Viewing posts tagged pop between realities

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea: Cucumber, Banana, Tofu

This is a bonus post, the topic of which was selected by my backers on Patreon. Voting is currently going on for next month's bonus post, with candidates including Orphan Black and China Mieville. Also Deadwood. Please, if you enjoy my blog and my work, consider chipping in a buck a week or so. Thanks.

Let's start with the title - mine, in this case, although Davies's is magnificent in its own right. I say this mostly as disclaimer - there's an awful lot to say about these three shows. They are very, very good. They deserve reams of analysis, and much of that really ought to come from within queer communities. They've gotten some, but not nearly enough. Nevertheless, I am me, and not the vast and polyvocal assemblage of queer communities, and I'm best known for writing a blog about Doctor Who, so the main angle here is going to be an auteur-centric take on the work of Russell T Davies. Much is left unsaid. Above anything else, I recommend watching them - if you're in the UK, I assume they exist via some sort of catch-up or video on demand service. If you ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea Final (Game of Thrones)

Well, something had to knock Doctor Who off its Hugo perch. And after competing in long form for its first season, Game of Thrones seems to have cemented itself as the Hugo frontrunner with back-to-back victories over Doctor Who in 2012 and 2013. 2012 was perhaps understandable: It wasn’t an extraordinary year for Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones did have “Blackwater,” which was a stunningly good Peter Dinklage vehicle of an episode. Even in 2013, you can possibly criticize the strategy of having Doctor Who go in with Day of the Doctor, Name of the Doctor, An Adventure in Time and Space, and The Five-ish Doctors as possibly weaker than the strategy of just chucking “The Rains of Castamere” up.

But “The Rains of Castamere” is also an episode worth looking at because it gets at the way in which much of the talk about what makes Game of Thrones good is desperately silly. Because essentially all “The Rains of Castamere” has to recommend it is that it has a lot of really shocking character deaths in it. This is, to be fair, part of the show’s brand. Its first big, iconic cultural moment was the killing ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 84 (Call the Midwife, Supernatural)

Jill Buratto is a nurse specializing in end of life issues, a general badass, and my wife.
In case you missed the boom, Call the Midwife is a BBC period drama about a group of midwives servicing London’s East End in the 1950s, originally based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth. It is the newest big show to hit UK television with ratings roughly matching those of Sherlock and Downton Abbey and surpassing Doctor Who itself. Call the Midwife was also featured in 2013’s Comedy Relief sketch (partnering with Doctor Who in this endeavor) and has Paul McGann’s brother, Stephen McGann as a prominent character in their series. UK TV ends up being a bit incestuous. 

Medical shows are a hard sell to those who work in the medical field. Much in the same way those in the tech field often cannot help but point out the inconsistencies and illogical moments when tech appears in TV or cinema, those of us in the medical field see the problems others can safely ignore. Even “reality” medical shows fall afoul of this issue, I remember yelling at a Mystery Diagnosis episode that “there is dumbing the facts down ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 83 (The 2012 Olympics)

"One measures a circle starting anywhere." - Charles Fort, quoted by Alan Moore in From Hell

Before we begin, a touch of housekeeping. The Williams book should be out within the week. I think it has something that will make a fair number of you excited in amidst the extra essays. Also, if you're in the Cleveland area, I'm giving a pair of talks this week at the Lakewood Public Library. On Wednesday, at 7pm, I'm talking about Wonder Woman, doing "a comic for more or less every decade," and then on Thursday at 7pm I'm doing one on Doctor Who that will be "a brief history of overthrowing the government." Both talks are free, there will be books for sale and I'll be signing, and it'll be a good time, so if you're local, please do come out. Now, on to the Olympics.

