Friday, October 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Predictions For Philosophy in 10 Years

Philosophy in 10 Years | Daily Nous
[A]theism will become more commonplace in the broader culture, leading less atheists to feel the need to go into philosophy to argue about gods. For these and other reasons, there will be a higher proportion of philosophers who are theists. This could result in another fracturing of the discipline (along the lines of what happened in the 20th Century with analytic and Continental philosophy).
In ten years time, assuming I'm still blogging, I'll check revisit these. The last of the 5, quoted from above, is a bit intriguing.

Certainly all manner of philosophers could happen to be theists in their personal lives and it wouldn't make a whit of difference. To the extent theism might become more prominent in philosophical work in fields like normative ethics is disturbing. Nobody, after all, gets morality wrong like theologians.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Shada - "Oh, undergraduates talking to each other, I expect. I’m trying to have it banned."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Shada - Details

Season 17, Story 6 (Overall Series Story #109) | Previous - Next | Index

The infamous uncompleted, unaired Tom Baker story written by Douglas Adams, the one that was cannibalized to cover Tom's unwillingness to participate in the 20th anniversary special, "The Five Doctors." Why I'm even attempting to squeeze this is a bit of mystery, even to myself, when I'd said at the start I was going to cover only the televised stories to keep this project from spiraling out of control. But here we are. It's got a page on the BBC site, and the About Time guys covered it, so even though it didn't actually happen, we're going fudge like it did. (Also, since I've decided to include some Big Finish productions, and perhaps other miscellany, "Shada" safely belongs to this project as much as those.)

To write this post, I approached "Shada" from three angles: read Gareth Roberts's 2011 novelization, watched the 2003 BBCi webcast that recast the story for Paul McGann's 8th Doctor and President Romana, and watched the version JN-T produced with Tom Baker's linking narration. In case any of you are considering this story for a blogging project of your own, I don't necessarily recommend this approach. After all that, I feel like the perfect post to cover "Shada" might have been this: nothing more than a clip of Tom Baker from the introduction to JN-T version where he howls, "Shaaaaaada!"

But then I'd hardly feel it was a worthwhile reading/listening/watching this one story as much as I did, so I'll drone on for a bit as if you're still there, but fully understanding if you are satisfied with with mental image of Tom Baker pretending he is grief-stricken for this lost story.

For a story that never properly aired, I certainly got my fill of it. Not hard to see why Douglas Adams wasn't thrilled with what he wrote. However, it's interesting nonetheless and worth the small effort to take in one of the versions. If you're going to check it out, I suggest the video with the linking narration, of the three I managed. The webcast isn't bad, but it's not a fourth Doctor story the way it's told, so I don't really grok the point of it. The animation is shit, but thought of primarily as an audio, it's not a terrible experience. The novel has a few fatal flaws, some inherited, but at least one groan-inducing passage and few not-so-clever post-1979 allusions that must be the work of Gareth Roberts. The linking narration is insufficient to render the story coherent, but you get to watch Tom talk about himself as if he were the Doctor, one suspects a natural inclination for him, and it at least gives a few broad strokes to cover what's missing. A fair amount of the story was shot -- enough that it was actually a little exciting to realize how much of this there actually was. Going back to the days of 20th anniversary special, I somehow got it in my mind that there was hardly any more than what we saw of Four and Romana II punting. Had I known how much had been filmed, I'd have made the effort to see it much sooner than I did.

One element I genuinely liked and thought sly was the Think Tank, where Skagra's plan for universal ... "domination" isn't the word, perhaps "becoming" suits? The phrase "think tank" originated in the late '50s/early 60s as a description of a research institute where intellectuals and wonks were gathered, ostensibly to craft forward-thinking policies, but more practically, seem to functioned primarily as ways to produce a higher class of propaganda to justify American hegemony. Think tanks then, as now, were largely about the subjugation of intellect to ideology. Skagra's totalitarian ambitions are very much dependent on the genius of others.

The lynchpin of Skagra's plan is to subsume the mind of a legendary Time Lord, Salyavin, who had the ability to dominate the minds of others. Salyavin was supposed to be imprisoned in the forgotten Time Lord prison planetoid, Shada. And to find Shada, and therein Salyavin,  Skagra (so many S names!) needed a book in the possession of a doddering old friend of the Doctor's, one Professor Chronotis, who had retired to Cambridge to live out his final days among his books.

The absurdity of the plan, the dialogue here and there (but certainly not consistently), and the plot of this story, show glimmers of Adams's brilliance, but never to the degree fans of the Dirk Gently and Hitchhiker's novels would hope. The impression I gather from Roberts's comments in his Afterword to the novel is that Adams basically put his effort in other areas, including the Hitchhiker series, and "Shada," as a result, never got the full attention it needed from its writer.

I will say, that since this one doesn't really exist, there's enough there that another writer could salvage something of it to make a version for Twelve and Clara that would plug the Shada-shaped hole in the television canon. Chronotis's TARDIS is a lovely idea; a forgotten prison planetoid cryogenically storing scads of old-timey Gallifreyan baddies would be an intriguing dilemma for the Doctor; and I wouldn't mind a story that set out to eviscerate the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and their ilk. The DW universe may be better off without a bunch of Gallifreyan intrigue, and a villain with a plan as bonkers as Skagra's, so I'll stop short of actually advocating for yet another take on "Shada," but leave it out there that one that addressed the shortcomings of the original story, and its several shambling zombies.



Additional Resources:

Tardis Wikia Entry

chakoteya.net transcript

Sandifer post
There are things that are difficult to accept as a Doctor Who fan - the fact that we will likely never see Patrick Troughton's first episode, or the first appearance of Nicholas Courtney as Aleister Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. But there is perhaps nothing quite so galling as knowing that we are only fifty-five minutes short of a Douglas Adams story. And that unlike Power of the Daleks or The Web of Fear there's not even audio of it. Shada is not merely lost or missing, it is absent - a gaping, crushing, and mocking wound in Doctor Who.
Shabogan Graffiti
Meanwhile, Tom and Lalla alternate between openly mocking everything around them and pretending that they're in an adaptation of an Anthony Trollope novel (which both charms and repels me simultaneously) and Christopher Neame ... commits skin-crawling dignitycide by walking around in Cambridge dressed as a charity shop Ziggy Stardust ... 
And Claire is just another dim, girly sidekick despite supposedly being a Physics postgrad student. And there's a real snobbish condescension in the way that the College Porter is mocked at the expense of all the posh, cerebral characters. 
Thank goodness it was cancelled and DNA got to cannibalise it for parts when writing his infinitely superior Dirk Gently novels. Really, I'd rather have had 'Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men'.
Wife in Space post
Sue: So Keff has found the oboe setting on his Casio keyboard, has he? It still doesn’t make him Dudley. I bet Dudley is turning in his grave.
Me: Dudley isn’t dead.
Sue: So why not just hire Dudley? This makes no sense at all.
AV Club review

TV Tropes page

Locations guide


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Already staggeringly stupid, on the whole, humanity to get stupider as atmospheric CO2 levels increase.

