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A long time ago tomorrow morning

There's something very disconcerting about seeing your younger self very clearly. This past four days I went up north to clear out the crap from my old bedroom at home, which included a large box and a tin of letters written to me by university friends, and boxes of books and magazines, all untouched for at least a decade.

It made me a little sad not to have kept in touch with more friends from then but I think it's natural that many friendships are situational in nature. Some people see life as a series of temporary alliances, and you don't have to put up with people who bore you. For others it's pure networking. It doesn't matter how you conceive of friendship if the person with whom you are friends sees it differently. We move on, albeit sometimes unwillingly. This is a fabulous article from The Grauniad on the nature of friendship. I read the letters of the person from whom I parted on bad terms -- and I can see the cracks there now, though I was oblivious as a 19-year-old.

Reading the letters again, it was frightening to think how little I've changed in the many years since. Pain in the arse then, pain in the arse now. I'm better at hiding things than I once was. If you ask the people I know now, I suspect they would find me opaque, but not in that fascinatingly enigmatic, sphinx-like way. More in a talking-to-a-brick-wall sort of way. Must work on being fascinatingly enigmatic. I'll put that on my list.

I wondered about talking to the people who I am still in touch with, to see whether they wanted to read their 18- to 21-year-old selves, but I think that we've all moved on, so all the letters and some old photos are now torn up and in the recycling. I remember the intensity with which I loved those people then, now banked down to a fond glow, so I'm going to call them, see how they're doing, and remember the golden rule of phoning: twenty minutes is more than enough.

I suppose those letters were relics of the past in as much as Kids Today (obligatory harrumphing noise) don't write letters; the ubiquitous email, text and cheap phone calls have seen to that. I feel a bit sorry for them. After all, no one goes back and reads their 'sent' folder, do they?

Also in the piles of crap: piles and piles of Doctor Who magazines and old fanzines. The fanzines were hilarious from today's perspective. The fanboys really are running the asylum now, aren't they?

I only watched Doctor Who when I got back tonight. I didn't love it as well as I did last week but there was still a lot to like, starting from him calling her Pond a la Steed and Peel. I also laughed when Moffat took the mickey out of RTD's moments of profundity (TM), with "oh, the songs they will sing." It's not the first time he's done that.

If shows are boyfriends, it feels as though for the past year of specials, I've been looking at Doctor Who through narrowed eyes, gritting my teeth, and muttering: "You know I love you, it's just that I don't LIKE you very much right now." Moff's version is as though the boyfriend has stopped drinking heavily, making stupid excuses and hanging out with a wanky crowd, and has become the person we loved all along.

Swearing off the Confidentials helps.

I bet Starship UK was built using PFI, and that's why it never got off the ground. The fact that everyone else, including Scotland, had already buggered off just smacks of some hideously familiar government cock-up.

The Beast Below felt as though a whole layer of explanation and reinforcing logic had been stripped out, leaving the entire edifice wobbly.

And yet I didn't care that much because so much else was wonderful. It felt really old school, very Happiness Patrol and Paradise Towers, but done with love, better scripts and a decent budget. There were shoutouts to Star Wars, and older Who eps, and a Farscape-like glee in vomit and giant space creatures.

One thing I do love is that we've lost "I used to have so much mercy", vengeful Doctor. I hated that aspect of Ten and while the punishments of the Family of Blood were fairytale in the Brothers Grimm sense, I didn't think they matched the character I loved when I was a kid at all. (Nor was that in the book, which I also liked very much). I didn't mind the Lonely God schtick at first -- or indeed when leavened by Donna's presence -- it started to feel like one of those slightly overwrought fanfic sagas where everyone dies. That's a guilty pleasure in casual reading but a pain in the arse in canon.

So how perfect was it that Moffat conceptualises the Doctor as someone who has suffered terrible losses, but is very old and, above all, kind. Yes, they hammered it home with the subtlety of an anvil falling on Wile E Coyote's head, but I liked that that's where he's going.

Sophie Okenedo was fun as the Queen, though I did wonder why she spoke standard RP in the video of her earlier self, and Cockney in the present -- unless it was meant to show the passage of time. It was also perfect that the ruler was a Queen rather than a president, as it matched the 1950s style fag-end-of-empire look of the sets. A figurehead monarch and a country that votes to forget, and meanwhile the engineers (winders) and secret police (smilers) make the world keep turning.

I continue to love Matt Smith as the Doctor, as he's done his homework, and he's unworldly and strange. There wasn't much Tennant-y inflection in his performance in this one, but there were definite notes of Two and a whole Seven vibe there.

