I’m really bad at hiatuses. I can’t tell if it’s because I just really don’t want to leave Tumblr or because I really don’t want to work on my final exams.
Hey Classic Whovians! I’m working on my Christmas list right now and I’m thinking about asking for a few Classic Who episodes. But damn, these DVDs are expensive (Why isn’t there a massive box set for this yet? Sheesh.). They’ll have to be Region 1 DVDs, and if you link me to amazon.co.uk I will cry. What are your recommendations for the best episodes that I should ask for?
I’m coming back off of hiatus really briefly because STFU Moffat reblogged my review of “The Day of the Doctor” and I’m getting criticism for this again. I answered this complaint earlier but I figure since that piece is now buried a few pages back I’ll answer this again.
1) The Doctor’s feelings in Series 1-7 are entirely valid. He sincerely believed that he had committed double genocide and killed his family, friends, and home. Even if that guilt was based on timey-wimey self deception, they were valid nonetheless.
2) The audience’s feelings towards those first seven seasons are irrevocably changed. We can never view those episodes the same way again, knowing as we do now that he doesn’t actually have to carry the guilt, shame, and sadness that he does and that those emotions will be temporary.
In addition, I’m concerned about how new Doctor Who fans will view those episodes knowing beforehand that Gallifrey was never destroyed. As much as it seems like the entire world was watching the 50th anniversary, a lot of people were becoming interested in watching the show for the first time. In addition, we have to remember that very young fans usually start off watching whatever is live at the time with their family, so many young fans will be starting with Series 8 or later. I’m worried they won’t feel the full impact of those earlier episodes, knowing ahead of time that the Doctor didn’t really destroy Gallifrey.
3) A lot of the moral complexity of the show has been stripped away. The Doctor of Series 1 through 7 did something horrible, terrible, and unforgivable. That’s what made Amy and the Doctor’s reaction in “The Doctor’s Wife” (Amy: “You want to be forgiven.” Doctor: “Well, don’t we all?”) so amazing: he wanted to find another Time Lord because he wanted someone to absolve him of his sins. Yet he knew, in his hearts, that he did what had to be done. Remember, the Time Lords were not the innocent victims “The Day of the Doctor” portrayed them to be. By the time the Doctor was ready to use the Moment, they had become equally as horrible and terrifying as the Daleks. Yes, there were innocent victims on Gallifrey, but that was the terrible, complex decision the Doctor had to make. He could let the High Council kill them when they destroyed the universe, or be directly responsible for their deaths himself while saving untold numbers of lives.
Furthermore, this in a way makes the Doctor omnipotent. This was his biggest regret, yet as he told his companions time and time again, it was irrevocable. It couldn’t be changed. It was a fixed point. We already saw what happened to the Doctor when he tried to change a fixed point before, but then it was presented as an action of hubris and arrogance. The Time Lord Victorious was wrong and dangerous and had to be restrained. But now the Doctor can change anything with no repercussions. Just wave the magic “timey wimey” plot device and anything can be changed. What limitations are there on the Doctor’s character now? Furthermore, what are the limitations on a show when the one event we were told was irrevocable is now changeable?
Believe me, I understand why Moffat did what he did. It’s certainly a compelling plot point that will be able to drive the show for at least a few more seasons. If they wanted to give the Doctor a new mission and a more hopeful perspective, perhaps they could have borrowed a page from “The Fires of Pompeii” and saved some victims. But I wish this new plot didn’t have to come at the cost of undermining the previous 7 seasons.
(Also you can find translation guides here, if any of y’all are interested!)
It says “We Can Do It!” just like the original poster which inspired it!
If you want more evidence that Elin J is an amazing artist and dedicated Whovian, it was entirely her idea to add that in. When she sent me the original draft I was entirely speechless, and then I just spent a long time making inarticulate noises of happiness and showing it off to everybody I knew. And don’t worry if you didn’t translate it right away, it took me an embarrassingly long time to translate it when she originally sent it to me!
