Sunday, 14 September 2014

Listen (time shift)


A child of five would understand this.  Send somebody to fetch a child of five.
- Groucho Marx

Or (if you want to be all obvious about it):

Loneliness is the way by which destiny endeavours to lead man to himself.
- Hermann Hesse

Me:  Before we start properly, what’s your current theory on Missy?

Him:  She wasn’t even in this one, so oddly enough it hasn’t changed.

Me:  So tell me your current theory on Missy.  It’s one I haven’t heard from anyone else yet.

Him:  Oh, you’ve written it down for me.

(Pause.)

That’s not my theory.

Me:  It’s your theory.  A theory which is yours.

Him:  That’s your theory.

Me:  What?  That she’s actually a brontosaurus?


Me:  Ha!  So, you’re not going for the Missy-being-the-Doctor-and-Peter-Capaldi-playing-the-Master one?

Him:  No.  I reckon that Missy’ll be Danny Pink.

Me:  I was going to say that!

Him:  Were you?

Me:  Yeah!  Do you Danny’ll turn out to be the Doctor?

Him:  No.  He changes into Missy.  He can’t become the Doctor.

Me:  And according to the next time trailer, Abslom Daak’s now canon.  

Him:  Yeah, but that’s just a picture of him so, technically, his entire story’s not canon, just his existence.

Me:  I don’t like that it’s not a Steve Dillon drawing.  Which is a shame.  The character counts but that doesn't mean the story it’s taken from does. 1

Him:  Why’s it a drawing anyway?  That doesn’t make sense.

Me:  Going on Spike, promotional headshots have also become a vital part of crime-fighting in the future.  Right - keeping it topical - do you find Peter Capaldi’s accent confusing?

Him:  No.

Me:  Good.  That was easy enough.

Him:  And what is it that audiences need to do if they think they’re having difficulty?

Me:  Well, there was a special trailer offering that very advice.  It went out in July, which is quite a while ago now.  Tell you what, we’ll link to it…


Him:  They should listen to that.

Me:  Yeah.  Did you find Listen confusing?

Him:  It’s not… summed up at the end.  You never find out what it was.

Me:  Is there even anything there?  One word you said while you watching it-

Him:  What was that?

Me:  ‘Paradox’.

Him:  Oh, yeah!  But I always do that.  I didn’t say it like that either.  It was more, “mmmparadoxmmm”.3  Which won’t make any difference when you type this because you type them both the same way.

Me:  Using my fingers.

Him:  I thought I saw a thing in the earlier scene in the children’s home.

Me:  Yeah, there’s something standing behind them.

Him:  It’s not just me then?

Me:  No, it’s there.

Him:  Looked like a fatter version of E.T.?

Me:  Ha!  Yes!  It does.

Him:  So there is something there.

Me:  Once again there were a fair few references…  There was one I liked.  “Fear makes companions of us all.”  That’s from An Unearthly Child.

Him:  Really?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  People’ll be complaining about that then.

Me:  I’d have thought so, yeah.4  It also links back to The Girl in the Fireplace. 

Him:  “They have the same number of breaths-“

Me:  No, no, no.  The bit where Madame de Pompadour mind-melds with the Doctor and describes how lonely and afraid he was as a child.  That bit.  As well as The Day of the Doctor and the War Doctor thing, because it’s the same barn.

Him:  Yes.  Even though it’s really not.

Me:  I’ve seen a couple of people predicting the melting of the internet after Listen.5  They reckon everything’ll go kerflooey as a result.  At the time of typing, I’ve not checked-

Him:  I thought it’d be a lot more similar to Night Terrors.  That sort of a set-up.  It’s not.  In fact, it doesn’t… end.  It doesn’t really finish.  It’s not a good thing.  I don’t know why you’re smiling.

Me:  Did you enjoy it?

Him:  I like things to end. 

Me:  That’s not the end of that.  I think that what we might have seen here is the start of something that could turn out to be terribly sad.  It’s possible that the Doctor’s misunderstanding of what Clara’s been saying-  Clara’s on a bit of a slide this series - could well turn all Greek tragedy.  She’s almost a character from a different television programme and I can see there being consequences as a result of what she did in Listen.  Totally accidentally.  She’s broken a few of the laws of time.

Him:  But that happens every episode.  Which ones this time?

Me:  Well, there’s an opportunity for the Blinovitch Limitation Effect to rear its inquisitive head again.

