Saturday Waffling (May 11th, 2013)
I liked that open thread last weekend. Let’s do it again.
So, Nightmare in Silver, obviously, once it airs. There’s been a fan theory going around in comments that the episodes are linearly representing classic series Doctors in some fashion, starting with the Susan reference in The Rings of Akhaten and continuing through to Tegan in The Crimson Horror. I would like to point out that if this theory is to hold for this week then we should be invoking Attack of the Cybermen. So I’m expecting a pointless continuity runaround, personally.
I’ve also started in on a personal project to create an edition of Blake’s illuminated manuscripts of the form I want to read, namely one that preserves the illustrations and format but swaps out Blake’s handwriting for more modern, readable typesetting. It involves learning lots of Photoshop tricks, but is actually coming along reasonably well, though may be of interest only to me. That said, I’m increasingly annoyed at bogus copyright claims on digital images of Blake’s stuff such that I’m sorely tempted to spend a weekend knocking up cheap paperback and ebook editions of things that are otherwise not available in decent quality.
And that’s my week and weekend. How are you all?
May 10, 2013 @ 11:52 pm
Well, the trailer suggests "Nightmare in Silver" is set in an amusement park. Maybe Gaiman's evoking the unmade story "The Nightmare Fair"?
May 11, 2013 @ 12:13 am
My money is on the (possible) reference being to The Nightmare Fair, which would fit in with the whole theme park….theme.
If the cold open doesn't end with Matt Smith saying "Alright, I'll take to you Bla—" then I want a refund.
May 11, 2013 @ 12:31 am
Fine thanks. Is this wedding you're attending an alchemical one? I wonder if the symbolism and ritual aspect of weddings will inform your upcoming posts, particularly 'Fathers Day', though I imagine you've already written that one, perhaps 'The Runaway Bride'
Okay I'm going to jump right in here and pre-judge 'Nightmare in Silver' solely on the 'next time' clip, teaser excerpts and interviews.
Clearly Gaiman is riding for a fall here after the (arguable but consensus winning) triumph of 'The Doctor's Wife'. 'How do I top that?' is the phrase thst ran through his head as he wrote this and may be what trips him up. Let's take his often repeated assertion that his brief here is to 'make the Cybermen scary again'. On the visual evidence so far this hasn't translated to the qlippothic horrors' new armour which, if anything appears to be making them more robotic and less spare part body horror, though to be fair this aspect has often been downplayed in Moffat's run. I get the feeling that the narrative will address the idea of an adversary that uses your own army's bodies as raw material. Very creepy but on the visual evidence so far this doesn't seem to have translated into the visual effects. There seem to be an awful lot of Doctor, Clara and the kids having Mary Poppins moments at the scary funfair but perhaps this is a feint. I hope so, what nearly derailed 'Rings of Akhaten' was the plot getting lost amongst the spectacle. We'll see. Also is that two Doctors? One with metallic facial accoutrements. Is this a Locutus of Borg moment for Matt Smith or are we in for a re-run of the Flesh/Tesselecta tropes of last season?
May 11, 2013 @ 1:00 am
I would buy an edition of Blake with original illustrations but modern type. Or at least I'd have to think hard about my budget. Though aren't there some pages where the illustrations merge into the lettering?
May 11, 2013 @ 1:09 am
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May 11, 2013 @ 1:14 am
Or we could discuss this
Eccleston's Doctor written out of history in favour of John Hurt? I think that sound you hear is the internet exploding.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:33 am
The way I read it, it's not so much Eccleston's Doctor being completely written out of history as it was that Hurt is playing a 'secret' Doctor who was lost to history, and which nudges the Doctors after him up one number; Eccleston's Doctor wasn't the Ninth Doctor but the Tenth, making David Tennant's Doctor the Eleventh, and so on.
Although, judging from all the "MOFFAT IS EVUL" posts that article seems to be attracting, it's a distinction many seem to be missing.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:35 am
My gosh, there are some angry people in the comments on that article! If this turns out to be true, it looks like half of Dr Who fandom will die of grr.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:37 am
Speaking personally, it … sounds kind of clever to me. Not to mention a neat little play on all the WAHH ECCLESTON ISN'T THE REAL DOCTOR BECAUSE HE WEARS A LEATHER JACKET HE'S JUST AN IMPOSTER AND THE REAL DOCTOR'S GONNA SHOW UP IN ALL HIS FAUX-EDWARDIAN GLORY AT THE END OF THE SERIES whining that was all the range when Eccleston actually was the Doctor.
But in short, the only reason Eccleston isn't playing the 'Ninth' Doctor in this is because he refused to show up, not because Moffat hates RTD and Eccleston and wants to pee all over their chips by wiping them out of history.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:41 am
And it will really annoy those people who insist that 12 regenerations is the limit.
Was it Phil who said something a while ago on this blog about the madness of a certain kind of fan who would prefer Doctor Who to stop for the sake of maintaining the canonicity (if that's a word) of the 12 regeneration limit? Anyway, madness is certainly what it is.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:46 am
I'm going with "All these [x] look the same to me, Doctor."
May 11, 2013 @ 1:49 am
It also seems like a nice little way of giving all the BRING BACK MCGANN AND SHOW US THE TIME WAR NOWWWWWWWW fans their cake while simultaneously pulling the rug right from underneath them, since from what it sounds like, we're going to meet the Doctor who fought in and finished the Time War — but no one has ever directly said that was the Eighth Doctor…
May 11, 2013 @ 2:09 am
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May 11, 2013 @ 2:10 am
Heh, yes. Maybe Moffat has decided that if everyone is going to hate him, he might as well mess with their heads on purpose.
Mind you, after reading the comments on that article, wouldn't blame him, assuming they're fairly typical of Dr Who fans at the moment.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:17 am
I like it! If nothing else, the Moff's always been a bit of a troll.
And if you think that article's bad, the concentrated dummy-spitting that's currently going on at Gallifrey Base makes it look like a meeting of the Royal Debate Society.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:26 am
Well, I've never really engaged with Dr Who fandom. This is the first and only Dr Who blog I've read (and these are my first comments), so my only sense of Dr Who fans comes from reading comments about them here. And nothing I've read about Gallifrey Base on here has made me in any way keen to read it..
