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About Mooning: The Snowmen

Previous Entry Mooning: The Snowmen Dec. 26th, 2012 @ 05:50 pm Next Entry
Merry Christmas! Ooh, what's in this blue box? Why, it looks to be a brand new companion, a brand new TARDIS design, a brand new opening, and a brand new Christmas special! Awwh, you shouldn't have.

... No, really, you shouldn't have.

So in the spirit of the season, let's give a big "Bah, humbug" to the 2012 Doctor Who Christmas Special: "The Snowmen".


Rabid snowflakes fall to Earth from space. Beeecause I guess we've gotten to the point in Doctor Who that we're just slapping scary teeth on anything and calling it a monster. Can't wait to see the invasion of the rabbits from the planet Caerbannog.

Thanks to the helpful subtitle, we know we are in England, 1842. Children play in the snow while one plays alone with a snowman. We know he's playing alone with his snowman because his mother comes in and tells the audience that he plays alone and that he's a lonely little boy, rather than wasting a few extra seconds showing us that he's detached from the other children. The boy reiterates that he doesn't want to talk to the other children out loud, because this is how you define characters: by having them stand there and narrate how they're feeling.

The snowman starts talking in Gandalf's voice, and the boy initially runs away, but is easily convinced to return when the snowman says he doesn't need anyone else.

Cut to 50 years later, as helpfully indicated by another subtitle. The boy has grown into a dour old man, but at least he still enjoys getting people together to make snowmen. Hell, he's throwing a snowman party with all the vagrants in town, he's such an amicable fellow. He takes a jar of snow to fill his giant snowglobe, in which Gandalf lives. Despite having been working together for 50 years, Gandalf still feels the need to question the man's loyalty so that he can drop some plot points.

The man, identified as Doctor Simian (er... Simeon?), goes to the vagrants and says he'll feed them, but he failed his English class and neglected to complete the sentence with an indirect object. Rabid snowmen pop out of the ground and start devouring the vagrants and... Okay, seriously, this is just silly. It doesn't matter how many fangs you put on a snowman, a snowman just is not scary.

We cut to a bar, where Clara the barmaid is...

Wait, we're actually going to get to meet the companion?! Before the Doctor takes over the episode to hog all the attention to himself? So we'll actually get a look at the companion's life, her motivations, her personality, so that we have something to go on before the Doctor turns all that upside-down?! Why, thank you, Moffat, you've finally learned how to--

Oh, wait, no, she immediately walks outside and runs into the Doctor 10 seconds later without any opportunity to experience her pre-Doctor persona. Well, since the Doctor is no one special to her at this point, maybe we'll get a look at her character?

She asks the Doctor if he built the snowman that had randomly appeared. After two lines of dialogue about memory snow, they are instantly taken with one another. The Doctor goes to leave, but Clara chases after him, because apparently the line "Maybe it's snow that fell before and remembered how to make snowmen" was so amazingly poignant that she just had to tag along with him.

So amazing and poignant was that line, that when the Doctor gets into his carriage, Clara throws down her shawl, then runs after him so fast she nearly pops out of her dress. Jeez, I'd hate to see how hard she'd latch onto someone who offhandedly mentioned "Maybe it slices... AND dices."

A voice over the microphone in the Doctor's carriage congratulates him for engaging in such a stunning and impactful conversation with a girl. ... He said two sentences to her. About snow. Was this really supposed to leave an impression? I mean, apparently it did, but is he fishing around for people who would eagerly follow him just after hearing that? (Granted, Eleven's main criteria for a companion seems to be someone who will do whatever he says and gush praise all over him).

Clara then busts in through the roof of his carriage and gives a title-drop as we go into the opening credits and... agh, agh, my eyes! Yes, I know it's harkening back to some of the Classic Era credits sequences, but it's like they gave a five year-old a folder full of stock effects and he just started mashing buttons pasting them to the screen. "Yeah, we're flying through space, but there's FIREBALLS and EXPLOSIONS and LIGHTNING and BLINKING STARS and PSYCHADELIC HAZE and MATT SMITH'S FACE!" Good lord, what was wrong with just the simple "TARDIS flying through the vortex" theme? It's like each progressive intro takes what they had before, and adds more distracting junk to it. First lightning bolts, then blurry color filters, now this. This new opening is so busy that I completely missed the cast introductions because they just meekly fade onto the screen while all this exploding and flying around goes around in the background that utterly distracts you from it. The only part of it I like is the end where the TARDIS doors open onto the episode. But the rest of it looks like a dog ate all their special effects and then threw them back up onto the screen in a big, messy blob.

After the intro, Doctor Simian makes a house call and shows he takes after his parents' love of exposition, narrating the story of how the previous governess fell into the pond and drowned, and the pond froze over, and they didn't find her body until after it thawed. The master of the house thankfully informs him, "Uh, I know." Doctor Exposition leaves the man his card, a note with the letters "GI" on it... a "GI tract", if you will... and leaves.

Suddenly a ninja jumps in front of him, wearing something that would get her thrown in the asylum in the Victorian era. Vastra also appears, and Simian states that surely Doyle has been basing his Sherlock Holmes stories on these two, just changing the part about Holmes being a reptilian lesbian. Either that or Moffat misses writing "Sherlock" due to his stars being thoroughly distracted with Hobbit-related duties for the next year or two, and feels the need to self-reference.

Simian gives his "This is my plan, which I'm telling you because you can't stop me" speech, and Vastra yells that she's gonna go tell the Doctor on him, that meanie!

... Seriously, she is a sword-wielding ancient reptile whose intellect is apparently enough to inspire the Sherlock Holmes stories, so why can't she stop him herself?! But she instantly resigns herself to, "Oh foo! Only the Doctor can stop bad guys and I am impotent to do anything!"

The Doctor, in the meantime, is examining the mysterious prop snow that doesn't melt in his hand that he then declares must be alien in origin. Apparently they ditched Clara on the side of the road somewhere between now and before, as she doesn't appear to be anywhere around all of a sudden. The Sontaran Strax, who died in "A Good Man Goes to War" is here, indicating that this must be somewhere in his timeline prior to that. He provides the comic relief for the episode, and is admittedly the only character with any character to show up so far, which is appreciated.

Clara starts yelling from somewhere, indicating they locked her in a trunk or something because I guess she was incessantly begging to hear more witty dialogue like "Maybe life is a highway, and we're going to ride it all night long."

Turns out the Doctor had locked her in the cab, because despite insisting that he had no desire to investigate the alien snow, apparently he just couldn't wait to do it until AFTER getting rid of Clara, and figured the most logical course of action was to lock her in the cab and then wander off to investigate the thing he didn't want to investigate before coming back to deal with her.

The Doctor confronts Clara and tells her he's going to wipe her memory, by pulling out his sunglasses and neuralizer and... oh, wait, no, he sends Strax to go get the Plot Worm instead.

While Strax digs out the Plot Worm, the Doctor mentioned that Strax died and then was brought back to life. ... Okay, seriously, is that all we're going to get? "Yeah, well, he's alive now because I wanted him to be in this story, so deal with it"?

