Tag Archives: Doctor Who

The Raven, The Castle, and Gallifrey

Doctor Who Series 9, or 35 if counting from the beginning, has now reached its conclusion. I’d planned to get this up before Hell Bent was broadcast but… oops.

There will be spoilers here for: Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent.

CIMG0032 Face the Raven

This episode saw the death of Clara.

I liked Clara but I feel that killing a companion now and again is a good idea.

Doctor Who has a fairly high body count so, from a writing point of view, it makes sense that sometimes they die. However in this instance I feel it was mishandled.

Face the Rave seems contrived to make sure Clara dies. Mayor Me says, at the end, that she never had any intention of letting Rigsy die. This begs the question:  Why she gave him the real tattoo?

All that was needed was to set a trap for the Doctor. I would have thought that a tattoo counting down would be enough of a mystery. Put another way you can rob a shop with an unloaded gun – you only need for the other person to believe it is loaded. Yet Me, saying she meant no harm, gave Rigsy a real death mark.

Also when It came to the end of the episode I don’t feel like it was adequately explained why she couldn’t remove the mark from Clara. It sounded like it was a contract – i.e it was rules preventing it rather than it being impossible. I did however think that Clara starting to think of herself as being the Doctor was a good development for the character. When I first heard that Jenna Coleman was leaving I felt fairly sure Clara would die. Clara has been traveling with the Doctor on a part time bases. She frequently went back to her life. The only reason that would end was that she died.

When I first saw the opening of the episode I knew she was dead. I may even have said to myself ‘She is so dead.’ Clara and the Doctor were so happy in that opening scene. That seems to be a common thing in episodes where a character dies. I can think of three other examples where, in the episode where they die, a character is very happy about something. I’m sure you can think of some as well. I don’t want to give spoilers beyond Doctor Who.

The real problems with this episode is only visible in hindsight. We find out in Heaven Sent that it was the Time Lords that set the trap. However it all seems rather badly thought out. The Time Lords could’ve trapped the Doctor anywhere and any when – all they seem to have needed was to get a transport bracelet on him. Couldn’t they have just hired a couple of goons to restrain him?

Clara’s final words to the Doctor were very effective. However it was rather contrived that she died in such a way as to allow for final words in this manner.

Overall the ideas in this story could’ve worked but it was lacking in what actually happened. Clara was far too accepting of her death – she did take the tattoo believing she was invulnerable after all. Any normal person would have been swearing and angry – obviously there is a limit to what they can do in this regard on a family show.

(This episode was also a little funny for someone from Cardiff. At the beginning of the episode it’s very important to find a trap street in London. All I could think was ‘It might help if you actually went to London.’ I know Cardiff like the back of my hand. [Walks into low beam.])

Heaven Sent

This was a much better episode than its predecessor. I’ve long been interested in bottle shows and more broadly shows that do something different with the expected format. A clip show is the scourge of television drama and shows like Heaven Sent show what can be do with a good production team and an extremely capable actor – Capaldi is wonderful in this episode.

Bute Park

My one tiny nitpick is this: ‘Why doesn’t the wall reset?’ Also, in case you were wondering, breaking through a wall like that is possible. Give enough time you could probably destroy a small mountain.

One other problem is the question of the Hybrid. Maybe I’ve just not been paying enough attention but the question of the hybrid seems to have been so far in the background that I’ve almost not noticed it.

Hell Bent

This is a difficult episode to judge. This post is getting rather long so I’ll try and be succinct.

As I said above I don’t have a problem killing characters, although killing my own can be difficult, it seems though that Moffat does have a problem killing them.

Now Clara has ‘died’ before but, if I understood that story correctly, it was more a case of Clara fulfilling her mission to save the Doctor, in each incarnation, and the moving on. Maybe…

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey and all that.

This to me is certainly the case with Rory and why I feel that that story worked. Also I really liked the relationship between him and Amy but I’m getting off topic.

DSCN0163

This episode didn’t say that Clara was brought through time the instant before her death it said that she was dead. Which doesn’t really work for me.

When I saw Clara plucked through time it made me even more annoyed by Face the Raven. I believe Clara’s death would’ve worked better with instant death. She was given a death sentence, by the writers I mean, so that she could have a last good by.

