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Monday, November 11, 2013

#Review Doctor Who Series 5 #SaveTheDay

It didn't take me long to warm up to Matt Smith, but I'm thinking that had more to do with his phenomenal acting than the writing in the first few episodes. Not their best. By far not the best.

Sure, the Doctor is a pro at running, but this season feels more like a Let's skip any and all character development, character memory, or future characterizations and hop around like a loon.

Yes, yes, different feel to the entire series, but then Steven Moffat is at the helm now. Different writer/producer, different flavor. I miss the old flavor.

Still, I feel there's something distinctly lacking in this particular series. I love the overall arc with River Song and the banter between the Doctor and River is fantastic, but there's still something off. Something that keeps me disconnected.

It took me 4 days to get through Hungry Earth and Cold Blood. Four days! I watch 3-5 episodes at a time in my mission to finish all 7 series (and every single special) before November 23's 50th Anniversary special. Four days for 2 episodes is way too long.

And frankly I didn't pay all that much attention to the Van Gogh episode. It's Vincent van Gogh (played by the amazing Tony Curran with guest-guest star Bill Nighy) for crying out loud and I didn't care! What was his purpose? For the Doctor and Amy to show him that whole madness is only depression and you're a genius? There was no connection, despite the theme that carried through from the previous famous-person guest stars.

I've watched Charles Dickens (a lonely and broken man who reclaimed his zest for life), Queen Victoria (an arrogant queen who required and demanded help but did more to change the future of Doctor Who than any other), William Shakespeare (a pompous fool with a wicked mind and maybe a will to change), and Agatha Christie (a lonely woman with no self-confidence who was shown to be the brilliant deducer of mystery we think of her as) and in each of those enjoyed the overall episode as well as the individual sparks and quirks that made up the Doctor and his companion and their quest to solve an alien mystery.

Why am I so ambivalent to this series? Why do I not care? Why do I feel as if I'm watching this to get through it in the hopes Series 6 is better?

Could be Amy. (No offense to Karen Gillan.)

There's nothing about her that screams I'm a worthy companion for the Doctor. Nothing. Since I couldn't put my finger on exactly why I wanted Amy to die a horrible and painful death several times over, I thought it was me. There was no transition from the 10th Doctor to the 11th as there was from the 9th to the 10th, no continuity, not even a vague mention of the previous seasons.

No Doctor screaming pain from the Daleks who always come back and pop up everywhere, only the seemingly burning question of why Amy didn't remember them. Really? That's the burning question? Not the I killed my people to stop the Daleks and they've returned? I lost friends and companions and people I love to them? Not how the hell did they survive again?

Nothing. There's not even a brief mention of anything from any of his previous incarnations (let alone the most recent 2) until Vincent and the Doctor when the TARDIS prints out a list of the Doctors starting with the first.

I admit, I didn't (and don't) like that, but there's more to it. More to my nearly instant and total dislike of Amy. And what's a girl to do but search online for why I hate Amy Pond? Surely others (who have watched the show first run and had more time to process this) have answers!

Yup. Lots of answers. There's talk of sexism, of one-dimensional characterization, of Amy supposedly being the 'pretty' companion, prettier than others (which I adamantly disagree with!), etc. I think my favorite paragraph out of all I've read is this one from SPARK Movement:
It is also sad that I can’t describe to you how much Amy plays the role of damsel in distress, or how often she’s blamed for problems not of her making.  Not to mention how much she is sold to viewers because she is more “beautiful” than other companions. But I digress; there are other important topics to discuss.

Steven Moffat, the current writer for Doctor Who, calls Amy a ‘fierce’ girl. Amy speaks her mind, looks good, and is bold, but, when Doctor Who plotlines are examined, Amy is only superficially fierce. Amy wants adventure and enjoys it, but she is portrayed as needing the Doctor to find it for her and to save her from any difficulties. She seems to need the Doctor to awaken her ‘fierce’ qualities, reinforcing the idea that a woman must depend on a man to bring out the interesting parts of her character. Amy is, in reality, a damsel-in-distress rather than a ‘fierce’ heroine.

Overall, I had a very difficult time getting through series 5 (or series 6 if we're counting the David Tennant Specials as a separate season). It was all jumbled with more contained episodes that had very little to do with characterization than all previous series combined.

As I said, I did enjoy River Song, she's got enough character to make up for the lack of it from both Any (and Rory who I find so inept and utterly forgettable and is it any wonder Amy forgot him?) and the Doctor. Plus she makes me laugh. The Lodger was funny in a I've forgotten every single moment of my previous lives way and The Pandorica Opens featured River again so automatically made it excellent. I say automatically, but it really was excellent on its own terms.

Like really excellent in a WOW this is why I love science fiction and Doctor Who way. Even if the 2nd part Big Bang ruined every fantastic, wonderful point Pandorica Opens made. I can't even begin to describe the continuity issues, plot creators, and paradoxes inherent in that finale.

Onto Series 6 where I understand it to be a "timey-wimey, headache inducing, I must watch this again before the 50th Anniversary and hope it makes sense". This is a quote from my cousin. I promised I'd watch Series 6 with her so we could discuss, analyze, dissect, and hope for the best!

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