No. No. You can't do that. I know Moffat is big on "plot and character development is all that stuff that happens offscreen, to be referenced later in passing rather than actually shown", but you cannot reintroduce a previously-dead character with nothing more than a hand-wave. It completely cheapens death in this series if you can kill off a character for a manufactured dramatic effect, only to unceremoniously have them reappear later solely because you reeeeallly wanted them in the story and having them being dead now was inconvenient (Hi, Rory!). He even just said that Strax was a manufactured member of a clone army. If he'd said that this was a clone of Strax who had the same memory and personality as the previous one, I would have totally bought that. But, no, "He's a friend who gave his life, and another friend brought him back." You... just.... eeeaauuughhh...

Clara insists she won't leave until the Doctor explains how a snowman could build itself, because having him elaborate on that was apparently so important that she ran off from her job to follow him to get him to answer. Because if I asked someone "Who do you think built that snowman?" and they answered "Maybe it built itself", I would not take that as an indication that this person knows something magical and mystical and is wise in the ways of the world and must be prodded for further insight. I would take that as an indication they were telling me to piss off and stop talking to them.

Unfortunately, since Clara was thinking about the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, he appears. The Doctor implores her to stop thinking about it, and to picture it melted. Clara complies, and the city is covered in melted marshmallow goo. ... Hey, I think I've seen this in a movie before.

The Doctor realizes he can't wipe Clara's memory now, or else she'll forget how to get rid of the snowmen, so instead he just has Strax take her back to work. Instead, Clara sneaks after the Doctor, who loudly whistles in the middle of a silent field so as not to draw attention to himself or the conspicuous shadow hanging in the sky above him. He pulls a ladder out of the shadow and climbs up into it. Clara secretly follows, and follows him up the Stairway to Heaven.

At the top, she finds the TARDIS, resting on a cloud. She does a prank knock, then hides, trolling the Doctor until she runs away back down the stairs. The Doctor finds her other shawl, which she apparently picked up so that she could drop again, and intently sniffs it because... he's a creeper like that.

The next morning, Clara is off to her "other" job. Well, Moffat's already given us a kissogram, a model, and a bar wench, so certainly he can come up with another wholly respectable profession for a female character to have. Something that involves Clara stripping naked in a cab...

Oh, she's changing into her governess clothing. Well, that's certainly... the most respectable female profession we've had out of him yet, though it still amounts to pretty much being a nanny.

The childrens' father tells Clara (whom he calls "Miss Montague"), that his daughter has been having nightmares. Clara informs him that they're his children, and Latimer, having not thought of that, praises her wisdom.

Clara goes to see the children, who tell her that they've been having nightmares about their old governess coming back to life. Clara goes to examine the pond where she died and is shocked to discover that, while the thin layer of snow on the ground had melted, the pond had not thawed, because a thick layer of solid ice would melt at the same rate as snow.

Clara remembers what the Doctor said about the snow taking the form of what's in your head, and ditches her current job as well in order to go hunt him down. She starts yelling at the sky in the middle of the empty field and her actions draw a crowd, because she didn't realize that to not draw attention to herself, she needed to whistle conspicuously, not yell conspicuously.

Jenny shows up to drag her away and takes Clara before Vastra. Vastra says she's drinking something that looks like red wine but is not red wine, so it is obviously Kool-aid. Or cranberry juice.

Clara and Vastra decide to play Catch-Phrase, and Clara insists that the Doctor is a kind man who would save her despite him giving no indication of such. Vastra relents and admits, yeah, he used to be, you somehow saw right through him even faster than Amy did. She agrees to give the Doctor a message from Clara about what she wants him to help her with, but she's limited to a single word.

Clara chooses the word "Pond". The Doctor is amazed, because obviously this word has such a meaning to other people that only a person who uses it is worthy of being helped by him. So, if someone needed the Doctor's help feeding their koi fish and said this to him, he would jump up and declare, "Yes, this is a task worthy of me!"

Gandalf says, "Danger, Danger, Will Robinson", and he's telling the truth because he's only using one word. Simian asks him to elaborate, and he explains, "There is danger here," because that clears it right up.

Suddenly the Doctor bursts in, dressed as Sherlock Holmes, and accompanied by a parody of the "Oh, Sherlock, you're so eccentric" theme from "Sherlock".

... This episode is just one big self-indulgence for Moffat, isn't it?

The Doctor deduces the snow is a crystalline entity... but not a Crystalline Entity, because that was a killer snowflake from a different sci-fi show. He goes through Simian's files and finds a newspaper article about a woman frozen in a pond, and figures out that Gandalf wants to become a woman.

The Doctor goes to the pond at the manor, and realizes that when Clara said "pond" she actually meant "pond". Clara sees him from the window and beckons him up, and he reluctantly, or mistakenly, agrees.

Clara puts the children to bed, and uses the opportunity to get her contractual "all female characters with more than two lines must wax poetic deifying the Doctor" speech as a bedtime story.

Suddenly the Ice Queen bursts in and starts threatening everyone. Clara grabs the children and runs, assuring them the Doctor will be there. The Doctor appears from behind a puppetry stage and uses his Pocket Plot Device to destroy the ice woman.

... Well, that was anticlimactic.

Doctor Simian shows up and turns on his Dyson fan, blowing alien snow onto the house. The Doctor, meanwhile, makes eye sex with himself in the mirror while the ice woman re-freezes. The Doctor tries screwing her again, but the ice has "learned not to melt". Kind of like the Borg, I guess.

They all escape and run into Latimer, and the Doctor explains that he's Clara's boyfriend and they've been off kissing. ... Because that is totally something he would say. Wh... wha... you can't just make a character say whatever is convenient for you! Otherwise they're not a "character"! A "character" is defined by the limits on what they say and do, and if you remove those limits, then it's not a character, it's a Mary-Sue.

They stun the ice woman, who is now no longer any actual threat, and retreat into another room where the Doctor gives the explanation of the plot thus far. If the snow gets the ice woman, they'll all become ice women like the one they have easily neutralized, and that would be a threat.

The Doctor goes out to confront them, but Clara follows after him and insists he likes her, then kisses him. Beeecause.... what? Just... what? How does she even... when did they.... aauuuughhhh.

Okay, I know RTD started a running gag about the companions kissing the Doctor once a season. But the point of that gag was to show them kissing in the trailer, then in the actual episode have it revealed that the kiss was because the companion was possessed, or because they needed to do a genetic transfer, or because the Doctor needed a shock. And most definitely NOT because the companion was horny for the Doctor. But with both Amy and Clara's kisses, it's been played straight, to their detriment.

And she's just... throwing herself at him! Why?! At least Amy had the excuse of fantasizing about him for 14 years before trying to rape him, but Clara has just met him. We don't know anything about Clara's backstory or motivations, like why she's double-dipping as both a barmaid and a governess, or how she got this governess job in the first place, or why she reacts to things the way she does. Amy at least got exposition explaining why she wasn't afraid of the Doctor, but Clara hasn't even gotten that. She's just "sass" with no substance, same as every other Moffat woman ever.

The Doctor confronts Simian, who tells the Doctor he has five minutes to release the ice woman, or else... he'll wait 5 more minutes. I don't know, he never really made any kind of threat, and just turned and walked away.

The Doctor and Clara take the ice woman and run onto the balcony, which is covered in alien snow, thus giving the snowmen the ice woman, anyway. Clara tells the Doctor he's clever, and the Doctor realizes he's found his new companion, because what is a companion for other than someone to hang on his every word and praise him constantly?

