Thursday, January 2, 2014

Doctor Who: or, it's about time

I have begun watching the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. It is wildly popular with my friends and, of course, worldwide. I was convinced to watch, not just because I felt I was missing out on cultural inside-jokes, but because when so many people whom I like and admire all start talking so positively and so passionately about one thing, well, that means it is probably pretty good. So, to sort of locate myself within this discussion, a little about me: I am a non sci-fi person, so the genre is not a natural fit. I started watching mid-December 2013, so 8 years after the new Doctor Who aired, and 50 after the original. I am an anglophile who was raised on Masterpiece Theatre and lived in London for 6 months in 2003, so the British aspect has appeal. So, while the potential for me to like this show was there, it was sort of unlikely.

The main factor that made me resistant to watching in the first place is that I am a non sci-fi person. I do not like Star Wars, Star Trek, or other classic sci-fi programs (and I have tried a couple of others that I have been told I would love and, well, I didn't) and the fact Doctor Who is about aliens and space travel and all of that is what kept me from watching it in the first place. So, even though people said I would like it and I should try it I did not want to be that person, again. The one who rains on the parade. I assumed that it was simply a genre thing, and I said I just didn't like things set in space. But, really, there is a sort of genre cheesiness and style that some sci-fi viewers will put up with that I just can't do. To me (and I know this is blasphemy) Star Wars and Star Trek are often not constructed well as art. And the acting and writing, well, not the level I was looking for.

So, for a second here, I am going to sound like a pretentious ass, and that's okay with me, but for only about 3 seconds, then I am far more likely to switch to fangirl gushing. There is an aspect of expectation that as a viewer who is a trained literary critic and the fact that I have academic degrees in the humanities, I value the quality of a show more than any other aspect--this means I do not suffer bad writing, I need good-to-decent acting, good dialogue, and the characters have got to be likable and developed (or developing), I want the cinematography to be lovely or at least interesting, and most of all, I want fantastic stories. I am making an assumption that many of my friends who love some of the sci-fi stuff that I don't love grew up watching those shows and may have an emotional attachment that allows them to defend some of the technical aspects that I just can't forgive (like the horrible costumes). Maybe, if I had watched more sci-fi as a child, I'd have a better understanding of how camp and cheese is a good thing. Maybe. On the other had, any time you try to figure out why someone else likes something that you don't, you just end up making weird assumptions and sound like an idiot, so enough of that. Anyway, I was more than pleasantly surprised that Doctor Who delivered beyond my wildest expectations for most of these things, and manages to make camp and cheese seem more like whimsy and charm.

I have so much to say that I think the best approach is to respond generally and then move on to specifics. I will likely write about this a lot as I am pretty interested right now (although that is what I said about Jane Austen and THAT didn't happen. Ah intentions...wait, don't get distracted! Focus). Today, let me lay out the topics that are interesting to me.

1. Context. I am sort of fascinated by the idea of coming late to such an active cultural phenomenon. As I said before. I am at least 8-years late (maybe 50 depending on the math). This means that while I am still struggling about whether I love 9th or 10th doctor more, the rest of the world is mourning the 11th and preparing to welcome the 12th. While I am just learning about the Tardis, and wondering whether or not 10th Doctor had sex with Rose, the rest of the world is wearing t-shirts about a 50th anniversary. This idea of watching a show about the relative dynamics of space and time in the *wrong* time fascinates me. I am like Harriet Jones, holding up my Doctor Who Analysis and offering insights, and the rest of the world is responding, We KNOW already.

2. Netflix Vs. Real Time (BBC America). Another aspect of how I am watching this show is one that I have been talking about with another friend who is watching on about the same pace as I am. She and I started at about the same time and while I am a bit ahead (for now). We are both "binge-watching" or what I have been told is actually called "netflixing" which is when you watch whole series of television programs in a very short amount of time. I am not sure of the exact date I started watching, but it was not more than three weeks ago. Tops. In that time I watched four seasons, and season 1 and 2 twice. That is roughly 120 hours of TV in three weeks. And while I know I could never keep that pace for long, because life, it has possibly made for a unique viewing experience. One thing my friend and I had been discussing is just how emotionally we were responding to the show and wondering if everyone felt this way when they watched or if it was unique to the binge-experience. Something, that I am not sure how we would really find out. The main question being, that if you watch without time between to distract you or to mellow out the emotional response are you, in effect, multiplying the experience by condensing it?

