrush 2 years, 6 months ago

@encyclops - for a second there i thought that your comment was going to be "shes the Master with balls" which is pretty funny when you put Missy into the equation...

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inkdestroyedmybrush 2 years, 6 months ago

being old enough to watch all these as they happened, without the benefit of hindsight, I hated Time and the Rani with a passion, and thought Dragonfire was almost as bad. But I recognized, real time, that the men behind the curtain, were clearly trying to create something new.

there was no way previous script editors would have commissioned something as whimsical and fun as Delta. There is no way that Colin Baker could have brought off Ghost Light or Fenric. the show was, with little budget still, improving by leaps and bounds.

the problem with redemptive readings is that it makes it impossible to recognize when something is improving, since you never were willing to admit that there was something wrong to begin with. I would have loved to have Moffatt being able to say, "Now here was something interesting. Fenric and Ghost Light are miles and miles beyond Varos, and that's OK, because they were suddenly making a much more sophisticated program." Now phil himself has done some terribly interesting redemptive readings in the blog, and some of them have had me rethinking the show, and some of them I've shaken my head and said, "Nice try, but no."

the Mccoy disconnect was difficult to watch on this one, because you could see the producers of this actively missing the point of WHY we remember McCoy. Had McCoy been given Time and rhe Rani and cancelled by Dragonfire, then we'd remember his time as literally being the worst Doctor ever. The changes to the character via Cartmel made him far more interesting and memorable. To ignore that was revisionist history in the extreme.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

John Simm is the Master with balls. Michelle Gomez is the Master with toy soldiers.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 6 months ago

Hear, hear! I was 17 when the McCoy episodes started airing on my local PBS station. The whole experience was one of artistic whipash - you could see the fresh new ideas bubbling, but they were so often undermined by unbearable naffness. Time and the Rani is now and always was dreck, but I clearly remember how fresh, fun and new Paradise Towers felt to me - like there was more going on under the hood than a simple runaround through some corridors. Woeful aesthetic decisions abound all through McCoy's tenure, but it had an undeniable esprit.

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Ibu Profin 2 years, 6 months ago

It became something of a joke in some quarters to continue to push for the Rani's return in the new series, but as poorly received as her 1980's stories were by a number of fans, I'd like to think that there were many who saw real potential in the character. I, for one, really feel that whatever charms the Master has or had, the continuing desire to play him as completely bonkers strikes me as a rather dull sort of adversary to go up against. The Rani doesn't have an obsession with going up against the Doctor - she just has a rather warped sense of morality, and that made her all the richer source of story-telling. An entirely different character is the Rani, and not just a female version of the Master.

All that being said, the only time I ever caught a quote from Moffat on why he wouldn't bring back the Rani, it seemed to boil down to - she is too obscure a character, which frankly is not really much of an excuse really. Since when has backstory been a prerequisite to telling a story in the here and now?

I expect the truth is that Moffat simply didn't care to bring her back, and fair enough, but I guess simply saying that wouldn't do, so he had to concoct an 'excuse' as to why it would be a bad decision, rather than simply going with - 'not a character I care about.'

To claim that Missy somehow addresses Rani lobby, only works for those for whom gender was her one defining characteristic. The Rani isn't the female Master - but I suppose it will be up to a future show runner to revisit her as a character and give her the classic adventure she is long overdue!

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

To expand on where I was coming from: if you factor out the "bonkers" characterization and the doofy afterlife stuff, what Missy has going in "Dark Water" almost seems like a Rani plan at first. The Nethersphere is almost like a mashup of the disco ball fulla bees plus the giant brain in a vat from "Time and the Rani," and the whole thing feels more like a science project than a classic Master alliance given that Missy's in charge of the Cybermen and not, as is typical, on the verge of being double-crossed by them. She doesn't really look like Kate O'Mara unless you squint really hard, but you can almost imagine her taking her hair down and changing out of the Victorian garb into a leather pantsuit in a "Mark of the Rani"-esque unveiling.

