Crash log of the Singularity

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Jane Campbell


  1. UrsulaL
    November 10, 2015 @ 10:13 am

    I think they missed a nice opportunity by not having Osgood’s reply to the question “who are you” be “I’m me”, like Ashildr’s when she was rejecting classification by others.


    • Jane Campbell
      November 11, 2015 @ 7:32 am

      Osgood does say “I’m me” at one point!

      I really like having that helmet spotlighted in the background of the final scene.


  2. Anton B
    November 10, 2015 @ 10:34 am

    POLONIUS: What do you read, my lord?

    HAMLET: Words, words, words

    POLONIUS: What is the matter, my lord?

    HAMLET: Between who?

    Hamlet. Act 2 scene 2

    Words are important in both magickal practice and fiction. They have power.

    It’s notable that the Zygon’s seem to have adopted “Normalize!” as their catchphrase here. (The catchphrase itself being a very game show trope*). Not “Exterminate!” (Which we now know is how the Daleks reload) Or “Delete!” or even “Assimilate!” but “NORMALIZE!” Exclaimed as they reveal their true forms. They have weaponised the act of coming out.

    Words Words Words. In magick practice the naming of things confers power. ‘Truth or Consequences’ is simultaneously the Zygon insurgent’s catchphrase/rallying cry, the name of the town that renamed itself (it’s name is truth and consequences and it wants you to respect its life choices) and the names the Doctor ascribes to the two doomsday buttons in the Osgood boxes.* The boxes named Osgood. The Doctor needs to know Osgood’s first name. Why? We’ve been playing with naming for some time now. Doctor John Disco. Doctor Funkenstein. Basil. Bonnie. Ishildr, Me, Missy “I couldn’t go on calling myself The Master now could I?” I name you the Boneless!

    *I loved the simple, almost as an afterthought, typed labels added under the buttons. Such a First Doctor trope. The forgetful old grandfather loved plastering his gizmos with labels Batman ’66 style. The ‘Fast Return Switch’, ‘The Fault Locator’, the ‘Food Machine’ with its ‘Water’ and ‘Milk’ labels. The Space Museum and the Dark Archive are spiritually linked. Full of labelled artefacts and exhibits.

    I wonder why Ishildr’s Mire Helmet is so prominently placed in the centre of the shot in that denouement scene? Is it in fact another helmet containing a bio chip to confer cursed immortality on someone else? Perhaps Clara in the finale?

    The specific game show host that Capaldi is channelling in that scene, with his mid Atlantic accent and “I mean that most sincerely folks” catchphrase is Hughie Green, oleaginous compere of various shows in the 1960s, notably ‘Opportunity Knocks’ a precursor of TV talent shows such as ‘Britain’s got Talent’ and The X factor.


    • Prandeamus
      November 10, 2015 @ 3:52 pm

      Quibble: did H Green actually say that, or was it catchphrase assigned to him by impersonators?


      • AntonB
        November 10, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

        According to Wikipedia
        ‘Green was often mocked for his permanent door-to-door salesman’s smile and Canadian accent. His catchphrase “I mean that most sincerely” was also mocked, to such an extent that it is sometimes mistakenly believed to have been invented by the impressionist Mike Yarwood, whose impersonation of Green was celebrated. Green told Phillip Schofield in a TV interview in 1992 that he came up with the catchphrase himself.’

        However, while Capaldi’s impersonation is spot-on I did feel that it was more an impersonation of Yarwood’s impersonation of Green ( Capaldi, like me must have grown up watching The Mike Yarwood show on a Saturday night, right after Doctor Who).


        • Jane Campbell
          November 11, 2015 @ 7:45 am

          “I mean that most sincerely” was only familiar to me through the Pink Floyd song, “Have a Cigar.”


          • Anton B
            November 11, 2015 @ 8:49 am

            And I’d guess that was referencing the same source. Green did have a reputation over here right through to the 80’s as the most smarmy and insincere of TV comperes. So his catchphrase was all the more unintentionally ironic.

          • Prandeamus
            November 11, 2015 @ 8:53 am

            Thank you both. I live and learn.

