Thoughts on a scene from Time of Angels (SPOILER)

 

Parents of young children often say that the first day of school is the easy bit. Junior goes off filled with enthusiasm for an adventure that’s been long anticipated. The problems come with Day 3 or 4, when the penny drops that it’s going to be like this all the time.

That, more or less, is my feeling about the New New Who right now. It could just be that the honeymoon period’s worn off and, particularly after the dreadful Dalek episode, I’m less inclined to cut it some slack. Except that I can appreciate, intellectually, that Time of The Angels was really pretty good. It had pace, it had mystery, unpredictablility, scares and style. A lot of effort and money had been thrown at it, because clearly this is the story that Moff has been wanting to tell for years. And yet, like so much entertainment these days, it left me feeling empty. I want to know how it pans out and I’ll tune in next week, but something was missing.

Two little scenes, one from the episode itself and one from the Confidential, seem to pinpoint the problem for me. First, we had Amy discussing whether or not the Doctor should sacrifice her for the greater good. It’s the kind of moral dilemma that regularly comes up in the show and has always carried an emotional charge. You’d think it would be hard for it not to do just that. We’re talking life and death here. Here’s Rose Tyler in a similar situation:

            But then I met the Doctor and… all the things I’ve seen him do for me. For you. For all of us. For the whole… stupid planet and every planet out there. He does it alone, mum. But not any more. ‘Cos now he’s got me.

(Doomsday)

If that’s a bit too shippy for your taste, let’s jump back to Series One for something more public-spirited: 

           But it was… it was a better life. And I – I don’t mean all the travelling and… seeing aliens and spaceships and things – that don’t matter. The Doctor showed me a better way of living your life. 

        (meets their eyes, speaking earnestly. To Mickey–) 

        You know, he showed you too.

        (passionately)

        That you don’t just give up. You don’t just let things happen. You make a stand. You say no. You have the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away, and I just can’t– 

(She breaks off, unable to carry on. She kicks the table in frustration and leaps to her feet, running out of the chip shop in despair. Jackie and Mickey glance at one another.) 

(Parting of the Ways)

God knows, I had my issues with RTD. And Rose, particularly in S2, wasn’t perfect. But perfection isn’t necessary. Emotion is. Something has to be at stake. The Doctor vs Mickey, or vs Jackie, or just an ordinary life. We have to care, and we can’t care about someone if we haven’t a clue where they came from. Who’s waiting back home, wondering if they’ll ever see this companion again.

And we have to feel that the Doctor cares, too. We have to believe he’s envisaged the conversation he’ll be having with Jackie, Francine Jones or Sylvia and Wilf, if their daughter comes home in a body bag. It has to show in his eyes, in his voice. And, for that matter, in the dialogue. It has to either go straight to the heart, like Rose’s in the examples above, or be written and acted well enough to demonstrate the gulf between the Doctor’s account of reality and reality itself. It might sound banal, but a little line like, “I had this friend…she had this family. All gone now,” can break our hearts in the right hands. 

Back to the scene with Eleven and Amy. He’s trying to tell her it’s all in her mind. She doesn’t have to die. She’s terrified – who wouldn’t be? But what’s the word she uses? She tells him she’s okay with dying because, “I’m not that clingy.” 

Is that really what would be uppermost in her mind in that moment? The fear that the Doctor might regard her as a liability? She’s dying, for Christ’s sake, thousands of miles and light-years from home. It seems to me that the word “clingy” says more about Moffat than it does about Amy. Surely, even in a childhood as solitary as Amelia Pond’s, there’d be something that she’d long for at that moment. Sam got Frodo up Mount Doom by reminding him that back home in the Shire the first strawberries would be ripening. And I bawled, unashamedly, hearing the voice of who knows how many Tommies in the trenches trying to get their comrades through hell on earth. 

I quite like Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, but watching the two of them in that scene was like watching two marbles knocking against each other. There was no depth, no subtlety. Too many times in this new series, we’ve been told, not shown. Sometimes, as in the case of River Song, the groundwork has been laid in previous series. Other times, we’re just meant to overlook the blanks. That’s relatively simple in the Doctor’s case because we’re been through a lot with him, but in Amy’s it’s like reaching into the Void.

