Tuesday, July 15, 2008

end of the world party

ok, here are the rest of my thoughts on the doctor who finale, which airs in the u.s. starting august 1 on sci-fi. tune out if you don't care and DON'T READ ON IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

despite my sorrow and outrage over what was done to donna, i really did enjoy "journey's end" ... even more the second time. the pack of companions was fun: interestingly, i just finished watching a DVD of the 1983 special "the five doctors" -- also chock-full of companions, as well as (more or less) all the doctors in existence up to that point. likewise, "journey's end" had most of the new series' companions (plus sarah jane and k-9 from then/now). and only two doctors. welllll, two versions of the same doctor, to be precise. anyway, just look at 'em all:

i listened to this "easter egg" DVD commentary on "the five doctors," which features david tennant, who producer phil collinson (who's actually leaving the show as of the end of this season -- wah!), and script editor/writer helen raynor. basically they drink champagne and talk about how, when they were kids, this was the most. exciting. thing. EVAR. but one of them, i think tennant, also notes that the onslaught of companions and doctors is "almost too much." in a way, so was "journey's end." it was an hour long, but so much was crammed into it. some things felt too truncated (like the rose storyline, despite the time spent on it and the resolution ... idk, i didn't feel like the "real" doctor and rose really got their moment). and some characters -- hello, gwen and ianto -- kind of got stashed away and didn't do much.

but, eh, so what? b/c: daleks!

the squirrel commented that "supreme dalek" (the one above in the middle) sounds a bit like a sandwich from burger king -- ahahaa. but his red plating was cool. crazy ol' dalek caan, hanging around naked and giggling all the time. whee! and of course the return of davros kicked up a LOT of excitement -- julian bleach made a magnificent davros, did he not?

davros taunts the doctor about emotion being a weakness (bored now), and the same sorta stuff that i recently heard the cybermen going on about in the fifth doctor ep "earthshock." but wtf: apparently, at least for the daleks, having no emotions means also having no bullshit detector. after all, they're the ones following a mad leader and his totally insane "prophet," dalek caan (who's not even on their side -- hahahaaaaaa!).

somewhat ironically, davros also blah-blahs about the doctor bringing death to multitudes (so much for emotions being a weakness?). it was a bit tiresome: just the usual evil-talking-shit (as in, he's evil, and he's talking shit!). yeah, it was cool to see davros come back (and share that warm-fuzzy moment with sarah jane ...), but in a way it was at the expense of other moments that mattered more. first off, we've been over this whole "doctor, savior or menace?" thing before, most recently in "turn left." i don't even see this rap as an effective guilt trip -- at least it wasn't in "the satan pit," when the devil hizownself taunts the doctor with much the same spiel, and our wild-haired hero doesn't even flinch. idk, maybe losing people in battle, while he lives on, is one of those things that festers in the doctor's soul ... but it's no poor reflection on him that people fight harder when he's around. besides, if we're talking about bringing death to multitudes of daleks, well, someone give that man a medal.

anyway, i've already made this argument at length, so i'll spare you further tirade.

davros makes it out like so many people have sacrificed themselves for the doctor ... as though, again, there was never anything more at stake than the doctor's life. when there often was -- including here. davros twists their intentions and mocks the doctor for turning his "children of time" into killers. well, if anything, they're soldiers (and i would prefer the word "fighters," actually) -- and there IS a difference. they're not out there trying to detonate reality bombs and wipe out everything but themselves (lookin' at YOU, davros); they're doing what they have to do to save their world. (er, not that i expect davros to approve of it. of course he's gonna proselytize against that sort of resistance, since resistance is, to the daleks, futile -- or at least it was until star trek co-opted that catchphrase for the borg, and now resistance to the daleks is merely useless.)

anyway ... once again, martha gets sent off to far-flung corners on a solitary mission, and she's her usual brave and tough self, gamely pulling the ripcord on that experimental teleportation pack and flickering off to do the hard task.

i really dug how martha pauses, before engaging the osterhagen key, to give the daleks a choice -- just like the doctor would. and also how both she AND sarah jane had ways to wreck the whole dalek plan. but, dang -- the idea of UNIT creating some protocol to blow up the world in order to save it from horrible suffering is, like, so totally the nanny state taken to its most insane extreme!! (probably the scariest thing about this episode.) whatever happened to "where there's life there's hope"?

still, martha's kind of insane devotion to duty has to be at least ONE reason why jack is heavily recruiting her to join torchwood. (i'm sure there are others ... .)

despite the companions' various i'll-blow-you-all-up stances, in the end, of course, the doctor is the most hardcore of all. well, it's doctor two who destroys every dalek ... but somebody had to.

and does the original doctor appreciate this quick-thinking, take-charge action? no, he does not. instead he yells at doctor two and tells him to "get in the TARDIS!" -- as though he were a wayward child (of time?).

