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Mooning: Mummy on the Orient Express


Previous Entry Mooning: Mummy on the Orient Express Oct. 12th, 2014 @ 04:23 pm Next Entry
This week, Agatha Christie meets Leiji Matsumoto meets The Mummy. Spoiler: Everybody was the mummy.

A 66-second timer starts while a woman and her mother have dinner on a train. The mother suddenly sees a mummy approaching her, but no one else on the train can see it. Thinking she's off her meds, everyone ignores her until the timer runs out and the mummy reaches her, killing her.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and, strangely, Clara, arrive on the train as well. He informs her they're on the Orient Express... IN SPACE! Just as Clara starts to look like she's enjoying herself, the Doctor starts going off on her like an abusive partner about having conflicting emotions and how aggravating it is, and she demurely gives up smiling.

Seriously, why... why is she here? Especially if he's treating her like this right off the bat, it's like she has Battered Wife Syndrome or something and she's simply resigned herself to the fact that he's always going to be an ass to her and she can't escape it. While a look into the effects of psychological abuse can make a good story, that has never felt like where this series has been going with the Doctor and Clara's relationship, and plus... why the hell would we want to cast the Doctor in that role in the first place?

The only explanations I can think of is that the Doctor's abusive behavior is going to have some kind of massive comeuppance in the finale that will get him to change his mannerisms, or, more likely, is that Moffat simply doesn't recognize his behavior as abusive. At least other characters are finally starting to feebly call him out on it, but the question remains as to why he was characterized like this in the first place.

Clara then reveals that this is their last trip together, because, like some masochist, even after her rant at him in the previous episode she just had to come back and have one last go. She tells him that she thought she hated him, but she was wrong, and she's all better now. The Doctor ignores her and continues to talk about his own stuff while she continuously tries to tell him that she doesn't hate him, apparently testing just how much of a dick he can be to her and still have her latched onto him. The end result seeming to be that he can do pretty much whatever he wants and she'll still come crawling back.

Moffat's "Who" has continuously stomped all over every one of Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Basic Rules of Writing, but this entire season has been especially devoted to nuking Rule 2 from orbit: "Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for". The Doctor is so abusive that he's actively hated, and Clara is such a willing victim that all you can really do is feel sorry for her, which isn't really the same as "rooting". Thus we end up with a pair of lead characters that really feel like they're beyond help, thus the season progress with a constant overall feeling of hopelessness.

Clara shuts up about her needs to allow the Doctor to continue talking about stuff more interesting to him. The woman whose mummy was mummied calls him out on his stories, saying that the planet he was referencing was destroyed a thousand years ago. She then returns to her room. Thus we end up breaking Rule 4, in which this woman's accusation towards the Doctor was not meant to indicate she suspected him of being involved in her mother's murder, nor was it meant to indicate that she was a person of knowledge of planetary history, nor does this bit of information serve any future use in the story. This line existed simply so that she and the Doctor could be introduced to each other, even though the line had zero character or story relevance. Because the actual relevant information she has to share, that her mother was killed by an invisible mummy, ended up being related by the captain after she left.

Clara wonders if the Doctor is capable of going anywhere and not have monsters show up. The Doctor insists that the woman who died was old and was probably just having hallucinations before she died, and that there isn't necessarily anything nefarious going on. Clara decides she wants to have her cake and eat it, too, and acts surprised that even though this is their last trip together and she told the Doctor to go away and never come back that they won't see each other anymore after this. The Doctor goes back into his patronizing "I'm just doing what you wanted" tactic, and so thoroughly beaten down even by this at this point, Clara relents.

Later that night (although, since they're in space, isn't it always night?) the Doctor tries to convince himself there really is a monster, while Clara calls Mister Pink and tries to twist everything he says into meaning that he thinks she should stay with the Doctor. It's nice to see that their relationship is still unmarred by anything even resembling healthy communication.

