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22 June 2008 @ 06:25 pm
dear Russell  
Okay, I was worried at first. And I still think the setting for the teaser was a bad move. (Subtext, Russell. Learn it, live it.)

But the rest? THAT is how you do it. Well done. I have a few quibbles, but mostly, really, really good job.

Just don't pull another "Utopia" on me, 'kay, where the first part is good and then the rest is a total mess?

also
I have to say it: Martha Jones, Martha Jones. Even if she'd never met the Doctor, she would still be a hero. And I like the fact that she saves Morgenstern in much the same way that she saved the Doctor in "Smith and Jones," and the echo of his talking to the newspeople, but in a completely different key this time. Funny that it's only the parallel worlds in which Martha gets recognized by name as a hero. The whole "power of a name" thing that runs through this show gets picked up here again--not just with Rose *not* telling anyone her name, but with the way that all of the heroes in this episode get called, memorialized, by name. They're not just shout-outs to the fans (though they are also that, of course).

But that's one of the nice touches in this episode: all of the people the Doctor had come into contact with already stepped up and saved the day, and those he hadn't met, in this parallel universe, were still heroes in their quiet way. Also, Donna pulls a Pete Tyler from "Father's Day," which is one of my favorite episodes because it, like this one, is about the tiny decisions and the unsung heroes.

I think my favorite line from the episode is when Wilf says, "You can't make the world better by shouting at it" and Donna replies, "I can try." Because it just says so much about Donna, and the way that all her compassion has been shunted over, in this universe, into anger--but it isn't because she doesn't care. It's because she doesn't know what to do.
 
 
Current Mood: excitedexcited
 
 
 
Constant Readerskirmish_of_wit on June 23rd, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
I totally agree. It took me a while to get into the episode, though, because of the first couple of minutes. At first I was like, "Oh, hooray, they're in a non-Western culture, it's about freaking time!" And then I was like, "Wait, is that a pigtail on that Chinese man? ... uh... this is an incredibly stereotypical Orientalist version of a non-western culture," and then we went into the AU and I was like "WELL WHAT WAS THE FREAKING POINT OF THE NONWESTERN CULTURE, WAS IT JUST THERE TO BE VILLAINOUS, RTD YOU LOSER" and then the story compensated. And Catherine Tate! She just gets better and better.

Plus everything that used to irritate me most about Rose -- her casual selfishness, her carelessness -- seems to have been burned out of her by her experiences in the Pete!world. What we saw of her in this episode seems grounded and mature and compassionate. Although: what is up with Billie Piper's teeth?
tempestsarekind: ten has a secrettempestsarekind on June 23rd, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
Yeah--I think the fact that the planet actually had no bearing on the episode made it even worse, because it wasn't necessary at all! And casting the same actress from the *last* time DW represented that stereotype was just icing on the stereotype cake, really. And why did everyone have to have accents like that, if the TARDIS is supposed to translate? I was seriously worried, but it got much better quickly after that. And I loved the fact that the episode was still very much Donna's episode, even though it was also Rose's first proper episode this season.

Everybody keeps mentioning Billie's teeth, but I didn't notice anything! But yeah, Rose--I liked seeing her talk about the Doctor in a humorous way ("really great hair"), as though she'd gotten some distance and wasn't caught up in their insular little world.
Emily-- Toppington von Monocle: tardis [doctor who]sadcypress on June 23rd, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
YESSSS with the Father's Day parallels. That episode tears my heart out every time I watch it. It really is one of my favorite aspects of (New?) Who that they emphasize so very much that ordinary people plucked off the street can turn out to be extraordinary. Even the shopgirl's layabout boyfriend can save the universe with a big yellow truck.
tempestsarekind: bananas are goodtempestsarekind on June 23rd, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
Yes--"There's no such thing as an ordinary human." They don't always get it 100% right (the ending of LotTL doesn't really work, though it's supposed to be about humans' resilience), but then we get episodes like those, and it's great.

And I love Mickey so much because we get to see that so clearly, maybe even more so than with Rose because in some ways, he did it without the Doctor (who doesn't treat him all that well and leaves him to fend for himself). Even early on, he's ready to sacrifice himself to let Jackie escape, even though she's been making his life hell for a year and basically accusing him of murder. And he (and Jackie too) refuses to let Rose give up, even though what he really wants is for her to stay with him.
La Reine Noire: Crystal Balllareinenoire on June 23rd, 2008 10:41 am (UTC)
I actually missed the first five minutes of the episode, so I apparently missed most of the Orientalist craziness (I walked in as Donna was sitting down to have her fortune told). I've seen the first few minutes of Doctor Who Confidential, and my impression seems to be that it was a completely random decision and they wanted a market of some kind, and that it was the easiest way to make parts of Cardiff look exotic.

But I adored this episode otherwise.

But that's one of the nice touches in this episode: all of the people the Doctor had come into contact with already stepped up and saved the day, and those he hadn't met, in this parallel universe, were still heroes in their quiet way.

