purplecat: Twelfth Doctor and the number 12 (Who:Twelve)
World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls must form one of the best season finales in NuWho. In general I've been pretty unimpressed by these finales, feeling they had a tendency to over-emphasize spectacle at the expense of any real coherence. I thought Heaven Sent/Hell Bent were a marked improvement on previous attempts but thought this was even better - possibly because I was never that invested in Clara as a companion where I really did like this Tardis team and am genuninely sorry to see it to an end. Actually, just as I feel I couldn't really critically view The Eater of Light because it was such a nostalgia fest for me, I suspect I can't view this as critically as it might deserve given how invested I was in this Tardis team by this point.

More under the Cut )

So yes I liked this. I liked this mostly for the Cybermen in World Enough and Time and Bill's story throughout. Despite the fact there were a number of flaws (particularly in the logic of the situation) I thought it stood up pretty well in general, especially in comparison to other season finales.
purplecat: Twelfth Doctor and the number 12 (Who:Twelve)
Three formative things from my childhood/teenage years: The books of Rosemary Sutcliff, the folk-music inspired output of Clannad, holidays spent in Scotland.

To be honest, I also rate Survival pretty highly, so The Eater of Light would have had to try pretty hard for me not to love it. I'm not sure I can even remotely claim to be looking over this story with an unbiased eye. I loved it a lot. It does reassure me that The Teenager also loved it however, despite considerable sceptism about Rosemary Sutcliff (occasionally I give her the books, she tactfully ignores the gesture), and no memories of Scotland (or Survival).

She does like Clannad though, but I'd argue that the music here, while definitely folk-inspired, is not particularly Clannad-ish.

Spoilers under the Cut )

I loved this. It hit me in all my nostalgia weak points and handled this particular TARDIS team, which I already liked, perfectly enough to convert me from well-disposed to a fan. The Teenager said she thought it might be her favourite Doctor Who story. I'm not sure I'd necessarily go that far (this is no Blink!) and I'm almost frightened to see how it would stand up to a rewatch because I'm very aware that external factors were effecting my ability to think critically about this. But on a single viewing, I'd say it was my favourite Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole story.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
People compare Mark Gatiss who stories to the Pertwee era surprisingly often to my mind. I think he's on record as saying it's his favourite era of the show and it's true his stories tend to have a straight up monster or villain but the Pertwee era is typified, I would say, by the presence of overtly political themes (absent from Gatiss') work and a fairly sparse and functional approach to setting where Gatiss' (possibly because of his interest in Victoriana) tends towards the Gothic. In fact, apart from the fact Gatiss doesn't borrow from Horror tropes, I would have said that the Hinchcliffe era was a better point of comparison.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that, no matter what the rest of the Internet might think, I can't really imagine Empress of Mars in the Pertwee era.

More under the cut )

This is, I get the impression, the episode that Gatiss has always wanted to write and I think it shows. It is having a lot of fun, telling a ripping yarn, and manages to feel both like a Doctor Who story and like a Scientific Romance.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
Hmmm... The Lie of the Land was better than The Pyramid at the End of the World. In fact given endings are so much harder than beginnings, I'd say it did a pretty good job of tying up the "Monk Trilogy". Ultimately though, I think it had the same problem that The Pyramid at the End of the World had, namely that the Monks are not really a Science Fictiony baddy at all but more a Fairytale baddy and the meshing of the Fairytale baddy with the pretty straight-up SF presentation doesn't really work.

