Dark Water/Death in Heaven: [Extremely Belated] Initial Reactions

Author’s Note: This post was so, so close to nonexistence. You see, Dark Water and Death in Heaven both aired at a really bad time for me – university exams were the main cause of my anxiety, but some other factors made it hard to find the time to watch the episodes, let alone spend hours writing about them. For this reason, a few weeks ago I resolved not to bother writing a reaction post – but then I realised that it would be a shame if my reactions project had a large gap in it, especially since I want to publish a “summary of reactions” at the end of the year that explore how my opinions evolved over time.

One thing I did manage to do was write the Dark Water section before I saw Death in Heaven – so you can essentially treat it as it’s own contained set of reactions. The Death in Heaven post was written a couple of weeks after the episode, but I tried hard not to let fridge logic and the opinions of others corrupt my points, so I still consider them initial reactions. So anyway, enjoy!

doctor who death in heaven promo

A few episodes back I noticed that Series Eight has a theme, a kind of a moral if you will; everything works out in the end, but not always in the way we wanted it to. It started with Clara getting upset over the Doctor regenerating into someone “old”, and continued with the Doctor never solving his theory about invisible monsters and Danny and Clara’s relationship never quite going the way both of them wanted it to (with awkward conversations and twisted dates and complicated lies). To tie it off, the series eight finale was saturated with this concept; the Master died and humanity was saved, but the Doctor never found Gallifrey; Danny was able to save the child that he killed, but in turn he couldn’t save himself; and Clara wound up safe and got the closure she deserved, but it wasn’t the happy ending she’d hoped for. In a way everything came full circle, with the series beginning and ending with newly-regenerated Doctor and his companion meeting for coffee and ready to start a new chapter; except the events between the two encounters changed everything. Both of them were broken from the things that they’d lost and desperately tried to get back, but they both lied about it in the interest of making each other happy.

In a big way, 2014 quickly became one of Doctor Who‘s most tragic years ever.

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Projects, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

A Lesson in Textiles (with Clara Oswald)

Author’s Note: You know when you have an awesome idea, which evolves into another less awesome idea, which warps into a stupid idea, which then leaves you consciously doing something stupid but continuing to do it because it’s somehow fun? Welcome to this post.

My original intention with this was to actually teach people a few things about fabric. Then I realised that it would be hard to justify posting it on this blog if I didn’t made it Doctor Who related. Then I started writing it and it became this weird satire thing, but I was too proud of the weird satire I’d already written to stop. Anyway, I hope that at the very least you enjoy reading my “textile lesson” and perhaps even chuckle a little.

By the way, my reaction post for the series 8 finale is coming very, very, very soon. Sorry for the delay, but hang in there.

doctor-who-season-8-clara-in-the-tardis

Unless you have no idea how half the things in our society actually work, you’ll know that clothing is made of fabric, and fabric is made of fibres, and the look and feel of a garment depends on the fabric, which depends on the fibres (as well as a bunch of other things that we won’t talk about now). That’s why when you take any sort of beginner fashion class there’s this assignment they’re guaranteed make you do – research the properties of different types of fibres and list them. Except it’s an arts course, so they make you do it creatively.

Anyone who’s ever done this knows that its incredibly boring and frustrating (why do you think I’m getting an IT degree?) Inspired by the rendition of this assignment I was forced to do in high school, I decided to…erm…”re-jig” my submission and share it – not just for those poor fashion students to try and plagiarise, but for the enjoyment of any Whovian who’s ever wondered what fashion students actually do all day what different fabrics are made of. In order to make things simpler I recruited Doctor Who‘s most fashionable teacher to give us some contextual examples, and most importantly prove that our fandom can teach you everything you’ll ever need to know about anything.

Please note that while this list contains the majority of common household fabrics, it’s not totally comprehensive. For more information on fabrics such as linen, acrylic and acetate, please consult page 507 of the TARDIS manual.

