Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

It’s time to wrap up series 10. Le sigh. Join Deb, Erika, Lynne, and Tansy as we talk about character arcs, friendships, favorites, least favorites, and lots and lots more about the finale.

What did you think of series 10 as a whole? Let us know in the comments!


Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:07) 

Comments on: "Episode 145 – No Toxic Boyfriend Spiral" (8)

  1. moffat definitely trusts gatiss to hand in solid work, see: “From Toby [Whithouse] and Chris [Chibnall] or Mark [Gatiss] you’ll get incredibly polished first drafts. It’s like having a day off. And you think maybe you’ll see your kids this weekend.” ~ however, i don’t know that there’s anyone moffat consistently is hands off on in the way rtd was with him. when asked about it, he usually avoids the question or points to individual scripts rather than individual writers.
    i don’t understand why deb kept fixating on the you can’t be angry moment as if we weren’t supposed to find that uncomfortable especially as it leads to the bit where cyberbill says she wasn’t upset & it cuts to pearl crying. and there’s no suggestion bill’s anger isn’t valid, just as there never was a suggestion clara wasn’t allowed to be reckless. it’s the situation that takes that away from them but those things aren’t inherently condemned. the doctor acknowledges and respects bill’s request that if she can’t be herself she no longer be. which links both to the fact bill’s story has always been the strength of her identity and the doctor’s unwillingness to regenerate. i think there are fair criticisms of heather’s return, especially that there should have been more set up beyond the pilot but calling her “a magic girl” is merely a glib dismissal and not in anyway an interrogation of what happened.
    given that all the capaldi series are very strongly character based, i find it difficult to see s10 being more cohesive in that sense: the lie of the land really throws things off balance in away that none of the less good episodes of s8 & 9 do. robot of sherwood & kill the moon & in the forest of the night be less loved episodes of s8 but they all have very strong character development in them. whereas lie of the land muddles both bill & the doctor’s character beats and is the only place in the series where i view the doctor as unlikeable. one wishes that toby whithouse was trusted less in this instance.
    in world enough and time he persuades bill by explaining his reasoning pretty clearly & as erika says he doesn’t make a rash promise he knows he can’t keep both of which are expressions of maturity. indeed the montage shows the doctor persuading her over the course of days, if not weeks, so rather than “coercing” her, he’s taking a lot of time to talk things out.
    amy’s romantic inclinations toward the doctor are extremely short lived: by series 6 she expresses distaste at such an idea. so too clara & the doctor are suggested as having mutual crushes in s7b but while people read plenty of romance into the twelve/clara relationship that’s in no way necessarily endorsed by the narrative. i think people underrate the importance moffat places on friendship, see from mid series publicity: “It has all the spark and joy of a non-romantic romance. Do you know what I mean by that? When you meet somebody who really does become incredibly close to you and it has an awful lot of what a romance has, except it doesn’t have any sex or romance in it. […] When you meet the people in your life who do become your great teachers, you do have a different sort of crush on them. As I say, it’s not an erotic one. It’s a fascination. It’s a joy in their company. It’s meeting someone who opens new doors to you. That’s a good relationship to model the Doctor and his best pal on.” ~ i think there’s something interesting in that moffat seems to write most relationships as romances what differentiates is (the implication of) sex or its lack.

  2. Elida_McT said:

    Looking back over the season and particularly the finale, I think there are several points of discomfort and exasperation that you all express that aren’t weighted equally and viewed in full context. There is an important difference between tone deafness in a script and social commentary. The attention paid to Bill when she’s told that she’s not allowed to get angry the continuous follow-up we get of her, most strikingly when she’s desperately struggling to remain composed after being mercilessly needled by the Simm Master and when she’s shot by the schoolhouse matron, is meant to make you uncomfortable. This is because it mirrors the reality of black women. So yes, if you felt uncomfortable and disturbed that a black woman was constantly being dodged and looked at fearfully and told she wasn’t allowed to express her full range of emotions because there would be negative consequences that was, in fact, a major point of the episode. Black women are not allowed to get angry. They are not allowed to grieve. And much like black men, they’re viewed warily by most of the white world. The finale poignantly reflected that reality.

    I do think that perhaps this point was missed by members of the podcast, when the words “think how much impact [the Doctor letting her fight] would have had if she wasn’t a Cyberman” it feels to me that the crux of this episode was lost on several of you. And it is difficult to express the sadness and frustration that wells up in me as someone who has loyally listened and recognises the influence you all have on the way your listeners embody their fandom and their feminism. That sentence and that sentiment is part and parcel of the dehumanisation the finale emphasised time and time again as painful and damaging to Bill’s emotional health. Bill was as much human to the very end of that finale as I am now. To call her anything less is to ignore the emotional and intellectual that made her, her. You have, in fact, made the same mistake as the schoolhouse matron and judged her as less than she really is.

    To ignore the agency of assisted dying is to fundamentally misunderstand the entire point of it, which is to maintain control of your fate and your body even after your mind ceases to be in your control. And I feel that the agency of Bill to actively fight programming, to find a friend when alone rather than succumb to despair, and asking to fight beside the Doctor rather than the alternative where she asks him to let her die. Agency is choosing a new life with her SpaceGirlfriendTM despite having just died and been ripped apart – not being forced or required, but deciding that now she’s back she’s going to pop back home for some chips then out into the stars. And I think there is some nuance to how SpaceGirlfriend was not dropped throughout the season that is a big part of the divide in fandom of “do we love her, do we not” that isn’t being addressed by those who aren’t a fan of the late reveal. Had SpaceGF continually popped up to help Bill out of scrapes that she could have gotten out of herself, what we would have had is a built up White Savior trope where their relationship is entirely built on her popping up and expecting Bill to care for her *because* she saved her. By only ever appearing when Bill really needed it, Bill’s autonomy remains intact and SpaceGF isn’t doing it because she expects something from Bill, but because she’s a good friend/ally who recognises that Bill only really needs her help in specific instances and that’s when she offers it. And at the end of the day, it’s Bill who makes the decision to not be held back by the visceral horror that she’s experienced. She is the embodiment of Black Girl Excellence, overcoming the BS to be the best and brightest and unapologetically blackest space lesbian.

