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Doctor... who?

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Doctor... who?

Post by DerGolgo » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:46 am

So, the last season of DW was. Not great.
Which has nothing, zero, and nada to do with Jodie Whittaker. She can act competently, I think she could present a pretty great Doctor.

I've just finished the Christmas Special/Season Pilot two-parter.
I want to hunt down Chris Chibnall, and stab one of his eyes out with his other eye.
FUCK can you spell "lazy writing"?
"Oh, brilliant, Ada Lovelace (though still under her maiden name)! And she's a total Ramboing badass, fucking up the Master and... oh, yeah, let's not let her do anything for the whole rest of the story, good enough if she trails the doctor like some appendage."
"Oh, brilliant, we meet a legendary WW2 SOE spy lady! She manages to hide 'em while The Master plays Standartenführer Hans Landa! And she let's the Doctor use her radio equipment and... does fuckall for the whole rest of the episode."
"Wait, Paris, 1943... a hellscape of rubble and fire, with nightly air raids?"!!!! DOTHESELAZYFUCKERSEVENKNOWHOWTOFUCKINGSPELLHISTORYBOOK!!

Oh, and the grand finale, the main bad guy unleashes his... oh, look, the Doctor appears out of nowhere and announces she fixed it all with her time traveling.
Let's all think about that.
The Doctor. Used time-travel to sabotage the evil mastermind mega-plot in the past, and then just announces she did that, boom, she won.
Rule No.1 of time travel for The Doctor: can't fuck with your own timeline, aka can't just use time-travel to win the unwinnable conflict situation.

Now, I'm sure there have been minor infractions in the past.
But certainly not massive build up to the inescapable peril and woosh, Deus Ex Fucking Machina, the Doctor already fixed it all by time machine.
I know a Deus Ex Machina when I see one, as my only reader can attest to.

Oh, and she's a telepath now and can just mind-meld Spock-style to erase herself from people's memories. When the fuck did that fucking happen?

Of course, before she does that, she takes the time for a little montage of how she goes back in time yet again, and she doesn't just sabotage the thing the evil mastermind was building - she fixes up the crashing airplane SHE HERSELF ONLY JUST ESCAPED FROM.
Oh, yeah, her fix only comes in once she's off of the plane... fucking bullshit steamed in bullshit on a base of bullshit in a bullshit reduction.
Once the Doctor restarted after the hiatus in 2015, A YEAR WHEN THERE WAS NO DOCTOR WHO, it got back on its feet. Some kinks, some flaws here and there. Steven Moffat is great at writing episodes, but he's just shit at running an entire show (as we saw with Sherlock).
But a few damn brilliant bits and, overall, I liked Peter Capaldi's run, after the 2015 hiatus.
Now, they still have all the budget in the BBC, quite obviously. But can't be arsed to spend a fucking penny on a decent writer.

If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?

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Re: Doctor... who?

Post by xtian » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:38 pm

I watched the new season like I would watch a party of people talking to each others having no idea who they are and what they are talking about. too many characters and no coherent dynamic in my humble opinion.
I'm not really from around here.

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Re: Doctor... who?

Post by DerGolgo » Wed Jan 15, 2020 3:21 am

xtian wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:38 pm
I watched the new season like I would watch a party of people talking to each others having no idea who they are and what they are talking about. too many characters and no coherent dynamic in my humble opinion.
Very astute, I agree entirely.

I loathe being the guy complaining about too much diversity. I don't, there's really no such thing. But this just feels forced. Just as forced as some other story getting whitewashed. The cast being selected for demographics before the stories are written, and sometimes after the stories were written and then needed "correction".
"Let's have a black guy who is also disabled, but not so much that it would come up almost ever, let's have a non-white woman, oh and she should be a cop so kids can look up to a cop, but make sure her cop job comes up rarely, if ever, and let's have someone old."
To me, it looks like choosing the companions was handled like decorating a Christmas tree. Everyone gets to hang something on it, not matter whether the final result looks good, and entirely disconnected from the gifts (the plot) the would be placed under it.

A disabled companion, with a disability that comes up more than twice a season, that would have been a cool new take. Or the old fella. I can't even remember his name. But we saw at least one special where the post-2005 Doctor had an older gentleman at his side, Wilfred. Who was fucking brilliant.
Martha Jones and Bill Potts got in and came across like just the new companion, a full character, a person, and not "some character ticking a diversity box".
Chibnall's Doctor is exactly the kind of show that the people who usually complain about "too much diversity" will point at to demonstrate how "too much diversity" ruins a show.
While it's not the diversity that does that, but the way they crammed them all into a show that has a premise suited for two, maybe three regulars max.