The Doctor sneaks off without Clara to investigate the woman's murder and runs into the chief engineer who was loitering around the evidence. The two are immediately suspicious of each other, which apparently means they also instantly bond.

Meanwhile, Clara also sneaks off and runs into the woman who they were introduced to earlier, who now introduces herself as Macy. She says she wants to see her mother's body and smashes the control to the door to the room. Clara follows after her, and they end up getting locked inside.

Now that the companion is once again rendered conveniently out of the way, the Doctor finds a professor of alien mythology who just happens to be on board and quizzes him about a creature called the Foretold to pump out the necessary exposition surrounding this myth. To illustrate this, the mummy appears again in the kitchen and has a stern word with the chef.

Back in the locked room, Clara and Macy talk about how difficult people can make you wish bad things upon them, but that doesn't necessarily make you responsible if bad things do end up happening to them. Though she said she came in here to see her mother's body, it doesn't actually seem to be in here, but there does seem to be a sarcophagus. Maybe that's where her mummy's body is.

The Doctor confronts the captain and berates him for not doing anything and instead is just letting people die to allow the evidence to slowly manifest itself. Surely this will not come across as hypocritical later. The engineer, though, had already been looking into it, and gives the Doctor a pile of information on the passengers and the train.

Meanwhile, Clara and Macy realize that since they've already passed the Bechdel Test by talking about Macy's mother, they're free to spend the rest of their time together talking about the Doctor. Clara says that she's here with the Doctor now on one last trip because she couldn't let their relationship end on a sour note. Macy says that there's nothing wrong with just ending it, unless she physically can't. At which point remaining in an abusive relationship is noble because suffering gives rise to fanciful dreams.

To illustrate this point, the Doctor calls Clara and continuously talks over her as she tries to tell him she's trapped. He comes to the locked room where the sonic screwdriver conveniently doesn't work, but it does open up the sarcophagus inside the room. A sarcophagus containing... bubble wrap. ... Oh god, it's the return of the bubble wrap monster from "Ark in Space".

But, no, the mummy actually just appeared somewhere else and picks off another one of the train's staff. The Doctor notices that everyone on the train is some kind of alien specialist and someone must have intentionally gathered them all here to study the mummy. Sure enough, the train car transforms into a laboratory and the computer tells them to analyze the mummy so it can be captured and reverse-engineered.

The mummy appears again for the professor and the Doctor tells him to tell him everything he can see in the 66 seconds that he has, so that maybe they can save "the next one". Yes, the professor is just being used as a guinea pig to gather evidence; the same thing the Doctor berated the captain for earlier. But the captain was just passively letting people die while the Doctor is actively using them for evidence-collection, and as the previous episode showed us, active participation is more morally justified than passive allowance. Or, wait, no.

The computer happily informs them that grief counseling will be available upon request. What about cake? No, seriously, a friendly-sounding sadistic AI that has gathered a bunch of people for testing purposes? The computer keeps telling people to call it "Gus", but it seems to actually be GuSDOS.

Clara and Macy happen to find some records in the room they're locked in and call up the Doctor to relay the information. The computer tells them to terminate the call, which is an odd thing for it to want to do if its primary purpose is to gather information. Although, the information that Clara is giving seems to be information on GuSDOS and his prior experiments. GuSDOS kills the remainder of the kitchen staff, depriving them of their pudding until they finish their work.

The Doctor concludes that the mummy is choosing its victims by picking off the weakest amongst them first by sensing their physical or psychological handicaps. Well, that leads one to wonder why Clara and her Doctor-induced trauma hasn't been a target yet.

But, no, it's the captain and his PTSD that draws the mummy next. The Doctor is excited again to use his death for research purposes, but once again, they can't do anything about it. The other researchers just stand around doing nothing because that's all they've done the entire episode while the Doctor pieces together that the mummy is technologically-driven because it can teleport, and sucking the life energy out of people is what has kept it alive for so long. The mummy is also out of phase which is why only its target can see it, but if that's the case, why doesn't the person its targeting disappear, too?

