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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’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.

26 Comments

  1. theoncominghurricane
    October 31, 2016 @ 1:39 am

    Uh, who the hell is Lisa? Ram’s girlfriend’s name was Rachel?

    Reply

    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      October 31, 2016 @ 4:33 am

      Ha.

      So far as I can tell, I confused her with Ianto’s half-converted Cybergirlfriend from Torchwood, whose name was fresh in my mind from having double checked which episode Torchwood did “the dead come back” in.

      Reply

  2. C. Gonz
    October 31, 2016 @ 4:15 am

    Definitely the weakest episode so far, but not by a lot. I am interested to see how far they push the divide from Ms. Quill and the rest of the Class, as she seems to find them insufferable but I also got the vibe of her not being happy about being left out of their celebrations at the end of the episode. This seemed like an obvious eventual direction because Tanya’s “where did you get a bus?” line is directed at Charlie and not Ms. Quill.

    I found one particular editing trick very clever. Introducing the lag of the Skype conversations (where a frame will occasionally freeze for a second before resuming to real time) as a normal part of communication in the three episodes so far and then using it for a fairly effective jump scare impressed me quite a bit.

    I am very curious: how do the viewing numbers of these posts fare against the rest of the site’s content?

    Reply

  3. Janine
    October 31, 2016 @ 8:21 am

    Well, surprisingly, I loved that. After two episodes which really didn’t grab me at all, this one just worked, in a way that made me think “Yep, I could watch more of this even if it wasn’t a Doctor Who spin-off”.

    It wasn’t perfect, granted, but it’s one of those rare times when the flaws just don’t jump out at me. On a few occasions now I’ve called this Class’s In the Forest of the Night, in that it’s more about capturing a particular mood – a meditation in the night, if you like – than it is about telling any kind of coherent story.

    Miss Quill is great, as someone who loves saving the world but kind of isn’t all that struck on the people she’s saving.

    And for all they feel kind of irrelevant, I think Charlie and Matteusz work quite well here, playing on the themes trust and unity that are going on between Tanya and her Dad; Tanya asks “Is this a real relationship?”, and I think maybe the same thing is going on in Matteusz’s mind, as someone whose parents would probably answer “No”. That building up of trust between them is sweet, even if I’m not Charlie’s biggest fan.

    Reply

    • Tom Marshall
      October 31, 2016 @ 10:57 am

      I agree – I think it was easily the best of the three.

      Reply

  4. dm
    October 31, 2016 @ 10:31 am

    What’s encouraging is that we have an episode that, were it in one of Torchwood’s first two seasons (or, for that matter, a later RTD DW season or an early Moffatt season), would have been an absolute highlight, and here it feels a bit wet. I love that a cheap, character-driven episode like this (catnip for this site’s fanbase) is already not a highlight- it shows how much more we’ve come to expect of our Who-Related TV.

    It’s mostly Pretty Good. Elsayed’s performance, though, is a bit… shite. I don’t put this down to the actor as he has previously been really fucking good. A lot of his scenes felt like first readings, like they had no time to work things out and he was reverting to the current trend of question-intonation acting that has infested UK teen-young adult drama since Inbetweeners. Too often, a scene feels pretty much derailed by misplaced emphasis. No disrespect to Elsayed as an actor- he more than proved himself in episode 2.

    So far, while I wouldn’t recommend this show to anyone I know IRL, I think we’re going to have a must-watch season 2.

    Reply

    • Aylwin
      October 31, 2016 @ 1:24 pm

      Going off at a tangent, I’m not sure about “late RTD” and “early Moffat” as low points – I mean, in terms of personal taste, which is very much a so-what, but also in terms of consensus in these parts. Having previously done some anoraky number-crunching on Phil’s poll results for new series seasons (and acknowledging their limited suitability for such a comparison), their ranking order in terms of the mean episode ranking was:-
      9, 5, 1, 8, 4, 7, 3, 6, 2

      And in terms of the median:-
      5, 9, 8, 1, 4, 7, 6, 3, 2

      So, if anything, it’s the middle of both eras which is least highly regarded “down our way”.