3.  Emotional/Personal Response. This show is killing me. I literally (and I mean this is the old-fashioned sense of the word) have to take breaks. The sheer amount of personal loss and devastation about losing characters (or about their personal plot developments) is over whelming. Areas that were particularly hard are the personal relationship between Rose and the 9th and 10th Doctor, and the one they call tentoo (which I won't say too much about because I don't think Brandi has gotten there yet). The way S4 ends. The relationship between Donna and her family. The issue raised by the character of Donna about how you can be this amazing person but just won't be *successful* in the world because your skill set doesn't translate in a career. And again, I have more to say, but I'll wait until I am sure Brandi is caught up...The other two areas that have been so emotional for me are about loneliness, the theme of regeneration and change, and the sheer amount of Carpe Diem mythology.

4.  Characters. Of course there are four sort of characters. The Doctor (for me, I've only seen two Eccelston and Tennant). The Companions, Rose, Martha, Donna, Jack, Sarah-Jane, and I guess you'd have to throw Astrid in there too. The villains, Daleks, Cybermen, Henry Saxon... and of course more, and then what I am calling The Rest Jackie, Martha's family (which I can never remember their names) Sylvia, Wilfrid, and more.  I started the show already liking Eccelston, and sort of not liking Tennant (I don't know why, something about Hamlet and all the press maybe). So, there is much to be said here.

5. Individual episodes. By far and away I like two kinds of episodes the best the "Rose/Doctor" episodes, those that focus on Rose and the doctor's relationship, and those written by Steven Moffat (which I guess means I am in luck because after S4 that is ALL of them). The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances is still my favorite, then Blink. I also find this interesting, because he never writes about Rose. I don't think he likes her as much as I do :( I also prefer episodes where they travel back in time the best, then the one's in present day, and those in the future the least (prolly my own non-sci-fiction bias). I love the ones with literary connections (Dickens, Shakespeare, etc) a lot too.

Whew this is getting lOOOOOOng. So, I'll just start listing.
The role of guns, violence, and free-will. The idea of actively participating in history and people's lives (the idea of "fixed" and "flux" points in time). Gender (can the doctor ever be female?). How much hotter Tennant is in 2009 than 2005. And it isn't perspective, he just *gets hotter*...And more, much, much more.

I will close this first discussion by saying. I am surprised by just how much I do love this show. I also know that it has to be about timing. I know I would not have liked it this much in 2005. I was reading a forum on IMDB where someone who started watching around the same time that I did started a discussion in which they asked "When does this get good?" People were giving advice like, "skip to the Tennant years" or "don't give up, it gets better." My response: For me, it got good in the first 9, if you are forcing yourself to watch it, then MAYBE, it will never get good, maybe you just don't like it. At least not today.

What about you? What do you think? Please... discuss!


  1. This is a special time in your life, Kat. I envy new watchers, as there is so much to enjoy. But then again, repeat viewing is almost more enjoyable. You catch bits and pieces that flew by last time. I also fell head over heels in love with Doctor Who, and binge watched up until the Smith years, when I was forced to "slow-watch" with the rest of the world. I'm currently re-watching and forcing my husband along for the ride. He enjoys it, but isn't nearly as fanatical as I am. It's a personality flaw I'm willing to overlook.

    Anyway, I'm loving your commentary, and I think the idea of a DW discussion group would be fun. Have you checked out the DW fandoms on tumblr? Clever people, and funny. Lots of interesting insight (along with the requisite fangirl squealing).

    Okay, some thoughts in roughly the same order you gave...

