Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

Posts tagged ‘Jenna Louise Coleman’

Verity! Episode 13 – King Crimson Horror

VerityEpisode13-300

Saturday brought us Mark Gatiss’ sophomore series 7b story. Savvy? Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy as we cover “The Crimson Horror.” One of us really didn’t like it, and it may not be who you expect. See who thinks what about the Victorian trio. Find out who doesn’t know who The Wiggles are. Marvel that Erika bought a Doctor Who audio. And if you’re like Lynne when she’s not on the episode, yell at the recording for being so wrong!

^E

Also covered:
POSSIBLY SPOILERY 50th anniversary set photos! And TARDIS Tavern’s multi-Doctor (2-, 3-, 5-) podcasts!
Peter Cushing on a “Great Britons” stamp!
A Celebration of Doctor Who! And Doctor Who purchases: Deadline! and Running Through Corridors!
Doctor Who, Project Who? BBC Audio!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:13:51) 

Verity! Episode 12 – The Incredible Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

VerityEpisode12-300Not since “Invasion of Time” have we seen so much of the TARDIS interior. What did Deb, Erika, Kat, and Lynne think of it? Join us as we discuss tantalizing glimpses, underdeveloped characters, literal reset buttons, what dresses really mean, and where Kamelion puts his fingers.

^E

Also covered:

Download or listen now (runtime 1:05:03) 

Erika’s Last Word – Episode 11

Doctor Who Hide PosterHide

As I said on the podcast, I adored this story.  But I don’t think I was quite as effervescent and squeeful as I should have been when we talked about it.  So here are the rest of my thoughts, presented in the yippie-skippy manner this story deserves.

The Good

TENSION!!  This was the theme of “Hide” for me.  I was completely and utterly gripped from moment one, and it did not let go.  That’s what was missing from “Cold War” last week.  I felt no sense of fear or dread during that story.  “Hide” had me literally on the edge of the couch, every muscle in my body tense.  I needed a deep-tissue massage when it was all over.  I realize that kind of thing is a matter of taste (plenty of people felt that way for “Cold War”), but for me, this one was a direct hit.

I love a good ghost story, and while we all knew this wouldn’t be an actual ghost, it was proper creepy.  The setting, the performances by the small cast, the excellent direction, it all worked together to make me a very happy (if tense) camper indeed.  (Watching it alone in the dark probably helped too.)  Weirdly, the part that scared me the absolute most was when the camera panned across all the photos of the ghost.  Something about that touched a frightened place deep inside.  It was deliciously terrifying.

Add to that the sheer horror of catching glimpses of the Crooked Man in the hallways and the (possibly deliberate?) similarity to Poltergeist (sliding down a rope through a portal into another, very scary, dimension), and you’ve got one heck of a ride.  Even the forest was chilling in its own eerily beautiful way.  This episode really pushed all my horror buttons.

I also quite enjoyed the writing.  Not only was the plot interesting and not entirely predictable, but the individual scenes and lines of dialogue were wonderful.  Admittedly, I didn’t love every bit of it—as we said, the Ghostbusters line was unnecessary, but it was more than balanced out by lines like “Doctor what?” “If you like.”  “We’re going always.” “Like a microphone…or a pooper-scooper,” or the Doctor waxing poetic about toggles or explaining how Emma won’t/might/will maybe feel pain while opening the portal.  Even the more somber moments were just lovely: “He’s a liar.” “Experience makes liars of us all.” “Don’t trust him. There’s a shard of ice in his heart.” And the scene in the TARDIS when Clara recognizes what the Doctor’s life is really like—heartbreaking.

The line “You are the only mystery worth solving” makes me wonder if the Doctor is really “back.”  The mystery surrounding Victorian-era Clara is what truly popped him out of his blue funk.  When or if (who am I kidding, it’s “when”) he solves that mystery, will he return to his galactic vagabond ways?  Or will he find another cloud to park on and mope some more?  I occasionally catch a whiff of grief peeking through under his adorable 11th Doctoreyness—like someone putting on a brave face while they’re still coping with a loss.  Though I suppose that’s a hallmark of every Doctor since the Time War.

Speaking of the Doctor, he was so fun to watch in this episode.  I love seeing the Doctor (any Doctor, but Matt Smith’s most of all) go all fanboy over a historical figure he admires.  (Though do not get me started on the freaking “Shakespeare Code.”)  The way he bounces around the room, exclaims over the professor, and fiddles with the equipment had me grinning from ear to ear.  Also, his assumed identity of someone from The Ministry elicited the kind of glee only a fan of the classic series can truly understand.  His delivery of “Geronimo” in this story is my favorite: matter-of-fact, resigned, understated.  When Matt Smith plays something that way (as opposed to his usual boisterous flailing), it has a lot more punch.  Well done.

