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"It feels different this time..." - The new Doctor Who Thread

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Well, I hope you have a good time with it. There's things to like in it! I still like the first four episodes a good deal. It also has BRIAN BLESSED in it, and he's always fun to watch.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I wish I could be paid for noisily being myself*, like Brian Blessed does

*Brian Blessed isn't being me
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
Found myself rewatching the trilogy of World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls / Twice Upon a Time last night and tonight for the first time since 2017, and came away with rather a better impression, especially of the first two parts. On the old forums, I described the two-parter as "a grim fucking death march," and, listen. It's still that. But there's some really good stuff here, too.

The Cybermen can either be written as an army of disposable clank-clank robots (common and bad), or as a chilling vision of what happens when we give too much of ourselves over to the pursuit of pure technological advancement and lose our humanity in the process (rare and good). This is one of the best examinations of the horror of the Cybermen since Spare Parts (which I also need to revisit sometime), and one of those precious few times DW manages to be a little scary even to an adult. I think... the Cybermen might be my favorite DW villains, at least when they're done right? It's a great sci-fi concept, and the suggestion here that they are an inevitable, inescapable future of humanity is very sobering (and a bit at odds with DW's generally optimistic and humanistic viewpoint?)

Missy is in top form here, with some hilarious lines ("Is this the emotion humans call... spanking?") and character development the likes of which the Master has never seen. John Simm's return is mostly fun, and his interplay with and contrast against Missy produces great results, though I continue to object to the erection joke. The scene of them dancing on the rooftop was the perfect narcissistic note to hit, Moffat, and then you just went too far.

I'm still a bit of two minds about Bill's fate. On the one hand, it still blows that the show's first openly queer main companion had to suffer so enormously as she did, although it does give us a fascinating glimpse into the Cyber conversion process. I suppose it's all made better again by the deus ex machina at the end, though that feels very much like Moffat having his cake and eating it too. I feel like the revived series started kind of a bad precedent with Rose of having the Doctor's companions be forcefully separated from him in increasingly convoluted ways, rather than just finding their own reasons to move on as usually happened in the classic series. (Bless you for being the lone exception, Martha.)

I don't have as much to say about Twice Upon a Time; I liked it the first time around and I still like it now. It's a largely sedate, introspective piece with no stakes beyond the personal, and that's rather refreshing for DW; makes for a nice palate cleanser after the two-parter. The business with the Daleks in the middle feels very random and tacked on, and they go to the "hilarious" sexism well with the First Doctor one too many times, but other than that it's fairly pleasant. David Bradley isn't quite doing a perfect William Hartnell, but he lands closer to the mark than Richard Hurndall did, and I enjoyed seeing him here again right after watching An Adventure in Space and Time. Sorry for taking a dig at you earlier, Mark Gatiss; you put in a fine performance here, and the Christmas Truce is a lovely note to end the story on -- I'm surprised it hadn't been covered by DW sooner.

Peter Capaldi's a stellar actor but it took me much longer than usual to warm up to his Doctor, given some of his behavior in series 8 and 9. (I guess I'll have to revisit those and see if my opinion's changed there as well.) His regeneration speech of course doubles as Moffat instructing future writers as to how to handle the Doctor; if only Chibnall had listened! It's largely sweet but very, very indulgent -- the bit about children being able to hear his name is deeply silly. For some reason I had it in my mind that Thirteen got a few lines, but all she actually says is "Oh, brilliant." A telling sign of things to come, that Chibnall had essentially nothing to say about his Doctor from the jump.

I was relentlessly hard on Moffat's era of DW as it was airing and cheered when it came to an end, but the state of the series as it is now has caused me to look back with a little more fondness on what we used to have. So I guess look forward to my realization five years from now that The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos is actually underappreciated genius.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I think... the Cybermen might be my favorite DW villains, at least when they're done right? It's a great sci-fi concept, and the suggestion here that they are an inevitable, inescapable future of humanity is very sobering (and a bit at odds with DW's generally optimistic and humanistic viewpoint?)
*fistbump*

They are so very rarely done right though; their repurposing into replacement Daleks after the threatened removal of them ruined them for many years. There's reasons to dislike Terry Nation even if you couldn't care less about the Daleks!