The two of them get into a banter-off, which was, admittedly, well-done, and they escape together onto the magic ladder in the sky.

They reach the TARDIS, which has gotten another redesign, albeit offscreen and for no explained reason this time, much like 80% of everything else in a Moffat episode. The design harkens back to more of the Fifth Doctor era, though the chasing lights along the wall could get distracting pretty quickly.

Clara wonders if there's a kitchen, because she likes making souffles. And with that, we get a connection to Oswin from Asylum of the Daleks, an amazing feat of continuity by Moffat standards.

The Doctor declares her his new companion and immediately offers her the key to his house, because holy crap the guy is desperate.

Suddenly the ice woman pops in for a visit and decides she wants Clara all for herself, and drags Clara off the edge of the cloud. They fall about a mile, and Clara splats into a gooey pulp on the ground.

Or, at least, she should have, but since this is TV, she fell completely immaculately and didn't even get dirt on her face. Instead of catching her with the TARDIS like he did when River fell off the building in "Day of the Moon", the Doctor instead materializes the TARDIS on top of her to make sure she's extra flat.

They bring her into the manor, and Strax uses the Plot Device to bring Clara back to life. Hooray for more cheap deaths! I guess he could relate to her.

The Doctor asks the now-alive Clara if she'll come away with him if he saves the world, and she agrees, indicating that her job to the children couldn't have been all that important to her (well, given how readily she ran off all her other jobs to chase him down, I guess I can see that).

The Doctor goes to see Simian and tells him to go back to his office and he'll meet him there. And... Simian actually buys it. I mean, the Doctor leaves in his TARDIS, so it's not like Simian could watch him go and confirm the Doctor was actually going back to the GI Institute, he just happily gets back in his carriage and goes back home. If it was that easy, should have just told him, "We'll meet in Bermuda" and wave him off.

The Doctor, stupidly enough, actually goes to the office to meet him, and shows him his lunchbox with a map of the London Underground, informing them it's a key strategic weakness to the city.

Okay, I haven't seen many Classic Era serials, and I'm sure a lot of people are in the same boat, but this is apparently supposed to be a reference to a Second Doctor story. While I've always gotten on Moffat's case for ignoring continuity, this is not the way to do it. You do not base a key plot point of an episode around something that happened in an episode 45 years ago without providing any refresher context. You do not make a reference to an outside source if that reference would have absolutely no other meaning to someone who doesn't get the joke (for instance, the Sherlock Holmes reference from earlier is obviously supposed to be a reference to Moffat's "Sherlock" due to the music, but even people who didn't understand that would still understand the scene's use in the story).

But above all, why even say this? It comes completely out of nowhere, and it seems stupid for the Doctor to point out key strategic weaknesses of the city to an enemy for no reason. It's never brought up again or used in any way to move along the plot, so what was the point of this line other than to say, "Hey, I know this monster was in a Classic era episode, look at me make a reference!"

The Doctor uses his Pocket Plot Device to reveal that the snow is just a mirror of Simian's thoughts. Simian steals the Doctor's lunch, but finds his lunch to be full of worms. The worm bites Simian and erases all his memories, which leaves the snow with nothing to reflect.

Or not. The snow pulls the good old "I could do this all along but I was just manipulating this guy for the hell of it" routine and generates more snowmen and brings Simian back as a zombie. Vastra pulls her sword to go all ninja dinosaur on him, but he just punches her out of the way because she's a woman and is useless.

Back at the manor, Clara decides that she envies Rory and dies for the second time in one episode. The tears of the children get mirrored in the snow and turn all the snow to rain, which melts the evil snowglobe and the ice zombie attacking the Doctor.

The Doctor takes this to mean Clara has died because only her death could cause so much sorrow as to melt the snow, so TARDISes back to the house so he can catch her dramatic dying words. Whiiich happen to be the same as Oswin's dramatic dying words.

Clara dies for realz-ish and is buried, and Vastra and Jenny give more wink-wink nudge-nudges about an episode from 45 years ago that hardly anyone is going to understand without looking it up. And it turns out the Doctor apparently doesn't actively remember what the Great Intelligence is, so my guess is this is supposed to mean that his random line about the London Underground was supposed to prompt the Great Intelligence to invade it in 1967... or something.

The Doctor reads the tombstone and discovers Clara's full name is Clara Oswin Oswald, and that she had the same voice as... the Dalek. Who he actually heard talking in a Dalek voice, but that's been a point of contention about that episode, anyway. Still, Moffat was kind enough to flash back to five episodes ago to remind us who Oswin is, but as for that London Underground comment... pfff, people know what we're talking about when we reference an episode from 45 years ago.

The Doctor realizes that the same woman has now died twice in two different time periods, which shouldn't be that new to him since it happened with Rory all the time, but he runs off to find another copy of Clara, anyway.

Cut to the present day, and Clara/Oswin/Oswald III walks past her own gravestone, which she should have learned from Rory is a jinx.

I suppose I can chalk up the lack of character or backstory to this Clara to the fact that this version of her only lasted one episode. So hopefully Clara III has more of an existence and motivation defined by things other than the Doctor. And hopefully she doesn't start trying to get into his pants 20 seconds after meeting him. Since the Doctor is currently unknown to Clara III, my guess is he'll start out as more of a "stalker" character from her perspective. However, given "Blink" and "The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe", we know how Moffat women react to their stalkers...
Leave a comment
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From:scatteredintime
Date:December 27th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
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This post has given me so much life, oh god. I've been so dissatisfied with the episode (and DW in general lately) and you've put all my thoughts into beautiful, snarky words and I couldn't agree more.
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From:patches365
Date:December 27th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
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Haha, you're welcome. While in all honesty, I did enjoy this episode more than Moffat's last few, and definitely more than last year's Christmas special, there's still a lot to be improved upon. I got a microphone for Christmas, and a friend of mine suggested I do a video deconstructing just what it is I don't like about Moffat's writing in general, since it seems like I repeat a lot of complaints episode to episode. I'll see what kind of time and motivation I have, though. ^_^*
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From:silnith
Date:December 27th, 2012 06:54 am (UTC)
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I don’t watch Dr. Who, but I love reading your snark about it.
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From:bafouci_veverka
Date:December 27th, 2012 10:24 am (UTC)
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Thank God you guys exist! The whole russian fandom has been incapacitated by all that swooning over how cool Clara is and how the whole episode is a perfection.
Whilst I now hate Clara with all my heart. I mean, REALLY?! All that Mary-Sueness, and the fact that a woman like her could not have lived during the victorian era, unless she was a whore or something. Girls used to commit suicide after their "first time" because they felt desecrated, and she goes and kisses a complete stranger. Urrgghh.
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From:patches365
Date:December 27th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC)
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I do seem to notice that a good portion of the swooning I see about both Amy and Clara is "she's hot". Er, I don't care if she's hot, she needs to have an individual personality and motive outside of the Doctor. It's one thing that kind of bugged me about Rose, too, that she didn't seem to have any ambition outside of the Doctor. The difference, though, is that her lack of external ambition was recognized in the series and played as a fault.