But I agree, a female villain doesn't equal the Rani, and I find the "I'm insane" Joker-inspired randomness of today's Master a little trying. To me the challenge of bringing back the Rani isn't so much choosing whether to make reference to her two 80s stories or pretend she's ex nihilo (it's not as if we ever had a Delgado/Pratt/Beevers/Ainley/Tipple/Roberts montage when Simm appeared), but in dealing with the fact that at this point the random appearance of ANY Time Lord is a BFD. Also, yeah, her gender isn't her defining characteristic, but Moffat has so many female characters floating around whose personae are in the same orbit (Missy, Tasha Lem, Madame Kovarian, that banker from "Time Heist," even River if you want to jump on the "psychopath" train) that he'd have to take a new angle on her appearance, style, and personality to make her really sing.

If I were going to do it at this point, I'd make her seem like a benign scientist rather than a fabulous ice queen diva. Maybe do the lab coat, glasses, bun thing if you must be cliche about it. Have it gradually and casually emerge that she's completely amoral. But of course the Doctor already knows her, so you'd have to get him out of the picture until late in the story -- maybe have her meet Clara and help get the Doctor out of some jam where they're separated. And maybe, because you can't just drop in characters like Drax anymore, she's linked to the whole goin' back to Gally thing....

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Oliver Dimsdale 2 years, 6 months ago

I could only have been 6 when they showed The Time Meddler, so fair enough if I remembered it wrong. For some reason, in my head I remember a structured repeats season leading up to the broadcast of Dimensions in Time on Children in Need night. The memory cheats, as they say.

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Aylwin 2 years, 6 months ago

Moffat has so many female characters floating around whose personae are in the same orbit that he'd have to take a new angle on her appearance, style, and personality

Or turn her into the Raja...

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John Seavey 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, as I've sometimes said, the thing that's utterly amazing about Season 24 is that it exists. Remember, in October of 1986, Doctor Who had no script editor, no planned scripts, no lead actor, and a producer who had one foot out the door before he was told that there was no place for him in the BBC besides Who and no future for Who if he didn't produce it. At that point, what they had was Bonnie Langford and the TARDIS prop.

The fact that they managed to, in under a year, find a new script editor and a new lead, put forth 14 scripts in a shootable state, get four directors, and assemble the season (all while on a budget that can best be described as an attempt to strangle the series to death slowly and agonizingly) is genuinely magnificent. Yes, there are problems; nobody's on the same page for many of the stories (Paradise Towers is Judge Dredd in the script and panto on the screen) and Pip and Jane Baker had to be used simply because they were the only ones who could turn out a script in that timeframe. (Although I confess to having a secret, guilty adoration for Time and the Rani.) But it exists, during a point where honestly the show could easily have ended, and it's an improvement on what came before it. Season 24 is unquestionably an extended stall for time while Andrew Cartmel tries to figure out just what he wants to do with the show, but it at least kept the show going.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 6 months ago

I readily understand why Season 24 was not enough of an improvement on Season 23 to be considered, on its own, a promising return to form. That said, I really struggle to sympathize with any substantial cases against either Paradise Towers or Delta and the Bannermen, even as I understand why they did not restore anyone's faith in the program.

I increasingly am inclined to praise Time and the Rani in some regards, though, and not just for being quite well shot. To be perfectly honest, the gag of Kate O'Mara doing a Bonnie Langford impression is absolutely brilliant television, and is just about enough to paper over the faults for half the story.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 6 months ago

Also, I should note, I really don't think there's that many woeful aesthetic decisions post-Dragonfire. It all watches pretty well these days.

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John Seavey 2 years, 6 months ago

I love Kata O'Mara's Bonnie Langford impersonation. I love the Doctor being linked up into a Sinister Gestalt Mind and inducing it to collapse into a fragmented mass of bickering and squabbling simply by being himself (I actually think this could be one of the Definitive Character Moments for the series). I love the malapropist proverbs, although I understand why it couldn't be sustained for a whole series. I love the Doctor accidentally completing the Rani's plan by absent-mindedly correcting the evil supercomputer's math. I love a _lot_ about 'Time and the Rani'. :)

And I agree that you can't make a _substantial_ case against 'Paradise Towers'...it could have been better, though. The lighting needed to be more subdued, some of the actors needed to play it a bit less broad perhaps...it felt like a lot of really great ideas that needed a little bit more time to mesh. But they didn't have it that season. Still great though. (And speaking of things I love, the scene where the Doctor escapes through creative use of citing regulations is one of the comedic high points of the 51-year history of the show.)