I think this will be the last time we do a Pop Between Realities that’s about a cultural event as opposed to another television series. Those have been sporadic features, and from time to time I’ve cheated - I did the Three Day Week of 1973 in the ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 82 (The Fades)

After the Moffat/Willis/Wenger team broke up, Moffat was paired with Caroline Skinner as his new co-executive producer. As we've already discussed, this was seemingly not a creative partnership that ended happily. Nevertheless, Caroline Skinner occupied a position on Doctor Who that was nominally as Moffat's equal opposite number, and though her tenure is brief, it must surely be considered as important as, say, the departure of a script editor or a producer during the classic series. To wit, Caroline Skinner was, upon taking the Doctor Who job, most recently coming off of a BBC Three series called The Fades. This, then, provides us with one of our occasional opportunities to see what the BBC thinks Doctor Who’s nearest equivalent shows are. This is, apparently, how you get the top job at Doctor Who: make The Fades first.

In their defense, it was a well regarded show. It got lovely reviews, and a BAFTA. It has a fine pedigree, and there are no reasonable grounds to complain about Caroline Skinner’s appointment based on it. There’s a few very reviewish paragraphs following this one, and they’re going to point out strengths and weaknesses, and ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 81 (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

Jed writes My Little Po-Mo, the TARDIS Eruditorum of ponies.

In this scene, Clara is cleverly disguised as a pony named Rose.
Consider a fandom. A curious beast, an amorphous, shifting mass of people wrapped around a core of fiction. Despite the variation in cores and size, fandoms all look basically the same. The swarm of flesh devours the core over and over again, yet the core is unharmed. The beast excretes its assumptions and predictions by consensus, layering it around the core like an invert pearl, fanon-grit encrusting a glittering center. Fanficcers and shippers and “expanded universe” authors build their own structures, grit and crystal in varying amounts, arcing off the core. Sometimes these extend all the way out of the beast, where they draw in their own squishy masses of fan; sometimes, rarely, they break off, forming the cores of new beasts, drawing their own paradoxical factions of fans. That is how the beast reproduces; mostly, though, it just grows, feeding on the source work, drawing new fans into itself with reviews and memes and recommendations by slightly pushy friends.

But then the beast gets old, and something strange happens: the core cracks. Grit gets inside the pearl ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 80 (Grey's Anatomy)

On October 6th, 2011, the American medical soap Grey’s Anatomy aired the fourth episode of its eighth season, entitled “What is it About Men.” The conceit of the episode was straightforward and clever: Grey’s Anatomy, normally a show dominated by and framed in terms of its female characters, did an episode in which the female characters were all pushed to the periphery and the focus was instead on the male characters. The voiceover narration that clumsily sets up the theme for a given episode, instead of, as normal, going to title character Meredith Grey or, as occasionally the case, going to a single other character, is instead split among all of the male characters, who opine about masculinity. 

This is, to be clear, a genuinely interesting take. Grey’s Anatomy is a heavily female-driven show, both for better and for worse. It passes the Bechdel test essentially every episode, which makes this episode’s unrepentant flunking of it an appreciably interesting thing. Because it is not as though this is suddenly an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that is envisioned as being “for” a male audience. This is still clearly conceptualized as women’s television, which ...

Pop Between Realities, Home in Time for Tea 79: Downton Abbey

For all that the story of the Moffat era is (as we’ll see over the next season’s entries) one of the series breaking out as an international hit, it is hardly the only, or even the biggest international export in British television. Indeed, even domestically, it’s worth noting that Doctor Who’s status as “the biggest hit on television” was emphatically usurped not long after the fifth season wrapped. As of the end of 2010, it was Downton Abbey’s world.

This is not a surprise, of course. Nothing’s the biggest thing in culture forever. Even Downton Abbey has been unseated by Call the Midwife by now, and something’s sure to unseat that any day now. The massive status that Doctor Who had at the end of the Davies era was always going to falter, and there’s nothing to conclude from that in and of itself. What is interesting, however, is the nature of the transition. Yes, Doctor Who was always going to be unseated, but by what?

It is easy to point out that Downton Abbey is a conservative show. Indeed, it is literally a Conservative show - its creator and sole writer, Julian ...

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