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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. Sheโ€™s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

109 Comments

  1. Spacewarp
    May 15, 2013 @ 12:45 am

    Oh you are good.

    I've never looked at The Long Game that way before, but your critique makes perfect sense.

    Reply

  2. David Anderson
    May 15, 2013 @ 1:04 am

    It's all a bit tell not show isn't it?
    We have a story with a strong political point to make about ideology and the media, and instead the best bit is Simon Pegg prosciuttoing it up as a black-and-white Doctor Who villain. The scene when Cathica takes the initiative is marred by the direct brain interface so that there's nothing for her actor to do. So the Doctor has to tell us what is going on, and Davies' writing is never weaker than when he has the Doctor pointing a moral.

    Reply

  3. Nick Smale
    May 15, 2013 @ 3:41 am

    even that gets subsumed by Cathica so we can have the ordinary people rising up and taking charge at the end.

    IIRC, RTD's bible for Doctor Who suggest that in the revived series the Doctor will mainly achieve his victories, not by direct action, but by inspiring others. I've always thought that this was the story that showed this in its purest form; and also the one that showed most clearly why this was a bad idea, because it makes the Doctor seem like a peripheral figure in his own show.

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  4. Ross
    May 15, 2013 @ 3:56 am

    I like to say that RTD's fundamental understanding of what it means to be the Doctor is "The Doctor is the person who makes other people Better."

    Which I think is rather pithy

    Reply

  5. Nick Smale
    May 15, 2013 @ 4:27 am

    While "Raxacoricofallapatorius" is funny because it's unexpectedly long for a sci-fi name, "the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe" isn't, because such a long name is no longer unexpected. Only the other hand, after those two "Clom" becomes funny, because it's unexpectedly short…

    Reply

  6. Assad K
    May 15, 2013 @ 5:26 am

    And we will soon see that while the Doctor is quick to punish others for their transgressions, Rose gets a free pass cos she is Rose. At least Adams using-time-travel-for-his-own-purposes didn't lead to people-eating-Gargoyles-from-between-time thingies.

    And it is unbelievably douchey of the Doctor to go and just drop off Adam at his house like that. One can only hope that the shock of seeing her sons head open up did not, in fact, lead to his mother having a heart attack and dying on the spot. But I suppose it's a natural extension of his pouty, jealous, high-schoolish reaction to the interaction between Adam and Rose. 900 years old indeed.

    Simon Pegg wasted, yes. Much as some other appearances of guests like like Tony Head.

    Reply

  7. Col. Orange
    May 15, 2013 @ 5:50 am

    Not too bothered about Rose's passivity – she’s earned her position by showing that her instincts are selfless (WW3):
    Doctor: That's the thing. If I don't dare, everyone dies.
    Rose: Do it.
    Doctor: You don't even know what it is. You'd just let me?
    Rose: Yeah.
    With that in place, she can safely take a back seat when the writer’s drafted a cramped episode.

    Adam, on the other hand, is on his first outing… and immediately forms a plan to take advantage. I may be reading this wrong, but it seems to me he quickly ditches Rose because he believes she won’t approve. What he then takes and tries to take advantage of was the product of the labour of others.

    When Rose does something for selfish reasons in Father’s Day, it’s still Rose trying to save a life. Her instincts are still those the Doctor admires. This makes it easy for the Doctor to forgive her (once he’s questioned her and reassured himself that this wasn’t some plan she’d had since episode 1).

    Even if Adam had claimed that he wasn’t doing it for the money (would anyone have believed him?), but was instead trying to advance human technological development, it isn’t as easy to forgive as a person not wanting to see someone (anyone) die.

    Reply

  8. Lewis Christian
    May 15, 2013 @ 5:59 am

    The story is rushed, and has a lot of threads left dangling. It's an oddity too, because it's really the first of a broken three-parter.

    Watch this and follow it up immediately with Bad Wolf and you'll be fine. (The only new element is Jack.) In that respect, I really like it. The title doesn't make sense til later. The world's not as explored as much as it could be, til later. In effect, it doesn't need to be.

    This is the world, take note.

    Then, in Bad Wolf: Remember that world? Well it all went wrong. Basically thanks to the Doctor.

    It's about consequences, so the world's not a huge deal. All the audience needs to get is "here it is / it went wrong somehow".

    Adam's scenes are very disjointed. They show more of the world but they just don't connect, and the episode wouldn't miss them if he wasn't there at all.

    On the whole, though, I really enjoy this one. Possibly because it feels like a McCoy. (It now gets interesting in the series to try and pinpoint which eras stories would fit into, or which other Doctors would work in each story.)

    Reply

  9. Carey
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:05 am

    To be fair, the joke is actually "the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, or as I like to call him, Max." Which is a double barrelled joke, the first being the same as the Clom joke (a long phrase followed by a drastically shortened one for comic effect); and the second a reference to the disgraced and deceased media tycoon Robert Maxwell, or Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch as he was christened. At least one review from the time told how the reviewer found the Max joke hilarious precisely because he used to work under Maxwell.

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  10. Alan
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:10 am

    Obviously, JNT flirted with the idea of the untrustworthy companion with both Adric and Turlough. He just couldn't pull the trigger and have the Doctor send either of them packing and then had to tack on improbable redemption stories. So I guess that's another way this story hints at "the 80's done right." Also, I give this story (and its companion, "Bad Wolf") credit for exploring the ramifications of the Doctor casually overthrowing an entire society and then just leaving with the assumption that everything would sort it self out. The end of the episode — in which the Doctor casually asserts that "everything will go back to the way it should be" once the entire planet's news infrastructure collapsed — bugged me at the time, and I was glad to see it picked up on in "Bad Wolf." Talking of the 80's, I was reminded of the rather bleak ending of "Varos," when the two viewpoint worker characters literally didn't know what to do with themselves once their brutal entertainment programs had been abolished.

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  11. T. Hartwell
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:12 am

    I had always felt the Adam stuff came as a direct precursor to Rose's actions in the next episode- so the comparison between them isn't necessarily being drawn here, but rather in Father's Day, where the reasons and motivations for what Rose does (and how she and the Doctor deal with the consequences of those actions) are explored more in-depth.

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  12. SK
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:13 am

    Rose is fundamentally selfish, as Davies points out in The Writer's Tale when he compares the companions he created:

    'Rose is open, honest, heartfelt, to the point of being selfish, wonderfully selfish. Martha is clever, calm, but rarely says what she’s really thinking. Donna is blunt, precise, unfiltered, but with a big heart beneath all the banter. […] If Rose can be selfish, then her finest moments will come when she’s selfless. If Martha keeps quiet, then her moments of revelation — like her goodbye to the Doctor — make her fly. Donna is magnificently self-centred — not selfish, but she pivots everything around herself, as we all do — so when she opens up and hears the Ood song, or begs for Caecilius’ family to be saved, then she’s wonderful.'

    Adam's sin (is the name a coincidence, do you think?) is the sin of instrumentality. The shape Rose's selfishness takes is a desire to have all the experiences she can. When she is first taken to the future she drinks in the experience, to the extent that she has her moment of being overwhelmed by the weirdness of it all. And even when she's used to the idea of TARDIS, when it takes her to Victorian London or, in this case, to Satellite Five, she immerses herself in the weirdness of it all.

    The Doctor sums it up explicitly: 'The thing is, Adam, time travel is like visiting Paris. You can't just read the guidebook, you've gotta throw yourself in. Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, get charged double and end up kissing complete strangers – or is that just me?'

    Rose follows this philosophy: she throws herself into the situation.

    Adam, by contrast, ignores the weirdness and looks for a way to turn the situation to his advantage. He tries to use his trip in the TARDIS, when the Doctor has explicitly told him that the point is to experience, not to do anything useful. He tries to do something useful with his trip — to find some technology to bring back — and it is this which damns him in the Doctor's eyes.

    So why does Rose get forgiven in 'Father's Day'? I think it's because there her actions were on the spur of the moment and, again, experience-driven: she wanted to meet her father, to experience him. Adam's sin is to treat time travel as a tool.

