Saturday 17 October 2015

The Girl Who Died (time shift)

Of all the fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst, I suppose, is writing about writing.
- Hilaire Belloc

Or, if you want to be all obvious about it:

Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again.
- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Me:  Well, I've got quite a lot I'd like to say about The Girl Who Died.  What would you like to say about it?

  I'll just let you have a go.

Me:  Ha!  Are you sure?

Slinky sea badger.

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Okay.  So, we've got eyes and perception.  Again.  The Cloister Bell ringing .  Again.  It did feel a little like we got pulled out of a much more interesting story in order to descend into a Viking village.1

Him:  There was a more interesting story?

Me:  Yeah.  Before the titles started.  With Clara floating in space and-

Him:  Yeah.  I feel that the only link there was that that was also in the next time trailer from the previous episode. 

Me:  The TARDIS shots are really, really good this series.  When you've got someone walking out of the TARDIS and the Doctor's already-

Him:  Yes, but they do seem to be banking on that being the only thing that people notice.

Me:  Ha!  The opening section was slightly too edited.  There were no pauses at all, no beats between people's lines and it was...  It sounded really fake and false and just didn't work.  Unfortunately, an awful lot of the episode - which is quite a surprise considering who wrote it - felt forced and clunky.  Characterisation was sacrificed in favour of plot - and I think a lot of that got changed later on...  It smelled like a Matt Smith episode. 

Him:  What do you even mean by that?

Me:  Well...  Rory the Viking...  It felt like a Matt Smith story, with a couple of extra things bolted on desperately at the last minute.  It's not...  It's not as good as it thinks it is by a long chalk.  Very weak.  In my opinion.  Clara acting as the Doctor came back but didn't really get very far.

Him:  No.  What was she trying to do at the start?  What was she actually trying to do that had to be done right then?

Me:  I don't think it matters, that's not how it works.  It's supposed to be a 'rollercoaster ride'.  It was more The Romans than The Time Meddler, it was attempting to be a comedy episode, but I don't necessarily think it worked as a comedy episode.  If anything that felt like a massive step backwards.  A step backwards of about two or three years.

Him:  Lofty was weird.  He didn't belong in that time zone.

Me:  Well, he wasn't talking properly.  Although-2

Him:  That's what I mean.

Me:  There's no consistency.  It's like we we were saying previously, with Bors in The Doctor's Meditation,3 Daniel Hoffmann-Gill added a naturalism to dialogue that's written All In Capital Letters We Shall Speak Like This And There Shall Be No Shortening.  Really?  Why can't they just talk like people?4  It's alright if something like The Mire5 talk in capitals.  Russell T. Davies tended to do this when he needed to bring in prophecies that no-one'd heard of.  Speaking of which-

Him:  Would you like to list some?6

Me:  - this blinking foreshadowing of the Hybrid?  That's the second time.  It's blatantly the Doctor.  First time, oh, it's a mixture of Daleks and Time Lord and then this time, oh, it's Mire and Viking.  It's not.  It's half-human on its mother's side.  That's what it is, and that's what it'll turn out to be at the end of the series.7  I'm sure of it.  It's the only way that Steven Moffat can re-8

Him:  When's the Doctor going to remember that he's supposed to be dead?  Or dying?  Or something.

Me:  Well, he'll come back to that when he needs to.  The face explanation ties in with the whole Nuwhoniversary and gives us a chance to reflect back on the last ten years...  This is a celebration.  Which is why we got Vikings on a Spaceship.

Him:  We won't comment on that. 

Me:  And the Mire technology's essentially nanogenes, so that's a callback to all of the NuWho Doctors.

Him:  It's at least an explanation for him using the same face as someone who's already appeared.9

Me:  Yeah, it's good, it's good.  It's great as well, because it still means that Torchwood doesn't count.

Him:  Ha!

Me:  Ashildr.  Did you have any idea who she was?

Him:  I felt like I should have.  She looks familiar.

Me:  Well, she's Maisie Williams who plays a character in Game of Thrones which you won't have seen.

Him:  No.

Me:  She's very good. 

Him:  No.  She looks like a person I know.

Me:  Oh, really?

Him:  Yeah.

Me:  Right. 

Him:  But I don't think it's her.

Me:  It'd been revealed that she was going to be in two episodes.10  She's a major guest star for the series and people've been guessing who'd she be for ages.  Whether she'd be Susan or Jenny or...7  But, what happened was that BBC Worldwide quite canningly in another-

Him:  'Canningly'?

Me:  Cunningly too.  There's a book coming out that ties in with all of the adventures that she gets up to between now and next week and they released the synopsis for it about a fortnight ago.  Yet, even today people were putting up lists like, 'Seven Guesses Who Maisie Williams Might Be Playing', whereas BBC Worldwide - as usual - had already told us.

Him:  You're not giving them their full name.

Me:  What? 'BBC (Licence-Fee Payers Enjoyed The Chance To Watch These Episodes For Free When They Were First Broadcast In The Sixties) Worldwide'?  Did you notice the way that babies fulfil the same role as a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias-

Him:  If they hadn't revealed whose baby that was I would've gone mad. 