...and that was why I adored it. Because even in a world without the Doctor, people still fought back. But, oh, I had tears in my eyes when Martha died. And Jack and Ianto and Gwen -- well, not Jack exactly, but you know what I mean. And it all happening offscreen I think made it hurt all the more (even if it probably was for budget reasons) because it showed how central Donna is to the whole thing.

I love Donna. Have I mentioned that? ;)

And next week! Donna and Martha and Rose and Jack and everyone and that is going to make me so happy I might explode.
tempestsarekind: ten has a secrettempestsarekind on June 23rd, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
I think the problem with the "exotic" logic is that it just gives you a sort of pasted-on culture rather than something that's believable. Because--well, *why* is it a marketplace on an alien planet that looks like Chinatown? What's that all about? So you can wind up with stereotypes, in a situation like that, because there isn't actually any *reason* for any of it. And it's too bad, because the rest of the episode is so great.

Because even in a world without the Doctor, people still fought back.

Yes, exactly--and it would have been easy to do another "Christmas Invasion," and have everyone sort of helpless without the Doctor, but Russell didn't.

The bit with Martha kind of made me worried about my obsession with the character, because I was so proud of her, and so sad too. I'm not normally that way about TV characters. :) I found it really hard to watch, actually, Donna's reactions, or lack of reaction, to the death of these people, particularly Martha because she's the one Donna had actually met. To go from her angry remark in TDD that Martha wasn't collateral damage for anyone, to that bored "I'll go get chips" was painful. Plus there was just something so distant and clinical about the news reports that made it worse as well; I think it was probably the better storytelling decision, even if it was for budget reasons.

And I really liked the way Russell made "I think you need someone to stop you" finally *work*. That line has always bothered me because it seemed out of place: surely the moment for it was with Harriet Jones, or the Family of Blood? But it turns out that Donna stopped him by calling him back to *himself*, not by stopping him from saving the city, and Donna has been doing that all season. Yay Donna. :)
La Reine Noire: Elegancelareinenoire on June 23rd, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
So you can wind up with stereotypes, in a situation like that, because there isn't actually any *reason* for any of it.

Yeah, I really don't know what the logic was there. It's very odd and I agree that it's a shame to have it tacked on to such a brilliant episode.

I found it really hard to watch, actually, Donna's reactions, or lack of reaction, to the death of these people, particularly Martha because she's the one Donna had actually met.

It was hard to watch, but it was so effective -- seeing how completely different Donna was in this alternate universe, how helpless she was, unable to do anything except yell and struggle and knowing that nobody except Rose believed her capable of anything at all. It really was heartbreaking.

I think it was probably the better storytelling decision, even if it was for budget reasons.

Oh, yes, I completely believe it was. Those little snippets ripped me to bits even more because of how distant they were. In the new reality, these people fighting back simply didn't matter.

But it turns out that Donna stopped him by calling him back to *himself*, not by stopping him from saving the city, and Donna has been doing that all season.

She really has. Donna brings him back to humanity, which I don't think either Rose or Martha quite managed -- and I think that has so much to do with the way their characters interact. Donna, being older, is willing and able to contradict the Doctor, which I don't think either Rose or Martha was able to do, for their own perfectly valid reasons.
tempestsarekind: smith and jonestempestsarekind on June 23rd, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
how completely different Donna was in this alternate universe, how helpless she was, unable to do anything except yell and struggle and knowing that nobody except Rose believed her capable of anything at all

Oh, absolutely--and even *Donna* doesn't believe it when Rose tells her she's important, that she's the most important woman in creation. There's so much bitterness in Donna when she laughs at that; it broke my heart.

I agree that Donna brings the Doctor back to humanity in a way that Rose and Martha never quite did, and that's definitely due to Donna and the way she challenges him, but I also think some of it is due to the Doctor as well. I don't know if he would have been really ready to travel with Donna at the end of TRB, to open up to her the way he has (though we see hints of it even there). He's been making slow steps in that direction, and now that Donna is there to push him, he's in a place where he can talk to her instead of shutting her out. I love watching them interact; even just the way he *talks* to her at the end of "Turn Left," with so much warmth and playfulness in his voice. It doesn't feel like that manic mask we got so often with Rose and Martha. He had to splinter first--which is S3 all over to me, Martha holding him up as he fell apart--before he could get there.

Edited at 2008-06-23 06:33 pm (UTC)
La Reine Noire: Elegancelareinenoire on June 23rd, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
He had to splinter first--which is S3 all over to me, Martha holding him up as he fell apart--before he could get there.

Yes -- I suspect that was the piece my brain wasn't processing earlier. I don't think S2 Doctor would have stood for it, particularly not after losing Rose the way he did. He definitely needed Martha to start him on that path, even if he won't acknowledge it himself.
tempestsarekind: ten and marthatempestsarekind on June 24th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Silly Doctor. :) He acknowledges it to Donna, though; Martha did him a lot of good. I still wish that I thought *Martha* knew that, but I'm coming to terms with it, I think.