They determine that Macy with her lifetime of abuse by her mother will be the next victim and the Doctor calls Clara to convince Macy to come to them and get killed by the mummy so they can observe it again. Clara, completely mentally broken but somehow not moreso than Macy, complies and tells her that the Doctor can help her if they go to him. So, they just... walk right out of the room that they've been locked in this entire time. I guess it can be argued that the computer let them out if they were going to be used as test subjects, but it's never said.

Clara notices there's a forcefield around the TARDIS and deduces that it means GuSDOS knows what it is and who the Doctor is, and the Doctor admits that GuSDOS has been calling him for a while trying to get him on board. Clara berates him again for lying to her and making her his accomplice, but again, because she won't actually follow through with her complaints, the Doctor knows that he can just keep doing this.

The mummy appears in front of Macy, and he uses a plot device to suck out all her trauma and give it to himself so that the mummy will target him instead of her. He greets the mummy with "Are you my mummy?", and that was admittedly cute.

So, now that he's able to see the mummy, the Doctor uses his 66 seconds to deduce everything about it (at least I think so, the music was so loud here it was hard to hear him), that it's a soldier kept alive with technology and is unable to stop fighting until the war ends, so the magic words are: "We surrender!".

That works, and the mummy crumbles to dust. GuSDOS informs them that now that they have obtained the information, their continued survival is not required. Rest assured, that there is absolutely no chance of a dangerous equipment malfunction prior to your victory candescence. Thank you for participating in this Aperture Science Enrichment activity. Goodbye!

The train blows up, and the next thing they know, Clara and the Doctor are on a beach somewhere. The Doctor says he used the mummy's teleportation device to teleport everyone to safety, and Clara congratulates him for not being as big a jerk as he could have been. The Doctor admits that if his plan to save Macy hadn't worked, he would have just moved on to the next person on the train until he finally beat it. That sometimes all you have are bad choices but you still have to choose.

Coincidentally, that would have been a good moral for the previous episode, but where the previous episode messed up was by making the choice they did end up with 100% consequence-free. At least in this episode the Doctor had to choose between ignoring the mummy and letting people die, or actively using people as test subjects on the mummy so that he could learn from it and stop it from killing. And at least this episode made his choice actually have consequences.

Clara decides that the Doctor is only pretending to be heartless, and that all the abuse he lays on her is for some greater purpose, and my god she is so broken. Get out. Now.

The Doctor offers the engineer a place on his crew since he's already whipped Clara so much that there's not much left he can do to her. The engineer smartly refuses and leaves.

Clara admits that she's addicted to the Doctor's abuse and him making decisions for her, so when Mister Pink calls, she tells him that she's done with the Doctor and will see him in a bit...

Buuut then comes running back to the Doctor and tells him that it was all Danny's idea that she stop traveling and she doesn't want to stop, and Danny's fine with her leaving and she's so sorry she ever said that she'd stop, so let's go.


Next time: If only these walls could talk.

You know, the point of this season had BETTER be Clara's trauma and her descent into madness, because this is just becoming much too uncomfortable to watch. It's gotten to the point that the writers HAVE to be self-aware of how they're depicting this relationship, even if they're not explicitly acknowledging it onscreen. Clara is exhibiting all the signs of someone locked in an abusive relationship, and the Doctor is simply exploiting it, or at the very least enabling it. And while this is something that happens in real life, this is NOT really the kinds of characteristics you want in your two lead characters. Give us someone to root for!

Not to mention that this episode laid out yet ANOTHER mystery in the identity of GuSDOS that it never resolved, thus breaking Rule 8: "Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages."