Exclusive: Elevated CO2 Levels Directly Affect Human Cognition, New Harvard Study Shows | ThinkProgress

Success at Paris ... would buy us 5 to 10 years in the fight to avoid catastrophe. But we would still be on a path to 675 ppm, which is too high for both the climate change impacts and the direct human cognition impacts. Worse, that level of warming will likely trigger many major carbon-cycle amplifying feedbacks that are not included in the climate models, such as permafrost melting. So we must take stronger action.
Not all of you, especially not you, dear reader. That you are even seeing this tells me you are among the brightest minds on the planet. But, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson are the leading GOP candidates for the Republican nomination for President in 2016, and every single individual who thinks either of those two would not be a fucking disaster as POTUS is objectively, measurably suffering from impaired cognition already.

That we need to be smarter, more sane, less ignorant as a species to understand the science of climate change, and come together to approve of public policy to address the crisis, while our current inaction serves only to make us collectively stupider, is terrifying.

There are reports dense population centers may be too hot for human habitation in my children's lifetime. Check the satellite imagery of Arctic ice melt over the few decades. It's grim stuff.

We are running out of time. We can't afford denialism.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Go home, @NYTmag, you're drunk.

Twitter Responds To NYT Mag Inquiry: Would You Kill Baby Hitler?

The linked article includes some hilarious responses to this query:


So, now that we've had a laugh, I'll briefly re-purpose my response to the "Should the Doctor kill young Davros?" false dilemma posed a couple weeks ago for the Hitler question here, because why not? Apparently lots of folks are taking the question somewhat seriously.

No. If I thought I could travel back in time and kill baby Adolph Hitler, I wouldn't.

ButHitlerisresponsibleforkillingmillionsandmillionsofpeopleand... yes, yes, I'm aware of the history; but, that's not the point. We don't kill baby Hitler not because he shouldn't have been stopped, but because it's wrong to murder, for one thing. And, I would need a lot more background on why I exactly I think I'm capable of time travel in the first place. Also, why, having the awesome power of time travel and the tremendous resources it would have taken to develop the ability, I couldn't devise a non-murdery plan to go back and prevent WWI and the Great Depression instead? A course of action which would seem more likely, to me at least, to prevent the Holocaust than simply killing Hitler and hoping no other sadistic tyrant would come along to fill the gap. It's not, after all, like there weren't other dudes running around willing to do the job as well.

Look, I'm willing to concede there are more challenging constructions of the trolley car dilemma that a rational agent in a position to save millions of lives by ending the life of the one person responsible for those millions of deaths, but the question as asked by the New York Times Magazine is not that. It is something far more loosey-goosey and incoherent. It's a glib question that deserves no more than a glib answer, such as:



Break it down. Why can you travel in time, but only to a nursery where young Adolph Hitler lies in a crib? WTF kind of time travel agency are the scientists in your fantasy world running? If you've got scientists able to engineer time travel, you've got more tools in the toolbox than infanticide to address the dilemma.

Or, were you thinking this is a case more like a genie emerged from a lamp and told you he could arrange the trip for you? Because any scenario you develop along those lines is one that has you talking to a magical fairy who's telling you to commit infanticide, which would make you a dangerous lunatic. Assuming you aren't one already, imagining that you're in position to make decisions about what you would in the state of being delusional lunatic, you should be telling yourself something along the lines of: "If I start hearing voices, receiving supernatural visitors, or believing I have magical powers, I should hold as tightly as possible to the resolution to do no harm to anyone, because I can't trust my own mind."

I guess what I'm trying to say is: don't fall for the allure of the easy answer. Even to a jokey question. But especially not to one that's even a little serious. There is no situation in life where "I don't have to think very hard, I can just do this one awful thing and it will make everything better!" is going to serve a person well. If you should ever find yourself thinking along those lines, my advice, FWIW, is inhale deeply, exhale slowly, ask a few questions of yourself, or someone whose judgment you respect, and try to think of a better way accomplish whatever your goal is.

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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Girl Who Died / The Woman Who Lived - "Time will tell. It always does."

The Girl Who Died - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 5 (Overall Series Story #260a) | Previous - Next | Index

And fandom broke out in cheers.
Spoilers]

Watching twitter immediately after the BBC broadcast, I didn't see much positive reaction. If any. "Meh," about summed it up.

That was surprising, because I was also reading that David Tennant is shown as Ten, and we learned something about why the Doctor chose Caecilius's face -- things I expected would be generally fan-pleasing. Also, this is the Maisie Williams one! A big cameo, a big reveal, and a big guest star not leading to positive reactions had me worried that we were being served a clunker this week.

Nope.

Maybe low expectations helped, but that was a perfectly good story well-told. It flew by, never dragged. When there was laughter and celebration I enjoyed it the way I always do such displays: waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then, when it inevitably did, the anguish felt genuine even though we never saw the line from the promos, the "What took you so long, old man," so Ashildr's death never felt like the fridging it seemed to be on the surface.

And what the Doctor did to Ashildr, that's pretty significant. Significant out of proportion to the rest of the episode, even. Single village stakes may have been part of reason folks weren't feeling invested? But those weren't the real stakes. The Doctor intimated he may have made a terrible mistake in his anger, one with scale beyond his Time Lord Victorious mistake? Ripples to tidal waves.

Overall the vibe was very Part One -- perhaps another reason for general lack of positive reaction. This story clearly needs its second part to be complete. But for what it was, I didn't think it a dud at all. And as I'm writing this, a positive review has gone up at Eruditorum Press, and I'm starting to see more positive tweets, so it's not just me enjoying it after all.