    Remember that in 'Father's Day' when the Doctor is at his most angry with Rose, this is what he accuses her of: of not wanting to go with him until he heard the TARDIS was a time machine, of having formulated right back then a plan to get her father back. That, in the Doctor's eyes, is unforgivable because it's just like Adam: it's trying to use time travel, rather than to experience it. At his most angry, the Doctor doesn't accuse Rose of being selfish: he's okay with selfish, as long as it's the selfishness of impulse, of spur-of-the-moment experience. What he accuses her of is being calculating, of having a plan, of trying to use him. That's what he can't stand.

    The episode then shows the Doctor coming to realise that in fact Rose was acting out of a selfish spur-of-the-moment desire to experience her father, that she didn't in fact have that in mind right form when she entered the TARDIS, and that's when he calms down and forgives her.

    Why is Adam the companion who couldn't? Because he saw time travel not as a joy in its own right, but for what he could use it for. When does the Doctor have doubts about Rose? When she uses time travel. What is the worst thing he can accuse her of? Planning. When does he forgive her? When he realises she was simply overcome by the moment and a selfish desire to experience.

    It's not selfishness that's the problem: in fact this Doctor (and possibly Davies himself?) sees the selfish desire to experience as being laudable, intrinsically good. It's having an instrumental view that's bad: it's planning, it's using things, rather than simply enjoying them.

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  13. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:31 am

    Well I can see I'm in the minority here.

    First, I think Phil's right in his analysis of the 45-minute structure. There isn't much in the way of world building here, relying on more telling than showing, and it blunts the overall impact of the story. And yes, loving the revolution (the space station revolves!) and the contemporary allegory at play here.

    But this story is so much more than that.

    First of all, "The Long Game." It works on three levels (there are three rings to the space station) and Phil's identified one, which is how power-structures play the long game with the rest of us through control of the media. But, by virtue of our foreknowledge of the rest of the season, there's another equally interesting Long Game to discuss, which is the Long Game RTD is playing with the audience, setting up his pieces for the big finale. We're invited to play the meta-textual long game, reading the stories closely not so much to predict the end but to better appreciate it.

    And this rather ties into the third "long game", which is the introduction of some very specific imagery and concepts in the Western Occult tradition: the Opening of the third eye, the Silver Cord to the akashic records as an expansion of consciousness, the Chair as a throne of ascension, the depiction of The Other Side ("walls made of gold," zombies and skeletons, the plastic sheets as the Veil Between the Worlds, and the now repeating iconography of Hands as the power of Connection) and of course the alchemical aesthetics, specifically the play of Red and Blue the resolution of the plot through the most basic union of opposites: Fire and Ice.

    And this isn't just a gloss. It's reflected in the Gnostic setup of the plot. In Gnosticism, the World we understand wasn't created by the Almighty, but by a fallen Demiurge, an Archon who has made a world of Lies and desires to be the recipient of human works; he shields us from our own divinity. This is, in part, a reaction to Christianity, and specifically to the Fall of Man story as represented by, yup, Adam.

    Which brings me to Rose. In this story (again, it's a metatextual long game being set up) she steps into a Doctorish role. She's the one who makes the initial observations of the environment, including the key feature that plays to the resolution. She's charged with managing a Companion, and lets him wander off in that particularly companionish way — she even gives him a key to the TARDIS, which is what the Doctor did with her. She's the one who uses the Sonic at the end to effect an escape from capture.

    And yes, Rose succumbs to temptation (which functions as a wonderful subversion of Campbell) in the very next episode, but within the context of the Long Game she's in a very different position than Adam. She's not motivated by the gratification of Ego in the mean capitalistic sense, but by the narrative logic of the soap opera. Wanting to bring back her father is a soap-opera concern. Furthermore, given the esoteric underpinnings of the Revival, the particular iconography of wanting to bring back "the Father" can be read as a religious concern, and as such is made respectably problematic.

    Rose is rebuked by the Doctor in Father's Day — she doesn't get a "free pass" — but she gets a deserved second chance, for she's already proved her good intentions in their previous adventures, and within Father's Day she redeems herself in the end by accepting the inevitability of Death and personal loss, while also discovering that the story told around that concern, and hence its very meaning, can change. In short, Rose and Adam are really not equivalent, and to read them as such is to miss large swaths of the overall story.

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  14. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:33 am

    Pegg isn't wasted! He's absolutely brilliant! Unlike Tony Head, who doesn't get nearly enough to play with.

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  15. Ross
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:35 am

    The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe isn't the same shape of joke as Raxacoricofallapatorius (Even though the sound of it is something quite uproarious); with the Jagrafess, the funny part is "I call him 'Max' for short" (Ever notice that no one in fandom EVER calls the Jagrafess "Max"?).

    But I think both of them fall into RTD's habit of using a kind of hyperbole to remind the audience which things are unimportant. While the anoraks are stressing about where things fit in their lists and which galaxy the Face of Boe is from, RTD tosses out the year five billion, the Holy Hadrojassicmaxarodenfoe and the Doctor having 507 regenerations: they all basically say "What does this detail really matter to you?"

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  16. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:36 am

    +1

    Trying to save a life, even a life that's personally and selfishly relevant, is still evidence of concern for others; Adam, on the other hand, is a liar and a thief with no evidence of a moral underpinning that Rose has demonstrated several times already.

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  17. Assad K
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    Well, by wasted I mean more that it's a pity that he is not around for more episodes. A feeling that will be especially strong at the end of 'Utopia' about another actor…

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  18. SK
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:41 am

    And yes, Rose succumbs to temptation (which functions as a wonderful subversion of Campbell) in the very next episode, but within the context of the Long Game she's in a very different position than Adam. She's not motivated by the gratification of Ego in the mean capitalistic sense, but by the narrative logic of the soap opera.

    To repeat myself, though, it's not the succumbing to temptation that is seen as the sin: indeed, succumbing to the temptation of the momentary hedonistic impulse is lauded and seen as good. It's the idea that maybe she planned to use time travel to rescue her father that's the Doctor's complaint.

    In a sense this is agreeing with you, in that the gratification of the momentary hedonistic impulse is fundamentally what drives 'the narrative logic of the soap opera' (if things are getting slow, pick two characters and have them have an affair!). But it is the concrete, diegetic difference between Rose and Adam. Both are selfish, but Rose is instinctively selfish and hungry for experience, which is why she reacts to new environments with a sense of wonder. Adam, on the other hand, reacts with a sense of purpose (rather than wonder), and is punished for that purpose.

    The message is: don't go out into the world with a purpose. Just go out and drink it all in. Don't go to Paris with a map and a list of things to see, just arrive, don't know the language, and get lost. Rose follows that advice; Adam doesn't.

    I suppose if you wanted to get lapsarian about it you could say that Rose enjoys Eden while Adam goes looking for the Tree of Knowledge, but I think that's reaching.

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  19. SK
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:46 am

    I don't believe Adam actually steals anything? The Doctor gives him the money-stick (filled with money which the Doctor may have stolen; it's unclear what he's actually doing, but if it's his money, why does he need to use the sonic screwdriver?) and he uses that to buy the head-hole, perfectly legitimately.

    He does, of course, lie. But then so does the Doctor and so does Rose.

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  20. Nick Smale
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    IIRC, Pegg was originally asked to play Pete Tyler, Rose's dad, but had to pass on the role; the editor was a kind of consolation prize. He's terrific as the editor, but I can't help feeling his Pete might have been something amazing…

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  21. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:21 am

    I like this read quite a lot. I remember once I was working on an urban fantasy novel (a project I abandoned on the grounds that I don't actually like most urban fantasy, so why was I trying to write it?) where part of the background was that there were seven clans of demons who each specialized in preying on a particular common weakness of humans to manipulate and corrupt them, corresponding of course to the Seven Deadly Sins. There had been an eighth clan, who used curiosity, but after millennia of failing to consistently turn curiosity to evil they died out.

    Which is a roundabout way of saying I agree with Davies to an extent. Curiosity can be bad, when it leads to things like violating privacy, but in general if you're going to be greedy for something it's hard to go wrong with a greed for knowledge and experience.

    All that said, my problem with "Father's Day," and Rose in general, is that the Doctor was right the first time. Rose has been planning to try to bring her father back from the moment she found out the TARDIS was a time machine. Blatantly so–if her primary motivation was a desire for novel experience she would have gone with him at the offer of alien worlds, before he mentioned it was a time machine.

