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09 May 2017 @ 08:56 pm
Thin Ice  
I'd say Thin Ice was easily the best story so far this season. It possibly benefits from the fact that, even though it is "introduce Bill to history" episode a lot of the basics of her introduction to the Doctor and his life have been covered. The episode does not need to spend its first third focussed primarily on interactions between the leads and can launch into the plot much more directly.

It possibly benefits from this, that said it is the "introduce Bill to history" episode and it is the episode that gets to grapple directly with the issue of people dying and the Doctor's culpability for people's death, so there is still a lot of emphasis on Bill and the Doctor. Somehow this episode seemed to be able to make their interactions feel much more a part of the general story as opposed to having an opening "Bill and the Doctor" act followed by the rest. I thought Bill grappling with the Doctor's responsibility for people's deaths was particularly well done. It was acknowledged and moved past without being ignored - and a lot of that is probably due to Pearl Mackie's performance because there wasn't a lot of dialogue on the subject.

I have, at various times in Moffat's Who, felt he was making a deliberate commentary upon Russell T. Davies' tenure. Rory often came across as an analogue of Mickey; there has been a lot of fairly explicit criticism of Donna's mind-wipe; and a lot of this felt like engagement with fan criticism of the treatment of Martha's colour as a non-issue in The Shakespeare Code. I'm not sure if that was deliberate or just a natural consequence of a different writer tackling the question of how a modern black woman might react to finding herself in Regency England and the things she might, in particular, notice about it. Obviously this wasn't a Moffat-penned episode so it is hard to know how much of this came from Sarah Dollard and how much was Moffat. I hope it wasn't Moffat, in a way, because six years in is way past time to be making Doctor Who in reaction to what went before.

I'm liking Bill a lot. I was initially pretty dubious about her. While, yes, it's great to have a black lesbian companion, I did worry that the writers would spend far too much using her as a vehicle to make worthy points rather than letting her be a character in her own right. In the introductory short she also seemed very broadly comic which didn't really endear her to me, but she undeniably works well with this less abrasive version of the twelfth Doctor. While there have been lots of comparisons with Rose, in some ways she actually reminds me more of Donna - someone who is very direct, not too over-awed by the Doctor and who often approaches things from a very individual angle.

Now the explicitly introductory episodes are over, I'll be interested to see how this season shapes up and gets into its stride.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/445826.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on May 9th, 2017 08:49 pm (UTC)
Agreed that Thin Ice was the best of the first three episodes, perhaps of the first four (Knock Knock seemed very good while I was watching it, but suffered from 'fridge logic' afterwards). I thought Sarah Dollard had a strong grasp of the pseudo-historical format, albeit hampered a little by a villain who was painted a bit too broadly both in writing and performance. He could practically have walked in holding a sign saying "I'm a nasty racist". He's not the first OTT Doctor Who villain, though.

It didn't really occur to me that this was a reaction to The Shakespeare Code and I find it unlikely that it was conceived as such so many years later.

I like Bill too! Not much else to say about her at the moment though.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 13th, 2017 07:37 pm (UTC)
I think there is definitely an awareness of fan reaction to The Shakespeare Code, if only as an intention not to repeat its mistakes - though, to be honest, if you are not to be considered a criticism of The Shakespeare Code you would probably do better to pick a historical setting in which being black would not be a problem (ancient Egypt springs to mind as an obvious, if probably expensive, example).
philmophlegm: I'vegotasportscarphilmophlegm on May 9th, 2017 09:28 pm (UTC)
I seem to be at odds with the consensus on this series:

Don't like Bill.
Like Nardole.
Liked Knock Knock (quite a bit in fact).
Thought Thin Ice was very mediocre and forgettable. (Actually bunn did too.) And also painfully politically correct.
Thought the first episode was also pretty poor.
Thought the second wasn't bad.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 13th, 2017 07:40 pm (UTC)
I like Nardole, or at least have nothing against Nardole which may, or may not be, because I've no real opinions about Matt Lucas.