The only thing that can really excuse Clara's behavior is if she carries some kind of residual memory of the Doctor, and these unconscious cues are what prompt her actions. The problem with writing this way is that, if this is the case, it's not going to be revealed until the very end of Clara's run. And it's really hard to get behind a character in the meantime when all of their actions seem completely nonsensical, and the motive behind them is kept secret. Moffat is so obsessed with being vague and secretive that we never actually come to understand his characters as people because every last thing about them is shrouded in mystery.
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From:bafouci_veverka
Date:December 27th, 2012 03:23 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, you're probably right. It is -- probably -- similiar to Doctor's behavior in the last 1,5 seasons, with him sometimes acting "out of character". And, like a thousand episodes later, they give you a reason.

It's kind of the only thing I hope for -- that she's a timelord/Dalek/unnamed-future-human-with-some-mysterious-ties-to-the-Doctor, whatever... The fact is that she wasn't behaving like a victorian woman (the age of suppressed sexuality, yeah, right). And yeah, I don't like horny companions, because in my little world the Doctor is... Well... Alien, without the same concept of love and sex and relationship stuff. And he's old, too XD
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From:gillianinoz
Date:December 27th, 2012 10:24 am (UTC)
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Excellent review - loads of fun! I still loved the episode, but mostly because it's loud and shiny with pretty snow etc.

And Christmas!

...I miss Donna


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From:sundaysalvation
Date:December 27th, 2012 11:36 am (UTC)
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I swear. I love your reviews. You write everything I was thinking during the episodes- every one without fail.

I really liked Clara- until she ran off to follow the Doctor for no apparent reason other than he's the Doctor.

And when she kissed him- I'd have thrown something at the TV except i don't actually want to break my TV. That annoyed me beyond belief. Does every female companion have to be in love with the Doctor? It's boring and surely there's a better way to have interesting females.

I get the impression that even if a lesbian travelled with the Doctor, she'd want to get into his pants.

I didn't even notice all the times Vestra and Jenny were in better positions to do something and then chose to find the Doctor. Except the first time but that was obviously a way to get the Doctor to be in the episode. Pathetic way but true. And now you've mentioned it, I'm so annoyed about how Vestra was punched out the way while she's got a sword in her hand and can easily take down a freaking snow-zombie.

I am holding out hope that the third reincarnation of Clara is better and doesn't immediately melt in the Doctor's not-so sultry gaze. But my hope isn't very high.

And your reviews of the next lot of episodes- them I can't wait for!
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From:gehayi
Date:December 27th, 2012 12:51 pm (UTC)
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I get the impression that even if a lesbian travelled with the Doctor, she'd want to get into his pants.

I think that's a given. Irene Adler was a lesbian on Sherlock and she STILL wanted to get into his pants, and that's another Moffat show, so...yeah.

Frankly, I don't think that Moffat has any conception of a female sidekick who doesn't have sex with the male protagonist; look at all of the "good" women in his version of Doctor Who. If they're good, they get married and/or have children to take care of, even if they don't give birth. Hell, if you're a mother, you get superpowers! Remember last year's Christmas special? The widowed mother got the ability to carry the souls of an entire race in her head! Why? Because she was a mother. Go argue with Sexist--I mean, Moffat.

I miss the companions of Classic Who. I do. The show was far from perfect, but the women had identities and goals and ambitions that went beyond stereotypical gender roles. And they weren't perpetually falling for the Doctor. They were friends. The show let them take time to become friends, too. They argued. They didn't think that the Doctor was infallible (and he wasn't). it was a far more liberated version of the show, and I like it a lot more than this version. This...this is like bad fanfic.

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From:patches365
Date:December 27th, 2012 02:10 pm (UTC)
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Frankly, I don't think that Moffat has any conception of a female sidekick who doesn't have sex with the male protagonist

And who introduced the concept of Nine "dancing" with Rose? Or had Donna call Ten "pretty", then quickly retract it in an "oh my, I've said too much" sort of way?

To me it feels like Moffat lives vicariously through his portrayal of the Doctor, making him the cleverest, coolest, most sexually-desireable man in the universe. In the RTD era, the focus of the stories tended to be about how the Doctor inspires everyday people to muster the courage to do extraordinary things. The Doctor was the catalyst of the story, but the story wasn't about him, it was about them.

But going into the Moffat era, the focus shifted more onto the Doctor, and suddenly the everyday people were just props in a story to show how awesome the Doctor is.

If they're good, they get married and/or have children to take care of, even if they don't give birth. Hell, if you're a mother, you get superpowers!

It seems more likely that Moffat falls very deeply into the Hollywood crevice of "female characters are only allowed to do strictly female things". It's the reason that people are so hesitant about female protagonists: we've been conditioned to believe that a female character is incapable of being relatable to a male audience because female characters are only allowed to worry about children, beauty, and men.

I mean, look at the professions of the RTD companions: Retail clerk, doctor, and temp. These are common, gender-neutral jobs. They're jobs that a wide range of audience members could see themselves in, thus the characters are relatable on an employment level.

Then look at the professions of the Moffat companions: Kissogram and model, barmaid and governess. These are all jobs that are almost exclusively held by women. And they're not common jobs, either. These characters' professions are wholly unrelatable to most of the audience, indicating that we're not supposed to be viewing the show through the eyes of this character. Instead they feel more like some kind of pornographic fantasy, where you're the super-studly Doctor, and in walks this attractive woman with exotic and distinctly feminine profession X. She's not there to have a personality, she's there to titillate you. Which is really annoying for people who want to watch a show where the characters are characters rather than a fap fantasy.
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From:blackdwarv
Date:December 27th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thank you.
I was beginning to feel like the lone voice in the wilderness of "OH GOD CLARA COOL"

Whereas, I was feeling like Clara was the FrankenCompanion. Take bits that people (supposedly) liked from previous companions and sew them all together. Et voila! Clara.

Moffet needs to go back to writing one-offs. He is brilliant when he can take breathers in between episodes. His one-offs before he took over were (usually) pretty good with plenty of creep factor. (Lonely Child, Blink). But ever since he took over, it's been full of recycled ideas. I was a bit leery when the second episode with the Weeping Angels came on (not to mention River coming back...) but willing to give him a chance. And every now and then, he'd do amazing stuff. The Impossible Astronaut was an amazing start to a really disappointing season. Such promise...