Also, the writers seem to have gotten stuck on the exact same monster for the past few seasons and have simply superficially changed its details: The mindless killing machine that chases you around and kills you when it catches you and can be defeated by exploiting a highly-specific weak point that it has due to having no mind or motive of its own. Literally every monster this season has been a non-sentient automaton of some sort. When was the last time we had a monster like the Slitheen or the Family of Blood that actually had its own motives and ability to control its actions rather than being some unthinking, pre-programmed killbot? Oh, but if the Doctor is to defeat something like that, he'd actually have to do something more clever than figure out its species-specific "off" button, and that's too hard.

I did think the mummy design and execution was really good, at least.

But the rest of it... ugh. If this season does NOT culminate in a recognition of Clara's emotional trauma due to the Doctor's behavior and the Doctor requiring some kind of attitude adjustment because of it, then I'm done. I'm just done. This series is becoming way too uncomfortable to watch and the characters are too unlikable for me to give a damn what happens to them. But my guess is that Moffat is taking Rule 7 much too close to heart: "Write to please just one person." The problem is that he's writing only to please himself, and this entire series has become his own personal sock to wank into. So if this season ends indicating that it really is just some crusty stocking, then I will treat it as such and discard it until someone else comes along who knows what a sock is for.

(And, yes, I know Moffat did not write this or the previous episode, but as head writer, he still has executive control over how the characters are portrayed and what overall themes need to be present in the other writers' stories, so while he's not necessarily responsible for writing all the episodes, he is responsible for approving their content. So I'm not necessarily blaming him for writing Clara and the Doctor like this, but blaming him for implicitly acknowledging, "I approve of how Clara and the Doctor are being written because it aligns with my vision for the show.")
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Date:October 12th, 2014 10:58 pm (UTC)
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Date:October 14th, 2014 08:28 am (UTC)
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Date:October 13th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)

Part 1

"the mummy appears again in the kitchen and has a stern word with the chef."

LOL! I love the way you worded that.

"The Doctor confronts the captain and berates him for not doing anything and instead is just letting people die to allow the evidence to slowly manifest itself. Surely this will not come across as hypocritical later."

Oh, that is a VERY good point.

"The engineer, though, had already been looking into it, and gives the Doctor a pile of information on the passengers and the train."

You know, the timing of that made me wonder, how did the Engineer even surmise that an old woman's death apparently had something to do with an ancient mummy curse? Especially so quickly? Or at all, for that matter. I can see him investigating the chair, to see if it had malfunctioned, but it's a big leap to thinking he needed train itineraries and a map of the train. Actually, at that point, I thought the reason must be because he was GUS and the one behind it all.

"that since they've already passed the Bechdel Test by talking about Macy's mother, they're free to spend the rest of their time together talking about the Doctor."

God yes. I'm glad I'm not the only one who immediately thougth of the Bechdel Test during that scene. Two women alone, in harrowing circumstances, what do they do, do they try to get out of the compartment? Find a way to communicate? Try to pry open the door? No, they sit down and talk about guys. Ugh. Honestly, Doctor Who used to be better than that.

As well as with your abused wife observations before, I've pretty much given up on women being presented in any way other than as being 'about the guys'. Moffat does seem to have this idea stuck in his head that a woman's main function as an individual is to be in a relationship with a guy. (No matter how strong or independent or intelligent or self-willed the women he writes, they all seem to be required to be in a relationship. Because apparently a woman without a man isn't a real person or something. Sorry, but it bugs me. Especially when he is good at writing strong intelligent women. It's just that they all happen to be strong and intelligent, not for themselves, but because it's somehow attractive, tittilating, or useful to a man. It's an odd dichotomy, and one I'm pretty sure he isn't even aware of. But I miss the days when the female Companion could be there as an individual in her own right, rather than needing to be dependently "attached" to a man. Sorry, personal rant.

"Clara and Macy happen to find some records in the room they're locked in and call up the Doctor to relay the information. The computer tells them to terminate the call, which is an odd thing for it to want to do if its primary purpose is to gather information."

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought those were odd.

