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04 September 2011 @ 03:09 pm
vague Doctor Who thoughts  
Right. So. Basically, I feel like I would be happier with lots and lots of things if we ever had one single, solitary moment of "Amy, Rory, let's sit down and discuss how your CHILD WAS STOLEN AND THAT SUCKS." "Let's Kill Hitler" made me initially quite crabby in fairly irrational ways (such as, "Boo, who is this annoying Mels person; you can't have the Doctor stories because they belong to AMY!"), but after I thought about it a bit more, there was a lot about it that I liked, thematically. I really like the idea that we start with a tiny paradox: do the Ponds learn how to contact the Doctor when he isn't answering his phone--create a mystery, and the Doctor will come to investigate--from River, or does she learn that from them? (Or both; this is Doctor Who, after all.) Rory even says "You never answer your phone" like River does in "The Pandorica Opens": like father, like daughter. And I like the fact that we end with a big paradox: ultimately, River Song winds up creating herself, starting down the path of living up to the person the Doctor has already watched her be. And I liked the fact that the Hitler plotline was a ruse, and a winking nod to the first thing you learn in Time Travel 101: you can't kill Hitler. I liked that the Justice Department is an obvious foil for the Doctor, who goes around using time travel to save people, not to dispense punishment. And I liked that in the Mels flashbacks, she's basically accusing the Doctor of failing to save. The Doctor saying "I can be brave for you, Amelia" broke my heart into tiny pieces. I even like the idea--in theory--that Amy and Rory get to raise Mels without knowing it. (And I assume the Doctor will eventually play some part in that; how else would she get from 1969 New York to Amelia's Leadworth?) But this idea only works for me, only really-truly works instead of just in theory, if I can see that Amy and Rory believe in it and accept it, that for them it soothes their loss in some way. And that's what we never get, in this episode. And I'm getting more and more worried that we won't ever get it, though I will be very, very happy to be proven wrong.

(I think the episode's emotional weight is also harmed by the fact that it opens several months after the events of "A Good Man Goes to War," without any moment of grieving or waiting on the Ponds' part. A quick scene would have sold it to me--the episode opening with the two of them sitting on the couch, maybe, Rory saying "We can't just sit around and do nothing!" and Amy saying--with that marvelous belief she has in the Doctor, strong enough to bite psychiatrists for--"The Doctor'll find her," but then trailing off into a worried "...He has to." Fade to the Ponds in a field of grain driving a car, months later, ta-da, totally simple.)

"Night Terrors" has the same problem, although this is less the fault of the episode itself. I assumed, given how early pictures of Amy's costume for this episode started making the Tumblr rounds, that this episode must have been shot really early on. And what I've been reading today bears that out: it was supposed to fill the episode 3 slot before Moffat moved it around. Bad move, I think. Because "The Curse of the Black Spot" might not have given us all that much time to reflect on Amy and Rory's loss of Melody...but at least it wouldn't have been an episode about a scared little child who needs someone to find him and help him--which never seems to affect the Doctor or Rory or Amy at all. (Again, a quick inserted scene could have helped, maybe even in the lift before the button gets pushed--since that would be a pretty easy set to reconstruct later. RORY: "Amy, wait. Why are you so focused on finding this little boy?" AMY: "You know why." RORY (taking her hand): "...Yeah. Yeah, I do." Lift button gets pressed, Amy and Rory get zapped into dollhouse, totally simple.)

(Apparently I construct fix-it scenes in my head when Doctor Who makes me crabby. Who knew.)

(And of course, Amy has another reason to be so invested: she's been that child, afraid of monsters no one believed were real--until the Doctor showed up, and gave her the gift of believing her. This is why the Doctor's scenes with George are kind of disappointing--but more on that in a second.)

Though it's not that I thought the whole episode was a roaring success even without that; it sort of has the same problem as Gatiss' last episode, "Victory of the Daleks," in that it seems to be trying to do things in shorthand when they need to be written out the long way. It's a good idea in theory, but the middle drags without bringing anything new to the party (yes, they're in a dollhouse. Still in a dollhouse. Yup, also in a dollhouse). And the emotional bits feel off. I mean, I suppose every scene between Eleven and a child can't be fish fingers and custard (though they should try to be), but the Doctor strikes up a lovely little rapport with Elliot in "The Hungry Earth" in no time at all, and here all he does is make some toys move. Also, does the mother just never find out that her kid's actually an alien? That's...awkward.

Speaking of alien children, another difficulty here is that the ending gets wrapped up too tidily, and the solution is too dependent on the Doctor's suddenly remembering everything about this alien species we've never encountered before (they send out lots of young! who can morph into whatever you want them to be! oh, and they're psychic, so George can do all this without knowing it!), and then intuiting something about the little boy's emotional state that he really has no reason to suspect (or that he can only suspect because this is yet another characteristic of this alien species that conveniently gets blurted out right when it's needed). I don't know if this episode would have been a stunner if written by Moffat instead of Gatiss, but I do think that 1) Moffat can do Doctor-and-child scenes very well; and 2) one thing that Moffat is generally good at is finding ways to give the viewers information before we need it, seeding it as we go, rather than leaving it all for a blurt at the end. I think both of these things would have helped this episode a lot.

Or, you know, this:
ericadawn16: Optimismericadawn16 on September 4th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
Honestly, at first I thought George might turn out to be another regeneration of Melody or they would hope it would be Melody because I wasn't sure if there was rewriting or how much.
tempestsarekind: bananas are goodtempestsarekind on September 4th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, that would have been a great way of handling the message at the beginning ("Doctor--what if it's Melody?"), although I suppose it would have required some refilming. Still, it's not like the TARDIS set isn't always there...
ericadawn16ericadawn16 on September 7th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC)
I'll assume it happened off screen...
tempestsarekindtempestsarekind on September 7th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
A reasonable assumption. :) That's what head canon is for, after all.
Emily-- Toppington von Monocle: eleven wall [doctor who]sadcypress on September 4th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah.... All of this.