Which brings me to the current cracky theory: Moffat is replaying the Ace arc of season 26, only better. Maybe Leadworth is so picture-perfect that it's not actually real and those people are caught in some sort of alternate world, like The Library, only not. The Doctor plucks Amy from there but wrongness follows her around, and the Doctor is seeking a way to trap it and stop it. He doesn't quite know what it is yet but he knows that something is awry, hence his furious "you don't ever decide what I need to know".

♥, still.

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
lizbee
Apr. 12th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
though I did wonder why she spoke standard RP in the video of her earlier self, and Cockney in the present -- unless it was meant to show the passage of time.

I thought it indicated the passage of time. A few years ago, some linguistic types did a study of the Queen's Christmas speeches over the length of her reign, and found her accent had drifted closer to middle class. Give her three hundred years, and she'd probably sound like she wandered off the set of Neighbours.

(Note: a friend of mine works on the set of Neighbours, and she's American. But, you know.)
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:20 am (UTC)
I suppose everyone's accent has drifted closer to middle class, which has itself moved towards Estuary English, save that of certain middle class people, who've gone all Mockney.

Did you ever read that news story about how Neighbours has affected the English accent? They reckon that the rising intonation at the end of sentences, which turns them into slight questions, is learned from a whole generation of thirty- and twentysomethings having spent their teatimes watching Neighbours and Home and Away.
katie_m
Apr. 12th, 2010 12:53 am (UTC)
So how perfect was it that Moffat conceptualises the Doctor as someone who has suffered terrible losses, but is very old and, above all, kind.

My problem with that bit was that he, er, isn't. He'd been unkind to Amy not three minutes before! Loving I could have gone for--I think it's possible to be unkind in a loving way--but kind? The Doctor? Really?

(Granted, I can totally believe that Amy sees him that way.)
cofax7
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)
Given how he TWICE failed Amy fairly horribly, I have a hard time believing even that...

That she likes him and trusts his good intentions, yes. That he's actually kind? Erm.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:55 am (UTC)
Ah, but we don't know that he failed Amy because he was careless (which is possible) or because Something Is Up*. And I think it's kindness and mercy in action to do something you loathe so that another being might be free from pain.

[* Oh please, please, let Something be going awry with Amy's timeline]

Edited at 2010-04-12 08:56 am (UTC)
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 08:52 am (UTC)
I reckon Moffat would plead situational grumpiness. Does one minute's anger cancel out a kind and merciful disposition generally? Isn't it kind to do something you hate for the sake of another being?

Why I liked it was because it is a return to Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke's mission statement of the seventies, which got lost in RTD's idea of the Lonely God and his hardcore pessimism, which he painted in a jolly face. In every episode so far, I think that Moffat is presenting an implicit critique of the things I did not like in the RTD era. There was much to love in the reboot but if you're an old school fan, much to cause unease too.

Edited at 2010-04-12 09:19 am (UTC)
parrot_knight
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
"...never cruel nor cowardly..." I recognized that too. Moffat also referenced it in Curse of Fatal Death, which is assuredly part of NuWho's genealogy...
ravurian
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:50 pm (UTC)
I think you're working off only one definition of 'kind', there. He may not be mild, gentle or indulgent, but I don't think you can argue against him being of a good or benevolent disposition. Also, you need only look at Greek mythology to find that 'The Kindly Ones' (Eumenides) was a euphemistic name for the Furies, who were deities of vengeance... Interestingly, the Eumenides 'represent regeneration and the potency of creation, which both consumes and empowers.' Interesting that Greek mythology should come up when we already know from The Eleventh Hour that something called The Pandoric is opening. Pandoric, obviously, meaning 'of Pandora', another Greek myth. Tempting to draw correlations there, no?
ravurian
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
Oh! OMG. Pandora was a rival of Rassilon's in canon, wasn't she?
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
I think that was the Pythia - though I might be misremembering. It would be fabulous if she were. I don't know how keen Moff is on such continuity fun and games.
ravurian
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
The Pythia ruled before Rassilon, but Pandora was a rival, I think. I... could be going fan-happy. I mean, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that I'm deliriously fannish about the new series so far. I actually have icons. I never have fannish icons.

But - the Doctor being a Kindly One? I like that idea...
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
OMG, you are right. Wikipedia to the rescue! That sounds fantastic.

I know what you mean about the fannishness flooding back. I even had a duckpond epiphany this morning. There are no ducks because it's NOT A REAL UNIVERSE.

I probably need to go back to work

parrot_knight
Apr. 12th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
I love old Doctor Who fanzines, particularly those where there was a tightknit core of contributors,like Queen Bat (pictured), where one can actually sense a school of thought about the programme emerging. Skaro was excellent too, and it's a pity that disappeared. I think that the knowledge that people like Paul Cornell started out writing for fanzines keeps the form alive in Doctor Who fandom, and I'm glad titles like This Way Up (edited by veteran John Connors), Shooty Dog Thing and The Terrible Zodin flourish as PDFs online.

