We just finished watching the Doctor Who premiere (and in Paul’s case, watching it for a second time, since he watched it last night when Dara and I weren’t home). Picoreview: Capaldi is definitely an interesting new take on the Doctor. It’s nice to see Clara showing some active character development, and I generally always like Vastra, Jenny, and Strax.
However, the sexism in the episode did not elude me, and I found quite a few moments heavyhanded even for Moffat.
So yeah. I’ve been having a hard time mustering up enthusiasm for this new round of the Doctor, mostly out of a state of general weariness with Moffat’s sexism. And in no particular order, here are the things that pissed me off in this episode:
One, the heavyhanded lecturing of Vastra to Clara for having fancied Eleven because he looked young, while at the same time going on about how the Doctor made himself look young for Clara, to be accepted. Heavyhanded, much? And what, exactly, is wrong with Clara having fancied the Doctor at all?
(Side rant: I’m very, very aware that a lot of Classic Who fandom likes to roll its eyes at how a lot of New Who fandom came in specifically because of the Doctor played by young, handsome actors. And y’know what? If you’re somebody who’s actually going to judge a Whovian because she was attracted to the show because of young, handsome Doctors and romantic chemistry with a Companion, fuck you. That’s exactly what got me finally paying attention to the show in depth to begin with. I loved Nine and Rose, and Ten and Rose even more.
But at the same time, that’s merely what got me paying attention to begin with. It’s not the only reason I kept watching the show, and not the only reason I’m still watching it even now.
Give the romantically minded fandom some fucking credit, okay? Give the female fans some credit. Just because we might happen to like well-handled romantic chemistry does not make us foolish, and it does not mean we’re incapable of liking other aspects of the show.
End side rant.)
Two, seriously, Vastra? You’re going to chastise Clara for her feelings, when you’re a centuries-old lizard with a young woman as your wife? Who, I might add, you’re not above treating as a maid even in private, or making pose in provocative fashions when you’re not even painting her. Ugh. Ugh.
Three, we’ve got yet another female villain who’s obsessed with the Doctor in a romantic fashion. We’ve seen this character before. I am not feeling very sanguine about the direction this is going.
Four, can we please stop hitting poor Clara over the head with Amy? Was the throwaway line about the Doctor missing Amy really necessary?
Grarhf. Okay, moving on.
Stuff I’m on the fence about–Moffat reissuing the clockwork robots trying to rebuild a spaceship concept from Girl in the Fireplace, complete with the Doctor struggling to remember where he’s encountered this whole scenario before. I’d bitch about Moffat stealing from himself, except for how villains get reused all the damn time on this show, and it’s really kind of inevitable on a show that is after all 50 years old.
Still, though, given the other reasons I’m cranky with Mr. Moffat, I’m not inclined to look favorably upon him for stealing ideas from one of his own earlier episodes, and one I’m still willing to rank high in episodes of Who in general. (I liked the duology of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances better, but still.)
Stuff I liked–off the top of my head I think this is one of the first times Clara’s actually ever felt like a character to me. I found her flipping out a bit about the Doctor’s regeneration very believable, despite my having seen the objection raised on The Mary Sue’s recap post that given how Clara went and inserted herself into every point of the Doctor’s timeline, you’d think that she’d have a better idea of what regeneration is. But apparently Clara Prime didn’t really pull in the knowledge of what all of her splinter selves have been doing over the breadth of time and space?
The primary clockwork robot was very, very effective, somehow managing to come across as both mechanical and and a little human. Also, mad props to the effects team for the shots that showed us the interior of his head.
Which brings me finally to Capaldi. I did like him. It’s nice to see Cranky Old Man Doctor in play again, an archetype I can appreciate after the Classic Who I’ve watched now (SEE, Classic Whovians? Romantically-minded New Whovians can like the older episodes too, I SWEAR), and I liked him considering and dismissing the idea of a scarf, lol.
I liked his take on post-regeneration trauma, and how he managed to pull his shit together quite speedily despite that. The dialogue to the dinosaur was awesome. So was his reaction to the others when they caught up with him, and his ranting about pudding-brains and how they were all asking the wrong question.
The sparring with Clara in the restaurant, also awesome; this is a Doctor not afraid to pull any punches with his Companions, clearly. Also liked the edgy uncertainty of his seeming to abandon Clara, and yet how she nonetheless, at the end of it all, trusted he’d be back for her. I loved that shot of her putting out her hand because of trusting he’d be at her back–and he was. NICE.
Nice final scene there too with Eleven calling Clara, and Twelve of course knows it’s him on the phone, because he’ll have remembered making that call. And now we get to see vulnerable uncertainty along with Twelve’s prickly exterior, and that worked splendidly, particularly the last bit about how he wasn’t sure he was a hugging person, and Clara not giving him a choice.
Also, props to Clara for the HMMMMMFMF expression she was giving him, all while he was asking her to just see him. I gotta say, I loved that look. Again, this is one of the first times I’ve seen Clara be something more than a blank slate of a character. This was Clara being all “I am REALLY not sure about this, but okay FINE, convince me”. And then being convinced.
So yeah. I’m still cranky at Moffat, but I’m still in for Capaldi. Let’s see where the rest of this season takes us, shall we?