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22 May 2010 @ 10:00 pm
a little doctor who, a little book begging  
1. So, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: convince me, o my flist. I have started reading this book twice now, and each time I've gone along quite happily for 200, 300 pages--until we hit the Napoleonic Wars. And then my brain just gives up. (Last time I made it to page 405, the very end of chapter 30, which had Stephen Black in it, and then I saw that there was another war chapter ahead, and I...think I got up to eat a bowl of cereal or something, and never came back.) So--convince me. Why should I keep reading? (And also, can I skim the war bits?)

2. Had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day about Doctor Who. He is of the opinion that, although the emo of Ten got annoying, now the Doctor has no interiority at all; he's just "a guy, reacting to things." I am not convinced by this, largely because I'm not convinced that if you took away Ten's emo, you would find vast reserves of interiority there that Eleven doesn't have. I think the Doctor is unknowable. That's kind of how he rolls. And there's so much going on with Eleven, all at one time...

3. "The Hungry Earth":

--I sort of love everyone. None of you better die, okay, or I will be most put out.

--future!Amy and Rory! In Wales! Weird. I wonder where that's going.

--Amy trying to pass off her short shorts as Rio-specific amuses me muchly.

--Also, she does that thing again, where she needs to know, right now, what it is she's facing: "Doctor, what is it? Why is it doing this?" Me, if a creature from the depths of the earth were grabbing my legs, I'd be more immediately concerned with trying to get away from it than finding out what it wanted, but that's Amy for you.

--Aw, that look Tony has, when the Doctor says "good lad," all, "Who is this young whippersnapper?" Hee.

--The Doctor goes all threatening about the weapons, which gave me a bit of a chill: "I'm asking nicely. Put them away." Bit of foreshadowing there? The...er, cricket bat needing to go off in the fourth act?

--Rory called the sonic screwdriver rubbish. Oh, snap. Also, he checks up on people, making sure no one's hurt. Good on you, Rory.

--The Doctor wears his sunglasses at night. I'm just saying.

--Nasreen snapping the braces! Awesome. And the Doctor's smile--ooh, he liked that.

--Amy threatening to kick alien backside, while in Snow White's discarded coffin: love. "Did you just shush me?" Heh.

--The thing about the Doctor (this Doctor)--when his attention is on you, he's kind and dear, and it's brilliant. As we see with the little boy, Elliott. I love Eleven and children: "That's all right, I can't make a decent meringue." (Aw, his face, and the easy warmth in it.) But then he starts thinking about some other one of the million things going through his mind at any moment, and it's like you don't even exist. And he gets called to account for that, by Ambrose: how could you let a child go off on his own, in the middle of an attack, for headphones? He's gutted to realize that he was the last person to see Elliott, and didn't even notice. Just like he lost Amy earlier, he's lost that little boy, and he keeps having to spin out promises to their loved ones, knowing that there are days when he can't keep them.

--(I wonder if that little boy's name is an ET reference?)

--Once again, as with "Vampires," I really like the scene with the Doctor and the alien of the week. The writers have been very good about letting him be alien, too, in those scenes; humans are very much a "they" and not a "we," whereas Ten came out quoting from The Lion King--trying to be a native, at least when it suited him. Eleven handles those scenes differently; there's still babble, but of a different key. Ten was trying to distract; Eleven just seems to be having seven or eight conversations at once. I loved the quiet anger, too, at the Silurian's "last of my species" gambit, in part because it wasn't immediate; he gave her a chance to start over, before "I am the last of my species, and I know how it sits in a heart. So don't insult me." And ARGH, that little sad smile at "I’ll gladly die for my cause. What will you sacrifice for yours?" Oh, show.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 23rd, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
I'm finding Matt's Doctor more complex, simply because his Doctor, is not as certain as to his role in the Universe. I like the way Moffat gives us the opportunity to confront him when he makes some proclamation, or disrupts a life. As to Emo adding depth-it gives us more volume. Eleven is having to do the one thing Nine understood, but Ten avoided:Choosing a place-- because his home is gone-- and understanding that place. As long as Ten could deceive himself into thinking that he has an "authoritarian" right to Speak for humanity, he could allow himself to use our lives and Earth's defining events as his own personal stage. It is not so much that he assumes slaying a few space dragons make him Earth's savior, It was the act of shoving aside a human being who was giving his one and only life to speak for and defend us. And in spite of Martha's reprimand, he didn't get it. Six was like that, but he had issues. Ten choosing to deflower Elizabeth or showing up on Mars was pure ego. Eleven has to ask himself when is he doing what is neccesary and when are his actions just an extention of Time lord ego? And I think that is true of his emotions. Nine was intense, but at some point-- and here Donna and Martha helped us rcognize- he was just being self-indulgent in a way that not only was self-destructive but hurt others. But yeah, as" to in your in your face, reactive, though less cerebral drama, Ten's trainwreck emotions were fascinating to watch.