Now, I was as weary as most other people of the endless angst and melodrama of the Specials, but I watched a little clip of Ten regenerating today and there was more emotion in the way he silently, helplessly, looked at his glowing hand and accepted the inevitable than I’ve seen between Eleven and Amy in four weeks. There may be a reason for it. I can accept that Eleven doesn’t want to open up to just anybody about his issues, but then neither did Ten – you knew they were there, unspoken, because Tennant’s acting style had such depth. Whether there is a connection between the Doctor and his companion is optional – a connection between the Doctor and the viewer, is not.

Moffat is a brilliant writer, and after a few years of RTD he’s a refreshing change. But then chicken nuggets are a change after you’ve lived for months on filet mignon – that doesn’t mean you want a lifetime of chicken nuggets. When I flipped over to Confidential I realised Matt’s brilliant, too – at video game acting. The photo session he did for the game developers was a delight – he had an instinctive grasp of what they wanted and was crazy, hilarious, compulsively watchable and very, very talented. And perhaps that’s what people want – at least some of them – a video game Doctor who can move effortlessly and seamlessly from one scenario to another, fundamentally unchanged as the game develops around him, bantering from a prescribed character sheet rather than reacting to the situation, trading wisecracks with his pretty sidekick. It’s probably easier to market to an international audience. The Doctor is a commodity now, rather than a character.

Okay, this is a personal view and one I hope I’ll revise in due course. But right now, I’m empty. I should have stayed home and cooked a proper meal. I’ll be back next week, though. The Golden Arches have a way of pulling you in.

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28 thoughts on “Thoughts on a scene from Time of Angels (SPOILER)

  1. “I’m not that clingy.”
    “We’ve been over this. Not all the bad decisions have to be made by you, Doctor. I see things, other ways out. I won’t blink, promise. Now leave!”
    Or perhaps, “Tell Rory I love him. I’m sorry I treated him second best to your memory, but travelling with you was worth it.”
    Makes you wonder who proposed.

  2. Here is a journal entry where points up a great difference between the Doctor during Tennant’s tenure and anyone else’s. Rephrasing it my own way: Tennant’s Doctor was the hero, the protagonist, while usually the Doctor is a Merlin figure, the omnisicent mentor whose dramatic ecological niche is to supply exposition that’s never wrong; who accidentally inherited the show when the hero went home to 1963 with his girl. (The entry reminded me very much of your discussion of Davies’ Doctor Who as tragedy instead of comedy, as another example of what Davies did differently, and arguably wrong, from everyone else.) I often like to say Merlin figures are plot devices instead of characters, even if you have to occasionally treat them like characters for an episode in order to get people like Anthony Stewart Head and Alec Guinness to play them. I also characterized 20th century Doctor Who itself, during the rampup to the US premiere of Season 2005, as “a bunch of plot devices running up and down corridors”.
    I wonder whether the Davies/Tennant years haven’t spoiled some viewers who like real drama into thinking that that’s what Doctor Who is about, when really it isn’t to anyone else, including most of the people who make it.

  3. This was a really interesting read, thank you for sharing. I’ve been enjoying S5 so far and I’m fond of Matt and Karen, but I can’t really say that I find the story emotionally compelling so far. I like it and I might be sad if it suddenly disappeared, but if either Eleven or Amy disappeared from my screen tomorrow, I think my reaction would be “oh, well” rather than spending three months curled up in the corner of my room and sobbing, “Ten!! Rose!! Martha!! Donna!!” in rapid succession.
    And it’s really hard to know – with all the fandom baggage we come into these things – whether my apathy is because I still resent Moffat for not liking my ship or because I miss Ten or what. But you’re right – that scene between Amy and Eleven *should* have been this huge emotional moment and while I found it sweet, I was rolling my eyes at the “clingy” line rather than getting teary. And if it had been RTD, I bet I would have been teary.
    Still, I never really expected to love Moffat’s series the same way I loved RTD’s, so I’m trying to just go with it as long as I’m enjoying it.