I have about four Cybermen stories I love, and Steve Moffat has written two of them. He's come the closest to realising the almost Faustian deal with technology that they represent, and the sadness behind it all. They're an unintentional monster.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Found myself rewatching the trilogy of World Enough and Time / The Doctor Falls / Twice Upon a Time last night and tonight for the first time since 2017, and came away with rather a better impression, especially of the first two parts. On the old forums, I described the two-parter as "a grim fucking death march," and, listen. It's still that. But there's some really good stuff here, too.

The Cybermen can either be written as an army of disposable clank-clank robots (common and bad), or as a chilling vision of what happens when we give too much of ourselves over to the pursuit of pure technological advancement and lose our humanity in the process (rare and good). This is one of the best examinations of the horror of the Cybermen since Spare Parts (which I also need to revisit sometime), and one of those precious few times DW manages to be a little scary even to an adult. I think... the Cybermen might be my favorite DW villains, at least when they're done right? It's a great sci-fi concept, and the suggestion here that they are an inevitable, inescapable future of humanity is very sobering (and a bit at odds with DW's generally optimistic and humanistic viewpoint?)

I relistened to Spare Parts a few months ago, and it still is, imo, the best Cybermen story, though I do think World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls comes close. The cybermen sitting in the waiting room with their voiceboxes turned down is absolutely chilling, and probably as far as the show can take the body horror they represent. But yeah, as you and Phantoon say, when they're written as disposable clank-clank robots, they're crap. Or when the classic series decides they're emotional and takes the effectiveness right out of them (or they're just plain silly. Yes, I *did* watch Silver Nemesis recently, how did you know?).

Missy is in top form here, with some hilarious lines ("Is this the emotion humans call... spanking?") and character development the likes of which the Master has never seen. John Simm's return is mostly fun, and his interplay with and contrast against Missy produces great results, though I continue to object to the erection joke. The scene of them dancing on the rooftop was the perfect narcissistic note to hit, Moffat, and then you just went too far.

It might be too far, I'll grant you that, but if there was ever a person that'd get an erection at meeting his future self, it'd be the Master lol. I'd like to think he'd have sported that boner whichever version of himself he'd met (definitely Sacha Dhawan), though yeah, since he'd only met the female version at this point on TV, I can see someone reading it as just another example of Moffat sexism, and fair enough, really.

Peter Capaldi's a stellar actor but it took me much longer than usual to warm up to his Doctor, given some of his behavior in series 8 and 9. (I guess I'll have to revisit those and see if my opinion's changed there as well.) His regeneration speech of course doubles as Moffat instructing future writers as to how to handle the Doctor; if only Chibnall had listened! It's largely sweet but very, very indulgent -- the bit about children being able to hear his name is deeply silly. For some reason I had it in my mind that Thirteen got a few lines, but all she actually says is "Oh, brilliant." A telling sign of things to come, that Chibnall had essentially nothing to say about his Doctor from the jump.

His regeneration speech is well performed, but I don't like it very much, primarily for that line about children being able to hear his name coming out of nowhere and being silly, yeah.

I was relentlessly hard on Moffat's era of DW as it was airing and cheered when it came to an end, but the state of the series as it is now has caused me to look back with a little more fondness on what we used to have. So I guess look forward to my realization five years from now that The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos is actually underappreciated genius.

This warms my heart, and if you can find a reason why that episode is good, I'm open to hearing it, because I've got none lol.

I have about four Cybermen stories I love, and Steve Moffat has written two of them. He's come the closest to realising the almost Faustian deal with technology that they represent, and the sadness behind it all. They're an unintentional monster.

Don't leave me hanging here - which two? WEaT/TDF and DW/DiH?
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
Don't leave me hanging here - which two? WEaT/TDF and DW/DiH?
You know me well! The two non-Moffat being The Tenth Planet and Spare Parts. Spare Parts has to be one of my all-time favourite Doctor Who stories over all media. There's not much like it.
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
For whatever reason, despite the current TV era largely being a disappointing bore, I can feel my DW fandom resurging after years of being at a fairly low ebb. I don't know how long this mood will last, but while it does I may as well try to get back into the Big Finish game. The last release I listened to was the first volume of the Tenth Doctor Adventures, way back in 2016. What have I missed since then that's worth checking out?
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
In the absence of any guidance I went ham and bought the following:

- Tenth Doctor Adventures, Volumes 2 and 3
- The Last Adventure (Sixth Doctor)
- The Legacy of Time (every Big Finish Doctor, produced for BF's 20th anniversary)

