Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nerding Out of The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

As you know, I love friggin' Doctor Who.

Or maybe I don't talk about it much because I'm afraid it'll creep you out, much as it has done to my roleplaying group. Aaanyway, I do and I saw the 50th Anniversary special (plus or minus fifteen years of being off the air) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, I'm a fucking insatiable nerd prick, so I've got some nitpicks the size of a fucking planet to bring up. A nit for each Doctor, actually.

It's perfectly natural, as a nerd, I have a locked (deadlocked, some might say) emotional progression in response to good things:

I first noticed this paradigm when I heard that Victoria Hand was going to be in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Surprisingly, her role was so understated, I never really around to hating her. AoS is definitely progressing in tiny, steady steps.


1) Okayokaokay, so the timeline for The War Doctor was "Night of the Doctor," "No More," "Hello Bad Wolf Girl," "Is It Nine Already?" What the fuck? Is this the guy that tried to save Davros from The Nightmare Child? Is the The War Doctor that Sontarans picture leading armies against the Daleks while they masturbate themselves to sleep at night? Is this A FUCKING. WAR. DOCTOR?

Look, I don't need a grim and gritty tale of The Doctor in The Last Great Time War. I would like a mini-series starring Paul McGann and John Hurt that explores war and warriors and The Doctor—a man of conscience—in the beginning and middle of a war, but I realize that's a thing that's not going to happen.

But what we see is so short, so abortive, that we never really feel like all The Last Great Time War tsuris The Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Doctors go on about is supported by what The War Doctor does. He doesn't watch planets burn or do much of anything but steal a weapon people better than him have made and press the button for it.

Even if that did burn Gallifrey and Skaro, it's not really the sort of traumatic event on associates with war. There's certainly a reason to feel bad about it, but I think it's fair, in a time when both England has soldiers actively fighting in wars, to address the physical and spiritual damage that actually fighting a war does to someone. Something is lost when that's compressed to pushing a button and feeling bad about the consequence.

2) And seriously? This is the big thing? A button? Seriously. He just steals the big bomb and kills everyone. Cutting his participation in The Last Great Time War is one thing, but reducing his already paper-thin participation to stealing a thing and pressing the button is mega-disappointing.

If that's The War Doctor's plan, if that's the thing that everyone was waiting on, the kind of thing only The Doctor could do to end the war, then I've sorely underestimated The Doctor's cleverness, resourcefulness, integrity, and all of the other virtues that set him apart from his fellow Time Lords. He's just the guy that's stupid enough to steal the last apocalypse flavored M&M in the bottom of the bag.

3) And I'm going to come back to the fact that he didn't fight in the Time War, he just did one stupid thing. Much tortured. Super brooding. Also, he took SIX FUCKING MONTHS TO WRITE WORDS INTO THE WALL WITH A LASER GUN. SURELY THE TIME LORDS HAVE OVERHEAD PROJECTORS OR SONIC OVERHEAD PROJECTORS OR SOMETHING.

With all the generic, inherent violence, you could have at least had him tearing up Daleks with cool, Doctory things and leaving a field of dead Daleks in the shape of the words "No More" because The Doctor, when turned to violence, does more than pick up a gun; he takes rare secrets of the universe and fucks up Daleks with such speed and alacrity that he can arrange them in fucking circular Gallifreyan because HE IS THE ONCOMING STORM, A MADMAN IN A BOX, THE DAVROS-FUCKING-PREDATOR. He is not-notnotnot some jackass with a laser cannon knicked from the Captain Scarlet cabinet.

4) How were the Daleks destroyed in this scenario? Sure, Skaro was destroyed in previous series, but that is quite different from all Daleks everywhere conveniently blowing each other to shit when Gallifrey magically disappears. I mean, I can accept the cartoonish explanation that the uniform distribution of Dalek ships could cause 100% losses around Gallifrey, but it doesn't explain how, y'know, the entire Dalek civilization is reduced to the guy from "Dalek," the iDaleks in the Genesis Ark, and Davros' buddy.

Yeah, "stubby" is one way to put it.

5) And really? The Time War was guys with laser guns? I expected a bit more from the Time War. Millions of folks were allegedly being killed and brought back to life every second. A Time War is some serious intellectual shit, but The War Doctor can take 1230948172039817092 days to write "No More" in the side of a wall right the fucking middle of it because The MOTHERFUCKING TIMELORDS fight with MOTHERFUCKING LASER GUNS and can't kill a single DALEK EVEN THOUGH ROSE, A DUMB HUMAN FROM DUMB EARTH HAD A DUMB GUN THAT FUCKED THEM UP IN "THE STOLEN EARTH."

