Sunday 9 November 2014

Death in Heaven (time shift)

The only thing that stops God sending a second Flood is that the first one was useless.
- Nicolas Chamfort

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

It is here, where we stand, that we should try to make shine the light of the hidden divine life.
- Martin Buber

Me:  I think we’d probably better put down towels before logging on to the rest of the internet.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Because of the flooding.  Bits’re going to melt.

Him:  You wouldn’t notice it.  You never notice it when the room starts to flood around you.

Me:  Ha!  Exactly.  Speaking of The Flood, and other non-canonical Doctor Who stories that got referenced in…  Bit of Kroton, the Cyberman with a soul.  Well, that was Death in Heaven.  We’d better race through it quite quickly.  What did you think? 

Him:  It’s a weird name.

Me:  Yeah, it didn’t have much to do with-

Him:  I think Steven Moffat’s thought of the name, thought it sounds cool and just flung it at the top.

Me:  That was every single Russell T. Davies finale in one go.  You’ve got-

Him:  There was no Jesus.


Me:  No.  You’ve got the Master appearing on the same Cardiff street as he did as Mister Saxon in The Sound of Drums, when he gave the speech about the country needing a Doctor.  You’ve got all the business with UNIT…  Doomsday – with Clara and Danny trapped in different worlds.  Death in Heaven’s reminiscent of His Dark Materials, and the last time Doctor Who obviously referenced that was the end of Doomsday where the Doctor and Rose ended up in different worlds, this time round it’s Clara and Danny.  I totally called it with Tragedy.

Him:  Maybe it’s a coincidence.

Me:  It’s not a coincidence.  We’re supposed to think the Master is referencing Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, but it’s not.  It’s actually referencing The End of Time Part Deux. 

Him:  Duh?

Me:  With the gurney thing.  Killing off Osgood without a ‘y’.  I thought that was a bit harsh after she’d basically been told she could be a companion.1

Him:  It’s probably why they killed her off.

Me:  What did you think of the Travelodge adverts?

Him:  I didn’t notice them.  Genuinely. 

Me:  How about Dodo’s reference?

Him:  Might just’ve been a name. 

Me:  The ‘Chaplet Funeral Home’?  None of that’s accidental.  Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, let’s see…  Lots of The Moonbase.  Clara’s little speech and the upgraded Danny Pink sitting up.  What was it you said?

Him:  “Did you check in here?”

Me:  And the supporting artist?  When it started raining on a bit of cemetery that wasn’t in Cardiff.  He pointed up and said…

Him:  “Look.  At that.”

Me:  Ha!  That’s somebody’s cousin.

Him:  I wasn’t referring to bad acting, I was referring to the, “Look.  Rain.”

Me:  “What.  Could possibly.  Be going on.  Here?”

Him:  A whole crowd of people have gathered round to watch the rain.  “Rain!”

Me:  “Rain!”  It was nice to see Moffat’s retconned all of human history this time round.  Think big, lad.  Bit of Sharknado?  I wasn’t expecting that.  What was it you said about Cybermen on a plane?

Him:  Yeah.  Feel free to use that quote if you like.

Me:  Ha!  “I’m getting fed up-“

Him:  “I’m getting sick and tired of all these Cybermen on this plane.” 

Me:  Ha!

Him:  Just, “these Cybermen on this plane.”

Me:  The twenty-third of November 1986.  I need to jump back in and work out why that’s an important date.2  Cyberpollen being an evolution of Cybernanites, that was interesting.

Him:  I came up with the name ‘Cybernanites’.

Me:  Yeah, you did.  I liked the way you pointed out that some of the Cybermen were taller than others.  But that makes sense now.

Him:  No, nope, it really doesn’t.

Me:  Well, if the body inside’s got a taller skeleton…

(The Him sighs.)

Him:  Look, when you’re running…  Phones.  Phones’re made on a production line, right?

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Every phone is made the same size.

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  Because it makes the production line more efficient.

Me:  Uh huh.

Him:  That means that every Cyberman has been made by hand.  Before they had all the Cyber-

Me:  Yeah, okay, that makes sense.  I thought the episode’s structure was a little bit shonky.  And it wasn’t as good as the first part.  Dark Water was excellent, I didn’t think that was as good.  But… 

Him:  “I’m no Dark Water Barry.”

Me:  Ha!  There were some bits of it that were very, very good.  And much better than they…  The big scene in Death in Heaven is the one that ends the story properly, ‘cause all the rest is just glitter and showing off.  The scene between Danny and Clara in the graveyard, that’s really the story.  And also, the scene in the cafĂ© is almost the end of the story.  The things that people aren’t telling each other.  Capaldi was outstanding.  That bit where he’s looking out into empty space where Gallifrey’s supposed to be…  And then the raging afterwards.  That was so-

Him:  Shows how fragile the TARDIS is, doesn’t it?

Me:  Ha!  Yeah!  It starts exploding-

Him:  The bits he’s not even punching.

Me:  “Don’t hit me, master!”  I thought the bit about hugs was good.  And you pointed out that Doctor Who London is exactly the same as-

Him:  Doctor Who Glasgow.