Everyone on this blog seems lovely, but from reading some of Phil's posts on the 'fan-industrial complex' and replies to those posts, it's hard to escape the conclusion that a good number of fans are, well, hard to like, to put it mildly.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:27 am
In fact, the more I think about it, the more brilliant I think this move would be. Moff is, in one fell swoop, essentially giving the fans almost everything that they've been demanding / yearning / begging / pleading for all throughout the new series — an older Doctor, finding out what happened in the Time War, what happens when the twelve incarnations are up, etc — but in precisely such a way that turns these expectations completely around.
And of course, since what most people who demand these things are ACTUALLY begging for is the comforting familiarity and certainty they think these elements will bring if they see them on screen (an older Doctor who is exactly like Hartnell / Pertwee doing exactly what they think an older Doctor should be doing, confirmation of all their fan theories about the Eighth Doctor pushing the button that did in Gallifrey, the end of the Doctor when his twelfth incarnation is up because It's Continuity And It's Not Real If He's Not Actually In Danger, etc), once they get them in a way that looks like it's going to completely shake them up the first response is, of course, to start complaining about how it's all been Ruined Forever.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:35 am
Triturus, we seem to have gotten into a chain of you saying something right before I say something, and so forth. So I just wanted to say that although it may seem like it, I'm not actually ignoring you. 🙂
As for Gallifrey Base — I've hung out there and the forums it used to be in a 'lurker who occasionally posts a joke' fashion for a few years now, but I tend not to hang out in the actual fandom sections that much (which, given that pretty much the whole site is a fandom section, might say something). There are some pretty nice, interesting people around, but ultimately I think Gallifrey Base — and fandom (or at least the 'fan-industrial complex' version of it) in general, is the same as any huge organisation — lots of lovely people who tend to get drowned out and pushed aside by all the obnoxious ones who seem to think it's all a contest and that if they throw a big enough tantrum they'll win.
(Plus, to be honest, as I get older and what might be considered more mature if you cock your head and look at it in the right light, the idea of getting into shouting matches with more-or-less anonymous people on the internet over TV shows has increasingly lost it's appeal. Which is why I like this place so much, since it's on the whole much cosier and friendlier — I've disagreed with plenty of people around here, but the tone's never been anything less than civil in my experience,)
May 11, 2013 @ 2:37 am
"the first response is, of course, to start complaining about how it's all been Ruined Forever."
Yes… I'm sure I read on here somewhere that one of the things that marks out a True Fan of Dr Who is that they hate more eras of the show than they like.
Did the same thing happen when Deadly Assassin first aired, I wonder? Talk about rewriting the show's history…
May 11, 2013 @ 2:38 am
"we seem to have gotten into a chain of you saying something right before I say something, and so forth"
May 11, 2013 @ 2:58 am
"Yes… I'm sure I read on here somewhere that one of the things that marks out a True Fan of Dr Who is that they hate more eras of the show than they like."
The endless bloody moaning would seem to give that impression, yes.
(Although to be honest, I suspect that hyper-over-criticism is a tendency that crosses most fandoms.)
"Did the same thing happen when Deadly Assassin first aired, I wonder? Talk about rewriting the show's history…"
Ho yes. Yes, it most certainly did. Jan Vincent Rudzki wrote a pretty famous article (in fan circles at least) in a fanzine pretty much tearing it to pieces for changing the Time Lords from the godlike figures of "The War Games" to scheming backstabbing Oxford Dons / Members of the House of Lords In Space. Phil discusses it in his essay on that story.
And of course, nowadays we regard that one as possibly THE ultimate classic of "Doctor Who". I suspect Steven Moffat has that at the back of his mind even now.
Why, you… shakes fist impotently
May 11, 2013 @ 2:59 am
For several weeks I've been entertaining the notion that Moffat could be trying to pull a surprise regeneration in The Name of the Doctor. It makes sense to me because
-we're approaching "the fall of the eleventh"
-Moffat has already tested the waters with Coleman's surprise appearance in Asylum of the Daleks
-Moffat has talked about the 50th anniversary needing to point to the future
-Mr. Smith has gone to Hollywood
-having the Eleventh Doctor appear in the 50th anniversary as a 'past Doctor' is the type of delicious red herring Moffat likes to throw at fans.
So this new suggestion that we'll be getting Doctors 8.5, 10 & 11 instead of 10, 11 & 12 is disappointing. Just once, I would have liked to be right!
Pen Name Pending
May 11, 2013 @ 3:06 am
Supposedly there's some Jekyll/Hyde thing going on with the Doctor.
And Gaiman said in an interview that he took the scary brief and then got distracted by something really fun.
May 11, 2013 @ 3:16 am
"tearing it to pieces for changing the Time Lords from the godlike figures of "The War Games" to scheming backstabbing Oxford Dons / Members of the House of Lords
I vaguely remember that from Phil's essay on the Deadly Assassin. I'll have to go and re-read it now.
Well you're almost right – it is a surprise regeneration, just one from earlier that turns 9, 10 and 11 into 10, 11 and 12!
Although I wouldn't mind betting that this turns out to be another piece of misdirection, and that Moffat reveals that the name of the Doctor is in fact 'Fooled You All Again'..
May 11, 2013 @ 4:22 am
If memory serves, the guy who initially spread the rumours of Hurt playing "8.5" a few weeks ago also claimed we'd see the next Doctor in the 50th. So who knows, there might be mileage in that.
May 11, 2013 @ 5:04 am
The "previously unknown Doctor between 8 and 9" idea seems to be based on the observation that Hurt's costume is a mixture of McGann's and Eccleston's. Which is fine as it goes, but seems to me to be overlooking the rather more obvious possibility that he might just be a very old McGann, centuries after San Francisco at the end of his life.
Pen Name Pending
May 11, 2013 @ 5:41 am
I really like this idea, although I doubt the change in numbers will stick, but then again apparently during the classic series it was more common to call the Doctors by their actor. Anyway, I sort of wish it had been kept secret like "Idris is the TARDIS" in "The Doctor's Wife", not just to avoid all this squabbling and negativity over "they won't get it right", but also because it would be a neat realization.
Taking risks and putting spins on things is what keeps the show new. If the fans got what they want – all 11 Doctors reunited – dozens of continuity errors would arise and it would probably end up like The Five Doctors: a museum exhibit quest plot without much ambition.