  4. Usually the Doctor is a Merlin figure, the omnisicent mentor whose dramatic ecological niche is to supply exposition that’s never wrong.
    That’s actually the story I fell in love with, back in 2005. I still see the first season as Rose’s hero’s journey, with the Doctor as her mentor. (I wouldn’t have called the Ninth Doctor “omniscient,” but then, neither was Dumbledore.)
    The good thing about making the Doctor the mentor rather than the hero is that it lets you keep him more or less the same. Mentors aren’t expected to grow and change over the course of the story the way heroes are. The bad thing is that you risk losing people who care more about the companion than they do about the Doctor, when the companion they care about leaves.

  5. That’s a good, thought-provoking post – thanks for it.
    My only issue with it is Nine – he seemed far too broody and screwed up to be a Merlin figure to me.
    I’ve heard quite a few people come up with the comment that with 11/Amy the vibe is more of a paternal one – and that works, too. I could even see her reaction to River as being similar to the daughter in a blended family observing her parents’ spats.
    But I think my problem is that I don’t have anybody to hang onto right now, because there’s nothing relatable-to about Amy. Which might be completely intentional, of course, but it doesn’t make the adjustment any easier.
    It was incredibly appropriate that ultimately Ten became human, wasn’t it? And maybe he was such a mess in the Specials because he hadn’t had the grace to give his life up at that point, but persisted in hanging onto it when he’d left behind all the parts of himself that made life rewarding. I don’t mean Rose, necessarily.

  6. Mmmm. Like you I am not feeling that this series has anything like the degree of emotional intensity and resonance that RTD’s Who had for me. And to be honest I was expecting that, and it almost came as a relief, because I was more emotionally invested in Ten than is probably healthy 😉 So far it’s just fun which I’ve come to with very little in the way of expectations other than to be entertained…
    But I’ve been pondering this business of the depth and fullness of character realisation. I was thinking of the way RTD talks about character-building in various places in Writer’s Tale; how his tendency to notice the tiniest details about people causes him to build characters about whom he knows everything, what they would have for breakfast, what they read or watch on TV, how they speak – whether or not any of that makes it into the show. You could see that as a soap-opera-y view of character, with all that domestic detail, and certainly it seemed to be one of the aspects of RTD’s writing that really irked the Who-isn’t-a-soap crowd, but it did make it very easy to engage profoundly with the characters on an emotional level, whether you loved them or loathed them, because they were real.
    Neither Amy nor Eleven feel at all like that to me; and as I pondered it occurred to me that Moff isn’t trying to write them like that, because that’s not what he thinks Who is. Everything I’ve seen from him in interviews suggests (and you’ve commented on this in much more detail than I can) that he’s essentially setting out to write fairy tale, with characters who are archetypes rather than individuals. We don’t know what Little Red Riding Hood likes for breakfast, and it might feel rather odd if we did…
    So perhaps we’re meant to engage emotionally with the story, with the situation, in various visceral ways (fear of the monsters, cathartic relief at escape from them) rather than with the characters as individuals?
    Just a rambling thought…

  7. I hear what you’re saying, but isn’t your analysis of the 2005 series complicated a little by the fact that Nine needed Rose so much? That conflicts with the role of mentor. And I’ve often wondered whether it was an intentional change, or whether RTD et al went with it instinctively when they saw the chemistry between the two leads.
    There’s a very interesting essay in Chicks Dig Time Lords that maintains, convincingly I think, that Rose became redundant after Nine regenerated into Ten – because although he was fond of her he was too self-absorbed to need her any more.
    It occurred to me recently that the early part of S2 would have made a lot more sense if Rose had jumped ship with Mickey after the Cybermen story. The adolescent behaviour in the first two episodes, followed by the revelation of Sarah Jane and the Doctor’s behaviour in GITF would have been a logical lead-up to that decision. It would have allowed Rose to leave with dignity. As things worked out, it meant that RTD lost his last chance to make the love affair a temporary aberration and restore the Doctor to the Merlin role. The consequences of not doing that came to a head at Bad Wolf Bay – after that a tragic outcome was inevitable.
    Of course, that doesn’t stop me wanting to believe that Ten and Rose could be happy for ever. Most of us have a sentimental streak.

  8. Yep. Moff is probably being very professional about it and building a show that will survive the long haul – rescuing it from the excesses that threatened to shipwreck it under RTD’s tenure. Like you, I accept that I was more emotionally involved than is healthy. I think a lot of us will look back on the RTD years as we might remember an intense, passionate affair that almost wrecked our lives…but a part of us could never regret having that experience, regardless of the emotional fallout.