I should also point out that I am still loving Clara!  As we said, there were a few moments when her performance seemed a shade off what it was in the past few episodes, but I chalked that up to fallout from her brush with dismembered bodies and an Ice Warrior.  It wasn’t until after I watched “Hide” that I found out it was the first ep she shot as Clara Oswald.  I still think there was a purposeful element of hesitation on her part as a result of her last adventure.  She’s afraid to search the house—not surprising, given she’s now seen what consequences adventures can have.  So she tells the Doctor to dare her.  How very Clara.  She’s got a good head on her shoulders, but she loves a challenge.  Later she even takes initiative and tries to bully the TARDIS into rescuing the Doctor.  (Not that I believe for one second the TARDIS can actually be bullied into anything by anyone other than the Doctor.)

The Bad

Okay so I wasn’t in love with every little bit of this story.  Kat is right that they needed to maintain a certain level of lightness for the kiddies, but every time they did that, it suffered for grown-up me.  The moment in the forest when the Doctor and Hila accidentally back into each other did not work for me.  It was supposed to lighten the tension, but it dragged me out of it too far.  And I will say again how much I HATED the very end the first time I watched it.  I enjoyed the adventure and the scares and the terror SO MUCH that when they effectively nerfed the boogeyman, I was outraged and felt completely cheated and betrayed.  I’m slowly getting over this by telling myself that they’re still terrifying creatures, they just happen to like being terrifying together.  Still though.  Nerfed.  Lame.

I also think “Hide” is a bit  silly and useless as a title.  Something as grand and spooky as this story deserved something equally grand and spooky.  Maybe something mentioning “Caliburn House”?  Oh well, far too late now.

The Random

The ghost is called the witch of the well.  Why?  Ok, so the well was the time well Hila was trapped in, but who figured that out?  Was some empathic psychic hundreds of years ago savvy enough to figure that out?  Or pick it up from Hila somehow?  Seems unlikely and a bit thin.

The Doctor states that the witch only appears in photographs in the presence of an empath.  That’s all well and good, but why does she appear when the Doctor travels to “always” and takes her picture all those times?  Is he supposed to be an empath?  Is the TARDIS?  That’s never made clear.

Metebelis!  Oh the controversy!  (Controversy: another word with multiple accepted pronunciations.)  To be honest, for many years I’d only seen the word written.  (I saw Planet of the Spiders as a youngling, but I forgot it entirely.)  I assumed for many years that it was pronounced as Matt Smith said it.  I only found out I was wrong within the last year.  I now feel a not-insignificant sense of vindication. *smug*

Since we recorded, I’ve been thinking more about Deb’s assertion that the are-you-and-he-an-item conversation was unrealistic, and I’ve realized it’s happened even more than I thought when we recorded.  I’ve asked the question fewer times than I’ve been asked, but that makes sense given my level of introversion most of my life.  I honestly can’t count the number of times some random person asked me if I was dating the guy I was with.  (I lived with eight guys in college, so I was almost always hanging out with one fellow or another.)  And these were not all in situations where hitting on someone was a goal or even an option.  That conversation has happened with people both male and female, single and married (or in committed relationships).  Generally it just comes across as general curiosity—no more personal than “so where do you live?” or “where did you go to school?”  All those questions are personal.  Why is it taboo ‘cause it’s asking about a relationship?  It never came across that way in Madison society over the past decade or so.  Then again, it is Madison.  We’re not described as “77 square miles surrounded by reality” for nothing.

The Wrap-Up

It seems my theory about my mood hugely affecting what I watch needs to be tossed out the window.  I was in a terrible mood when I reluctantly sat down to watch “Hide.”  Apparently that didn’t matter.  I wasn’t kidding when I said this story is up there with my absolute favorites of all New Who.  Whatever happens in the rest of 7b (and I’m quite excited for whatever does), it’s already won my heart and probably earned top status of all the New Who series.  Seriously.

Verity! Episode 11 – Hide in Plain Fright

VerityEpisode11-300Doctor Who is spooky again! Did it work? Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, and Lynne as we pick apart “Hide.” What was explained well? What wasn’t? Did this story pass the Bechdel test? If not, was that failure totally out of line? (We never do reach agreement there.) What do you think?

^E

Also covered:
The Doctor Who Spectacular!
Doctor Who Yahtzee! and Queers Dig Time Lords!
Torchwood: Children of Earth! (at Calgary Expo!)
“Through Time” parody video!

