Friday, May 20, 2011

Discourse: Daisy, Rosie, and Her Mother

One of the reasons I like Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys so much is because there is this romantic tragedy going on that never turns towards the melodramatic and is, as the story continues to be spun, quite sensible and unexpected and, dare I say, fresh.

None of the very tired emotional responses that one would expect.

But really, I think what I like best of all, is that after frequent and often pronouncements of "I hate you" and "I don't want to ever see you again (even though I secretly love you)," romance is not resolved with a (newly reformed) white knight saving his lady love from the dragon, monster, what-have-you.

And it could very well have taken that turn. Rosie and Her Mother are, after all, locked in a dank prison, waiting to be killed by an insane wanna-be predator of a man, yet they don't just simply wait -- they do not expect to be saved.

Rosie is quite willing and able to be proactive. And even Her Mother joins in once she dispenses with the obligatory negative, wet-blankety remarks about the liklihood of success and death (one being more likely than the other).

But it is Her Mother that distracts the Bad Man and it is Rosie who wallups him on the head with an old chain she tugged down.

And it is a ghost who kicks the wanna-be-man-predator-thing in his sensitive areas for so rudely murdering her.

And, finally, it is Daisy -- who has no romantic interest in Rosie whatsoever but rather a dedication to justice and the defeat of evildoers -- who shows up with the entire might of the police force at her back.

No white knights. No swooping in to save the day. No damsels in distress.

Just courage and will.

And romance still was found by one and all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Regarding Moffat and Doctor Who

I don't really have anything to say about the latest two episodes of Doctor Who -- the pirate one, Gaiman one -- other than I thought that they were fun, and that I enjoyed them immensely (Gaiman's more so than the pirate one, obviously).

I suppose they were both a break from the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey puzzles of Moffat's openers, and that was nice.

Seeing the Tardis in a human body with a human mouth speaking with a voice was beautiful.

Seeing the Doctor bite his fingernails when Rory died (again) was poignant.

Seeing the Doctor so sad, oh so sad, when the Tardis had to leave that human body and him trying to deal with his grief in his little swing has he tinkers with the Tardis and then the closing scene as he asks the Tardis if she's there and the lever goes down in response was so beautiful and so sad that there really aren't words, no not really.

And the idea about how the word "alive" is such a sad word was brilliant and unexpected (I knew Gaiman would never go for the cliche "love" but I couldn't think of what word the Tardis could possibly mean, but then of course, it was revealed and it was beautiful and real and oh so sad yet satisfying).

The Tardis demanding to see her thief and then explaining how she stole him because she wanted to see the Universe was glorious.

I watch Doctor Who for those moments.

But, beautiful and emotionally satisfying as they are, they do not proper blog entries make. Or perhaps, too much was going on at the time when I watched them and I just had to enjoy them and move on, instead of prying them open and taking out all their little parts.

But watching and enjoying the small tastes of fan reaction that I allow myself (I refuse to do more than dabble my toes so as not to get burned out -- and also, time restraints) has given me some thoughts over which to percolate.

I've been thinking more about some of the fan complaints about Moffat telling the same story and to tell something different please:

Creepy Children (Are-You-My-Mummy boy <-> Time-Lord-Girl)
Visual Centric Monsters (Angels <-> Silence)
Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey
Something that Appears to Be Evil But Is Actually Trying To Do Good (Pirate, 9's story line in World War II)

I think there are others, but I can't remember them.

I don't actually mind the similarities between the Angels and the Silence. I think they're different enough that it doesn't matter. That's like complaining that the Daleks and the Cybermen are too similar because they're both for genocide in order to promote a master race while completely ignoring their more nuanced differences. It just doesn't bother me because in real life, sentient beings and animals have similar drives.

The only difference between a very hungry tiger with a taste for human flesh and a killer bacteria is that one is more tangible the other. A tiger can be shot. One knows how to kill a tiger. One can also run away from a Tiger.

But, if the bacteria is a nasty one, you might not even know you're sick until it's too late to be cured.

Either way, if all else fails, you still end up dead.

That's how I see the difference between the Angels and the Silence. I, personally, find the Silence to be far more discomfiting than the Angels. I find them to be more complex too.

The Angels seem to be more or less your typical predators (like tigers). It's hard to hate them (for me) because they're just doing what all organisms need to do: eat. I can't fault them for that (which doesn't necessarily mean that I'll just let them eat me, no sir).