Me:  Ha!

Him:  It was just everywhere.

Me:  Right, It can't be escaped.  Lot of Python in there, right up to having God in the sky.  Not very subtle.  The music was...  terrible.  Probably, largely, on purpose.  With its weird pseudo-Celtic/Scottish/Kate Bush b-side thing going on. 

Him:  But that's like the sort of things you listen to.  Only you'd listen to it remixed by Rob Zombie.

Me:  Rob Zombie doesn't do remixes but, other than that, yes.  I thought that when they suggested putting the Benny Hill Theme11 on - which Clara then somehow managed to do within seconds of having filmed it, so unless it's there as an app-

Him:  I was going to say it'll be an app.  

Me:  Yeah, okay. 

Him:  There's an app for that.

Me:  But when they suggested-

Him:  You actually did shout, "Don't give Murray Gold ideas!"

Me:  Exactly.  And then they did it.  Which is, by and large, what they've been doing with the music anyway.  It's been reined in a bit. 

Him:  Do you think they really do just use a Murray Gold app now?

Me:  Probab-  "People need to feel sad.  Track seven."

Him:  "Sad track."

Me:  "This is a funny one.  That's track five."  We haven't had that so much since Strax hasn't been in the series.  Continuing the weird references to Star Wars we had a re-enactment of the trash compactor scene.  And, the author's voice.  Now, I wonder if this was a line written in by Steven Moffat seeing as he helped co-write that, the whole "To Hell with you".12

Him:  Directed at you.

Me:  Ha!

Him:  But the Doctor wasn't breaking anything, this is the thing.  He's undoing the mistake that he's made but he's not actually causing a problem until he gives them the second one.

Me:  Yeah.

Him:  'cause, even when he does it initially it's a mistake because he doesn't realise it's going to make anyone immortal, but it's undoing the first mistake he's made. 

Me:  Do you reckon this'll be how they'll sort out killing off Clara? 

Him:  She hasn't been killed this season yet, has she? 

Me:  Well, there's got to be a way out of it.  As I've said before, we're in a time now where you can't go full-Adric again.  The author's voice and the "To Hell with you" is much weaker as a fatal flaw - and is much closer to Sandman's arc than Steven Moffat's Doctor Who usually rows.

Him:  That episode was very bizarre regardless.

Me:  Yeah. 

Him:  Do you want to complain about electric eels?

Me:  Do you want to complain about the electric eels?

Him:  That's not how they work.

Me:  What noise do electric eels make?

Him:  I don't know.

Me:  And on that bombshell.

Him:  No, no, no.  We haven't complained enough about electric eels.

Me:  Go on then. 

Him:  You're the one that's seen them.

Me:  I saw one on a show once - I'll have to double-check this now - I'm sure it was a science section on a kid's show when I was younger.  They were trying to test the voltage that was emitted from an electric eel and it blew up everything they had set up in the studio to record it. 

Him:  But they don't act like...

Me:  Batteries?  The idea was good.

Him:  I did like the idea.  I liked the concept.  The only problem is, that's not how eels work.  I guess it's not right for me to complain about it, because that's also not how time travel works. 

Me:  Well, exactly.  I think I'd probably better mention Seven Samurai, Hounds of Lucifer, Beowulf and Dad's Army as well, just to make sure I've got all of that in there. 

Him:  I thought Dad's Army was a comedy?

Me:  And on that bombshell.

1.  Or a theme park version of a Viking village anyway.  Whatever, it was nice to see St. Fagans back in Doctor Who.

2.  The word I'm about to start scrabbling for here is 'contractions'.

  Which doesn't count just as much as Jubilee doesn't, but stick with it.

4.  And if there's anything labelled 'Ye' or 'Olde' in next week's, then I'm afraid this season's tribute to the last decade might be resembling 2013's even more than the theory I'm currently flogging the ribs out of.

5.  Ah.  Nominative determinism, how we loves ya.

6.  "He Will Knock Four Times."  "You Are Not Alone."  "The Time Lord Victorious."  I mean, I could go on...

  blah blah it's the Master blah

8.  Okay, here's where that was going.  Steven Moffat's not going to leave Doctor Who without sorting out the half-human cobblers that's been stinking up the place like sprout-gas since 1996.  He sorted the regeneration issue by wrapping up the series that began in 1963 and starting it again from scratch.  (This is also the chap who, may or may not've sacrificed Idris to make a point.  And if that particular point wasn't clear enough, well, Nightmare in Silver can still be read in lots of different ways.)  In fairness, Moffat really enjoys slamming shut trap-doors opened by other writers, but isn't so great at closing the ones he's left open. 

9.  Especially if you ignore Maxil.

10.  At least.  Most of Moffat's seasons have some form of curtain-call, so I'm sure we'll see Ashildr again after next week - probably nearer when the book's out.  (Cap'n Jack's back!  Crack!  Or something.)

11.  Or Yakety Sax, to give it its actual name.

12.  Somewhere around episode eleven I predict this'll either be a line or the whole plot: "No, Doc Tor.  To Hell.  With YOU!"

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