Me:  And just happens to be in-

Us:  Cardiff.3

Me:  The coordinates for Gallifrey add up to twenty-three.  But we won’t read too much into that.4

Him:  Are you sure of that?5

Me:  I’m fairly sure.  The countdown was interesting…6  Gremlins on the wing…7

Him:  Ha!

Me:  Clara had your phone. 

Him:  What?

Me:  Clara’s got your phone.  It’s your phone.

Him:  Oh yeah.

Me:  The Doctor’s president of Gallifrey as well as president of Earth, that was quite interesting.

Him:  I’m assuming that after he left the post of president of Gallifrey they’ve probably elected a new one since.

Me:  Yeah.  It was nice that the ‘squee’ was addressed.8   

Him:  Why was that nice?

Me:  Both of our readers’ll know.  I’ll explain later.

Him:  Explain to me.

Me:  Gerry Anderson now exists within the world of Doctor Who.  So that’s Thunderbirds and-

Him:  The TV show does.

Me:  Not just that, because the Doctor talks about dancing with Sylvia Anderson, who was Gerry Anderson’s wife and did the voice of Lady Penelope.  There’s a bit in, I think, Thirty Years in the TARDIS – well, More Than Thirty Years in the TARDIS – where Gerry Anderson’s interviewed and he’s bemoaning the fact that his son, despite all his best efforts…  “And my greatest regret is that my son is…”  And then his son says, “A Doctor Who fan!”  I thought that was a nice touch, because I’d be surprised if Gerry Anderson’s son wasn’t watching…  A tribute to the old guard.  However…  Before we get on to the really good stuff…  Apart from the chocolate orange Saint Paul’s-

Him:  Ha!

Me:  - did you want to say anything about the flying Cybermen? 

Him:  I still think they could’ve had jetpacks or something.  Do you know how difficult rocket boots would be to control?

Me:  Ha!

Him:  Even if they're made of metal!  They’d be doing some sort of crazy Irish dance in the air just trying to control them!9

Me:  Feet of Flames!

Him:  They’d be crashing into buildings left and right.

Me:  It’d be horrendous, wouldn’t it?  An absolute disaster.  Right.  For me, the stuff that didn’t work in that episode was, weirdly enough, Missy.  And that doesn't include the excellent Michelle Gomez. 

Him:  You didn’t like the music either.

Me:  The music was terrible.  Well, most of it was good, but there were moments that managed to ruin scenes for me. 

Him:  “The bits I noticed were awful.”10

Me:  It’s not just the bits I noticed.  Some of the music cues were all over the shop.  When Osgood died, what the hell were they doing?  There’s no way that piece of music should’ve got through.  It cheapened it. 

Him:  It’s because it’s the victory for Missy.

Me:  Yeah, I get that, but it was really, really tacky.  It undersold the scene for me and took away all of the impact and if you’re putting it on at that time of night, what’s the point of adding comedy parp-parp music?  Have some guts.  Make it count.  It takes away from the sheer evil and cheapens it.  And the sub-James Bond nonsense that’s been sitting on a hard-drive waiting for a cloudy fall?  Just like the sort of smug, preening rot that ran through The End of Time.  Would’ve been brilliant if it’d been subtler. 

Him:  And it should only have been about five seconds long as well.

Me:  Yeah.  Eh?

Him:  Terminal velocity’s in everything.  With terminal velocity, right…

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  With the Doctor’s gravity changing when he lands in the TARDIS – It would’ve killed him.  His terminal velocity would’ve changed too quickly.  Or, rather, his terminal velocity would’ve stopped and gone back to a regular velocity, which doesn’t make any sense and therefore he just would’ve ceased to exist. 

Me:  Bigger on the inside than the outside.  I think we’ll just work on the basis that-

Him:  I’m pretty sure he’d have been stretched.

Me:  We’ll let him get away with it for the sake of drama.  Now, you’ve not watched Sherlock have you?

Him:  No.  I live a good life.

Me:  Missy was written almost exactly the same as Moriarty in Sherlock.  And, a lot of Death in Heaven felt to me as though the Baker Street Boys had changed places and we had Mark Gatiss writing it.  Chunks seemed to be bolted on as pastiches of other things, “This bit’s from Silence of the Lambs, this bit’s from this film, this bit’s from here.”  Which is exactly the way that Gatiss writes, but not really the way that Moffat writes.  It felt like he was doing that just to get through those scenes because he had to get to the cemetery.  The cemetery’s the real end of the story, that’s where it pays off.  The rest of the ‘big’ things, all the bracelets and…  That’s obfuscation.  That’s Moffat’s patter to cover what he’s really doing – the real trick is what’s going on underneath.  It’s Clara’s story – the whole series has been that-

Him:  You’d think there’d be a bunch of child Cybermen as well.

Me:  They’ll be there.  Although Moffat’s got this army of Cybermen-

Him:  What about Cybermen who had faulty spines and things like that?

Me:  They’d have been fixed.  Although he’s got Cybermen in it and a return for the Brigadier – which, I wouldn’t have done, personally-

Him:  It was a bit bizarre.

