mr_orgue: (chininhands)
[personal profile] mr_orgue
Spoilers. Indirect kinda.

Reposted from the NZDWFC board...

It was very Moffat, of course, but unlike most of s5 and s6 it worked for me. I think the reason is that, unlike the last few seasons, he went into this story with a purpose. The time war was a wound at the heart of the show - and probably a necessary one, certainly a powerful and interesting one - but it was also a fissure that the show just couldn't escape. Returning to this dark action had been the core issue at the end of Eccleston's era and again at the end of Tennant's era, and obviously I had reservations about Moffat going to the same well at the end of Smith's era.

But Moffat's purpose was not to try, a third time, to heal the wound so the show could move on - bound to fail once again - but instead to unmake the act of wounding and give the show a new core. It was an audacious plan, rife with technical and thematic complexities, and that's the kind of challenge that plays to Moffat's strengths. He nailed it.*

And in doing so he opens up a fourth great movement of Doctor Who**. I'm excited to see what Capaldi does with the role, and what the role does with him. We just need to make it through the Trenzalore Silence Will Fall thing first, which, argh. My hopes are low.

* That said, he didn't navigate all the continuity complexities - that was never his strength. But Doctor Who doesn't really have continuity anyway.

** First movement: mysterious wanderer through space and time (63-69); second movement: antiestablishment ruffian shadowed by the power of his stentorian home (70-89); second-and-a-half movement: the breakdown and shattering of one narrative into many, the unmaking in order to be recreated (1990-2005); third movement: the wounded lonely wanderer endlessly seeking connection (2005-2013); fourth movement: the profoundly changed visionary on a hero quest to return to, and remake, his home (2014-?).

Date: 2013-11-25 07:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
(Hey, I remember my LJ password!)

I was so... relieved... that Moffat was able to resolve the character arc of the 9th, 10th and 11th Doctors without destroying the characterisations that had gone before.

I'm still grumpy at what Davies did at the end of the 4th season, choosing to "undo" things to fix things to such an extent that Donna's entire character arc - and all her learning and growth - were undone, leaving the tenth doctor - who had come so close to finding some kind of peace as he helped Donna grow - distraught, angry and alone, again.

But Moffat's choices in resolving and setting the stage for the next stage of the show honour the journeys of all the recent doctors, by expanding the War Doctor to be the agent of the regretted but correctable choice. None of the previous characters were undone by this resolution; nor did we have to experience a long-told arc of a character being rendered for naught (which might've happened if there'd ever been a "proper" War Doctor storyline).

I felt, at the end, rather in awe of the compelling way the core subplot of the last eight years of Doctor Who feels like it's both been resolved, but also with the space for a few more chapters.
Edited Date: 2013-11-25 07:13 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-25 08:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I actually loved Donna's fate, and the sheer meanness of it.

But apart from that, big big nods to all of your comment.

Date: 2013-11-25 09:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me the central problem with the new Doctor Who? has always been the reliance on the general hand-waviness of it, especially its utter reliance on deus ex machina. It became an artistic construct that couldn't resolve any of its storylines or objectives without the authorial voice intervening - to try and hide their reliance on that crutch, they began to view the Doctor himself as a god. The Day of the Doctors places the intervention of the supreme being at the start, in the form of the sentient weapon, who provides more than a helping hand in pushing the Doctor toward the exit option. Almost all of the new series has resolved its plotlines with the Doctor going from a state of despondency to a state of hyper-active victory in the space of a few seconds, with the barest nod to the problems he's supposedly overcoming. This episode has all of those structural problems, but by putting the deus ex machina at the beginning rather than end, it tricks you into thinking it doesn't. The special was precocious and charming, but ultimately I think that by once again simply hand-waving away a problem, it avoids the kind of emotional key-change that you want it to make.

Date: 2013-11-25 10:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As I was typing this post I included "narrative" along with continuity as another thing that Moffat couldn't do. I deleted it because "narrative" wasn't the right word for what I meant. But I was thinking of the same kind of stuff you talk about here. It's definitely a big weakness of both showrunners.

But - I don't think this weakens the emotional key-change, as you put it. The point is never the plot detail, it's always the emotional arc. And while it'd be better if they were both in play - MUCH better - I'm on board with handwaving the former to give more space to the latter. In this case, it didn't matter that the solution was a bit silly and basically the same as what the bad time lords were up to in the End of Time; what mattered was that the Doctor was too trapped in his/their guilt to get perspective on the situation until an external fresh perspective jolted him out of it (itself prompted by seeing something redemptive in the Hurt Doctor); and then that the solution needed the help of his/their former selves to complete the redemption of the lost Doctor. For me that stuff worked just fine.