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  22. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    I don't think the Doctor stole the money so much as counterfeited it–the credit stick is like the credit card Mr. Copper made, it's linked to an account listed in the banks' computer records as having a lot of money, even though no one has ever actually made a deposit. You could make a case that it causes a slight drop in value of all of the rest of the money in the world and is therefore stealing from everyone, I suppose.

    His crime isn't really the lying, it's the screwing up history for personal gain. If he'd just wanted to link up with the computer as a way to experience this world, the Doctor would probably have been fine with it–it's the fact that he did it for his own gain, and his method of doing so involved sending technical information to the past, that the Doctor had a problem with.

    Adam is basically a modern version of whatsisname, the first Sontaran we saw back in the Pertwee era. Lynx? Something like that, I can't be bothered to look it up.

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  23. SK
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    I hope you did your research and got, for example, the distinction between lust and gluttony right. So many people, these days, misunderstand the deadly sins. Like Andrew Kevin Walker.

    I don't think there's time, at the end of 'Rose', for Rose to form that 'get her father back' plan. The way it's shot, the plain reading is that she wants to go the first time, but is held back by her ties to the real world, represented by Micky. When the TARDIS disappears she instantly regrets her decision; when it rematerialises and the Doctor opens the door, he could have said 'and by the way, did I mention the food machine also makes a mean bacon-and-egg flavours Mars bar?' and she'd have been through that door.

    The double-offer is not there to show what she really wants is to travel in time, it's to emphasise her decision by delaying it. Old dramatist's and actor's trick.

    That's how the scene is played by Piper, it's the obvious reading and I don't see any reason to change it: in 'Father's Day' I think the reading is that the Doctor, upset, is unjustly accusing her, reading back ulterior motives into everything she's done.

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  24. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I would say that the key difference between Rose and Adam is that, when confronted by the Doctor with their malfeasance, Rose accepted that she'd done wrong. Adam made excuses. Rose, in other words, has a capacity to learn. Adam does not.

    (The problem is that Rose then proceeds to not learn, and actually get worse, because she and Ten bring out the worst in each other. However, that's not really relevant to this episode or Father's Day.)

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  25. Jesse
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    Then, in Bad Wolf: Remember that world? Well it all went wrong. Basically thanks to the Doctor.

    Yep. And that forces a reevaluation of the story's politics too.

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  26. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:44 am

    I did very little research specifically for the project, since it never got farther than planning. I basically just used what background knowledge I have, which is probably better than Joe Random Average since comparitive religion in general and early Christianities in particular are a bit of a hobby of mine, but nothing to write home about. I made lust the desire to possess and control others, including but not limited to possessing others sexually, avarice the desire to possess and control things, and gluttony excessive self-indulgence.

    I don't know that it would take any time. My father died when I was quite young, and I've imagined before what I'd do if I had a time machine and could save him. Even as a non-science fiction fan, Rose has doubtless heard of time machines, so it's not unreasonable that on hearing "time machine" her first thought was "I could save dad."

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  27. SK
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:49 am

    Well, I'd have to re-watch it, which I'm not likely to do, but I remember it being played by Piper as her regretting not going and being ready to jump through the doors as soon as the TARDIS re-appeared, before hearing about the 'time machine' bit.

    Sounds like you got avarice and gluttony right but missed the point of lust: lust is inappropriate real love of another, not the desire to control or possess them. That's why Dante puts the lustful closest to Heaven: their sin is the nearest to being a virtue, it's just misdirected.

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  28. Lewis Christian
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    All I think now when I watch back is, "surely enough time's passed to bring back Pegg in a completely new role, and the audience won't care he was The Editor."

    Thing is, roles are still wasted even now. Olivia Colman in The Eleventh Hour? The tiniest, most useless role in the story. Same with Annette Crosbie. And more.

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  29. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    Rewatched this episode over the weekend, and enjoyed it greatly. I can't remember how I felt about it on first viewing; probably that it was more or less on par with my expectations, better than the two-parter but not as good as "Dalek."

    Rewatching it, though, I can completely see the "80s done right" feel, though I'd agree that the last two years of Who in the 80s were already done right. I didn't particularly feel the worldbuilding was lackluster, but then again for me this was a more familiar environment than Victorian England. "Earth is the center of an empire, media manipulation and fear of aliens/immigrants is being used to keep that empire under control, okay, it's Babylon 5 with the Jagrafess instead of the PsyCorps." All I really needed was a couple of signifiers and I could sketch in the rest myself.

    And Pegg is a delight, as always.

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  30. Lewis Christian
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    I think, as well, on a basic level it's jusy RTD injecting something for the kids.

    The Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe
    Raxacoricofallapatorius
    Clom!
    Bannakaffalatta
    The Moxx of Balhoon
    New New New New New New New… Earth

    Russell's naming of things also gets interesting when he goes into Abstract / Poetry mode:

    Felspoon, where mountains sway in the breeze
    The Could've-Been-King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres
    The Jaws of the Nightmare Child

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  31. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:59 am

    Adam steals information — all the work of all the people who actually created something from their own efforts. He plans to use it solely for his personal gain. He's a thief.

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  32. David Anderson
    May 15, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    I don't think I understand how you're using the word 'selfish'. If Rose is 'wonderfully' selfish, at least in Series One, what counts as not being selfish?

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  33. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    Yup, there's no real planning by Rose to be seen at the end Rose by jumping at the Second Chance. But if there is, it's the notion that with a Time Machine, she can have her cake (the travel) and eat it too, because she doesn't have to leave behind her life — she can return the day she left, theoretically, so she doesn't have to give up the relationships (and the logic of the soap opera narrative) that would otherwise keep her grounded. And this is definitely played with in both The End of The World and Aliens in London.

    Sorry, but I think reading the Doctor's admonishment of Rose as correct, in order to paint her in the same light as Adam, is to make a mistake.

    I also have to wonder how much of the reaction against Rose (in general, not specifically in this peanut gallery) is a reaction against the soap-opera narrative conventions that have wrapped their tendrils around the show. It's stunning to me how furious some quarters of this fandom get towards stories that integrate emotional catharsis with the resolution of the central conflict. Surely Rose is a symbol of emotional storytelling!

    Father's Day is definitely played towards such ends, going for the big emotional, and with a big heaping helping of Christian symbolism to boot, another thing that tends to set off this fandom.

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  34. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    The Could've-Been-King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres
    The Jaws of the Nightmare Child

    These in particular, along with stuff like "the Shadow Proclamation," really set my teeth on edge. It takes no more energy to invent something meaningless that nevertheless sounds like a name something would really have than it does to invent some bullshitty fairy tale nonsense in order to annoy the fans.

    I mean, if nothing else, there is absolutely for sure more than one "nightmare child" in the universe. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  35. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 8:28 am

    It bothers me to no end that all these untrustworthy companions, and indeed even the occasionally problematic secondary ones (Mickey, Jack, Rory), are male. As a kid I hated it because I wanted to be able to identify with the male companions, and the show wasn't having that. Now it bothers me not because it's a bad thing for men to be the naughty ones, but because the way it puts all the primary female companions up among the angels seems problematic too.

    That's one of the reasons I enjoyed "The Lodger" and "Closing Time" perhaps more than I ought to have; it was so refreshing to see the Doctor to have a positive relationship with a male companion that had almost no element of hostility or mistrust on his part.

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  36. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:02 am

    @SK: Yes, in terms of the Doctor's complaint. But it's not just that Adam acts with purpose or intention, but also what those purposes are bent towards. To go out in the world with the intention of helping other people, for example, isn't something the Doctor would disapprove of either — in this sense he would be happy to be "used" insofar as this is certainly one of his purposes besides the hedonistic gratifications bestowed by travel.

    These two stories also get to the other central concern of the show which is the construction of Identity. If Rose is "selfish" in Father's Day, the "self" that she's constructing is one that's rooted in relationship, not wealth or power. And this is related to the Doctor's complaint of instrumentality, because using people as instruments is at odds with recognizing the inherent divinity of other people.

    Getting back to The Long Game, I find it interesting that Rose now partakes of the Doctor's anonymity, another sign that she's no longer just a companion, but becoming Doctorish in her own right. This indicates that she too is now on the journey of Self Discovery, which helps to explain why the Doctor wouldn't object to hedonistic immersion in other cultures — such explorations help us to understand who we are, help put our lives into perspective.

