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28 October 2014 @ 07:40 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances  
I was rather concerned that The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances would be the first real test of NLSS Child's resolve to watch through new Docotr Who. She bugged out of Listen very rapidly, claiming it was going to give her nightmares, and this was the story that launched Moffat's reputation for creepiness.

In fact, I think she thought the whole thing was charmingly amusing.

I did take the precaution of warning her in advance that the story had a reputation for being scary, but also that it was the first Doctor Who story in which everyone lives (I decided not to get into a discussion about the nature of the fictional characters in The Mind Robber). However in the end I think it was the fact that The Empty Child relies more on a sense of creeping menace than what NLSS Child refers to as "jump scares" that meant she coped with the whole thing with equanimity. She enjoyed the general humour of the conversations and, I think, was largely oblivious to the creepiness.

Captain Jack, oddly, wasn't as much fun as I recalled though I was possibly being influenced by NLSS Child's air of mild disapproval (a con man! and he should know Rose has a boyfriend!). I think this is probably a case of familiarity with the character masking how surprising he seemed on first introduction.

The story remains remarkably solid, proving new Doctor Who's ability to sustain a narrative over 90 minutes. Moffat clearly can put together a plot that works in a much more satisfactory fashion than many of Davies' (which tend to rely on spectacle and jargon to keep the mechanics of the story moving) which makes it doubly disappointing that he's failed to do this so often in recent years - presumably a result of the pressure involved in running the whole show. It was worth revisiting this to recall how good his writing can be.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/131177.html.
wellinghallwellinghall on October 28th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for that interesting write-up (which is something that I don't say often enough).
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 29th, 2014 11:18 am (UTC)
My pleasure!
a_cubeda_cubed on October 29th, 2014 12:23 am (UTC)
We've been watching Capaldi, Smith and Ecclestone in parallel with $DAUGHTER recently. We stalled on Ecclestone though with The Doctor Dances. She got through the Empty Child with classic hiding (behind Dad or a cushionrather than the sofa) but about the start of Doctor Dances with the "trapped in a room" scene was too much for her. She made it through Listen, though.
In the old days oforiginal Who, the BBC had rules that show-runners were not allowed to write episodes. That was violated once or twice using aliases, I believe. Davies as show-runner and Moffat as writer is the best combination they've hadon NuWho, I think.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 29th, 2014 11:20 am (UTC)
$DAUGHTER is several years younger than NLSS-Child which may make a difference. NLSS-Child has also always been inclined to be scared/not scared at unexpected things and the extent to which she copes may have more to do with her level of enthusiasm for the show/story than actual content.
a_cubeda_cubed on October 29th, 2014 11:37 am (UTC)
Oh, the age difference is absolutely a factor. I wonder if the two-parter aspect of EC/tDD was too long before the resolution.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 29th, 2014 11:41 am (UTC)
Hard to say. Taken together they're not much longer than a Disney princess movie.
a_cubeda_cubed on October 29th, 2014 12:30 pm (UTC)
We don't do Disney here. I think EC/tDD is a really well set up scary piece, with a wonderful mid-point cliffhanger whic is resolved, but then leads from the frying pan into the fire with the Doctor, Rose and Jack stuck in a storeroom. That was the point at which it became too scary for $DAUGHTER to handle. Perhaps too long, or perhaps just frying pan to fire.
louisedennislouisedennis on October 29th, 2014 12:36 pm (UTC)
Irrespective of whether you do Disney, as a juggernaut franchise with pre-teenage girls as a significant audience segment I'd expect them to have a pretty good idea of the attention span/endurance of that audience.

Obviously they don't do scariness (much) and genre may have an effect here.

Also, even if you don't do Disney, I would recommend Frozen if you haven't already been exposed to it. While it is still very much Disney (so, you know), it avoids many of Disney's more irritating messages and assumptions and seems to plug directly into small girls' fascination with best friendships.