I'll report back!
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Yeah, sorry, I haven't listened to anything new from Big Finish in a long time. Let us know if The Legacy of Time is any good!
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
Been skipping around and consuming or revisiting random DW things lately:

Old stuff:
Torchwood: Children of Earth. This is of course relentlessly fucking bleak but in a way I'm totally here for, and makes me wish the rest of Torchwood was anywhere near this good. The 456 are scary to be sure, but what's truly terrifying is the banal and casual self-satisfied evil of the government, which takes about 27 seconds to go from "how on earth are we going to decide which 10% of the children to sacrifice" to "well obviously not our kids. how about the lower class kids. yeah? great! done, let's go to lunch." John Barrowman is probably the weak link in terms of acting ability here but he's... fine, I guess, although the recent allegations about his behavior on the DW set (and, I have to imagine, here as well) were unfortunately kind of distracting. Peter Capaldi is fucking amazing, and his portrayal of John Frobisher is so different from his Doctor that it really shows off his range.

There was one throwaway joke I didn't get: after Gwen reveals that she's pregnant, she and Rhys briefly discuss baby names.

RHYS: If it's a boy, how about Edward?
GWEN: Edward?
RHYS: Yeah, like the king.

Then he holds up a potato, and they both laugh. Buh? Is there some connection between King Edward and potatoes?

Spare Parts. Decided to revisit this and maybe one or two others to get myself back into the audio drama mindset before I dive in to my recent BF purchases. It's still great. I don't know how I feel about the Doctor being part of the template for all Cybermen ; that's maybe a step too far, but the rest of it is a riveting (hah) portrayal of a doomed society pushed to extreme measures and, in desperation, choosing to prioritize survival over all other concerns. I had less trouble with the Cyber voices this time around; I'm more accustomed to their cadence in general and found the Committee less difficult to understand.

New to me:
Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet. This wasn't bad! Colin Baker feels much more like the Doctor here than in previous adventures I'd seen; he's still pompous and blustery but shows a genuine warmth and regard for his companion, and a joy at exploring the universe. I sort of thought that given the title, a little more emphasis would be placed on the mystery of the planet, but it's revealed to be Earth in the first ten minutes and then that plot thread is more or less dropped. Maybe they'll pick it up later in the Trial, but I'm not holding my breath. (Kind of funny how everyone in this time, including the Time Lords, know it as Ravolox, but when Peri asks Glitz what the planet's called he goes "Well of course it's Earth." Okay.) The trial scenes got a little repetitive, but I liked the conceit of the footage we see having been censored by the Time Lords.
 

Kazin

did i do all of that?
(he/him)
Torchwood: Children of Earth. This is of course relentlessly fucking bleak but in a way I'm totally here for, and makes me wish the rest of Torchwood was anywhere near this good. The 456 are scary to be sure, but what's truly terrifying is the banal and casual self-satisfied evil of the government, which takes about 27 seconds to go from "how on earth are we going to decide which 10% of the children to sacrifice" to "well obviously not our kids. how about the lower class kids. yeah? great! done, let's go to lunch." John Barrowman is probably the weak link in terms of acting ability here but he's... fine, I guess, although the recent allegations about his behavior on the DW set (and, I have to imagine, here as well) were unfortunately kind of distracting. Peter Capaldi is fucking amazing, and his portrayal of John Frobisher is so different from his Doctor that it really shows off his range.

I had just watched Children of Earth when they announced Capaldi's casting as the Doctor, so as you can imagine, I was fucking pumped.

Spare Parts. Decided to revisit this and maybe one or two others to get myself back into the audio drama mindset before I dive in to my recent BF purchases. It's still great. I don't know how I feel about the Doctor being part of the template for all Cybermen ; that's maybe a step too far, but the rest of it is a riveting (hah) portrayal of a doomed society pushed to extreme measures and, in desperation, choosing to prioritize survival over all other concerns. I had less trouble with the Cyber voices this time around; I'm more accustomed to their cadence in general and found the Committee less difficult to understand.

I miss the sing song Cybermen voices. They are way creepier, even if they are slightly amusing, than just robot voices.