Imagine this though. Clara dies. It is sudden and heartbreaking. Then, in Hell Bent, she is plucked through time. This causes an imbalance in the time line and she the returns to that moment to save the universe. That way you get to have it both ways. You get the shocking death and the final goodbye.

Obviously that would only work the first time round but that’s always going to be the case. You can’t experience again, for instance, Darth Vader’s Bespin revelation.

However as it stands Clara is dead, or at least pulse-less, and is now traveling. So why was she killed anyway? (Again from a writing point of view) Why not just have it that she chooses to travel with Me instead of the Doctor? I’m sure there are many ways that that could work.

I liked the closing image of the diner and the police box heading away from each other. Although I do wonder at the designer of the chameleon circuit – another one broken. I think people are going to notice a diner a lot more than a police box.

2007-06-29_130138_29062007027

Was it really necessary to shoot the General?

The Doctor has used guns before but not in this way. And yes he says that it doesn’t really count as murder but surely the General is still loosing several years of life – perhaps decades.

I think that Moffat wanted to show that ideas of race and gender are irrelevant where Time Lords are concerned. That is a good idea but maybe not by having the Doctor shoot someone.

I wonder will the next Doctor will be a woman?

Why was it necessary to wipe the Doctor’s mind?

Maybe I need to watch the episode again but I really don’t understand the need, or benefit, of him forgetting Clara’s face.

These three episodes had their problems certainly but over all I enjoyed them. I saw one review that was very angry with Hell Bent in particular. While I can’t depute what is being said I don’t think it detracts from enjoyment. When it comes to stuff like Star Trek I’ve very interested in continuity but in Doctor Who not so much. It jumps about all over the place it would be nearly impossible to keep it all straight so I tend to view the episodes on their own merits.

Season 9 has been a very solid season over all. Sleep No More was my least favorite episode. It could have been great but sleep monsters were a little too far for me.

What did you think of season 9?

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gene Roddenberry: Section 31 and the Perfect Human.

20140202_221815As a Trekkie I’m of course indebted to Gene Roddenberry for creating the universe of Star Trek. However my favorite Star Trek series is Deep Space Nine and it contains many elements that Roddenberry would have hated.

The Star Trek universe is supposed to be ideal. Humans are supposed to be perfect. He saw a world without hatred, racism and war. That’s a fantastic vision of the future but it may not be terribly realistic – and creating a story without conflict is difficult bordering on impossible.

Things are only impossible until they’re not.‘ – Captain Picard.

Racism was present in TOS. Most notably in Balance of Terror. How this episode came to be written is something of a mystery to me. In this episode the Enterprise becomes the first ship to get a visual of the Romulans. They find out they look like the Vulcans and Lt. Sties starts to think that Mr. Spock is a spy.

‘Leave any bigotry in your quarters. There’s no room for it on the bridge.’ Captain Kirk.

I realise its odd to praise an episode for bigotry but let me explain. I firmly hope that we can one day come to a ‘perfect’ future. We may well be able to do away with war and famine in the years to come. We all know that there is enough food to feed everyone. Also, and I know its hard to believe, we are in the most peaceful period in history.

However the instinct that lead to prejudice won’t magically evaporate. I’m not an anthropologist but it seems fairly clear that for a lot of history anyone not like you was a threat. Britain has been invaded many times not to mention the countries we’ve invaded. You only need to look on Wikipedia at the pages for various countries to see how many of them have had to gain, through conflict or diplomacy, their independence. Thus even if we have a ‘perfect’ world those instincts would remain – and would show themselves in extreme situations.

“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy” Alfred Henry Lewis.

The thing about Star Trek is that only humans seem to have achieved this perfection. Its great to have such principals but if others in the galaxy are ruthless you might need to be too. The Klingons in TOS were written as an evil empire that killed civilians. It was perhaps for that reason that Section 31 was created.

Section 31 was introduced in Deep Space Nine but retconned to have been their from the beginning of the Federation. This doesn’t really present a continuity error as they are a secret organisation. They are the self appointed guardians of the federation. They are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect Federation principles. Sloan, one of their agents, describes it to Doctor Bashir.