  9. watching the two of them in that scene was like watching two marbles knocking against each other. There was no depth, no subtlety. Too many times in this new series, we’ve been told, not shown.
    Yes. Definitely yes.
    I want to be emotionally engaged. I’m not interested in a series that doesn’t offer me that kind of engagement, through compelling, likeable characters who grow and develop over the weeks. I know no more about Amy now than I did in episode 1, and Eleven’s still not resonating with me. Without emotional engagement… yeah, I’ll watch, but I don’t care. If it was taken off-screen right now, I wouldn’t even miss it.
    And your observation about that scene with Amy is so astute. I liked it; in fact, it was probably the one scene in the entire episode that I did enjoy, but it did lack that degree of emotion. Where’s the gut-wrenching fear as Ten watched Martha being swept off into the sun in 42, poor and all as that episode was? Or, far, far better, the tears and the lump in my throat as Nine can only stare through a screen at Rose trapped with a Dalek? It’s not your fault – oh, that hit hard.
    There is a real difference between writing for soaps and writing for situation comedies, isn’t there? As has been said in your LJ previously, RTD’s time on Coronation Street and other soaps gave him a real feel for human nature, and an excellent handle on characterisation and developing characters, flaws and all, as a result. Situation comedy calls for a broad sweep, a caricature, because that’s what gets the laughs. There’s no place for depth, for nuance, for that silent moment when the camera holds on one character and catches that giveaway emotional reaction. It’s just froth which never goes anywhere – like that awful Duty Free, where the characters stayed on holiday in Spain for years.
    (I watched one episode of Coupling, years ago, before DW returned to TV in 2004. Hated it, to the point of refusing to watch a second episode).

  10. Yes. Just yes.
    I give up and admit what I’ve repressed guiltily writing anywhere tonight! that I went back and watched Silence in the Library and really every SINGLE LINE with DT in it speaks more to you than any one with Eleven. And the same with Amy for Donna. There is something so passive about Eleven and Amy. As you say, you don’t care, you feel like you’re being told to care. Amy.. hangs around when she doesn’t actually have lines or bits of busines to do. She is like someone on stage getting in the way. She is a cipher with legs, he is depending on our long knowledge of the character and some physicality, which is nice, but like you say, not very deep.. Every time Amy shouts in her “feisty” way (and I really wish she would think first occasionally), it is petulant more than stirring. The only time I have felt Matt break out of his shell is not in either of his supposing big “look at me ” speeches (the “trap” one, and the one in Eleventh Hour with “basically run”) but that moment in TBB when he says “and when I do this i won’t be the Doctor anymore”. A bit of suppressed rage and it felt like water in a desert 🙂 And i’m not sure its good if the only time you warm to a character is when they’re being fundamentally quite unlikeable.
    I hope you’re wrong about the Doctor being turnd into more of an international commodity; I can see the sense of it but actually, to be fair, it seems to me Moff’s trying to turn him into much more of a close lipped English eccentric of maybe 1940s vintage, sexless and emotionally closed off – but is that the American fans (and the ordinary UK family viewers) want? i doubt it.

  11. re character realisation..
    I saw a clip of the start of Rose (series 1, ep 1) the other day and what struck me was how in SECONDS you knew what kind of life she had; that she dragged herself out of bed to go to a dull job, but she was cheerful about it, her mum, her boyfriend, how she lived, her class, such vast swathes of info in seconds, really.
    What do we know about Amy? We don’t even know why she would have a job as a kissogram or if she ever did anything scholastic or missed out on that, if she misses her parents or how she lived in that big house alone on crap wages or why she was getting engaged to a loser she was trying to hide as not her boyfriend or what any of her hopes or dreams were except the fantasy of meeting the Doctor again. These things don’t make her mysterious, they make her a cardboard character. Yes this is more typical of a fairytale character than a drama TV character but unfortunately Amy doesn’t WORK as an archetype (“poor woodcutter’s daughter”, whatever); we have to see her every week and empathise with her (you can’t empathise with the Doctor, the whole point of THAT charactr is that he is indeed inherently mysterious, unknowable.) So yes indeed, two marbles knocking together 😦