Odds-n-ends:
  • How do you know that Odin fella wasn't Odin? He showed up. "And what's the one thing the gods never do?" "What is heaven but the gilded door of the abbatoir?" You knew those lines would be like catnip for me. But more than just being casually dismissive of religiosity, what really stuck out for me was the Doctor tells them to stop fooling themselves first. Because they know it, they know what they're up against isnt' a god because gods are stories. The stories can be beautiful, or they can be rubbish, but the one thing they can't be is documentary, because there are no gods and we all know it.
  • And yet, again the Doctor uses language like, "God knows?" and when he decides to take action to bring Ashildr back to life, he tells anyone who's listening that may have a problem with what he's doing, "To hell with you." I never know what to make of this kind of language, if it's a writer's tic, putting words in the character's mouth that don't really belong there; or, if we're supposed to accept it as background noise, the Doctor saying things so they'd be understood in their import by a 21st century human; or, if it's meant to convey that the Doctor believes in God and hell. If the latter, it'd be the worst sort of nonsense, so I'm hoping the writing's not that awful, just sloppy, or more sly than is generally credited. 
  • The serpent Ashildr projected seems to have lived in legend. Looked an awful lot like the serpent on the mural in the galley of the underwater base from last week.
  • Speaking baby. Thought we'd seen the last of that.
  • It may be time to retire "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow."
  • All it needed was the Benny Hill theme. http://bennyhillthis.com/
  • Ripples and tidal waves were mentioned several times in this story and I can't help but wonder why that thematic focus? For us, the damage done to time by a traveler meddling is, ultimately, never going to be an interesting story on those terms. We travel in time one way, and as interesting as it may be to think about bootstrap paradoxes and what happens if someone crushes a butterfly while hunting dinosaurs, we're never actually going to have to worry about those dilemmas. The dilemmas we need to worry about, when it comes to meddling, and getting involved in saving villages, are the ones that have to do with the whys and hows of our governments deploying drones, and invading (and never leaving) countries like Afghanistan. The consequences of ill-considered actions, even if well-intentioned, is a fundamentally interesting question. (That the actions my government takes don't even seem well-intentioned is another matter.) Whether there's any way to read what the Doctor does, when saving people, when getting involved, as being dangerous in the same way our generally disastrous decisions to throw weapons into conflicts, seems like a stretch. But, if that's not the point of raising these sorts of questions, then what is? Here's an idea:

Additional Resources:
Jack at Eruditorum Press (absolutely, spot on, nailing it)
The Mire try to appropriate the Viking’s culture and turn it against them. Ashildir plays the same trick right back at them. She attacks them with monsters from sagas.  Her silliness, her distraught bravado, turns out to have not been so silly after all. Turns out she had more to back it up with than she thought. 
So, in other words: the big manly testosterone-fuelled bullies, who reckon they're the only ones allowed to play war games, are resoundingly beaten and humiliated by a society in solidarity, fronted by a nerdy (even faintly genderqueer) girl who is a better, more imaginative, more powerful gamer than they are.
Jane at Eruditorum press
AV Club review
Locations guide
TV Tropes page
chakoteya.net transcript



The Woman Who Lived - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 6 (Overall Series Story #260b) | Previous - NextIndex


[Spoilers]

When we first found out Maisie Williams was going to be in Doctor Who, we all wondered if she'd be a new character, or a return of an old one -- Susan and Romana being the most hoped for if the latter were going to be the case. Once I had two images in mind -- Maisie delivering the line "What took you so long, old man?" and a leonine alien -- the Romana angle took root. Ashildr though was fantastic, and I wasn't at all disappointed with her being a new character. Was, and am, delighted.

This week though, Romana was conspicuous by her absence, a ghost that haunted the story as the Doctor mentioned traveling with Capt. Jack, but not Lady Me's more obvious parallel, the Time Lady, and Leandro stubbornly seemed to come from E-Space and felt like he had to be a Tharil. There I was, howling melodramatically like Tom Baker for Shada, "Romaaaaaaana!"

The Doctor makes the case against Ashildr as companion, refusing multiple times to let her travel with him, but for all the touching bits about mayflies, I am unconvinced. The Doctor and Romana, both Romanas, worked. The Doctor's older now, sure -- Ashildr roughly the same age in "The Woman Who Lived" as the Doctor was back then -- but aren't we already getting an awful lot the Doctor turning Clara into another character like himself? Couldn't we imagine a series where he traveled with a companion who's ability to recover from injury and longevity made her well-suited to becoming a time-traveling adventurer? The Doctor as mentor to a younger apprentice seems like the sort of role he'd do fine with ... since he'd be forced to take on the younger character's perspective, the perspective he fears he lacks, and doing so with the likes of Lady Me would mean he wasn't risking the the apprentice's life the way he is Clara's. (In fact, we're dangerously close to suggesting the Doctor is a sort of vampire if he needs to keep traveling with young human woman and using them like batteries, aren't we?)

Back to this week though, if some folks are left cold by Rufus Hound as Sam Swift and/or Leandro being hokey and his villainy underwhelming -- frankly, he doesn't even qualify as a villain, he was just a henchman stuck in this story's villain role, a role made arbitrary by the fact Lady Me's fading humanity was the real villain of the piece -- then not being especially bothered either of those, the fact that the show seemed to be poking a finger in my eye specifically to say, "Forget Romana, she's not coming back," is where I'm with folks who love Ashildr and these episodes, but find flaws in the gems. Well, that and there are a few genuine flaws in this one that make it slightly less successful than part one.

As a character study, this story is aces when it comes to giving Maisie Williams a chance to shine as Ashildr/Lady Me. The way she mirrors the Doctor as someone living beyond her years, keeping a journal bolster her memory (the Doctor doesn't recall the Mire until he consults his), needing the perspective of the mayflies to maintain an appreciation for the value of lives other than their own ... she's got to pull off the Doctor's ancient and aggrieved air, but Maisie's got to sell it to the viewer with her 18-year-old's fresh face. And she does it. Where she struggles is only where the story let's her down, as Phil points out in his review, when she really can't do much with the fact Lady Me attempts to kill Sam Swift, then has to turn on a dime and convince us she's sorry. The scene with Lady Me and the Doctor at the end banks on us being sold on her having convinced the Doctor, and us, that she's got her humanity back and learned from what she did to Sam, but that never really happened, so the lack of a dramatic turn is merely papered over. We just have to push past it and move on to the good stuff.