    The other interesting juxtaposition to observe is by comparing Adam with Cathica. "Cathica" sounds like a derivation of Katherine, which relates to the Greek katharos — which means "pure" and from which we derive the notion of Catharsis — but may also derive from the Armenian gadar, which means "summit", and hence makes sense of the use of "spike" for Cathica's establishment of rapport with "the source" — which is equivalent with Gnosis.

    Cathica is initially presented as ambitious, desiring to ascend for the sake of ascending, for the gratification of ego. But she literally ascends to the top floor when she discards that ambition out of a growing motivation to serve the greater good — the Doctor's little speech on the virtue of true journalism evidently spoke to her better side.

    Both Cathica and Adam end up in The Chair, partaking of Gnosis, but intention makes all the difference in the world as to what this experience ultimately confers.

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  37. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:27 am

    I also have to wonder how much of the reaction against Rose (in general, not specifically in this peanut gallery) is a reaction against the soap-opera narrative conventions that have wrapped their tendrils around the show.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but for me? None. By the time the new series started I was already on the record as liking the merging of soap opera elements with science fiction–specifically, a conversation with my brother ten years prior in which we both agreed with the statement, "It's funny. I can't stand soap operas, but the soap opera bits of Babylon 5 are my favorite parts."

    "Father's Day" is an excellent episode; I just think taken in context with the second season (and especially the clearest example of Ten and Rose making each other worse, "Tooth and Claw") it provides strong evidence for reading Rose as having a nasty selfish, self-centered streak.

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  38. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    Ooh, I like that. I hadn't caught the parallel between Cathica and Adam and resulting implicit contrasting of them.

    Although I think, in terms of the Christian reading, that neither of them gets to travel with the Doctor. They've tasted of the Tree of Knowledge, and therefore the Tree of Life–which is eternity, i.e. the TARDIS–is denied to them, lest they "become like us," which is to say Doctor-like, jaded, unable to see the wonder of the cosmos except through the eyes of another. (Though this description seems to only apply to the war-weary Eccleston Doctor–the others seem to take companions out of loneliness, but are quite capable of seeing the wonder in the universe on their own.)

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  39. nimonus
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    SK – I really like this reading, but I would quibble with your assertion that throwing oneself into the stream of experience is in any way selfish. I'd argue that it is precisely the reverse – it is what allows the possibility of overcoming self-interest, and it is this which is what makes the distinction between Rose and Adam so stark.

    Experience is about Wonder, the primary religious emotion, living in the mysterium tremendum et fascinans. Not reading the guidebook, not planning, just throwing yourself in, what you are describing is presence or mindfulness: When you are eating a Kronkburger, know you are eating a Kronkburger.

    In either framing, this leads to the overcoming of the ego. In Buddhism, mindfulness leads naturally to Karuna – compassion, and mudita, sympathetic joy, and ultimately to the dissolution of the self through the realization that the boundary between self and world is illusory. In the words of Cho-Je, the practitioner discovers "to his inexpressible delight that he has never existed".

    Likewise, Martha Nussbaum does an exhaustive study of the emotions, drawing on both extensive psychological research and the entire breadth of the western philosophical tradition and makes a cogent case that all emotions are unconscious cognitive judgements about the way a particular situation impacts our own flourishing and our own projects – our eudaimonea. The only emotion this is not true of, the only one which seems to transcend the self, is Wonder (not love or compassion, interestingly, and she makes a strong case that love is problematic in its selfishness and needs to be worked upon). It is the one emotion in which things are valued not for what they can do for us and how they serve our flourishing, but for their own intrinsic beauty and worth. And just as in the Buddhist telling, Wonder plays a crucial role in the cultivation of compassion. To quote an essay I wrote elsewhere: "Compassion does obviously stretch beyond the self, but according to Nussbaum, it does so by essentially wrapping up the wellbeing of another within an evaluation of one’s own flourishing. If we come to regard the welfare of particular others as one of our own projects, then threats to that welfare will manifest as an emotional upheaval which can then motivate us to take action on the others’ behalf . . . Wonder is unique in Nussbaum’s system in that it is non-eudaimonistic – that is, it reflects a recognition that something is valuable in and of itself, and not merely because of its instrumental value in fulfilling one’s own projects and flourishing. But because of this, it achieves the expansion of ones’ projects."

    Nussbaum:

    "In viewing Philoctetes with compassion, as worthy of concern and help, I also consider him as a human being…The non-eudaimonistic element of wonder strongly reinforces or motivates my eudaimonistic concern. Similarly, when I see with compassion the beating of an animal, a wonder at the complex living thing itself is likely to be mixed with my compassion, and to support it."

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  40. nimonus
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:36 am

    I think here, also of Tolkein on sub-creation – our purpose, the thing we are here to do, for Tolkein, is to appreciate the beauty of the created world, and out of that wonder, increase that beauty by our own creative efforts. When we create purely out of gratitude and appreciation and a desire to produce something beautiful and offer it freely to the world, as the Elves (usually) do, we are transcending the ego and becoming partners in the Song of the world. This is what Rose and the Doctor do – the explore, appreciate the world around them, and give back by helping where they can.

    When we want to cling to our creations out of pride, to hoard our creations to ourselves, we are in discord and disharmony with the world around us. This is the original sin of Melkor/Morgoth, who wanted to be the principle singer of the song of creation. It is the sin of Feanor, whose pride in his creation of the Silmarils leads to the downfall of his people, even though their beauty was not his own creation but merely a product of his skill at capturing the light of the two trees in gems. And it is the sin of Adam, who like Feanor, stumbles onto a fountain of knowledge and wants to be use that knowledge for self-aggrandizement.

    I think it is very important, also, to distinguish between wonder, mindfulness, and even hedonism on the one hand, and greed for knowledge (Pertwee's fatal flaw) on the other, which have been conflated at points in this discussion. Greed for knowledge is about the desire to understand, and thus to symbolically control, to gain mastery over that which is understood. It is again a function of ego and is thus selfish. But desire for experience, for beauty for wonder, is self-transcending.

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  41. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:40 am

    I love emotional catharsis, but it has to be earned. When it's glib or fake or trite, it's worse than when it's absent.

    "Father's Day" works fine for me now, but my initial reaction was not to like it very much. That wasn't because of the "big emotional," or because of the Christian symbolism, but because of the monsters, which I saw as taking time away from the part of the story I was interested in. I have a similar complaint about "Vincent and the Doctor" (except that there I think that even what's left when you subtract the space turkey is distasteful).

    Jane, would it be fair to say that you regard what you perceive as the core of Doctor Who fandom as immature sci-fi geeks with a poor appreciation for literature? That's the impression I get every time you talk about "this fandom." The stereotype makes me angrier than I'd like to be when I'm reading your otherwise interesting perspectives, and I would love to know that I'm mistaken about it.

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  42. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:41 am

    I dunno, "Bad Wolf" makes it clear that the Jagrafess was a puppet for the Daleks, which means it's really more their fault than the Doctor's–there's nothing to suggest that, in the absence of the Daleks, the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire would have fared any worse than any other civilization the Doctor has saved by way of collapsing it.

    The Doctor's real mistake wasn't in destroying the Jagrafess, it was in failing to destroy the power behind the Jagrafess. Which, given the Editor's mention of the "consortium of banks," sets up a "Daleks=banks" equivalency that is astoundingly prescient in 2005.

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  43. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:44 am

    I was going to argue with you, jane, because normally theft requires that the original owner not have it anymore. But then I realized that Adam actually is, in a sense–specifically, he is going to gain fame and fortune as the inventor of [insert future technology here], as opposed to the person who actually came up with it. He's stealing credit, so he's a thief and a fraud.

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  44. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    I'm with you, Lewis, but I think he's too busy and expensive these days.

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  45. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    Jane, you can count me among this episode's supporters. It's not my favorite of the future-Earth stories, but I like almost all of them and this is no exception. Even though I don't always find that your symbolic readings enhance the episodes for me (which says more about the problems of the episodes than your readings), but in this case you just made it twice as rich for me. I'm excited to watch it again now!