The only problem I have with the current plot as it stands is that if it's the real Ten (not the half-human one), then it just makes the "I'm going to die!" theme in The End of Time more silly. Actually, I don't have a problem with that at all, because it is silly.
Also, pictures of the Foreman junkyard and Coal Hill School were released last week, so I wonder how that ties in.
Personally crossing my fingers for no regeneration…
May 11, 2013 @ 6:14 am
"Which is fine as it goes, but seems to me to be overlooking the rather more obvious possibility that he might just be a very old McGann, centuries after San Francisco at the end of his life."
Although the rumour does suggest that Ten and Eleven (or should that be 'Ten' and 'Eleven' ) are skeptical that Hurt!Doctor actually is the Doctor until he does something with the sonic screwdriver to convince them — since the Eighth Doctor has already tacitly been acknowledged through the series, suggesting that they remember him, it would seem more likely that (and to be honest, I'd personally find a lot more interesting if) he's a 'missing' Doctor. Though this is just rumour, of course.
May 11, 2013 @ 6:27 am
There are certainly some pages that will be very tricky, if not impossible, to do well. I've pointedly avoided getting to those pages while I play around with easier ones.
My goal would be cheap editions – possibly not even of the modern type versions (or include those as an extra), but just of the originals, probably with all the publicly available iterations of them presented for comparison. We'd largely be talking about 40-50 page color books, which should be printable fairly cheap. But I might well include the modern type versions at the end, just so I feel justified in setting the price such that I get a royalty. 🙂
I'll probably get bored one weekend and knock one up just to see what it's like.
May 11, 2013 @ 6:35 am
As an aside, there is also a sizeable and angry fan demographic who insist that they must must must immediately bring Gallifrey and the Time Lords back so that the Doctor can be deliberately avoiding them forever again.
Corpus Christi Music Scene
May 11, 2013 @ 7:36 am
Great to see some intelligent and un hysterical discussion here ! I cant believe how some of these "fans" are behaving. Where did this silly idea that the 50th was supposed to be "McGann does the Time War" come from anyway?
May 11, 2013 @ 7:51 am
It's a great move whatever happens, simultaneously dealing with Eccleston's no-show and providing some epic continuity retcon to send the anoraks flying. All of a sudden I'm more interested in the finale and anniversary than I've been for months. Also JOHN HURT!!
May 11, 2013 @ 8:23 am
Just to be contrary, as far as I am concerned, 'The Death of the Doctor' canonically sets the regeneration limit at 507. I consider this to be the completely official real true number of times the Doctor can regenerate from now on, and BOY will I be upset if they don't cancel the show in the year 4000 when he runs out.
May 11, 2013 @ 11:12 am
Has anyone seen this blog about a massive pile of Target books? Nice nod to Terrance Dicks as well – apparently he was 78 yesterday!
May 11, 2013 @ 1:37 pm
Thoughts on first viewing of 'Nightmare in Silver'. I liked it. A lot. and it contained more shout-outs to previous stories both classic and NuWho. Turns out Matt Smith's Northern accent last week was just a dry run for his full-on Eccleston impersonation here. Tomb of the Cybermen breakout recreation! Cybermites! A Moon Base! Pictures of previous Doctors drawn out of his memories a la 'Brain of Morbius' (No sign of John Hurt though!)
The 'Gaiman for Show-Runner' campaign starts here.
Oh and some lovely visuals echoing and mirroring memes from all over. The red and black chessboard on the wall reminded me of Morrison's recent Batman run. Echoes of the Mechanical Turk in the chess playing Cyberman and once again Smith's Doctor goes all Willy Wonka with his Golden Ticket. Clara seemed to regain her previous ability to adapt to her surroundings, easily taking charge of the defence squad in the castle and almost being one step ahead of the Doctor while he was split into his Doctor Jeckyl and Cyber Hyde personae. The only missed trick I felt was those kids really should have been called John and Gillian.
May 11, 2013 @ 1:51 pm
The Cyberiad?!? That's Lem, right? Gosh that takes me back.
I honestly don't know what to think yet. I have to watch it again (which really goes without saying) and parse out the metaphors, and the gobs and gobs of imagery. Moon, that's a trip into the subconscious. Commentary on emperors… and fool's mate? Tarot?
Yes, silver men. They're a mirror.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:22 pm
I'm super uncomfortable with the idea of a missing incarnation, which I guess makes me one of the fans Moffat would love to piss off. On the other hand, I'm at the limit of my patience with the school of thought that says, "oh, any massive revelation of any part of the mythos [the Doctor's name, the details of the Time War, the brand of scotch Rassilon and Omega used to drink together, etc.] is BOUND to be disappointing and thus we'll just tease and shy away from it every chance we get," so I'm all for anything that busts that cherry, even if it's godawful like "The End of Time."
As for the regeneration limit: I see no reason to reject it when there are a million and one ways to hand-wave around it. "The Five Doctors" clearly establishes that the High Council could provide a new cycle of regenerations as a reward for the Master, so you don't even have to play the "canon is what you can get away with" card to determine that the limit is arbitrary.
I think it would be lazy simply to ignore it, and no lamer than anything else we've seen over the years to have an episode where the Doctor prepares himself to accept death, but finds himself forced to activate the Ancient Gallifreyan Regeneration Limit Removal Device in order to survive to save his companion. We get to mine the potential drama of that moment, and still circumvent it, and then maybe not have to worry about it ever again.
It seems pretty unlikely to me that we'd be getting a surprise regeneration with nothing at all leaking about the next guy. And even more unlikely that it would be either John Hurt or Jenna-Louise Coleman.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:25 pm
Yes the Tarot references. Of course The Moon and The Emperor but also the Wheel of Fortune, the Magician and the Hermit in the funfair imagery,The castle is the Tower. The Cybermen's skeletal bodies echo the Death card. Lots of doubling and mirroring here. The chess game recalls Alice through the Looking Glass and we're certainly led into a dark mirror world of death and decay. The theme of doubling is inherent – the two children, male and female, the Doctor and Clara, Porridges's double life and the Doctors enforced split between id and ego. The suits of armour in the castle mirror the Cybermen, Webley, melancholy and anachronistic in frock coat and top hat mirroring the Doctor and finally the Emperor and the Doctor. Both guiltily running from a genocidal act of war who “feel like a monster sometimes”.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:27 pm
Ha! Jewel in the Lotus. Gotcha.