The other niggling doubt I have with this episode is how when we step back and look at Lady Me's arc in this story, she basically submits to the Doctor's naming of her (first rejecting the name Ashildr then accepting it) and agrees to a life of cleaning up his messes forever. On the one hand, Lady Me was flawed. She was getting played by a lowly henchman after all, and it's as Ashildr that she lives up to her potential. But the tone of it could be seen as the Doctor mansplaining her to herself. Had this been a Moffat-penned episode, I'd expect we'd be reading a ton of that criticism.

Speaking of which, was reminded in reading one of the reviews of this episode that it's the first written by a woman since Series 4. That seems ... inexcusable. Moffat can't be holding women accountable for the fact "The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky" was rubbish, can he?

(And now I sort of wish I hadn't been reminded of that one, because next week is another UNIT story where contemporary Earth is being invaded by a classic series big-headed species that can make copies of people.)

Clara was mostly absent this week, popping in only at the end to show the Doctor a selfie one of her students took as thanks for the Doctor helping her with her homework and to gaze with wonder at the central console as another adventure begins ... so the Doctor can look at her as if she were a mayfly. He's going to miss her when she's gone, he's already started, and it feels very much like the looks Matt Smith's Eleven was giving Amy on the long march to the departure of the Pond-Williams. He's got to be better at this than he was before. Don't want to see another sulking Doctor thinking he needs to be alone and live in the clouds, etc.

Odds-n-Ends

Forgot to include in last week's notes that Vikings didn't know about corn. Before 1492, no European did. So Ashildr should not have said the line about the townspeople being cut down like so much corn. This week, they make up for that by having Lady Me not recognize terms like alarm system and headline.

"Can't we share it? Isn't that what robbery is all about?"

"I don't needed to be indestructible, I'm superb." It's another great line an episode chock full of them, but this one came in the scene were Lady Me seemed to arriving at Malcom Gladwell-type conclusions (10,000 hours to master a skill) independently, when it seems likely we shouldn't be leaning too hard on his scholarship at the risk of looking foolish in a couple years.

"How many have you lost? How many Claras?"

The sonic shades are just back, no explanation. Why? Oh, why?!

The guitar echoing around the TARDIS is great stuff. Of course a white guy my age is going to be susceptible to it though. It's certainly possible the guitar is justly loathed by other fans to the same degree the sonic shades are. It's just, Two played a recorder, and the Doctor should have the ability to play something, shouldn't he? Hope if I lived that long I'd finally get around to learning to play piano or guitar or something ...  

Is this Maisie Williams doing her best work? Or have I missed too much Game of Thrones? She's rightly praised for her work as Arya Stark, but (bearing in mind I'm season behind) I don't know that I saw a performance as nuanced from her in that other series. Every week I find myself almost uncontrollably blurting, "Isn't Capaldi fucking amazing, you guys?!" This week, I didn't; not because he wasn't, but because Maisie honestly is that good. Jenna Coleman holds her own and then some each week, there's no slighting her either. Maisie just knocks it out of the park in these. And, holy shit, I'm just seeing for the first time now that she's back this season in "Face the Raven" on her IMDB page. That's great news right there.

Together and apart, these stories worked. This a two-parter that very easily could've been split and the two would've stood alone just fine.

Asked my son for his opinions of this week's episode, am toying with including a note each week where I capture his 9-year-old's perspective. When asked which character, apart from the Doctor, Clara, and Ashildr, he liked the most, he liked Sam Swift and would like him to come back. I asked him what he thought the most important part of the story was, he went with Ashildr in the background of the selfie. Before I could get into any more of this one with him, he really wanted to talk about Osgood coming back next time, and did that mean it was Zygon Osgood that Missy killed? Or will all Osgoods we see going forward be Zygons and it was the real Osgood who died?

Friday, October 16, 2015

الوطن عنصري

Artists got ‘Homeland is racist’ Arabic graffiti into the latest episode of ‘Homeland’ - The Washington Post

hebaamin.com [post]

Three artists say they were hired by a production company in June to paint graffiti as a way to bolster the aesthetic authenticity of the set on the outskirts of Berlin. But rather than scrawl the fake refugee camp with pro-President Bashar al-Assad graffiti, they hatched another plan, Cairo-based artist Heba Amin told The Washington Post: "What if we could use this as an opportunity to be subversive, to make a point with it?"
I've never seen an episode of Homeland, because it looked like it would be. Heard on the radio today though that they producers weren't that upset about it and credited artists who #HomelandHack-ed them for their brass.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Logopolis - "I sometimes think I should be running a tighter ship."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Logopolis - Details

Season 18, Story 7 (Overall Series Story #116) | Previous - Next | Index



What force or power in this mad universe allows for there to be a space where we can live? Why is there still something instead of nothing? What allows the will to live to triumph over chaos and the cold, cold dark? Is it the power of love? An omniscient being, the God of Creation? No, silly, it's a bunch of white guys with no girlfriends writing code. Of course.

And that, that is the universal order the Doctor dies fighting to preserve. Logopolis is destroyed, and a significant swath of the universe is gobbled up by entropy when it does. But the Doctor's heroic, dying act, is to ensure the work of those sainted, wizardly Logopolitans goes on.

Fucking "Logopolis," I want to like it, I really do. Not that I haven't been indulging in Tom Baker hagiography here and there all along, but it's the man's last story as the fourth Doctor and it's ... it's ... just this. Fuck.

I mean, I actually do like Tegan, and I don't mind Who getting all sci-fi soap-y as she comes aboard, it's just another genre's clothes to put on and walk around in for a while until you're horror sci-fi, or space epic sci-fi, or pseudo-historical sci-fi, or while you're also those things. It's fine. Sure, Tegan complains a lot and gets on our nerves, but we've all got that one friend.

She's Five's companion though, Nyssa, too. Five's cast is here, but he's not in yet, so Four's trying to deal with the Master without Romana, Leela, or Sarah Jane. He's got maths boy in his pajamas, doe-eyed Nyssa, and the one who couldn't make it to the airport to start as a stewardess. (Not to slag them off. They'll come along, at least Nyssa and Tegan will, but Adric just gets dopier and more annoying as we go along.) Nothing about this feels right. Four shouldn't be the odd-man out in his own swan song.

It's not a total wash out though. Tom kept threatening to storm off, but this is the year they didn't fight him on it. (Instead of kowtowing, they politely suggested he might not want the door to hit him on the way out.) An egomaniac whose bluff has been called makes a particular face. He's brought down-to-earth and you can see the humanity that was always there in all those manic alien grins, non-sequiturs, and (Groucho) Marxisms. Tom's ending -- and it's his, the Doctor, of course regenerates -- may not be much to watch in terms of being a story, but we can watch him deal with even this, as disappointing as it must have been for him.