Me:  It wasn’t great.  Yeah, Kate Lethbridge-Stewart had to get through it…  And the Doctor couldn’t ‘kill’ Missy.

Him:  He could’ve just killed off everyone.  Gone all Russell T. Davies on it.

Me:  The end was very Russell T. Davies.  Clara’s eyes in the credits were interesting, but didn’t fool anybody, I wouldn’t have thought.  It was a disappointing retread of the moment where the Pandorica opened and Amy was inside.  It’s what was being aimed for, but it didn’t succeed.  Clara obviously wasn’t the Doctor.

Him:  The thing is…  The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang  I’m pretty sure he tried his hardest to make sure that they didn’t make any sense.  Therefore, you couldn’t find a plothole because it was a plothole.  It all wound back, and the story made sense but there’s no possible way to understand it all.  Unless you wrote it.

Me:  I think the way that Moffat works these things is by starting with the reveal and working backwards, as with any trick.  Start at the end and then work out how to get there, covering your tracks as you go.  Rubbing out the pencils and so on.  Having said that, I don’t totally believe that he definitely had in mind that Missy gave Clara the phone number back in The Bells of Saint John. 

Him:  No, I don’t think he did.

Me:  I think that’s one of the trapdoors that’s been written in that later on he’s thought, “If I close this now, then that’s what’ll this’ll do.”  It works fine, it’s perfect, but-

Him:  Listen never came back.

Me:  I don’t think this is finished.  I think this a thirteen-episode series that’ll finish at Christmas. 

Him:  I think you need to let Listen go.

Me:  There’s been no closure.  It’s not finished.  Clara didn’t finish speaking to the Doctor.  That’s not the end of Clara’s story.  It’s still a Tragedy, but the moment of divine intervention hasn’t happened yet.  It’s not going to end there.  The scene with Clara and Danny Pink-

Him:  You don’t need to always call him ‘Danny Pink’.

Me:  That scene was absolutely brilliant.  That’s what the whole thing was about – for me.  The whole series has been about getting to that conversation.  All the human emotions and the questions that the Doctor has to ask himself…  It becomes so intimate and closed but it’s more…  It was terribly sad.  Terribly, terribly sad and beautifully written and played.  Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson have been fantastic throughout this series, but I do feel that the Danny Pink character has been treated quite harshly – which is fine, because you can do that with fictional characters. As the Doctor said, he’s neither good nor bad – but then, he’s a god, so he’s beyond that, and Clara’s neither good nor bad because she’s fictional.  The resolution’s still coming.  By having things being interrupted – by having the flow broken – this story has yet to finish.  Although it’s very much like the end of Doomsday – where Donna appears in the TARDIS and it’s, “What?  What?  WHAT?  As opposed to when the Titanic arrives and it’s…

Us:  “What?  What?  WHAT? 

Me:  In this one it’s Nick Frost as Santa - The raised eyebrow! - It’s exactly the same.

Him:  Just without the-

Us:  “What?  What?  WHAT? 

Me:  I think we’ve got through everything there.  Oh!  The thing I was talking about.  The Mark Gatiss thing.  You did the international sign for typing with elbows.

(The Him does the international sign for typing with elbows.)

Me:  That’s the one!  “This stuff writes itself!”

Him:  I forget when I did that.

Me:  Around about one of the Travelodge adverts. 

Him:  What was happening?  Was it when the first Cyberman flew up into the sky and exploded?

Me:  It might’ve been that.  What did you think of the effects?

Him:  You’re the one that moans about effects.

Me:  Alright.  I think that’s it then, basically.  That’s not the end of this series-

Him:  Listen is gone.

Me:  We’re going to finish on a cliffhanger here, because this is not the end of our ‘review’s for this season…  But we’d probably better finish with some sort of noise.  Do you want to make a noise?

Him:  Let’s make the noise of silence.

Me:  And on that bomb-

Him:  NO!

Me: -shell.

Him:  Silence.

1.  Parting of the Ways.  Ahem. 

2.  It might be because it’s the birthday of either Filipina actor Maxene Magalona or Italian footballer Luigi Scaglia, but that seems a bit strange.  Maybe because it’s the day that William Badders died, but that seems a bit mean.  Possibly, the Doctor had seen Betty Blue or The Mosquito Coast or that Star Trek film about whales.  He might even have just read It by Stephen King.  Personally, I reckon it’s because he'd only finished watching Terror of the Vervoids the night before and was still looking forward to seeing how Robert Holmes was going to wrap this one up. 

3.  Queen Street, Cardiff.  Next to The Friary and convenient for the Travelodge opposite the launch point for the Doctor Who Locations Guided Tour.  Once upon a time The Friary was a canal.  Just saying. 

4.  Him:  Oooooo.  Twenty-threeeeee’. 

5.  Me:  Yes, yes I am. 

6.  Flesh and Stone.

7.  Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. 

8.  I think the author’s face - as well as the author’s voice - might have been visible in that particular shot.  You know the one.

9.  I'm saying nothing. 

10.  Imagine Matt Berry or Christopher Morris saying that.

11.  Sometimes he gets a bit tangled up though.  Too Many Cooks and all that... 

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