Ready for a brief lesson in fashion? Let’s begin…

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Posted in New Series Tele-Stories, Other Post Types, Other Reference Materials, Story Media

In the Forest of the Night: Initial Reactions

In-the-Forest-of-the-Night-splash

Traditionally in Doctor Who, the “second last” stories tend to have a bad track record – and this extends way beyond the confines of the new series. The penultimate story of the very first season, The Sensorites, doesn’t exactly have a good reputation in the fandom; and this trend continues through to the second-last Troughton story, with The Space Pirates placing 235th of 241 stories in the Doctor Who Magazine “first 50 years” poll. Things looked up in the 70s, with stories such as Planet of the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks putting up a good case for the penultimate slot, but this all fell apart with the airing of Underworld in 1978; from this point onward the list is cringeworthy – The Power of KrollTimelash, Terror of the Vervoids, Fear Her, Closing Time, Nightmare in Silver…need I go on?

In fact, because I was feeling particularly nerdy, I did a little calculation. I took the bottom 50 stories in the DWM poll (keeping in mind it was out of 241) and shockingly discovered that 14 of these were penultimate stories. That’s almost 30%. Just from this statistic alone we can see it’s the worst programming slot throughout the entire 50-year history of Doctor Who – can you understand why I was naturally anxious when I sat down to watch In the Forest of the Night?

It’s kind of a shame too, because “penultimate” is my favorite word in the English language…

So, did this week’s story fall short of our expectations, or did it go beyond all odds and become a season highlight? Let’s take a look as we attempt to navigate the overnight forest…

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Projects, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

Flatline: Initial Reactions

Hey guys, apologies for the delay. I’m still here and keen to continue this project, promise!

flatline promo

Since 2006, “Doctor-lite” tales have become something of a cornerstone Doctor Who format. Basically, when preparing series two the production team had a problem: they had to fit 14 episodes (13 + the Xmas special) into a 13 episode schedule. To solve the issue, Russell T Davies commissioned a tale in which the Doctor and his companion hardly appeared at all so it could be filmed simultaneously with a Doctor-heavy story. Love and Monsters may not have been well-received, but a year later the same concept in the form of Blink saw the emergence of one of the most fan-appreciated stories ever. The format was shaken up a little in 2008, when Davies formed the idea of one ‘doctor-lite’ and another ‘companion-lite’ tale that could be filmed at the same time and – hurrah! – Midnight and Turn Left were born.

In the Moffat era, however, there hasn’t been a true Doctor-lite, simply because the split seasons and shorter runs meant there wasn’t any need for one. The Lodger tipped on a companion-less tale, but Amy’s lack of involvement was down purely to writer Gareth Roberts’ (and, of course, Steven Moffat) choosing not to include her – as with 2011’s Closing Time. In a similar sense, Flatline isn’t really a Doctor-lite; although Jamie Mathieson was asked to scale down Capaldi’s involvement after he’d begun writing the episode to make room in the production schedule, the episode sat in it’s own filming block and had still had a huge amount of involvement from the Doctor.

However, for comparative reasons, it’s still a fun to compare this story with the other Doctor/companion-lites. How well does it stand up with only half the main cast? How do the writer’s methods of excluding particular team members compare? It’s definitely time to find out how this episode stacked up (in a 2D sense, of course) against it’s predecessors as we turn our attention to Clara Oswald.

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Projects, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

Kill the Moon: Initial Reactions

Picture shows: Peter Capaldi as The Doctor

Guess what? Seven weeks in, and we’re well and truly past the “halfway” mark – series “8b” is officially upon us, and no mid-season trailer means we’re (mostly) in the dark about what’s to come.

Naturally, to throw us in the deep end was “the episode that would change everything forever”. The episode with a seemingly terrible outcome. The episode where the choice had to be made between an innocent life or the human race. And, at the end of the day, it was the episode that taught humanity an important lesson about abortion. Wait, what?!