Baker's first sighting of the Watcher is truly poignant. We love Tom's Doctor. We love the Doctor. We love Tom. Tom is the Doctor and the Doctor is Tom. Sure, we've been through some rough patches, but we're family, and this is farewell. You can see it in the Doctor/Tom's eyes, in the set of his shoulders. It's time. As I write this in October 2015, it's still heartbreaking to watch him then, seeing the future coming.

But it's hard watching now, too, because it's a reminder Tom is that much older now. He's a couple years older, 81 as I write, than when we saw him as the Curator in the "Day of the Doctor;" we are reminded that he walks with a cane; and how his voice has changed with age, that it's got a bit of unmodulated boom in it now, and it croaks around the edges. Age builds us up and tears us down, all of us. Even our heroes. Even Time Lords. The Cloister Bell rings. Entropy wins.

Sluicing out the TARDIS?! The idea is they'll open the doors while at the bottom of the Thames and let the water rush through and flush the Master out. Dumb on so many levels, not the least of which is that the Doctor and Adric prepare not by donning scuba gear and running around a corner where they might not immediately be dashed against a bulkhead or something, no, they prepare by standing at the doors and bracing themselves. I mention this bit of stupidity out of all the possible bits because it's the one that most easily lends itself to a analogy about how JN-T & Co. are flushing the bits they don't like out of the series so they can make a fresh start with one washed clean. They've parked the series at the base of a mighty dam, set the charges, unspooled the wire for ten paces and are looking up and ahead to their future without that pain-in-the-arse drunk barking at the blokes trying to do their jobs as per the script ... they're looking up and ahead and leaning on the plunger ...


Odds-n-ends
  • Lots of lines here, to the point of being heavy-handed, to tell us change is gonna come. "The future lies this way." "The moment has been prepared for."
  • Everything new is old again. That shrinking TARDIS we'll see again in "Flatline,"
  • Lots of TARDIS-y TARDIS-ing.Actual police box surrounded by the Master's TARDIS. Surrounded by the Doctor's TARDIS. A regression of TARDISes. No complaints from me if we spend some focusing on how amazing the blue box is.
  • I got a little misty-eyed thinking about Tom Baker being 81, but I fully hope and expect he's got several years of hale health and sharp-mindedness ahead of him. Last I heard he was getting ready to do some voice work for Disney's Star Wars: Rebels, but there's a part of me hoping against hope that the Star Wars work he's doing is actually for one of the new movies ...
  • It's not something I've looked hard for, but I've heard from those who have, and there are snippets of Tom's temper peppered in the extras on the DVD to give an inclination of how difficult he must have been to work with. As a working man, I appreciate genius, but I'm also sympathetic to, and allied with, anyone who punches a clock and works for a living. There's a craft and an art to making stories for television. It's easy to go on about what jerks the unions are for insisting the lights go out at 10pm, or to hold them accountable for being bureaucratic, petty dictators and costing us the chance to a proper "Shada," but those petty dictators are folks with families to feed and kids who might want to see their mums or their dads before the fall asleep. Script writers and directors are laborers, too, and even when they struggle they deserve some respect. Tom, famously, was working construction, hauling bricks or something, when he got the call to play the role, and I don't mean to say I've heard he was utterly disrespectful all or even much of the time, but some of his antics sound more like the entitled posturing of someone who didn't understand what it meant to work as part of a crew. 
via Circular Time


Additional Resources

TARDIS Wikia entry

Wikipedia entry

chakoteya.net transcript

Sandifer post: "Recursive Occlusion (Logopolis)" (This is one of the more heavily stylized ones.) [see also]

Shabogan Graffiti
Back with 'Logopolis', we also have Tom's final turn as a man who has lost his old friends but must soon change to fit his new ones, a man warned by his own future (by his own immortal soul?) that he will soon have to watch the universe shudder and totter, and then that he himself will die. He's quiet, heavy, sad... and wonderful.
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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Keeper of Traken - "I thought you might appreciate it if I gave you the impression I knew what was happening."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - The Keeper of Traken - Details

Season 18, Story 6 (Overall Series Story #118) | Previous - Next | Index


This may be the story I've watched the most times in the last couple years without writing about it yet for this blog, but I still don't have a heck of a lot to say about it. Which, I suppose, is why I've cycled through watching it, taking a few disinterested notes ("dull stretch, this," "Adric not the worst he's ever been here," "The Master's TARDIS is miles ahead of the Doctor's, what type is it?"), let the weeks drift into months, decide I can't write about it in good conscience without watching it again ...

The very last impression I took away from the most recent re-watch was just how uncomfortable it was to watch Nyssa's stepmom-to-be, Consul Kassia, allow herself to be manipulated by the Melkur. Yeah, the Anthony Ainley Master debuts here, Nyssa debuts, it's the beginning of Four's final (loosely organized, if at all an) arc leading up to the regeneration that brings Peter Davison aboard ... but all these things that should be interesting are just part of this story's drone. Kassia's willing subservience to a bad boy (though a statue) is an implied weakness in her character that derives from an willingness to accept her proper place in the social order. Her compliance when given a collar to wear by the Melkur seems to be a out of a thwarted desire to control her soon-to-be-husband's career choices, like a reverse Lady Macbeth. It left me with the feeling the story was being disrespectful to the character, trying to make a point about the hidden evil in the heart of women, emotional vampires adored by their husbands who just can't help themselves.

Still, I've watched this one enough times that I've kind of settled into a groove with it. There's just enough of what this could have been making its way to the screen that its flaws don't hide its potentiality. At this stage, Doctor Who is still capable of looking like show that isn't necessarily forever past its peak.

Odds-n-ends:
  • So, if I'm following, the Master had two TARDISes, the Melkur-shaped one, and the grandfather clock one that was inside the Melkur one. He's the Jay Leno of dastardly Time Lords, this one.
  • Nyssa debuts here, but I suppose it's too early to call her a companion, as she doesn't actually leave with the Doctor and Adric. It's not until the next story that the Watcher collects her and brings her to Logopolis where they all meet again.
  • Trivia bit: one of the Trakens, Katura, is played by Margo Van der Burgh, who also played Cameca in "The Aztecs." 