I call the Monks a "fairytale" baddy mostly because, as I observed of The Pyramid at the End of the World, before they can take over the planet they require an explicit though ill-defined bargain to be struck, but also because here they are ultimately defeated by the magic of love. Both of these are more about symbolism than physical reality. I will note that the resolution in The Lie of the Land has a better explanation than the initial bargain - the idea that they are defeated by a concept that is both about love but also as fictional as their own narrative - and that the whole thing works considerably better than the Tenth Doctor's much-maligned Tinkerbell-Jesus moment at the end of Last of the Time Lords of which it was very reminiscent. However this still feels a lot more like fairytale logic than SF logic. I don't think it helps that the Monk's nature, motivation and powers are all exceptionally hazy. In The Pyramid at the End of the World they can pluck fighter planes from the sky and nuclear submarines from the sea and yet here, once the false memories are removed, they are fairly easily defeated (or at least scared off) by a few soldiers. If the Monk Trilogy had been trying to evoke an atmosphere similar, say, to Sapphire and Steel then this might have worked but its trappings are all modern-day (SF) mystery/thriller (Extremis, The Pyramid at the End of the World) and near future dystopia (The Lie of the Land) and I don't think the story quite earned breaking the mould of those genres with its underlying explanations.

I really like this Tardis crew, and their interactions. Once again, I liked what we saw here of Bill and Nardole working together. I wasn't so keen on the Doctor testing Bill, but the fact that she more or less accepted his explanation of his behaviour as justified sort of brought me round. However, I couldn't quite escape the feeling that the story had just wasted 10-15 minutes on trolling the viewers about when the regeneration was going to happen. I thought the scene with Missy in the vault, and the different ways the Doctor and Bill reacted to her solution were great. I thought Bill hand-cuffing the Doctor up at the end and getting on with what needed to be done was also great, but a lot of this is about the characters and the actors and not really about the story construction.

On a story level, The Lie of the Land works better than Pyramid (though I did wonder why everyone was wearing dark colours all of a sudden), but I think it would ultimately have been stronger if we hadn't had a fake regeneration half-way through, a fake reset at the end (I know it's a Doctor Who handwave that humanity tends to forget invasions but it was treated particularly dismissively here and one of the things I wholeheartedly preferred about RTD's version of Doctor Who was he was absolutely prepared to run with the population of Earth remembering alien invasions) and if someone had put a bit more thought into what the Monks actually are (and why they are called Monks once taken out of the context of the Vatican in Extremis) and how they work.

I want to like series 10 more than I am, because I think they have finally got the characterisation of the Twelfth Doctor right and I think the combination of Bill and Nardole as companions works really well, but so far I've found it hard to get completely behind any of the stories. This trilogy in the middle feels particularly weak. I suspect some of this is simply because it is attempting to be a trilogy. Ultimately, I think having three linked episodes in the middle of a season is an interesting idea, but it hasn't really worked. I'm not sure if that is because of its placement in the season, or just because coordinating three different writers across three different stories introduces a new level of complexity into maintaining a consistent plot logic and presentation of your monster/villain.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I have to agree with [personal profile] londonkds' assessment of this episode. It was clearly required to get events from point A to point B and it did so competently enough, but the scaffolding is a little too visible (particularly the somewhat bizarre set-up and protocols of the bio-hazard lab).

I'm in two minds about whether the overall structure, in which the audience is aware almost from the get-go that events in Turmezistan are a red herring. It is very rare that the viewer is significantly ahead of the Doctor in understanding a situation. On the one hand, it ups the tension as we wait for the Doctor to figure it out but on the other it drains the tension out of the suggestion that world war three might be looming.

I very rarely opt for head-canon when explaining a story, but I'm headcanoning here that whatever the Monks mean by "pure consent" is untranslatable into English. While Bill's motivation for giving consent is clearly different to that of the U.N. Secretary General or the three generals, it is not given out of any kind of pure love for the Monks and is clearly given in the expectation that if the Doctor remains alive he can somehow fix the situation. I actually think the nature of the Monks both here and in The Lie of the Land owes more to the fairytale tropes that Moffat was trying to evoke in his early years as show-runner than more recent monsters. The Monks require you to make a symbolic bargain with them the terms of which are unclear. I may write more on this when I get around to reviewing The Lie of the Land.

I also wasn't entirely convinced by the speed and readiness with which everyone took the Monks' assertion that the end of the world was nigh at face value.

There are some great visuals in this story and some great ideas, but I was left feeling that not quite enough thought had gone into actually linking everything together into a coherent whole. It's construction was workmanlike rather than actually good. I'd say it was the weakest story so far this season.