May 11, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
A big day for Chairs. "Wakey wakey." It's another Ascension story. Oh, that map of the world is very interesting. Panem et Circenses. Hamsa. Clara's the Priestess? The Empress? The chimerical motifs in the Throne Room. "Beautiful."
May 11, 2013 @ 3:23 pm
I see Clara as The Star, one foot in the water one on land, just as she keeps one foot on Earth and one in the Tardis. (only on Wednesdays apparantly. Woden or Odin's Day,. The astrological sign of the planet Mercury, ?, represents Wednesday — Dies Mercurii to the Romans, with similar names in Latin-derived languages, such as the Italian mercoledì (dì means "day"), the French mercredi and the Spanish miércoles. In English, this became "Woden's Day", since the Roman god Mercury was identified with Woden in northern Europe). The Star maiden in the Rider/ Waite Tarot kneels, surrounded by a star field and pours water into the stream symbolising constantly renewed life. The Star combines the two female archetypes. Rachel Pollack describes her as combining 'the inner sensitivity of the High Priestess…expressed withn the passion of the Empress.
Pen Name Pending
May 11, 2013 @ 4:32 pm
Well, I was rather swept away by that. Loved the Doctor Jekyll/Hyde; had me totally captivated. The Cybermen were also their most effective yet, and there were so many great twists. I haven't been that happy after an episode since "The Rings of Akhaten" (which, I apparently have to preface due to how that episode became a throw-around term for "bad episode", left me feeling so uplifted because of personal reasons, I'll admit).
Then I get online and see that not everyone was impressed. Did I miss something? "Hide" and "The Crimson Horror" got way more positive reviews, and I wasn't nearly as captivated.
See, I try to keep the Wikipedia articles balanced, and I used to delay putting in reception but now others come in and add poorly written stuff. So I try to fix it. But it means I spend my Saturday mornings feeling insulted. Usually the reviews are fine, but when I disagree or find something interesting noted then I scroll down to the comments, which as we've discussed is a bad idea. But you know, I might just skip working on the reception section because I've got better things to do tomorrow. (Unless the badly written stuff gets added first and I can't help myself but to reword it and make it more balanced.)
Does anyone have a bit of advice? I've been having problems with this for ages, but it's hurt me way more this year. There's probably a psychological reason behind that, but I can't take it anymore. (Oh, when I saw how "Akhaten" was treated, it was like part of my soul was ripped out. I can understand some of the criticisms, but I wrote a long rant about how it is just wrong to complain about the singing.)
Pen Name Pending
May 11, 2013 @ 4:37 pm
Perhaps I am just strange in that I find someone battling with themself interesting and suspenseful? And Matt was great at it.
May 11, 2013 @ 5:25 pm
I thought it was quite marvelous, too! And of course it's a "nightmare in silver" considering that Silver is a Mirror, so the Doctor has to face his inner demons, his darker secrets, and eventually sacrifices his Queen to save the children. But isn't River his Queen? He's "lost" the game — to win is to lose, to lose is to win.
And you're not alone in loving Akhaten — I thought it magnificently beautiful, especially because of the singing. Personal reasons, I expect. But I also loved the Leaf symbolism, and how it stood for a union of Love and Death, which was something Infinite. Just blown away.
You might want to reconsider the meaning of "Reception" by looking at The God Complex again.
I spend my Who weekends going over the story and symbolism and imagery, and don't really heed much what others are saying until I've drunk deeply from the Well first. Much better that way.
Pen Name Pending
May 11, 2013 @ 5:40 pm
"The God Complex" is a rather important episode to me too, both for the ending and the central conceit of facing fears. And I love moving settings.
May 11, 2013 @ 5:44 pm
No. Temperance, surely?
May 11, 2013 @ 6:23 pm
I'm really happy to see that someone else recognizes that "The Rings of Akhaten" was brilliant.
May 11, 2013 @ 6:27 pm
Between this and "Closing Time," I'm suddenly starting to enjoy Cybermen stories.
May 11, 2013 @ 6:35 pm
I'm annoyed that I clicked on that article, not because I dislike the idea but because I try to avoid spoilers. Oh, well. My fault.
Anyway, I wouldn't assume the story is true (or entirely true); I'm sure there's plenty of disinformation floating about.
May 11, 2013 @ 9:09 pm
The Cybermen and Borg are just in this cycle of mutual ripping off now, aren't they?
But this was lovely. It's absurd that an intergalactic empire could go a thousand years without a single armed conflict with anyone, and apparently the Emperor is a thousand plus years old, but that sort of thinking didn't occur to me until after the episode. The actual watching of it was just pure joy–Cybermites! The woman on patrol asking if it was okay for her to run! The Doctor cheating at chess! So much goodness here.
May 11, 2013 @ 10:39 pm
The big plan for the weekend is a trip to see Star Trek: Into Darkness. As usual, I've failed to avoid spoilers and so already know the big reveal, but if anything that's whetted my appetite to see the actual movie…
May 12, 2013 @ 12:44 am
Jesse, sorry I maybe should have put a spoiler alert but as you say the article is speculative and in no way official and is probably completely wrong. In that respect it has no more validity than any other speculation one may read here. Having mulled this over I feel certain that Moffat is engaging in smokescreen tactics. Hurt may well be playing a character who may well be some version of a Doctor but let's not forget RTD's 'The Next Doctor' not to mention the Dalek ray gun severed hand absorbed regeneration cliffhanger debacle.
May 12, 2013 @ 12:49 am
Temperence also has the 'one foot in the water' stance but The Star is the evolved version, further along the path. Also the stellar imagery seems appropriate.
May 12, 2013 @ 1:05 am
I'm firmly in the 'Rings of Akhaten' was a fine episode camp and am also surprised at the negative reaction 'Nightmare in Silver' seems to be getting. I'm putting that down to a tendency of critics to be overly harsh on writers with a rep. As I said in my first post here Gaiman was riding for a fall. The Gattis episodes on the other hand had everything to prove and nothing to lose plus, I suspect, a lot of fans wanted Gattis to do well.
I really need to watch it again a few times but on first viewing I don't think that chess game actually made any sense within the rules of the game. This doesn't matter of course; the chess game in 'Through the Looking Glass' flouts convention too. There maybe some hidden metaphor in the moves as played here though. Queen sacrifice indeed.