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  46. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 9:54 am

    the one Cartmel rejected with the suggestion that Davies write something more grounded, with the specific suggestion of “a man who is worried about his mortgage, his marriage, his dog.”

    I remember you mentioning this before, and I feel dense but I still can't figure out how this makes sense. In another context, directed at another writer (maybe the one Davies used to be, but certainly not the one he became), coming from another script editor, I could see it being great advice, but here it seems incongruous. Is it that Cartmel saw a different strength in Davies and wanted to get a different kind of story from the ones Cartmel was already getting from other writers?

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  47. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    I think, as well, on a basic level it's jusy RTD injecting something for the kids.

    Not just the kiddies! Anyone who's a fan of putting together phonemes to make sounds which are interesting independent of the normal symbolic references. The sort of person who thinks "Hat Elbow Blue" would be a lovely name for a little girl if it weren't for the fact that those words have meanings. Me, in other words. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    It takes no more energy to invent something meaningless that nevertheless sounds like a name something would really have than it does to invent some bullshitty fairy tale nonsense in order to annoy the fans.

    They're not meaningless. They're evocative teases, and they take quite a bit of effort to make up if you want them to be any good. "The Maw of the Nightmare Child," for instance, is nowhere near as interesting as "The Jaws" thereof.

    For that matter, "bullshitty fairy tale nonsense" also requires quite a bit of skill to pull off with any quality. (Gaiman is a master of it, Moffat pretty decent most of the time, Cross is pretty rubbish.)

    And of course there's more than one nightmare child. All children are nightmares. That's why THE Nightmare Child is evocative–how can something be worse than an ordinary human child? (Other than an ordinary human teenager, I mean.)

    The Shadow Proclamation, I'll admit, is a bit weak. Based on the way the Doctor refers to it in "Rose," I initially thought it was the treaty that ended the Time War, which would have been interesting. But then it turned out to be an organization, which is much less compelling use of the name. Basically it went, "A legal document with 'Shadow' in the name. Odd, why would they call it that? Was that the original name, or something people started calling it later, and if so, why?" It gets you wondering about its history. Whereas an organization with "Shadow" in the name just makes you think, "Oh, they're from the 1990s. The probably have enormous guns and no pupils in their eyes, too."

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  48. David Anderson
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:11 am

    The basic problem of soap opera (and related forms such as superhero comics) is that everything is reversible. Basically, soap and comics are infinitely extensible forms. But they, in their modern versions, use characters that change. If you try to tell an unlimited number of stories about a character who changes and grows, the only way to do that is to have them undo every decision they make, so fundamentally there's no permanent change, merely the illusion of change.
    If you put soapy bits into a series that is not infinitely extensible on the other hand, that problem is lifted: what happens to a character really matters if the character's story ends with the current story arc.
    In that sense then, the real soap character in Doctor Who is the Doctor. It's tolerable with the Doctor, because he comes with a reset switch every time he changes actor.

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  49. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    I will respectfully agree to disagree with you on the paragraph beginning "They're not meaningless" and the one ending "ordinary human teenager, I mean.)" ๐Ÿ™‚

    They just don't work for me. It might be quite clever and funny to have one story where all the situations and villains sounded like bad titles of Doctor Who episodes. As a system for naming events and people that are presumably alien to those of us on Earth, it pulls me right out of the story every time. But I accept that not everyone has the same problem with them.

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  50. Ross
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    I also have to wonder how much of the reaction against Rose (in general, not specifically in this peanut gallery) is a reaction against the soap-opera narrative conventions that have wrapped their tendrils around the show.

    I know that most of the people I know who complained about Rose would always cite "Soap" as the biggest "problem" with the show these days. One of them was forthright enough to insist that by definition "Science Fiction should be about big ideas, not character drama. The characters should be blank and basically interchangable."

    Of course, I suspect a lot of them were using "soap" as a synonym for "yahoo" — just a word that they took to mean "anything that is bad about TV." Also, I'm fairly sure some of them were using it to mean "camp".

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  51. peeeeeeet
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:18 am

    Not much to add, other than I found Tamsin Grieg to be much more wasted than Pegg. At least he got to be something other than Basil Exposition. The whole Adam v Rose thing worked for me on broadcast but in retrospect I find it terribly on the nose. ISTR Cartmel saying this was his favourite of the season, which I suppose is a bit ironic. Round these parts we* refer to Max as The Mighty Jagrefess of the Holyhandgrenadeofantioch.

    * OK, it's just me

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  52. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    @encyclops: "Jane, would it be fair to say that you regard what you perceive as the core of Doctor Who fandom as immature sci-fi geeks with a poor appreciation for literature?"

    That's not what I'm really trying to get at. The fandom of Who is incredibly diverse, and sure it has its immature sci-fi geeks (who generally aren't averse to appreciating literature) but it's surely got a lot of other populations roaming about as well. Rather, I'm wanting to draw a distinction between Who fandom and the other fandoms I'm familiar with — primarily LOST, Buffy, and Fringe, all of which have their fair share of sci-fi geeks.

    What makes the Who fandom distinct from these others, in my experience, is the raging animosity I've seen from some quarters towards emotional storytelling — and overt references to Christianity to a much lesser extent, really more against the principles of magical realism in favor of hard SF.

    Whether these quarters are unliterary immature sci-fi geeks isn't of that much interest to me — I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons to lash out in this manner. (But do I psychologize this backlash? Probably, and it's something I have to watch out for — thanks for the heads up. When I do, it's out of frustration.)

    In general, though, the sorts of people who object to just about every story that employs these elements are the same ones I see who clamor for more "menace," "gravitas," and "verisimilitude," who overuse "cringeworthy" and "dire" and "emo" in their invectives — and who by and large idolize the Classic series and some of its more cynical tendencies, like Earthshock and Seeds of Doom. So I think there's something there.

    The thing is, I don't think these people are really the "core" of the fandom — though they may think so — if anything, they are merely quite loud and bilious. When I go to a local fanclub in the Chicago burbs, I meet lots of awkward sci-fi geeks with little evidence of a literary background, and they don't go on about emotional storytelling or religious referents at all — they love the current show, by and large. They may prefer the Classic series, but they're remarkably easygoing about just about everything — this, I think, is the true core of Who fandom, approaching it all with a sense of wonder.

    The other thing that concerns me is the amount of venom directed towards the strong female characters — especially those who exhibit genuine character flaws, like Rose and Amy. As if these flaws are worthy of hatred, and somehow wipe out or invalidate all their strengths. But this isn't particularly unique to Who fandom, let alone sci-fi geeks.

    In Cornell's "Timewyrm:Revelation," the horrible little boy, Chad Boyle, is described as wearing an anorak, if I'm not mistaken. It's what I think of when I hear the "anorak" epithet bandied about — the stream of self-indulgent viciousness in Who fandom, which is certainly not representative of sci-fi geekery, but can be found there nonetheless, as all the lists and trivia and technology are a safe haven for those who scorn relationship out of their own sociopathy.

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  53. David Anderson
    May 15, 2013 @ 11:58 am

    Tamsin Grieg is playing the tempter rather than the exposition. I agree it's an amazingly small part for someone of Grieg's calibre. For that matter, Anna Maxwell-Martin is a double-BAFTA winner. She's poorly directed – her character's reactions even when unobserved are those of her cover long after the audience know she's not what she appears.

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  54. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 12:24 pm

    I beg to differ. I found Tamsin Grieg's role utterly forgettable when I first watched the episode becuase I'd never seen her in anything before. Rewatching it this weekend, after devouring Black Books a couple of months ago, my reaction was, "Hey, it' s Fran!" followed a matter of seconds by "No. No, that's not Fran. Same actress, but this character is made of sex. Wow."

    Dangit, the Christian reading keeps getting more likely–Adam is tempted into accepting the Fruit of Knowledge by a woman/serpent!