Federation needs men like you, Doctor – men of conscience, men of principle, men who can sleep at night. You’re also the reason Section 31 exists. Someone has to protect men like you from a universe that doesn’t share your sense of right and wrong. Sloan

Roddenberry would have hated the idea of Section 31, especially after you know what, and I’m not defending that. However its hard to imagine the Federation without some form of covert group. The questionable history of the CIA is well known but spying can also be of use.

...tonight I know how many missiles the enemy has and…our guesses were way off. And we were doing things that we didn’t need to do. We were building things that we didn’t need to build. We were harboring fears that we didn’t need to have. President Lydon B. Johnson, 1967

Section 31 are extreme in places but their existence isn’t unbelievable.

Let’s make a deal, Doctor: I’ll spare you the ‘ends justify the means’-speech and you spare me the ‘we must do what’s right’-speech. You and I are not going to see eye to eye on this subject, so I suggest we stop discussing it. – Sloan

In Roddenbury’s mind humans will always do the right thing. This however presents a problem. The no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru. What do you do when faced only with bad and worse choices. Neither action or inaction is acceptable.

You were The Doctor on the day it wasn’t possible to get it right.The Doctor

In that case we have to make the best of the bad choices. Most of us won’t ever have to face that situation. In Star Trek though we’re talking about Starfleet personal its part of the job. This brings me to ‘In The Pale Moonlight‘.

“I was going to bring the Romulans into the war.” – Sisko.

In this episode Sisko faces that choice. In his mind he either brings the Romulans into the Dominion war or the Federation is defeated. That defeat would lead to millions, maybe billions dead. In one episode we see Weyoun casually mention irradiating Earth’s population. Sisko didn’t hear that but its safe to assume he knew what the Dominion would do if they won. Sisko tries to bring the Romulans into the war legitimately but when that fails he is prepared to use any means necessary.

I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing – a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. – Sisko

In the Pale Moonlight is my favorite episode of Ds9 and maybe all of Star Trek. It is extremely well executed but of course Roddenberry would have hated it.

Here’s the thing. I don’t know what Roddenberry saw when he first thought about  Star Trek. Lets say it was the perfect society. The crew of the 1701 represent all of Earth. They show us that we can all work together and that things will be better tomorrow than they are today. How much did he see other than that? He wouldn’t have bothered to invent all the nuanced details. He wouldn’t have known about Section 31 because no-one did at the time of TOS. Roddenberry saw the perfect future but perhaps that was just the outside. The side that the Federation shows. At the end of the day although these humans are ‘perfect’ they still carry weapons wherever they go, they have a ship that can render a planet uninhabitable, and every week a crewman is killed by an unforgiving galaxy.

I realise I’m describing this as if Roddenberry had a vision. As if he saw the universe and wrote it all down. It is like that sometimes with creating fiction. You don’t see everything though. The Federation may be largely the ideal place to live but every society is going to have its less savory aspects. I believe that Roddenberry saw the dream society but didn’t think to look behind the curtain. We can strive to be good but there are times when its not possible.  Captain Kirk doesn’t believe in the no-win scenario but they do exist.

I never took the Kobayashi Maru test. What do you think of my solution? Spock.

***

I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Regeneration

We all know that when the Doctor is injured he regenerates. Originally this came from a necessity of having to replace William Hartnell. They could simply have replaced the actor. I remember they did this in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with the character of Jimmy Olsen. However in Doctor Who they chose to make it a part of the plot which is wonderful. (Obviously not a option for Superman)

I think that regeneration was handled better in the old show. I don’t like the knew graphics used for regeneration. The explosive orange looks silly. Obviously explosive orange was impossible for the original series. In the time The Tenth Planet was made there was nether orange nor computer graphics.

The fading from Hartnell to Troughton looked more natural than the modern series. This is supposed to be a biological function after all. That’s just my two sense.

I wonder though might regeneration be possible for us? Immortality is discussed in many science fictions and some say it might be a real possibility one day.  If you know anything about biology, which I don’t really, you’ll know that human cells replace themselves every seven years. In essence there isn’t a cell in your body that was there seven years ago. As we age this replacement process becomes less and less efficient. So what if there were a technology that could assist the body in cell replacement but not lead to weakening and death.