Additional Resources:

Tardis Wikia Entry

chakoteya.net transcript

Shabogan Graffiti
Fourth masterpiece in a row. 
The ancient man in the throne. The statue in the decaying grove. These are images that are hardwired into my brain. I saw them as a small child and they have stuck with me, the way that ideas from myths and fairytales do. The rest of the story may not always live up to the amazing aesthetic impact of these two elements (it all gets a tad twee and art nouveau for my taste...) but still, there's no denying that this is a richly drawn world... richly drawn in story too... because this is a "real" world... with living rooms and safes, cloisters and private offices, groves and public streets, bribeable petty officials and weddings and step-mothers and kings and... ahh, we're back to fairytales now, aren't we? But that's okay... fairytales have their origins in real times and places, in real fears and social conditions.

Sandifer post
[T]here’s some distant interesting aspect here - the way in which Bidmead and Nathan-Turner navigate the nearly impossible task of writing Tom Baker out of Doctor Who is an impressive piece of television show-running. They take the counter-intuitive but likely necessary approach of declining to make Baker’s departure the climactic event or allowing him to be the star of it, instead opting to build the Davison era’s trappings up around Baker and then finally delete him from a show that’s no longer his own. Certainly several major steps in that direction happen here.

Wife in Space post
Sue: Oh great, another ****ing meeting. That’s just what this story needs.

TV Tropes page



Friday, October 9, 2015

Nazi Pop

How A Pop Band Tricked 9 Million Americans Into Being Nazis | Cracked.com:

Ulf Ekburg, Nazi

Vice covers way more ground in their write-up about Ekberg's past, and I definitely encourage you to give it a read at some point. However, the piece ends with an interesting question: "Did Ekberg use Ace of Base's success as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and erase his neo-Nazi past?"

I think I can answer that. Ekberg did not use Ace of Base to hide his Nazi past. Quite the contrary. Ace of Base was a Nazi band, too.
via:
We should have seen the signs ...

Take a moment to get pedantic about #DoctorWho

Lawrence Miles' Doctor Who Thing: PEDANTFIGHT!!!


Examples:

"The Tenth, Fifth, and Second are the best of the Doctors."
 
"Christopher Eccleston, Peter Davison, and Patrick Troughton were the best Doctor Whos."  
Listen, kid, I was writing Doctor Who literature before you were at the Guardian Style Guide. 
(Oh, obviously italics for the title of the programme. "Christopher Eccleston, Peter Davison, and Patrick Troughton were the best actors to play the lead in Doctor Who.")
The convention I used for blockquoting, where I reverse italicize, obviously impacts the readability of that last bit, but the point is only that it's great fun to see Lawrence Miles step in, even when I think there's room to disagree. We should not be encouraging the public perception that it's ever appropriate to refer to the character the actors are portraying as "Doctor Who."

Groaning because I'm sure I've done the capital 'T' thing, as in, "The Doctor(s)," mid-sentence in some post ...


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Under the Lake / Before the Flood - "I'm very sorry for your loss. I'll do all I can to solve the death of your friend slash family member slash pet."

Under the Lake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 3 (Overall Series Story #259a) | Previous - Next | Index



The thing about ghosts, if you're going to have proper ghosts in your ghost story, is they're going to gnaw at me because I don't have a much patience for the eternal soul malarkey ghosts are typically predicated on outside the context of supernatural fiction. But, this isn't a proper ghost story, it's Doctor Who borrowing some ghost story business, and there's ways to let "souls" stand in as shorthand for some process which separates consciousness from the body based on alien tech jiggery-pokery that doesn't necessarily imply humans have ghostly souls. It's October, Halloween month, if you can't chill and enjoy a spooky ghost story, what kind of fun are you going to have anyways?

And enjoy it I did. Sure, it's got all the trappings of routine corridor run-around, but for well-trodden ground, it's a got distinctive touches. It's not clear if we should be reading anything into the Doctor telling Clara there's only room for one him in the TARDIS as he reacts tetchily to her thirst for adventure, if that's going to be a wedge that drives them apart and takes on significance when Clara eventually leaves; but, putting aside what, if any, longer game is being played, all on its own this one's got hooks.

Reflections of the text on the eye, reflections of ghosts on glass, and attempts to understand an unheard speaker through glass (shades) and more glass (the thick glass of the Faraday cage door) -- this has Jane written all over it. Anticipating that'll all be well covered without me bumbling around analyzing it, I'll just let the picture tell the story on that front.


Another touch that leapt out at me was the elaborate dragon mural in the galley. I mean, it's possible the set designers were just feeling their oats or they just had a mural lying around used what was handy, but that certainly looked like something that was supposed to catch our eye and leave an image in mind.

The ability of text to change our minds, both the objects of our consciousness and on a material level, the connections of our synapses, is a powerful theme to invoke. There's body horror, and then there's mind horror; while this isn't going to make anyone feel they've just been mindfucked like they just watched Wheatley's Kill List or anything, we're talking about that kind of horror. I, for one, appreciate the distance.

How great is it, by the way, to have a deaf character played by talented deaf actress where her deafness doesn't make her a target or an object of pity. She's the leader of the crew (with Moran dying first), and she's bright and competent enough that the Doctor gets over his stated intent to ignore the person in charge.

Fans and critics are comparing this one to "The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit" for its atmosphere and set-up, as well as "42," and we might as well include "The Silence in the Library / The Forest of the Dead," "The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People," and pull from the grab bag of atmospheric bases-under-siege. Well-trodden ground, for sure. "Under the Lake" works as well as any of them. It calls back to other kinds of stories as well ... we've seen the Doctor lose patience with folks concerned about Scotland's oil industry before as well, more than a tip of the Balmoral to "Terror of the Zygons" here, if you ask me.

Where stories like this tend to stumble is in giving the crew of the base enough personality to make them distinguishable. Bennett and Lunn here are problematic, or at least Bennett is, because Lunn's clearly important as Cass's interpreter and the one she's protecting from the writing on the wall -- which has already been shown to be signficant, and figures to be again in part two -- but it's hard to see Bennett as having any utility as a character except to be the next one to die.

Speaking of characters destined to get the shaft, it's always painful when the one black guy in the cast is the first to get killed off. Seriously, writers and casting directors, of all the ground to trod to mud, this dogged determination to always kill the black guy first has gone beyond being cliche to something like a pathology.

Watched it twice now and it's holding up. Taut and well-paced, which is really saying something for one that's got so much corridor running and screen-watching in it.