Also, because I can never pass up an opportunity to promote Elin’s work, you can buy that poster at her Society 6 shop, and if you order it today, shipping is free worldwide!
Honestly, comments like these just totally make my day. I blushed and smiled so wide in Starbucks that I had to duck and hide my head in my laptop. Thank you so much, I’m going back to writing the proposal for my Doctor Who research project with a renewed sense of happiness and pride!
Maybe I’m exaggerating it but it felt like someone had assumed that the female fans have a justified inferiority complex and that was tackled with a compliment that didn’t negate the insult and didn’t question what society values in beauty standards in the first damn place. I wouldn’t view that as a compliment and I don’t need to validate myself by viewing myself as opposed to pretty girls either. Did you take anything similar from that line in particular?
I wanted to address this point separately from my main post because I’m of two minds about this and wanted to see what you all thought.
On the one hand, I think there is a positive way to interpret this moment. If you all are fans of The Brain Scoop, you’ve probably watched Emily Graslie’s excellent video about how sexism affects women in the STEM fields. Part of her video discussed the fear female STEM educators have that they are being judged on their appearance rather than the quality of the content they produce or their knowledge in their field. They face pressure to be intelligent and conventionally attractive because there are still a huge number of people who judge a woman’s worth primarily on her physical appearance. So on the one hand, I could understand Osgood being jealous of her prettier sister because she exists in a society which devalues her obvious intelligence and cleverness because she is not considered to be as attractive as her sister.
But on the other hand, I’m inclined to agree with your assessment of that comment when you consider that Osgood is a stand-in for the female Whovians. I also viewed that comment very suspiciously the first time I watched “The Day of the Doctor,” because, even though I later interpreted it within the context of sexism in the STEM fields, that comment was delivered in a very different context in the episode and was not directly commenting on sexism in the STEM fields.
Let’s consider again how and why that comment was delivered. The Zygon has shifted its shape to impersonate Osgood and, now that it has access to Osgood’s memories, attacks her based on her insecurity about her appearance in order to demean her and disempower her so that she doesn’t fight back. So not only can a woman be demeaned based on her appearance, that demeaning comment can be so devastating that a woman wouldn’t be able to fight back. Sure, Osgood refuses to be demeaned based on her appearance and fights back, eventually escaping the Zygon, but that begs the question of why she was attacked based on her appearance in the first place. It felt like a shallow attempt to attack her and provider her character depth.
It would have made more sense for the Zygon to attack her for being powerless against outside forces without the Doctor’s help. UNIT has to some extent always relied on the Doctor’s assistance to defeat and repel invading alien forces, something Osgood would have been very aware of given her career in UNIT and her implied family history with UNIT. She definitely expected the Doctor to save her when the Zygon was advancing. So why didn’t the Zygon attack her and attempt to disempower her by saying something along the lines of “The Doctor isn’t here to save you this time”? That would have made the eventual reclaiming of her agency when she trips up the Zygon all the more powerful because there would be a clear acknowledgment from her that she couldn’t rely on the Doctor and that she must act to protect herself.
It also would have refused to buy into the trope that women can be demeaned and disempowered based on their physical appearance. Surely we can think of more creative narrative devices to show women facing and overcoming threats.
Doctor Who has survived as long as it has because of its fans, so it’s unsurprising they have been featured a number of times in the show itself. From LINDA in “Love and Monsters,” Malcolm Taylor in “Planet of the Dead,” to the meta fanboy references in “Time Crash,” the show has made subtle and not-so-subtle references to its fan base time and time again. So it was only fitting that in the 50th Anniversary episode the fans made another appearance in the character of Osgood.
"The Day of the Doctor" used pretty much every stereotype, trope, and plot device in the book to cue the audience that Osgood was a nerd and a Whovian. Her name seems to be a direct reference to Classic Who character Tom Osgood, who was also a member of UNIT. She wears the Fourth Doctor’s scarf everywhere, much like a fan who can’t resist incorporating some part of their favorite show into their wardrobe (writes the author, suddenly conscious of the fact she’s wearing a TARDIS T-shirt).
