Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘doctor who’

Watching New Who: The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

silurian_v4Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

Well, I’d completely forgotten what this one was about until Tansy nudged me violently. And so I dove into rewatching with quiet joy, which I can’t talk at all about because of David (hurry up and CATCH UP!) :)

Looking back, I can’t quite tell why I would have forgotten it, because there’s some great stuff here. I have a feeling I confused it in my head with “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People” from season six, which is silly because I like this loads better…

This two parter, and “Cold Blood” in particular, is my least favourite part of the season. There’s a lot to like here – and I do like many aspects, particularly the return and redesign of the Silurians, a lot of the dialogue, and the chilling bookend of Amy and Rory waving to themselves, and then Amy alone after Rory has disappeared. Acting highlights include Meera Syal as Nasreen Chaudry (blatantly auditioning for a run in the TARDIS) and the lovely Stephen Moore as the Silurian leader. Not to mention Neve McIntosh playing two distinct characters excellently beneath what could be quite unforgiving prosthetics.


The Best Laid Plans

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

nano13So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year which starts THIS FREAKING FRIDAY and I’ve had a completely scattered year with my available writing time shrinking and shrinking into nothing, and my momentum disappearing in a slow plume of smoke.

I had a brilliant plan to start getting up at 6am, to get a clear hour and a half of writing in before my ‘to do list’ brain kicked in and more importantly, the children woke up. I used to do a lot of writing at night but I’m just too tired these days.

It worked for two days. I finally got some serious fiction writing done without interruption! It was a bit of a struggle, and I wasn’t sleeping as deeply if I went to bed earlier, but I was sure it would all work out.

Then today when I got up I noticed that hmmm, it’s a lot lighter at 6am than it was two days ago. I guess that’s what you get as summer approaches…

And 4 year old Jem woke up at 6:14. Gah! Fail.


Solving Clara [WHO-50—2013]

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

2013I’ve figured out something about Clara that makes her character, and the various permutations of her, work much better for me.

I liked Clara all along, but unfortunately the narrative presented us with a Clara Problem – which was that she was awesome in Asylum of the Daleks, winning hearts and fans as Oswin, only to be killed tragically. Then they did it to us again in The Snowmen, with a fabulous Victorian governess version of the character who again, was delightful, fascinating and short-lived.

The idea was to set up a mystery, but unfortunately it also had the effect of burning me out on the character, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Clara’s third introduction in The Bells of St John was fantastic, very well written and performed, and I liked her a lot. But I didn’t find myself as instantly attached to her as I have been to almost every other companion ever, and I suspect that’s because I had learned not to trust that a Clara, however witty and adorable, would not break my heart.

It didn’t help that I, like many fans, was completely and TOTALLY ready for a non-contemporary companion, for someone who broke the mould. Even if it was still another slender, young white actress in the role, surely it was time for a companion who didn’t come from contemporary London/southern Britain?


Watching New Who: Vampires of Venice/Amy’s Choice

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

vampires-of-venice1The Vampires of Venice

For me, this is one of the weaker episodes of the season. The writing touch is really obvious when you’ve just watched a bunch of Steven Moffat penned stories. I’m not usually one to look at the writing/directing combinations, but this season was interesting – the first five episodes were written mostly by Moffat, and directed by one of two directors. This is the first story not to have one of those three hands involved, and I think it shows. That said, director Jonny Campbell then goes on to do one of my favourite episodes ever, in “Vincent”! So, do I blame the writer? But Toby Whithouse also penned “School Reunion”! Maybe that’s part of the problem – a little too same-ish? Mostly I think it falls down for me in the dialogue and the strange juxtaposition between attempted humour that falls flat, and a very dark (at times) Doctor, which while definitely warranted in terms of the plot, rubs wrongly in the way it’s put together.

Heh I really like this one. It feels like more of a guilty pleasure than say, the Angels two-parter or some of the later episodes. Very high quality this season generally! But the combination of the gorgeous scenery and the banter makes it one that I will happily rewatch, over and over.

Oh there’s stuff I like, but yeah, more I don’t, I think.

I actually thought the aliens were almost incidental to this episode. The real story is the interactions between the Doctor, Rory and Amy and they were the bits that I enjoyed the most!

Saying that, it is a lovely looking episode, and the historical backdrop was very well done. And, there are some great performances, most notably Lucian Msamati and Helen McCrory, who are both superb.

Croatia is very pretty. I find it amusing that they had to go there to find something that looked like Venice, because Venice itself is too damned modern these days. They managed to capture the feel of Renaissance Venice, though, and I appreciated the dig at Casanova, and the Doctor not wanting to meet him again – Casanova will ALWAYS be David Tennant, for me.

Anyone noticed by now how many monsters in this season have some kind of scary teeth? This is indeed the scary pointy teeth season. I do in fact recall fan speculation that ‘scary pointy teeth’ was the Bad Wolf of this season. Fandom cracks me up.


The Power of Threes [WHO-50—2012]

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013


Amy: Every time we flew away with the Doctor we’d just become part of his life. But he never stood still long enough to become part of ours.

Except once. The Year of the Slow Invasion. The time the Doctor came to stay.

Steven Moffat does love a threesome.

The first few might have been coincidence. After all, the TARDIS teams for The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and The Girl in the Fireplace were unlikely to be his choice.

And yet in both cases he got to write a story in which Rose and the Doctor took on a new travelling companion – the very companionable Captain Jack in Series 1 and the awkward but determined Mickey Smith in Series 2.