Extremis

Jun. 4th, 2017 09:16 am
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I really liked Extremis even though I think, as a story, it is a lot less well constructed than either Knock! Knock! or Oxygen.

Is it too late to worry about spoilers? I don't know. )

After two episodes I felt were well-constructed but ultimately a little unambitious, I liked an episode which might have been rather messier but had a lot of interesting ideas baked into it and which executed what is, let's face it, a fairly standard SF trope without falling into some of the pitfalls of that trope.

Oxygen

May. 26th, 2017 10:01 pm
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
Oxygen struck me as, structurally, being very similar to Knock! Knock! and, like Knock! Knock!, I feel I like it less than it deserves to be liked.

Both Oxygen and Knock! Knock! tell neatly self-contained stories. These are well-produced and acted with scripts that are thoughtful while fitting recognisably within the mould of a Doctor Who story. Fond as I am of the Sylvester McCoy era, it would have struggled to produce two stories of this high quality in close succession. In fact if these had appeared during a Sylvester McCoy season, I suspect I would have rated them as highly as stories like Ghost Light and Curse of Fenric.

This isn't a Sylvester McCoy season though, my expectations are different, and somehow neither managed to really grab me.

I don't really want to nit-pick at Oxygen, but among other things I'm dubious about the economics on display. I've mentioned a couple of times when discussing this season, about how you identify that point in a fantastical show, where it's breaking its own unstated rules of consistency. The problem Oxygen had for me specifically as someone who has hung around space scientists a bit, is that its very emphasis on the realities of surviving in a vacuum made me expect more realism from the rest of the Space Science. The reality of space is it is really, really expensive to put people up there (in weight terms, even if you're not factoring in the expense of training someone and are, apparently, discounting any value in human life) so you probably don't want them randomly suffocating even if they are not being as productive as you might like. This then, of course, made me think of the practices of Victorian factory owners and making your workers indebted to you for their use of oxygen (and thereby imposing a form of slavery) and that somehow seemed more plausible though not, obviously as likely to produce space zombies. Like the "how does agriculture work on Christmas?" problem I had with Matt Smith's final story, this distracted me far more than it should have done.

I'm not really qualified to comment on the depiction of disability. [personal profile] hollymath has written eloquently about how hurtful she found it though I've seen other commentary that was cautiously optimistic or at least "jury still out" on the subject.

I was disappointed that the blue alien had no function in the story beyond making a simplistic point about racism and then dying.

Did I like anything about the story? Yes, actually. I really liked the interactions between Bill, Nardole and the Doctor. This is the first time we've seen them operating as a team and I liked the way the dynamic of two companions (who aren't romantically linked in any way) worked, particularly the way that the two of them can jointly put different perspectives to the Doctor. In fact I really like this softer version of the twelfth Doctor and both his new companions.

I did think the story was well-paced, well-acted and I liked that it was allowed to be about something and that its resolution tied back to its themes and the set up of the problem. I'm far from convinced it is really Oxygen's fault that I got distracted by picking holes.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I feel curiously underwhelmed by Knock, Knock since its an extremely well-crafted story, that holds together nicely, keeps it's pacing and even manages to be about something in a quiet sort of way ((grand)parents and children, growing up and independence). I'm not sure if this is because it is so clearly stand alone and designed to be such, or because a lot of the story is basically running up and down corridors or, I don't know, something else.

Doctor Who classically, is at its best when presenting horror-lite in this fashion but this didn't feel to me quite like a Doctor Who story. Mysterious tower, notwithstanding, it isn't quite as full-blown gothic in its horror as a lot of the Hinchcliffe era since it clearly has more DNA in the teen slasher movies of the 1980s than it does in Hammer Horror. Similarly Doctor Who has only really had the option of telling stories in which the Doctor impinges upon his companion's lives in this way since the advent of the "part time" companion with the Ponds and has, perhaps wisely, used this device relatively sparingly. Both The Power of Three and The Caretaker were successful in their own ways, but they are definitely also clearly something left of field in a way this isn't.