Anyrate, I'm now going to internet-stalk you.
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From:distantiation
Date:December 27th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
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I love your posts lol. I usually find a few things to pick at during the episodes, only to brush them aside and just get over it I guess? But it's hilarious to have all that and more just picked apart in such a way. Keep up the good work! :)
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From:gemmiel
Date:December 27th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
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Love your review, as usual. Like you, I liked this one better than last year's special, but it still had a really annoying feel of "this could be great if someone had edited it." I feel that way about a lot of the Moffat era-- if only someone took the time to rewrite and edit and put the interesting bits together in a framework that made more sense, the episodes could be truly excellent. As it is, I often feel like I've been shown a rough draft, which annoys me.
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From:patches365
Date:December 27th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
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I agree. Moffat episodes nowadays feel like, "Here's all the cool stuff I want to have happen in this episode. I don't care how or why, it just needs to happen!" And so it happens. For no reason. It's just a bunch of disjointed "Ooh, shiny" elements strung together by pretty much nothing. His episodes feel like a brainstorming session where everyone just throws random ideas out, and then they make an episode about it.
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From:bitwhizzle
Date:December 27th, 2012 05:31 pm (UTC)
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THIS. Oh, THIS SO MUCH. Pretty much why I stopped watching once Moffat took over. I tried to watch it...but the whole River Song thing just totally turned me off. And then I tried to watch it again once he started in with The Silence...but still NOTHING.
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From:ctanworldkiller
Date:December 27th, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
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Hah, this review reminds me of exactly why I gave up on the "new series", was tempted to watch it with the curiousity of the new titles and tardis ect but it doesnt sound like it's improved at all in the past several years so I guess I won't be watching this one, if it references the troughton story that I really love - thats even more reason to pass on it, I've already got it into my head from the virgin new adventures that the great intelligence is Yog Sothoth (from the cthulhu mythos) and I expect if this is retconned in this special ill just be annoyed about it. (long story short, i grew up with the NA books and all that canon I invested my childhood into got swept under the carpet and entirely retconned making me quit because for me, it was not fun, each to their own and all that blahblah insert opinion disclaimers).
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 27th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
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I always agree with most of your comments (although I like the new opening credits and theme, especially the callback to Old Who in the shadowy glimpse of Mandrake the Magnificent Eleven).

This time I managed to enjoy the episode a lot anyway, because I've given up hoping that Moffat's plots will make sense, or his reveals will work, or his characters will have 3 dimensions. So yeah, the governess died by falling in a 1 foot pool and this is the reason why the evil snowflakes, which have been around for at least 50 years, are about to take over the world. Or something.

I figure the correct answer to unexplained details in overly elaborate detail-obsessed sci fi is the definitive one offered in Buckaroo Banzai:

"Why is there a watermelon there?"
"I'll tell you later."

An added snark: Why is it that when Russell Davies gives us same-sex couples, he does so in ways that seem both natural and plausible, whereas when Moffat does it (with the best of intentions), the event screams LOOKYLOOKY I AM BEING POLITICAL CORRECTY ? So that all I think about after the ridiculous moment in which Vastra and her ninja sidekick present the irrelevant, gratuitous information to Simian that "we're married" all I could think was a) No, that would be grounds for putting you both in a lot of jail; b) oh, OK, I guess Oscar Wilde's trial, imprisonment, death, and utter destruction were for some awful thing he did because it turns out that Victorian England loved teh gay; and c) why on earth should Simian care about this? Or about the Strand magazine or the short stories of Dr. Doyle?

Which was too bad because the stupidity stepped all over a really funny Moffat moment in which Vastra lifts her veil and Simian does a shocked take because she's a ... woman! (Even though the clothes she's wearing probably tipped him off to that even without the reveal.)

This is, in microcosm, how Moffat screws up every time. He has a good moment, or a good line, or a clever idea, and he just throws it in there without any regard for what it does to character and plot. Which makes me admire Richard Grant all the more for delivering a halfway consistent and thoroughly enjoyable Snidely Whiplash villain despite having to stop repeatedly to discuss Sherlock Holmes with strangers masquerading as Sherlock Holmes.

I'm hoping that the story line about Strax's Second Coming will be filled in at some point. It does seem a shame to make a really good joke about being the middle child of 6 million, and then not use that. Ah well...
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From:caz963
Date:December 27th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
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Absolutely brilliant and spot on. I' m thinking that Moffat, having experienced all the "Oh no, they killed Rory again" eyerolling is going to have Clara/Oswin die in every episode!

For a guy who had supposedly had enough of saving the world, the Doctor got back into it remarkably quickly. When Ten lost Donna, he was so traumatised by it, it almost drove him mad. Eleven just had a fit of the sulks.

Oh, and speaking of Donna, how can Ten wipe her memory with a touch of ye olde Vulcan mind- meld whereas Eleven needs a fugly puppet worm?
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From:nekogoesnyaa
Date:December 27th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
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Oh, and speaking of Donna, how can Ten wipe her memory with a touch of ye olde Vulcan mind- meld whereas Eleven needs a fugly puppet worm?

Because continuity doesn't matter to Moffat?

He took over and was like, "IT'S ALL MINE! FORGET ALL THAT HAPPENED BEFORE!" Seriously. I mean... I'm still huffy over Closing Time and the whole Cyberman thing. They're flipping machines! The whole point behind them is that they were organic beings, but upgraded themselves to the point of becoming mostly non-organic and unfeeling. The point is that they're not just humans in a metal suit that can be broken open by the Power of Love. That's ignoring both previous NuWho AND Classic Who. (Of course, I also rage quit that episode at that point, so maybe I missed something.)
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From:betawho
Date:December 28th, 2012 06:57 am (UTC)
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If you didn't like the ending of Closing Time (and I was extremely tired of (love saves the day endings) then you might enjoy this Alternate Ending.

It's just a slight re-edit, it saves the "father's love" aspect, but does it in a way that makes sense. And the Doctor actually does something to defeat the Cybermen other than stand there and apologize.

Closing Time Alternate Ending
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From:dqbunny
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:14 am (UTC)
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Oh, and speaking of Donna, how can Ten wipe her memory with a touch of ye olde Vulcan mind- meld whereas Eleven needs a fugly puppet worm?

It might be that after Donna, he swore to himself not to do that again. Hence, the worm. It's a form of distancing himself.
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 27th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
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Things I did not get:

~Why Clara has two jobs. I mean, why even bother with that? That barkeep never shows up again, nothing happens in the bar. Why is that scene there?

~That red drink. I don't remember much Silurian lore: Are they blood drinkers? Is that a reference to blood? Because otherwise I assume it's a product placement for Campari.

~How the Evil Snowflakes work. I mean, they mirror the thoughts of ... someone, or various people, or Simian, and also Clara, who is perhaps clairvoyant because haha, names! But they also copy the thoughts of the two kids, or at least one of them, and the awful previous governess (who died and whom we don't care that she died because she was mean) Or was she never a real person at all, but just a snowflake figment of Simian's fevered imagination? In which case, why did no one in the Latimer household notice that she was made of ice and could utter only one phrase?

~Why, in fact, did Ice Governess keep repeating that one phrase?

~How do you drown in a shallow ornamental pond? Wouldn't you just climb out? Unless the little boy hit her with a rock?

~I understand why Moffat is obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, but why is everyone else too? I mean, why does Dr Simian spend time bantering with Vastra and her sidekick about the Strand magazine? Surely he seems more like the jovial, clubbable sort of fellow who reads Punch.

~What, indeed, is Simian doing throughout this episode? He gathers snow samples; he feeds some workers to the snowmen (good line, there); he wanders over to Latimer's place to chat aimlessly with him--how does he even know Latimer, by the way? Then he goes home and broods and talks to the snowglobe for a while, waiting to ... to what? Well, waiting for the Doctor to drop by and banter some more about Holmesiana. What does the GI Institute do?

~I watched a lot of DW in my childhood, but I do not recall exactly what the connection of the Great Intelligence was to the London Underground. I assume the map of the Tube on the Doctor's lunchbox Worm Carrier is there simply to remind (some of) us about that early episode, but I still don't know why it would be on there. Wouldn't a Worm Carrier be more likely to have some other decorative motif? Such as large red letters saying: DANGER: MEMORY WORM INSIDE?

