Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

Posts tagged ‘Last Word’

Tansy’s Last Word – Episode 20 – Masterworks

masterDuring our Masterly special Episode 20 – Yes, Master, I promised a post about the Master’s appearances in Big Finish, especially those starring the wonderful Geoffrey Beevers.

We have:

MASTER, by Joseph Lidster

Geoffrey Beevers plays an amnesiac who slowly starts to believe that he is actually a man of great evil… and the mysterious Doctor with the question mark umbrella seems to agree with him! A great production that offers a different version of the Gallifreyan childhood trauma suggested in Utopia/Sound of Drums/Last of the Time Lords.

DUST BREEDING, by Mike Tucker

Ace, Seven, Bev Tarrant, art theft, and the Master once again played by Geoffrey Beevers. Plus a bonus cameo by Caroline John!


Erika’s Last Word – Episode 15

The Name of the Doctor StillThe Name of the Doctor

tl;dr WARNING: Yes, this piece is long.  No, I don’t care.  It’s the finale, after all!  I am full of squee, and I’m closing out this series with a bang!

GALLIFREY!!!!!  This is what I yelled (in my head, because I wasn’t watching it alone) right out of the gate.  Way to scoop me up and get me stoked!  I’m so glad I didn’t give in to my temptation to turn it off right there as I mentioned on the podcast.  But I’ve already squeed about seeing the past Doctors with my beloved Clara, so I shouldn’t take up any more space here with that.

Ok, a teeny bit more space:

SQUEE! Click here to read on…and on…and on…

Erika’s Last Word – Episode 14


Nightmare in Silver

As I said on the podcast, I felt (and still feel) quite ambivalent about this story.  It certainly winds up in the positive column, if for no other reason than I feel a happy glow when I think about watching it.  Note that this glow is less glowy than the one that suffuses my soul when I think of something like “Hide.”  Still though, glow.

I did manage to get in most of what I thought about “Nightmare in Silver” on the podcast, but there were a few bits and bobs left over that I shall spill out here.  Most of it deals with Clara, so let’s get to that first, shall we? Click here to continue reading about Clara and all the rest!

Erika’s Last Word – Episode 13


The Crimson Horror

When I sat down to watch Doctor Who last week, I really wanted to like it.  I always want to.  I’m most certainly not a “fan” who delights in picking apart every episode and finding things to complain about.  I’d rather make a list of the bits I love.  When I sat down to write this “Last Word” post, I wanted to focus on those happy bits.  But as I looked over my notes and mulled over what I felt, I realized that would be disingenuous.  Much as I hate to admit it, I sometimes just don’t like an episode of Doctor Who very much. Click here to read why.

Erika’s Last Word – Episode 12


Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

I realize I’m getting this post in just under the wire.  (New episode tomorrow covering “The Crimson Horror”!)  I simply haven’t felt much like writing this week.  I still kinda don’t, so this time, you’re getting a straightforward list of things I noticed about this story.  I think Verity! Episode 12 does a fine job of analysis and critique, and I don’t think I have much to add in that department, so on with the randomness! Click here for the randomness!

Deb’s Last Word – Episode 12



Kyle Anderson (@FunctionalNerd on twitter) posed an interesting question:  At what point does your displeasure at a TV show’s present regime outweigh your loyalty to it? Can you ever just stop watching?

This caught my attention because of the nature of Verity!  In case you haven’t noticed, we disagree.  We critique, we discuss and we don’t always like everything we see.  And that’s okay because not every minute of every episode is going to everyone’s  hearts’ sing.  Well, except for maybe Katrina but she is in Clara’s thrall and Kat + Series 7B = OTP* so that’s okay.  😉  But the rest of us typically turn a critical eye to Doctor Who – not out of some malicious desire to tear down the show or to make it lesser, but because we absolutely love it.

I spend more time thinking about Doctor Who than any other television show.  Wrapped up in a neat and tidy “family entertainment” package is show that explores time, history, morality, sin, joy, depression, family, good, evil, all the “-isms” and nearly anything else you can come up with.  I cannot view this show dispassionately and it is only because of this great affection and respect that I give it the brain time necessary to critically think about what is happening on my screen.  This show fascinates me in ways that other “good” television doesn’t.  Justified?  An amazing show with fantastic actors.  I watch it every week but when the television turns off I simply don’t think about it any more.  I’m sure there are people out there who do think of Justified in a critical way.  There are probably forums where the Shakespearean elements of the show are examined and the loose morality of the characters debated but for me it’s simply an entertaining hour of television.  I’m sure there are some people who feel the same way about Doctor Who, but I’m not one of them.