Edited at 2010-05-23 04:26 am (UTC)
tempestsarekind: ten has a secrettempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, Ten was such a train wreck, wasn't he? And I say that with a fair amount of love!

As long as Ten could deceive himself into thinking that he has an "authoritarian" right to Speak for humanity, he could allow himself to use our lives and Earth's defining events as his own personal stage.

I like that analysis. One of the things that's so odd about Ten is the way that he attempts to demonstrate how much he "gets" humanity, especially earlier in S2: quoting The Lion King, the whole "happy-slapping hoodies with ringtones and ASBOs" bit in "School Reunion." And that goes along with the constant "humany humans are so human, aren't they great?" stuff--but when dealing with actual, individual humans, he was frequently rather rubbish. Eleven is much more the benevolent, slightly paternalistic figure, and he's clueless about what's "appropriate" socially (as at Rory's bachelor party)--but so far he's much better at dealing with people *as* people.

I remember reading a complaint recently that "Eleven just didn't seem to love us humans as much as Ten did"--but actions speak louder than words, to me.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 23rd, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
I thought Nine pronounced just as much love when he told that couple in Father's Day how wonderful he felt their simple life was. It was a life he never had, never could have, and as a Time Lord couldn't dream of having, yet he realized, more than his older self (Ten) appeared to, that it is these little, often undramatic moments in life that are worth perserving. Ten however, seems to wants to be part of the Something Big in human events more so than any other Doctor. And I loved that bit with the wedding cake, and I loved Eleven talking with the Vampire/Fish lady queen, alien to alien, about survival, and what is ethical.
tempestsarekind: bananas are goodtempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Yes--I got the sense that Nine really meant that speech, but Ten's treatment of ordinary humans contradicted the overt sentiments of love and affection.

The showdown between Eleven and Rosanna was my favorite part of "Vampires," I think. Well, no, second favorite: my very favorite was Rory's speech about how the Doctor makes people dangerous to themselves. I love it when companions stand up to the Doctor and show the other side of what his brilliance can do to them.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 23rd, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC)
Although Four will always be my favorite Doctor, Two,Three,Five,Seven,and Eight truly seemed to promote and love to see his human companions realize and grow into their potential, rather than considering their potential something he siphon for his own benifits. There is just that fine line between giving someone wings or tying someone to you in a dependent way that we All straddled in relationships, and Ten more than any Doctor-i because of his loss--struggled with that. One was a renegade but he wasn't lonely.Two was estranged from his people but there was nothing that indicated the need for companionship until Nine; and in Ten that need became something unbalanced.
tempestsarekind: ten and martha have three hearts betweentempestsarekind on May 24th, 2010 09:52 pm (UTC)
Yes--loneliness is one thing, but Ten seems to damage companions as often as help them.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 25th, 2010 05:56 am (UTC)
I think with Ten the dynamic, or the thinking about the role of the Companion on Doctor Who changed. Moffat and Davies both admit that they wanted to explore the Doctor's emotional/sexual side. But in doing so, the role of the female in the story just boiled down to whether or not the Companion was someone the Doctor wanted or didn't want to shag. No matter how one look at it, the Companion is never any more than the Doctor's invited guest. It's not like he asked them to the share the cost of gasoline and lodging. But with Ten the Companion becomes a "Position", unpaid one at that, rather than a developing relationship. The Doctor is only required to BE, leaving the Companion trying to get by like the Damsel in latest King Kong movie, having to dance to for her life. And watching all three women with Ten, I think the King Kong analogy is pretty good. He's King Kong; he's the biggest, baddest thing in the Space Time arena, you want in, dance to his tone, or take Joe average and go home. In the old show, Liz and Jo were "hired" by unit to work with the Doctor, and Romana was assigned by the Time Lords to work with him. Susan was his Granddaughter, so that was family relationship. Everyone else kind of stumbled into his life. This was still still true with Nine, but becomes unbalanced with Ten, because any relationship with Ten was about what Ten needed emotionally--period. The heck with the Companion's life or needs. The Companion either fulfilled his emotional needs (Rose) or she didn't(Martha), but in Season Three and Four, there was this nasty suggestion that the Doctor's emotional attachment to a person was the yard stick in which others measured the person's worth. There is a big difference between creating a situation where there is sexual or romantic tension between two characters, and creating a situation where we're just waiting to see whether the Doctor gets someone he wants to mate with or not.
tempestsarekind: amelia pond (ready for adventure)tempestsarekind on May 25th, 2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
Yes--the way Ten treats his companions seems unpleasantly linked to whether he "loves" that person or not. And one of the things that really soured me on RTD is that he seemed to think that was how things are and should be: the problem with Ten and Martha is that Martha's feelings for the Doctor made things awkward, or that Ten really was hurting over Rose, so poor Martha got a bad deal--but Ten's feelings for Rose should have NO bearing on whether Ten treats Martha with the consideration and respect that she, or anyone, deserves.