  3. Lambda
    November 10, 2015 @ 11:50 am

    Arguing my position that narrative substitution just isn’t actually a terribly good idea:

    I just don’t agree that not killing the moon is the right choice for anyone who doesn’t spend large amounts of time writing stories, or at least thinking about the process of writing stories enough that they come to share a similar mindset. Choosing a genre is not an activity which most people need to develop the capacity to do. If you don’t need to write stories, having the mechanisms you use to make choices pay no attention to matters of genre will get you through life just fine.

    In this case, hard science fiction should “win”, because this is the only genre which is relevant to working out the properties of phenomena which are outside previous human experience, and so intuition and feelings, which rely on experience and/or the consequences of evolution (what happened to your ancestors) are useless for predicting the outcome of. If I were in such a situation in real life, I would work out using science that not preventing the hatching would almost certainly cause extinctions, and was likely to cause mass extinctions, so I would have to proceed on that basis. (Well, there are also issues like how are a few nuclear explosions going to kill a moon-sized creature, but the episode is declaring that they just will.)

    If it’s asking us to choose genres instead, it’s asking us to use an alternative mechanism for making choices because we’re watching a television programme. A writer needs to have such an alternative choice mechanism so they can handle writing their stories according to the rules of storytelling rather than reality. But I see no reason to think an ordinary viewer will have any fiction-related alternative mechanisms.

    I suspect most viewers who make the “right choice” here will be doing so for the wrong reasons. Something along the lines of “a Doctor Who story isn’t going to end with Clara killing a mysterious thing and us not finding out whether it would destroy civilization through debris, so not killing it must be right”. But I don’t think that’s equivalent to choosing a value system, I think it’s more like obeying authority. Choosing according to what you think is expected of you. Television creates an environment where these rules hold, best to go with the flow. And that’s going to also produce reactions like “Television tells us to keep consuming instead of worrying about maybe not quite proven mass extinctions from global warming”.


    • Jarl
      November 11, 2015 @ 12:17 am

      I myself didn’t really buy Narrative Substitution as a theory until I read a comment here (I’m sorry, I can’t remember by who) that pointed out it’s essentially the same structure as a comedy sketch, or indeed a joke (Moffat being a comedy writer at heart), where humor is generated by the tension between what a story at first appears to be and what it eventually turns out to be. Thinking of it that way, it really is the same structure, only instead of aiming for humor, they’re aiming for a sense of healing like in A Good Man Goes To War, a sense of mystery like in Asylum of the Daleks, or a sense of wonder like in Kill the Moon, which is not by Moffat, but is definitely built out of his building blocks. In fact, I’d argue that Kill The Moon is where the new approach is, for the first time, seen uncluttered by any of the old approach.


    • Jane Campbell
      November 11, 2015 @ 7:44 am

      I like narrative substitution, because (to put it metaphorically) no single map can encompass the entire territory. A hydrological map and a road map and a political map, they’re all useful, but they all serve different intents and purposes. So we have to be mindful of intents and purposes first.

      To draw this out, when it comes to answering the question “Who am I?” for example, I will certainly use a different approach than for “How do I build a bridge?” And yet another approach for “How will I cope with this sudden disaster I was not expecting?” Where the disaster could be anything from a storm to a father’s death to getting a call from work at 2:15 in the morning. Context matters.

      Kill the Moon isn’t asking the question of how to literally handle an absurd situation that would never happen in real life. Because this is Doctor Who. And for over five years at least now, it’s been asking the same question over and over again: Who are you?

      For Clara, the answer is, “A moon. That’s an egg.” And it’s a great answer. Because it hatches, and begins the cycle anew, recreating itself over and over again. Such is the power of metaphor.


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    • Anton B
      November 11, 2015 @ 9:02 am

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  5. Random Comments
    November 11, 2015 @ 8:56 am

    “… Alchemy is about answering the question “Who are you?” and realizing that the answer is, must be, in some respect, “No one.”…”
    You must be enjoying the Star Wars trailers, then.


  6. Twicezero
    November 11, 2015 @ 1:06 pm

    I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to highlight the Black Archive submissions, as i would be really excited to see you cover a story.


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    November 15, 2015 @ 9:13 pm

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