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27 December 2013 @ 12:08 pm
I was going to write an actual post about this, but accidentally blurted out my feelings in comments on sadcypress's post instead. So I'm just going to reproduce the comment, with edited extra remarks:

I was having all of these "Moffat writes Who like a comedy" feelings this morning about the 50th, because I keep seeing all of these complaint-posts about how Nothing Means Anything If There Aren't Consequences, and that bringing back Gallifrey "cheapens" Nine's arc - as though Nine isn't a part of Eleven, as though Eleven didn't also experience all of those feelings of grief and guilt for what he'd done... Anyway, I keep thinking that that's like saying that Hermione's not *really* being dead in The Winter's Tale cheapens Leontes' grief for her - which is so not how comedy works. Comedy is about preventing consequences, about letting grace step in - always because you hoped and fought for it, but letting grace step in and show you another way. I guess that if you think Doctor Who is actually about a blood-soaked Tragic Hero who can never take back the terrible thing that he's done, then Moffat's reset buttons and timey-wimey shenanigans must drive you up a wall - but it's not "objectively bad writing"; it's a genre shift. (Of course, that doesn't mean that it can't be done badly; but then, anything can. The idea itself of bringing back Gallifrey is not a desecration; it's a different generic mode.) I keep thinking of that moment in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS," when Eleven says, "Time mends us. It can mend anything"; for me there's so much hope and comfort in that statement, that idea, and Moffat's been writing from that perspective all along, I think.

(I should say that it's perfectly okay to *prefer* Tragic Who to Comic Who; I just don't understand how people go on about Moffat's ruining the premise of the whole show when Tragic Who was really RTD's invention. The Time War is not a part of the lore handed down over generations; it's a thing that happened in 2005. And I know I've said it before, but when your hero can regenerate, the premise of your show is fundamentally comic, even if sad things happen along the way. Sad things happen in comedy, too; not every brother comes back from the dead. But the general arc of comedy is toward hope and rebirth and possibility, which is what regeneration is. Tragic Who , then, bends that arc away from where it ought to be. And personally, I find the insistence that disaster can only ever be averted at great cost to the hero and his companions fairly wearying. [Tragedy always takes away, and grace gives with both hands: "You did...whatever it was you did, and rebooted the universe, and suddenly - I had parents. And I'd always had parents." --Amy in "Good Night," S6 minisode] But, you know, that's me; I'm a comedies girl, so of course I'm going to think that. I just don't see how one can declare that Moffat broke the show when that's not really the nature of the show in the first place. The Doctor wasn't always the Lonely God who had killed his own people; he was the madcap rebel, the runaway who chose to leave his home behind him. Those are such different attitudes, and one of them is, let's face it, of much longer duration.)
stoplookingupstoplookingup on December 27th, 2013 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for pointing out the whole genre shift thing. This is part of what I was trying to get at my own post this morning comparing Time of the Doctor to Parting of the Ways.
tempestsarekind: clara and eleventempestsarekind on December 27th, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
Yes - I saw your post! I agree that in terms of construction, "Parting of the Ways" is the stronger episode, but looking at it from the perspective of what RTD went on to do, it does seem like the seeds of tragedy are there, too - especially for the companion. Clara saves the Doctor not through destruction, but by demanding that the Time Lords be better and help him.

(I agree about the "power of love" stuff, too - I also have a huge soft spot for that kind of story!)
stoplookingupstoplookingup on December 27th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
For sure, the seeds of tragedy are there in Parting of the Ways, perhaps most of all for poor Jack, who faces a form of eternal damnation.

Also, meant to say thanks for this: "letting grace step in and show you another way." That's it, that's it exactly! Grace is another name for finding another way and avoiding the road that will crush your soul.
tempestsarekind: eleven and amytempestsarekind on December 27th, 2013 09:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading it! I'm always a little surprised when people seem to think that Moffat is just "ruining the show" *now*, because his second episode as showrunner, "The Beast Below," basically sets up the rules that he's going to play by: even if the Doctor thinks that the only choices are hard ones, ones that are going to make you have to give up your name and do something terrible, there is another way. You don't *have* to do the thing that will crush your soul, as you put it.
the cold genius: cyril is less than amusedangevin2 on December 27th, 2013 09:19 pm (UTC)
On my tumblr dash yesterday there was a "MOFFAT HAS TOTALLY RUINED ALL WHO CONTINUITY FOREVER" post from someone who has never watched an episode of the show but has absorbed everything he knows about it from tumblr and then I had to go lie down for a bit because tumblr.
tempestsarekind: your strange behavior puzzles marthatempestsarekind on December 27th, 2013 09:40 pm (UTC)
But...what...why...why would you write that post? If you don't even watch the show? Oh, Tumblr. I will never understand your ways.
Neaneadods on December 27th, 2013 10:57 pm (UTC)
I can't deny hating the episode, but the two of you are giving me things to chew on and think over. I think I need to see it again with all this in mind.
tempestsarekind: amy eleven TARDIStempestsarekind on December 28th, 2013 12:35 am (UTC)
Oh, I certainly don't think anyone has to *like* the episode! I'm just surprised by the number of people who think that the idea itself is objectively terrible and wrong, as though the Time War is some incontrovertible thing that can never be changed. Especially given how often the Doctor has declared in the past that something is completely impossible, only to have that thing happen in later episodes or seasons. :)
Neaneadods on December 28th, 2013 02:23 am (UTC)
That's a good thing, for I doubt I ever will. :) But as fond as I was of Parting of the Ways, the criticisms of it as an episode, and the defense of Who as something meant to be hopeful and funny and not dark -- a complaint I did have with RTD, especially at the end when it seemed that he was trying to smash it on the way out -- well, I see the validity of them.

And thus, chewing.

The idea of Gallifrey just being elsewhere is something RTD brought up anyway. Moffat just made them less a planet of colossal megalomaniacal dicks.

But I am sorry that so much effort was spent on the regeneration limit. Blowing that away was one thing I think RTD got right.
tempestsarekind: bananas are goodtempestsarekind on December 28th, 2013 02:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I certainly didn't hate the 50th episode, but even if I did hate it, I think I would still find it valuable for trying to change the direction of the show in that way, because I really *did* come to hate Tragic Who.

Moffat just made them less a planet of colossal megalomaniacal dicks.

Ha, yes. I didn't really understand that move of RTD's, it has to be said. I mean, I also refuse to re-watch "The End of Time," but I didn't really get the point of designing a whole episode around the idea that the Time Lords were actually still out there, but so terrible that it was better to leave them trapped somewhere else, given that the Last of the Time Lords stuff was so important to RTD. "Actually Last of the Sane Time Lords" has less of a ring to it!

I actually don't remember RTD getting rid of the regeneration limit? (Of course, if he did it during "The End of Time," that's why!)
Neaneadods on December 29th, 2013 10:48 pm (UTC)
RTD handwaved it, often, mostly by *not* mentioning it. He did tell Clyde that Time Lords had "thousands" of bodies in the SJA, and he didn't mention limits when he talked about the Corsair getting a tattoo every time.

t I didn't really get the point of designing a whole episode around the idea that the Time Lords were actually still out there, but so terrible that it was better to leave them trapped somewhere else

Seriously, if that where the case, Nine shouldn't have been angsty so much as "well, there's a job well done"!