    Sci-fi genre cheesiness. Yes, I think you have to grow up on that stuff to be okay with it. You know it's coming, you almost enjoy the bad rubber suits, and you know that camp (if done well) can be brilliant. DW has plenty of this, but I also feel that this series is more introspective and thoughtful than most sci-fi (with shows like Battlestar Gallactica being a huge exception...amazing show, seriously). DW does have a certain "good versus evil" component, and the Doctor is undoubtedly "good," but he's dark, and conflicted, and regretful.

    Developing there a character more developy than the Doctor? I've always considered the regeneration bit as the most brilliant move in the history of television. The Doctor can change and grow constantly, with the companion acting as a surrogate for us watchers, who are desperately trying to keep up with all the changes. The DW reboot has stayed true to many of the "rules" of the old series, but the magic of regeneration (and time travel, for that matter) has allowed it to evolve for modern watchers. Oh, and River Song. What a great, highly developed character. There are River haters out there (much like the Rose haters, which I don't get. I loved Rose), but River has so much to offer to the series.

    To Be Continued…

    1. I couldn't help but think of "The Girl in the Fireplace" and the idea of "the slower path" of Reinette's life as you talked about going from binge-watching to "slow-watching." It's funny. I want to know what happens, so I will kept watching long after I should be doing other things...And then I was in bed with Bronchitir for four days and watched for HOURS. But, at the same time, I am aware that once I catch up I'll have to watch once a week on BBC America, so I keep promising to stop and slow down.

      I have looked at a couple of the discussion groups like those you mention, but was encountering too many spoilers. And while I don't mind some, it got frustrating to know about things before they happened (I knew about tentoo or the "metacrises doctor 10" way before it happened and I wish I hadn't. That topic is one that I will have to write about. That whole storyline haunts me. Just haunts me.

      I don't really *get* the individual character haters. I guess it must have to do with a belief that there are certain ways of seeing the show and some of the storylines complicate their interpretation. I struggled a little with John Smith falling in love. In my view he belongs to Rose, and when Martha muses that she can't believe that when he is human he falls in love with someone who is not her, I kind felt that way too. But, I wouldn't go so far as to *hate* them... at least not yet. But, I did love River Song. She has the line about how she looks at the Doctor and he isn't yet her doctor, it's like looking a photograph of a person before you knew them, and they just *aren't them*. Beautiful. I look forward to more River.

      Rose is my favorite character. And I just don't mean companion. I mean character. I know. I know. But I really love her. (I could do with fewer velour track suits, but hey, it was 2006).

    2. Spoilers... yet another River Song reference and an amazing line to use on the unaware. River is dedicated to letting the story play out as "it should," which gets fascinating in "Angels Take Manhattan" (season 7). You'll love it. But the idea of the Doctor changing history, fixed points in time, entering his own time stream... all fascinating. How much should one know about one's own story?

      I've always loved Rose too. I'm not sure what the haters hate about her. She wants to really LIVE, even if it means living dangerously, but maybe she accepts tentoo because she know that she can never really have the "real" Doctor. She can live a full life with tentoo without him suffering the inevitable heartbreak of her death. The Doctor mentions throughout the series that the worst part about being a Time Lord is knowing his human companions will age and die. Tentoo is the happiest ending Rose could possibly get. And how interesting that the Doctor calls him out on genocide...

  2. Part II

    Steven Moffat. Yes. Brilliant. The Smith seasons are impeccably planned. It almost doesn't seem possible that so many details align. It's cool stuff.

    I love that you're Harriet Jones...she turns out okay in the end, and when I see the actress on Downton Abbey, I always long for her to hold up a badge.

    The emotions... oh gosh, DW is an intensely emotional experience. Again with the regeneration thing. We get so attached to these relationships, but the nature of the Doctor is movement and change, and we know that none of these characters will stay forever. The Ponds are the perfect example. They KNOW they can't run with the Doctor forever; they can't live out both a normal life and a "Doctor Life," and eventually, Amy is forced to choose. Heartbreaking. But yes, 10 losing Rose had me in tears. Even hearing the music from that episode chokes me up.