~Clara, upon entering the TARDIS, after the obligatory Bigger on the Inside joke, asks what other architectural/interior-design question? Does she ask, "Where's the bathroom?" which would be practical. Does she ask, "How do you drive this thing?" which would show ambition. Does she ask, "Are you a frigging alien from the future?" which would be logical. No, she asks, "Is there a kitchen?" because she is a girl! Or, more precisely, because Moffat needs to get the conversation to swing round to soufflés as soon as possible, and there's no other way to do that. The subject could not, for example, have arisen (heh, pun) in a scene in a restaurant, or at table chez Latimer. Nor could Clara have remarked, casually, that walking on a high-density cloud is like walking on the better sort of soufflé. Obviously not, since the correct confection with which to compare a high-density TARDIS-laced cloud is a floating island. Or else baked Alaska, but that would have sent the Doctor in the wrong direction, geographically speaking.

~Clara undressing in the cab: is this a subtle reference to Madame Bovary?

~Vastra and Sidekick in the story at all: Wha? In between solving the mysteries of the Speckled Band and Silver Blaze, Vastra is apparently following the Doctor around, trying to convince him to stop sulking about Amy because ... well, because. She is making no headway and is just getting ready to phone up the Torchwood Institute or Charles Dickens to ask them for advice, or a good therapist, when Clara turns up. Vastra immediately becomes an unnecessary character, like Latimer and that poor sod the Barkeep, doomed to provide random scenic verisimilitude. I can only guess that she is there to counterbalance Ice Governess, who is, come to think of it, equally useless to the plot, except in provoking creepy memories in all those children in the audience who grew up with a Victorian nanny in the house. I'm sure there are many.
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From:patches365
Date:December 28th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC)
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In Moffat's defense, some of these are addressed in "blink and you miss it" exposition.

~Why, in fact, did Ice Governess keep repeating that one phrase?

Because the Doctor projected the thoughts of the puppet onto her when he melted her. That still makes no sense, but in one of the mile-a-minute banters he mentioned she's randomly mirroring the puppet.

~What, indeed, is Simian doing throughout this episode? He gathers snow samples; he feeds some workers to the snowmen (good line, there); he wanders over to Latimer's place to chat aimlessly with him--how does he even know Latimer, by the way? Then he goes home and broods and talks to the snowglobe for a while, waiting to ... to what?

Alien snow is falling to the planet little by little, and Simeon (I spelled it "Simian" in my review as a joke, that's not actually his name ^_^*) was probably having the vagrants collect it to feed it all into one place, where the Great Intelligence was residing. He went to Latimer's place because he read about the drowned governess in the newspaper, which the Doctor found later.

~I watched a lot of DW in my childhood, but I do not recall exactly what the connection of the Great Intelligence was to the London Underground.

It's a reference to the serial "The Web of Fear", from the Second Doctor era. I don't know the plot of it, really, and all but the first episode are missing (which is even less of a reason to make this kind of reference to it). I just know it has to do with the London Underground, the Great Intelligence, and yetis.

~Clara, upon entering the TARDIS, after the obligatory Bigger on the Inside joke, asks what other architectural/interior-design question? Does she ask, "Where's the bathroom?" which would be practical. Does she ask, "How do you drive this thing?" which would show ambition. Does she ask, "Are you a frigging alien from the future?" which would be logical. No, she asks, "Is there a kitchen?" because she is a girl!

I'll give him this one too, only because I can relate. I do a lot of my own cooking rather than relying on prepared food, so if the Doctor ever asked me if I want to come along, the availability of a kitchen on the TARDIS would actually be a high-priority question for me, too. :P
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 28th, 2012 03:51 am (UTC)
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I watched it twice and didn't hear that comment about the Punch puppet, so thanks for that ... I think.

So Simeon went to Latimer's because the governess drowned in the pool and he's ghoulish? Or because the pool remained frozen and he's ... obsessed with cold things? What's the connection?

I also like to cook and have even been known to whip up the occasional soufflé, but that line was (for me) the lamest of the evening. Of all the ways to get her to comment on her love of soufflés, did Moffat have to find the one solution that requires his new moppet Companion to behave like a girl from 1950? Honestly, the girls from DW in the early 1960s, before Women's Lib as was, were better than this.

Just once I'd like to see him try to write a young woman who works on her own motorcycle (as opposed to dating a guy who works on his own motorcycle) and who walks into the TARDIS and asks, "Is there a biochem lab?" or even "Is there a library?" I know that sounds very old-school feminist, and I wouldn't bother to say it if Moffat weren't so relentless. Governess, babysitter, cook, waitress, model, kissogram, housewife... it's so extreme it's almost bizarre.
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From:dqbunny
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:18 am (UTC)
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Why Clara has two jobs. I mean, why even bother with that? That barkeep never shows up again, nothing happens in the bar. Why is that scene there?

It's pretty quick couple of lines, and I'd have to go back and re-watch to make sure of the location, but I believe Clara took the governess job to prove that she could rise above her station. I think there was a mention of her saying this at one point early in the episode. And it makes sense. Governesses tended to be more of the gentry, not barmaids.

But, like all people, once she had the two jobs, why not keep them? She's a single woman without family in that day and age, so she's not far from being off the streets. Building a nest egg's pretty damn smart. She probably even thought the farce wouldn't have lasted as long as it did and wanted something to fall back on.
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From:pedanther
Date:December 28th, 2012 02:21 pm (UTC)
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I watched a lot of DW in my childhood, but I do not recall exactly what the connection of the Great Intelligence was to the London Underground. I assume the map of the Tube on the Doctor's lunchbox Worm Carrier is there simply to remind (some of) us about that early episode, but I still don't know why it would be on there. Wouldn't a Worm Carrier be more likely to have some other decorative motif? Such as large red letters saying: DANGER: MEMORY WORM INSIDE?

It's because the Worm Carrier actually is a lunchbox. A souvenir lunchbox with a map of the Underground on it.

You're right that most people would carry a dangerous memory worm around in a special box with DANGER: MEMORY WORM INSIDE written on it, but the Doctor doesn't because it wouldn't be whimsical enough. *eyeroll*
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:05 pm (UTC)
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Now I'm wondering if kids in the UK actually have lunchboxes with the Underground map on them, so that this is a bit of a joke? I was assuming that it was just a shortcut way to make a reference to the original story of the Great Intelligence, which takes place in the Underground. Otherwise the randomness seems less whimsical than random. I wouldn't mind having that lunchbox myself. (Although the lunchbox I'd really like to see the Doctor use is this one: http://www.popcultcha.com.au/images/IKO0369-Doctor-Who-Dalek-3-Up-Exterminate-Lunchbox_3_3.png or else http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/-jagular-/P1010054.jpg.)