Anyone seen the prequel to next weeks yet? I'm not risking spoilers.
May 12, 2013 @ 1:22 am
I'm afraid I have to agree with this review from the Radio Times. Truly dire episode.
May 12, 2013 @ 2:35 am
Many, many references to old Cybermen stories, old Who stories, and old stories in general. To take just one, the ruined communicator is described as a "sub-etha ansible" or similar. "Ansible" was coined by le Guin, but "sub-etha" with that spelling (taken from the subtitles we got here) is clearly a Hitchhiker's reference, as of course was the Doctor's "mate in three" trap.
May 12, 2013 @ 3:01 am
Sorry Lee Mansfield, I just cannot agree. I don't know why you personally found this episode 'dire' but the Radio Times review, and others I've seen, is an object lesson on exactly how not to process Doctor Who fairly. It relies on nit-picky assumed deficiencies in minor details and unsubstantiated, highly subjective criticisms of the writing and acting. The reviewer overlooks the poetry, the symbolism and the metaphor on favour of obsessing over unimportant detail. If you're coming to Doctor Who for linear narrative logic framed in hard SF tropes you'd be better off with the new StarTrek or Iron Man movies. As any of Dr. Sandifer's posts here and the responses in the comments show, Doctor Who is open to unpacking more complex interpretation than that. I'm not suggesting the reviewer is not intelligent enough to critically analyse this episode, just that he seems to choose not to. That's fair enough but to use that shallow reading as a reason to deride the episode is disengenuous.
May 12, 2013 @ 3:28 am
No need to apologize. It was clear from your comment that there would be spoilers (or alleged spoilers) in the piece. Like I said, my fault.
May 12, 2013 @ 3:30 am
@Anton B: There's a great article by Marvin Minsky where he analyzes the chess game in Through the Looking Glass in terms of official international rules at the time the book was written, and manages to spin all kinds of interesting ideas out of that. It's a couple of decades old, so might be difficult to track down; it was collected in the science fiction anthology Pawn to Infinity, which is where I read it.
@Lee Mansfield: That reviewer thinks "The Next Doctor" is as bad as "Silver Nemesis," so they have zero credibility. No, it wasn't a great episode, but c'mon! Giant steampunk Cybermecha! Giant steampunk Cybermecha forgiveth a multitude of sins.
Likewise, even if this episode were mediocre, it would be worth it just for introducing the Cybermites. But it had so much more! Cybermen that were actually a credible threat! Emperor Willow and the Doctor, two men on the run, who killed billions to save trillions! Clara actually getting to do something! Matt Smith munching on delicious scenery flavored with ham and cheese!
The review is also just plain wrong in spots. The "dodgy swirly backgrounds" weren't the Cyberplanner, that was Gallifreyan text, so presumably that was a representation of the Doctor's mind. I took it as obvious that those scenes weren't actually "happening," they were a stand-in for mental processes that can't be portrayed visually.
He also complains that Clara is more like the (awesome, sexy, funny) Oswin of "Asylum of the Daleks" instead of, what? The cipher we got most of this half-season?
And okay, yeah, it makes no sense that they have specialized anti-Cyber weapons a thousand years after the war, or that the Emperor is a thousand years old, or that there's been no military action since then. (Seriously, there were never any fights with the Draconians or the Ice Warriors or the Daleks, and then after a thousand years of not needing the Empire to protect them, not one planet got sick of paying taxes to support the Imperial military and rebelled?) Speaking logically, in a "gossip about imaginary people" sense, the war should have been 30 or 50 years ago.
But that's making the classic error of watching Doctor Who in a "realist" mode. Viewed as a collection of resonant symbols, the war has to have been a thousand years ago because a thousand years is the time it takes the ancient darkness to return. (Clever, that–the Cybermen are now both our dark future and the shadow out of the past.) The Emperor is a thousand years old because Roman Imperial cult and maybe some tarot.
May 12, 2013 @ 3:40 am
If you're going to complain about a mere thousand years, what about the fact that the light from the destroyed galaxy ought to be visible in the night sky for millions of years to come?
May 12, 2013 @ 3:51 am
Thanks Froborr I'll try to find that article. 'The Annotated Alice' and Dodgson himself had something to say on the Looking Glass chess game too. I Gaiman thankfully avoided most of the heavy handed metaphors about chess which usually plague any narrative which references the game. Apart from the obvious mirror of the mind wrestling in 'The Brain of Morbius' I thought another echo was to the Trilogic game between the first Doctor and the Celestial Toymaker and I guess there were also echoes of Bergman's Seventh Seal which in turn summoned memories of 'Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey' I'm looking forward to Matt Smith's game of twister with Davros!
May 12, 2013 @ 3:57 am
Thinking about the season… a couple of weeks ago, in my I was completely ready to hop on the Moffat Sucks bandwagon. There were two reasons for this: The "Who Is River?" mystery had an utterly boring answer that led directly into the worst season finale of the new series, leaving me to dread the "Who Is the Doctor?" arc. That hasn't changed.
The other reason, though, was that season thus far had been lackluster. Starting with the Christmas special, my feelings on the episodes were:
The Snowmen: Meh. Better than any of the Tennant specials or TDTWATW, but still decidedly soppy and meh.
The Episode Which Bored Me So Badly I Can't Be Bothered to Remember Its Title: Should be self-explanatory.
Rings of Akhaten: Meh.
Cold War: Decent.
Journey to the Center of the TARDIS: Possibly the worst episode in all of New Who.
Not exactly inspiring of great confidence, is it?
But then we had last week, which was positively delightful, and this week, which was absolutely grand. So even with the finale-that-is-almost-certainly-going-to-suck, that's enough to push season 7B from "why do I watch this show?" to "weak overall, but had enough good bits to be worth watching."
Of course, if I include 7A it gets four more good episodes and a decent, which means it really only has four bad episodes (assuming, as I do, that the finale will be bad). That makes it stronger than any RTD season except Eccleston's season and Tennant's third. It's even theoretically likely that it will only have three bad episodes, which would make only the Donna season stronger than it.
The problem, I think, is that the bad episodes were all clustered together. Moffat's first two seasons had four bad episodes each, too, but they were more spread out.