Date: 2013-11-25 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We're well and truly into "emotional reaction" territory here, so there's definitely room to differ in conclusion without disagreeing on the observable inputs.

Date: 2013-11-25 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hurt Doctor
Physician, heal thyself

Date: 2013-11-26 04:17 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
(Nate here; I need to unblock my LJ account apparently. rar.)

I give Day of the Doctor a rousing 5 out of 10, and for the last two seasons of Moffatt that's about as high as they get.

Loved War Doctor vs the Moment. I wish that was the entire episode. I like that the Time War has been if not reset, at least Gallifrey is now the Bottle City of Kandor. There's room to make an epic plot about its rediscovery, confronting its dark legacy, facing the wounds of the past. There could be an absolute winner there.

I just don't think Moffatt is the showrunner who's going to give that story anywhere near the breathing room and emotional grounding it deserves. He's failed so many times before. There'll be a season worth of meaningless misdirection, ominous foreshadowing and some glib cheap timey-wimey gimmick at the last moment which technically 'finishes' the plot but gives it no deeper resolution.

But at least this time we have something to shoot for that's better than 'let's tell a story about kidnapping, forced birth, torture, baby-snatching and memory erasure and and then let's throw it all away so the Doctor can have a younger girlfriend'.

Date: 2013-11-26 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I liked it a good chunk more than 5 out of 10, but agree with everything else. Your description of Moffat's efforts so far is bang on. Go on now Moffat, move along!

Date: 2013-11-26 09:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay, I is unblock! Man, Livejournal really is the place. This was Facebook before it was cool!

Yeah, on reflection I think I did like DotD more than a 5. The heart and bones of it were strong, it told a functional story with some side embellishments and despite a bit of running around and timey-wimey it wasn't nearly as sturm and drang as the worst of the Davies era big specials. And it brings the underlying arc of all nu-Who to a satisfying turning point. We started with Eccleston's 'will I genocide the Daleks or won't I', then went Tennant's 'I'm so very, very sorry... just once, can nobody die?', to Smith's... Doctor on the run, I guess, trying to outpace his past.

And Eleven in his running has gone to some very, very dark places, with constant undercurrents of repressed memory, body horror and the existential despair of encountering events outside their natural order or being erased from time (Day of the Moon being for me the absolute creepiest episode of Who ever, and not at all in a good way. Brr. So dark, both the idea of an Alien Problem and a Final Solution to it; again, genocide rears its head.) Thematically, I didn't like this, but it does perhaps fit with the concept of a Doctor who thinks he's come to terms with his dark choice, but is actually in full-on denial; so much so that he's blocked an entire incarnation.

(It's probably not an accident that this introspective darkness comes at a time when the British-American world alliance is starting to look and feel more morally shabby than it has since the Bush years when nu-Who began, with torture, drones, economic crash and jobless recovery, the NSA-GCSB affair. There's a lot, as a culture, that we're repressing, but our dreams and our shows know and keep reminding us of. There's an entire sprawling secret military world that basically is our unredeemed War Doctor... at least, we hope it is. At best it might be. At worst...)

So facing The Moment and undoing it perhaps vents some of this dark subtext from the show and brings it into the centre. Hopefully we can have a Doctor now who grows up a bit and starts to take on the Time Lords - and the Establishment they symbolise - head on instead of skirting around the edges. Can Western civilisation change? Are we too far gone to be redeemed? Can we break out of the war cycle? Can we have it all, or are there sacrifices we need to make? Those are the questions I'd like to see the new Doctor try to face, and preferably come up with honest answers to.

Edited Date: 2013-11-26 09:49 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-26 10:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Do you read TARDIS Eruditorium? You should take a look if not. I think your discussion here is really smart in the same way Philip S's essays are smart.

(I hope I can come up with something useful to say in reply apart from that, but right now I must sleep!)

Date: 2013-11-27 05:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh. From Sandifer's feminism post on the fate of 1960s female companions: "One can only hope the refrigerator is bigger on the inside too." That's a great line.

He does have some interesting observations, and omg a whole lot of them too. I need someone to summarise the Gallifrey storylines for me sometime; I think I remember Deadly Assassin and not much else.

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