Reluctantly Relevant

“Spoilers, Sweetie!” Or: The Post Where We Discuss Doctor Who

The Tiger (Doctor Nine), the Tigger (Doctor Ten), and the Socially Awkward and Mentally Challenged House Cat Who Runs Headlong Into Furniture And Acts Like He Did It On Purpose (Doctor Eleven).

We’ve been dancing around the issue in multiple other posts, but through them all we’ve actually shied away from a real discussion. Here’s the long and the short of it; many of us here behind the scenes at AtomicToasters — myself notably and probably most enthusiastically included — are big fans of Doctor Who. I’m told the term for us is “Whovians”, which I reluctantly accept. But we’ve never actually set up a spot for us to discuss the series with others who happen to also be fans.

In this thread, it is very likely there will be Spoilers, Sweetie, so it’s probably best not to click past the break if you’re not actually caught up to the most recent episode of the series.

For myself, I have never been able to accept Doctor Eleven, and it’s probably my biggest stumbling block for the series as it sits right now. With the introduction of Oswin/Clara as the new Companion* for the upcoming series, I finally have hope that I can be convinced that Doctor Eleven can be redeemed. If not, well, it’s just time to replace him. And we’re working on that.

Unfortunately I’ve heard nothing but squealing adoration for Doctor Eleven. I don’t care if Matt Smith is made of puppies, he’s just not a very good Doctor. His acting is awkward and wooden, and his level of “caring” for his companions and Companions appears forced and reluctant. If I’m honest, it wasn’t until Asylum of the Daleks that I felt any level of attachment or affection for him at all.

And I’d like to say, for the record, good riddance to the Ponds. Even though Amy Pond was quite tasty, I couldn’t be rid of them fast enough. I was actually cheering for the Weeping Angels.

Unfortunately, most of the time when I express these sentiments, I am usually beset by screeching fangirls telling me that I’m wrong, and Matt Smith is dreamy, and he’s going to be her one true love, and she has pictures of him over her bed so that late at night she can… anyhow.

Okay, that’s enough to get you all started, I don’t want to steal all the talking points. Challenge me, tell me why I’m wrong, and I will tell you why you’re foolish for even thinking I could be wrong!

* I’m going with the convention of capital-C “Companion” for his one official Companion: Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy and soon Oswin. All the rest of the people who travel with him are small-C “companions”. Just for clarity.

[Image Credit: Ferrlm on DeviantArt]

  • CaptianNemo2001

    11 is just weird. Liked 9 and 10 was ok.

  • I have had a really hard time liking the 11th Doctor. Admittedly, this has caused my Dr. Who watching to fall off. Maybe I haven't given him a chance, but the 9th and 10th were likeable right off the bat. Matt Smith is weird and his style is almost too forced. Tennant and Eccleston both seemed at ease with their characters.

    Also, I miss Martha Jones.

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    • Deartháir

      I can't help but agree with that. My GOD she looked good in a pair of tight jeans.

    • zaddikim

      Agreed, Freema Agyeman makes me feel funny in my pants.

  • Mr_Biggles

    I'm possibly in the minority, but my favourite of the new bunch is Doctor Nine. I found Doctor Ten became a bit smug over time with his abilities and accomplishments. I don't think that fits well on a Doctor. He started to grow on me at the beginning of his run but then it tapered. Some of his sarcasm didn't seem to fit either.

    Doctor Eleven just seems awkward. Possible he will grow on me more, but it hasn't happened yet. We'll see. I really don't see the dreaminess either. I think he's funny lookin'.

    I do think you're a bit harsh with the Ponds. They became reeeeealllly very tedious, and Amy's voice was a bit cringe-worthy after a while. They were like that couple at the party that you kind of rolled your eyes at but felt you had to put up with them. Rooting for the angels though? You're just being mean!

    • Mr_Biggles

      Only 4 comments too. Not being glommed on to with the same enthusiasm as the Star Wars v. Star Trek themes. I would have thought there were more Whovians in the crowd.

      • Maybe it was the holiday in the US yesterday (Monday)? I was online, but just barely, because my employer is terribly unamerican, and had me work on spreadsheets, which is totally unamerican.