      Reply

      • dm
        October 31, 2016 @ 8:56 pm

        It’s less that these are low points, more that these are the eras where this sort of writing wasn’t really happening

        Reply

        • Aylwin
          November 1, 2016 @ 10:31 am

          Oh, I see. Well, that makes my already over-engineered response entirely pointless.Thanks for the clarification.

          Reply

  5. Aylwin
    October 31, 2016 @ 10:57 am

    Oh. So no Sherlock coverage on the blog then?

    Reply

    • Daibhid C
      November 1, 2016 @ 11:15 am

      No Sherlock TARDIS Eruditorum essays on the blog, which I don’t think is the same thing. This review, for instance, isn’t a TARDIS Eruditorum entry – it might contain elements that could be included in one, but it’s a review, and the Eruditorum was always clear that it wasn’t. And it lacks historical context, as a review of something that was broadcast (or released, or whatever things appearing on BBC Three is called) last week pretty much has to.

      Phil’s reviewed all the Capaldi episodes so far, but only written four Eruditorum entries (and only one that is actually about an episode).

      Reply

      • Aylwin
        November 1, 2016 @ 12:21 pm

        Ah, good point. [Cheers up momentarily, before reverting to Brexit-gloom and Trump-dread]

        Reply

        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          November 1, 2016 @ 10:34 pm

          Yes, I expect I’ll review Sherlock. Probably I’ll just keep the $300 Patreon tier as what’s necessary to get Doctor Mysterio and Sherlock S4, and then see how greedy I feel for Moffat’s final season. But when I write those books any entries would be rewritten. (Whether they’ll be book exclusive I don’t know. I’ve gone back and forth on how I want to do the Capaldi era.)

          Reply

  6. ScarvesandCelery
    October 31, 2016 @ 11:29 am

    I’m with Janine, this was the best of the three so far (though definitely not an outright classic). I definitely thought this was Miss Quill’s best episode so far, and liked her remove from the other main characters at the end.

    I also appreciated the dodging of several stereotypes from the “dead come calling” stories – they find out about the Lankin early on, the tension comes from the Lankin trying to convince Tanya it’s also her father, not from Tanya thinking this is her father’s ghost when we know it’s an alien. And I like that she doesn’t take the Lankin’s hand due to her grief-fuelled conviction this is her father, but because it was threatening April and Ram. I also appreciated the twist on the “Rings of Akhaten” resolution – Tanya’s grief isn’t too much for the Lankin, she just weakens it with her anger (it’s nice that a female character’s anger is treated as legitimate, and is part of the episode’s resolution), and then Miss Quill destroys it in a reprise of both “Countrycide” and the “I’ve commandeered a vehicle” bit from “The Eleventh Hour”.

    Re. Ness’s dialogue, I tend to think it’s solid, though he does like his “theme in dialogue” moments a lot, which could definitely be described as “on the nose” at times (as much as I hate that phrase. I think his main problem is adjusting from prose – there have been moments where characters talk to themselves in a way that makes me realise Ness misses getting to do first person narration (it’s a bit like the moments in Big Finish where characters describe what is happening because the audience can’t see it).

    Reply

    • Riggio
      November 1, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

      I also thought it was a fascinating episode, though I’m ambiguous about where they’d all rank in my mind. The story’s (and the whole season’s, really) exploration of grief, trauma, and mourning is a beautiful theme for what’s essentially a teen melodrama / scifi-action mashup to explore. Although every episode has dealt with it, this is probably the most intense look at the subject – and the most detailed. “Nightvisiting” and the Lankin’s nature makes clear that what tortures humanity most about grieving is the lack of closure, the lack of a clear resolution. Jasper’s death was a perfect example – if he’d died in the line of duty, it would have been horrible, but Tanya was almost prepared for the possibility. Dying of a sudden stroke in the bathroom is just fucking absurd, and that’s what messes her up the most.

