Sunday, November 9, 2014

#050 Life in Hell

… in which a depressed podcaster needs a hug, even if it's the best way to hide your face, as he conducts a port-mortem on "Death in Heaven".

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  1. Well, J.B. thanks for this latest review. It hit a point that has been bothering me all season… new-who fandom.

    I’ve pretty much had to walk away from Televised Who fandom as it has become so antagonistic and stifling. A show that has never been without faults, continues to have faults and people who discuss those faults in a calm matter are harassed and insulted. It is strange, as discussing what works and doesn’t is what seems to have kept fandom going through the years. Now, if the writing is criticized, then I see people coming out of the woodwork to bully other fans (with the classic, “Why are you watching it if you don’t like it.”) for “bullying” (?) Moffat. Even some of the more mainstream podcasts, that I used to enjoy, have spent this season praising the episodes and ridiculing “those people” that have problems with the writing (cough, RFS). I prefer less cult-like behavior in the cult media I enjoy. Again, this is only a problem with televised, New-Who, fandom. Big Finish, novels, classic who are still relatively healthy… and this is a sign things are dire, but people don’t want to admit it.

    Every single person I know personally who started watching new who prior to Moffat, has stopped watching it. Granted, these were casual fans, and most had never seen classic who, but they loved the show for a while, even with its faults back then.

    I’ve gone from 5 new who podcasts to two… Yours was one of the ones that I’ve kept subscribed to because it doesn’t resort to attacking other fans for their opinions, nor does it censor negativity.

    It was hard to comment about this episode after I watched it, even though I wanted to, because it has the same problems we’ve seen, over and over again. It’s exhausting. What’s worse is that it showed the many things about the show (everything but the writing) that is so excellent. This acting, the set design, the direction, all of these wonderful elements being fused to a hollowed out, rotten core of illogical, ham-fisted, manipulative storytelling. The doctor’s character isn’t Capaldi’s fault. The writing is the problem. What he does with the terrible dialogue is commendable. Coleman’s acting is great too.

    In addition to many issues you pointed out, none of the dramatic tension made sense. Why did the guards do nothing when missy was threatening Osgood? They had numerous chances but just stood there. Why was the only thing the doctor actually did the entire episode be so completely embarrassing…? flying to the Tardis with the key in his hand… (Did Moffat not learn from the End of Time?) The explanation for why Missy put Clara and the Doctor together, considering it was pretty much the entire thread from the past 2 seasons, was a jumbled mess. It was a poor, poor parody of “Seven” that makes no sense when considered. Instead of a real explanation for anything, we got 5 minutes of random shots of Cybermen crawling out of graves. Why did Danny take Clara to the graveyard? If you can convert anything into machines… metal, etc…. any matter, why would you need skeletons… why do you need humans? Why couldn’t you just clone things? Or, make them fully robotic. It is better to have rotten flesh and broken bones, than just make an artificial skeleton and bones? Oh, but they needed the human brain…? And each of these corpses has a functioning human brain? Was the brig captured by the missy when he dies or was his brain just kept in a jar? Cybermen pollen? Then why would “burning the clouds” ala poison sky eliminate all of the pollen? It rained everywhere, the ground is soaked and only one small bit is all that’s needed to make a cyberman.

    The only bit of writing that really worked, as you mentioned, was the final meeting between the Doctor and Clara and the scene where he was looking for Gallifrey… but all of it was completely ruined by the entrance of Santa Claus. Santa Claus. …after that episode…

  2. Who should take over for Moffat as head writer? No one. There should be no head writer. There should be a script editor (or editors), a show runner and multiple script writers. RTD and Moffat have proved that this setup does not work. The positive trait RTD brought was that he would more often let people write interesting standalone scripts without coloring them with his own brand. Why is Doctor Who one of the greatest series of all time? Because you have a flexible canon that various writers over the years have added to and shaped. Why do I not like Moffat, because, unlike 50 years worth of other writers, he has to rewrite almost every corner and aspect of the show’s history to be his own. He “borrows” from other writers (like Parkins), he makes his characters responsible for everything important that has happened in the show (e.g., Clara), etc. etc… Worse yet, he does it poorly. It almost never works. He is destroying the collaborative narrative of the show. This is one of the few times I hope the next show runner takes the “Clara Paradox” (as you stated) and retcons Moffat’s entire run. People who want his run in their canon, great, but I don’t want it influencing the future direction of the show.

    I’ve read some great PDA novels and heard some good Big Finish audios. Doctor Who isn’t dead, but maybe the TV show should take a nap.

    Thanks for providing the (more likely to be) safe, space to share some opinions.