The zine I edited in the late 90s only lasted one issue, but I took over my university zine in the middle of the decade currently passing, which was fun but time-consuming, and I felt it had to be passed on to someone who was actually still a student anyway. It was a wrench...
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
I have a bunch of copies of Skaro, which I'd like to reread; Antonine Killer, which I remember being good, so I'd like to read that again; and a cache of copies of Gareth Roberts and Neil Corry's zine, Cottage Under Siege. The rest are probably more interesting as artefacts than in themselves.

Perhaps I should seek out some of the online zines after the election when there's more time to breathe again.
parrot_knight
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
Antonine Killer I've never seen - that was Martin Day and Keith Topping keeping the Space Rat and Queen Bat lineage going after Jackie Marshall retired from fanzine editing, wasn't it... I did see Cottage Under Siege, which was much as one would expect!
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:02 am (UTC)
I don't think it lasted more than a couple of issues. I mainly remember it for a Paul Cornell story which, I think, referenced All About Eve (the band, not the film), who I loved very much at the time.

There are also copies of Circus, edited by Colin Brockhurst, who now produces the tremendous Vworp Vworp. I think all those fanzines were my introduction to things like Quatermass.
parrot_knight
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:37 am (UTC)
I was a reader of Circus too, and a writer for it... that final hand-perfect-bound issue with the Troughton playground montage cover in 2002 was a tremendous labour of love.

The great thing about Paul C's writing in the early 1990s was his desire to bring Doctor Who back into mainstream pop culture. It was a bit of a shock to a mollusc like my late teenage/early twenties self, withdrawn in his shell who on one level was rather happy with JN-T/Cartmel Who's detachment from the contemporary, but when Timewyrm: Revelation referenced the Happy Mondays I also knew that it was right to pin Ace down like that.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 11:08 am (UTC)
You wrote for Circus? Tremendous. I don't think I have that last issue, as -- aside from reading the NAs -- I put away Doctor Who when I went to university, and did other things for about five years. One of my more stupid decisions.

I still remember reading Paul Cornell's first book and feeling that shock of the new, of bringing Doctor Who right into contemporary life. I think it's the same trick that RTD pulled off with "Rose", siting it so firmly in the now now now, as he'd probably put it, that it was impossible for critics to write it off as irrelevant. Of course, that obsession with locking the show into the present is also one of RTD's greatest flaws. I liked how slippery Moffat was about precise timing in The Eleventh Hour.

RTD made Doctor Who personal, present and relevant again, and Moff seems to be shifting it toward the ancient and timeless again. In the balance of the two is the ideal.

kirbyfest
Apr. 12th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)
I like the Leadworth theory, very much. Obviously the Doctor takes Amy with him at least partly because he likes her, but he also knows something is off, and she's possibly his way to find out what.

Hm. This works well.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:09 am (UTC)
It does, doesn't it! (God, I'm going to be so disappointed when the cracky theory turns out to be bollocks)
vivwiley
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:17 am (UTC)
There's something very disconcerting about seeing your younger self very clearly.

so very true. My mom kept most of the letters that I sent them from college and then gave them back to me a few years ago. It was so strange to see my loopy and legible handwriting talking about all these things with such excitement and passion. Some of them were still sharp memories and others were very dim.

I have recently reconnected with some of the people from my more distant past and it's been a mixed bag of experiences, but mostly good. I wish you luck in reaching out, and you are undoubtedly wise to remember the Rule of Telephone Calls.

I miss letters....
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:11 am (UTC)
It's amazing, isn't it, the things you forget from then. I also miss letters but I am tremendously bad at writing back. Computers have made it tricky to write longhand -- I think we use different muscles -- and I never grasped the ability to write short, punchy letters at all.
parthenia14
Apr. 12th, 2010 07:47 am (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean - there were plot holes big enough to get a Star Whale through (where were they vomited to? what does the whale eat now? what in the name of heaven are the weird circus things for, apart from driving small children behind the couch?) and yet I really enjoyed it.

I love the way that Matt Smith is intense and off-beam. He feels far more like a Doctor from my childhood (which would have to be Pertwee and Baker). Also loved the Britishness.

Thanks for the link to the Grauniad article. Friendship is an odd beast. I used to be terrible at it. I think I'm better now, but I am awed by how much is situational. My son has just made friends with someone who has a little sister my daughter's age, and all other things being equal, I'm likely to put work into making friends with the parents.