Which is one of the things I like about Eleven and Amy: there's a sense that he's trying to make things up to her by inviting her on board; it's not just about his loneliness. And despite the potential awkwardness of Amy's attraction to him, he still treats her with kindness and acts like he enjoys her company.

Edited at 2010-05-25 04:15 pm (UTC)
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 25th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
The Doctor invited Amy when he believed her to be a severely neglected child. This fits in actually with Susan, who, in many canons is not the Doctor's blood relative, but possibly the Granddaughter of the Other, and the last naturally born child of Gallifrey. He took her and the Box (TARDIS) from Gallifrey's past. But the Doctor is not fleeing home with the humans. He does rescue some people who become Companions. Others are stowaways, but he is giving the humans "a treat" when he takes them through time and space. Skip ahead, Gallifrey and whatever the Doctor was rebelling against (he seems a little Lawrence of Arabia, a little Lord Bryan fighting with Greeks....) is gone. Asked to lead, he refuses and runs like hell, until he cannot run any longer. He destroys his planet and has nothing.
This is where it gets tricky, because although we hurt for the Doctor and want him to have love and companionship ,there is this line between what he needs and what he is entitled to, and Ten crosses that line with Martha and with humanity in general. No human is responsible for his lost, and we know that Humans fought died in the Time War, so humans of Rose/Martha/Donna's time are no more beholden to the Doctor than they are to Ace. (Ace supposedly died in the Time War) Fellow adventurers, yes, but they are not crew. Martha is not a child, or needy, or running away. She may be wide eyed about space and Time Travel, and a little star struck by the Doctor's abilities, but the scent of apple grass,(even if he had taken her to the surface during "good times), would not have changed Martha's mind about the future of mankind emoting through drugs. Drug use must have been in place when the Doctor visited New to the infinite New York with Rose.
The Doctor realizes, I have to become a grown-up. But he is not a grown up. A 900 year old individual in a species that lives to be 20,000 years old or more (Patience, the Doctor's ancient Pythia Bride live to a million years!)is young. Trying to be adult unleashed a dark side of the Doctor. It was an intriguing approach to the beloved hero, but RTD suddenly backs off, and begins promoting the Doctor's insensitivity as "Alien reaction to love" or blame the female statements with enabling language like: Martha's love for the Doctor makes him uncomfortable; Martha's tragic, unrequited love for the Doctor, ruins the relationship as if Martha's falling in love with the Doctor was some huge social faux pax.

Edited at 2010-05-25 06:50 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekind: martha londontempestsarekind on May 25th, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC)
Fellow adventurers, yes, but they are not crew.

Quoted for truth. Ten didn't get that--and parts of fandom didn't, either: I remember all of these comments about how Martha sucked because she wasn't the friend that Ten "needed" at that time, and instead kept pushing her emotions into his face or whatever. Which is nonsense, because you couldn't *be* less pushy about your own feelings than Martha is; but even if it were true, Martha doesn't owe the Doctor anything. She gives him her loyalty, but she is not obligated to salve his emotional wounds.