I expected something more intellectual and less stupid. Maybe I am the asshole here.

6) "I don't want to go?" Really?  You're going to take the emotional pinnacle of David Tennant's run and make it a catchphrase? Look, guys, I like "allonsy." I like, "fantastic." I like, "geronimo." Eleven made me believe bow ties could be cool. But dudes, there is a world—a galaxy –of difference between a crystalline moment in time which has frozen things into a perfect moment of pathos, and a fucking catchprhase.

GUESS WHICH ONE OF THOSE "I don't want to go" IS MOTHERFUCKERS. I laughed, but I hated you. It was like sex with a clown.

7) Was that the best Eccleston body double you could manage? Like, seriously. In the end, when all of The Doctors were standing in the cloud, was that the best Eccleston body double you could manage? I don't know Pertwee from McCoy, so I can' t speak to them, but fucking seriously, was that the best Eccleston body double you could manage? I'm going to continue repeating that question because jesus fucking christ, that was an awful body double. Was there a 2:1 discount of Danny DeVito body doubles, dudes. Was that your best Eccleston body double?

8) So how in the name of Garfield, god of seven fucks not given, are the other Doctors (One through Eight, plus Nine) at Gallifrey for the totally awesome fantabulicious "all thirteen Doctors are here" moment which was bitchin' nasty amaziballs but seriously how did they know to be there?

9) We're gonna talk about Trenzalore? Is now the time to spoil Ten on Trenzalore in a such a way that it only makes "I don't want to go" into a catchphrase instead of a poignant moment and pushes the meta-narrative? I'm not bitching about the catch-phrasey-ness of it. I'm bitching about the, do-you-not-want-to-talk-about-football-or-something-ness of it. Like, Eleven, that's some serious shit and he won't remember it and what the fuck are you talking about and why the fuck are you talking about it? It seems like a shoehorned excuse to get in a very specific line form Ten that I'm no longer talking about.

10) Clara being in this episode isn't really a nitpick because Clara is 1000000000000% cooler and more likable than Amy, but it does remind me that she apparently knows all of The Doctors and is always just offscreen, living her entire life tackling snipers 'n shit like she's Penny and The Doctor is Inspector fucking Gadget but whatever, Clara is still pretty cool in my book.

11) Did the Zygons paint "Gallifrey Falls No More"? I'm not really sure who painted it or who has to paint something like that. Can you just paint a thing, then store things in it later? Or does the painter have to be at Arcadia during the fall? If that's the case, who's painting this thing? Fucking seriously, did The Tenth Doctor, with all of his war angst take up painting and make—of all fucking inappropriate things—the very last moments of Gallifrey? Did he then gift it to Elizabeth? That almost hangs together, but it's still kinda weird. "Have the universe's only representation of the final failure of my people before I destroyed them as a gift on this, the occasion of our accidental marriage Good Queen Bess."

12) Three sonic screwdrivers can obliterate a Dalek. Apparently. Or a painted version of a Dalek? I mean, it's cool a fuck guys, but if three simple Time Lord tools could wreck a Dalek's shit, then, well, The Last Great Time War should have gone a bit better for Arcadia.

Matt Smith just became 4/4 for new doctors.
Source for the .gif is

13) SocoolwhenthethreeDocotors were in the painting then the Dalek exploded and then there were thirteen doctors all thirteen and they had that great bit of reshaded recycled footage from Eccleston and then BadWolf girl was there and the thing in the one screwdriver was in all of the screwdrivers and they did the Bill and Ted thing but the door wasn't locked but it still set up a plot point for later and the other Doctor showed up but he was a curator or maybe he wasn't The Doctor maybe he picked up a Victorian cyberman knowledge can or something even though I think that was one of those things that never happened but earlier they were both reversing the polarity and Queen Elizabeth was all, "that ain't knife, this is a knife" and then they made peace with the Zygons and the girl had the scarf that was all "be fucking decent to each other and anyone can be The Doctor" and the whole "Zygons invading Earth" thing got wrapped up as a b-plot in either one afternoon or 500 years, mas o menos, and the TARDISes were all different and then they were different on the inside too and then he hit the Dalek with the TARDIS and it was all sprang skkrrrsh and the Dalek got out its insurance information, and then the other two Doctors helped the other Doctor because they accepted that he was one of them and it was really cool and happy cries, but then they found another way which kind of is what The Doctor is supposed to do and aaaaaaaaaaguh it was so good.