If you are one of those people for whom Doctor Who is just a fun 46 minutes of television you’re not doing it wrong by any stretch!  We all take different things from media and each experience is just as valid.  But for me, and I suspect for my co-horts as well, we look at this show deeply.  We enjoy peeling back the layers and looking at the good and the bad and filtering that information through our individual lenses.

This week we talked about silly things as well as more serious racial and gender issues.  We didn’t agree while talking and we certainly don’t expect all of our listeners to agree either,  but at least some of our thoughts resulted in conversations that made people think about these issues as well.  And whether you watch Doctor Who for 46 minutes of fun or with a more critical eye, it’s these conversations that absolutely fill me with delight.  (Deb + interesting Doctor Who conversations = OTP!)

But to get back to Kyle’s original question – is there ever a point where your displeasure overides your desire to watch?  My answer was “when the bad far outweighs the good”.  Yet, despite the occasionally negative critique in our conversations (and I love that the negative critiques rotates among us.  Well, except for maybe Kat.  See Also: Paragraph Two), there has not been an episode of this show EVER in which I have not found something good, something interesting and something worthwhile to take in.  Every week I am surprised.  Every week something new comes across my desk that is tangentially related to the show – whether it is a book release, a Big Finish audio, a podcast or a fan creation.  Every week I look forward to what this show will reveal and how I will react to that.  And if one episode, one actor, one writer, etc. doesn’t make my heart sing – another one is right around the corner.  Like an addict, it’s the next hit that keeps me going and I can’t ever imagine walking away.

*OTP: One True Pairing

Lynne’s Last Word — Episode 12

Kamelion touches the TARDIS.

Source: Blogtor Who

*mike drop*

Deb’s Last Word – Episode 11


The Bechdel Test:  Where two women talk to each other about something other than a man. 

In this week’s podcast the conversations regarding the Bechdel Test surprised me a bit and I think we got a bit off track as to whether the conversation between Clara and Emma was probable as opposed to appropriate.  As I said, I tend to give Doctor Who a bit of a pass when it comes to this particular gender bias test simply because the companion is our entre to the Doctor and is often the one people turn to for an explanation as to what in the hell is going on with this mad man in a box.

But in this instance, I was bothered and still am.  Perhaps it is a generational or social context issue but I still stand by my claim that a woman’s opening gambit in MOST conversations with another woman isn’t who they fancy.  Typically, it’s irrelevant and usually the least interesting thing about a person.  However, I will concede that it is a probable conversation as my cohosts claim.

The real issue for me is, was it appropriate?  Clara and Emma were not sitting in a bar having a bit of girl talk over a glass of Pinot Noir, they were in a haunted house, on a stormy night in 1974, being scared spitless by a ghost.  Is that REALLY the most interesting thing that’s going to pop up in conversation?  I realize Clara was trying to calm and distract Emma but there were so many other things they could have talked about that didn’t include the ghost or her romantic interests.  Do I need to make a list?  Because I could.

So let’s tackle this from a storytelling perspective.  We already knew that Emma had feelings for the Professor and they were going nowhere.  The beautiful scene where Emma reaches for his fingers and he pulls away, hesitating slightly was packed with emotion.  We feel Emma’s longing, we know she wants to push the relationship forward and it is Professor Palmer who is pulling back.  It makes sense to explore that further but why put the burden on the female character – did Emma tell us anything new in her conversation with Clara?  Not at all.

Now flip this to the scene in the dark room where the Doctor is quizzing Professor Palmer.  We get all sorts of meaty backstory – a broken man whose war record has been hidden from sight, suffering from near crippling survivors guilt.  Sink your teeth into that manpain for it is delicious!  How hard would it have been to slip in a question, a half question even:  “So, Miss Grayling?”  He wouldn’t have even had to answer, Dougray Scott could have just looked at the Doctor with a broken expression, a slight shake of his head and we’d understand he doesn’t feel he deserves love.

But that didn’t happen.  We found out all sorts of interesting things about Professor Palmer but all we know about Emma is that she is an Empath In Love.  Do you know what makes this sting a little bit more?  Emma was the entire purpose of the trip.  According to the story being told, she was the most important element and she was merely a tool both in the storytelling and meta sense:  she was a tool to open the portal, a tool to move the “romantic” story line along and a tool to read Clara.

So why fuss over one conversation in a story that I otherwise really, really enjoyed?  Because it is the type of conversation between women that we’ve become so used to seeing on film we don’t even notice it any more. But it is, overwhelmingly, the type of conversation we ONLY see between women.  Watch carefully the next time you see two female characters on screen – what aspect of the plot are they being used to push forward?  Is it the emotional or romantic story or is it everything, anything else?  Do you want to guess how often the Bechdel test fails?  The problem with this casual, insidious gender bias is that it narrows the scope of female characters, reducing them to tools as opposed to fully actualized characters.  If there is any place we can shake up these assigned gender roles it should be in science fiction, particularly Doctor Who, where absolutely anything goes.  The disappointment is when it goes down all too familiar paths.