It’s amazing what you can discover when winding down from an episode of Doctor Who. Normally, I like to compare my expectations to my reaction to the episode itself – did it live up to the hype? Did we get what we were promised? Is it just me or was the romp I was expecting just turn into a dark morality tale (*cough* Dinosaurs on a Spaceship *cough*)? But a funny thing happened when I stopped and thought about Kill the Moon – I realised my feelings toward it were exactly the same before as they were after. At the beginning of the week I was terribly excited for this story, but the more I thought about it the more my feelings evolved into…nonchalantness. It didn’t look like the story was really going to do anything significant, and looking back it really didn’t.

But seriously, think about it. Apart from Clara becoming angry at the Doctor’s unforgivable actions (a minor continuity point) it actually did nothing. It didn’t have a real enemy, the supporting characters were boring, the Doctor was an idiot, and Clara was put into an awful situation. Was it a moving morality tale? Okay, I’ll give you that one. But, at the end of the day, the story that tried to change it all became a footnote in Doctor Who history. It’s a story that seems to have divided the fandom and, in one of those very, very rare times, I personally seem to be on the “wrong side” of it.

Keep it together, Camille. Don’t start needlessly bashing stories that deep down really, really, really disappointed you due to their clumsily awful anti-climax.

*Takes a deep, self-controlling breath* So, with that out the way let’s try to muster together the…erm…good bits of this story.

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Projects, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

The Caretaker: Initial Reactions

the caretaker promo

The terrifying Skovox Blitzer is ready to destroy all humanity – but worse, and any second now, Danny Pink and the Doctor are going to meet. When terrifying events threaten Coal Hill school, the Doctor decides to go undercover.

I’ll be honest – when I first read the synopsis for this episode, I wasn’t that excited. I mean, it looked fine (which is definitely better than ‘awful’), but this year every other story has seemed to take it that one step further and at least tried to make it into the “exceptionally awesome” category. So, using the beautiful power of hindsight, how did The Caretaker measure up?

It was fine; and when the brilliance of the likes of Listen and (as I’m assured) Kill the Moon sit on either side of an episode of Doctor Who, “fine” is all we Whovians really ask for. Sure, “fine” was underwhelming back in the classic era when the Doctor only departed for a new adventure every four weeks (at best), but nowdays – as much as we don’t like to admit it – the show needs time to (literally) come back to Earth, have a not-really-threatening enemy and, most importantly, breathe. Boom Town did it, School Reunion did it, as did The Lazarus Experiment, The Lodger, Closing Time, and (to some extent) The Power of Three.

Another ‘fine’ thing Gareth Roberts’ episode managed was the array of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it references that should always come hand-in-hand with a story set at none other than Coal Hill School. “Wait, there were references?!” I hear you ask. Yes, yes there were; allow me to elaborate…

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Projects, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

Time Heist: Initial Reactions

doctor who time heist promo

For this week’s episode, I wanted only one thing: no disappointment. I didn’t care about anything else, I just wanted my most anticipated episode for series eight to live up to my expectations. Blowing them out of the water was preferred, but not required.

And while it could have been better, Time Heist did far from fall short of what I’d imagined. Steve Thompson took the best bits from his previous Doctor Who work and mashed them together into a season highlight. It took the concept of a well-paced adventure with strong (if, perhaps, underdeveloped) supporting cast from The Curse of the Black Spot, and combined it with the Doctor/Companion characterisation and brilliant plotline that makes Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS my favorite New-Who story. Everything important to the story felt right – Clara and the Doctor had a strong dynamic, the supporting characters were given time to develop, the plot wasn’t too complex and had room to breathe, and the resolution was quintessentially Doctor Who.

So how did Mr Thompson manage it? You guessed it, it’s time to re-examine the biggest bank heist in history…

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Posted in Doctors, New Series Reactions, New Series Tele-Stories, Other Post Types, Projects, Reviews, Series 8, Story Media, Twelfth Doctor

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