    Oh Donna...I LOVED Donna (and Martha too, who I think is the smartest and most capable of the companions, and doesn't get nearly enough credit). But Donna breaks my heart. Here's this "nothing" of a woman who can't seem to catch a break, yet she is the most important person in the universe. I think this is the underlying message of the whole series. We're presented with this vast universe that we can't control, but the Doctor stresses again and again that it's the "nothing" individuals who are the most important.

    The Saxon bit is fun if you watch season 3 over again.

    Oh, and don't forget to watch the "movies" that take place between seasons, plus the webisodes!

    The Empty Child. Yes, that one resonates with me too. And I can't see a stone angel now without feeling slightly uncomfortable. I enjoyed the Shakespeare episode, but my students thought it was too cheesy (I made them watch it on the last day of school).

    Finally, Tennant is incredibly attractive, but I think it's Tennant as the Doctor that's attractive. His Doctor is funny, brilliant, and just the right amount of snarky, and I like that.

    This is fun. Let's keep it up.

  3. Reply part II

    Steven Moffat also writes Sherlock, which I am also enjoying immensely right now. In fact, I am teaching a unit where I am having my students read Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet" and watch "A Study in Pink" from Sherlock. I think it will be great.

    (Season 4 Spoilers) After Journey's End I thought I might stop watching for good. I was so unsatisfied with that scene on the beach. It was so completely heartbreaking and unsatisfying. I just don't see how that works. Rose gets fake doctor when all she ever wanted was to make sure the Doctor isn't lonely. And 10th Doctor has to watch her kiss another guy (even if it IS him). Then while she is distracted he takes off and leaves her before she can really make her choice. How could that be a satisfying ending for anyone? It reminded me of the fake happy endings in Shakespeare plays where you think that it's all okay and then you realize that it is SO not. To me it was more sad than Doomsday. I literally had to step away from the screen because I felt like it was MY broken heart. Then, I realized that I would probably would not have loved the show as much if they had made any other choice. The conclusion of S4, the absolute madness he goes through, the story needs the Doctor to be broken for that storyline to work. Brilliant,

    I didn't find the Shakespeare Code to be cheesy. Hmmm. Now, I am worried about myself. I always had a pretty good cheesedar.

    The Empty Child/Doctor Dances is perfection. The story is wonderful. I am a big Jack Harkness fan. I love that 9th Doctor is simultaneously jealous of Jack and a bit of tease. It is set in WWII, which I love. And the reference to the gas mask in a later episode was a laugh out loud moment.

    I'll see how I feel about the Tennant as Doctor good-lookingness. I just bought Broadchurch, so I'll see how that goes.

    I like this discussion thing. Maybe we should get together and have potlucks and start a band! Or just meet up in Vegas once a year. Our own Doctor Who convention!

  4. As I've said many times, I want to take your class. I binge watched Sherlock over the course of a single week, and I can't wait for more.

    Oh, I think the Doctor is thoroughly broken. We get more of this in the Smith years (but 11 hides his brokenness more than 10 did, which makes it all the more harrowing when the cracks show), and lots of explanation during the 50th anniversary episode.

    I love Captain Jack as well. I haven't watched any Torchwood yet, but I might start it over the summer. Interesting that the Doctor considers him to be "unnatural," but I love the Face of Boe conspiracy. And the "Are you my mummy" bit was hilarious.