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  55. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    …well, okay, thinking about it a bit more: I'm not sure what the alternative really is. I can see how throwing out random alien-sounding words ("I invoke the Bardalorian Treaty signed at the Xolofarnii 7 Accords!") is really no more meaningful. All we're getting is "there's some agreement somewhere that says I get certain privileges" and maybe the problem is making that an element of the plot in the first place. I see what you're saying, that we might be interested in what an army of "Meanwhiles and Never-Weres" would be, but that IS straight outta Gaiman, y'all better make way, and while I don't want Doctor Who to be all science fictiony all the time, there's still a line for me. I can take "Master of the Land of Fiction," and maybe "Morpheus" would even have put a better gloss on all of it, but "Grand Vizier of Story, Verse, and Song" would probably have been a little too purple. I already have to grit my teeth whenever the Angels show up because they're so preposterous. My problem, not yours. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  56. encyclops
    May 15, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

    Thanks for elaborating. I'm probably oversensitive about it because I do find myself sympathizing with both sides of the argument here, and I'd like to think that neither is a pathology.

    For example, while I do like "Earthshock" and "The Seeds of Doom" well enough (certainly better than I'm "supposed to" these days), and I do have in the back of my head a top 20 list for the classic series, I'm not sure either of them is on it, while "Kinda," "Snakedance," and "Enlightenment" are all in the top 5. I'm uncomfortable with the fairy-tale whimsy I'm complaining about above, was really uncomfortable when I was reading the Beast in the Satan Pit as THE Beast as opposed to A Beast (on second viewing I saw it differently), but feel almost as nonplussed with the way "The Shakespeare Code" tries to science away the witchcraft. Maybe what's happening here is that I'm okay with Doctor Who crossing genres, but that I kick against it when it mixes them too awkwardly within the same story? I don't know, and I might be the only one who cares, ๐Ÿ™‚ but I don't think these are two separate camps. I don't want Saward's Who, but I see its appeal at its height, and after all we got Bailey's and Clegg's Who nestled in that era, and diversity is all I really ask at the end of the day.

    Female character hatred: I read a pretty interesting, lengthy discussion the other day on the topic, on a blog I don't read regularly: http://stfu-moffat.tumblr.com/post/49600261291/for-all-the-women-i-have-loved-who-were-dragged-through I have no comment on whether I think it's on target or not (having had no personal experience being a woman) but it certainly sounded convincing. Of course, there are probably simpler things happening when the venom is coming from men, but I can't relate to that either, since I've loved all the female companions in the new series and most of the male companions as well, even if the latter take more flak (from the Doctor) than I particularly like.

    If you read past the first paragraph of this reply, thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry to go on.

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  57. Pen Name Pending
    May 15, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    Originally this episode was intended to be from Adam's point of view, so Rose's small "traditional companion" role could be a result of that. Adam doesn't know much about her.

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  58. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    You're sorry to go on? Have you seen the length of my comments?

    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yeah, I read aiffe's wonderful deconstruction — I'm not sure she's got it down so pat as she suggests, but I certainly agree with her observation that female characters get a hell of a lot more venom than male characters — and I'm not talking about the villains who're supposed to raise our hackles.

    For the record, I'm particularly keen on Satan Pit or Shakespeare Code, either, and I certainly don't think every story of the Revival is worthy of high praise. That said, I find very few stories in the entire canon that necessitate a heated flogging, and Phil's already covered those quite well.

    But not liking a story, or even despising it, isn't quite the same when it coming from a set of well-considered principles, rather than the rage of the unexamined id.

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  59. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    Sorry, not particularly keen on Satan Pit or TSC…

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  60. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    @Froborr: That silver ring above Adam's head could be a crown of thorns, too…

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  61. storiteller
    May 15, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

    Froborr unfortunately already said what I was going to, which is that I didn't find the world-building all that lacking because this type of world has its own familiar iconographies. Perhaps it's because I'm a fan of dystopias, but I think my first reaction was, "Ooh, a dystopia focused on news! Cool!" I didn't feel like the episode was missing much by not providing the background because I already knew much of it – some combination of 1984 and a lot of other future SF tropes. In terms of "you probably need enough space to communicate what it’s supposed to be like and how it’s being manipulated," I don't think that's true. I think anyone with some level of media savvy knows that TV news is particularly manipulative. In the U.S., all you need to know about how it's being manipulated is to turn on Fox News.

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  62. Matthew Blanchette
    May 15, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

    No response to Assad's main point? It's quite relevant, I think, in determining which companion is the "author's pet"

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  63. jane
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

    Read the rest of the comments, Matthew, you'll find plenty of rebuttals to Assad's rather insubstantial assertions.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

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  64. Nicholas Tosoni
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

    Max, a puppet for the Daleks? I didn't see that as the case at all. What I got from "Long Game/Bad Wolf/Parting of the Legs" was, the Doctor toppled Satellite Five and the Daleks came in and took over.

    In another section of this fine blog, there's some commentary on Batman's refusal to kill the Joker once and for all. Besides the Bat's "no-kill" philosophy, the other reason is this: as bad as the Joker is, killing him could–WILL, even–bring about someone far, far worse.

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  65. Matthew Blanchette
    May 15, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    …sorry, I must've missed it. It's late where I am; forgive me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  66. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

    Hmm… okay, question: do you see a fundamental difference between a phrase like "the jaws of the Nightmare Child" and "block transfer computation" or "charged vacuum emboitment"?

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  67. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

    The thing about the Joker is that other villains–even villains with superpowers sufficient to squash the Joker like a bug–are terrified of him. As long as the Joker is around, only the crazies will try to set up shop in Gotham, and Batman knows how to deal with crazies. Get rid of the Joker, and you might start getting Flash rogues or Metallo or Solomon Grundy and then Batman's boned.

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  68. Froborr
    May 15, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

    Sorry for the double-post…

    From "Bad Wolf," about 38:15:

    DOCTOR: Going way back. Installing the Jagrafess a hundred years ago. Somebody's been playing the long game.

    That seems a pretty clear indicator to me that the Daleks were responsible for the Jagrafess.

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  69. Iain Coleman
    May 16, 2013 @ 1:42 am

    I'm really not getting the "waste of a great actor" thing. The script is written, then they try to get the best actors they can for the parts (within the usual constraints). Would you rather have less good actors in smaller parts? That wouldn't translate to better actors for the bigger parts.

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  70. Lewis Christian
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:38 am

    For me…

    Pegg's not utterly wasted, neither is Head in Series 2. They're actually decent parts. My issue comes with 'wasting actors' when you get the likes of Olivia Colman in The Eleventh Hour for all of three minutes, and David Harewood in a frankly useless and bizarre role.

    But the ratio's pretty good. We've also had (in fantastic/meaty parts): Pegg, Head, Badland, Gambon, Kingston, Cribbins, Dalton, etc.

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  71. Lewis Christian
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:40 am

    Plus, to quote from above, "Well, by wasted I mean more that it's a pity that he is not around for more episodes. A feeling that will be especially strong at the end of 'Utopia' about another actor…"

    Because Pegg makes a great Editor, it's a shame he doesn't get a return in the finale. The same for other actors. I know their schedules and time may not permit, but a little more forethought and they could be brought back just to flesh out their characters that bit more, just because they're brilliant.

    The term 'wasted' can mean both 'useless' and 'good but not as much as I wanted to see'.

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  72. ferret
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:28 am

    If this was originally Davies 80's script, which companion was he trying to get thrown off the TARDIS: Adric, Turlough, Nyssa or Teagan?

    (I'm presuming it wouldn't be one of the solo companions)

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  73. Forrest Leeson
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:35 am

    The latter two phrases are good-faith efforts at valid technobabble by someone who's not really capable thereof and knows it.

    "Jaws of the Nightmare Child" is comic-book cheese, which is what the RTD approach boiled down to: an unwillingness (by virtue of incapacity) even to attempt to do things seriously, combined with an insistence on not writing the show as a comedy[1]. It worked, because the bulk of the audience has only one requirement: hot actors delivering cool dialog against an expensive-looking background. That product, he mostly delivered.

    ___
    1. Someone should write an essay about "feels" as a form of proxy sadomasochism.

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  74. Forrest Leeson
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:42 am

    My fundamental understanding of RTD's Doctor is "Sisyphus, flat as a pancake."

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  75. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:53 am

    Isn't "valid technobabble" a contradiction in terms? If it were valid, it would be actual science.

    Also, I'm not asking you, I'm asking people who are interested in having a discussion in which there is room for the consideration of opposing opinions, as opposed to just hurling invective back and forth.

    Though I will admit, reading your post in Linkara's Superboy-Prime voice did brighten my morning with a much-needed laugh, so thank you.