One companion, two on occasion, that has been the standard for the Doctor at least since 2005.
Classic Doctor Who had started out with three, but that was dialed back and, as far as I can tell, most (not all) of classic DW stuck with one or two.
That shit worked, and it worked well. With the little Army she's got now, you never have to see one of them go off on their own and be in singular peril. You can evenly divide a regular cast of four and still nobody is on their lonesome, and that takes away a lot, a great big lot, of the drama.
To get anyone on their own, they need either three or four subplots, or one with a group of three plus whoever is on their lonesome.
The former requires too much stuff happening in parallel, while with the latter, one subplot is just going to have too many characters in it, too much going on. Which will either result in the regulars taking up so much real estate in the plot, whatever the story is about, any visiting/recurring/incidental characters are relegated to the background and can't be properly explored. OR one or more of the regulars are reduced to that fate.

Which would be bad. But in the last season, and to all appearances in the new seasons, those are coupled with lazy, ill considered writing that doesn't seem to be aimed for any specific audience.
"What? It's a kids' show, get off it!"
No, it's not for children.
Unless you think that conflict between a mother and her estranged daughter should involve a literal, lethal-firearm Mexican standoff between the two, the daughter mining the mother's business with IEDs, and both of them going down in a Butch-and-Sundance blaze of glory.
Not to mention the senior citizen who begged someone kill him after the monsters got him, or his elderly fiancee sacrificing herself, being ripped apart alive, screaming, with a companion staring in (very credibly acted) horror.
Episode two/three (depending on how you count with the Christmas special) was absolutely NOT for children. Not "oooh, scary monster, hide behind the sofa" stuff. Closer to My First PTSD* sort of stuff.
All bundled with a very, very heavy handed ecological message that, curiously, they manage to relegate to some by the way stuff.
Oh, and a computer virus, that's also a physical, maggot-shaped entity that can infect a human, who can be cured with an empty skittles bag, in which the "virus" is captured... a virus that can then trigger an immune reaction in an isotope of a chemical element that somehow adds another neutron?!

Lazy writing, coupled with shit that I know, here in potato, would get a cinematic release a 16 rating (that is, no admitting anyone not yet 16 years old).

*I know what that shit looks like from the inside, and I have no doubt that a child watching this, unprepared for the fucking horror elements, seeing the characters that should come across like the lovable grandparents meeting their ends as they do, might indeed be traumatized.
Once upon a time, Doctor Who indeed was a kids' show. And was intended to be educational, teaching science and history.
Obviously, the guerilla education aspect went away decades ago.
But this show doesn't even try. Whoever writes those scripts, and whoever approves them, evidently has no interest in even pretending there is such a thing as science, OR such a thing as history.
Seriously, the show famously introducing the young and impressionable audience to historical events and time periods, it just SHITS a great, big, steaming turd on even fairly recent history.
I have the impression that it's not so much they don't know how the anything works. But that they seriously don't care, are not willing to allow that some outsider (like a scientific advisor, or anyone able to fucking look shit up on Wikipedia) should have any authority about the product of their (the writers'/producers') genius. Oh, I've driven the plot into a wall... ah, fuckit, I can just jack-in-the-box or Deus-Ex this shit, it's not like it's a serious show. Oh, I can say it's the whoop-de-whap! Fuck, I don't need to look that shit up, it's not like anyone cares about the logical sense this makes. I don't care, and I know best, which is why I get to write this shit! WHENCH! COCAINE!!

Actually, no, that is unfair. I'm sure that, if the show had been written in a cocaine induced stupor, it might actually have been entertaining.
If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?

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Re: Doctor... who?

Post by xtian » Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:49 am

I am not sure it is a matter of diversity, all the companions could be white 20 something surfers, it would probably only be even worse. It was a bold and interesting move (albeit a little opportunistic in our times) to switch to a female character to show that gender does not define your limits, but as much as you and me will hate now to defend the old patterns, it destroyed the dynamic of the adventurer and her protegee and their borderline frenship/love. gay affairs still have to be left on the outer rings of the story I suppose. too soon.. They failed to recreated the bounds between the doctor and his/her companions and to project these relations on a non linear time line, as it was with rose, clara oswald or river song. So in the end it sort of failed to demonstrate the interchangeable status of genders identity. Yes, we are all equals, not will smith acting as snow white will not tell the same story as the original disney's. that being said, it's not as righteous awful a you make it sound I think.
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Re: Doctor... who?