But what about the Silence? Their motives don't seem to be driven by a primal need for survival. What do they want? How many of them are there in the Universe? More than the ones on Earth, for sure, since the Fish-Vampire in Venice saw them, apparently - but then that also raises the question of how she remembered them etc.

So, I'll take the Angels and the Silence over the Daleks and the Cybermen any day of the week. In fact, I wouldn't be bothered if there was a long, healthy break before their next reappearance (unless it's something subversive).

I don't mind Moffat playing with time travel in more than a Oh-Let's-Go-to-the-Past-or-Future sort of way. I will admit, I am not a fan of the time-loops that are the effect of their cause (last episode of season 5). But I'll forgive it (like I did with Fringe) if the characters are strong enough.

Plots are dimes a dozen, after all. It's the people that count.

Creepy children. I think that the Time-Lord-Girl and the Are-You-My-Mummy boy are hardly comparable. Of course, they're children, and they're both locked up in a "mask" of some sort. And they're both rather mysterious and don't make sense.

But otherwise, no, I don't think so (I may re-evaluate my position once the story is complete, of course).

I think that the Are-You-My-Mummy boy was an excellent vehicle to explore some good old fashioned social commentary, particularly the stigma of teen mothers, in a certain time and place that is still culturally relevant today. But to be honest, I don't really see any of that with the Time-Lord-Girl, who has the possibility to be so much more (though hopefully she does not function as a mere device a la the Golux).

And let's be honest: creepy children is a time honored trope. It just depends on what the writer does with it. In my opinion, the trope was subverted in the first series of New Who. As for the Time-Lord-Girl -- well. It's too early to say.

The only one I haven't really talked about is the theme that Bad Things Aren't Really Bad Just Mistaken. I don't mind this because the idea of a Bad Thing Doing a Bad Thing Because It's a Bad Thing is boring and simplistic and utterly lacking nuance. And, despite the Pirate's episode similarity to the Doctor Dances, they're not the same story.

Though it's been a while since I've seen 9's story, I recall it as more plot-centric. Sure, we meet Captain Jack, but I can't really think of any dynamic changes going on character wise (for either the main ones or the secondary ones, save for Captain Jack). This isn't to say that there weren't great character moments -- because there were -- but it just seemed very plot centric (though not all Plot, obviously).

On the other hand, the Pirate episode was social commentary slapping superstition in the face. And, I really like that because, even today, people are more willing to attribute something they don't understand to some kind of Nebulous Supernatural Force rather than poking it with a stick and finding out what's going on. So yes, more knowledge > superstition please! I also think it worth noting that this kind of commentary was absent from 9's story in season 1.

I also think that there were some interesting character insights in the Pirate episode that also serve to differentiate and individualize the similar thematic elements -- for example, the Doctor and the Captain. Both wanderers, but having made different choices in their lives.

And even Rory and Amy had some insights as well -- even though Rory died again and haven't we seen this before, tash-take-it?

Well. Yes. We have. Except we haven't.

When Rory first died in the Dream-Lord episode, Amy became very Shakespearian in that she would rather be dead than not to have Rory in her life. Very romantic and all that rot, but not especially helpful. Too Romeo and Juliet for my tastes.

Which is okay, because I think it shows Amy's emotional state -- she's childish. Not quite grown up yet, maturity wise.

The second time Rory dies, Amy can't do anything but weep. And try not to forget him. She is crippled with grief, a greater grief without the small hope that this world is a dream and that they can wake up and everybody can live again.

The other times Rory has "died" doesn't count, I think, because Rory didn't die -- no not really because it was either Mind Games or Red Herrings or Let's Pretend, but, in the end, he was never actually, tangibly dead.

Though, in Gaiman's episode I thought it an interesting dynamic. I don't remember where I read it, but I do agree with the interpretation that Rory's "death" in The Doctor's Wife is more of an insight into Amy's emotional state regarding all the sacrifices that Rory has made for her. Which gives her more depth and dimension.

But, in the Pirate episode, when Rory is drowned and dead again, Amy doesn't react the same way. She's afraid and she's sad but she's pro-active in that she's not crippled with grief, she's not going to kill herself.

For the first time, she takes real action to save Rory. And of course, that has a lot to do with the circumstances of the death -- how exactly does one become proactive when Rory is shot/being-erased-from-existence, after all?

But I still think that the tenor of her emotional reaction is more grown up. More mature. And I like to see that kind of growth in people. And so, even though it is the same, it is still different.