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  76. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:56 am

    SK: Sorry, missed this back then.

    Sounds like you got avarice and gluttony right but missed the point of lust: lust is inappropriate real love of another, not the desire to control or possess them.

    So, "inappropriate love" is a Deadly Sin but "trying to control people" isn't? Clearly a mistake on the part of the Church, not me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  77. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 3:58 am

    Given that Adam is a smug, insufferable, self-described genius, I think it's obvious, don't you?

    (Tegan.) =P

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  78. Lewis Christian
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:18 am

    I've just rewatched this and it's so similar to Paradise Towers.

    Adam basically is Mel, wandering off doing her own thing. Selfish, a bit arrogant, ignorant, stupid. (Just not as stupid as Adam when he decides to ring home.)

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  79. peeeeeeet
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:24 am

    Would you rather have less good actors in smaller parts? That wouldn't translate to better actors for the bigger parts.

    I'm not sure about that. For once it is a zero-sum game – with a fixed budget, any money saved by not paying a B-list actor to play a D-list part is available to be spent elsewhere. Olivia Coleman is a bit of a red herring in this respect, since she wasn't a particular name when the Eleventh Hour was made, and what respect she had was for her comedic supporting roles. Indeed, given her casting and getting Curtis and Simon Nye in as writers, I thought at the time this presaged a big swing towards comedy for the Moff era, something which (sadly, for me, probably not for others) mostly didn't materialise.

    Plus there's the problem that if someone is a face or a name, they draw attention to a role, making it seem more significant than it was supposed to be and amplifying any flaws in the writing. The ultimate example of that would have been Laurence Olivier in one scene as the mutant in Revelation of the Daleks…

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  80. peeeeeeet
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:33 am

    … having said that, as a fan of Babylon 5 there was often a chasm between the "guest star" of an episode and minor supporting roles. A particular example is in my favourite episode, "Passing Through Gethsemane", in which, two actors are hired to play deliberately similar characters in a before-and-after way – Brad Dourif, who gives an unforgettably sensitive performance, and Some Guy, who is pretty terrible.

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  81. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:38 am

    Names are important.

    Both "Nightmare Child" and "Block Transfer Computation" (see what I did there?) are glosses. They come from different traditions, and function as evocations of those traditions, horror and science fiction. "Max" in his gloriously long form is a camp mashup of the two. Not just comic — it's poking fun at naming conventions themselves, in a self-conscious way.

    Again, given the story coming up this weekend, I'd like to note how the whole "Who are you?" question of identity comes up in this episode. Seriously, this Question is asked twice, and a not insignificant amount time is spent on discussing the lack of Identity possessed by the Doctor and his protegé.

    And this is contrasted with the question of Suki's identity. Suki's revealed to be a freedom fighter, a revolutionary, and a liar — sounds like the Doctor, frankly. In her "video" (love the mediation) she says she's a "reader" and an "archeologist," and though the Editor says she's a liar, I think there's a grain of truth there: she's definitely performing a "close reading" of this text, and digging for the truth. She's then identified as Eva Saint Julienne, evoking a divine origin combined with the feminine form of the first Roman Emperors, a mixed salad if I ever saw one.

    But she is Revealed, and as such can be pegged by the Editor. The Doctor, on the other hand, has a gloss that's no gloss — there's nothing to read, so there's nothing to edit, and this gives him the freedom to cross into any genre he'd like. Which, generally speaking, is usually in the vicinity of horror, SF, and camp, usually all three.

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  82. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 4:45 am

    Ah, thank you, jane. "Gloss" is exactly the word I was looking for. The only difference between "hyperspace" and "the howling void" (to use my single favorite bit of Doctor-babble in the series) is that one is a science fiction gloss and the other is a fantasy gloss.

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  83. Forrest Leeson
    May 16, 2013 @ 6:56 am

    I punch a hole in your reality and emboit my own!

    'Isn't "valid technobabble" a contradiction in terms?'

    If memory serves it's Gardner Dozois's phrase: "you've got to have valid, up-to-date technobabble" or similar.

    "If it were valid, it would be actual science."

    That would be truth, whereas science fiction is about verisimilitude — hence the requirement for valid technobabble.

    (Props to Moffat for calling DW a dark fairy tale: truth in advertising.)

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  84. Assad K
    May 16, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    Insubstantial is often a point of perspective..
    Mine, for instance, is a strong antipathy towards Rose.
    And a feeling that his punishment for Adam is in some excess of the crime. Made especially discomoforting by his jealous-boyfriend attitude earlier in the episode.

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  85. Iain Coleman
    May 16, 2013 @ 7:05 am

    It doesn't seem fair to compare "Block Transfer Computation" with "Jaws of the Nightmare Child". The former is a scientific/technical concept that is imaginatively developed through a story that translates the idea from its home in the world of computation to an epic drama. The latter is a throw-away, an evocative-sounding bit of fluff.

    I dare say if there had ever been a Doctor Who episode called "The Nightmare Child" then that idea would have been developed imaginatively and dramatically and would have the same weight to it (in Doctor Who terms) as Block Transfer Computation. But there wasn't.

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  86. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    Point, Iain. Perhaps a better comparison for "Jaws of the Nightmare Child" is "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" or "artron energy."

    Anyway, now that I'm less braindead from sleep deprivation, I think I can more clearly see the point I was reaching for, which is that "Jaws of the Nightmare Child" doesn't signify anything, but that doesn't necessarily make it meaningless, since meaning is assigned in the mind of the perceiver.

    Just as there is a certain kind of fan who will piece together all the references to "artron energy" throughout the show and try to come up with a semi-coherent explanation fo what artron energy might be, so is there a kind of fan for whom "Jaws of the Nightmare Child" compels a similar response.

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  87. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    I have a similar antipathy for Rose, but Adam is a scumbucket and deserves everything he gets.

    Notice how I give no basis for those claims? That makes them insubstantial. It's not a matter of perspective, it's a matter of leaving a great deal assumed without laying out a case for it.

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  88. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    Jealous boyfriend?

    Hmmm, I never read the Doctor as being jealous of Adam. I thought he was unimpressed by Adam, justifiably so, given what little Adam had to show for himself in Dalek simply by virtue of working for Van Statten. No, he's indulging Rose, who's taken it upon herself to invite someone to travel with them.

    Consider the very beginning: he primes Rose with where and when they are, giving her the opportunity to show show off, a moment of glory in front of the boy. I wouldn't consider that a pique of jealousy. If he was jealous, he would have taken that opportunity himself, to put Adam in his place.

    When Adam faints, he tells Rose "He's your boyfriend" as a way of sticking the responsibility for Adam on her, that she picked the boy — and that he's actually aware she probably invited him out of some lingering physical attraction. "Not anymore," Rose says, making it perfectly clear that she screwed up and that she too, like the Doctor, now finds Adam to be a less than stellar companion.

    But, in the very next scene, after the credits, the Doctor is gracious. He encourages Adam to open his mind, takes care to provide him and Rose with some dosh. He's annoyed that Adam's not quick to adapt; he's happy to tease Rose about watching over her new ward, implying that she's not be the best judge of character and has to live with the consequences of her choices.

    To sum up, I think reading the Doctor as "jealous" has more to do with one's antipathy towards Rose, and the soap-opera conventions that come with her character.

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  89. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    For the record, I find "charged vacuum emboitment" far more clever than any of the other examples, given its metatextual connotations. It's a turn of phrase that does twice the work, operating on two levels at once.

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  90. Ununnilium
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    Yeah, these are just two different styles of naming, both equally valid, both equally useful in modern imaginative fiction.

    And I note, based on the science fiction conversation the other day, that this actually is just gloss.

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  91. Assad K
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    (prefaced by: Defensive? Moi?)

    Would those claims need much of a basis? As I said, I think it was a bit nasty of the show to have Adams mom come in and see the monstrosity that her son has been turned into. Given that the Doctor could probably have sealed the port with his sonic (Lord knows he can do anything else with it). You disagree. Fair enough. It could have been interesting, of course, had the episode retained Adams motivation for wanting future tech, for healing his dad.

    'Don't touch the Dalek, Rose. Oh, you touched it..'. 'Don't change the past, Rose. Oh, there we go..' Possibly a few more examples.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  92. Ununnilium
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Notice how I give no basis for those claims? That makes them insubstantial. It's not a matter of perspective, it's a matter of leaving a great deal assumed without laying out a case for it.