All that said, I watched this with my mother (not a regular watcher of NuWho) and she clearly felt she had been shown something pleasantly familiar - all the better for the inclusion of David Suchet as the Landlord.

It is also hard to feel particularly churlish about the re-use of the "wooden person" effect since it looked so good. The curled wooden hair, in particular, looked stunning. However one does have a feeling that a lot of effects are being reused this season and while, as a cost saving exercise, I would prefer they re-used good effects that work than attempt to create new effects on the cheap that don't, they do seem to be re-using a lot of effects.

There's nothing wrong with this episode and a lot to like, particularly the central performances from Capaldi, Mackie and Suchet but somehow there wasn't anything here that actually made me excited.

Thin Ice

May. 9th, 2017 08:56 pm
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I'd say Thin Ice was easily the best story so far this season. It possibly benefits from the fact that, even though it is "introduce Bill to history" episode a lot of the basics of her introduction to the Doctor and his life have been covered. The episode does not need to spend its first third focussed primarily on interactions between the leads and can launch into the plot much more directly.

It possibly benefits from this, that said it is the "introduce Bill to history" episode and it is the episode that gets to grapple directly with the issue of people dying and the Doctor's culpability for people's death, so there is still a lot of emphasis on Bill and the Doctor. Somehow this episode seemed to be able to make their interactions feel much more a part of the general story as opposed to having an opening "Bill and the Doctor" act followed by the rest. I thought Bill grappling with the Doctor's responsibility for people's deaths was particularly well done. It was acknowledged and moved past without being ignored - and a lot of that is probably due to Pearl Mackie's performance because there wasn't a lot of dialogue on the subject.

I have, at various times in Moffat's Who, felt he was making a deliberate commentary upon Russell T. Davies' tenure. Rory often came across as an analogue of Mickey; there has been a lot of fairly explicit criticism of Donna's mind-wipe; and a lot of this felt like engagement with fan criticism of the treatment of Martha's colour as a non-issue in The Shakespeare Code. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or just a natural consequence of a different writer tackling the question of how a modern black woman might react to finding herself in Regency England and the things she might, in particular, notice about it. Obviously this wasn't a Moffat-penned episode so it is hard to know how much of this came from Sarah Dollard and how much was Moffat. I hope it wasn't Moffat, in a way, because six years in is way past time to be making Doctor Who in reaction to what went before.

I'm liking Bill a lot. I was initially pretty dubious about her. While, yes, it's great to have a black lesbian companion, I did worry that the writers would spend far too much using her as a vehicle to make worthy points rather than letting her be a character in her own right. In the introductory short she also seemed very broadly comic which didn't really endear her to me, but she undeniably works well with this less abrasive version of the twelfth Doctor. While there have been lots of comparisons with Rose, in some ways she actually reminds me more of Donna - someone who is very direct, not too over-awed by the Doctor and who often approaches things from a very individual angle.

Now the explicitly introductory episodes are over, I'll be interested to see how this season shapes up and gets into its stride.

Smile

May. 8th, 2017 08:57 pm
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I was really enjoying Smile right up until the final 10 minutes or so. I actually enjoyed the Doctor and Bill exploring the empty colony and figuring out the threat more than I had the previous weeks' depicition of them initially getting to know each other.

Like In the Forest of the Night this had bags of atmosphere, but it was less overt than Forest with its explicit evocation of fairy tales and I thought, gorgeous as Forest was, that Smile benefitted from a more realist tone and less intense evocation of place.

Where In the Forest of the Night fell apart for me, and for most viewers, I think, was in its explanation for the trees. In my review of The Pilot I touched on the difficulty of pinpointing where a pseudo-scientific explanation in a show like Doctor Who fails to convince. After all, in a show about someone who travels through time and space in a police box, what is so inherently ridiculous about the concept of magic space trees? any yet for a large segment of the audience they clearly pushed suspension of disbelief too far.