Download or listen now (runtime 59:52) 

Verity! Episode 10 – Cold Warriors of the Deep

VerityEp10-300This past week Mark Gatiss took us back to the 80s. Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy and find out how we felt about Duran Duran, Ultravox, submarines, and most importantly, the ICE WARRIOR. Who was thrilled? Who was meh? Who wants to make out with the set designer and director? All these things and more await you on this week’s Verity!

^E

Also covered:
A Celebration of Doctor Who! (Facebook event page)
Big Finish: Eldrad Must Die!
The Spartacus finale kills all joy forever.
“I Built a TARDIS” video!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:02:14) 

Verity! Episode 9 – The Prisoner of Akhaten

VerityEpisode09-300“The Rings of Akhaten” divided opinion in fandom, and we here at Verity! were no different. Listen as Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy hash it out. Was it dumb? Fun? Or both? Did the Doctor face a massive soul-eating god? Or an ineffectual Great Pumpkin cosplayer? We answer these questions (or at least discuss them) and more!

^E

Also covered:
The Reign of Terror with a 3-year-old!
Eastercon watches Doctor Who!
Four members of Verity! nominated for Hugo Awards!
Doctor Who: The Reunion on BBC Radio 4!

Download or listen now (runtime 59:39) 

Episode 8 – My Two Cents: TANSY

cult-doctor-who-the-bells-of-st-john-still-5I was quite relieved at first to discover I wasn’t rostered on to the first Verity NEW EPISODE episode of 7b, as I’m still on the fence about reviewing New Who immediately upon it coming out – generally speaking I prefer to stay quiet, enjoy the honeymoon of newness, and creep up on the intelligible critique after a decent amount of time has passed.

On the other hand, doing the Snowman episode was the MOST FUN EVER, and listening to you all this morning as I took my walk around the river, I had to keep stopping to take actual notes soooo…. here I am, then!

In order that things occurred to me while listening:

1. I agree that Clara is quite different to Amy and River and that this owes a lot more to Jenna-Louise Coleman’s excellent performance than for example, the writing. Moffat is often criticised for writing the same female character every time and I don’t think that’s true, but I think his love for witty dialogue does rather put his female characters in line for this criticism because female characters tend to attract a billion times more criticism than male characters in this show.

Anyway, the three actresses deliver the Moffat Wit-and-Flirt with greatly different styles, and it’s quite fun to imagine Alex Kingston or Karen Gillan tackling some of these JLC lines/speeches to see how very different they would have sounded. Not better or worse, just different.

2. OMG Kat I am so happy that you have a New Who female companion to like! I always felt a little sad that you didn’t have that!! It must have been so disappointing for so long. I can’t tell you how great it was to hear all FOUR of you liking her at the same time. Clara squee!

3. Clara is going to be compared to Amy for all time, I know that (when she’s not being compared to Rose, sigh) and hopefully the current wave of Clara love won’t turn into too much Amy-bashing (double sigh, like it’s not happening already) but I am very pleased that so far Moffat has given us some new material when it comes the character herself.

One strong difference between the two is that Amy was running away from something when she entered the TARDIS, while Clara (this Clara at least) is clearly running towards something. Her craving for travel, and for her life to start is reminiscent of Donna more than anything, but without the rather icky ‘look at her, how much her life sucks when the Doctor’s not around’ narrative that crept in from time to time. There’s less desperation about Clara, which is nice because obviously the tension is going to come from other places.

And I quite like the idea that the narrative arc for this companion so far is “She’s awesome, let’s follow her and solve the mystery about how she got here” which makes a change from “there’s something terribly wrong about her, she needs to be fixed”.

Did you NOTICE that after complaining about it I ended up comparing her to the other female characters that preceded her? Sigh. Let’s try again.

Clara is GREAT and I am enjoying her and she doesn’t need character progression, I’m okay with her being just fine to start with, and having adventures with the Doctor.

4. The Doctor’s fondness and protectiveness of Clara is fascinating – because it could feel terribly patriarchal and arrogant of him, but it doesn’t to me. It feels like the loss of Amy and Rory and indeed the double loss of the Clara-Oswins that preceded her has had a profound effect on the Doctor’s psyche – he actually worries about her.

And this is new because mostly the Doctor treats his companions as an extension of himself, carting them along in his wake and being quite cavalier with their safety – it’s one of his more endearing attributes while also frustrating at times. This was never so obvious as when he told Martha to ‘act as if she owned the place’ and dismissed her concerns about how her race might affect her safety in another time period. But he does it all the time – and with Nine and Ten in particular we saw flickers of resentment whenever a companion forced him to see she had needs (such as seeing her family) beyond the next adventure.