  12. I hear what you’re saying, but isn’t your analysis of the 2005 series complicated a little by the fact that Nine needed Rose so much?
    Not really, no. Granted, Nine had a character arc of his own, which most mentor figures don’t have. But the biggest difference between Nine and Ten, for me, was that Nine was almost always the catalyst for other people’s journeys. The only episode I can think of where he got to be the hero is “The End of the World,” and it had the lowest stakes of the season. (Part of me knew that the story I fell in love with was over the minute that Ten rode in on a white horse in “The Girl in the Fireplace.”)
    There’s a very interesting essay in Chicks Dig Time Lords that maintains, convincingly I think, that Rose became redundant after Nine regenerated into Ten—because although he was fond of her he was too self-absorbed to need her any more.
    Are you familiar with the terms “doylist” and “watsonian”? I’m a doylist—at the end of the day, I don’t see Rose and the Doctor as people. I see them as fictional characters. So I’m not sure I agree that Rose was redundant after the Doctor regenerated. She wasn’t the heroine anymore—that story ended with “The Parting of the Ways.” But she was still the catalyst for Ten’s journey, just like she had been for Nine’s. The difference was that, like you said, Ten’s journey was a tragedy. It’s entirely possible that if Billie had left in “Age of Steel,” the only thing that would’ve changed is that Ten would’ve started his downward spiral in “The Idiot’s Lantern” instead of “The Runaway Bride.”
    Which is not to say that I think the story had to go that way. What I think is that David Tennant is pretty when he cries, and that RTD couldn’t resist the temptation to write his Doctor as a tragic hero. If he had, I think there’s any number of ways it could’ve gone.
    (And I’m fairly proud of my sentimental streak. The older I get, the less patience I have for pointless tragedy.)

  13. Lovely post, full of stuff to mull.
    I also am missing the emotional energy in this season. But so far I am pointing the finger at Gillan and Smith, not Moffat. I think these two actors are quite competent (well, Smith at any rate) but not very seasoned, and it shows. They stick to a few primary colors: perky, irked, impatient, curious, sweet… no shades of gray.
    On top of that Moffat is doing the opposite of what RTD did in introducing each of his new companions and Doctors. As someone said upthread, we knew immediately what class, educational level, and spirit each of them had, from Nine’s Geordie coalminer demeanor to Martha’s striver family. Moffat is withholding all of it, and I really like that, except that it would work better if we had more sense of hidden depths, shadows, secrets kept. I think the scripts are full of that (what is up with Amy? Why is the Doctor so distant, so guarded?) but the actors have only an on switch and an off switch.
    Changing Doctor, Companion, and head writer all at once is a rare chance to keep a really big secret, to withhold *everything,* and I think that’s ok as long as there’s a payoff at the end of the day. Which means that Smith and Gillan had better stop relying on their cuteness and youth and start burning a few topless towers of Ilium.
    That “clingy” sentence was crap, but any one of the past companions would have made it poignant or forlorn or bitter or valiant, and either Nine or Ten would have shown us faces of mixed despair, guilt, and overconfidence in response. Because that is what those actors brought. These two just ran through the lines as fast as possible.
    I didn’t think Billie Piper was so great in her first episodes either, but she learned on the job, and she had fantastic talent around her to teach her. Smith and Gillan may get more adept. I’ll stick around to see if they do.

  14. I saw something in that scene, and this episode, and Amy altogether, that I think we may be overlooking, and which I hope Moffatt’s not overlooking… (I do have hopes, because he seems to tend to his small details fairly well.)
    To me it seems very much that Amy has gone enough too far, too fast that she’s cracking. Her response is essentially a dissociative one; she’s dealing with her circumstances in a closed and surreal way. The reality isn’t registering. And I’m guessing that eventually that will come full circle and what she’s just been through will hit her like a ton of bricks.

  15. I’ve got some problems with the way the issue of the Doctor’s anger is being handled. From his confrontation at the end of TOTA, it seems that we’re supposed to recognise his temper as a problematic thing in this regeneration.
    But again, it seems to me we’re told, not shown this. In every episode since 11th Hr he’s lashed out at some point – at Amy, hitting the Dalek (which could have been a plot point) and here – but it comes from nowhere. We don’t see any close-ups of him holding back rage so it’s “oh, he’s angry” with no tension.
    Ten’s anger was silent and deadly. Nine’s was a pitiless force once it was roused – I still tremble at his coldness when he threw Adam off the TARDIS and left him to his fate.