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.

Episode 10 – Last Word: Erika

Doctor Who - Series 7BCold War

I’ve been thinking about Mark Gatiss’ “Cold War” since we recorded, and I think I’ve put my finger on the number one reason it disappointed me.  I can sum it up in one word: tension.  Actually, it was the lack thereof, so it’s three words.  Anyway, I’ve seen lots of people say they were gripped by this episode, but I was so far from the edge of my seat, I was literally reclining.

The story felt very by-the-numbers.  Sometimes that’s okay in horror—you really do need to include certain elements or it ceases to be horror, but when you’re going to stick to those numbers very closely, you need to do something else that’s compelling to get me to buy in.  This story lacked anything resembling that.  I thought maybe the return of a classic villain might do it for me.  Alas, it did not.

One of the “numbers” was the friend-turned-enemy subplot with Lieutenant Stepashin.  Yes, I disliked him the way I was supposed to, but then that plot didn’t really go anywhere.  Maybe killing him off so soon and suddenly was Gatiss’ attempt to get away from “the numbers,” but if so, it failed.  Perhaps with more time to play out, it would’ve worked well.  I come back to my assertion (while recording) that this felt like a classic episode of Who shoved into a new-Who time-slot.

The bright side of “Cold War” (excepting the set and direction, of course: drool) was Clara, but as she wasn’t exactly shining here, that didn’t make up for much.  And I can’t say I was fond of the exchange between Clara and the Doctor when she says “Saved the world then.  That’s what we do.”  It made them sound like a superhero team.  I’m not sure how I feel about the Doctor’s interference being so blatantly referred to that way.  I know that’s what the show has become, and maybe one can’t blame Clara for seeing it like that after only a few encounters, but I much prefer the Doctor to bumble along and save people almost incidentally.  And I should stress *people*.  Saving the world/universe/all of time is wearing a bit thin for me.

Nits to pick:

  • Why does that dude unthaw the Ice Warrior?  Like the TARDIS’s disappearance, I find this annoyingly convenient.  I realize that both elements are necessary for the story to move forward, but I think that both could’ve been handled more gracefully.  The unthawing bit in particular smacks of brute-force storytelling.  That’s not something I automatically associate with Mark Gatiss, but perhaps I should now that I think about some of his previous stories.  (Spitfires in space, anyone?)
  • Gosh, those chains on Skaldak must have loosened an awful lot to let the armor open enough for him to escape.  Even if you argue that he can completely flatten himself, we *see* the armor open when Clara looks at it, and it opens pretty darn wide.  Is everyone on this sub incompetent?
  • As Tansy said, that poor grunt is lifted up just like Paul McGann in Alien-cubed, but to where is he lifted?  It’s such a cramped space, that scene seems unlikely.  Maybe subs have between-deck hidey-holes.  I don’t know.  I’m not a submariner.

Happy bits:

  • I do like that the Doctor comes clean about being a time-traveler so quickly.  It’s an approach so rare as to be a refreshing change.  A little gem amongst some dull rocks.
  • Clara of course.  Her curiosity at the Ice Warrior when it first appears is amusing as she creeps up behind the Doctor to see it better.  I think that bright curiosity fades a bit by the end of the story, and I like that too.  After she realizes how real things are she’s more hesitant, but perhaps wiser.
  • I think it was Tansy who said she liked individual bits of the writing last week.  I felt that way to some extent this week.  I liked the exchange about speaking Russian, and I loved the line from the Professor about Skaldak wanting to talk to the organ grinder and not the monkey (not to mention Clara’s reaction to it).  The dialogue was mostly pretty decent, it was the framework upon which it hung that sagged.
  • Speaking of the wacky professor, I loved him.  When the Doctor says “I could kiss you” and he responds with “If you insist,”  I smiled hugely.  I’m going to insert a small complaint here in the pros section, and that’s that I wish there was more done with this character.  He seemed like he probably had a really interesting, full backstory that we didn’t get to see (again—this story felt squished).  I want that backstory.  Some have theorized that David Warner will return.  I hope that’s the case.  I want more of this guy.

So that’s my slightly-more-than-two-cents about “Cold War.”  If you’re interested in a couple other reviews that reflect my views (at least in part), I highly recommend checking out episode 303 of Two-Minute Time Lord and Kyle Anderson‘s review over at Nerdist.