Oh, and that cliffhanger, it's quite a good one. Comes at a time that feels natural in the story, and gives us a proper jolt.


Stray Thoughts:

O'Donnell pronounces herself a huge fan of the Doctor. A wink to fandom by Whithouse? But does it mean she's going to die like Osgood?

The cards:


Sandifer points out in his post that it must be the Doctor in the suspended animation pod. That ought to tie up the loose ends nicely.

The Doctor's fascination at running into ghosts is fun to watch. "A bit murdery, but even so!" Again, every scene, no matter how many times we've seen it in Who before, he brings something to it. I keep droning on and on about it, but he's made for this part.

Why, as many have noted, didn't the crew set the base to permanent day-mode the instant they realized the ghosts only come out at simulated night?

And do the sonic shades not have zoom?

As far as coordinates go, again I'm not the first to point this out, but really, there are towns submerged by dams all over the place. Even if somebody could figure out navigation by constellation references (which, they could?!), how the heck is "forsaken" enough of a direction to orient aliens to a submerged town in Scotland?

The earworm the Doctor mentions, "Mysterious Girl" by Peter Andre, I had to look it up. May yet wish I hadn't.

Update regarding the mural:


Before the Flood - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 9, Episode 4 (Overall Series Story #259b) | Previous - NextIndex


*SPOILERS*

Well, well, well ... that sure took a left turn, didn't it?

For all the belly-aching about the fourth wall breaking -- which is exactly as nuts as everyone says it is, to be fair -- it's distressing nobody's remarking how this picks up the thread that "Robot of Sherwood" picked up from "The Mind Robber," that the series has a long history of the author patting his own back, and with just cause. Moffatian excess? Perhaps. It's certainly more than a casual dalliance with hubris. But, if you're blaming someone for the fact you didn't like it, not sure what the calculus of blame assignment here is that lets Toby Whithouse use Moffat as a human shield.

This, like Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps," is pure Author worship. "Where does the idea come from? Who wrote Beethoven's 5th?" "The author did, that's who," writes the author. And the bootstrap paradox, for all its fancy window dressing and timey-wimey philosophizing, is all about the author showing us how clever the author is. (Oh, so that's why everyone ascribes the excess to Moffat, the track record would indicate he's the guiding hand behind Whithouse even getting to write this story this way.) But more than that -- it'd have to be, otherwise it's just wanking -- it's saying that it's a virtue to tell a clever story about storytelling well. And, that's true. It is.

Still, whether it's Moffat or Whithouse, the author here is delighting in Heinleinian excess -- absolutely, undeniably daring us confront the fact we are reading/watching a piece of fiction, characters in a narrative written by an author, for our ... enjoyment? edification? And that's why this story will always be despised by some, loved by others, and danced around by those unwilling to grapple with that aspect of it. You can see it and play along, see it and reject it as manipulation, or see it as out-of-bounds, an unfair tactic on the author's part that has to be skirted around to get back to focusing on the story itself. Authors celebrating their art in their art, and kind of rubbing our noses in it, is not exactly a reassuring act of humility.

My suspicion though is that many of us will be in the "see it and play along" camp, and we'll love it to the degree we think it measures up to the "The Mind Robber," as a daring way to tell a television story. Which leaves room for folks in the same camp, allowing it's in a mode of storytelling we can accept, to disagree about how well the author executed. I credit Heinlein for "By His Bootstraps" being clever, and "All You Zombies" as well, but I'd rather watch this story again than re-read "By His Bootstraps," which being a Heinlein, has no idea what to do with women.

The "forsaken" part of the coordinate code irked me last week. Now I think I know where it came from.
This episode completely alters my perception of last week's episode, because straight out of the gate, we're told this was never a Base Under Siege story at all. Pushing past Heinlein's solipsism and playing with paradox, not having one of the two women in the story be a willing slave to a male character, this is planting a stake in the ground that says we can take that idea, and tell the story better, while acknowledging where the story came from, despite its flaws. We've got to recognize this is Doctor Who trying to salvage what was salvageable from Heinlein, or we're not getting it. What Heinlein did to his reader was brazen, but it kept the question in the character's mouths, even though it's plainly Heinlein saying the words. Here, Whithouse and Moffat are telling us to google "bootstrap paradox," through the Doctor, but in the context of a scene that doesn't fit in the narrative. It's forcing to step outside the narrative, refer elsewhere, then -- and this the sort of revolutionary part -- come back, rejoin the narrative as if we never left (even if the googling gets done after, so yeah, a little timey-wimey), and resume the act of being the audience to a story. I'm not sure it did it well, but I acknowledge the effort.

"Robot of Sherwood," I argued when I wrote about it last year, flirted with this elevation of the author, too. But this is clearly an escalation. Perhaps a dangerous one, because whatever fans you didn't piss off then, or now, you almost certainly will lose when you try to put this particular envelope any further and have Capaldi standing on a soundstage holding a script, Moffat wearing a mask and a robe like a Greek chorus holding up QR codes you can scan with your phone to get bonus content for the episode your're watching.

But I won't call for Moffat's, nor Whithouse's, head for this. Doctor Who can do what it did this week. Just like it can take its fictional characters to the Land of Fiction and bring them back to "reality." It can break the fourth wall every so often to wish us Merry Christmas, or tell us even the sonic screwdriver can't get the Doctor out that particular jam, or remind us that we've had authors tell us the act of telling stories is more complex, and powerful, than we generally acknowledge. In fact, it's when it does the last of those that it makes the best case for the practice being allowable.

We've endured as audacious for lesser cause. We can certainly endure, even enjoy, this for what it is.

Stray Thoughts:

Check out the framing of this shot:


That mural again ... Lunn is walking toward Clara as the camera moves off Cass and she goes out of focus, but he stops before blocking our view of the sea serpent and the statue thing in front of it, which also looks like a sea serpent. The mural is front and center, the characters pushed to the margins of the frame. That serpent looks more than a little like the Fisher King, around the mandibles at least, and suggests either he, or what he stands for, is more central to what's going on than anything I've discussed thusfar. Those viking the sea serpent is menacing in the mural, can't help but wonder if we're going to learn more about them next week ...

Cass getting a Daredevil moment wasn't as well executed as how the Netflix series showed Matt Murdock's similar ability (obviously Cass's deafness is a different case than Murdock's blindness), but I actually liked Cass and the actress who played her, where (for all I did manage to like about Daredevil) Matt Murdock and the actor who played him didn't impress much.