OTOH ... the exchange b/w doc2 and donna in the TARDIS -- when he's giving her a hard time about not believing in herself, and she's all "stop it, doctor," but he keeps it up and kinda hurts her feelings -- underscored that he is a separate entity. the original wouldn't have done that. he's got more compassion, or restraint i guess, than his clone ... with daleks as with donna. i sometimes feel like there is some wiggling b/w whether the doctor actively needs to remind himself to be fair and kind, or if he simply does stuff like giving daleks and sontarans and giant spider-things and nestene consciousnesses a choice b/c to him that's just naturally right. maybe it's both. i suppose when you can see the whole of space and time laid out before you like a patchwork quilt, maybe a moment when the daleks won't be evil seems possible. and maybe that makes them worth trying to save. i dunno. certainly, though quite mad, dalek caan does realize how wrong the daleks are. (but, er, his solution is the same: exterminate!) maybe that gives the doctor some sort of hope.

anyway, yes. doctor two. he's got one heart, one life, and he talks like donna. no wonder the doctor leaves him in the other dimension with rose (and how come mickey can go back to his original reality, but not rose?). on one hand, it's so typical that rose finally gets her very own doctor, and he (and his hardly-used parts) wants to be with HER (b/c he's human and so can let himself feel all those feelings that the doctor can't but does). and yet rose STILL whinges that the doctor is the doctor, and this guy ain't the doctor!! which doesn't stop her kissing him. b/c, welllll, at least he actually can say he loves her.

technically, of course, rose is right. (i mean, before she asked the doctor what his last words were to her when they saw each other in bad wolf bay the first time, for a second there i thought she was going to ask him what she was supposed to call doc2 ... heh.) it's an uneasy wish-fulfillment at best, and when doc2 slips his hand into rose's at the end of that scene, it parallels what she did with the doctor as the TARDIS plunged to its death in the dalek crucible -- but i also couldn't help thinking of the ending of the graduate.

it's sort of sweet when the doctor says, "he needs you, and that's very me." those are fairy-tale words, though, and they don't really match the strange sense of uncertainty in that shot. rose did help the doctor, but it was always a two-way street. and, sure, doc2 has much to give rose, but is she always gonna think of him as not HIM? anyway, the idea of just saying, essentially, "you can fix him" feels -- not even so much sexist as just incredibly old-fashioned.

at any rate, with the arrival of doc2, mickey's decision to go back to his original reality shows he's hardly an idiot (although he long ago disproved that anyway).

like martha, mickey knows he has to get the hell away from the object of his unrequited love (ie, rose) if he's ever going to get over her. now, i know that martha has a fiance and all, but if she and mickey really end up on torchwood together (and don't you think they will?), could sparks fly? they don't really seem like each other's types, but think about gwen and owen. TOTALLY wrong for each other -- and totally, freakishly HOT together. so ... given all the sexual frisson that's gone before, we can always hope for a little martha/mickey action in the bowels of the hub somewhere, or out on some lonely patrol, or in the middle of a firefight, or ... . (actually, i suspect it would be more like the tosh/owen thing, with mickey being gaga over martha and her being all "whatevs.")

i always enjoy the ways in which RTD and the other writers set up the season's arc early on and let threads dangle throughout the run. but the more i think about rose and her trying to contact the doctor etc. etc., the more that seems like a distraction. i mean, the real climax was donna becoming part time lord for a while and transcending her humanity and saving the universe ... at a cost (shades of bad wolf, i suppose). and for a while, all vectors in the multiverse pointed to donna. xlnt.

i loved the way the TARDIS took matters into its own, er, doors -- trapping donna inside so that she could effect the creation of doc2 and save it. (so, strictly speaking, that actually WAS "time lord treachery.") i'd like to see more character development for the TARDIS -- ahaha. seriously, i do wish they'd show some more of the inside, like in the old days. OTOH, i'm not so keen on the notion that a TARDIS properly requires six pilots, but whatev.

not that i didn't enjoy the scene in the TARDIS where everybody's working their bit (donna: "that's very good, jack; i think you're the best") -- while everyone down on earth hangs on for dear life and screams and leaps about in joyous relief at being saved. but the soaring music was a bit much, and, well ... it's probably best not to get too deep into the whole TARDIS-tows-the-earth-back-home thing. it was funny, at least.

i already mentioned in the donna post the things i turned out to be right about this season (and i was also wrong about stuff, but why dwell on the negative?). i was also right that events were being manipulated by an unseen force, which turned out to be dalek caan. that's not exactly a brilliant perception, though -- it seems like every season there's a singular force behind the action.

still, i felt a little too in sync when the doctor asked torchwood gwen if she came from an old cardiff family, and he and rose meta-tastically commiserated about how much gwen reminded them, clearly, of gywneth from the ninth-doctor ep "the unquiet dead" -- which i mentioned recently.

finally, i have rashly said that i'd rather donna were dead than in her current state of unawareness. on friday i had a great chat with a fellow DW fan -- who was equally distressed by donna's fate but gently noted that at least donna not being dead means there's a chance of her coming back someday. ok, that's a good point. it doesn't seem like she will, but i am all for it, man. ALL for it.

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