Osgood’s actual participation in the plot was underwhelming. At first, she was just there to be the episode’s fangirl-stand-in who could get flustered and literally breathless by the Doctor’s presence alone. I finally got interested in her story when she figured out the Zygons had broken the statues and were hiding under the sheets. Though initially she cowers in the corner, repeating the mantra “The Doctor will save me” over and over again, she finally takes matters into her own hands, trips up the Zygon, and rescues herself and Kate Stewart. It was, all in all, a nice subversion of the Damsel in Distress trope.
Aaaaaaaand then when things get intense in the Black Vault she turns back into a damsel and basically begins praying for the Doctor to come and rescue them all. Because humans can’t figure things out on their own and the Doctor needs to sort it all out for us.
Pretty much every episode which has made references to Doctor Who's fans has made some sort of joke about how if we were actually in any situation involving the Doctor and an alien threat we'd basically be useless. Elton in “Love and Monsters” freezes up when faced with an actual alien and stares on in shock while the Doctor, Rose, and the alien recreate a scene from Scooby Doo. Malcolm in “Planet of the Dead” is useless for a minute because he’s too busy fanboying about being able to meet the Doctor to actually do anything to help the Doctor. The difference is that these characters get past their initial shock and deal with the threat themselves. Elton and the rest of LINDA figure out how to defeat the Abzorbaloff on their own with barely any help from the Doctor. Malcolm provides crucial information to the Doctor and stands up to his Captain, even when threatened at gunpoint, in order to give the Doctor enough time to return to Earth.
Osgood never gets this character development. After pulling off her requisite Bold Move with a Witty One Liner to assure the audience she is a Strong Woman, she is turned back into the damsel so she can pray for the Doctor to save her and the three Doctors can make a dramatic slow-motion entrance.
And then there were the more problematic cues to alert the audience that Osgood was a nerd. Easily the most problematic element was Osgood’s inhaler.
An inhaler is an old visual trope used to signal to the audience that the character is a nerd, and the official Doctor Who tumblr certainly didn’t do anything to discourage that impression by reblogging a gif of Osgood with her inhaler captioned “Why do I feel like we Whovians actually made an appearance, in person, in the special? Don’t tell me this isn’t us. Complete with breathing problems.” But it’s also a pretty ridiculous and offensive trope . TV Tropes speculates that this trope originated from the assumption that nerds have asthma and need inhalers because only people unable to go out and participate in strenuous outdoors activity would be interested in nerdy things.
Tumblr user thefaultystar, a Whovian who has asthma, broke down for me why this trope is so false and offensive:
Asthma is so often the “nerdy introverted” disease, but I was a two sport athlete for YEARS and I have asthma. It isn’t indicative of anything other than “your lungs like to get irritated and swollen because of certain things.” The weird mentality around asthma being something that only X kind of people have is something that continues to exist and cause problems for those with it.
Furthermore, she was not pleased with the way Osgood’s asthma was trivialized for laughs:
Using her condition for giggles (aka when The Doctor winks at her and she wheezes loudly) is simply not ok. It isn’t a funny thing that she gets so flustered around the Doctor that she literally has trouble breathing. If I am in a condition where I need my inhaler, it isn’t something I, or most people with asthma, can gloss over. Something usually triggers it, and not addressing the fact that her inhaler use was indicative of a possible LIFE THREATENING thing pissed me off.
Yet Osgood came out of “The Day of the Doctor” as a much-loved character. There are already a number of theories about how the curator gave her the scarf (and fanart to go along with it), and a lot of fans are already saying that she should be Capaldi’s next companion. Clearly there’s a desire for a character like Osgood. Most of the “fan” characters in Doctor Who are men, and in a fan community that often feels dominated by men, it’s refreshing to have a female character represent the fans. Her character is endearing and clearly has a lot of potential, and none of the flaws in her characterization couldn’t be easily fixed in future episodes. I doubt she’ll become the next companion, but I’d be very happy if she was a recurring UNIT character in Series 8.