  16. Ah, interesting. Well, we know she has an emotional dilemma ahead of her in “Amy’s Choice” and after that Rory comes on board, at least temporarily. I’d love to see the Doctor travel with a couple for a while, and it would solidify the paternal vibe they seem to be getting at here.
    I could still be persuaded that Amy isn’t quite human – some kind of possessed creature or robot, while the little girl Amy’s been locked up in that room as an enemy springs its trap.

  17. Re: re character realisation..
    I saw a clip of the start of Rose (series 1, ep 1) the other day and what struck me was how in SECONDS you knew what kind of life she had; that she dragged herself out of bed to go to a dull job, but she was cheerful about it, her mum, her boyfriend, how she lived, her class, such vast swathes of info in seconds, really.
    Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly the sort of thing I meant.
    What do we know about Amy? We don’t even know why she would have a job as a kissogram
    And that is *still* bugging me! Was it purely so that Moffat could gratify the adolescent-male element of the viewership by getting Karen Gillan into a ridiculously short skirt (I was hoping not, but…) Was it just for the handcuffs? I kept waiting for it to be an actual plot point, and no joy…
    I don’t know enough about other Moffat writing to know whether he can’t characterise effectively in that way, or doesn’t want to, or doesn’t think Who is that kind of show. But if he carries on this way there will be a danger of the Doctor-companion relationship not really working, I think, because Amy (unlike Rose, or Martha, or Donna) isn’t bringing any meaningful backstory or sense of personality to it. And I get the impression it’s not making it terribly easy for Karen Gillan to portray her convincingly either… sigh.

  18. Of course, the point about comedy is that you mustn’t care too much about any of the characters or the whole thing falls apart. That’s been the truth from Shakespeare onwards, a point I’ve made before. Try enjoying Much Ado About Nothing without handwaving what happens to Hero, for example.

  19. That’s interesting. If Moffat *is* keeping back hidden depths – of either plot or character – then either the actors aren’t experienced or competent enough to hint at that, or the direction isn’t, or both. I have no intention of stopping watching, so we’ll see how that pans out!

  20. I’ll just point out – in case it hasn’t already been pointed out- that this was the first episode of this series to be filmed. I think – script issues aside – Matt and Karen probably needed a little more time to, er, bed in 🙂

  21. I keep telling myself “we’re only four episodes in, give it time” – but then I remember that DT’s fourth episode (I’m including TCI) was School Reunion (probably my favourite of S2) and… um… yeah, that argument kinda falls apart.
    I’ve also been trying really hard not to start on – “Smith’s no Eccleston/Tennant”, because I recognise that the replacement of the lead is one of the cornerstones of the show. I’ve been there before, and I’ve gotten used to the new incumbent of the TARDIS … but the thing is, that statement is true. He’s not a bad actor I suppose – but he’s following two real powerhouses who both had tremendous screen presence as well as a wealth of experience to draw upon. It’s not his fault he hasn’t got all that – he’s only twenty-seven, but his inexperience is definitely showing at times.
    I agree with pretty much everything else you’ve said. As someone upthread has said, we’ve become used to the more emotional, “soapy” aspects that RTD introduced and perhaps Moffat is trying to steer the show back towards the idea of the Doctor as mentor and enigma. I know which I prefer, personally, although I do recognise that there’s only so many times we can watch the Doctor have his hearts ripped out and stamped on. And yes, DT in pain is very beautiful, and yes, perhaps Rusty got over-enamoured with it, but there’s no denying that he – they – took us right with them wherever they chose to take us.
    I’m still intrigued to see where this series is going, but I’m more detatched than I used to be. Which I think is a direct result of the detachment I can feel “on screen”, if that makes sense. I’m prepared to invest emotionally, but so far, haven’t been given anything to invest in. I’m still hoping that this is all part of some clever plan on the part of the Grand Moff – er – Moffat, and that at some point, we’re all going to be able to breathe a collective sigh of relief and say “Oh, thank God. There it is!” (‘It’ being the Doctor Who we now recognise.)
    But I’m not willing to bet on it.