But  he looks at Clara like she is a baby bird – he’s deeply worried that this one might die too, and it’s interesting because it makes him more vulnerable than I think we’ve ever seen him before. He fails her/loses her twice in this story, and both times we see far more guilt and sadness than the Doctor generally lets us see.

5. I was a bit disappointed in the Cafe scene where Clara is busy being awesome and the Doctor comes up to her and he’s a Spoonhead – because my first reaction was ‘oh the bad guys got him and she has to rescue him now, this is awesome, it’s totally her turn!’ and in fact no, it was the other thing. Sigh. Maybe next week.

But I did very much like the doublecross where he didn’t go to confront the villain directly but stayed in the cafe (again, looking after Clara) because again, that feels like a new thing for the Doctor

6. Clara’s cup of tea made me ridiculously happy and you know what? I believe there was still tea in the bottom, I’m sorry but I’ve hung on to a cup of tea while juggling babies and running around the back garden and maybe one time I ended up on a trampoline, and sometimes there really is a precious drop right at the bottom. I love the little domestic details that Clara drags along with her and I can totally see her moving aspects of that into the TARDIS – WHEN CAN WE SEE HER TARDIS BEDROOM PLEASE? Throw cushions and ugg boots!

7. The different attitude towards the family of the companions in the Moffat era to the RTD era is quite marked – Moffat only brings them in when they’re relevant to the story, while for RTD it was part of the essential set up for the character. We don’t know anything about Clara’s family from this story at all – but I like what we learn about her as a person from this family she is living with and helping.

8. Did anyone else notice that Clara not only got a SECOND console room discovery room scene, but also that she got to do yet another new thing with it – I love that she howls “It’s actually bigger on the inside,” repeating herself in case he might not have noticed that’s the case. (did saying it’s smaller on the outside mark Victorian Clara out as the wrong version to travel in the TARDIS?)

9. Speaking of the TARDIS console room, I am so glad that I like it in this episode because I was quite put off by the version in the Snowmen (and particularly the publicity shots) – I was in denial about how much I didn’t like it, and it did have that quite frigid, clinical look about it (I know, I know, the original was white walls and roundels I’m sorry but I’m programmed to read that as COZY).

I particularly like how the TARDIS interior was shot, the very dynamic short scenes with the Doctor and Clara using that space in interesting ways, and hope it’s not just a ‘that director did a great job’ thing though can I say, that director did a great job!

10. I’ve always loved Celia Imrie, but I think she was brilliant in this. I particularly like that her character is one who didn’t have to be either a woman or indeed an older woman, but that they cast HER when it could as easily been, oh, Stephen Fry or Keeley Hawes speaking exactly the same lines.

11. On the lack of a backlash against Clara as opposed to say the polarisation of views about Amy – well, a lot of it has to do with who you listen to, as there are plenty of people out there who love Doctor Who and don’t love Clara (and indeed plenty of people who don’t love Matt Smith – beyond odd, but true!). But I suspect that the big reason that there has been such warmth and vocal support of this Clara in this episode is that we have been effectively warmed up to her as a character already.

Think back to when Donna first appeared in The Runaway Bride and massively divided Doctor Who fans – but by the time she appeared again in Partners in Crime, we were ready to embrace her. I suspect that part of the reason she is so loveable in Partners in Crime is because we got the backlash out of our systems already and were prepared to let her have a “blank” slate.

It’s hard to accept a new companion, and I think the point at which a new companion is launched into the TARDIS, as with a new Doctor, is the time we are most keenly aware of the artifice of the show – of what the showrunner and his team are TRYING to make us feel. And we resist that. So it doesn’t hurt to get a bit of that resistance out of the way ahead of time.

I say this as someone who loved Clara to bits back when she was Oswin and again as Victorian Clara, and is very excited about this contemporary Clara too.

I also wonder if the general acclaim is part of massive relief? Because there was such deep skepticism about Contemp Clara, and whether she could be as awesome as Victorian Clara, or whether we’d like her at all, and wasn’t she just going to be Amy Pond Again anyway?

So yes, The Bells of St John might not have been groundbreaking Doctor Who, but it was New and it was Dead Good and it was edged all over in Astoundingly Charming bits, and it feels a bit like Doctor Who fandom (or at least the part of it that mostly inhabits my iPod, my Twitter feed and my blogstream) collectively breathed out in a sigh of relief.

Does not suck. More please.