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07 November 2015 @ 03:28 pm
The Girl who Died/The Woman who Lived  
I'm not sure what to make of The Girl who Died/The Woman who Lived. I'm not even sure if its accurate to treat it as a two-parter since the two episodes were written by different people and feature a central character who, in the second episode, is (deliberately) almost unrecognisable as the character who appeared in the first.

I liked The Girl who Died better than The Woman who Lived. Both were uneven in tone but I think The Girl Who Died balanced its humour and seriousness better than The Woman who Lived which was mostly a more weighty story in which the almost-farce of the robbery felt awkward and out of place. The Woman who Lived also relied heavily on conversation for most of its drama and I'm not sure either script or acting were quite up to it. NLSS Child certainly grew restless and felt there was too much "talking about morals". This was disappointing since, like many people, I had been eagerly awaiting a Catherine Treganna penned episode (and perhaps part of my disappointment was unrealistic expectations).

I'm not a follower of Game of Thrones so this was my first exposure to Maisie Williams. I wasn't as impressed as many have been. I thought she was excellent in places - particularly the closing shots for The Girl who Died which conveyed her changing emotional state over the years - but a lot of the rest of the time, particularly in her discussions/arguments with the Doctor she seemed rather artificial and one-note. Obviously Lady Mee, in particular, is a challenging role for a young actress especially when married to a script with a heavy emphasis on discussion and debate. Having said all that, I think Ashildr/Mee is an interesting addition to the Who mythology. I wouldn't mind seeing her again.

For all The Girl who Died was examining the Doctor's angst about death and destruction, it was mostly a light-hearted piece. I suspect the visual allusion to Monty Python and the Holy Grail was deliberate and was supposed to look a bit naff - The Mire are a little naff and, one suspects, you are supposed to think they were using cheap special effects to achieve their aims just as the Doctor, at the end, uses the equivalent of a cheap special effect to defeat them. We have subsequently, in a fit of possibly misguided enthusiasm, exposed NLSS Child to Monty Python and the Holy Grail of which she approves (though she will only digest it in half hour chunks). She spotted the similarities in the "God appears" scene in both herself and I think this rather raised her opinion of Monty Python, than lowered her opinion of The Girl who Died.

NLSS Child disapproved of the Viking helmets. TBH I'm happy just to assume that vikings in Doctor Who have horns, as established in the Time Meddler. Tame Layman forgave the horns but objected to the electric eels. Neither of them spotted the awkward mash-up between 18th-century highwayman and 17th century setting in The Woman who Died. Doctor Who has only rarely been interested in historical verisimilitude. As with many things, I wish they would take a little more effort over this kind of thing, but I have to acknowledge it's mostly irrelevant to the story.

Given the more humorous elements of The Girl who Died didn't bother me, in fact I enjoyed them, I think this season, so far, has been pretty strong. Having said that there haven't been any episodes that have really stood out and I had vaguely thought, based on pre-publicity, that one of this pair might do that. In the event I preferred the slightly slapstick humour and lack of pretence of the first to the higher aspirations of the second which I didn't feel entirely worked. There's nothing particularly wrong with these episodes but I wasn't excited.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/177095.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 7th, 2015 06:57 pm (UTC)
It is an odd two parter, isn't it? Moffat has said he wants to play with audience expectations about story length this year. It does feel more like a story with a sequel presented immediately rather than a year later as might have been the case previously.

As with many things, I wish they would take a little more effort over this kind of thing, but I have to acknowledge it's mostly irrelevant to the story.

I would agree. I think new Who sometimes has an unnecessarily low opinion of its audience, particularly when it comes to historical and scientific detail.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 9th, 2015 07:08 pm (UTC)
I think there must be some level at which jobbing script writers/costume designers don't have the time to research everything and make certain assumptions about audience expectations and what they need to get write and what they don't need to worry about.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on November 9th, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
I think I got bothered more about the Viking helmets because the author said he knew they were wrong, but that people expected them, which somehow seemed the wrong way around. I actually didn't notice the costume errors in the second episode, despite having studied the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in some depth, so that shows what an Oxford education will do for you... (To be fair I did get annoyed as an undergraduate that serious history books were not illustrated because I wanted to visualise the fashions and furnishings.)
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on November 10th, 2015 08:33 pm (UTC)
Visual shorthands (even if incorrect) can be handy. I recall getting into a massive argument in my early fan fiction writing days with someone who wanted to know how the Doctor could tell that he was looking at the aftermath of a battle (rather than some other kind of massacre) and I was resisting putting a line in the story which started "judging by the relative distribution of the bodies...".

Horned helmets = vikings so the script doesn't have to explain who they are and everyone can move on with the story. I'd argue that there were less anachronistic ways of conveying the same information in a compact fashion, but I can see that sometimes the writer just wants a quick visual short hand.
fredbassettfredbassett on November 7th, 2015 09:36 pm (UTC)
I liked the eps, but the historical mash up in the second one was dire and pretty unforgiveable. there's no excuse for such lazy script editing.

BTW, I keel meaning to ask, but what does NLSS stand for in the context of 'NLSS child'?
louisedennislouisedennis on November 9th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
Sadly that sort of script editing laziness is all too prevalent, so it's obviously not a bar to success :/

NLSS stands for No Longer So Small
fredbassettfredbassett on November 9th, 2015 07:30 pm (UTC)
No, clearly not. But I'm old fashioned enough to think professionals should do a professional job. But most of the script editors you see are barely out of nappies and can't edit their way out of a paper bag.