        • skitter

          We tend to have a Monday holiday about once a month to prevent an out-and-out breakdown.

          Maybe this article should just re-run immediately, today.

        • Deartháir

          Yesterday was a holiday? Sonofabitch, the holidays just ended, and already you lazy sods need another one?

          • Dean Bigglesworth

            Even i know it was a holiday in the knighted stetsons of murica, and i'm on the other side of the world!

            Though I must admit the only reason I know this is because I reluctantly watched the bruins – jets game and was told it started earlier than normal because of a holiday.

          • Deartháir

            Wait… hockey is back?

          • Dean Bigglesworth

            Apparently. Or it could have been a game from 1987 for all i know.

    • Deartháir

      I liked Doctor Nine a whole lot. He played the character just that little bit weird that worked perfectly.

      Doctor Ten won me over almost immediately, with his swordfight battle with the Whatchamacallits. The dramatic entrance to the scene, exiting the Tardis in his jammies? Awesome. "WHO ARE YOU!?" "I DON"T KNOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!" Great stuff.

      Doctor WalkingIntoFurniture had a great entrance, and it was some golden, genuine writing. The Fish-Sticks-And-Custard transition would probably have gone better if they had kept a little bit of the previous, you know, fifty years of history, or at least acknowledged that some of the Rose and/or Martha era had actually happened. It's like they started a whole new series with no tie-in.

    • zaddikim

      9 – Dissapointed that Eccleston quit because he didn't want to be type-cast, but that's OK, because another season of him (in hindsight that is) would've become tiring. Rose is kinda yummeh, even though I'm not that much into blondes.

      10 – The only thing dissapointing about Tennant's run is that he didn't get to use his native Scots accent. Donna was hilarious, but watching Freema in those jeans made me uncomfortable in a good way.

      11. It took a while, but I've warmed up to Matt's take on The Doctor. Maybe I was too busy crushing on Ms. Gillan. Anyhow, the new Companion is deadly cute, and I cannot wait until the new episodes come out.

      • Deartháir

        Didn't Tennant use his natural accent in the episode where Queen Victoria created Torchwood?

        • zaddikim

          Yes he did, and it was just a wee tease of it.

          Why yes, I am a big fan of accents.

        • Mr_Biggles

          One of my favourites! I got a good chuckle out of Rose asking the queen if she was amused.

  • pj134

    So I've never watched Dr. Who outside of a couple episodes when I had way too much time off. It was doctor eleven and I liked him enough to consider watching more of it. Don't know if it means much, just thought I'd share.

    Most of my TV time now is going to be spent watching men in orange and black beat the hell out of other men in different colors while zebras make bad calls, so it could be a while before I'm actually watching it.

    • skitter

      Trebek: This is the sound a Zebra makes. brrrip! Sean Connery.
      Sean Connery: Moo.
      Trebek: No.
      Sean Connery: Well that's the call the refs made last night.

  • I really liked Tennant, and his doctor really got me into Doctor Who. That, I think, eased the transition to Matt Smith. My wife and I didn't really care for him at the start, but I think the same could be said for lots of popular characters that get replaced. Add in the Who shoes, and it is doubly difficult to be your own character. I think Smith is doing a good job.

    That said, it does seem that the writing of Doctor Who has gotten, dare I say, tame since Tennant. Smiths exploits just haven't really excited me, with notiable exceptions (weeping angels), have been unadventurous. Where were the Daleks, Cyber Men, big, scary baddies?

    Lastly, I also thought that Matt Smith's acting style was quite strange, even for Doctor Who, but then I started watching Party Animals. It is about British polotics, and is pretty great.

    • Deartháir

      Tennant said in one interview that the magic of Doctor Who is that everyone has "their" Doctor. (It's ironic that he ended up marrying "his" Doctor's daughter… who ended up playing his Doctor's daughter on Doctor Who. Got that? Yeah. Creepy if you read it wrong.)

      He said his whole goal is just to be someone's Doctor. Everyone has their own, and if he can do a good enough job that he's someone's Doctor, he's lived up to the legacy. Tennant is my Doctor, so I suppose that means he's succeeded.