  22. I’ve been debating watching this series, not because I think Moffat is a bad writer, but because he writes plots before he writes characters. Now, I have no desire to return to the OTT melodrama that plagued the RTD years (much as I loved them at the time), but I do need something to latch onto, character-wise, in order for me to want to watch on a regular basis. I’ll probably check out the first 2 eps as they’re available ‘On Demand’ via my new cable box (every other channel offers at least 4 eps – stingy BBCA!), but I have a feeling my reaction will be very much like yours.

    But what’s the word she uses? She tells him she’s okay with dying because, “I’m not that clingy.”

    Didn’t Moffat once refer to Rose as a “clingy girlfriend”? That sounds a bit too meta for my tastes, much like River Song’s “Spoilers!”. Supernatural has ruined me for all things meta, I’m afraid.

  23. Yes, there was a notorious comment he made at some con that the perfect way to get rid of a clingy girlfriend was to dump her in a parallel world. I remembered that at the time.

  24. Back to the scene with Eleven and Amy. He’s trying to tell her it’s all in her mind. She doesn’t have to die. She’s terrified – who wouldn’t be? But what’s the word she uses? She tells him she’s okay with dying because, “I’m not that clingy.”
    Is that really what would be uppermost in her mind in that moment? The fear that the Doctor might regard her as a liability? She’s dying, for Christ’s sake, thousands of miles and light-years from home. It seems to me that the word “clingy” says more about Moffat than it does about Amy.

    Absolutely, this is why he can’t connect with the audience. Not in a deep and meaningful way the way that RTD could. RTD is crying over Rose and the Doctor losing each other…all Moff is thinking is how a woman ruins your life by making you responsible. Over and over so far this season we have seen that snippy undertone of…”Oh, I’m a perpetual child and I run away…isn’t that great!” I might think they were setting this up for the Doctor to man up…but I know better now. This is just the prevailing attitude of the sorry narcissist in charge.
    And I don’t mean THAT as a reflection on his writing. I rather liked this episode. I was entertained by the Doctor’s mumbling and jerking about a little more this time. I liked this episode. But that line, of course, was a slap in the face of the old way of doing things in Doctor Who. Beyond that it was a clear statement of the childishness of the man in charge. As you say, this was supposed to be a life and death moment and it lost all depth because…even if Amy does consider it “clingy” to hope someone is with her when she dies…the Doctor should know better. Here, we understand that he really doesn’t know better…even as he acts his current emotional age of…what? 9? And bites her. I liked that. It is something neither Tennant nor Eccleston would have done. I can see it being part of who he is…like the sulking school boy persona when River yanks his chain…very much a child. So far I haven’t seen the old, wise soul…though I’ve certainly heard a lot about him from OTHER people.
    I do not see the show continuing for five years under this leadership. And I even liked River in this episode. But, there’s nothing to the show anymore…and we’ve seen these tricks…so how are we supposed to go on caring about these people? I just feel like Moff doesn’t get it…but maybe its me…and you…maybe we expect too much of a little children’s show.

  25. I wandered over from a few days ago, and just figured out what I wanted to say now.
    I quite like Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, but watching the two of them in that scene was like watching two marbles knocking against each other. There was no depth, no subtlety. Too many times in this new series, we’ve been told, not shown.
    I re-watched Moffat’s episodes from RTD’s era before this season started. The “tell emotion, not show emotion” aspect was present in Moffat’s episodes then, too. It wasn’t noticeable with the Doctor, or Donna, because Eccleston, Tennant and Tate were all able to milk what emotion was there for all it was worth. I noticed the emotional distance with Moffat’s own characters, in the way they were written and the way they reacted to the situation at hand.
    This is probably unrelated, but… To me, his characters all feel cut from the same cloth. I have yet to feel any appreciable difference in written characterization between Amy and River, or Liz Ten for example; or for that matter, Sally Sparrow or Madame de Pompadour. Moffat’s kind of “tell not show” character writing puts more of a load on the actor to convey the emotions convincingly. Eccleston, Tennant and Tate spoiled us in that regard; they made it look easy.

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