AnonymousThe most important thing is that [there is] an extraordinary creative response to Doctor Who that is almost unique to Doctor Who, and that's all we should look at."It has turned people into actors, it has turned people into writers, it has turned people into scientists. That's an extraordinary thing. And that title sequence which I'm so proud of is a result. "That's online Doctor Who. That's the real part of it, that's the real story - a quote from Moffat that I found quite lovely
In the leadup to the beginning of Series 8 this Sunday, I’m counting down the days with a look back at the New Who story so far…
3rd April - 26 June 2010
When the Eleventh Doctor crash-lands in Leadworth, England’s most generic town of 2010, it’s a big change in focus. Doctor Who is no longer set in London or, in fact, any real place. There’s less focus on establishing the world in which the show exists and how they react, and episodes aren’t as tightly rewritten. There’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t ring true if you’re used to RTD’s episodes. But where Series 5 succeeds is in creating a compelling cast of four characters and focusing entirely on them, with stories and realities that only exist for a single character and a finale in their own alternate timeline.
It’s a new kind of companion story. In her first series, Amy is a more detailed version of the Love and Monsters characters with their fleeting but formative encounters with the Doctor. From the start, the Doctor is trying to make it up to her. There’s uncomfortable dimensions to their relationship, but they are also drawn together, because Amy has lived in a Doctor Who story all her life. She’s instantly at home in Doctor Who to the point of doing her own exposition, and shares the Doctor’s wanderlust. There’s a regular TARDIS team of three, with Rory the grounding presence and the person to explain the plot to, and River’s regular appearances shake things up. The series establishes the Eleventh Doctor’s fun-loving eleven-year-old personality, though Matt Smith does well with the serious stuff when needed.
This series doesn’t as much forget about reality as escape from it into a fairytale. The Doctor and Amy are both running away, bringing a sense of wonder to the show. It’s a colourful storybook pastiche of the universe, with settings that don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s experimental and occasionally clumsy in its pacing and the way the series arc unfolds, and there’s lots of extra stuff to rediscover on rewatches that most people would miss first time. It’s heavy on the symbolism and allegories, turning every episode and the universe itself into myth.
The fairytale is a response to the dark inevitability of Series 4 and the Specials, as Amy literally wipes the slate of the universe clean. Amy fixes part of the damage done to her life for real when she remembers her loved ones back into existence. She accepts that she is in love and that she is loved, and learns that the bad things don’t make the good things unimportant. After a series asking what you would do if there was no other choice, a new question is asked: if you had a chance to make things right, would you be brave enough to take it?
What do you think the role of the companion is in Doctor Who?
River likes a glass of wine.
I think this is part of why I prefer s5+ to s1-4: no one ever makes a big production over the fact that River likes wine, it’s just shown to us by having River drink wine multiple times and not spit it out and thank her mother for having some and swap tea for champagne. Shown, not told; and it’s easy to miss it, but if you pay attention it’s one of those small details that make the character feel lived in; feel alive.
And no one ever stamps their feet and demands we notice that Clara enjoys tea and is constantly surrounded by books; no one ever writes out a banner saying “Amy Pond’s hobbies include history, art, and painting her nails” (I love Amy’s painted nails, by the way), those traits are just shown to us by having it come up again and again. It’s a completely different style to… I like Martha best, I’m allowed to do her… like, Martha’s a geek, right? Look at her. Except that I put together every reference I could find and it was in three episodes, and one of those you’d only include if you were desperate to make a neat 6-gif grid. *cough* Basically, it’s something Gareth Roberts made up for one episode, and none of the other writers followed up on it. But because it’s painted so vividly it shows up in every piece of fanfiction or EU that cares even slightly about her.
And there’s pros and cons to both versions; once you’re thrown a line like All that attitude, all that lip, because all this time you think you’re not worth it. Shouting at the world because no one’s listening. Well, why should they? it’s very, very easy to get a handle on Donna’s character because, well, they just outlined her psychology. It’s very *vivid*, and the Moffat-era style is much more subtle. I prefer the latter: the characters feel more real to me, and there’s always more to discover. But if you don’t want to rewatch and think over the episodes a lot, the quieter approach can leave you with characters that feel sparse.
Get to Know Clara - #6 The three most important physical objects belonging to Clara in series 7 once belonged to her mother.
Yes. If the image quality was in any way decent, I’d be so tempted to change my icon to Steven Moffat with fez. As it is, it’s Steven Moffat with TARDIS, which is awesome too…
(Speaking of awkward and goofy, shhh, have you watched this? Because he totally knows that.)
- River Song: The Heroine
In the case of female characters written by men, we as women are given, broadly, mind you, four different options for characterization. They are as follows: the villain, the vixen, and the victim.
Let’s start first with the simplest of all: the villain. This is a female who is directly cast against the protagonist or moral code of a story. She has a one track mind, one ambition, and this of course is never explained enough to truly understand her. Any background her character may have is lost to accentuate how much of a horrible person she is. Her character evokes no sympathy…
AnonymousYou know what I hate? When you explain a Moffat era companion to someone, to show that they ARE a person, to someone. But, "Ah," they say, smugly, "are you sure that's canon, and not just headcanon?" I think the problem with that is that it's such a VAGUE accusation, and I'm really bad at arguing because I get nervous and concede immediately if I can't think of anything. But honestly, so many fans of Moffat see the same personality, so how could it be headcanon?