"The mummy appears in front of Macy, and he uses a plot device to suck out all her trauma and give it to himself "

I actually liked what he did there. But it's a symptom of the show I don't like, which is just that "technology" can do anything the plot requires, even if it's been shown to not be able to do that before, or to have a completely separate function, with no tinkering even. It's very sonic screwdriver. And while I can understand why they did it for timing reasons, it still bugs me when the Doctor can pick up any piece of technology, which has been shown to be something else, and suddenly just have it do something else, just because.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 01:51 am (UTC)

Part 2


As to your end comments, I completely agree. I've never been so disapproving of the Doctor, or the show, as I have been this season. It's not just a matter of not liking a particular incarnation, it's a matter of actually hating this person. This is not a person I would want to travel the universe with, or be stuck in a box with, or even someone I would trust. And I think they are riffing, entirely too much, on how un-trustworthy this Doctor is.

The whole point of the show is that the Doctor is the one person in it you can trust, and if you can't, especially if you actively dis-trust him, it loses all meaning as Doctor Who. I know they are trying to make 12 different from 11 but I do think they've gone way way to far. It's one thing to make incarnations different. It's another to make the incarnation seem to not even be the Doctor.

Loads of people have been saying they wish he'd come up against the Master, the problem is, as this incarnation stands, there would hardly be any contrast. I'm more willing to believe this is the Valyard than the Doctor I've always known and loved (even in the incarnations that annoyed me.)

But, yeah, this whole series has focused far far far far too much on all the negative qualities of all the characters. The Doctor's a dick. Clara is an abused wife, stuck between a callous man on one side, and a manipulative one on the other. Danny vascillates from being a really nice guy, to being "Run, Clara!"

And this is supposed to be optimistic family entertainment?

I wasn't attracted to Doctor Who inorder to watch the characters be mean and disfunctional and the monsters be boring. (Although, I honestly think, until they get off this kick of thinking that 45 minutes is better for the show, we are't really going to get to see much in the way of interesting "non-killbot" adversaries, there is literally no time to develop them.)

I don't personally think "monster of the week" works very well, especially not week in and week out. It lacks the richness of traveling and meeting different cultures and exploring the cosmos that was always one of the greatest advantages of Doctor Who (even when the effects, budgets, and "stage play" type acting were dating it to death otherwise. It offered more in terms of "story" than just "TV episode."

I do think I like the Doctor better this week, they did at least allow him some softer moments, some concern, some heroism, and some reasons for his dickish behavior.

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Date:October 13th, 2014 01:53 am (UTC)

Part 3

Clara, sadly, I think is a lost cause by this point. Which makes me feel sad for Jenna. She's doing a great job, acting her socks off. But they can't seem to actually do anything good with her. She's either a control freak (which she isn't, but which all the other characters emotionally abusively and repeatedly accuse her of) or a victim. (Presumably thinking she HAS to marry Danny and have his kids now, because "time" said it already happened. Personally, I think Danny already has a kid, that's what all his "family problems" are about, when we know he's an orphan. So Clara isn't actually needed for Orson to exist, and the grandparent with the "time travel stories" was actually Danny.)

Although, unfortunately, knowing Moffat's writing tendencies. I think we're probably stuck with the dickish Doctor. Everybody says, "Oh, he'll mellow out by the end of the series and have an epiphany and change, just you wait and see, Moffat "has a plan." Which frankly, I'm not buying, when has Moffat actually had a plan by the end of the story? I sincerely hope I'm wrong. But I wouldn't put money on it.)

And, honestly, where is everyone getting the idea that Capaldi is acting like the Classic Doctors by being this negative callous person? I don't remember even 6 being this bad. It's like they've taken rare and isolated incidents (1's first 2 or 3 stories, Tom's one surprising callous moment in Pyramids of Mars, and 6's badly thought out characterization,) and conflated them into meaning "this is what the Doctor REALLY is." Frankly, I find it rather insulting to the Classic Doctors, who were, largely, charming and whimsically funny fellows, the kind I'd love to travel with. Not this negative, pessimistic, callous, and deliberately MEAN person.