I don't think the resolution of Smile works any better than In the Forest of the Night but I think it is easier to figure out what went wrong with it. At the level of the in show explanation, we have been told that the problem here is that the Emojibots have learned that they can eliminate unhappiness by eliminating the people who are unhappy - the solution we are presented with emphasises the concept of equal rights for robots which does not really seem to follow from the problem. To compound the issue, only the previous week the show has emphasised the potential amorality of mind-wipes. So here we have the Doctor first mind-wipe the robots as a solution to the immediate problem but then assert that they are sentient creatures deserving of respect. On a thematic level, in a story which has been about the impossibility of permanent happiness and the effect of grief a solution which not only side-lines but downplays the colonists grief at the end seems jarringly out of place. Smile doesn't feel as insulting to basic intelligence as In the Forest of the Night did, but its ending still feels incredibly clumsy to me, particularly in contrast to the story that had preceded it.

I think Frank Cotterell-Boyce is excellent at invoking a sense of place, creating atmosphere and introducing interesting themes. However I think he's really bad at then bringing all these elements together into resolutions that make sense. In Smile the problem is that the resolution is almost actively working against both his themes and the problem he has presented. I'm still not quite sure why the resolution to In the Forest of the Night doesn't work beyond that the appearance of Maeve's lost sister comes from nowhere and follows from nothing previously established about the magic space trees, but I suspect part of the problem is that Cotterell-Boyce doesn't really seem to have grasped the essence of the scientific concepts he is attempting to use, so that they appear as set dressing on a story that is magic realist without the guts to actually admit as such. I think part of the problem with Smile is that he's equating any solution related to Artificial Intelligence with any problem related to Artificial Intelligence without realising that AI is far from some monolithic thing within which any solution solves any problem.

The Pilot

Apr. 25th, 2017 09:08 pm
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
Season openers and companion introductions are always a little insubstantial. They generally have a lot of ground to cover, in introducing (or re-introducing) characters while at the same time wanting to keep things fairly fast-paced and not too serious. In general I would say that Doctor Who has erred on the side of "light and fast-paced" with a focus on the companion's reaction to adventure. The Pilot clearly chose to go a little slower than usual in its introduction of Bill. It spends a lot of time establishing her relationship to the Doctor in the absence of any peril or adventure and only then brings the sci-fi plot of the episode forward.

On the whole I thought it did a good job of introducing Bill. I'm not as super-excited about her as a lot of people are, I got a sense of the script trying a little too hard to be funny in places. An "Educating Rita" relationship between Doctor and companion is an excellent idea but there is a fine line between portraying someone as bright, but uneducated, and being a little condescending towards your character and I'm not sure the script always got this right. That said I thought it was interesting that, while the show made much of how like the Doctor Clara was, in manner Bill is much more like the Doctor - in particular her tendency to gabble when either she is trying to deflect a line of questioning or she is simply nervous. She also has some of Capaldi's awkwardness of manner. I thought the monologue about serving her crush chips was great and very Doctorish in a lot of ways*.

A big deal was made in the pre-publicity for The Pilot that Bill would be a lesbian and, paradoxically, that big deal would not be made of this in the show. I was a little bemused in advance about how this could be achieved. Let's face it, Doctor Who is not the kind of show in which people discuss their sexuality a great deal (albeit this has been more common in NuWho than in Classic Who). How, I wondered, does one casually throw a mention of sexuality into a Doctor Who story? The answer, in retrospect, was obvious. I liked that the plot was driven by Bill's romantic interest.

That said the plot itself felt like it had some glaring holes in it. It is always difficult with a science fantastical show like Doctor Who to discuss what is, and isn't, realistic within the world of the show. However Heather, as the Pilot's, ability to cross time and space in sequence with the order of events as experienced by Bill and not in strict temporal order seemed... unlikely. The plot was also, as "Deb from Philadelphia" in the Verity podcast pointed out, something of a "greatest hits" of a number of things we have seen several times before in NuWho - all the more so when you throw "Educating Rita" into the mix. There were some lovely moments but on a story level, I wasn't particularly excited by this.