Post by DerGolgo » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:11 am

xtian wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:49 am
it's not as righteous awful a you make it sound I think.
When I watched the intro of the first season of the revived Doc in 2005, I had absolutely no clue what to expect. Would it be for kids, for adult kids? Would it be just a tragic knockoff, trying to shit on the shoulders of giants?
I hadn't even been particularly familiar with the old DW. "My" classic Doc is Sylvester McCoy, and that not despite him being such a manipulative, and sometimes cruel bastard, but specifically because of that. The new show could have been super true to the original, everyone loving it, while I did to it what I did to Stargate. Ignore it, since it wasn't for me.
A big load of unknowns, and some healthy skepticism. I was entirely prepared to watch episode one, maybe episode two, and then look at it never once again.

And yet, when that intro music started, I literally broke my chair. Not kidding. A 330 lbs. man, a great big bushy beard all the way down to his chest, was giggling like a schoolgirl and bouncing up and down in his poor old office chair.
And you know what?
I was not disappointed. At all.
For 10 years, while there may have been the odd episode I enjoyed less than the others, I found that initial reaction entirely validated.
Then came the 2015 hiatus. After which, it picked back up. Disappointing episodes became slightly more common than they had been, but I was still looking forward for each and every one.

So my opinion may be slightly biased, I may be expecting a lot. But I'm one of the fuckers who were right back in 2016, and was most pleased to see his favorite show back on.
That bias does not, however, explain the very real problems I described above.
Just look at the Ada Byron character. She is introduced a take-no-prisoners, no-nonsense badass. I rather enjoyed that.
After which, all she got to do was express her befuddlement at the Doctor being the Doctor.
Noor Khan is introduced as the ice-cold master spy, yet one who fights for her convictions (or she wouldn't have gone anywhere near the two weirdly dressed strangers). She knows her stuff.
And once she has handed the Doctor the morse key, she joins Ada in looking befuddled and, until that dreary montage near the end, gets to tag along like a quota appendage.
That would have been a brilliant character to explore. I might have overlooked the historical illiteracy of Paris being destroyed by air-raids if they had actually done anything with her character beyond exposition and tokenism.

The problem isn't the diversity, right. The problem (well, one of the problems) is the bloated cast of regulars.
But I can't help but look at it and wonder Why, oh why, would they fuck with a winning formula that even Steven Moffat wouldn't fuck up?
Did they introduce a bunch of intriguing characters for dramaturgical reasons? Did they at least bring some fan-service?
Did they fuck. Episode one of the last season, bish bash bosh, there they are. They have to make a great effort to introduce Ryan's disability, like they are foreshadowing... nope, barely ever comes up. Almost like he has a disability just so that someone in the cast of regulars will tick that box.
That whole episode when they visited partition-era India. Yeah, lot of drama. Didn't tell me a lot about Yasmin, as a character, or how her background maker her who she is.
That's all I got from there, background. Not characterization. The latter often involves the former, but the former cannot replace the latter. As much as I may personally have problems with the police, the experience of a child of a migrant family, joining law enforcement in the old colonial "motherland", that might have made for a fascinating character. Even if someone just wanted a police officer as a positive character for audience members to look up to, or to humanize the fuzz. Fuck. On that note. I fucking love Hot Fuzz.
But what did Chibnall give us? A generic story about the strife when India was partitioned, and a police officer who does about as many memorable police-officer-specific things as most non-police characters.

The show isn't bad because the cast is diverse. But prioritizing the ticking of those diversity boxes over the storytelling, that has done a lot of damage. Instead of making up his mind what sort of character he wanted, Chibnall just jammed it all in.
Was he concerned people would complain about the Doctor being a woman? Pretty definitely. And he might have overcorrected, trying to put in someone for anyone in the audience to identify with.
Young men? Check. Young women? African heritage? Check. Indian heritage? Check. Older white men? Check. Disabled? Check.
Just like he did in the special. "Oh, the Doctor defeats the Master, but only with the help of great women of history! Let's have her, and her, and..."
The diversity is shown off, and then little or nothing is done with it.

He could have left out Ryan, could have given Graham some non-age-related handicap, or perhaps even an age related handicap. Fuck. He could have given The Doctor a handicap. She is now on what, body no. 15, when original lore had it that a timelord gets 12 regenerations, 13 incarnations, max? Great big opportunity.
Of course, making the Doctor a woman and disabled at the same time, and implying that the regeneration hadn't worked, would have been problematic (to say the least).
But Graham, wide open, great big opportunity to let younger audiences see that old people being physically challenged is not something to make fun of.

Seriously. Watch the last episode, and ask yourself "was that there remotely plausible?", and tell me what kind of age bracket it's intended for.
Young violent offenders, maybe. Definitely not children. Nor this adult child.
If there were absolutely anything to be afraid of, don't you think I would have worn pants?

I said I have a big stick.

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