I really don't understand whey they'd ever even write the Doctor this way. Much less deliberately. And repeatedly.

I don't know whether to feel sorry for Capaldi or not. I just hope that this isn't the "real" Doctor he'd always wanted to play. And if it is, I'm sort of sad that his vision of the Doctor was always such a negative one.

Characterization is one thing, but there is also context. Why is this being done in DOCTOR WHO of all places?

Where has the joy and optimism gone?

Anyway, loved your review, love the insisive way to look at things, and your great and hilarious way with words. It's always a delight and a laugh out loud to read your reviews. Love it.

(And I am sorry for the long replies, I really don't mean to come on here and write a treatise. But I'm longwinded, and I love discussing Doctor Who. And you raise so many good points.

I'd say I'll try to keep it shorter in future, but I probably won't.)
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Date:October 13th, 2014 05:34 pm (UTC)
Capaldi is reminding me a bit of Six. When Six arrived my memories of watching the show as a child are that he was just such a monstrously abusive dick that this was the moment when I fell out of love with the show and pretty much stopped watching it.

And... Capaldi's Doctor has now been much more of a dick than Six ever was.

Maybe that's why the engineer turned him down, because it was a recognition that no, the sane response to this Doctor would be to absolutely not get in any blue boxes with him.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 10:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Part 2

"It lacks the richness of traveling and meeting different cultures and exploring the cosmos that was always one of the greatest advantages of Doctor Who"

-gives you a medal-

This is possibly the thing I love the most about SF in general too. The Davison years did this kind of thing really well inparticular. It has been practically non-existant in the new series.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 02:02 am (UTC)

Re: Part 1

Yeah, the whole thing with the engineer felt like it was trying to lead towards or hint at something, but then it just never amounted to anything in the end. But with as sloppy as the writing has been, I can't tell if it was an intentional red herring or if they just forgot where they were going with that.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 08:32 pm (UTC)
When did travelling with the Doctor become such a horrible thing to do? Instead of being on a journey of self-discovery, learning things about the universe seeing wonderful and horrible things? (refer to what Rose, Donna, Martha and even Sarah-Jane has said about travelling with the Doctor)
Now we are seeing this dick, being a dick to someone else who he is suppose to ...like? (does he like her?) and she keeps going back for more because she's addicted to it - if thats not an abusive relationship I don't know what is. Also its not something I find enjoyable to watch on the telly.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 10:39 pm (UTC)
This one almost seemed good, coming right after "Kill the moon", but it was still very poor.

You nail it with the monsters. I find "mindless" monsters boring. Zombies don't appeal to me for the same reason, nor do "swarmlike" aliens (starship troopers) ect.

It would be nice to have a threat that is actually intelligent, scheming and smart for once - while proving to be an legitimate danger. The audio-dramas have done this really well with the Eminence lately (Whom I am really loving).

That said, I found the RTD era villains to be too comical and cheesy (the master, slitheen, racnoss, the list goes on) while the Moffat ones as you say, are mindless automatons. Why is it BF can do this stuff so well and the TV writers cannot whatsoever?

Next weeks looks promising though, it looks like extra-dimensional aliens that are curious about "our" reality. Hopefully it will be dealt with seriously. Extra-dimensional stuff is kind of "my thing" and what I do myself, so I am worried they will screw it up.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
Reading your reviews and how you see the doctor is different from how I see him as a character. You represent a lot of fans who feel the same way, so I enjoy reading your take on twelve. 12 reminds me of the original doctor, and doctors up until the reboot, with 9, when it was more like traveling with your grandpa. If you think about the racist, agist, and sexist commentary from old guys... imagine an old guy of 900! You might not like all the things grandpa says but you put up with it because he is family and has been through the war(s). That doesn't mean you can't challenge him on what he says, think he is a dick, know there are some things that won't change, and yet still love the old fart.