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  • Deartháir
  • Abe

    Thinkgeek is having a sale on Doctor Who merch, up to 40% off.

    Link courtesy of deals.woot

  • Deartháir

    So… the new episode has run, and we've given everyone a few days to illegally download watch it. First off, Clara is awesome, love her so far. But it's a Moffat episode, so I have such a feeling that there are a million different things going on here that I can't keep track of. Thoughts from the multitudes? Comments so far?

    • CaptianNemo2001

      I got a copy of GoT and Grimm instead. =)

    • This is the thread where we rant about this season…

      I really like Clara when she is allowed to be something more than an accessory. It seems that this season has been a bit of a mess. Nothing is flowing together, the question of Clara keeps getting ignored, the Silence is still plotting, and the Great Intelligence is still out there. WHAT DOES ANY OF THIS CRAP MEAN? There have been far too many throw away episodes, that I really don't want to watch again. The last episode was the first one to show signs of life, despite having even more tag along personalities.

      • Deartháir

        I'm feeling exactly the same way. I genuinely like Clara, but in each of the episodes so far, they're just dancing around the issues, not actually touching on anything, and not actually dealing with anything. Even the Cybermen episode; what the hell was that? Doctor Locutus hardly seemed like he cared that the Cybermen were there at all.

        I'm not bothered, however, because that's pretty much how the fifth season went, all a setup for the sixth season, and that seems to be how Moffat wants to play it. He draws down on the loyalty of the fans, making an investment in story preparation, to set up the episodes to come. If that's what he's doing, I'm okay with it.

        • I do hope so. Kinda disjointed, not getting sucked in at all.

          Clara's character seems to be talking in snippets to me, punctuated by never-ending quick "reaction shots"… as if she has always just entered the room… darting around and being cordial… not quite really "in" any of the story's conversations yet. It's driving me nuts, we've seen her chops, turn her loose!

          It's kinda like riding in a Ferrari (or MGB) on a street where all the lights keep turning red, if that makes any sense.

  • pj134

    [youtube 0TO4CEV8APU youtube]

    Still not really watching Dr Who, but their lead singer confirmed this was partly inspired by an old Dr Who script.

  • jserf

    My wife and I are relatively new Dr. Who fans. We avoided the series like the plague for some time–an odd move for us, because we enjoy experiencing science fiction media the way many folks enjoy activities such as eating delicious food or breathing clean air. The reason? The fans. The fans of Dr. Who often struck us as insufferable at best. We've met a great many awful people who are vehement Dr. Who fans… and if we were to start watching it… would that not make us one of them?

    I experienced a similar sensation several years ago, when I attended a small concert in which the Bloodhound Gang performed. I like their music; it's catchy, the lyrics are intelligent and amusing (well…), and they have an overall message of which I approve. At the concert, however, I was appalled at the behaviours of many of the fans. There were several violent fights, a great many drunkards, and at one point during the show, the bass guitarist downed what appeared to be a large bottle of Jägermeister, vomited on himself, then took his soiled shirt off and threw it into the crowd, where it was immediately donned by an enthusiastic fan. When it had ended, I left the show, rather unsettled. What did my participation as a fan mean? By buying a ticket, by enjoying the band's music… was I one of "them"?

    Likewise, Dr. Who fans had left me cautious about the show. I've watched all sorts of science fiction television programs and movies. I've enjoyed the less-popular series such as 'Babylon 5' and 'Space: Above and Beyond'. I've become a hard-core Browncoat, participated in discussions regarding the ecological effects of the destruction of the second Death Star above the forest moon of Endor and the politics resulting from the incident, and brushed up on my understanding of early Klingon mythology… but Dr. Who was too much for me. The fans had driven me to a point at which I openly denounced the show and refused to watch it.

    Ultimately, it was my wife who finally decided that we should give the show a chance. She, of all people, having been brutally wronged by a particularly looney Dr. Who fan during her university career, had every reason to avoid the program, but her best friend talked her into giving it a chance, so we did.