You're right that it's silly and a bit grinchlike of me to expect the Doctor to do things logically, or sensibly--especially this madcap Eleven. The whimsy is a bit forced, but I don't mind that too much. What always distracts me is when Moffat uses whimsy as a tool of exposition. Or at least, when he does it clumsily.
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From:pedanther
Date:December 29th, 2012 05:49 am (UTC)
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No, no, I wasn't eyerolling at you! I was eyerolling at the Doctor (or, to be fair, at the writers); there are times when I think the whimsy is a bit forced, too.
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From:kathiann
Date:December 28th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC)
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I was waiting for this. I had mixed feelings about this episode. I did enjoy it, but I also had issues. The story seemed rushed, if he didn't want to save Earth, why was he hanging around it. He has a ship that travels across time and space, surly there are better places he could be than directly above a place where people know who he is. I liked Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, But here...it would make sense if she remembered the doctor, if the doctor knew her. But the kiss...that was a bit much. I rolled my eyes at it. It made me sad. I want to ship in fanfiction, not on the screen. It's too soon. I don't want the new companion throwing herself at the doctor the first chance she gets. *sigh* The whole Madame Vastra/Jenny thing...it's just not possible. They wouldn't go parading around in that time telling everyone that they are a couple, it just wouldn't work. There would be issues. It would be very bad. That's just ignoring a whole big chunk of history there.
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From:violentdragking
Date:December 28th, 2012 06:25 am (UTC)
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So, even though I loved the special and love Clara/Oswin, I always love to read your snark. Because what's love without sarcsm? :D

"Or, at least, she should have, but since this is TV, she fell completely immaculately and didn't even get dirt on her face. Instead of catching her with the TARDIS like he did when River fell off the building in "Day of the Moon", the Doctor instead materializes the TARDIS on top of her to make sure she's extra flat."

I laughed ridiculously hard at that. Every time I re-read it, I crack up. Oh god.
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From:clipsie
Date:December 28th, 2012 06:29 am (UTC)
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Ahaha, I do love your snark filled reviews when I actually come across them (livejournal-ing is hard work). I also agree with all the snark, and while I do like Clara, it's only for superficial reasons, and so, otherwise she ends up with a "really now...?" reaction from me. XD

The two of them get into a banter-off, which was, admittedly, well-done, and they escape together onto the magic ladder in the sky.

This was, legit, the best part of the episode I found and, oh my goodness, that is sad. :/
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From:dqbunny
Date:December 28th, 2012 06:42 am (UTC)
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I'm just wondering -- if it gives you this much grief, why are you still watching?
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From:patches365
Date:December 28th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)
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Because it used to be so good. And it still has so much potential. And the other writers can occasionally churn out something respectable (like last season's "The Doctor's Wife" and "The Girl Who Waited"). And, aside from the "Oh, wait, we need to resolve this" ending of "The Power of Three", I enjoyed that episode.

So, I don't see the series as beyond hope. I see it as something where all the pieces of greatness are there, they just haven't figured out how to put them together. 90% of all my gripes with Moffat's writing boil down to one thing: It's non-deterministic. Things happen and people act without legitimate cause. Most of my snark is incredulously wondering "Why would they do that?" or "How did that happen?". And I still have hope that someone can fix that.

I still have a dedication to the show because it used to be so good, and can still be from time to time. I know most series have their ups and downs, and it's currently in a down, but I'm holding out hope that it'll eventually swing up. And I want to be there to congratulate it when it does.
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From:dqbunny
Date:December 28th, 2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
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I still think the series is good. But, you know through Kuro's LJ that I'm a Moffat fan. I do enjoy his storytelling, and I can make sense of it, even though I agree that he does have his faults. His biggest one though, in my opinion, is that he tries to cram a bit too much into a very small timeframe. It's the big issue with "The Snowmen," it's one that popped up several times in series 6 (for example, we did not need two episodes on the bloody gangers, and the Mark Gatiss episode wasn't very good. I'd reassigned those two hours to expanding "A Good Man Goes to War" and "The Wedding of River Song."

I did give up on Moffat at first during series 5, but then I went back and gained an appreciation for what he was doing when I watched the entire series in one fell swoop. It's largely because when I stepped back and viewed the entire story as one thing, I could suddenly answer the "why would they do that?" and "how did that happen?" As someone who was raised in the school of JMS and Babylon 5, I could really appreciate it. If I sat down and scrutinized each individual episode, then yes, I would have serious issues. But, I learned when I waited and looked at the entire series as a whole, I can see the entire story. Like with River's storyline, things like that. Or Amy's growth as a character, which you can't see at first, but then if you compare the selfish Amy who runs away with the Doctor in series 5 to the Amy who has finally grown to love Rory so much that she chooses a life without him in a misguided attempt to spare him further pain in series 7, it's amazing.

It's like back in Inuyasha, when we were waiting each week for the individual chapters and the bloody endless sword upgrades. You wanted to throw something during the whole black Tessaiga stuff, but then when the compiled volumes came out, it made a lot more sense -- even though IMHO the series still should had ended back in vol. 36.

Doctor Who is really good to me, and it's still good in a different way from RTD's Who. I love both show creators for different reasons. But, I will say this -- Moffat has yet to get me so angry that I had to go take an hourlong walk just to get rid of the rage, which is what happened when "Journey's End" first aired. I was so furious with what happened to Rose and Donna.

I will say this -- You aren't mean though to people who are fans of Moffat, River, etc. Thank you for that. I keep running into those who are vicious towards us and even had to drop off one person's LJ because while she was nice, her followers were terribly rude and didn't respect that someone might actually adore both River and Rose equally. You've always been very nice.

Edited at 2012-12-28 04:45 pm (UTC)
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
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I also really still love DW, and there's a lot about Moffat that I really enjoy and admire. But a good snarkfest can be a real pleasure anyway, and patches always nails the things that are harebrained, or not thought through, or just shortcuts.

It's satisfying to identify the things that are getting in the way of Moffat's Who working as well as it should. At his best he's written some of my favorite episodes, so he sets himself a high standard. I'm continually surprised (and irked) that someone so clever and ingenious seems so often to get in his own way.

As you and patches note, there are really two repeated bad habits--cramming way too much stuff into a single episode, so that much stuff is unexplained, unneeded, random, and out of character. And making people do and say things that make no sense or are not justified by character or situation merely because the plot requires it. Or worse, because there's a good zingy joke to be made.

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From:betawho
Date:December 28th, 2012 07:20 am (UTC)
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I love your snarky reviews, you always say exactly what I was thinking, but you say it better. And much more funny. I was laughing so hard while reading this that I started coughing.

I agree, Moff seems to have an odd, and very old fashioned view of women, yet at the same time here's a Victorian woman who should fit right along his lines, and she acts like a modern "liberated" woman. But apparently only liberated in the sex department. Ugh. I will give her that she has a lot of shutzpa and determination, but it would be nice to see a Moff female character that wasn't so stereotypically female.

I about swallowed my tongue on that " the Doctor, who loudly whistles in the middle of a silent field so as not to draw attention to himself" line. ROFLMAO!

I totally agree about the Strax line, "somebody brought him back to life." That's it?! Hell, he wasn't even brought back to life with that gizmo he used to bring Clara back to life with later, because it doesn't work long term.

I completely agree about the Great Intelligence. If they're going to use a baddie from an old episode at least pick an episode that still exists! They'd have made a lot more in video sales and downloads if they'd bothered to use a baddie that people could actually go back and see the episode they were in. (They did the same think with the Macra. But at least giant crabs don't need a lot of back story to understand. It would have been nice to be able to go back and see what the Great Intelligence was though, because this episode told us sod all.)

And everything is saved by people crying on Christmas. Jesus! (No offense birthday boy. :D) But I was actually enjoying the story up to then.