SkilTao said...

It's a very clever episode! Fun! Did not deliver on any Time War hype!

1. Agree. There may've been no room for the Time War in this episode, but they could've made this, y'know, Part Two in a two-parter or something.

2. Agree. If the Daleks and Time Lords had been fighting over "The Moment," or if the Doctor invented and assembled it, or if it had come from an alternate timeline... so many better ways to bring it into play.

3a. Huh? Where are you getting "six months" from? The "War Doctor" starts out middle-aged then grows old fighting offscreen.

3b. Completely agree. Doctor does not live up to his reputation. Might be some of that is reserved for the Christmas episode, or later eps.

4. Yup. Of course, the New Series has already destroyed & reconstructed the whole of reality once or twice already, so I'm not sure this is actually significant.

5. Hah, sky trenches. This is just Starship Troopers versus Daleks. Mod StarCraft right and we're good to go.

6. Dunno. Tennant's Doctor is in the middle of fleeing his own death, and at a moment like this, I don't think a pithy line is out of character for him.

7. Yeah... I didn't recognize him as an Ecclestone Double at first.

8. "The Moment," presumably. She's already letting three of them cross their own time stream, what's a few more? Also, kinda funny you call this out, since exactly this should be de rigeur for a Time War. (Heck, y'know what, if they'd said that "The Moment" is/was/would-have-been used to cause every atrocialicious branching timeline in the Time War, then it would've made sense for the Doctor to timetravel back to before anyone else can grab it.) Alternatively, Doctor Thirteen arranges everything as part of his Quest To Find Lost Gallifrey.

9. Meh. I think it follows naturally from their conversation in the Tower of London. Whereas that Eureka moment in the Gallifreyan Cabin o' Light ("There's THREE of us!") felt way more hackneyed to me.

10. Haha! Yes. I also loved BadWolf-as-Moment much better than Rose-as-Rose, and the couple of scenes where they set up symmetry between BadWolf & Clara.

11. Probably Capaldi. It's like trapping stuff in a Star Trek Transporter Buffer, basically, but easier to add or remove stuff later. (It's from the old series, I forget which Doctor.) Since the Time War is no longer time locked, anyone with a time machine could have sent it to Elizabeth. Thirteenth Doctor seems like the simplest candidate.

12. Yeah... Maybe it's yet another "we have had hundreds of years to calibrate for this precise Dalek at this precise moment!"

13. Agree. Lots of clever bits.

VanVelding said...

1. Yeah, definitely glad that they didn't get into the Time War, given that they weren't dedicated to doing more with it.

3a. I didn't notice reflected John Hurt in Night of The Doctor was much younger, but it makes sense.

5. I kinda liked the sky trenches because there an abstract Doctor Who-like concept and they never show them, but yeah, Starship Troopers vs. Daleks is accurate.

8. Yeah, it's definitely the kind of thing that should be happening during The Time War, but that makes me ask even more questions about The Last Great Time War that I don't honestly want answered.

10. That was a great way to use Billie Piper. Pretty happy.

11. I can buy Capaldi doing a whole, "Bill & Ted" thing.

12. I'll buy that.

SkilTao said...

1. Agreed.

3a. Me neither, I only checked after seeing someone mention it online.

5. I like 'em, as you say; and, they made for a good, clear, early sign for what to expect from the episode.

Um, have you seen the Christmas ep yet?

VanVelding said...

Ugh. No. Waiting on the roommates. They were away for vacation when it happened and I recorded it, but I'm waiting for them to de/recompress from the holidays. Thinking of cooking up a thing Wednesday and putting it on.

We've also been slightly distracted with Civilization IV.

SkilTao said...

Civ IV was, I imagine, a better use of time than the Xmas ep.

VanVelding said...

Damn, son! That's some harsh criticism. Still haven't seen it. We got the 5 missing episodes (Cold War, HIDE, Journey to the Centre of The TARDIS, Nightmare in Silver, and Crimson Horror) recorded that day too and we're working through them first.

You know I'll blog about it when we do though. ;)