May 12, 2013 @ 4:26 am
My reaction to Nightmare in Silver is that there's a very good Gaiman fairy-tale going on just under the surface but bits don't make it to the screen. Logically, of course, Clara had to do something to free the Emperor in disguise, so that he can save the day. Presumably she did that by doing something that absolved him of his guilt at destroying billions of lives. But that doesn't happen on screen. Or if she did the significance wasn't flagged up at the time.
As a result the episode feels as though if the Doctor hadn't been there either nothing would have happened or else the Emperor would have destroyed the planet sooner, and either way fewer lives would have been lost. Which is unsatisfactory.
I felt cyber-Matt Smith was initially a bit too much like ordinary Matt Smith. But the double Matt Smith got better and better as it went along.
Pen Name Pending
May 12, 2013 @ 4:27 am
Wasn't the galaxy-that-was-destroyed actually a big black hole? Not an actual black hole, but an empty spot. What's the "light"?
Also, couldn't Porridge be an alien? Or part-alien? Makes sense in "The Doctor Dances" context. I don't know, I completely missed the timeline stuff.
The Radio Times stuff is mostly positive, but I think taking this and his views on "Akhaten" it's safe to assume he doesn't get the more symbolic ones (but he liked Kinda, despite admitting not fully understanding it. Huh.)
Besides, this is the sort of stuff you expect from Neil Gaiman. I can only say I've read The Graveyard Book and a few issues of Sandman (and "The Doctor's Wife"), but looking at his other stuff, it just seems right up his alley.
I saw the prequel for next week. It's just a bunch of teasers in a room filled with old props. I'm looking forward to it now. Especially as this episode made me think more about Clara instead of the Doctor (still betting he's God, the Time Lord who created humans/Earth). Perhaps she's engineered to unravel him, bring out his emotional side?
May 12, 2013 @ 6:10 am
@Pen Name Pending. think the point is that the absence of light from the destroyed galaxy wouldn't have reached the Funfair World yet so we should still be seeing the galaxy not the hole. However it is never stated either how far away the galaxy was or when the destruction happened relative to 'present time'. In any case this kind of tediously literal 'logical' reading is wholly reductive and merely serves to quench any poetic joy that might have been gained from contemplating a destroyed galaxy.
I'm afraid I don't understand your 'Doctor Dances' reference in regard to Porridge. Please explain. Also surely it's clear he is an 'alien' i.e. not a native of Earth and yes this could mean he can live for over a thousand years but again I don't feel I needed to worry about it.
'The Radio Times stuff is mostly positive,'
How do you come to that conclusion given the sub heading of the piece 'An-almighty-cyber-flop-I'd-never-willingly-sit-through again'?
'Besides, this is the sort of stuff you expect from Neil Gaiman.'
And yet by your own admission you've only read 'The Graveyard Book'and a few issues of Sandman'.
'I saw the prequel for next week. It's just a bunch of teasers in a room filled with old props.'
Do you not think the choice of those particular props might have significance? If only metaphorical or symbolic. I saw it as akin to the multi character teaser splash pages DC comics ran a few years ago after Final Crisis or the promotional cast shots that The Sopranos had each season. Not meant to be taken literally but as dreamlike visual prompts.
'…still betting he's God, the Time Lord who created humans/Earth'
I'll take that bet. If this turns out to be the big reveal I'll eat my fez. Moffat may have many faults but even he wouldn't be that crass.
May 12, 2013 @ 6:29 am
Radio Times is pitched to speak to and entertain the general British TV viewer and so is the current series of Doctor Who. Saturday evening primetime entertainment for the masses. Do you think you are being 'fair' in your criticism of Patrick Mulkern's review in that context?
I too enjoy drawing out deeper meaning and the amplification of symbols from episodes as much as most who frequent this beautiful blog, but I recognise the distinction from what we enjoy doing on our glittering but rather rarefied orbital platform to the material needs and commercial expectations of BBC Wales and the viewing public at 7 on a Saturday. I think you will find that the kind of 'linear narrative logic' millions pay to see in Iron Man movies or Star Trek Into Darkness is exactly the kind of entertainment BBC Wales is shooting for with Doctor Who. And I'm certainly not knocking those movies for achieving that.
I adore the themes and ideas present in Nightmare In Silver, I am simply shocked by the hamfisted execution in terms of 'competent mass entertainment'. And lets not pretend that that doesn't matter. It is perhaps ultimately a subjective question of taste, but for me, my family who watched and friends I have spoken to since it seems the general consensus is that the episode felt tired and neglected (ironically rather like Hedgewick's World), and we felt embarrassed watching the usually brilliant Matt Smith for the first time ever during his 'eat the scenery and put extra ham on the side' scenes.
May 12, 2013 @ 6:30 am
All the stories in this demiseason had some really good bits in them, but it's only been these past two that really hung together for me as a whole (I've heard people complain that The Crimson Horror would have worked better as a two-parter, but I thought it was the first episode in a while that really had exactly the right amount of plot for its running time). I think a lot of this season, Moffat's penchant toward cleverness has done him a disservice as he get all focused on the cleverness of the premise, and doesn't so much feel the need to work on the follow-through
May 12, 2013 @ 6:53 am
I'll be honest; I'm usually good at not missing the little things (oh god), but I did not think that Porridge was the same guy who blew up the galaxy; I assumed he was just sympathizing with someone being in that position and having the fate of so many people on his head.
But even so, there's no actual problem with him being a thousand years old, since we established back in Series 5 that by the 30th century, humans had the technology to extend lifespans to over two thousand years (Elizabeth X reigns from at least the 29th century until the 52nd).
(Personally, I was just tickled when they showed the hollowed-out cyberman chess player, since I knew Warrick Davis was in this one, and instantly knew how he'd be introduced).
Did anyone else think Angie was playing full-on Adric? She's the one thing I really hated about this story.
May 12, 2013 @ 7:03 am
No, The Crimson Horror would have been unbearable as a two-parter. It had excellent pacing as it was.
I am curious as to what the "really good bits" in Journey to the Center of the TARDIS were. I can't find anything to like in that episode.
May 12, 2013 @ 7:07 am
All the bits of the inside of the TARDIS that weren't just that one gray T-shaped hallway. Also the possibility that they exhausted the season's supply of shakey-cam in one go.