Two pieces of music are referenced in this story, Beethoven's 5th and Andre's "Mysterious Girl." Not much in common except they both get in your head and stay there. Miles apart qualitatively, but united by the idea of the hook. Whithouse maybe be getting after something like the bootstrap paradox being a hook, something you read in a story, even a story as flawed as Heinlein's, but once you read it (like the text on the wall of the spaceship) you don't forget it. It stays with you.

My knowledge of the Fisher King mythology is so slight, it's barely worth mentioning. I mean, I recognize the name chiefly as the title of the Gilliam movie. If you'd asked me before I googled it this week, I wouldn't even have been able to remember it had to do with the Grail stories. So I'm flummoxed as to why the name was chosen for the baddie in this story. He's injured, but not dead, though being transported in a space hearse. So maybe he's got some kind of life-extending tech or something Grail-ish he draws power from? Looking forward to reading folks who actually know the roots of the Fisher King story possibly finding meaningful allusions.

Whithouse also wrote "The God Complex," where we met our first Tivolian, Gibbis. Prentis is every bit as grating. I remarked above how "By His Bootstraps" was marred by a girl who wanted to be enslaved, Whithouse may have lifted more than the desire to play with paradox and the word "forsaken," from Heinlein after all.

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New Who spinoff 'Class' looks more SJA than Torchwood

BBC Three Announces 'Doctor Who' Spinoff 'Class' - Hollywood Reporter


Set in contemporary London, Class centers on incredible dangers that breaking through the walls of time and space. With darkness coming, the city is left unprotected. The announcement promises to reveal a side of Doctor Who and Coal Hill School that fans have never seen before.
The picture is just speculation, no casting news yet, but it'd be strange to set a spin off at Coal Hill School and not have Courtney and Maebh in it.

Also, William Russell is 90, so if we're going to see Ian Chesterton in the DW universe again, lets not dawdle.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Silver Nemesis - "This is my favourite kind of jazz, straight blowing."

BBC - Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide - Silver Nemesis - Details

Season 25, Story 3 (Overall Series Story #154) | Previous - Next | Index



It's the 25th anniversary story. At 10 we got "The Three Doctors;" at 20 we got "The Five Doctors;" at 25, we got this. We're not underwhelmed because it's a not a multi-Doctor story, only because the Silver Anniversary was celebrated, mainly, by adding some chrome to the Cybermen.

But, fine, you can't blame the story for not being a blowout. Just like I'm not going to hold any episode of this, the tenth year of New Who, accountable for not being "The Three Doctors," either. Actually, for as much grief as this story takes, it wasn't horrible. It wasn't what you'd call "good," certainly, but it does some interesting things, has plenty of action, and has certain amount of ambition. That goes some way to covering up the usual problem we have with this era of Doctor Who -- that it makes precious little sense. The first episode is fast-paced and hinting it's going to fly apart at the seams, but gets the story off to a fast start.

Frankly, we're lucky it's only as bad as it is, because when you hear the author explain what he was doing here, how he pitched the story, it's fucking awful. In fact, if challenged to come up with the worst possible idea for a story, for the series as a whole, the idea he pitched is exactly the one I'd have given as the answer to the question. His idea is: the Doctor's big secret, the secret of who he is, is that he is God.

As underwhelming, as bad, you might argue, as this one is -- at least John Nathan-Turner had the sense to tell him he could write it that way as sub-text, but he couldn't come out and make it explicit diegetically, nor could he say anything along those lines in interviews, or in talking about the story. (Apparently, since JN-T has passed, he's not shy about saying so now.)

So, as much as we all castigate Nathan-Turner for ruining the series, we can at least point to that one instance of him recognizing that could not happen. Had that happened, I don't imagine the series would have ever come back. It would have alienated the bulk of its fandom and we wouldn't be talking about it any longer, except to remark that it really went to shit at the end.

Stray Thoughts:

The Fourth Reich rising South America has a Boys From Brazil vibe that is as hilarious as it possible for Nazis to be.

One of the things this one does that I like is it hard cuts from one place and time to another, expecting the viewer to keep up. One instant we're with the aforementioned Nazis, next it's 1638 and we're pivoting on the artifacts that combine to form the macguffin of this story.

That's Courtney Pine "straight blowing," as Seven puts it.

Seven dons a fez there briefly at Windsor looking for the silver bow. Then Ace. Even then, he couldn't just walk by a fez.

"Don't be afraid, we won't hurt you!"

The 25 year cycle of disasters ostensibly brought on by the orbit of the Silver Nemesis is thin and diminishes the story.

Lady Peinforte is almost an interesting villain, but her motivation is a lazily written 'I am evil' stance. Had the character been a man, he would have twirled his moustache. That she had some past interaction with the Doctor and the ability to do black magic up some quick and dirty time travel should have made her intriguing, instead it came across as merely muddled.

There's a moment where Seven does a bit of a chess dance through the cybermen that was a good example of his disarming charm and quick wittedness. (Read after, I think in About Time, that scene was McCoy basically directing himself. If true, that the one scene in the story that felt well-executed wasn't even a credit to its proper director, it goes to show how dire the production is.

The scene where the Doctor and Ace get a lift from an American Southern lady feels like a celebrity cameo, but the kind where you don't recognize the celebrity. Well, I say it feels that way, but I mean, it's exactly that.

The moment where the Doctor tells the Nemesis he's not done manipulating her,"Things are still imperfect," is an unsettling bit of dialogue even when we don't have the author's admission of what he really intended for the Doctor in mind. This Cartmel Master Plan business, which Tat Wood pretty effectively analyzes as more of a fan phenomenon than an actual master plan, per se, wasn't headed in an interesting direction if the Doctor was going to turn out to be only a sort of god either.

Lady Peinforte's mathematician was played by Leslie French, who was up for the first Doctor role that, of course, eventually went to William Hartnell.




Additional Resources:

chakoteya.net transcript

Sandifer post
The ideas are all there, but the script doesn't actually execute them, wandering off for comedy subplots instead. Peinforte's threat to reveal the Doctor's true nature is a hollow letdown as it turns out nobody cares. The neo-Nazis are mere canon fodder. The Cybermen are predictably stupid. Peinforte commits suicide by jumping into a statue. The Doctor's manipulations are hollow. The statue gestures at ancient Gallifreyan secrets, but in the most insubstantial way possible, mostly constituting creating yet another Most Valuable Mineral in the Universe and this time giving it to the Time Lords.
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