    Indeed – and this is far too common in these comments.

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  93. Assad K
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:33 am

    Ideally, of course, I should go back and see the episodes again before commenting… but I have a good 7 hours of new stuff on my DVR and more to be added, work in the regular hours (which I should probably be doing just now..), and play rehearsals in the evenings, and do I really have to see Boomtown again?? ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

    So my impression of the Doctors attitude may be based upon the old annoyances I felt, and may be inaccurate. Mind you, my anti-Rose feelings are not really related to any soap-opera conventions she travels with, but really just with.. Rose. Well, the whole Tyler clan, really. Normally, I'm a sucker for family moments. But RTDs family moments generally leave me cold. Or annoyed.

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  94. Ununnilium
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    To be fair, River goes in the "untrustworthy" box too – but, obviously, in a fairly different and more powerful way.

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  95. Ununnilium
    May 16, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    Indeed. It would've been stronger if we'd gotten more into Adam's head, but it still works.

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  96. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    Bad Wolf 38:15

    Sounds like scripture. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  97. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 9:37 am

    If Adam had been a completely different character, someone who wasn't a fuckbagel, then yes, the Doctor should've sealed his forehead port (which, by the way, forms an X motif between open and closed) but unfortunately for Adam, he was a fuckbagel in the end, and a smarmy one at that, and so received no compassion.

    Now, does this reveal a character flaw on the parts of the Doctor and Rose? Of course. Any opportunity to exercise compassion that's missed is just that, but it doesn't mean they're poorly written, nor that we should despise them. On the contrary — because Goddess knows we're anything but perfect ourselves.

    I think Adam's final characterization is for the better, precisely because he provides more contrast for Rose's choices in Father's Day, and Cathica's work in Long Game. The contrast is in motivation. Yes, Rose screws up, but her screwup with the Dalek is based on her compassion for it, and her screwup with Pete is based on wanting to help another human being live — which is miles better than what Adam wanted.

    This sets up some fantastic internal conflict: The need to exercise compassion against the need to understand and accept the laws of the Universe, complicated by self-interest. This makes the drama relevant — because we all, I think, have to balance the need to be good with self-interest and the constraints of the world.

    @Ununnilium: Sure, watching the episodes again makes for more accurate comments, but it's instructional (and there's a certain glee to be had) in seeing the lasting impression the episodes have made on others, without the revisions that necessarily come from watching again. And for the pedantic among us, it's a great opportunity to correct others' mistakes. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  98. David Anderson
    May 16, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    The Doctor undoes Adam's actions as far as he can and tries his best not to undo Rose's. The reason he leaves the hole in Adam's head is so Adam has to keep a low profile and so can't abuse what he remembers. (I think that's pretty much there in the text.) But I can think of other reasons than favouritism why the Doctor should differentiate in that way.

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  99. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Insofar as I have a religion, which is not very far at all, Doctor Who is one of many sacred texts. I'm pretty liberal in my theology, though; just because all of it is sacred doesn't mean all of it is good or right. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  100. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    Also, Clara and maybe sometimes Ace. Ish.

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  101. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    Truth is, if I had a vast spacefaring empire to play with in a hard (well, as hard as a setting can be and have interstellar empires in it, anyway) SF setting? I'd totally rename all the subatomic particles and forces and suchlike so that all the technobabble sounded equal parts Tolkien, Lovecraft, and heavy metal album cover.

    (For my money, the all-time technobabble award goes to Neon Genesis Evangelion, because their technobabble is a heady mix of standard giant-robot fare, biology terms apparently selected at random, and Jung. When you have the ground control crew racing to establish a Pribnow box to prevent the pilot from entering Destrudo, you know you have something special on your hands.)

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  102. Froborr
    May 16, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Wish I had an edit button.

    "By decree of His Supreme Majesty, Tyrant of the Twenty-One Worlds and Protector of the Twelve Thousand, Conquerer of the Nameless Dread, Emperor Froborr the First and Only, henceforth the strong nuclear force shall be known as the cyclopean force, the comm on all military ships shall be referred to as the Throne of Skulls, and ansible-radar shall be referred to as The All-Seeing Eye of Vexnaroth. Failure to comply shall be grounds for summary execution. Thank you and have a nice a day."

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  103. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    I have a request, Lord Froborr… could we rename all the ansibles "Jane"?

    Thank you.

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  104. jane
    May 16, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Doctor Who is not a religion, nor a sacred text.

    Doctor Who is a Ladder.

    Many who try to climb it, fail, and never get to try again. The Fall breaks them. And some are given the chance to climb, but refuse. They cling to "text," or religion, or fiction. Illusions. Lies.

    Only the Ladder is real. The Climb is all there is.

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  105. Chav Paderborn
    May 16, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    It's a truly awful story in character terms. This was, I recall, the point at which I gave Rose up and started waiting for a better replacement to come along. And the Doctor is just… well, I was no longer sad he was going, put it that way. It's a cruel story about cruel people written by what I was left to assume was a cruel writer.

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  106. Ross
    May 16, 2013 @ 2:22 pm


    Anyway, now that I'm less braindead from sleep deprivation, I think I can more clearly see the point I was reaching for, which is that "Jaws of the Nightmare Child" doesn't signify anything, but that doesn't necessarily make it meaningless, since meaning is assigned in the mind of the perceiver.

    I'd argue that the Nightmare Child, like the King of the Never-Weres and the like, does signify at least one thing: to me, they very clearly convey that the horrors of the time war are something from an entirely different domain as things like the Yeti and the Zygons and the Voord. A sort of "Not Even Alien" kind of "Other".

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  107. Froborr
    May 17, 2013 @ 4:13 am

    Ooh, good point Ross.

    Jane: Sure, why not?

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  108. encyclops
    May 17, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

    This discussion has already passed me by, but I think it's been handled well by smarter commenters. ๐Ÿ™‚

    To answer the question, if you're still interested: I do see a difference, and for me the difference is that "block transfer computation" sounds like the sort of term used by people who are talking about the real world, and "the jaws of the Nightmare Child" sounds like the sort of term used by people who are talking about a story they've read or seen on television. Even capital-A Nightmare Child, the indefinite article, but assuming that there is only one thing that could carry that name that someone else might know you were referring to assumes a small context, say a television serial that's been running not much more than about 50 years, and makes the universe seem far far smaller than we're trying to pretend it is. Append "to me" to any of the foregoing you think deserves it.

    That said, Ross wins the prize for selling me on the mysticobabble. Nice.

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  109. Henry R. Kujawa
    June 30, 2013 @ 11:42 am

    Philip Sandifer:
    "For the most part Adam’s plot jars with the Satellite Five plot – there’s not enough room for both, and they don’t bolster each other sufficiently."

    Sounds like SILVER NEMESIS.

    Alan:
    "Also, I give this story (and its companion, "Bad Wolf") credit for exploring the ramifications of the Doctor casually overthrowing an entire society and then just leaving with the assumption that everything would sort it self out."

    Sounds like "THE ARK". (2 connected 2-parters.)

    SK:
    "It's having an instrumental view that's bad: it's planning, it's using things, rather than simply enjoying them."

    The GOP, the "neo-cons", and all the filthy stinking rich who commit high treason against their own countries and people every single day of their disgusting miserable excuses for lives.

    Jane:
    "the notion that with a Time Machine, she can have her cake (the travel) and eat it too, because she doesn't have to leave behind her life — she can return the day she left, theoretically, so she doesn't have to give up the relationships (and the logic of the soap opera narrative) that would otherwise keep her grounded. And this is definitely played with in both The End of The World and Aliens in London."

    My thoughts exactly!

    Froborr:
    ""It's funny. I can't stand soap operas, but the soap opera bits of Babylon 5 are my favorite parts."

    The only "soaps" I could ever stand were those that mixed genres: DARK SHADOWS (horror), HILL STREET BLUES (cops), V (sci-fi), CHARMED (supernatural). I've often said if the original BATTLESTAR GALACTICA had been even more focused on the huge cast of characters than it was, it might have been a bigger success.

    And regarding "lust"… I never quite fell in love with Rose, but I did fall in lust with her.

    Reply

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