The set up shown, of the Doctor semi-fixed in a contemporary university is, hopefully, a chance for the show to be a little different this season. This is certainly a very different Doctor in lots of ways from the one we saw in seasons 8 and 9. One of my favourite moments in the story was the realisation that he had gone back in time to provide Bill with missing photos of her mother. This is a very different person from the one who had to read out cue cards, supplied by Clara, in order to interact appropriately with distressed humans. Nardole may have commented on his obliviousness to Bill's distress at the end, but this still seemed like a Doctor who had come a long way in his understanding of, or at least his willingness to deal with (I was never entirely convinced that the Doctor was oblivious to the feelings of those around him) the emotions of everyone else.

I've no strong feelings about Nardole. I like his dynamic with the Doctor which is so different to the typical Doctor Companion dynamic, but he was very much in the background here.

Overall I liked this. I thought it was a little slow at the start, but the new Tardis team and the university setting (albeit, as Tame Layman pointed out, university's don't work like that - though universities remain quixotic enough that it's not beyond the realms of possibility) have promise. As a long time fan, I'm rarely particularly excited by season openers, especially when they are designed (as this one clearly was) as a jumping on point, I'm too keen to get on with the story, but this one did its job.

*and yes there was a fat joke, but surely Bill as a character is allowed to be awkward about her attitude to weight - it's not like most people don't have an awkward relationship to weight.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I liked The Return of Dr. Mysterio. I had been a bit worried, on seeing the trailers, that we were going to get something similar to Robots of Sherwood with the Doctor and the Superman analog squaring off against each other in a battle of "who is the real hero". Instead we got a completely different relationship in which the Doctor is in the role of mentor to a superhero who shares many of his strengths and his weaknesses.

The story gets points simply for not being set on Victorian Christmas Planet. But in general I've preferred Capaldi's Christmas specials to a lot of the stories that appear in the main seasons. I think the lighter tone works well, and while Capaldi can be excellent at the serious and doom-laden, he has enough range to do comedy as well and it is good to see that utilised. I thought his interactions with Grant, in particular in the scenes set in Lucy's house, were great.

I liked Nardole too. I went into it with pretty much no opinion about the casting of Matt Lucas having, to be honest, barely registered him in The Husbands of River Song beyond a vague concern that the presence of such a well-known actor in Pearl Mackie's stories might make it harder for her to establish herself than it might otherwise. I thought he was good here and I liked seeing a very different Doctor and Companion relationship which is not dominated by hero-worship on the part of the companion.

I did think that the character of Lucy, after a strong start, got rather sidelined into the traditional superhero damsel-in-distress role and I can see it was probably not a good story for anyone who is an afficionado of superhero comics - after all it is poking gentle fun at the most well-known superhero tropes from the 70s and 80s and isn't, as I understand it, greatly informed by what is happening in superhero comics now.

However, as a Christmas story, I thought it was good-hearted, entertaining fun.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
It's the Eleventh Doctor's final story and, oh look! it's Victorian Christmas planet again. I really didn't rate this story much last time around so I was suprised to find myself liking it much better on second viewing.

More Under the Cut )

First time around I thought Time of the Doctor was a bit of a mess. I still think it is a bit of a mess, though it works better on re-watching. Still, as a story, it is burdened with trying to explain a lot, resolve a lot, set up alot and that prevents it really telling its own story.




I asked The Child if she wants to rewatch the Twelfth Doctor stories - Deep Breath being where she came into the show and she has decided not. She wants to see the "important" classic Who stories (which is defined as companions arriving and leaving, Doctor's changing, and other significant events - I'm guessing first appearances of recurring monsters and characters) plus the "really good" ones. I have a tentative list though I'm dubious about some of it (even deciding that if only telesnaps exist we may content ourselves with just watching the relevant bits of episodes). However, given she's seen An Unearthly Child, we obviously need to watch The Daleks next and we'll play it by ear from there.

Could be a while though, there is the family Buffy rewatch to get through and Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I didn't really write about Day of the Doctor when it first aired since it all got tangled up in my birthday Who-watching marathon session. I really enjoyed it at the time, but we had already watched a lot of good Doctor Who by that point and were not necessarily entirely sober. I was anxious to see whether it was still as good on a second viewing.

