Co-written with the lovely Suzanne Walker. You can find her over at Cognitive Recalibration.
SPOILER ALERT for Doctor Who series 6.
Apologies, dear readers, for the lateness and slight incoherent-ness of this post—it’s finals crunch time for your dear bloggers, and even the Doctor must wait for papers to be written. But anyway…
Laura and I both came away from this episode with mixed feelings. The things that they are setting up have the potential to be brilliant, and the episode ensured that this season is going to be a hell of a ride. But there are some things we are skeptical of, and critical of. Still, let’s start with the brilliancy:
Rory. Oh my GOD how much do I love Rory. His brilliance and awkwardness and just... everything. He is so in love with Amy, and it is so clear with every single breath he takes. I love that they brought up his 2000 years as a Centurion, it is just so essential to proving how wonderful and special he is. And that moment when he is trying to pretend to be an American secret service made me laugh forever more.
My love for River grows exponentially with each passing episode. Superficially: somehow that dress was even hotter than that jean jacket. Non-superficially: I love everything about her. I love the ridiculous flirting that is going on between her and the Doctor, I love the relationship she has fostered with both Amy and Rory. And having just finished a paper about gun-slinging females with empty personalities, I love that she is a strong female character with depth, conflict, and emotion. The kiss between her and the Doctor was both brilliantly funny (Smith looked like he had a Jelly-Arms Jinx on him or something) and heartbreakingly poignant. I’m sad that we’re already leaving her so early in the season, and I hope her return in the fall is just as brilliant.
Now, onto criticism:
As an American historian I had HUGE problems with the way that they portrayed Nixon. He was portrayed as this slightly bumbling, comical figure, which I was extraordinarily uncomfortable with. He did way too many terrible things and was far too much of a bigot for that—and his track record extends far back before Watergate. Perhaps I’m holding the Brits up to too high of a standard (God knows all the ridiculous ways in which Americans interpret British history), but REALLY, they should know better. Especially because it’s such recent history.
Now…the pregnancy. And the Time-Baby. Laura has more problems with this than I did, and I feel like I’m not going to do them justice. But alas, she got eaten by Tosca, so it’s up to me to tackle this issue.
I don’t think its problematic in itself. The way it was utilized at the end of the first episode was idiotic, but I don’t think that the mystery of whether or not Amy is pregnant is inherently problematic. Amy’s a tough cookie, she can take care of herself. And even though she’s implied that the ambiguity and weirdness of her pregnancy comes from her travelling with the Doctor, I refuse to accept that that’s what it is. Too many women have travelled with the Doctor, we’ve got to assume that at least some of them had nice normal children (if not, if Moffat is implying that all women who travel in the TARDIS have screwed-up uteruses... let’s not go there). Something weird is going on with alternate timelines and whatever happened when Amy was taken by the Silence, and I have to admit that the mystery of the Time-Baby, of who and what she is, is intriguing. I am excited to see what can happen with a little girl who has Time-Lord regeneration energy.
That being said.
The projection of this plot-arc only works so far as we trust Moffat not to do horrendously sexist things in the process. Which neither of us do. I have tried, so very hard, to distinguish Moffat the Person from Moffat the Writer and it becomes increasingly, increasingly difficult. He is, as Laura put it, a sexist bastard, regardless of his brilliance as a writer. And I am going to be holding him to an extraordinarily high expectation that he not screw this up. Because it could be really interesting, but all I can see at the moment is him making it extraordinarily objectifying and stupid. I don’t trust him.
And this leads to my main question of the hour, which is: what do we do now with this show that we know and love so deeply but have increasingly growing criticisms of? In so many ways I miss the days when I just watched this show entirely carefree, not thinking about it too deeply and just enjoying the adventures for what they were. But for so many reasons, those days are gone—like it or not. Moffat’s tendencies to do such blatantly sexist things (we’re not even going into the heart of it here) make it impossible not to call him out on his shit. It is our responsibility as fans. But how do we make it so that it doesn’t take away from our enjoyment of the show? Because this show is about more than one writer. It is our show. The Doctor is still our Doctor, and Amy and Rory and River are still our Amy and Rory and River. The main thing about such a long-running show like Who is that there will be things you don’t like, certainly. There will be stuff that’s bad. But because it’s so amazing, what’s bad is, well, still ten times more awesome than your average TV show. And Who is about sticking with it, to me. I have enough love in my heart for everything that this show means and is to ride out even Moffat’s most hackle-raising moments.
So that’s what this season’s going to be about, for me. Not being afraid to call Moffat out on his faults while still enjoying the fantastic parts of this show for what they are. For example: next week... pirates!!!