May 12, 2013 @ 9:46 am
In general I'm much less interested in mainstream "reviews" because they're almost always a vehicle for passing judgment rather than offering interpretation. Not that these are mutually exclusive, it's just that so many judgments are rendered for the most superficial reasons; rather than coming from the interpretation itself.
Film Crit Hulk suggests that most of the sort of nitpicking we see in critique gloms onto the visible aspects of a production not because that's the actual problem of the show, but because the underlying reasons having to do with emotional payoff are more difficult to locate. I tend to agree.
That said, I think I'm willing to look at NiS for a bit not in terms of it themes and imagery, but how it works or fails to work as an "entertainment" — and specifically, how it fails to work at an emotional level, even recognizing that this might be a reflection of the very themes operating below the surface.
This is the first go 'round on Who for director Stephen Woolfenden. Direction is so important how a story comes across — he's responsible for the "discourse" and I kind of agree with Lee and the RT review that there's quite a bit "off" on the surface of this episode. Having been a Classic Who fan, I'm pretty good at ignoring poor aesthetics, but I can see where people are coming from in terms of the "pure entertainment" (or lack thereof) of Nightmare.
I found a lot of the cuts jarring, and the framing uninspired, lacking in the kind visual continuity or verve that a Saul Metzstein, Nick Hurran, or Richard Clark can bring to the table. All of the performances felt off to me, which is definitely a reflection of direction. Some of the lighting worked for me, but a lot of it seemed haphazard or plain.
There's also something to be said for expectations. People who follow the show regularly were well aware that Gaiman wrote the script, but it's awfully hard to follow in the footsteps of a stone-cold classic. The Doctor's Wife had a perfect mix of terror, old-school nostalgia, and cathartic feels. Nightmare in Silver certainly has its fair share of nostalgia, but its smaller cast gave the story a lot more intimacy, and it could exploit our preexisting feelings for the regulars that wasn't available in yesterday's story, with a huge brand-new cast, a companion who's a mystery, and a Doctor who's increasingly obsessive, dark, and manic; I don't feel sorry for him at all (and there's your resonance with Sixie, for those playing that game.)
There's a part of me, though, that wonders how much this is a resonance of the story's underlying themes. We're playing with the archetype of the Emperor, the emotionless husks of the Cybermen, with issues of intellect, emptiness, and authority, and how stepping into certain archetypes is like stepping into a prison. The central point is remarkably abstract. This isn't a feel-good story, but I don't think it's meant to be.
May 12, 2013 @ 10:08 am
The best bits of Journey are in the metaphor and the imagery. Like with so many of the stories in Moffat's run, it's a vision of Death dripping with mythological references and repeated symbolism of the current series. The World Tree and its bespoke Eggs, the Library, the alchemy of Fire and Water, seeing the future and breaking the patterns that bring it about — or stepping into those patterns to make them come true. And of course it's an exploration of the psyches of the main characters.
But then, for someone who's following the recurring motifs and has built up extensive associations with them, I suspect I get more out of these stories than most people. And I especially love stories with heart, and that get into exploring the characters and their relationships. So for me, Snowmen and Rings were the high points of this season, while I was left wanting with Hide and Nightmare. I deeply appreciated Crimson and Journey, and got a lot out of Bells; Cold War had its striking moments for me, even though the overall gist of what it's trying to do isn't my particular cup of tea.
Pen Name Pending
May 12, 2013 @ 11:34 am
The beginning was shaky but once we got into the Doctor battle I was hooked. I thought the pacing was done much better than several of the previous episodes.
I'll admit that my family was talking loudly over some of the early exposition scenes, so I may not have followed the whole Emperor storyline.
I was just kind of wondering why it was bothering me so much lately, because usually I don't care. It's just some information. I'm probably just stressed.
And I don't have anything against the Radio Times…
Pen Name Pending
May 12, 2013 @ 11:36 am
Well, they did forge an alliance in that Doctor Who/Star Trek: Next Generation comic. (Hey, I wonder if Phil will cover that when we get to it.)
May 12, 2013 @ 12:07 pm
I understand a small number of U.S. fans have erroneously received copies of season 7 part 2 DVDs early. Lucky you but if you are one of them please don't post any spoilers here or elsewhere.
Only a week to go and we can all enjoy sharing whatever the Doctor's big secret is. Thankyou.
May 12, 2013 @ 12:18 pm
This blog seems to have become the plot of The Red Headed League.
May 12, 2013 @ 12:35 pm
The secret the Doctor has been hiding? His name is Robert Paulson.
May 12, 2013 @ 12:40 pm
I don't think the emperor is 1000 years old. The captain said she knew it was him because she knew the old emperor (presumably his father). He may feel guilt for his family's actions.
Alternatively, he could have run away in time, and jumped about a thousand years into his future.
Or to your point: yeah, it could just be an enjoyable TV show that we don't have to explain.
May 12, 2013 @ 2:32 pm
I think the fairy-tale logic (and purely diagetic logic) had more to do with the children than with Clara. They recognized the Emperor, and if the Doctor hadn't played the chess game, he might not have been able to free them from the cyber controller.
May 12, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
I found it interesting that Emperor Porridge is hiding behind a mirror, and that his ascension comes from revealing his identity in an act of "self-sacrifice" — metaphorically, having to shed his personhood to take the throne as a "savior." Which, ironically, is a journey from being a Cyberman to being the destroyer of Cybermen.
May 12, 2013 @ 2:53 pm
No, his name is Sandford Phillips. :p
May 12, 2013 @ 4:03 pm
The first time I watched "Nightmare in Silver," I thought it was pretty good.
The second time through, I nearly cried when Porridge beamed up. No lie. I don't know if it was just the echo of a certain classic series finale's resolution, but it really got to me.
So I loved it. Between that and "Hide," I'm over the moon.
May 12, 2013 @ 5:34 pm
Minor observation – although I greatly enjoyed Nightmare In Silver, I think the middle could have been vastly improved by having Matt Smith arguing not with himself, but with Jason Watkins (Mr Webley).
The arguing-with-self scenes were okay, but hardly thrilling – would have been great to see more of Cyber Webley, as Jason Watkins was so good both before conversion and in the few lines he had after conversion, but otherwise stood in a corner. A bit of a waste of an excellent guest star.
Same setup – Cyberplanner Program trying to take control of his brain – but aiming to jump from one 'unit' to another once full access was available. You could still have the virtual in-brain scenes if you liked, just with two actors.