New to me:
Trial of a Time Lord: The Mysterious Planet. This wasn't bad! Colin Baker feels much more like the Doctor here than in previous adventures I'd seen; he's still pompous and blustery but shows a genuine warmth and regard for his companion, and a joy at exploring the universe. I sort of thought that given the title, a little more emphasis would be placed on the mystery of the planet, but it's revealed to be Earth in the first ten minutes and then that plot thread is more or less dropped. Maybe they'll pick it up later in the Trial, but I'm not holding my breath. (Kind of funny how everyone in this time, including the Time Lords, know it as Ravolox, but when Peri asks Glitz what the planet's called he goes "Well of course it's Earth." Okay.) The trial scenes got a little repetitive, but I liked the conceit of the footage we see having been censored by the Time Lords.

Well, on broadcast, it was just called "The Trial of a Timelord" parts 1-4, so the "mysterious planet" mystery wasn't really emphasized at the time. I'm not sure when the "Mysterious Planet" title was applied to it - presumably upon VHS release or something, I guess?

Looking forward to seeing what you think about the rest of Trial!
 
There was one throwaway joke I didn't get: after Gwen reveals that she's pregnant, she and Rhys briefly discuss baby names.

RHYS: If it's a boy, how about Edward?
GWEN: Edward?
RHYS: Yeah, like the king.

Well, there's a fairly straightforward connection between the two things...

 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
I miss the sing song Cybermen voices. They are way creepier, even if they are slightly amusing, than just robot voices.
Yeah. They're wrong and comical, but also strangely alarming. Again, it ties into what they are. They are a mockery, a perverted simalcrum of humanity. "Fuck it, it's close enough". Except it isn't, and the Cybermen are humanity simultaneously perfected and destroyed. They don't have the weakness of emotion, fear, anger and hate. They'll also never have the strength of emotion, love, joy and spontaneity. They're us, but with everything that makes us worthwhile scooped out. Their voices have words, but they're snipped up without any of the underlying subtext - Cybermen say what they mean.

TL;DR Cybermen are the best
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
I had a faded old mental post-it flapping around in the back of my brain that Spare Parts had something to do with the 2006 revival of the Cybermen on TV, and yep:

Doctor Who Magazine #368 confirmed that this story was inspired by the Big Finish Productions audio play Spare Parts. Russell T Davies had previously described (along with The Holy Terror) as "some of the finest drama ever written for any genre, in any medium, anywhere." Spare Parts author, Marc Platt, received a fee and was credited in the end titles ("With thanks to Marc Platt"), and there is a nod in the dialogue with Mickey labelling himself a "spare part." However, writer Tom MacRae noted that his television story was not a simple rewrite of Spare Parts: "My story isn't the same — it's got a different setting, different themes, and different characters, 'cause once we started talking, the whole thing developed in a very different direction. But as Russell says, we wouldn't have started this whole line of thinking if he hadn't heard Spare Parts in the first place."

Man, he's not kidding about going in a very different direction. The 2005 episode Dalek was similarly "inspired" by the Sixth Doctor's Big Finish drama Jubilee, and though the two stories bear basically no resemblance to each other, they each make excellent and memorable use of the Daleks. That's unfortunately not the case here. I love the RTD era, warts and all, but Rise of the Cybermen / The Age of Steel really sucked all the flavor out of these boys for a number of years, didn't it? Phantoon used the phrase "Faustian deal with technology" upthread in reference to the Mondasians and I think that's very apt. Theirs was a civilization backed into a corner, and in their desperation they decided that survival, in the barest, most technical sense of the word and at the cost of literally everything else was preferable to annihilation, and willingly turned themselves into a living nightmare. Meanwhile, over in Pete's World, I guess everything was fine until one day a weirdo tech CEO went "eh, let's all be robots probably." It's like running the concept of the Cybermen itself through the cyber conversion process, allowing their basic form to survive while excising everything that made them interesting in the first place. Having jumped onboard DW with the beginning of the revival, I had no idea what I was missing out on, and what the older fans meant when they lamented the absence of the Mondasian Cybermen. Clank clank.
 

Phantoon

I cuss you bad
It's like running the concept of the Cybermen itself through the cyber conversion process, allowing their basic form to survive while excising everything that made them interesting in the first place.
This is actually weirdly perfect, it's metatextural genius.

I still can't believe they adapted Spare Parts like that. Literally nothing of interest remains, except for the fact that it's got the Cybermen and the Doctor in it. I hope that the Mondasian Cybermen (or Cybermen close to then in feel) become the main variant again. They're the only variant of the Cybermen that actually make sense.
 
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