  5. I'll comment more after I've caught up a bit. I've been reading these comments, and then get to a part in which something that I don't want to know about is written and I skip. I'll come back to this when I no longer need to skip. I'm avoiding spoilers as much as possible. That said, I'm glad we've begun watching at the relatively same time. A friend called while I was watching season 1 and after hearing that I was watching DW, asked which Doctor is my favorite. I had only seen Eccleston... :)

  6. Okay, I feel like I'm coming to this discussion after it's already moved on from the original post and trying to drag it back--but I still wanted to respond to some of the things there.
    I consider myself more of a fantasy fan than a science fiction fan, but I think in some ways you might lump them together, so it might be worthwhile to give my explanation about what makes things appealing to me. A lot of it is about just imagining things that are different. I don't think this is escapism exactly, but it gives the suggestion that the world doesn't have to be exactly what is presented to you and what you are told to accept all the time. My second reason is much more fantasy than science fiction, and that has to do with intensity of emotion. You can get higher stakes in fantasy, and weirder, more absorbing situations, because anything can happen if it's within the rules the author has set. Stakes are higher and things can go wrong that are more important than anything that could happen in real life. Doctor Who pings the fantasy part of my brain, because it goes for the intense emotions of Things Being Important rather than the more philosophical approach suitable for science fiction.
    And in a way, I think that's part of where the cheese is--intense emotional investment isn't a very sophisticated position, but it's a really pleasurable one. As for bad costumes and the like--I don't take anything literally enough to be bothered by this sort of thing, not if I am really engaged with it.
    Of course, binge-watching tends to intensify the emotional experience, as you say. I'd like to do that but I usually watch with someone who's against it :( There was one show we watched like that and it permanently infected my brain, so there's that.
    I like the literary stuff too, but you didn't mention the one with Agatha Christie! Actually, I thought that was one of the best, and a GREAT episode for Donna. It emphasizes what I love about her, which is her enthusiasm. She has these fangirl moments where she's meeting Agatha Christie and she loves Agatha Christie and she can't really talk to her because she's wrong in time but oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh and now I get to be a detective and this is the best thing ever.
    Actually, I really like what people here have been saying about Donna, so I guess this is as good a place as any to mention how upset I was about the way that Donna left the show. The entire season was about how Donna really cared about traveling through time and space, how this was the only thing that had ever really mattered in her life. There was an arc of many episodes devoted to showing her that she WAS important and that, aside from her cosmic significance, she was smart and funny and a good person and worthwhile, even though she’d been told by her mother and her bosses that she wasn’t any of those things... and all of this, everything she ever cared about, was obliterated by the removal of her memory. So after spending all that time building Donna up and teaching her that she matters, the show acts like she doesn't. Compare to Martha, who got to leave on her own terms, one of many reasons I love her.
    Hmm, that was kind of negative, but it's the kind of negative you only get when you care about something, right? So what I'll say is that I love the characters, I love the writing, and my favorite episodes tend to be those in which characters need to work harder, or in which minor characters become important.

    1. The Agatha Christie episode! I'd forgotten about that one! I'm in the middle of re-watching season 4 and haven't quite revisited that yet. But I'm totally with you concerning Donna's real emotions over time travel. To me, she seemed like the most compassionate, honest companion, and I love her sass.

      I also agree that DW has the same heavy emotional appeal present in most fantasy, but I don't think anyone would claim that DW is hard science fiction. It's pretty soft, wibbly-wobby, timey-wimey science fiction, and the rules change often (see 50th anniversary special). I'm not quite sure, however, that DW isn't escapism. In fact, it might be the most blatant form of escapism in television. The companion, who is a surrogate for the viewer, gets whisked away to have adventures with an irresistible alien and winds up saving all of reality on several different occasions. And the companions are so different that almost anyone (and that means YOU, viewer) could be the next companion. And if you consider the companions, all except Martha were in dead-end jobs, questioning the purpose of their life, and were ready for an escape. Martha was always a bit too capable and together to be a long-lived companion.

      Anyway, hooray for DW. Fun discussion!

    2. I think you make some great points about the way that fantasy is different from sci-fi. I am also glad you explained a little because as per usual you have taught me something. I am more open to this genre (and fantasy too) these days and I think it may have to do with the idea that you can use it tell stories in new ways. I was thinking about the Hobbit yesterday. I watched The Unexpected Journey with my niece the other day. I still didn't love it, but it made me see how some of the struggles I have with storytelling can be solved by changing the rules. You can comment on human nature much more easily if the one doing the critiquing isn't human.