Him:  Yeah, as could the bootstrap paradox.

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  That’s a bit different though.  Dan the Soldier Man’s being handed down, I don’t think he’s ever going to return back to his original home.  That’s what’s supposed to happen with the bootstrap paradox. 

Me:  It might end up being like Rory’s ring.  The one that Amy kept after Rory’d ceased to ever have existed.  If the Doctor ever discovers that…  If Danny, at any point from now on, shows the Doctor the Dan, Dan the Soldier Man figure-

Him:  He’s not going to, though.

Me:  Well…

Him:  That wouldn’t make sense.  Let’s hope to God they find some other way to bring up that plot-point.

Me:  If it comes up in conversation, then-

Him:  “Hey there, old man I’ve never met.”

Me:  We’ll see, won’t we?  Seeing as I reckon that Doctor Who’s been rebooted back to the first series, I’d be very surprised if by the end of this run we don’t see two Coal Hill School teachers accompanying someone who’s basically become the First Doctor.  Also, I noticed that Steven Moffat's making Clara responsible for the whole of Doctor Who again.  I didn’t mind that.

Him:  Really?

Me:  Yeah, I thought it was great.  I think Listen’s one of the best single episodes since the series came back.  One of the best of the last fifty years.

Him:  We’ve still got a few other things Steven Moffat’s promised us.  Clara will marry the Third Doctor.

Me:  Ha!  She’ll save the Second Doctor from heat exhaustion as a result of running through Miami wearing a massive Yeti-fur coat.

Him:  Restart the Sixth Doctor’s fridge.

Me:  And stop him getting aboard that doomed exercise bike.

Him:  Warning the Seventh Doctor beforehand that there’s more of a drop to the ledge than he expects.

Me:  Ha!  What did you think of the writing in Listen? 

Him:  What did you think of the writing in Listen?  Did you think it was well-written?

Me:  I have a suspicion that Steven Moffat’s got fed up with not winning awards.  I think Listen’s been written-

Him:  It was so bizarre!

Me:  -as award-bait.  We just saw a writer putting his foot down and saying, “This is what I can do.  I’ve had enough of people complaining about this, that and the Other, while I’m stuck doing maintenance and keeping the show on the road.  This is what it’s capable of doing and this is where it can fly to.  Sit down and shut up.”  I think it’s an absolute treat.  What about Peter Capaldi?  You convinced?

Him:  Yeah, I think he’s fine.

Me:  If this keeps going the way it seems to be going, I think that by the end of this series we might be looking at…  He can’t beat Tom, but we might be looking at a joint first-place Doctor for me.

Him:  Why can’t he beat Tom?

Me:  Because Tom Ba-

Him:  Don’t forget, you shouldn’t really call him ‘Tom’ because you don’t know him.

Me:  I know, I know I shouldn’t.  It’s bad form.  You’ll notice I do my best to never be so familiar.  Sorry about slipping up there.  I don’t think Peter Capaldi will replace Tom Baker within my affections-

Him:  You can call him ‘Baker’, but that would be confusing.

Me:  He’s ‘Tom Baker’, isn’t he?  What I’m saying is that he’s part of my childhood.  Even though Peter Davison, strictly speaking, was in the time-slot to be ‘my’ Doctor…  Peter Capaldi…  He’s on a par with Tom Baker and Patrick Troughton for me.  Already.  After only four episodes.

Him:  Do you like Patrick Troughton as much as Tom Baker?

Me:  Little bit less maybe, but… yes.  I think Patrick Troughton’s performance was amazing.  Then again, I think William Hartnell was brilliant.

Him:  William Hartnell is brilliant, that’s the thing.  He did do the second most of all of them.

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Which is pretty amazing.

Me:  It’s good, isn’t it?  Did you find Listen scary?

Him:  No.  Which is odd, because I probably should’ve.

Me:  It’s about as creepy as Doctor Who can get.  Playing on the fear of the thing under the bed was quite… brave, I thought.  And I like that Clara had no choice.  She’s trying to help.  When she reaches out and grabs the boy’s leg, it’s so fast and done in such a way that-  Kudos to Douglas Mackinnon and everyone involved-

Him:  Yeah, that could easily have been turned into a comedy.  Just that bit.

Me:  She grabs him and we think, “Ah, good, she’s stopped a potentially catastrophic event.”  And then, “Oh, hang on.  Oh.  Oh no, oh no.”  I think it’s great.  It looks brilliant-

Him:  I thought the grab was more of an instinctive thing.