It was an older and definitely more brusque doctor up until 5. Then the fan community went nuts over a younger actor playing the doctor. There was a swing back to old cranky guy in a young guys body with 6. Six makes 12 look like a kitten. Six was mean to everyone. Back in the day I was so upset by 6 and how he treated the companions. Looking back now after having watched more of 1-4 its easier to see he was a bit closer to the original Doctor. To make a break from two very young actors playing the doctor this feels like a hard reboot. Get rid of the romance that popped up with 10 and get back to the old guy and companion dynamic. There seems to be some feeling out of basic things with this regeneration since he can't make out facial expressions easily. An alien trying to understand humans again.

Mummy on the Orient Express reminded me of 4 and there were some delightful nods to 4 including the Jelly Babies in the cigarette case. This was my favorite episode of the season. 4 said the exact same things about Sarah Jane. Commenting on her looks and generally goading her in to things. It was also one of the most heart breaking moments when he left her on earth. Sarah like Clara knew that once you have all of space and time its really hard to be tied down to just the earth. It would be even harder for Clara who has known all the doctors through time.

OK…now I just feel old after that ramble. Even though a lot of this season has been pretty bad I am still loyal and not willing to give up on it yet. I survived 6 and 12 is not nearly as obnoxious or rude.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 12:07 am (UTC)
I'm with you on this (and I think we're in the minority). I LOVED the old, mean, snarky, rude Doctors. The First Doctor is one of my favorites because he's basically a jerk to everybody. I feel like Capaldi is a mix of Two and Six with a dash of Eleven. The problem is that a lot of people have only seen Who post 2005. Folks are used to young, attractive guys playing a funny spaceman. Now we have a middle-aged man whose humor is biting and cold and no one knows what to think.

Get rid of the romance that popped up with 10

Yessssssssssssssss. I'm fine with there being a romantic aspect; Amy and Rory were great. Doctor Who is a Sci-Fi show. I don't want the main character to be involved in a grand romance. I was initially very anti-River romance. I think I did a fist-pump during the series premier when 12 said, "I'm not your boyfriend."

This is the Doctor I've been waiting for. I loved 9, 10, and 11, but as soon as Matt announced he was leaving I said I wanted an older Doctor with poor social skills.

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Date:October 14th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC)
It's not so much that the Doctor is mean (I prefer a less-fluffy Doctor), or that he's old (I prefer an older Doctor), it's the uncomfortable unbalance of power between this particular Doctor and companion that sets me off.

One may have been mean, but it never felt like he had Ian and Barbara so thoroughly crushed under his thumb the way Twelve has with Clara. Their relationship is one where Clara is so broken that Twelve can do whatever the hell he wants and knows that he can get away with it. Even when she ranted at him in the previous episode, Twelve's reaction to it wasn't one of "Oh, man, maybe I should rethink things a bit", it was "Eh, she'll be back." She did not have any effect on him whatsoever.

So, I think the meanness of this Doctor wouldn't be nearly so bad if the companion was strong enough to fight back. But as it stands, every episode just feels like he's beating her further and further into the ground, and not only has she decided not to try to pull herself out, she wants to go deeper.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 11:12 pm (UTC)
So, I think the meanness of this Doctor wouldn't be nearly so bad if the companion was strong enough to fight back.

That is key for me ...that Clara is not Clara this season. The girl who saves the doctor and constantly reminds him to be/do better. Clara, for lack of a better term, went soft. The whole Pink thing doesn't help as it doesn't seem believable. I don't see Clara as abused. She has known him through all his incarnations so she probably knows him better than any companion. She told him he was being a dick. He did soften and try to explain himself in the beach scene. One of the more genuine scenes, for me, this season.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 11:06 pm (UTC)
The problem is that he's writing only to please himself, and this entire series has become his own personal sock to wank into.

