Friday, 27 December 2013

The Time of the Doctor

Eat the present moment and break the dish 
- Egyptian Proverb 


I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’.  So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. 
- Steven Wright

Me:  I was quite impressed that, as the titles ended, you turned to me and the first thing you said was: “Thoughts?”1 

Him:  It was before you got a chance to say it to me. 

Me:  A hit! 

The Him shakes his head. 

Me:  Not a hit? 

Him:  No. 

Me:  Hurm.  So.  Thoughts? 

The Him stares.  Like a badger scaring a train. 

Him:  If you like. 

Me:  Good Christmas? 

Him:  Yeah.  What did you get? 

Me:  Older and more dyspeptic. 

Him:  What does that mean? 

Me:  I’m glad you asked, it can be difficult keeping up.  Was The Time of the Doctor hard to follow? 

Him:  No.  Why? 

Me:  A fair whack of the internet has been shouting about the collective confusion in its mind.7 

Him:  But… does that part of the internet not always shout as an excuse to shout? 

Me:  You might be onto something there.  Heaven help us if some of these people stumble onto The Wire. 

Him:  The Wire was mentioned in that episode of Have I Got News for You.  One of the contestants said – Stop typing. 

Me:  Eh? 

Him:  Stop typing!  This is just meant to illustrate a point. 

Me:  Oh.  I wanted to mention Victoria Coren.8 

Him:  You can’t.  Ever. 

Me:  Bah.  So… Was it a good final episode for Matt Smith? 

Him:  I don’t know.  Did you think it was?  It didn’t feel very Christmassy. 

Me:  I’ll probably put my thoughts in the footnotes0 so they won’t get in the way.


“Didn’t feel very Christmassy”?  Even with the turkey and being set in, on and during Christmas? 

Him:   No.  Then again, Christmas didn’t feel very Christmassy this year. 

Me:  No, it didn’t.  Another wet Christmas.  Just like the ones you’ll come to know. 

The Him looks like a chimpanzee that’s just had its rifle taken away. 

Me:  Cheer up.  So, word association then? 

Him:  If you like. 

Me:  Handles.7 

Long pause.  Like an otter. 

Him:  I give up. 

Me:  There was something a bit different about the voice.  Made it feel fresh and plausible and pregnant with possibilities.

Him:  You don’t watch The Voice. 

Me:  Handles’ voice! 

Him:  Oh.

Me:  As well you knew. 

Him:  I didn’t actually.  I wasn’t paying attention.  You only thought it was great because it wasn’t Nick Briggs.7

Me:  Wha-?

Him:  And it’ll turn out to have been Nick Briggs7 a bit further down the line. 

Me:  There’s an issue that I avoid talking about at the moment, and that element’s part of it.7 

Him:  You were fine talking about it yesterday. 

Me:  That’s because no-one was listening.  I sing in the shower as well but I‘m not going to record- 

Him:  No you don’t. 

Me:  How would you know? 

Him:  Because you don’t.  You’re a loud singer.  I’d know if you sang in the shower. 

Me:  Maybe I do it sotto voce and the water hides it. 

Him:  You don’t sing sotto voce. 

Me:  I could if I wanted. 

Him:  You don’t though. 

Me:  Tasha Lem.  Almost anagram of Timelash? 

Him:  What…  Do you think they’ll bring back-? 

Me:  The Borad? 

Him:  I don’t know. 

Me:  Well, it’s either the Borad or Avon.  Although, the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre should make a cameo as Bandrils. 

Him:  No. 

Me:  No? 

Him:  I don’t know!  I don’t understand what you said!  I think it was supposed to be funny but it wasn’t. 

Me:  Clara’s Christmas Dinner. 

Him:  Disaster. 

Me:  Yeah, her Dad’s changed a bit.10 

Him:  Has he? 

Me:  Grown a beard, given up leaf-wrangling and moved into Rose’s old digs. 

Him:  What? 

Me:  Clara’s Dad.  He’s grown a beard, given up leaf-wrangling and moved into Rose’s old digs. 

Him:  As in? 

Me:  It’s the Powell Estate.  In Cardiff.  I used to work opposite the building-12 

Him:  Isn’t her Mum dead? 

Me:  Yeah.  Very.  She’s buried next to Sherlock.7 

Him:  She doesn’t look very dead. 

Me:  That’s the evil stepmother.  Every fairy tale needs an evil stepmother.13 

Him:  Ahhhh.  Is that who she is? 

Me:  Yeah.  And the Gran who fell in love with a pigeon is actually Bad Wolf all grown up. 

Him:  Peter Capaldi looked older. 

Me:  The Doctor ages actors when they play him, but fair play, that was quicker than I was expecting - he looked like a Skeksis with a perm.  Someone woke Murray “Itsame” Gold up after the regeneration and I could hardly hear a thing the Doctor was saying. 

Him:  (In the voice of the Chamberlain)14 “KID KNEEES!” 

Me:  (Also in the voice of the Chamberlain)14 “PLEASE…”  Seeing as I did an illo of William Hartnell as a Podling- 

Him:  I thought it was just a bad picture of William Hartnell. 