Did you see the little prequel to LKH? It does help a bit to form a link between the two episodes, although it's still not really enough.

I think I'm just resigned to not being impressed by Gatiss episodes, with 'The Unquiet Dead' being the exception. It makes me wonder what the balance is like with Gatiss and Moffat over on Sherlock, because I don't really know what the process is over there but obviously DO know how much I loved the end result (except for HUGE SWATHES of Blind Banker, of course, but ah well).
tempestsarekind: a sort of fairytaletempestsarekind on September 4th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I did see the prequel, and you're right: it helps a bit, but it doesn't make up for not seeing it.

It's weird: I have the same feelings about "The Unquiet Dead" (which was my first DW episode). Mark Gatiss seems like a lovely man, but somehow his other episodes go all wonky after a promising idea.
litlover12 on September 4th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
^Yeah. This.

I realize shows often have difficulty dealing with infants. But "have her be spirited away and no one be all that concerned about it" seems like rather a drastic way of dealing with the problem. Even Lucy and Ricky didn't do any worse than stowing the kid away in the back bedroom for most of his young life.
tempestsarekind: rory and amytempestsarekind on September 4th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
Especially because "have her be spirited away and have them actually be concerned about it" is still on the table! And then they travel with the Doctor to try to find her but still have adventures because the Doctor is a rubbish driver and/or they think Melody might be hidden away in the places they land! It's not that hard.
pink for pterodactyl: dw: dalek invasionsignificantowl on September 4th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
it was supposed to fill the episode 3 slot before Moffat moved it around.

I didn't know that! Well... damn. Here I was ready to give the lack of mention of Amy/Rory/children issues the benefit of the doubt and think that it might possibly point towards timey-wimey shenanigans (old costume, no mention of River, "seeing you in the flesh" comment... possibly an adventure with flesh!Doctor? etc.) OH WELL.
tempestsarekind: captain jack harkness: MAKES THE TEA!tempestsarekind on September 5th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
Alas. :)

(Also--on a shallow note--I'm really not liking Eleven's new coat. I'm sure I'll get used to it in time, but it doesn't actually go with the tweed blazer to me, and it kind of looks like he just stole it from the Jack Harkness reject pile.)
viomisehuntviomisehunt on September 5th, 2011 08:05 am (UTC)
Night Terrors started out scary and just flat-lined in the middle for me. Rory and Amy's blase attitude towards a child in trouble did not ring true. Then there was so much STUFF going on with the Father and the Doctor that was supposed to be Banter, and the neighbor with the dog, and it was more distracting than engaging in spite of the earnest performances. The Dolls weren't scary--just kind of silly, and I was reminded of Fear Her with the father reassuring the child of his love for some reason.

I thought George might be the Master. The entire plot of Amy and Rory-- especially Amy-- kind of putting aside finding their BABY is BS, but it is written by males.

Edited at 2011-09-05 08:07 am (UTC)
tempestsarekind: martha londontempestsarekind on September 5th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC)
I don't buy that--the idea that "oh well, men don't know how to write about parent/child relationships, they're only men," I mean. For one thing, Moffat has kids, so presumably if someone kidnapped his child, he wouldn't be all, "oh well, too bad, but I might as well get on with my adventuring, hey?" For the second thing, writing is about imagining yourself into someone else's shoes, so even if Moffat had no kids at all, he should be able to imagine that Amy and Rory might be a little upset at Melody's loss.

And the thing is, he does know that--hence the prequel before "Let's Kill Hitler," where Amy calls the Doctor and worriedly asks him if he's found Melody yet. So he knows it's important; he just hasn't bothered to let it get in the way of the big story he wants to tell, apparently.
litlover12 on September 6th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
Yeah. I mean, I know how tempting it is to say, "Well, no wonder, it's a man. Men don't understand these things" -- but the fact is that there are a lot of men in this world who love children. (And I don't mean that in a gross way . . . and I feel sad that I even have to specify that, in this sick world.) If not their own, then young siblings and cousins and nephews and nieces and godchildren and neighbor kids. Any man, with or without kids, should be able to understand that a parent would keep worrying about his or her lost child!
tempestsarekind: eleven is awkwardtempestsarekind on September 6th, 2011 04:48 pm (UTC)
Given how closely to the chest Moffat was playing his cards about River Song (even giving the main cast "dummy" endings to their scripts at first), I was willing to cut other people's episodes some slack on this issue--because it's likely the writers might not have even known about it while they were writing! But that's why it was so crucial that Moffat needed to address it in "Let's Kill Hitler," and he really, really didn't. And it's not because he just doesn't fathom the ways of emotion or something.

Edited at 2011-09-06 04:48 pm (UTC)
janie_airejanie_aire on September 9th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
My headfic says that Amy has become dissociated and emotionally numb following the theft of her baby, on the heels of being Fleshed without her knowing it. This is some serious trauma, and just "turning off" is a pretty common way of dealing with it.

In Hitler, we see Amy portrayed as completely emotionless not only by the Tesselator, but also by the Amelia Voice Interface. In Who, the monsters are metaphors for the characters.

I do hope this is all part of a slow burn that leads to emotional explosions in the finale!
tempestsarekind: come along pondstempestsarekind on September 9th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
Me too! I would definitely forgive the middle episodes if the ending wound up dealing with this issue in a substantial way.

And I think your idea makes sense: Amy's been through some pretty traumatic events lately, poor girl.