There's such a vulnerability and delicacy to friendship, too, which I think that article captures quite nicely.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:17 am (UTC)
I assume the whale eats the detritus from the various blocks, which is how the Doctor knew they were under Lancashire, but how is the food grown and oxygen made if there are no engines etc etc. I have decided to stop thinking about that sort of thing and enjoy it. For all that I loved many, many of the RTD serials, Moffat's ideas about the Doctor and about story-telling are closer to mine, and closer to old school, I think.

Friendship is an odd beast. I used to be terrible at it. I think I'm better now, but I am awed by how much is situational.


It really is, but as long as you go in knowing that I think it's okay. It's when expectations are different on both sides that it all gets tricky.

sweetsyren
Apr. 12th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)
and a whole Seven vibe there

THIS. All of this. He felt very Seven to me. And also very Eight in the gentleness of some of his explanations.

Sure there were plot holes. But I found that I just didn't care too much. The anvils could be sidestepped and what we got was a fun little romp as a first time out.

Please god let them carry on like this.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:04 am (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean. I loved a lot of the things RTD did (particularly his way with creating a character), but I was always braced for the five minutes in any episode where he would do (or allow to be done) something that I really disliked.

With the new series I am not so much on the "don't mess it up, don't mess it up" tenterhooks, and I am hopeful that all the clues will lead to something.
sweetsyren
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:14 am (UTC)
I'm completely with you there. He was responsible for bringing it back and we should all be grateful for that. BUT...he was not a great writer IMO. He took too much control, rewrote too many scripts and in the specias he let the characters wander all over the shop. The End of Time was, with the exception of a few great bits, a disaster IMO. (I have reasons for that but i don't want to blargh all over your journal ;))

I have hig hopes for The Moff. And I was going to say the same about Matt but I don't think I have to worry about him. He's doing an awesome job already.
infinitemonkeys
Apr. 12th, 2010 10:58 am (UTC)
You're welcome to blargh if you feel the need. I sort of agree, sort of disagree with you in as much as you're totally right about the specials being a disaster aside from Waters of Mars.

But I do think that RTD is a fantastic writer, IF AND ONLY IF he has someone to say no to him.

He needs someone who stops him from taking stupid paths, making cheap and nasty jokes, and who says "you can't get away with that". Plot holes is one thing, most writers on long-running shows seem to create those. RTD had plot craters.

When he had Donna say: "Sometimes I think you need someone to stop you", he might as well have been talking about himself.
sweetsyren
Apr. 12th, 2010 11:49 am (UTC)
I agree Waters of Mars was the only saving grace.

I can't blargh too much about it...I get carried away because of my intense Donna love and their complete disregard for her. Seriously - it makes me RAGE!

But I do think that RTD is a fantastic writer, IF AND ONLY IF he has someone to say no to him.

*nods* He needs someone with a cattle prod standing behind him going "No! Bad RTD! That's completely OOC!"

Also I think he shouldn't have been allowed to interfere in stories as much as he did. I suspect a lot of scripts got messed with to a high degree in his reign. The Moff has already stated that he won't do that. I think only time will tell whether that works out for him though.

muridae_x
Apr. 12th, 2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
I used to have a secret place underneath a set of fitted drawers in my bedroom. When my parents redecorated some years after I'd left home they unearthed this time capsule of stuff that I'd hidden away and forgotten about. And sent it on to me, which was the mortifying bit. Not only had I written my own episodes of Doctor Who (and left them there), I'd also cast them, and written up the Radio Times listings for each episode. With fake Frank Bellamy artwork. *facepalm*

The fact that everyone else, including Scotland, had already buggered off just smacks of some hideously familiar government cock-up.

Has Salmond already been smugly self-satisfied about that and I've missed it, or is science fiction beneath him?

There's a distinct hand-wavy dismissal of the nitty gritty of the science fiction tech behind the stories, which I guess we should have expected after the reiteration of "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" last week. So the friend who's a hard science-fiction fan didn't much care for this week's episode, and the one who's all about characterisation and machiavellian plotting did. Myself, I'd like it if a few more of the dots were joined up, but the general direction does seem to be pulling more towards my old school inclinations than the RTD era did.

I like fairy tales. And I've seen enough of the Moff's previous work to suspect that he likes the twisty turny ones with stings in the tail.

I also like a Doctor who's kinder and considerably less in control of the situation. Like you, I saw flashes of the Troughton and McCoy Doctors in him this week, which delights me as they're amongst my favourites, but not really any Tennant. I can only assume that, as the early drafts of "The Eleventh Hour" were written when Tennant was still around, there were whole lines written with him in mind that were simply impossible to say in a way that didn't resonate Ten with every syllable.
lilydale
Apr. 13th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
I suddenly have "Will you still need me...when I'm 64" going through my head.

Sorry, I don't know nearly enough about Doctor Who to discuss that, and my head is too tired to be very eloquent on anything else in this entry. Hence, Beatles!
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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