May 12, 2013 @ 5:55 pm
#Nightmare spoilers, for that undoubtedly small proportion of people who (1) read this blog (2) read the comments and (3) haven't seen the episode yet…
So…I'm not really seeing a consensus here on whether or not there were any major references to the Colin Baker era. Do we think Dr. Sandifer hit the nail on the head with his "continuity runaround" comment? Is it reasonable to say that the Jekyll/Hyde stuff is Valeyard-ish enough to be considered allusory?
May 12, 2013 @ 6:02 pm
Well, they did show his face…
I don't buy this "They're doing all the Doctors one by one" theory. They're filling all the stories with references to the past, often with multiple Doctors getting shoutouts in the same show. Some fans are zeroing in on a few of those and thinking they've found a pattern. They have to ignore all the other allusions in order to pretend that it's there.
May 12, 2013 @ 6:39 pm
Full disclosure: I've never watched a Colin Baker episode in my life.
May 12, 2013 @ 8:10 pm
I suppose if you were so inclined, you could suggest that the Jekyll-and-Hyde Doctor scenario kind of harks back to the Doctor's mood-swings in "The Twin Dilemma", albeit with less of a problematic abusive relationship subtext.
On the whole, though, I'm more inclined to go with Jesse. It seems to me that overall it's less 'one episode per classic Doctor' and more that each episode is heavily infused with a range of both direct classic series shout-outs and general moods and atmospheres. It does seem pretty clear that each episode maybe showcases or emphasises a particular era a bit more than others — "Cold War" is pretty blatantly a Troughtonesque base-under-siege, "Hide" is a Hinchcliffian "Who" spin on an old seventies Hammer Horror staple (the haunted house), and so on — but I don't think it's as simple as one episode per classic Doctor.
If nothing else, the whole 'chess motifs with an old enemy' thing last night screams the Seventh Doctor way more than the Sixth Doctor.
May 12, 2013 @ 11:17 pm
I'm definitely seeing more seventh Doctor than sixth. Apart from the chess motif, there's having 'silver' in the title – and the whole 'battle inside the Doctor's head' feels more NA than Saward. In addition, the companion figuring out that the Doctor is hiding things from her, and the Doctor pushing the companion to do more than she thought she could, is pure seventh.
May 13, 2013 @ 2:39 am
Doctor who fans are so linear, Jean-luc!
Hurt comments about being "part of a trinity". The word Trinity literally means "3 in one" or "1 essence in 3 bodies", which is a pretty good description of multiple Doctors. So it's pretty much a given that Hurt is playing a Doctor.
I've also seen the photo of him wearing the 9th's leather jacket, but to my mind people are jumping to rather limited conclusions. I find myself wondering the following:
1. It's a leather jacket. Why should it necessarily be the 9th Doctor's?
2. If it is his jacket, why should that categorically mean the person wearing it is the 9th Doctor?
3. Since the Doctor tends to regenerate wearing clothes, couldn't this jacket be worn by the 8th Doctor and retained after he regenerated? Couldn't he therefore be the 8th Doctor?
4. If he's the 8th Doctor, he doesn't look like Paul McGann. Well, why couldn't he have aged…a lot? Presumably the 1st Doctor wasn't born looking like a white-haired old man but was once much younger (cf the 9-year old Master).
5. If he's the Doctor that was involved in the Time War, then it's possible that one of the effects of a War in Time is accelerated aging. There's a precedent for this in Who anyway – both the 10th and 4th Doctors have been prematurely aged.
I'll be quite disappointed if I've actually hit on the correct plot though!
May 13, 2013 @ 3:41 am
I enjoyed Nightmare in Silver a lot, particularly Warwick Davis, who I thought was excellent.
In thinking about it afterwards, though, there's a thread running through most of this half of the series that's been nagging at me. It feels to me as though the overall quality of the production has slipped a bit, and that the seams are showing a lot more than they once did.
The high water mark of the revived series for me is Series 5, and one of the reasons for its success is that every aspect of the production seems carefully thought out, and everything is pulling in the same direction. By comparison, the current batch of eight episodes feels a bit sloppy, and most episodes have had at least one moment where I find myself taken out of the story to ask "Why did nobody catch that?":
– The Bells of St. John and Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, among others, have some very poorly matched edits (just before the transition from the TARDIS interior to the airplane, and during the "is it because I'm human?" bit, respectively).
– The Rings of Ahkaten never provides a clear visual to show that they're orbiting a planet, not a sun, leading to lots of confusion, and generally commits the sin of not making it clear where the characters are in relation to each other.
– This week's story shows the planet exploding when all along we've been told about an implosion, and a Comical Castle that's…well, just a castle location with no set dressing (unless that's meant to be the joke).
I should point out that I'm emphatically not a Moffat-must-go type. None of these things are down to one person or even one department. But it does feel like the production aspects have recently suffered from either a lack of time, a lack of money, or a lack of discipline. If I had to guess, I'd go with the perennial combination of time and money.
Has anyone else noticed the same things, or am I becoming far too picky in my advanced age?
May 13, 2013 @ 4:49 pm
I was glad the castle wasn't too comical, but I was expecting maybe some silly-faced grinning mannequins of medieval types up in the ramparts the troops could have used to draw the Cybermen's fire. That would have been a nice touch without being too silly.
May 14, 2013 @ 12:36 am
"I adore the themes and ideas present in Nightmare In Silver, I am simply shocked by the hamfisted execution in terms of 'competent mass entertainment'."
For the record, my not-we wife and I were both at the edge of our seats during Nightmare In Silver, and for me that was the first time that happened since the end of Season 7B. As mass entertainment, it worked as well for me as anything I've seen in a while.
May 14, 2013 @ 11:11 pm
"Did anyone else think Angie was playing full-on Adric? She's the one thing I really hated about this story."
I was reminded more of Kelsey from "Invasion of the Bane". Which is worse.
May 14, 2013 @ 11:14 pm
If the Doctor hadn't been there, Captain Whatsername would have destroyed the planet. It's not at all clear to me that the transmat activates if anyone uses the bomb…
May 15, 2013 @ 5:35 am
Jane: I'm glad I'm not the only one that felt the direction might've been a little off this week- that along with the kids were the only parts of the episode that left me unimpressed (the rest I thought was brilliant).