Friday, April 30, 2010

Doctor Who: Mr. Grumpy Face

Doctor Riversong is possibly one of the most intriguing female characters on the show. I still haven't decided if I like her - but I think I kind of like that.

I can't really comment much on the story itself because The Time of Angels is one of those tantalizing two parters, but some really interesting character elements were at work.

First, I still can't figure out what kind of hero the Doctor is. By hero, I of course mean an archetypal hero, and I love that.

He's not a traditional hero because he definitely has a bit of the bad boy in him - he did, after all, steal the T.A.R.D.I.S. But, even when he says things like,

I can run away from anything I like -- Time is not the boss of me!

One would think that would be very anti-heroish, except the Doctor has very many admirable qualities and doesn't really fit the definition of an anti-hero. His moral fiber is just too strong to fit.

I especially love the 11th Doctor - he's so serious and intense, it's like his very soul is vibrating. Yet he is so...child-like as well. Observe, when Dr. Riversong flew the T.A.R.D.I.S:

River: Use the stabilizers!
Doctor: It doesn't have stabilizers!
River: The blue switches.
Doctor: They don't do anything - they're just blue.
River: Yes, they're blue, they're the blue stabilizers. See? [The TARDIS stops shaking like it's about to fall apart]
Doctor: Yeah - well it's just boring now isn't it? They're blue Boring-ers!
Amy: "Doctor, why can she fly the TARDIS?"
Doctor You call that flying the TARDIS? Ha!
River: Parked us right along side!
Doctor: Parked us? We haven't landed.
River: Of course we've landed, I've just landed her.
Doctor: But it didn't make the noise.
River: What noise?
Doctor: You know the -- [mimics TARDIS engines]
River: It's not supposed to make that noise. You leave the brakes on.
Doctor: Well, it's a brilliant noise, I love that noise.

Yes, Doctor, the sound of the universe!

And, then he says stuff like this:

Whoo you lot you're everywhere, you're like rabbits! I'll never be done saving you.

He sounds so - wearied.

But, as I was saying, I don't believe the Doctor fits any of the archetypal heroes I've learned about in my myth class. And I really love that - I think it's bloody fantastic. It makes him so much more real, more alien -- more interesting.

Enough about the Doctor. Let's talk about Amy - magnificent Amy.

She is so brilliant. She is better than Rose who would have wailed for the Doctor if she ever found herself trapped with a weeping angel. Better than Martha who ... I'm not really sure what she would have done. I think she would have probably focused more on why she shouldn't stare into the angel's eyes instead of actually focusing on the bit that turned off the angel like Amy did. Donna would have just mouthed off at it.

But Amy was magnificent. Snuffed it.

Yet, for all her smarts, she doesn't let people know that something is wrong - like when the sand fell out of her eye. Yet, maybe she didn't even see the sand before it disappeared. Hm.

I loved it when she thought her hand had turned to stone and she said,

I don't need you to die for me Doctor - do I look that clingy?

Which is, of course, a direct slap at Rose who was incredibly clingy and bit of a commentary on Martha who fell in love with the Doctor.

I have to admit, when I saw that Riversong (who may or may not be the Doctor's future wife) return, I was bracing myself for Amy to be jealous. But she wasn't - she was so thrilled with Riversong. She wanted her to be the Doctor's wife.

It's so refreshing not to have a companion tumble head over heels in love with the Doctor.

And then I braced again during the course of the episode, hoping that they wouldn't have the Doctor kiss Amy to snap her out of thinking that her hand was turned to stone (Tennant got an obscene amount of on screen snogging time so I think my fear was justified). But no!

He bit her with his "space teeth"! How magnificent is that? I was delighted, absolutely delighted. (Though, I recently heard a rumor that there would be a future kiss between 11 and Amy - hoping it's just a false little thing, or if they do kiss, there are some really interesting circumstances surrounding it).

And of course, typical Moffet style, a little jab at Religion. The church, in this episode, is essentially a military organization with clerics carrying guns instead of soldiers. When explaining this to Amy the Doctor says,

It's the 51st Century - the Church has moved on.

Which, of course, is simply a commentary on how the Church is simply an organization attempting to control people. Hopefully in our 51st Century, people will have wizened up enough to realize faith is just believing things for unreasonable reasons, and the Church will have to come face to face with this unpleasant truth as it realizes unfounded superstitions are no longer adequate to coerce people into cooperating with their moral standards.

Let's talk about villains. I believe that the weeping angels are potentially the scariest villains in the Doctor Who 'verse.


This is a weeping angel:

Looks safe, doesn't it? Just an angel.

Its real face:

As it's about to do nasty things to you. If you're lucky, it'll just displace you in time and feed on the possibility of your life. Or it just might kill you. Either way - it's dangerous.

The weeping angels are stone when they are seen by someone else. It's only when you blink or turn your back that they are truly alive.

A crazy man writing about the angels said,

What if we had ideas that could think for themselves, what if one day our dreams no longer needed us? When these things occur and are held to be true, the time will be upon us - the time of angels.

And I'm trying to figure out how this works with the idea of the angels -- stone in front of your eyes, alive behind your back. The idea is sort of like that quote from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the one that goes

All your life you live so close to truth it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye. And when something nudges it into outline, it's like being ambushed by a grotesque.

And the angels are certainly grotesque - but I'm not really sure how they fit with the whole your subconscious doesn't need a conscious presence to express it.

And then the Doctor says that their image is their power -- how does that fit with everything else? I honestly have no idea but I find the quotes fascinating - and I hope that the second part will illuminate things a little more.

Which, by the way, is what makes the angels so scary. Daleks and Cybermen are easy to figure out. One's a hate mongrel, the other is just borgs on steroids. But the Angels -- they really make a person think.

Remarkable Moments

Her past, my future. Time Travel - we keep meeting in the wrong order

To me this hints at the quintessential elements of science fiction. Time travel shouldn't be a plot device to save the crew of the current Star Trek vessel from some kind of evil plot thing - it should be something more. I can't even explain - but there seems to be so much more than the words, but I just can't articulate it. It's just out of reach ---

The Doctor knows the importance of words:

The lost language of the Time Lords: there were days, there were many days -- these words could burn stars and raise up empires, and topple gods.

Wow. No really, wow. That is the most fabulous description I have ever seen. It speaks of the the amazing possibility of language, truly demonstrating how the pen is mightier than the sword. No wonder the Doctor has an entire library in the T.A.R.D.I.S. And he has all the time to read them - if he wasn't too busy saving people.

Look at those bad girls! Those are amazing shoes - nothing I could ever wear for an extended period of time but gosh! They're beautiful!

This is just after he explains what kind of creatures the angels are. Such an interesting smile, intense and just a little bit odd -- a queer little smile, the smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes.

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