Of course, this is why it's hard being a writer. There are only a few plots in this world (I think it was Asimov who said there were only three), which is why I don't really bother with them when I determine if I like something or not. Moffat does seem to have some familiar themes with which he revisits again and again, but in my mind, he holds them in different lights, exploring them in different ways.

Familiar is not always bad, just as long as it's not stale. And of course, there is the debate of the responsibility of author and reader. Creation is so subjective. Another person's stale is someone else's revelation.

I don't think Moffat has reached that point but, to be honest, it's a little hard to judge when series 5 and series 6 are so obviously halves of the same story. So really, it depends on how season 6 turns out, I think.
And I'm patient enough to wait. I love the Doctor and I love Rory and I love Amy.

I just want to see them live their fantastic, extraordinary lives.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Discourse - Lucifer: Evensong, Volume 11

Everything about this was beautiful and amazing.

But since this blog is devoted to gender and sexuality issues, I'd just want to say this:

Elaine inherited the position of God.
Mazikeen inherited the position of Lightbringer.

And may I just say that Elaine getting rid of hell -- that is true mercy.

Oh my fucking god. I just kind of want to cry and hug everybody forever and ever.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Doctor Who: Love a Tomb [Spoilers]

The more I think about this episode, the more I think it's pretending to answer a lot of question but not really.

For example, how on bloody earth did they get from the Warehouse situation to Canton pretending to hunt them down? Or from the Doctor telling Canton to look behind him at the Silence (what a rubbishy name) to having the Doctor all chained up?

With a rubbishy beard and a self satisfied little smirk, completely cool and collected and charismatic in the face of anything.

And where exactly did they get the materials to build the knock-off Pandorica? And when exactly did the Doctor and Canton have time to cook up this plan? And how did they get the TARDIS into Area 51? And where is Future!Eleven's TARDIS?

Shit has happened in that warehouse and now we're going to have to wait to figure out what, exactly, happened.


Just amp up the anticipation and the suspense why don't you.

Though, I have to admit, when "three months later" scrolled down at the bottom and it showed Amy running

the first thing that popped into my head THANK THE TARDIS THERE IS NO BABY BUMP.

And I was very happy. And then Amy was like oh I was mistaken and I was even happier.

Even though I think the Silence is a bollucksy name for them, I do admit that they work fantastically as television monsters. I mean, I don't think their effect would be quite the same in like a novel.

As long as there's been something in the corner of your eye or creaking in your house or breathing under your bed or voices through a wall.

Oooo. Shivers.

But this scene here, with Amy, in the orphanage? Chills when I watched it. Chills.

First, everything is fine. Creepy, but fine.

Hands! Oh my god! And then the very next frame:



And of course, the weather doesn't help a bit: it was a dark and stormy night. Oooooo.

Though, this entire orphanage scene also raises more questions than it actually answers.

A). Where did Amy actually get the pen? In the beginning, the episode always showed a pen dangling from their necks. But there is no pen anywhere on Amy's person that I noticed -- just a flashlight. So, who marked her up -- or was it just a continuity error?

B). If the pen-less-ness was just a continuity error, then why would Amy mark up her face? That just seems like it would be awkward and unnatural because it would be even harder to see the tally marks (no peripheral). But then Rory was all marked up on his face too, so maybe I'm just overanalyzing it. The marked up faces are more compelling than arms and hands -- but I'd still like a reason. /pout.

C). And what happened in the lost time? Something significant or Amy just counting how many of the creepy Silence are haunting the "orphanage" (if it's even still a real orphanage, herrrumph)?

And who is this woman?

Who's dreaming and what's the dream -- though, to be honest, I'm hoping it's not something similar to what happened in the Library episodes.

Still. I'm going to guess there's a perception filter at work here. I bet that bedroom wasn't even real.

I hope not because there's this:

It's like -- ah, can't get away from the pregnancy! But, the closing scenes, the one where it showed the bio scan oscillating from negative to positive gives me hope that a) there won't be a pregnancy period or b) even if there is a pregnancy, there'll be a rousing good story behind it which will hopefully be ultra light on the soap opera aspects so many of these arcs tend to take. (And apparently, the tumblr-verse is calling it Schrodinger's Uterus, which kinda made me smile, I admit it.)

I adore the framing of this scene, just fyi.

I love Rory. What a beautiful man.

Rory: She can always hear me, Doctor. Always. Wherever she is, and she always knows that I am coming for her, do you understand me. Always.

Amy: Doctor, are you there, can you hear me? Doctor -- oh god. Please, please just get me out of this.