      I didn't talk about Agatha Christie because I knew my friend Brandi was only in S3. But, I already included spoilers in the comments and warned her they were there, so I can now.

      And yes, that was also one of my favorites. I loved how Donna was doing the same thing to Agatha Christie as the Doctor was doing to Shakespeare: giving away plot details, quotes, and talking about things that hadn't happened yet. It was a nice Doctor/Donna moment.

      While on the subject of Donna--and this was actually one of the things I was most looking forward to writing about--is how The Doctor's loss of Rose and Donna's memory loss are the same loss. The same pain. Of course, The Doctor chooses his fate, and Donna doesn't get that choice. But, it is essentially the same painful loss. In The Next Doctor Jackson says that being with his "companion" instead of his wife is just "making do" and the Doctor says that is what we all do. The ending for Donna is horrifyingly sad but no more sad than the end for Rose or the Doctor himself. Rose and Donna both get a placebo, but just as the Doctor has to keep running, keep moving to avoid his sadness, they get something to distract them, but not fulfill. That is partially what kills me about this show and also make it so good. There is no happy ending. Not for any of us. There now that was negative ;)

    3. The companion thing is very interesting, especially companionhood and competence. I've been dipping into some of the classic episodes, and there are two examples that kind of contradict each other:

      The third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, had in his first episode a companion named Liz Shaw. She is a scientist who works for UNIT and helps him figure out who he is (he's a little disoriented after regenerating). She's both likable and capable, but she is soon replaced by Jo Grant, who is tiny and adorable and bubbly and constantly gets into trouble, reportedly at least partly because Jon Pertwee said he wanted to be a little more fatherly toward his companion (that's a little creepy, Jon Pertwee, but okay).

      But then, the fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, was a very long-running Doctor and had tons of companions. One of them was Romana, who was ... a Time Lord. She's younger than he is, but she is brilliant and was the best at everything in Time Lord School and sees him as sort of eccentric. So in some ways she's even more competent than he is. I don't know exactly how many episodes she was in, since I'm running on Netflix here and don't have access to everything, but it was long enough to regenerate and come back as another actress. (She was preceded by Leela, who isn't exactly the same type of capable, but was pretty handy in a fight.) It's interesting to think about whether Romana was still a surrogate--I think the answer is yes, but in a different way. If it were a comedy show, she'd be the straight man.

      Which isn't to say that that says anything about the newer Doctor Who, of course, except that there are lots of ways for companions to be written.

      As for Martha, my favorite episodes with her were the ones in which she had to take over, but I can understand that those are challenging to write.

    4. Okay, I've run afoul of Blogger again. Now it claims I don't own my identity. That'll teach me to spend over an hour crafting the perfect comment! But let me try again.

      To me, there's an important difference between what happened to Rose and what happened to Donna, and I don't think it's just favoritism on my part.

      First, Rose got her father back. Yes, he's not exactly the same person, but still, this is a really big deal to her; it's something she's wanted desperately from the very beginning. At any rate, he's not a consolation prize, even if Tentoo (NOT the nickname I would have picked, fandom!) is. She is in mourning for the Doctor, whom she can never see again, and she is stranded forever in a parallel universe, but she's with her family, who understands what she's been through and supports her, and she herself understands where she is and why. She even has something productive to do with her life. She's come a long way from the bored shopgirl she used to be, and she gets to keep that. Rose has lost a lot, and it is terrifically sad, but she hasn't lost herself. She CAN mourn the Doctor, because she still knows he exists. And she can feel what Sarah Jane described, about normal life not being quite enough anymore, but it's because she's knows something better. She's still the girl who witnessed the end of the world and met Queen Victoria and figured out how to save the universe. This is painful, but I don't think it's a pain she'd be willing to relinquish.

      This is exactly what Donna is denied. Donna has to be reset all the way back to the beginning, into someone who might still be disappointed that she didn't get to marry that chumpy guy, someone who can still be bullied by her mother (and seriously, Donna's mother is AWFUL). Her character development doesn't count. It's...unfair. I know, I know, but it *is*. It's not that I want a happy ending necessarily, I mean, I'd take it, but I want an ending that lets the prior events matter.