RTD was a master at establishing who a character was in a clear, vivid manner. Moffat, in contrast, doesn’t pay as much attention to outlining the exact basis of who a character is, the process of getting to know them is gradual, over a length of time, a treasure hunt through episodes and details. It’s a very organic process, really, in many ways reflecting how one would get to know a real person with all the pitfalls of that, as what a person appears might not always reflect the reality, particularly because these are characters with multiple layers. Clara projects an image of the perfect heroine, Amy’s abandonment and trust issues are buried under bravado, River hides her pain. These aren’t simple characters at all.
This approach to characterisation ultimately represents a challenge to the viewer. It asks for not merely acceptance of a given fact, but for interpretation. It is never explained to us that Clara views herself as the heroine of her own story and yet it’s a consistent thread throughout her episodes. And even where we are told, statements like “bubbly personality masking bossy controlfreak” fall empty unless one realises that this is absolutely founded on how her character was presented previously. (By the way, the fact that Caitlin called it before TTotD ever aired is telling in itself: “She likes to be in control of her own life” (May 22nd 2013) and “her perfect is a mask and nothing more” (August 1st 2013). [x])
"Headcanon" implies that something isn’t well-substantiated, when in fact many of the things that get labeled as such are in fact based on a considerable amount of examples and draw extensively from textual evidence. As long as you can back up your argument, you’ve long since moved on to analysis and interpretation, rather than engaging in a light game of adding to existing ‘canon’. And even if you might not feel confident enough in your own ability to provide this, there are a lot of wonderful people in this fandom who absolutely do this (and you might be one of those, too).
Quite frankly, I’d go so far as to say that most people who’ll bring up the canon versus headcanon divide here probably aren’t worth your time. Because who a character is isn’t determined separately from the audience. People’s perspective matter, it’s only through their eyes that these stories become meaningful. That’s the beauty of experiencing fiction - and that’s the beauty of experiencing fiction through someone else’s eyes. This fandom offers such a wealth of analysis, well-supported interpretations, insights into how characters and stories matter. To deprive oneself of that with a catchy sounding snide comment which offers no argumentative value whatsoever is rather sad.
Final farewell to the Eleventh Doctor’s Era: Countdown of My 25 Favorite Episodes. Number 10 - The Time of the Doctor
As the Doctor grew older, he had begun to talk about retiring from traveling in his final days (believing this to be his last regeneration) and in this episode, he retires in the only way he knows how - by staying in one place to save whoever he can.
As Eleven’s final episode and one that I think got a little twisted by feeling like two episodes that were forced due to unfortunate timing to combine (both a Christmas special and Eleven’s very dark final outing that doesn’t fit Christmas at all), this was a hard episode for me to rank, but in the end, when I watch this episode, I get completely absorbed into the story that’s being told. I truly do enjoy the end result even it’s not an episode worthy of topping my list of 25. It’s definitely worthy of opening the top 10.
The basic outline of the Trenzalore storyline that had been building for the past few series plays largely how I would have expected but fills in the blanks as the Doctor fights for hundreds of years in a seemingly endless war causing Madam Kovarian to take a group back along the Doctor’s timeline creating the events of series 6 as they use and abuse the people of Earth, River, and Amy in an attempt to prevent the Doctor from ever arriving on Trenzalore, ever fighting to save the town, or ever answering the question the Time Lords ask that could lead to potentially disastrous results (something the Doctor himself also fears).
In the events outside the war, handles gave me far too many feelings for a broken cyberman head, Clara was great in everything from her adorable inability to successfully cook anything ever to her heartbreaking moments as she says goodbye to Eleven, and Matt Smith’s final speech was a perfect way to turn regeneration into a relatable experience for everyone in the audience rather than something quite so alien and final as it can seem.
The Doctor may physically show how he changes over time by regenerating into what looks like a new person on the outside, but the rest of us go through so many internal changes as we age that, just like the Doctor, none of us are the same person all throughout our lives. That’s something I feel I can relate to very strongly as I watch myself grow older feeling both absolutely the same and yet so completely different from who I was 5, 10, 15 years ago that it’s almost strange to think I really am the same person.
And finally, Amy Pond’s return. I didn’t know how much I needed Amy back until I saw her standing there and was absolutely in love with that moment. While Amy had said goodbye to him, he never really said goodbye to her and even though he doesn’t say the words, hallucinating her telling him goodnight and pushing him towards his regeneration was his acceptance he never got when Amy left him behind.
This moment, being a hallucination of a woman long gone, very clearly brings back memories of only two episodes ago when the Doctor was forced to say goodbye to the ghost of his dead wife after having let her both metaphorically and physically haunt him since her death. These two moments combined paint a picture of a broken man who was tragically clinging to whatever he had left of the people he lost until he had no choice but to face reality.
Seeing Amy Pond standing there is simultaneously so tragically final and so uplifting, but it puts closure on a loss the Doctor suffered that had been hurting him for so long. Goodbye Amy. Goodbye Eleven. The two of you defined this Doctor’s era and we will never forget one day of any of this, but Eleven’s hour is over now.