Rory: He's coming, I'll bring him I swear.

I love how the show still highlights Rory's insecurities, but how it never dwindles into some machismo bullshit. How, even when he's not sure whom Amy loves in that one scene, it seems like his love for her transcends the territorial, melodramatic relationship patterns that is so stereotypical of so many shows these days.

And that's so, so beautiful. (Though, now that it's established that Amy loves Rory, I hope the show won't keep on pointing it out to the viewers, no matter how sweet it is.)

And I love this weird, little, simple, beautiful relationship that is beginning to form between the Doctor and Rory.

Especially when they talked about Rory as a roman in more than an off-the-cuff sort of joke:

Rory: Rome fell.
Doctor: I know, I was there.
Rory: So was I.
Doctor: Do you ever remember it? 2000 years, waiting for Amy - the last centurion?
Rory: No.
Doctor: You're lying.
Rory: Of course I am.
Doctor: Of course you are. Not the sort of thing one forgets.
Rory: But I don't remember it all the time.

And in this moment, Rory becomes more than the boy who waited for Amy all those years, but he becomes someone more -- it's acknowledged (understatedly, which are the best kind of statements), that Rory is, technically, older than the Doctor. That he is, in some ways, equal to the Doctor -- and yet, in many ways, not because he doesn't remember it all the time, unlike the Doctor. But, I thought this would be an interesting aspect to have in the companions (because Amy isn't typical either, what with the whole of time pouring through her head growing up) and I wasn't sure if it'd be ignored or what -- but, here it is. And it's so lovely.

And it's part of what makes this relationship between Eleven and Rory so endearing that I can't even describe it -- it just, made my heart melt whenever I saw him interact with Rory, how he sort of looked at them out of the corner of his eye when they were kissing their I-love-yous. It was just.

That's true love, there. In all its forms.

River: My old fella didn't see that did he? He gets ever so cross.
Rory: So, what kind of doctor are you?
River: Archeology. Love a tomb.

Oh, River Song. You are cooler than the sum of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft put together.

Also? Why don't Americans use the word "cross" more often? What a lovable word.

And the Doctor's description of her:

This is my friend River. Nice hair. Clever. Has her own gun. And unlike me she doesn't mind shooting people. I shouldn't like that, kinda do a bit.

Aw. Excuse me, I'm going to go melt into a puddle of goo at their little relationship/flirty/type-thing they've got going on.

I suppose it'd be a rubbishy sort of review/musing/squee-fest if I didn't talk about the girl, the nameless girl, the Time-Lord-Girl:

Couple thoughts:

1). The girl is the "honour" that the Silence spoke of to Amy, maybe? ("We do you honour. You will bring the Silence. But your part will soon be over.") Except a pregnancy isn't exactly "soon," unless they were planning to go all Fringe-y on her.

2). The girl is out of time -- because of the photo Amy found. So, how did she get into the time she is now? With the knock-off TARDIS? But why would the Silence need a space suit if they had the technology to make a knock-off TARDIS?

3). Speaking of the life-supported Space Suit, perhaps the girl needs it to live -- which is why she is dying six months later. But why would it take her six months to die if she needed the suit to live? And if she needed the suit to live, why would she just regenerate? Unless the process would fix why she was dying or why she needed the suit in the first place? If something happened in the six months, then what and why weren't the readers privy to it. *grumble (but only the good kind of grumble)* I also noticed that with the three months later notation at the beginning of the episode + the six months later at the end = nine months, which is always a significant number because of the whole birthing metaphor-imagery-thing at work. Balls.

Doctor: Incredibly strong and running away -- I like her.

(aside, I do like that the show isn't always gung-ho about its heroes having to be strong and bold and facing whatever's coming with squared shoulders and what-not; it doesn't mind celebrating the Trickster nature of the hero, and that I love.)

Misc. Thoughts

I love how the show establishes how Nixon became so paranoid (record everything!) which basically is a fan-fictiony explanation for Watergate:

Doctor: Oh, Dickie. Tricky Dickie. They’re never going to forget you.

Oh, excuse me while I giggle.

Also, I wasn't really expecting this:

President: This person you want to marry. Black?
Canton: Yes.
President: I know what people think of me, but perhaps I'm a little more liberal --
Canton: He is.

And, despite the Doctor's wishes, it still hasn't happened yet! Hello, Social Commentary. And they science fiction isn't relevant. ;)

Also: Eleven and River kissing. I love how he doesn't know what to do. It's so adorkable. I just melted inside.