      Rose's ending was emotionally devastating, but it didn't feel unfair in quite the same way. It tried to reconcile her contradictory desires and at some point she had to pay a price, not the price she would have chosen, but one that made sense to me as a viewer.

      Or maybe it's just my favoritism, what do I know.

    5. There is a foreshadowing of both these endings and the characters sort of respond to those situations in ways that let you know what they would choose if they had the opportunity.

      Rose: In "Father's Day" she is faced with losing her father (again) or losing the Doctor and in the end she makes it pretty clear what she would choose. Every time she is separated from the Doctor she fights like hell to go back to him, and it happens a lot, "Doomsday" "The Satan Pit"...and others.

      Donna: She also loses herself and everything she knows about her life with the Doctor at least twice and fights to get it back "In the Silence of the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" when she is given a family and gives up that false bliss because it isn't real. Then she even forced to lose her perfect guy, on top of it. And then in "Turn Left" when she has to die to be able to get her past back. If anything, I at least with that the guy she was marrying was the one from the Library, that would have been less cruel.

      I think it is probably there with Martha too, I just didn't invest in her story as much (my bad), but I can at least seeing it play out with The Doctor/John Smith loving Verity when he turns human. Also, she gets Mickey. And even though Mickey develops as a character (thank god) it isn't insignificant that he is cast as NOT the doctor at every turn. It is as if an underpinning of sacrifice is required. You are going to get to have this time with the Doctor, but it will have a cost, and that cost will be a dear one.

      I suppose the one that comes out the best in the end is Jack.

      So, I don't know if it can be a matter of one being worse. Is it worse to know exactly what you can do and be and know that you will never be able to do that again? To know what you've lost? Or is worse to never know how great you are? To not know what you have lost? They both seem pretty bad to me.

    6. Can I just say that Martha/Mickey makes no sense to me? Like, what do they even have in common, besides nothing? (I'm guessing she is into monogamy, otherwise I'd be 100% for a Martha/Jack relationship, but, uh, that's beside the point.)

      Actually, I don't think Martha had to pay a similar cost at all, because she got to make a voluntary decision--it's like she saw where this ride is going and decided to get off before things went wrong. The decision isn't completely free of pain, but it's less in the long run, and she has autonomy. She has the happiest ending of any of them, at least in the new series (as I haven't seen enough of the old series to speak to it).

      And at this point you're asking whether it's really better to have loved and lost, which isn't a question that gets answered.

      One might point out that Rose at least gets some reward along with her pain, but that isn't really the point (Donna's lottery ticket is certainly less valuable).


      If you look at what is more frustrating to the audience, you have to consider the value of changing a character. Memory loss is awfully close to "it was all a dream" in my book, because it's the same "none of this ever mattered." Only it's localized around a particular character, who was a character I cared about. It's like the show is saying that this character never mattered. This is all the more infuriating when one recalls how much she herself believed she didn't matter, but, well. So it's not just the sadness, I don't have a problem with sadness, it's the lack of respect for the character.

      Does that make sense? I feel like I've been having trouble getting at exactly what I want to say.

      (And Jack has to put up with immortality, which is no picnic, really, but I guess he stands it well.)

  7. Anni-- The most interesting thing (right now) to me is how the rules change. The Doctor is the last of Time Lords. Oh, except for The Master. Well, they are the last... oh and that lady who appears to Wilfrid. And now, it seems that one of the companions was Time Lord!.It is kind of how it is IMPOSSIBLE to travel to parallel universes. Except for all those times that it isn't.

  8. Apparently there was a point in DW history when he used to communicate with the Time Lords through some kind of videochat system. It's really weird to see, at least for a viewer who was exposed to the new series first. But one of the things about Doctor Who is that it's been going on for so long and has been written by so many people that there's not an expectation that everything will be consistent. It's kind of freeing.