Me:  Exactly!  And it triggers everything else off.

Him:  Do you think they’re going to bring the Sensorites back?

Me:  I don’t think so.  I think the nearest we’ll get to those are the Ood.

Him:  The Ood are quite a bit better than the Sensorites.  Even the Daleks are better than the Sensorites.

(Pause.)

Me:  So, we’re not going to give up on Doctor Who just yet then?

Him:  I wasn’t going to anyway.

Me:  No, neither was I.

Him:  Yeah, you were.  You were wavering.

Me:  When?

Him:  Since William Hartnell.

Me:  Ha!  Listen was…  Listen was something else, yeah.  Well done everyone involved in making that happen.  Absolutely loved it.  Brilliant.  Right, shall we start making apposite barnyard noises?

Him:  We’ve done that.

Me:  Yeah, but we’ve been in a barn tonight.  We could bleat.

Him:  I’m looking at a picture of Abslom Daak.

Me:  Yeah.  ‘Dalek Killer’.6

Him:  You should probably try and get a picture of that dumpy looking Silent that stood behind them. 

Me:  I should, shouldn’t I?  Right, that’s us.

Him:  No!  We need to make noises.

Me:  Oh!  That was the other thing!  Murray Gold.

(Pause.)

Him:  Didn’t hear ‘im.

Me:  No.  It’s almost like there’s no music through it.  It’s there but it’s really subtle.  I just wanted to say “thank you”.  To someone.

Him:  I liked the pufferfish.  I liked the CGI.  It felt more like it fitted-

Me:  Yeah?

Him:  Yeah.  And I think that’s why I vastly prefer CGI to-  It’s not real.  I know it’s not real.  And that makes it better.  It shouldn’t be real.

Me:  So, if it had been a real pufferfish you’d-

Him:  I’d be fine with it.

Me:  Ha!  And on that bombshell!

Him:  Ah.  You should’ve made pufferfish noises.  We still can!

Me:  Go on then.

Him:  No, you do it.

Me:  “bloop”

Him:  No!  Like when the spikes are sticking out.

Me:  “thoong”

Him:  “thoong”

Me:  Hang on, I just remembered something.7


1.  The Abslom Daak stories written by Steve Moore are excellent.  Unfortunately, the ones written by anyone other than Steve Moore are just warm sensorite2 rolled in glitter.  This is largely down to subsequent authors slicing a couple of dimensions off the original character because they’d failed to spot they were there in the first place. 

2.  We don’t do that joke anymore.

3.  It was, but you’ll still have to imagine.

4.  Hopefully this’ll also put paid to that Loomy business about Time Lords being knitted.

5.  And at least one of those people has been drip-feeding spoilers about Listen, disguised as snippets of inside information given to them as a special favour by persons close to (or even within) the production team, for quite some time.  Taking into account the paucity of (and security procedures around) official review copies, this action amounts to nothing more than admitting to having read the leaked scripts and, possibly, watching the workprints.  It’s one thing to drop information like that into forum threads that’re clearly marked as ‘containing spoilers’.  It's quite another to do it in public because you arrogantly suppose that the peasants and livestock won’t notice.  Even if one were to ignore this self-hagiographer’s hypocrisy, hectoring and (Dare I?  Dare I say?  Yes!  I do dare!) holier-than-thou attitude, it was still a disappointingly unprofessional thing to do, and a mildly depressing thing to have had to observe.

6.  There should, by rights, be a link to Mr Daak’s discotastic cover version of ‘Peaches’ by The Stranglers here.  Seeing as I’m in a good mood, you’ll notice there isn’t.

7.  That thing in the pipes?  Sea badger.

2 comments:

misshelenc said...

I really liked it too, and I like Capaldi. I've decided not to show the episode to Dylan though, it's a bit too scary for him in my parental opinion. He is confused enough as it is, I had to explain all of the first episode as he watched it and all he said at the end was 'where's the dinosaur? Will it come back next week?' so I think some of it is a bit lose on a 4 year old as it is! Death is confusing let alone out there theories and things. But yeah I am enjoying it too.
Miss you both xx

Al said...

Me: That sounds like a sensible approach to the current series for anyone under 8. I've got no idea where it's going, but Dylan might well find the repeats in a few years time more fun.

We're hoping to get ourselves down to the general area of Cardiff before the snow does, so we'll give you a shout when the ink's dried on the visas.

x