Blink barely featured the Doctor and Martha, but when Moffat returned to the show with a Doctor and Donna two-parter, he added a guest role to the story who was so interesting and significant that she seemed to count as a second companion: River Song.

There’s something about three in the TARDIS that really works. It allows the Doctor to be a bit more remote and alien, and also allows for some diversity among the companions.

Considering his past stories – and his history of throwing romance and domesticity into the mix – it isn’t a surprise that Moffat’s Who wasn’t just about the girl companion, but quickly became a story about three interlinked characters: Amy Pond, her boyfriend/fiance/husband Rory (AKA Mr Pond), and their Doctor.


If You Go Down In The Woods Today [WHO-50-2011]

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

2011Until now, I haven’t read any of the New Who fiction tie-ins. I’m not sure why. Maybe I bought into the fan snob idea that the tie-in fiction for an ongoing series can’t possibly be as interesting or involved as the Wilderness Year fiction was? Or that the new stuff was aimed ‘at kids’? Or maybe I was just a little too co-dependent with my Big Finish Audios to let anyone else in…

In any case, this is very much a year for reading books about Doctor Who (I’m not getting any other reading done!) and the recent Verity! interview with Una McCormack about writing tie-in fiction pushed me over the edge.

So I picked up the Kindle edition of The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack, a book featuring the Eleventh Doctor and the Pond newlyweds.


Friday Links is Returned to the Archives!

Friday, October 11th, 2013

astridOkay, so other things happened this week, but for Doctor Who fans, the last 24 hours has been a special cocktail of anticipation and torturous waiting. Finally it was revealed that the recent rumours were true, and we now have two complete (or near-complete) Series 5 Second Doctor serials back in the BBC archive that were previously believed to be lost forever.

There’s a lovely write up of the press conference here, including reactions from stars Fraser Hines and Deborah Watling.

Unlike the last archive find, when orphan episodes of The Underwater Menace and Galaxy Four were screened publicly but not made available for purchase except much later on DVD releases, The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear were made available immediately on iTunes, including here in Australia. And that is why this week’s Friday Links is so late, of course – I’ve been watching The Enemy of the World! A story I loved in novelisation form in my childhood and never ever thought I would get to see for real.

But what else has been going on across the internet this last week (or more, since my hospital stay meant I didn’t put one up last week)?


Ice Warrior Fashion Week

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

It’s been a weird week.

I gave my talk on Wednesday night with Lian Tanner – between us we chatted a lot about creativity, about keeping score as writers, and what with one thing and another we kept coming back to the ridiculously high standards to which we end up holding ourselves.

I walked outside afterwards in the rain, and breathed in cold air with my flu-damaged lungs, and something went, click.

The next day I was taken into hospital by ambulance with what turned out to be pneumonia.

So, from being completely devastated and exhausted by a week of my children being sick, and then me being sick, and then school holidays piling down around my head, I ended up with a bizarre four days in a calm, empty hospital room with my own nebuliser and access to Fox Sports. Oh, and barely being able to talk for more than a sentence or two at a time.

It’s not the rest cure I would have chosen at all, but apparently it was what I needed!


Policing Amy Pond [WHO-50--2010]

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

2010I’m not sure if anyone has ever noticed this, but Amy Pond (played by Karen Gillan) wears a few short skirts in her first season as a Doctor Who companion.

I hate to draw attention to it, really. I mean, it’s the 21st century, we’re not going to critique a female fictional character based largely on what she wears, are we?

Oh, wait.

All female Doctor Who companions have been held under intense scrutiny since the show returned in 2005, and while the narrative of critique often starts out with “let’s look at how the showrunner/scriptwriters have screwed up in portraying female characters” somehow it often seems to come down to burying those female characters under criticism and complaints while the Doctor and male companions get away largely unscathed.

And you know, I can’t help but compare the situation to Australian politics. We have recently had two years of our first female Prime Minister being scrutinised for every jacket choice, every hairstyle, every skirt length and heel height. Indeed, in the week that Julia Gillard made a passionate speech against misogyny in politics which went viral in the international media, most of her TV coverage in Australia was devoted to a mishap during a visit to India in which her high heel got stuck in soft grass.

Because shoes, you know? Ladies and shoes. What ya gonna do?


A (Great) Year in the Life of Big Finish [WHO-50—2009]

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

2009You know what, I’m just going to say it. 2009 was pants.

I mean, some pretty good things happened that year, don’t get me wrong. Apart from anything else, I got a pretty sweet daughter out of it.

But for Doctor Who fans, it wasn’t that great.

After a successful reboot, four years of full seasons of Doctor Who, and unprecedented mainstream popularity and success for the show, suddenly it all looked to be going terribly wrong.

David Tennant, whose star as a popular actor had risen with and greatly supported Doctor Who, was leaving on the grounds of Shakespeare. A whole new audience had come to the show with Tennant, drawn in by his maniacally attractive Doctor, and were grieving his impending loss. For many, it was hard to imagine what Doctor Who would look like without Ten.

It wasn’t a clean break up. Instead, we were introduced to the impending Doctor, the very young and hand-flappy Matt Smith, at New Year and then had a whole 12 months of saying goodbye to David Tennant, one disappointing Special at a time.

Perhaps more concerning, the producer and show runner who had brought Doctor Who back with such success, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies, were also leaving. Soon. Any day now.


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