  3. Richard S said:

    Great to have Deb back with one of your more lively (non-Liz) discussions.

    I’ve just paused the podcast to insta-respond to what seems to have been an incorrect assumption, made at around the 9 minute mark…

    Deb: “…Where some of Moffat’s seasons maybe feel… a little rushed, particularly when he was working on Sherlock sort-of simultaneously – and maybe there wasn’t quite as firm a hand on the reins – this one felt very much: there was somebody in control of it.”

    IMHO, yes, Series 10 felt much more cohesive (and coherent!) than any of Moffat’s previous years as showrunner… which is actually pretty astonishing, because THIS:

    “I never intended to do it forever and the workload is staggering. I’m just at the end of my toughest ever year in which I’ll have done – in about a year – three Sherlocks and 14 Doctor Whos. That’s been shattering.”

    – Steven Moffat, Radio Times, June 24-30, 2017, p. 13

  4. Richard S said:

    Hi again, listened to the ep, had a think, here goes…

    As others have said, this series seemed to up its game. Many stories as good as any in New Who. The less successful ones at least better than the weakest of recent years.

    In the end, it wasn’t too difficult to pick my specific choices of best and not-so-much episodes, thanks to my preference for certain types of storytelling.

    Least favourite was “Extremis” which took the reasonably well-explored (in SF & philosophy) concept of simulated worlds, and dumbed it down to the nonsensical level of a Dan Brown “plot”. My reaction was best summed up by this quote from Radio Free Skaro (which excludes the caveat that followed in the original RFS discussion):

    “It seems so unlikely… that every single person who encounters the translation of the Veritas kills themself – especially a Swiss lab full of scientists… I don’t think it’s in any way likely that EVERY last one – except for the Doctor… – would take their own life after knowing this truth.”

    Even worse, for me, “Extremis” made the brilliant idea of the university Doctor seem too much like the tedious, laughable, falsely modest, implausibly popular & educationally dubious Professor Robert “Mary Sue” Langdon.

    My own plot preference is usually for the Awesome Guest Cast Of Characters Each With Their Own Specific Motive. We so very nearly got there with Knock Knock, but for my favourite ep, I’ve chosen The Eaters Of Light. Stunning performances, and it reminded me of the fantasy fiction I devoured in the mid-1970s, my proto-DW, pre-SF-reading years.

    Additionally, the final scene of that episode was the only time in the entire series that Missy’s remorse seemed genuine to me. Initially, I thought it was because Rona Munro wrote the scene… but of course she probably didn’t. It appears Moffat wrote all the Missy scenes this year, so my reaction must have been a side-effect of all the feels from the ep itself.

    Oh, yes, and there’s been a development in the past few days. Just to address the elephant that was previously in the room, then walking on thin ice, and now lurking inconspicuously (as elephants are prone to do) somewhere in the vicinity of Wimbledon Centre Court…

    I am so relieved the wait will soon be over I was pretty sure the new Doctor would have to be revealed sooner rather than later, so Chibnall could go ahead and start shooting the damn thing (the next series, I mean, not the elephant, or the Doctor… okay, maybe the Doctor).

    A colleague of mine at work told me that the 13th Doctor announcement would occur later in the year, because, he reminded me, “they always show a clip of the Christmas episode on Children In Need.” (In other words, sometime in late November.)

    My colleague also informed me that, “There won’t be a Female Doctor.” And when I looked at him, all askance & quizzical, he reiterated & elaborated:

    “There won’t be a Female Doctor. There won’t be a Female Doctor because they’ve already done a Female Master to appease the sexists.”

    That’s what he said. And, no, he didn’t realise he’d dropped a big ol’ Freudian, right there at the end. I should explain, before my colleague made that assertion, I’d been reeling off a shortlist of possible candidates until he asked me to, “Stop saying women’s names. STOP saying women’s names.”

    IMHO, the most likely choice for the thirteenth Doctor would seem to be a recurring cast member from a previous Chibnall series – not Eve Myles or Arthur Darvill, someone else.

    I’d love to be surprised by a brand new name to the Chibnall-verse (Hayley Atwell! Tatiana Maslany!!) but I suspect the role has been given to a more obvious, generally better-known, but equally talented candidate.

  5. Neil A Ottenstein said:

    Just watched the final two episodes a second time last night. This time with my son. It definitely was different the second time around knowing who Mr. Razor is and Bill’s fate. And given yesterday’s announcement about the 13th Doctor, the line from World Enough and Time, “We’re billions of years beyond your petty human obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes” really jumped out at me.

    When Heather appeared, Alan had a couple of questions. Having the whole season still on the DVR I brought up the end of The Pilot and replayed all of the final encounter in the episode with Heather in the episode. While the flashbacks in The Doctor Falls were good, having the full scene in context was better.

    I have no idea what to expect with the Christmas special. It seems hard to believe that he will be able to hold off regeneration until the end of the special. He was so close a few times in The Doctor Falls.

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