I don't think these three episodes, taken together, are substantially different from many companion introduction in NuWho which tend to follow the one present day, one future, one past structure and with stories that, in and of themselves, are somewhat secondary to introducing the companion. I'd have to think how they compare story-to-story to the introductions of Rose, Martha, Donna and Amy (Clara is a bit of an exception) but I've mostly liked them (apart from the ending of Smile which I think less of every time I think about it).
Young Geoffreyed_rex on May 10th, 2017 06:38 am (UTC)
While there have been lots of comparisons with Rose, in some ways she actually reminds me more of Donna - someone who is very direct, not too over-awed by the Doctor and who often approaches things from a very individual angle.

I hadn't even realized I was gnawing at a parallel, but there it is! Bill's attitude towards the Doctor, if not her character, is very much reminiscent of Donna's.

And Jesus! How nice it is to realize that the companion seems to actually have (be) a character again, and exist only as a puzzle for a story-arc or a maguffin.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 13th, 2017 07:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Spot-on!
I think they realised the mistake this was with Clara, because I'd argue that they more or less rebooted her as a character in season 8 and she became much more interesting and individual at that point.
Young Geoffreyed_rex on May 17th, 2017 04:18 am (UTC)
Re: Spot-on!
I'm afraid I'll have to take your word for it. Whether due to my own residual anger or to ongoing problems with Steven Moffatt's story-telling, I found that Series 8 (and 9), just slipped away from me almost as soon as I watched an episode. In fact, more than once I watched an episode I was certain I had not watched, only to realize halfway through that, yeah, I'd already seen it.

So far, Series 10 seems to be staying in mind a little better, which surely must be a good thing!
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 17th, 2017 08:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Spot-on!
I think they over-shot in series 8 and 9 - in attempting to make the arcs more character and less puzzle focused, they fell into the trap of making neither character particularly likeable.

I'm a little sad that I feel, this season, Capaldi has finally settled into a distinctive portrayal of the Doctor that is nevertheless likeable adn he's just about to go!
liadtbunnyliadtbunny on May 10th, 2017 02:22 pm (UTC)
I've been noticing nods to RTD in the other new eps too but I don't know if that's deliberate or me seeing things that aren't there.
cynthia2015cynthia2015 on May 11th, 2017 05:36 am (UTC)

I think its both.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 13th, 2017 08:29 pm (UTC)
Agreed, I think there are some deliberate nods but once you've noticed those it becomes hard to tell what other similarities are deliberate and which coincidental.
cynthia2015: pic#127619262cynthia2015 on May 16th, 2017 09:28 am (UTC)

It really does make you wonder what the writers want us to think.:)
louisedennislouisedennis on May 16th, 2017 08:47 pm (UTC)
Ah! But the writer is dead...
cynthia2015: pic#127619262cynthia2015 on May 17th, 2017 11:44 am (UTC)

Sorry. What do you mean?*feels slow*
louisedennislouisedennis on May 17th, 2017 11:59 am (UTC)
It's a phrase meant to capture, I think, a postmodern approach to literary criticism. It's the idea that what a writer thinks about the meaning of their text is irrelevant and the only meaningful approach to understanding it is from the perspective of what the reader thinks.

I personally think that while "the writer is dead" is useful because there are obviously texts which have entirely valid readings which were probably well outside the the conscious vision of the writer (in fact I'd probably argue that really great literature almost has to have this capacity), knowing what the writer intended is also a really valuable part of understanding something. That said, I last studied English in High School over 30 years ago, so I could be talking absolute rubbish here.
cynthia2015: pic#127619262cynthia2015 on May 17th, 2017 12:04 pm (UTC)


I never heard of that before. Thanks for explaining the meaning.

It reminds me of when song writers don't want to give an explanation of what a song means because they want people to relate to it in their own way.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on May 13th, 2017 08:28 pm (UTC)
I think some of Thin Ice is a deliberate response to The Shakespeare Code - the other echoes this season could be coincidence, could be homage, could be criticism, hard to tell.