Me:  Charming to the last, Imaginary Creature.  Trenzalore. 

Him:  Rhymes.  Bad rhymes. 

Me:  Ancient prophecies I’ve just made up.17 

Him:  Steven Moffat.7 

Me:  See the footnotes.  Amy. 

Him:  Not Amelia. 

Me:  She wasn’t, was she?  How about the grown-up Pond? 

Him:  Wigs!  Wigs all round! 

Me:  Ha!  Regeneration.20 

Him:  Stop playing the game with the words and the associations!  It gets dull. 

Me:  Is there nothing else that you want to say then? 

Him:  No. 

Me:  Okay.21  Final things.  Will you miss Matt Smith? 

Him:  Probably. 

Me:  Was The Time of the Doctor as good as The Day of the Doctor?22 

Him:  I don’t know!  Probably not. 

Me:  Did you like the wooden Cyberman? 

Him:  Didn’t make much sense. 

Me:  We’re supposed to gasp at the audacity.21 

Him:  Can we just end on a cliff-hanger? 

Me:  Only if-

0.  The footnotes.  Rather than keep this coherent, I’m going to split it up into segments according to the chat the Him and I had earlier on.  Is that alright?  Great. 

1.  My first thoughts were slightly confused.  Not because I hadn’t followed the plot, chums.  Nope, I couldn’t understand most of what the Doctor was saying when he was playing Peter Capaldi.2  As tantalising introductions to new Doctors go, this is the weakest of the new series so/by far.3

2.  So, thank whatever’s up there that this wasn’t the real Doctor playing Capaldi introduction.  We either had that last month or back in August, take yer pick. 

3.  It’s a close-run thing though. Pudsey Cutaway isn’t canon.4

4.  And neither’s The Night of the Doctor.  No, it isn’t.5

5.  Which means Big Finish aren’t either.  Sorry, that’s the rules.6

6.  And, when the Doctor starts yelling about how he doesn’t listen to “RUUUUUUUULES!” (shortly before showering gold all over Daleks)7 did anyone else comment on how much of a pain he’d be to play at Monopoly?

7.  This is not.  The time. 

8.  As did Radio Free Skaro.  Victoria Coren’s Dad wrote some books about Arthur9 that I devoured whilst munching my way through a library.  They were fantastic.  For a time there, he also edited the British satirical magazine that isn’t (the) Private Eye.9 

9.  Not that one. 

10.  That poor actor.  It can’t be easy being a glorified Sea Monkey.11

11.  Instant Prized Family Member/Peripheral Emotional Hook: just add 2ltrs of water and leave in direct sunlight after initial read-through.  Stir once a day. 

12.  Since 2005, I’ve had to watch every Doctor Who story twice in order to shake off the “I used to work/live/perform/was born there” disbelief suspension-snapping recognition. 

13.  Fairy tales.  Right, let’s talk fairy tales for a bit.  No, wait – look over here instead.15

14. Michael Kilgariff played the Garthim Master.  He also wrote my favourite-ever joke books.  If only he had some Doctor Who connection that I could tenderly slide into… 

15.  Steven Moffat’s not writing fairy tales any more than he’s writing science-fiction or fantasy or Gatiss was writing biography.  Those are genre labels and like the designation of ‘genius’, you need someone else to announce that’s what you’re emitting.  It's partly because critics add their wide-spanning interpretation to a work that the cataloging, or designation, sticks.  I’m with Public Enemy on this one.  Well, up until someone notices that I’m being critical.16

16.  Personally, I think I’m dancing (like a gorilla) around the architecture. 

17.  I rediscovered Doctor Who the day that I watched The Ark in Space with the Him.  For a moment I had the opportunity to observe through borrowed eyes.  No baggage.

Steven Moffat’s run has been… problematical.  I haven’t changed our psychogeological assessment of it for several reasons, the main ones being distance and trust.  In some ways I feel like a Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing fan being confronted with the Moore/Bissette/Totleben version.18  

It’s frightening to think that Doctor Who isn’t even being made for Him now. 

18.  This analogy doesn’t really work because Moffat is in a different league.19

19. Unfortunately.7 

20.  Another hemi-semi-demi-bluff.  Matt Smith as played by the Doctor had his final words leaked millions of years ago, so it was a half-surprise to find that Matt Smith was wearing Capaldi’s shoes.  Steven Moffat has to be careful.21  M. Night. Shyamalan’s shown us how this trajectory works.  You have to come up with new tricks or you’re dealing with the old familiarity/contempt/arse/elbow interface. 

21.  So, let’s work on the basis that Moffat’s a genius for now.23

22.  Jenna Coleman and Matt Smith were fantastic in this.  And that’s... part of the problem.7 

23.  It’s not impossible that we’re seeing the most incredible run of television ever here.  Moffat HAS to WIN.  Always. He’s won more awards for Doctor Who scripts than anyone else, raised the series profile worldwide, broken America and… Well. 7 

This had better be the set up.

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