It was still good )

The multi-Doctor story is a difficult beast and I think Day of the Doctor is better than all its predecessors. I don't think it's better than Remembrance of the Daleks (but then, as noted above, despite all appearances to the contrary that was not an anniversary story). Where Doctor Who had been succeeding in series 7 it was with tightly focused, fairly serious, stories such as Hide and A Town Called Mercy, so it was good to see it make a success of something much more light-hearted and rambling. It is immensely enjoyable.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I liked The Name of the Doctor better than I did when I first saw it (though I didn't dislike it then). Part of that is expectation management. I wasn't expecting much of the Great Intelligence. I wasn't expecting an appearance from the yeti. I knew that the name of the Doctor was largely misdirection and I knew that we would be seeing River again.

More under the Cut )

However, for a story burdened with a number of ongoing elements I'm less fond of, The Name of the Doctor comes out of it all pretty well. It isn't as good as the strongest stories in season 7 of Doctor Who, but it is better than the weaker stories which is no mean feat for a season finale (even if this is a finale that, by circumstance, is the first in a sequence of three specials). It makes a good job of the hand it has been dealt, but I'm glad that Moffat has since moved on to less intricate over-arching plots.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
Sometimes it's interesting to re-read my previous reviews, if only to see how one story can come across differently on different viewings. I had remembered Nightmare in Silver as a weak episode in a weak half-season and I wasn't really pre-disposed to revise my opinion on a second viewing. However, looking back I seem to have, not exactly liked it, but felt it was OK first time around.

More under the cut )

Ultimately Nightmare in Silver feels like a bit of a mess with nothing that's really good enough to make up for that. I think it remains the weakest story in a fairly weak half-season.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I want to like The Crimson Horror. It has Diana Rigg in it, Madame Vastra and her gang, and the plot holds together pretty well, but somehow I can't get over feeling it's all a bit over-the-top and has too much of the grotesque.

More Under the Cut )

All that said, it is difficult to find a lot to criticise here. The performances are good. The plot makes sense, at least by its own gothic standards. The use of flashbacks, and starting the story in the middle works surprisingly well. Even the unwanted kiss between Eleven and Jenny is more a failing of the era as a whole, than of this story in particular. Still, I it's not a story I find I like much and the best I can say is that my dislike may not really be the episode's fault. Since the story isn't really trying to do anything beyond entertain, it's difficult to even say I can appreciate it even where I don't much like it.

Addendum: Over Christmas The Child discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. NuWho viewing has slowed considerably as a result.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I really loved this episode. Having become somewhat jaded by the Christmas specials, particularly Moffat's procession of Victorian Christmas planets, I've found both this and Last Christmas refreshing changes.

More Under the Cut )

I think The Husbands of River Song succeeds better than Hell Bent in presenting an accessible and fun bit of Doctor Who to a general audience, while containing plenty of catnip for fans of the show. We all loved it to bits, but I suspect we were precisely the audience at which it was most squarely aimed - i.e., three generations of a fannish family (albeit with varying degrees of fannishness for Doctor Who), all watching it together at the pleasantly squiffy part of Christmas day.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
I was very disappointed with this story first time around. I thought it had a potentially interesting set-up which was then squandered with a rather mundane resolution and a reset button. I enjoyed it more this time around, since I was going in with low expectations, but I still think it is a wasted opportunity. NLSS child (who it should be noted is not only no-longer-so-small but actually bigger-than-I-am so should possibly be renamed BTIA child) thought it was great. Her good opinion of this half season remains intact.

More under the cut )

I still think this story marks the beginning of a down turn in quality for this half-season of Doctor Who and I still think there are much more interesting things you could do with the concept of being trapped inside the Tardis. However it works well enough, I suppose, on its own terms.
purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
We loved these episodes but I'll happily confess to being mystified about what anyone not steeped not only in the lore of Doctor Who, but also the fandom debates and discussions of the past 20 years, would get from them. They seemed to me to be Moffat in full on commentary mode with the story very much taking second place.

More under the Cut )

I loved it to bits, but I'm a somewhat specialised audience.

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