'Delta' is just gorgeous, though. By that point I think you can really get a sense of what Cartmel is going for, a sort of lyrical beauty mixed with moments of horror and silliness in roughly equal measure. My only complaint is that this is the one where you really get the fullest sense that there's no place for Bonnie Langford on the show anymore, but she's still around until the end of the season. So McCoy goes off with Ray as his proto-companion, and Bonnie flaps around at loose ends.

Let me put it this way: I'm willing to give the critics of Season 24 their due, but I love it. And I love it even more for overcoming the hurdles it had to get over just to exist.

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Philip Sandifer 2 years, 6 months ago

I think the question of whether Paradise Towers is any good still comes down to what one's reaction to the idea of "children's panto J.G. Ballard" is. If you think that sounds like a good idea, Paradise Towers is all that you could ever want. If you don't, you probably think Earthshock is brilliant.

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John Seavey 2 years, 6 months ago

I think, though, that the problem might have been that not everyone was playing it like panto. Not necessarily the actors--it just never felt quite like a unified aesthetic in the same way that, say, 'Happiness Patrol' does a year later. Again, still very good, but there's no question that they got better at doing the same thing.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

I briefly thought about that, but hadn't gotten around to the naming part (nice!). To me, it feels a little less interesting to have the cold, ruthless, dispassionate (but sane) scientist be male. But hey, maybe it's also an opportunity to cast someone from the culture those titles were borrowed from, and that might be cool. Even if all I can think of now when I hear "the Raja" is Hank Azaria.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

I hate to step on a good catchphrase, but I think "children's panto J.G. Ballard" is maybe not the sanest-sounding pitch I've ever heard, and yet my favorite McCoys then and now are still "Happiness Patrol," "Greatest Show," and yes, "Paradise Towers." It might be that "Paradise Towers" works for me despite the children's panto elements and not because of them. In some respects "Dragonfire" is "children's panto Alien + Raiders + a bunch of other stuff," and there are moments in "Curse of Fenric" that struck me as "children's panto Salem's Lot," and the ersatz, toothless feel of those moments were what soured my teenage self on them. I think "Paradise Towers" has something else going for it, but then I'm damned if I can put my finger on what that is.

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Matthew Blanchette 2 years, 6 months ago

"I'd make her seem like a benign scientist rather than a fabulous ice queen diva. Maybe do the lab coat, glasses, bun thing if you must be cliche about it. Have it gradually and casually emerge that she's completely amoral. But of course the Doctor already knows her, so you'd have to get him out of the picture until late in the story -- maybe have her meet Clara and help get the Doctor out of some jam where they're separated."

...and now I'm imagining Tatiana Maslany, in full-on Cosima get-up, as your description of the Rani. And it is GLORIOUS. :-D

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William Silvia 2 years, 6 months ago

Maybe Arthurian lore is more British.

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Kit 2 years, 6 months ago

Also, I should note, I really don't think there's that many woeful aesthetic decisions post-Dragonfire. It all watches pretty well these days.

Blaring studio lighting in 90% of scenes without regard for variation of tone, Sylv being the only one walking on ice, and the cliffhanger are all, at least, prominent aesthetic non-decisions that could have elevated the final product by their absence. Which would mean, I suppose, two negatives making a positive.

It does contain the second-best special effect in the series' history, though.

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Bob Dillon 2 years, 6 months ago

not really connected to this but the BBC has a quite cute Doctor Who vs the Philosophers Quiz

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2cqrCpfjpR8g8C9Bj4YYdSY/doctor-who-vs-philosophers-who-said-what

It is quite diverting

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Daru 2 years, 6 months ago

"I expect the truth is that Moffat simply didn't care to bring her back, and fair enough, but I guess simply saying that wouldn't do, so he had to concoct an 'excuse' as to why it would be a bad decision, rather than simply going with - 'not a character I care about.'"

I think I also heard from somewhere (sorry but can't remember the source) that the rights to the character of the Rani were held by Pip and Jane Baker and had not been released.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

Tatiana Maslany, in full-on Cosima get-up

YES. YEEEEESSSSSSS.

