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18 September 2014 @ 08:10 pm
Listen  
"Capaldi's a lot better an actor than most recent Doctors" my tame layman commented at the end of Listen.

Actually I think the impressive thing about Capaldi's performance here was that he opted neither for a very minimalist acting style, nor for the frenetic hyperactivity characteristic of most modern Doctors. It was the fact he was playing somewhere in between that made the final reveal here, I think, both a surprise and not a surprise.

No-longer-so-small child bugged out early on this one claiming that it would give her nightmares and it was interesting to see her relax once I explained the set up to her later. I think it interesting that a show that is notoriously about scaring children (behind the sofa) chose to make an episode that was explicitly about how there was nothing under the bed and how our own fears can magnify the mundane into something horrific. Of course, part of Moffat's schtick is making the mundane horrific, and he was enjoying doing this here but it was nice to see him pull the rug from under his own feet. It was also nice to see he can write a story that is about something real people experience. His stories have a tendency either to be about little more than the puzzle they present, or about rather esoteric sci-fi concepts - "what if my daughter was kidnapped at birth by time travelling cultists intent on killing my best friend and was nevertheless conceived in the space time vortex and so has strange time lord powers and is now older than me" type of stuff.

Clara, once again, got a much better role than she had last season. Despite the somewhat rocky start at the end of Deep Breath, it's been interesting to see Clara getting the role of someone who makes decisions for the Doctor, not something I think companions have done much in the past. I'd be interested to see that continue. Seeing Clara going back to the Doctor's childhood didn't annoyed me in the way it has obviously annoyed many people. It obviously requires a massive hand wave to make sense within Doctor Who's own logic (but, hey, impossible girl) but there is a hand wave that makes it work. I'm also not sure it was intended to be as all-encompassing a definition of the Doctor's character as many have suggested. I don't think this was Moffat hubristically trying to lay claim to Doctor Who's entire back story. He laid claim to an influential moment but I think that the show has to do that kind of thing from time to time simply to move forward and I'm not sure it is any more show-stopping than destroying Gallifrey, inventing the Time Lords, or suggesting the Doctor is half-human.


Easily the best story for some time, I would say, and the first time I've actually been convinced by Capaldi's performance, and convinced that he has the potential to be an excellent Doctor.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/127582.html.
 
 
 
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on September 18th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
I had mixed feelings about this one. The whole way through I was enjoying it, but also thinking, "This feels like a second-rate writer trying to do a Moffat." By which I mean that I was getting a bit fed up with the usual Moffatian motifs (or cliches, if you want to be cruel). But the ending took me by surprise and made me re-evaluate the whole episode in a much more positive way.

And - finally! - a monster-free episode! Sort of.

I think that the show has to do that kind of thing from time to time simply to move forward

I completely agree. As you noted Doctor Who does have a historic tendency towards quiet ret-cons, going back to The War Games (or even the softening of the Doctor's character over the Hartnell era, in a sense). The fans of the time always hate it, but a new generation of fans takes it as a standard part of the back-story. Until the next ret-con, of course.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 19th, 2014 08:43 am (UTC)
There was something of a sense of Moffat doing what he does and it once as tightly focused on a single person and place in the way some of his better episodes have been, but I think the story required it to ramble a bit since the point was that the Doctor had constructed some universe spanning threat from nothing.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 19th, 2014 08:45 am (UTC)
Oh and magister (on the purplecat version of this post) has some interesting thoughts that this season of Who is making deliberate links between Capaldi and Hartnell as the first Doctor in each of his cycles of regeneration that I thought you might find interesting.
fredbassettfredbassett on September 18th, 2014 10:44 pm (UTC)
I watched this ep tonight and really enjoyed it. There were some quite creepy moments, and I like the way the dynamic between the Doctor and Clara is developing. I found her annoying with Matt Smith but she's very much coming into her own now.

This is the first time in ages that I've enjoyed an episode.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 19th, 2014 08:42 am (UTC)
Well you found Matt Smith annoying full stop, I doubt Jenna Coleman could have saved the day. However I do think she has been written much more strongly this season.
fredbassettfredbassett on September 19th, 2014 09:42 am (UTC)
Fraid so, I disliked him from his first appearance, and with Clara was somewhat annoyed that they seemed to have just cloned Amy Pond. I'm sure there are other potential companions than white, middle-class and pretty. But perhaps not.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 19th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
But ... he cheats
I liked it a lot the first time around, found myself exhaustedly angry with Steven Moffat on second viewing. (Link to my second review, should anyone be interested.)

I think it interesting that a show that is notoriously about scaring children (behind the sofa) chose to make an episode that was explicitly about how there was nothing under the bed ...

That would have made the episode more interesting. But (as someone pointed out to me) Moffat couldn't go that far. If there wasn't something under the bed, there sure as hell was something on top of it. That sure ain't one of young Rupert's friends playing a prank just past the 19:00 minute mark.

Link to image, just in case you don't want me posting a spoiler here: Look closely at the lower left-hand corner.
a_cubeda_cubed on September 19th, 2014 08:22 am (UTC)
Re: But ... he cheats
Two words: "The Silence". Even if you actually see what it is, you instantly forget.
louisedennislouisedennis on September 19th, 2014 08:41 am (UTC)
Re: But ... he cheats
The Silence would be OK as an answer but still a lot less satisfying than "just a child playing a prank"
louisedennislouisedennis on September 19th, 2014 08:41 am (UTC)
Re: But ... he cheats
I started reading your second review but, to be honest, got a bit bogged down in the Evolution rant. I've never really expected sensible science from Doctor Who or, by extension, the Doctor. It's certainly never been why I watch.

Link to image, just in case you don't want me posting a spoiler here: Look closely at the lower left-hand corner.

Uh! *sigh* I think I'm just going to choose to be in denial about that until Moffat pulls some grand reveal at the end of the season. It's a much stronger episode if it's just a child on the bed.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on September 20th, 2014 07:24 pm (UTC)
Re: But ... he cheats
I started reading your second review but, to be honest, got a bit bogged down in the Evolution rant.

That stings a bit, but I guess I can understand it. patches365 managed to make the same point in one brief paragraph.

I've never really expected sensible science from Doctor Who or, by extension, the Doctor.

Nor do I, but I don't like really basic stuff being gotten completely wrong. (Won't somebody think of the children!)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 21st, 2014 08:34 am (UTC)
Re: But ... he cheats
I know sometimes things will particularly ping off a particular person (you should have seen me complaining about the software engineering in the Primeval episode that involved a lockdown sequence being triggered).

I tend to assume a show is on the right side of hand-waving Evolution if tame layman isn't grumbling though.
Kargicq: Neuromancerkargicq on September 20th, 2014 07:27 am (UTC)
I think all the recent Doctors have been super actors with really interesting faces. Probably a key reason why I still watch, actually! I agree Capaldi was fantastic. I liked this ep. I think the Thing Under The Blanket couldn't just be a kid, as it would be too silly if the wise and ancient Time Lord really couldn't tell the difference between a scary alien and a kid playing a prank. -N
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 21st, 2014 10:59 am (UTC)
I was slightly surprised that himself chose to contrast Capaldi with the recent Doctors. On the other hand I think its fair to say that Matt Smith clearly had a lot of talent but hadn't been in the business long and his performance was often overly frenetic and not as subtle as it could have been. I think the same is possibly also true of Tenant, though he has less excuse than Smith.

Of course Capaldi's only had four stories so far and I frankly thought his performance in the first two was overly frenetic and not as subtle as it could have been...