I rather like the idea of immortality – I’m assuming that your immortal body was one that was still a nice place to live. If you could find a job you enjoyed then you could see the world. Boredom would be impossible. There would still be millions of books to read, TV series to watch and places to visit. And if you left it a few decades between visiting each place, watching a TV series, or reading a book it you would have forgotten about it and, in the case of a place, it would have changed a lot.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Doctor Who – Death in Heaven

***Spoilers***

***Spoilers***

 

The latest series of Doctor Who has been something of a mixed bag. Yesterday’s episode was fantastic! Often when I’m watching TV I end up doing something else, Facebook or Tetris, this time I was thoroughly gripped. Being from Cardiff it was a little strange seeing a street I know well which has, apparently, translocated to London.

The cyberman are, to me, the most interesting of the Doctor Who villains. To become one of them is far more terrifying than an enemy that simply wants you dead. Speaking of being dead I’m not entirely sure how the cybermen can use the dead. They’re supposed to be cyborgs so they need the organic components. Am I thinking too much into this? Maybe but science fiction is supposed to make you think.

Some people, yes I know citation needed, apparently guessed that Missy was going to be the Master. For me though she was never interesting enough for me to think about it. Had I thought about it I wouldn’t come up with the Master. For one thing I didn’t know Time Lords could change their gender and for another we saw the Master die.

The scene where Osgood was murdered was very well done. I was watching it by myself and I could see what was coming. I was saying ‘No, don’t do it.’ To Osgood. It never goes well when a restrained person asks their captor to come closer. Moffat definitely showed how evil Missy was with that. I know Osgood was only in one other episode but it was very well done. When she was killed I wanted Missy dead from that moment. Having the Brigadier kill her was the perfect end. If Clara or the Doctor had done it wouldn’t have worked.

I have two gripes and one wish for the next series.

Grip 1: They are continually doing stories of global incidents. These seem to either have no lasting effect or there is a global amnesia plot at then end. If big scale events are going to be shown then I feel their should be a lasting result. There have been so many incidents. I would rather they reverted to the ‘base under siege’ plot. If we’re dealing with people in an isolated location its far more interesting.

Grip 2: As well as the attacks being big scale so are the solutions. Rather than the invaders being driven off it always seems as though they are being utterly destroyed. I would rather a… well a more subtle approach. I suppose Captain Scarlet would be a good example, especially as it was mentioned, each episode the Mysteron problem is resolved, but the Mysterons aren’t obliterated.

It could be argued that these weren’t ‘real’ cybermen. Rather Missy had the blueprints; for lack of a better way to put it.

1 Wish: A companion from somewhere, or some when, else. Don’t get me wrong I’ve liked all the companions of the modern series but they are all from contemporary earth. Rose, Martha and Clara are all from London. I just think it would be interesting to have companions from other places. Someone from the future, someone from the past, even just someone from another continent would be interesting. Again there is nothing wrong with any of the companions but variety would be nice.

And now with have the Christmas episode to look forward too. I have another gripe about that which is simply this: why is December such a popular time for invasions and dastardly plans?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Welsh, Writing and Spoilers

This is a blog in three parts. The parts are unrelated but I have three little things I want to say.

Part 1

I’ve been saying it for months but I’ve finally started to learn Welsh. I’m using Say Something in Welsh as a starting point. Will I ever be fluent? I don’t know.

I did Welsh is school but it was badly taught. It seems now that we learned a combination of overly formal language, and sentences that actually don’t make sense. One sentence we learned was: ‘Rwy’n hoffi Star Trek achos mae’n da.’ – Which means I like Star Trek because its good. Obviously we put our own like, or dislike, in it. We also learned to say that we didn’t like stuff because it was bad.

Why we learned these useless sentences I don’t know.

Some say that learning Welsh is a pointless endeavor. They argue that everyone who speaks Welsh speaks English. Its difficult to explain why I want to lean Welsh. A part of me is tempted to answer the question with: ‘If you have to ask you’ll never understand.’

I do feel a connection to Welsh and want to speak it. Without delving too much into the history it feels like its the language I should be speaking.

How long I’ll keep at it is another question.

Part 2

Its November now, you may have noticed, and for many, well some, it means NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is an acronym for: National Novel Writing Month. In which the aim is to write 50,000 words in a month. A tall order to be sure.

I’m not doing this in the ‘right’ way, as large chunks of my novel are written, but I am going to try and write more this month.