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Daru 2 years, 6 months ago

I was in a very different place in my late tens when I watched the McCoy stories. I had just left schools and started college and I was pretty cynical about the show (as I was becoming more cynical about life for a phase) and became less interested. This I guess had been precipitated by Colin's Doctor who I just didn't get then (I do now). Sadly the early seasons of McCoy with the clowning accentuated just turned me off, so I turned the show off and did not return until 2005. Ok apart from the brief blip in 1996, but for me the show was gone, an artefact.

I have since grew to love McCoy as one of my favourite performances of any of the Doctors and adore the stories from his period and could happily watch any of them repeatedly. I love the performativity that spans the age gap between child and adult in his work.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

It occurred to me that maybe part of the reason I love those three stories best out of the whole McCoy era is that they're the ones that work best in what you're calling a panto mode. The satirical bent of those stories really goes perfectly with the day-glo aesthetic and results in something you can't really even imagine in any other era. Even in stories like "Remembrance" and "Fenric" you get the occasional plasma ball or Halloween-store fingernails that take you out of the story, but something like "Happiness Patrol" is just so fucking weird overall that nothing, however cheap, looks entirely out of place.

By the way, I love the title of this post so much. It makes me smile every time I see it. Nice choice.

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Daru 2 years, 6 months ago

I felt the same at the time (I was 17). To me at the time it felt like the show was slowly dying.

Of course in a way it needed to die, but I've since grown to love McCoy's Doctor deeply. Still not entirely sure about Dragonfire, but there are some good moments and ideas in it.

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Daru 2 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the link, that was great fun!

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Jarl 2 years, 6 months ago

I think that, in this day and age of increased scrutiny of the sciences, there's still something to be mined in the fact that whereas the Doctor is a Mad Engineer and the Master is a Mad Psychologist, the Rani is a Mad Biologist. Moreover, if we were to bring back a classic series Time Lord to serve as the second "Other Time Lord", the choice would essentially be between the Rani, Romana, and Susan. None of the others, save maybe Rassilon or Omega (who isn't even a Time Lord, let's be honest) could possibly have the same level of narrative weight as the three Time Ladies.

Plus, everybody likes campy femdom performances, Steven Moffat moreso than most, and that's an aesthetic I'm 100% in favor of.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 6 months ago

I could say I think Paradise Towers and Earthshock are both brilliant in their own way, and that for me that's the genius of Doctor Who in a nutshell. But what do I know? I'm just a pudding brain.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 6 months ago

And yes there are plenty of woeful aesthetic choices in 25 & 26, but they tend to be isolated moments of fail in otherwise solid productions.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

And yes there are plenty of woeful aesthetic choices in 25 & 26, but they tend to be isolated moments of fail in otherwise solid productions.

Oh, for sure. I want to be clear that all the speculating I'm doing about why I reacted as I did to the McCoy era isn't any kind of statement about my present feelings about its quality. I'm just analyzing my teenage reactions, not saying I was right about it at the time.

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Steven 2 years, 6 months ago

So it turns out Gareth Roberts is a massive Islamophobe. Such a pity.

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Blueshift 2 years, 6 months ago

Er, what?

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Steven 2 years, 6 months ago

His twitter has been abysmal with all the stuff in Paris. Stream of reactionary drivel.

At least two of his episodes have had huge racial blindspots, but this last week has confirmed that he is utterly clueless.

SHAME as I like his writings

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Seeing_I 2 years, 6 months ago

In the heat of the moment, I am not sure I can really blame him too much for anything I see at a glance.

However, the (certainly unintentional) racist optics of the Doctor dismissing Danny as unqualified for anything other than PE was pretty unfortunate. I recently re-watched that episode, as it's one of my very favorites this season, and I lay blame for that one at Moffat's door as well.

I know the point being made was the Doctor's dislike of soldiers, and it's just happenstance that Danny ended up being played by an actor of color, but unavoidably it ended up looking - I say LOOKING - pretty racist as well.

I do appreciate the show dealing with the Doctor's rather over-the-top dislike of the military that appeared in RTD's Who, and hopefully it's been disposed of once and for all. Not that I expect he'll ever cozy up to the military like in the UNIT days, but he's had his own prejudice, and the underlying reasons for it, thrown in his face and has hopefully learned something. But in "The Caretaker" it would have been nice to have Clara turn on him and say "How dare you" etc for him dismissing Danny so. Here's a girl who'll slap or threaten to slap the Doctor at the drop of a hat, but the one time she really had cause to...

And just in case anybody is reading this - can we PLEASE have an end to the slapping, and the "shut up"-ing? Both are pretty ugly and not exactly the right thing to include in a show with such a large kids' audience.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

I dunno -- it seemed extremely clear to me in "The Caretaker" that we weren't supposed to agree with any of the Doctor's prejudices about Danny. Also in that episode we have a white cop hassling two black kids who explicitly aren't doing anything wrong, who is barbecued straightaway, and the Doctor befriending (in his newly prickly way) a black student whom everyone else (except perhaps her parents) thinks is nothing but trouble. I can see why questions about the "optics" would arise, but to my eyes they appear to have been answered. I really don't see anything about the episode that endorses racism of any kind and quite a bit that rejects it.

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Steven 2 years, 6 months ago

When watching the Caretaker I didn't sit there going, 'oh god how can they be so racist', but instead sat there asking myself how they could have possibly been so stupid - from the idea, to the scripting, to the writing and directing no one pointed out that it gave the wrong impression. The other Roberts thing, with Martha and the Doctor is again a case of someone, well several people, somehow not thinking.

The stream of reactionary bile being pumped into my timeline via Roberts's account seems related if I'm honest. He has a pretty big blind spot, to put it mildly.

Definitely weren't meant to agree with the Doctor's prejudices, but the Doctor's prejudices probably weren't intended to be quite so blunt.

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Kit 2 years, 6 months ago

woeful aesthetic decisions post-Dragonfire

oops - missed "post," obviously.

The Cuddly Toy People in Survival, tho

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Kit 2 years, 6 months ago

Haven't seen what he's said lately, but Roberts has also disparaged "left-wing people" for assuming that other people share their views, and loudly declared himself Tory, via twitter before, so I'd not be over-startled at reactionary outbursts in the wake of this week's tragic events.

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Bob Dillon 2 years, 6 months ago

what were the tweets? (I'm not that au fait with twitter)

bob dillon

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Prole Hole 2 years, 6 months ago

I think I've mentioned this before by my very favourite "dark McCoy Doctor" acting is in the terminally under-appreciated "Survival". It's so wonderful to see his Doctor not plotting or planning but dealing with a worsening situation on the ground, yet shot through with the steel that we've seen developing from (particularly) "Remembrance", "Ghostlight" and "Fenric". No "more than just a Time Lord" here, just a development of the Doctor as an actual character, rather than exposition. It doesn't hurt that it's Ainley's best performance as the Master as well, so when they square off against each other everything just crackles. Rarely if ever has the contempt and disgust the Doctor holds the Master in been so clear, and rarely if ever has any actor in the role put it across quite so well as McCoy does. It's just such a wonderful performance and it deserves more recognition than it gets.

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Prole Hole 2 years, 6 months ago

They're a bit more cuddly than they need to be, but it's a bit unfair to call them woeful. Certainly if they're not 100% effective it is at least very clear a lot of time and thought and effort have been put in to them, and for most of their appearances they work well - it's just the big close-ups that make it clear they're a little cute, and there's but a few of them. Now if you had gone for the animatronic cat....

(Admission time, "Survival" is one of my very, very favourite Who stories, so I'm not letting one ropey cat and a slightly cute Cheetah put me off, not for one second).

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Jarl 2 years, 6 months ago

My, what a misleading name.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

Roberts has also disparaged "left-wing people" for assuming that other people share their views

Well then! If I've mistakenly assumed Roberts did not intend "The Caretaker" to seem racist to some people, then I'm willing to apologize to him.

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encyclops 2 years, 6 months ago

"Survival" might be my favorite episode of that season, so I'll hang a big +1 on your comment here.

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Seeing_I 2 years, 6 months ago

IDK, you know, Terrance Dicks is as Tory as it gets, and we all give him a pass out of nostalgia or whatever. Perhaps we can agree that our favorite writers don't necessarily need to share our favorite politics, and be tolerant of other viewpoints (that old liberal ideal!) unless it rises to an Orson Scott Card level of odeur.

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