And yes--the bigger problem with RTD's version of the Doctor (especially Ten) was not so much that he tried to make the Doctor "adult" and "dark," but that he then backed off of it and tried to shift the blame for Ten's actions to anyone else around (see also: Harriet Jones).
Magistrix Texan: OMGerstwhiletexan on May 23rd, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
JS&MN is one of my all time favourite books and my favourite parts were all the Napoleonic war parts. :( I've always found that people need to be convinced to get past the first two chapters -- I'm kind of surprised you can get to page 405 and not want to finish it! The last volume is electrifying -- it brings everything together, even all the little inconsequential things you forget about. I just absolutely think it is one of the greatest pieces of fiction I have ever read!

What about the Napoleonic War things don't you like?
tempestsarekind: regency house party [s&s]tempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
Possibly the problem is that I *loved* the beginning and wanted more ancient talking statues and such. :) But I've never been one for military history, anyway--so while I enjoyed the first Napoleonic War bits, a little of that goes a long way, for me. People talking about magic in drawing rooms is much more my thing.
(Deleted comment)
tempestsarekind: very few dates in this historytempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is very episodic, and I think that's part of the problem for me, as well: I like many of the episodes, but it is easier for me to put it down and forget to come back to.
Neaneadods on May 23rd, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed JS&MN, but in that languid "take several weekends to dip in and out of it" way. It doesn't really start taking off until the last third, hate to tell you.

In your shoes, I'd start skimming the war bits. Or just jump to the last 200 pages.

I'm holding off on commenting on Hungry Earth - I liked a lot of it, but I want to see how it goes before I solidify my opinion.

Edited at 2010-05-23 02:19 pm (UTC)
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm glad to hear that it's possible to skim the war bits! They're really the problem; I can read the book a little at a time and enjoy it, but I find myself struggling to get through those bits after a while.
stoplookingup: Eleven clockstoplookingup on May 23rd, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
To me, Eleven has so much more depth than Ten because he's not as one-note. Ten was entirely defined by his guilt; Eleven is more a character in flux, figuring himself out as he goes along, which I find much more compelling and convincing.
tempestsarekind: eleven and amytempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Eleven is more a character in flux, figuring himself out as he goes along

Yes! And that's so interesting to me, because I don't quite know who he is yet, either, and I'm enjoying the process of figuring that out. Ten never got to grow or change or learn as a character (except *maybe* in "The Waters of Mars," though even that just seems like a continuation of his behavior with Harriet Jones), which was ultimately frustrating.
stoplookingup: Eleven clockstoplookingup on May 23rd, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
It almost feels like Eleven is delivering all of Ten's growth-and-change payoffs, FINALLY.
tempestsarekind: amelia pond (ready for adventure)tempestsarekind on May 23rd, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
One can only hope!
(no subject) - cisic on May 24th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
tempestsarekind: austen bonnetstempestsarekind on May 24th, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC)
I feel as though I should like the book more than I do--since I love Austen so much--but it has a tendency merely to make me wish I were actually reading Austen. :) Of course, many other things do that as well...
clean all the things!!!: specs appealthepresidentrix on May 24th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, this episode freaked me out! I was so scared, and though I guess I knew it by ten minutes from the end, I was not expecting another two-parter! Eek!

I'm all a-crogglement at this notion of no interiority. Eleven's brand of brio somehow makes his private emotions all the more searing to me. There's something about the way he shows *fear* that gets to me more than the fear of the previous Doctors. Like, Ten's fear was all, 'Zounds, this is grim!' but Eleven's is more like, 'I'm frightened.'

Funny that you should be writing about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I just opened this entry, and I had not five minutes ago been thinking of heading into my room, plucking it off the shelf and giving it another go. (I've never even made it as far as you have).
tempestsarekind: world in peril? have some teatempestsarekind on May 25th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
Okay, now I can't stop picturing Ten going, "Zounds!" And then I giggle, a lot.

But yes--I like your distinction! Eleven's fear seems to be more personal, maybe because Matt Smith has such a young-looking face. That moment when Amy gets pulled down into the earth: his face is like a hurt child's, struggling not to cry. And I think Eleven shows fear more often than Ten, too: Ten headed toward rage and shouting so quickly--which is why one of the most shocking Ten moments, for me, is in "42," when he says to Martha, "I'm so scared." brr.

Hee, I wonder if there's something in the air that is suggesting "books with Regency magic." If you try it again, good luck!