OH. MY. GOD. I couldn't have put it better myself (and I have had some very choice, profanity-laced comments directed at the Moff)!!!

I disgusts me that an actor of Peter Capaldi's calibre is being wasted (no, better yet ABUSED) by the drivel that is coming out of the BBC Cardiff studios.
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Date:October 13th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
Good review. I agree, as someone stated in another review I read, that the Doctor and Clara's relationship has now become dysfunctional. I really, really hated him face-policing her at the beginning and her apologizing for it. She needs to get out. Everyone this season needs to get out. I'm enjoying the stories, and the two leads are doing a great job of acting, but I'm not enjoying how their characters are written.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 12:57 am (UTC)
Has the show officially jumped the shark or not? At this point, I feel just like Clara -- like the show itself is abusing me and yet I keep coming back to it because I'm just so pathetically addicted to my relationship with the show.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)
YES. This.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 09:41 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this! It seems like most people think this episode was somehow such a great change, but I fail to see how the Doctor and Clara arguing, and him lying to her and everyone else, is different from any other episode this season.

I'm so sick of shows about dysfunctional relationships! Watching Doctor Who get turned into one is just depressing as hell. It used to be about exploring the universe and making friends with people who came from different times and places, and I really miss that. The thing that made me like DW in the first place was that it had a sense of wonder about life, and real heart at it's core. It was more than just monsters and space ships, it was different from anything else on TV, and it was special. Now, it's just one more cynical show with a bitchy misanthropic leading man, and the doormat woman who unreasonably adores him, despite the fact that he treats her like crap. It's barely even sci-fi anymore, considering most of the screen-time these days is given over to the characters endless discussions of their dysfunctional relationships. (And these conversations clearly have no purpose, since no one ever realizes, 'gee, we really dislike/distrust one another: let's break up!' DUH!)

I completely agree with you that if this dynamic doesn't change or isn't at least addressed by the end of this year, I'm done until we get new leadership. I feel like I'm in an abusive relationship with this show: I keep coming back hoping it'll get better, but every new episode keeps coming up with ever more disturbing things to put on screen and pass off as 'normal' and 'okay'. Sadly, I really don't have much faith in ANY of the writers this year, since they've all come up with appalling things. (And yes, if Moffat okayed them, he is partially responsible.)

I've heard so many people defend the Doctor's actions this year, but all I know is that if anyone I knew in real life behaved the way this Doctor has, I would have left them long ago. Just because someone is a man, or old, or been through a rough time, that doesn't give them any right to treat other people disrespectfully or routinely lie to them, and I hold fictional characters to the same standards I hold real people. I really wonder if they HAD cast a woman as Twelve, and she behaved this way, the same lines, the same attitude, if so many people would think she was still wonderful and rush to defend her, saying, 'oh, but the Doctor's always been like this! She isn't any different AT ALL! It's totally okay!' (But then, if these writers had a female Doctor, they'd never even dream of writing her this way in the first place. In their minds, women are passive victims who pine for men and flirt with them, and only act when it's in service of the man they love.)

But anyway, your review is spot on, and I'm so glad someone called out the bad relationship aspect so well.
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Date:October 14th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC)
The situation seems to me to be rather more complicated than Abuser Doctor and Victim Clara. Clara's treatment of the Doctor has at times been quite vile - hitting him, threatening him, telling him he doesn't get a vote in what happens to his own body - and I find it curious that abusive behaviour on her part appears to be under so many people's radars.

I'd be intrigued to know whether Moffat actually intends either one of them to come across as abusive. It could be a case of Protagonist-Centred Morality/It's Cute When A Girl Does It. Either way, I'm losing patience.
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Date:October 27th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
Just now getting to your reviews (school & life got in the way, blah). LMAO FOREVER at "this entire series has become his own personal sock to wank into." I honestly busted up laughing at that line! XD
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