    The show is quite good! We started with the "new series"/the 9th Doctor, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an excellent show.

    That said… it's the most masterfully-written Mary Sue I've ever seen.

    'Mary Sue' is a literary term with which I have only recently become familiar. During my student teaching years, I once happened to receive an assignment from a young lady who had written the most peculiar story. In her story, a character bearing her name and description served as an odd sort of interloper in the universe created by popular writer Stephenie Meyer, the woman responsible for unleashing 'Twilight' upon our world. In this student's story, she appeared in the high school featured in 'Twilight', stole the attractive male protagonist's heart through her quick wit, kind heart, and unlikely abilities, and became the envy of every other character as she rose to popularity and success, finding the love she had always desired in this fictitious, damaged gentleman vampire. I found the story to be one of the strangest things I had ever read; none of my other students had written anything of the sort, and I had no idea what to make of it. I was discussing it with my then-girlfriend/now-wife, and she instantly laughed and said, "She wrote a 'Mary Sue'!" Being completely unfamiliar with the term, I had her explain it to me, then looked it up online and read all about it. Hilarious, and fascinating.

    Having watched the entire "new series" of Dr. Who, I feel I can, with some certainty, say that Dr. Who is a very uniquely-written, artfully-crafted, and somewhat amusing "Mary Sue", though I don't mean to detract from it in any way. It's amusing to watch, though I find myself oddly aware of the writers'/producers' manipulation of the "fangirl" audience…

    • Deartháir

      I just stumbled across your post, and I'm sorry I missed it. You are right, to a point. It is a Mary Sue tale, but in my own literary experience, there has been some derision of the "Mary Sue" term. It's almost a dismissal of a sympathetic hero, and the line between a stereotypical Mary Sue, and a hero with whom the Average Joe audience is meant to be able to connect, is a thin one. Not every hero can be Iron Man or Batman. To that end, Jack Ryan, from the Tom Clancy novels, is a Mary Sue as well. Probably one of the most blatant ones I can think of, really. I've never been a fan of the term, specifically because it gets applied inappropriately; when a protagonist is blatantly a stand-in for the author, and is unbelievable and exaggerated, then I think the term applies; when it's just a hero intended to be relatable to the average person, I don't think it applies.

      But that's a meta-argument, ignoring its relevance to Doctor Who. In a sense, the series pre-dates the concept. There has always been a Companion with whom the audience is supposed to relate. We are supposed to be able to imagine ourselves, as random people off the street, jumping in to join the Mad Man In The Blue Box in his wild adventures. Remember, the series started as a show for children, so the "feel" of it is supposed to be a little bit child-like.

      I completely hear where you're coming from, and I see your argument of it being a 'Mary Sue', but my personal belief is that if it is a truly well-written 'Mary Sue', then it's not actually a 'Mary Sue' at all, no more than the Die Hard series, which feature an idealized "every man" that the audience is supposed to relate to.

      Awesome thoughts though! This was the kind of discussion I was hoping for when I wrote this!

  • Deartháir

    Just finished watching "The Name of the Doctor"…


    • I don't know, but John Hurt gets his own title now?

      • Deartháir

        I think it's a bit of a psych-out; the new Doctor has historically been introduced that way, but John Hurt has not done a very good job of keeping his damn mouth shut. He's not the next Doctor, he's a previous Doctor. Or, rather, he's a previous incarnation of the man who is the Doctor, who did not identify himself as "The Doctor", or something like that.

        • The Internet believes that John Hurt will actually be the middle/end of Eight. The Doctor who ended the Time War.

  • Mr_Biggles

    AGAIN with the new doctor. Just as I was getting used to Matt Smith. I hate to say it, but the new guy doesn't seem so …umm…new.

    Time will tell, I guess.

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  • Daleks! Google is Daleks! It's Daaahh-leekkss….

    My g**gle search page has a 'google doodle' that consists of 6 Daleks in a row, in the traditional Google color sequence. They all have their weapons pointed at your search field.

    <img src="; width="600/">

    • OA5599

      Hopefully, by now learned the doodle on the main search page is a playable game.