      Piggybacking as usual on Eruditorum’s audience, I go into more detail at my own review.
      https://adamwriteseverything.blogspot.ca/2016/11/we-cant-live-with-our-scars-class.html

      Reply

      • ScarvesandCelery
        November 2, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

        Just caught up with those in the last couple of days, excellent stuff as usual!

        Reply

        • Daru
          December 6, 2016 @ 9:38 am

          Yes thanks Adam, I am reading through your write-ups and enjoying them as ever.

          Reply

  7. ScarvesandCelery
    October 31, 2016 @ 11:35 am

    My ratings are basically the reverse of the broadcast order at this point:

    Nightvisiting
    The Coach With The Dragon Tattoo
    For Tonight We Might Die

    Reply

  8. ViolentBeetle
    October 31, 2016 @ 11:59 am

    This episode was almost interesting. It was an extremely tedious exploration of extremely tedious characters’ relationship with dead people as well as living but it was a step in the right direction for me.

    Reply

  9. Wood
    November 1, 2016 @ 8:09 am

    A correction: April is playing a piece by Jim Moray called “Nightvisiting”, not writing it, which is why it’s foremost in her mind enough that she can tell Ram about it. And OK, yes, it’s a bit on the nose, but the song was there first.

    Reply

  10. ViolentBeetle
    November 1, 2016 @ 9:14 am

    Regarding your post on Lisa, I mean Rachel and defence of fridging. Wait what? Haven’t feminist critics like I think you are complain about female characters being reduced to shallow accessories for the male ones?

    I don’t believe character wasting was ever really relevant to anti-fridging arguments.

    Reply

    • Chris C
      November 1, 2016 @ 9:53 pm

      It’s not “not a fridging” as Phil already said, but it’s clearly not an egregious fridging and a damning mark of irredeemable shame either, judged in the context of the show’s other elements (e.g. it’s clearly not lacking in thoughtfully drawn female characters to the point where the deliberate shallowness of Ram’s girlfriend fits into a pattern of poor representation.)

      It’s almost like these things have nuance!

      Reply

      • ViolentBeetle
        November 2, 2016 @ 10:31 am

        The justification is “At least they didn’t waste someone important”. But isn’t criticism against fridging being that it turn a female character into something unimportant enough to waste?

        Reply

  11. Daibhid C
    November 1, 2016 @ 11:04 am

    there’s no obvious reason for him not to be given roughly the same wait that Tanya, Ram, April, and Charlie get,

    I don’t normally make a thing out of spelling errors, but it took me three goes to work out you meant “weight”, since I kept thinking “I thought the problem was he had too much of a wait?”

    against the run of tropes, which would have had Ram and Tanya hooking up

    I think you’re giving the show too much credit for subversiveness if you think the reason they aren’t doing a relationship between a 14 year old and a 17 year old is because it’s obvious

    Reply

  12. Anton B
    November 2, 2016 @ 11:13 pm

    This episode was a clear improvement. I think the problem with Ness’s writing isn’t just his tin ear for naturalistic dialogue but the fact that there’s just so much of it. I don’t think there was one scene where anyone just said nothing. Even the action scenes had characters delivering breathless limp one liners at each other. It’s all so much like Moffatt but without the stylistic innovation he often manages to elicit from his directors. There’s also a tendency to assume the audience is gasping at the same thing. The dead sister who’s never been mentioned before and the double decker bus for example. I’m still not sure that bus wasn’t there just to provide a tourist visual for the foreign market. It certainly didn’t warrant the amazement shown by the characters in that very old fashioned denouement scene. I half expected them to do an end of story group laugh thing.

    Reply

  13. Wood
    November 3, 2016 @ 9:24 am

    By the way, as far as Ness’s books go, try The Knife of Never Letting Go.

    Reply

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