But once again the resolution happens through no effort of the Doctor's. And worse it's another "emotion over technology" answer. Hell, I probably would have liked it better if he'd just blown up that snowglobe and said the Intelligence couldn't affect anyone in a dissipated form. That it needed a critical mass or something, like the kid's first snowman, and that's why Simian kept feeding it more.

Then Clara could have died from the psychic shock of being cut off from it in her weakened state, and that would give the Doctor a reason to be all angsty again, since apparently it's very important for the Doctor to be all existentially angsty about his Companions in general. He's required to worry about losing them before he's even met them now!

And I'm sort of tired of "super special/arc Companions" now anyway. I just want a regular person who could be amazed and kickass with the Doctor out in space. Clara would have made a fun female Jamie type character (once River showed up and warned her to keep her lips off her man.)

But instead, it looks like we'll be trading in for another contemporary Companion.

Le Sigh.
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From:patches365
Date:December 28th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, Clara is a bit too amazing, and for no logical reason. She works two completely different jobs, is able to figure out everything about the Doctor's motives after two lines of dialogue with him, and routinely is one step ahead of him in figuring things out. But there's no reason for her to be this way, especially with her supposed background. The least they could do was have someone question her abilities to indicate that their source may be addressed later, but instead it's just, "Ooh, you're clever, I like you", and we're just supposed to accept that she's super-amazing at everything.

I just want a regular person who could be amazed and kickass with the Doctor out in space.

Yes! Both Amy and Clara are too "special" for my tastes. Both of them are characters that the Doctor would have had to get involved with eventually because they've been living with a crack in the universe in their wall, or they're split across multiple time streams. All the RTD companions were just ordinary people with ordinary abilities and an ordinary background, who then became extraordinary people through their interaction with the Doctor. And if the companion is supposed to be the audience surrogate, then I want a common, relatable person.

Moffat just... doesn't seem to understand why he's called "The Doctor". He's called "The Doctor" because he makes people better. He finds people who aren't living up to their full potential and helps them realize it. But Eleven seems to be looking for people to be his personal cheerleading squad. He didn't pick Clara because he saw how much potential she had and had a renewed desire to help her realize it, he picked her because she called him cool and clever. His companions must come to him already perfect and requiring no work on his part. He only lectures them if they try to do something of their own volition. Screw "bowties are cool" or "Geronimo", Eleven's catchphrase is, "Listen carefully and do exactly as I say" (seriously, I should go count the number of times he says something along those lines. It probably exceeds the other two catchphrases).
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From:malsperanza
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:56 am (UTC)
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But Eleven seems to be looking for people to be his personal cheerleading squad. He didn't pick Clara because he saw how much potential she had and had a renewed desire to help her realize it, he picked her because she called him cool and clever. His companions must come to him already perfect and requiring no work on his part.

I actually think this flaw in Eleven is interesting. He is presented as Doctor Kindness, and we're meant to think he's sensitive and insightful behind all the antics. But this Doctor is at least as egocentric as the ones in Old Who, and far less honest about it. I like seeing him as we did this week: sulky and in need of constant praise and coaxing, but all too ready to drop the pose and rush back in to save the universe and get the praise.

The Doctor isn't some kindly Wizard of Oz or even Willy Wonka; he's a Time Lord, and after a thousand years and a couple dozen Companions, he has stepped back from genuine connections with people.

At least, when I look at Eleven this way, I can make sense of the essentially hollow relationship he had with River Song and even with Amy. There was a great deal of telling us how strong and meaningful their bonds were, but he was a pretty cold fish, when all was said and done. (Some of that may be down to the fact that Matt Smith, for all his charm, does not play Eleven as a sex god the way Eccleston, Tennant, and even Tom Baker did.)
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From:patches365
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
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And, see, I would be totally cool with Eleven as this utter sociopath who just uses people for his own ego and amusement and imitates human emotion and attachment to get them to go along with him.

Provided, of course, that the show recognizes this is what he is. Unfortunately, his actions too frequently belie all the flowery exposition people give for his sake. It's quite obvious that Moffat wants us to approve of the Doctor and approve of the relationships his companions have with him, rather than view the whole thing as one big tragedy.

It feels like... a guy who drives on the sidewalk to bypass traffic during a traffic jam, and thinks he's so cool and clever for doing that, and the hot women in his car all exclaim how cool and clever he is. Whereas the people stuck in traffic just think he's a douchebag. The problem is, the way Moffat writes it, he's obviously gunning for us to side with the hot women in the car.
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From:livejournal
Date:December 28th, 2012 01:34 pm (UTC)

2012 Dr Who Xmas Special - The Snowmen

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User drhoz referenced to your post from 2012 Dr Who Xmas Special - The Snowmen saying: [...] Doctor is the only one who can save the world. *sighs* I may as well point you towards this review [...]
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From:pedanther
Date:December 28th, 2012 02:20 pm (UTC)
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The Doctor reads the tombstone and discovers Clara's full name is Clara Oswin Oswald, and that she had the same voice as... the Dalek. Who he actually heard talking in a Dalek voice

But he also heard her normal voice first, over the radio, remember? The bit where she turned out to be a Dalek wouldn't have been much of a surprise otherwise.


Okay, seriously, is that all we're going to get? "Yeah, well, he's alive now because I wanted him to be in this story, so deal with it"?

I'm kind of hoping we'll get the full story of how Strax is not dead later, and it will turn out to be cunningly relevant to the full story of how Oswin is not dead.

Not actually believing, but hoping.
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From:patches365
Date:December 29th, 2012 02:28 pm (UTC)
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But he also heard her normal voice first, over the radio, remember? The bit where she turned out to be a Dalek wouldn't have been much of a surprise otherwise.

But he also told her that her human identity wasn't real. That the souffles, the being human, the surviving the shipwreck, all of that was just in her head. So if her human identity had been imagined all this time, how did she speak with that voice over the intercoms?

Her voice changes when the Doctor sees her because it's revealed that while she's talking like Clara on the inside, her voice is a Dalek on the outside. And always has been. So how did he hear her human voice at all?
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From:pedanther
Date:December 29th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Two separate issues here: Did it happen? Can it be explained how it happened?

The answer to the second question is less clear than I'd prefer, but that doesn't alter the answer to the first question, which is a clear yes.

When Oswin spoke to the Doctor and his friends over the radio and the intercom, she wasn't just imagining that she spoke with a human voice; their reactions make it clear that it's a human voice they're hearing. If it had been a Dalek voice claiming to be surrounded by Daleks with nothing to do but make souffles, or flirting with Rory, they wouldn't have responded the way they did.

So, however it happened, the Doctor did hear Oswin's human voice.
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From:patches365
Date:December 29th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC)
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Yes, I'm aware that it happened, it's just the "how" that I'm stuck on, because them being able to hear her as a human contradicts the reveal at the end. It's basically that her human voice is not what they should have been hearing given the actual situation, but for the sake of the story it's what they were hearing, even though it's impossible.

It's kind of the same sort of thing about Strax being alive. I can see that he's alive, and for the sake of this episode he is alive, it's just the "how" that gets me.
From:dragon_bait21
Date:April 10th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC)
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Yes, I know this is terribly late but I wandered here from your BOSJ review and just about wet myself laughing. Kudos to you.
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