Will I finish my novel? If my previous track record is anything to go by the answer is no.

Part 3

Finally I wanted to talk about spoilers. In particular I wanted to talk about Doctor Who. At the end of each episode they have a ‘Next Time’ segment and my question is: Why?

Doctor Who is one of the most popular shows on TV at the moment. It has a guaranteed audience. There is simply no need to tempt views to watch they will be their.

This was especially irritating in the last episode: Dark Water. The villain (click here for the revel) is hinted at, take a look at the doors, and its reveled in a great way. However the effort of the writer to hint at this is ruined by it being shown in the next time segment!

If anyone from the BBC happens to stumble on to this please jettison ‘Next Time.’ We don’t need it. This series has been a mixed bag but on the whole I’ve enjoyed it. To make sure I see the next episode all I need is six words ‘The Doctor will return next week.’ – basically just tell me it exists and I’ll be there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

One Hundred

This is my one hundredth post on this site. So I’ve been bringing you poorly edited stuff for quite a while now! In all seriousness I do edit and proofread but something is always missed. Its a lot easier to notice mistakes made by others than it is ones you’ve made.

My novel, Rolling Shadows, is going well. This novel has been altered to within an inch of its life. If I was writing on paper I would have got through a small forest. Nothing has really been deleted in the processing of the novel but I am confused. I start to wonder if a particular fact was in the current draft or the previous draft.

The common wisdom is that on finishing a novel you should stick it in a draw for a few months. This enables you to forget all the story paths you didn’t take. You also need an editor who can point out all the story flaws. I try to be aware of these flaws because I like to nitpick. I try to think critically about what I’m writing. I want to find the flaws and fix them to deprive a review of saying how stupid I was.

One of the hardest potential flaws to detect is implication. This is when you give your character or star ship some ability and, without realising it, you imply another ability. An example of this would be Star Trek with its transporters and torpedoes. I assume you can see where I’m going with this. Yet it wasn’t until Dark Frontier that that was shown. Even then it didn’t become a standard tactic. It seems to me that that could, even should, be their standard tactic. Weaken the shields enough to beam a torpedo aboard and then boom.

This is even more difficult when dealing with magic. Where are the limits? In the Harry Potter series glasses can be fixed with a spell but not, apparently, eyes. Obviously eyes are far more complicated but couldn’t you conjure up something like contact lens?

There is no answer. My advice to anyone reading over their own work is to pretend its written by someone you don’t like. That way you might be more critical. I know that if Doctor Who does something stupid I’ll forgive it. Doctor Who is British, made in Cardiff no less, so I forgive its foibles. However if its a show I’m ambivalent towards, or even don’t like, I’ll use it as one more reason to hate it. I’m irrational that way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Doctor

One of my new year’s resolutions was to post regularly on this site. This means that some of the time I will be writing ahead of time. It feels like a bit of a cheat but there you are.

Speaking of time did you see the Christmas Day episode of Doctor Who? It was unfortunately not very good. The Doctor Who episodes have, in my opinion, become far to complicated recently. Classic Who tended to be small scale. The base under siege stories were often very good. However now the Doctor has saved not only the Earth, not just the galaxy, but the entire freaking universe! Now let’s be clear. I thought the pandorica story was excellent. The disaster was caused by the TARDIS and solved by the Doctor and in that way wrapped up quite neatly.

Generally though the smaller scale stories are better. Part of the reason for this is how the audience relates to the situation. Everyone can understand the fear of run from the monster. However when the threat is planet wide the solution is complicated, might involve techno babble, and it can be a little difficult to follow.

For Christmas my mum got the first four seasons of new Who. I had forgotten how great it was. The stories were great. The Doctor and Rose faced many creatures and the stories were tight. Of course they dabbled in more complicated plots, Army of Ghosts, but they were still wonderful.

Complicated stories can work, and do, but it takes a very skilled writer to make them work. My own novel is too complicated for me because of all the characters and settings. I’m starting to work out the kinks though. One show that does complicated very well is Sherlock. Naturally I’ve just finished watching Sherlock. I think that the writer of Sherlock should have a talk with the writer of Doctor Who and… oh wait…

When Doctor Who returns with Peter Capaldi I hope that Doctor Who will get back to its routs. It is at its best when it tells simple stories with a few key characters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized