This week, we decided to double-team the review of Doctor Who. We put our best (read…craziest) people on the project.
Jen: Okay, so let’s write this thing.
Max: OKAY SO OVERALL SUMMATION: CLARA SAVES THE DAY, THIS THING WAS AN HOMAGE TO LUCAS AND RTD, THE END.
Jen: Truth. Even when Caitlin (my 17 year old sister who refuses to watch non-Tennant episodes) walked in the room she was like “why is Doctor Who acting like Star Wars?”
Max: You were the same. (:D)
Jen: Yeah but my brain is trained to think that way. Caitlin is so disconnected from Doctor Who and from Star Wars…it was crazy how fast she made the connection. But overall, I thought this episode was a definite throwback to science fiction of old–specifically I think it signaled a turning point like the show is returning more and more to classic Who tropes and styles. It felt very epic.
Max: I can see that. It definitely reminded me of the Davies era, and though it was a decent episode, I wouldn’t call it a favorite. I thought it felt rather short, and perhaps it was the time used up via flashbacks establishing this Clara’s life.
Jen: MAYBE IT’S BECAUSE YOU WATCHED IT WITH ME AND TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN
Max: Lol first time I watched it without you.
Jen: You are a bad friend.
Max: I try.
Max: Is that your face right now.
Jen: no. my face is more like….
Jen: But for real. I thought the flashbacks were handled really well–gives Clara some background and places her in the real world. I thought it was very sweet. OH AND SPEAKING OF BACKGROUND…SUSAN.
Max: Yeah him mentioning Susan so casually was a bit of a shock. He has mentioned he has had family before but it’s always at least in the new series with a note of sadness, this time it was pretty nostalgic.
Jen: And so specific. It was like a big fat neon light pointing to Original!Who.
Max: Clara’s 16 year old self’s bangs were a big neon light. That was some pretty good trickery. Not to derail Susan, it just has to be said.
I do like that Clara is different than Amy. Moffat and his writers are often sort of demonized because all their female characters are the same and while there are problems like Moffat failing the Bechdel Test A LOT, it’s still nice to see that Clara has a different presence. She’s very sweet. More sweet than Amy was, even as a kid.
Jen: I don’t know that Amy could ever be described as SWEET. Like she has sweet moments but sweetness is not inherent within her. Also I figured out how they did Clara’s bangs.
Max: chunk of Chewbacca hair after they looted Lucas’s storage trunks for all those aliens.
Max: No really what did they do.
Jen: You just take hair from somewhere else on your head and clip it to the top so that it’s showing over your forehead. I realized while watching it again today that her head is always cropped out of the shots where she has fringe…they probably just pulled the hair up from the back of her head and bobby pinned it to the top or something. (edit–they show the top of her head. But still…)
Max: So folks, NOW YOU KNOW CLARA’S SECRET.
Jen: yep. Season done, mystery solved.
Max: bobby pins. The Doctor’s name is Bobby.
Jen: IT’S KEITH, FOOL.
Max: Says you, I know better.
(sidebar: He says this because he is the Doctor… The Doctor’s name is Max.)
Max: OK so what about the plot. I thought it was slightly underplotted. It was better after a second viewing though.
Jen: well, I have only watched the whole thing once. But I do agree, I think it was a little light on story. I think it leaned heavily on Clara and her magic leaf, and eased up a bit on creating a “plausible” story. Like why was there a mummy who was guarding a jack-o-lantern?
Max: He was his alarm clock! But I agree. I think we’ve been very spoiled by the cinematic take of series 5. I keep thinking back to ‘The Beast Below” and that episode feels so much longer. Also had 5 times as many sets. But again, Clara’s backstory, this was just a platform in which to tell it.
Jen: I think comparing this episode to “The Beast Below” is a good way to see how the two companions compare, too. Amy was kind of mothering the Doctor even then, whereas here Clara is guided by the Doctor? kind of?
Max: The Doctor is sort of embracing the fact that he was a grandfather who knows how many times over. He’s actually playing the adult a bit. I feel he might have been testing Clara with the whole bartering ring incident.
Jen: yeah since HE WOULDN’T GIVE UP AMY’S GLASSES
Max: I thought that was a very good character moment actually, since he didn’t look at them or pull them out to consider. SELFISH DOCTOR. He just pulled out the sonic and did his best Harrison ford face.
I think maybe my problem with the episode if anything is that with all the Indiana Jones allusions and sort of aesthetic I would have liked a longer more complex “thing” storywise. For instance it wasn’t clear to me if each time the “planet” started to wake up, like in Disney Atlantis style, the Queen of Years was always ultimately sacrificed and bit the bullet each time they did that ceremony and thus a new one was chosen, or what. It was implied as such and Merry seemed to know this fact at least once she was in the pyramid but there was the panic when she got zapped by the beam thinking she had done something wrong. If she was being dragged to the pyramid then wouldn’t she have known she had gotten it right?
Or her being taken there is a known “thing” that occurs when they mess up and thus the Queen of Years has to be willingly sacrificed? But she didn’t mess up, he was just waking up and ignoring her. But then it’s implied he’s eaten many Queens of Years. So I was a bit confused, it looked like they were playing with the trope of a ritual appearing harmless and then actually being fatal for the big participant, but it looked surely fatal from the beginning to me. So that could have been handled perhaps a bit more delicately? I’m not sure. I would have liked maybe a bit more immersement into that culture and religion. A bigger pyramid labyrinth. But in 40 something minutes…what can you do?
Jen: Jesus. look at you go, Mr. ranty pants. I mean the plot was confusing for me because I thought the guy who WAS singing had been singing for years and now it was Merry’s turn to sing until she got old. It was pretty muddied. Again, I think that was in favor of devoting time to Clara’s story.
Max: No I just have to explain…everything…so I have to cover all bases. This episode is as I said and I agreed, just a platform for Clara’s backstory.
Jen: If we’re covering all the bases, let’s talk about Matt’s acting when he’s yelling at the Jack-O-Lantern. Because A) he finally looked his age in this episode and B) damn son.
Max: Pretty darn amazing, and also very, very detailed, people have gone out and picked out specific instances he’s talking about in that monologue.
Jen: They are better men than I. I’m just blown away by the acting. And then Clara’s thing with the leaf–I think they’ve talked about days of possibility before and it always makes me sad. THAT was when I teared up in this episode.
OH IT’S THE WEEPING ANGELS. THAT’S THE POSSIBLE DAYS THING
Max: Nothing is a coincidence. I think there’s alot with Clara’s mum. Her death date is pretty specific.
Jen: uh, yeah. and here goes Moffat with meta-story telling, and a glow worm who makes sure her daughter is never lost. I’m willing to bet that story as guidebook and “getting lost” is going to be a major theme for Clara.
(This episode makes Jen want to glow if she ever becomes a mom.
Max: Freaking glow worm. The color palette for this episode was very pretty. I think that’s because Clara’s mom is so special. We’ll be learning more I’m sure. Even if Moffat didn’t write that per se, parents and family and child/adult relationships sort of in an idealized manner are pretty big Moffat calling cards. Like compare how they treat Clara’s mom under Moffat to the very “real”…uh….Jackie.
Jen: I can’t actually talk about Jackie. But she IS very sweet when Rose is young!! ANYHOW. We should wrap this up. Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Max: Not much, this is late so it’s only two days until we go underwater! Also. David’s been seen filming the 50th supposedly with Queen Elizabeth.
Jen: I will die. Not to mention I’m already dying due to lack of Eccle-berry
Max: I dunno. I don’t believe or dismiss anything.
Jen: THAT is a post for another day. SO. Until next week, fools.
Max: Say goodnight Jen.
Jen: Goodnight, Jen
Max: PEACE OUT *kicks down door*
**plays Doctor Who Theme**
Bibliography: College, where we watched Lucas films over and over instead of reading Shakespeare.
M-I love those nights i pretended to do so much.
J-You were fooling no one.