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May. 19th, 2006

Hurrah and huzzah, Dr Who won a few Baftas the other week. I thought it was just cool that a good programme had been honoured. But I underestimated the importance of this event. Because apparently it was proof of the glorious nature of British society!
It's so progressive, and loving and hopeful. So focused on the good of us, as people, in the face of war and pain. If the spirit of twenty-first century Great Britain is half this joyful, half this hopeful and strong, I think we'll all be okay. No sundowns just yet.

Land of hope and glory....oh, I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yes, writing about a TELEVISION PROGRAMME. Idiot.

And so, on with the recap of the recap!

The Doctor goes to that place he goes, where the smile fades and the fear that always comes out as rage appears

You know, I wish I could think of more pithy responses to this shit than "oh, fuck off", but sadly that's all I can say about this terrible line.

episode by Steven Moffat -- whose dialogue I find routinely clunky and overly emphatic, but whose stories are touched with grace and triumph, and a love so sad that you're not really sure why you're crying.

And this one. Also, I'd just like to note that Jacob is certainly an expert on all things "clunky and overly emphatic".

she says his name and slides down the wall to sob, while the clock ticks. It's only a matter of time.

Do you see what he did there? Clocks? Only a matter of time? It's so clever!

The Empty Child wants. It's a running theme, this confusion of what you are with what you do: most of the time it's zombies, motivated by their last desire, or by the desires of something higher, or used as masks for other desires. One in ten bad guys isn't doing it for the money. But in this context, in the context of the show, I don't think it's the usual form/function binary. I know I've been hitting the Aurelius and Augustine ("The Angelic Doctor"!) a bit hard the last few weeks, but try this.

Oh God, do I have to? All right.

I rediscovered it while I was writing something about Battlestar, in Epictetus ("The Acquired"): "First, decide who you would be. Then, do what you must do." And given that so much of what goes on in these stories is the direct result of people doing shit they shouldn't be doing, I wonder if the point isn't closer to this: that being a zombie is the default setting, and that you have to choose to be more. If you met the Doctor, you'd want to give him a hug. Possibly a kiss with tongue. But if you read his résumé? Madman. Warrior. Killer of peoples, of worlds, of heroes, and soldiers. A living genocide. Nine is about the choice: whom would you be? Then, what must you do? The Doctor distrusts Jack, but he loves Nancy for the same reason. Her heroism and apparent selflessness in the end of the world. How could he do less?

Wank, wank, wankity wank. I hope he's got a big box of tissues. Sorry about that last bit.

The reels of the tape spin and tick-tock. It's a matter of time.

Oh God. I have a horrible feeling that "it's a matter of time" is going to be the new "it's about intimacy". And I don't like it!

Rose explains to Captain Jack, like a lover, like a sister, or a mother

What? Or like a neighbour, like a casual aquaintance, like someone on his livejournal friends list? Or like some other collection of random nouns relating to interpersonal relationships, all of which have nothing particularly to do with what Rose is actually saying to Captain Jack? Whats' wrong with Jacob? Seriously, I want to know!

Who needs a gun when you've got a screwdriver? Who needs to shoot when you can build? Why violence when violence doesn't solve mysteries? The Doctor's not a pacifist in the usual way; he just knows timespace in the Einsteinian sense: all of a piece.

This is just....I can't....the horror....I'm sorry, this is just TOO SHIT! *starts to cry*

Rose points out that there are also "no uvver exits."

Chim-chiminy, chim-chiminy, chim-chim-cherooo!

There's a whole Excellent breakdown

I'd just like to note that this new "putting a capital letter at the start of the word excellent" tic is incredibly irritating. "Excellent Question"! "Excellent breakdown"! Just stop it.

She asks him whether he "finks" that Jack is coming back

It's a jolly 'oliday with Maaaary! Also, fuck off, Jacob.

So come on: the world doesn't end because the Doctor dances." This is the second time modus tollens/modus ponens has come up in the last three days. Why? "The world doesn't end" when/just because "the Doctor dances." But also, and better: the world doesn't end because the Doctor dances.

I am almost vibrating with irritation now. Or perhaps I'm just in awe of Jacob's profound thoughts? There's a fine line. It's about intimacy.

And, knowing history as we do, doesn't that make her a reminder? An angel of pride and what happens next?

What? Yes, Rose wearing a union jack t-shirt in 1941 makes her an "angel of pride". Good Lord.

But you meet the Doctor, and then you redeem yourself. Those are the rules.

If only those rules included the words "thou shalt not write pompous and moronic recaps". But apparently they don't.

You win." And how? The spirit of the Blitz. By becoming stronger than the thing that's coming. A mouse too small to fight can roar. Lions make the best mothers.

Um, don't lions - like most animals - have sex with their own children once they've grown up? I'm not sure that makes them candidates for this "best mother" title. Also, that "mouse too small to fight can roar" stuff is nonsense in the context of WW2. The Battle of Britain wasn't won by just roaring.

God's grace is the reminder that you always have been free -- it's just the default setting to be too afraid to reach for it -- and the gentle push that turns you around to face it. God's grace is a day like this, a genocide redeemed in a single day where no one dies. When the Doctor gets objective evidence that what he's chosen to be is informed by his actions, a well-formed equation, and he's reminded that he can dance again. That he never forgot how. This show is not fucking around.

You know, when I actually saw this episode, I was crying like a big baby at the bit when Nancy hugged the empty child and admitted she was his mummy. It was really moving. And yet reading this I wish they'd all just dropped down dead just so Jacob didn't have an opportunity to write this SHITE.

It's sketchy in that sci-fi way, and it pings my natural hatred of the dominant paradigm about who's driving the bus and how old you have to be, who's got the "superior information," but: I don't piss on grace.

I can think of some things (or rather "fings") I'd like to piss on. Jacob's computer, for one.

But the spirit of the Blitz is the spirit of love -- strong, no-bullshit love.

Christ, has he even read anything about London in the '40s? There are lots of things that you can say about the Blitz, but it's pretty fucking facile to describe what got people through it simply as "love".
It's too late. The bomb ticks, like the empty tape, like the clock at the Lloyds', like anything you can't ignore. It's a matter of time.

I knew it! Oh God.

It's a mixture of a home and a car, which are the two most intimate possible places you can be because that's where you always are.

Speak for yourself. Christ, what does he do all day, sit at home and then drive around the block for an hour? I wouldn't be surprised, frankly.

And that's it, bar a few more idiotic lion references. So finally, I would like to say that this episode of Doctor Who and its predecessor were absolutely wonderful. They were very, very scary, they were pretty funny, and I cried like a big baby at the end. However, not once does Jacob convey either the funniness or the scariness or indeed the emotional impact, because he's so busy showing off his purple prose and idiotic undergraduate theories. It's not all about you, Jacob! Or time and intimacy, come to that. Especially not time and intimacy.

Comments

stephencass
May. 19th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
The Battle of Britain wasn't won by just roaring... There are lots of things that you can say about the Blitz, but it's pretty fucking facile to describe what got people through it simply as "love".

And ironically, several of which things the episode was working to get across but which Jacob largely missed in his desire to ascribe deep gnostic meaning to incidental set dressing while desperately ignoring the plot, e.g. the show's open admiration for the U.K. holding the line against Hitler, tempered by a deliberate and measured rejection of rose-tinted nostalgia for the 1940s, as seen in both the references to child abuse of evacuees (a thoughtful moment which Jacob breezed past, seeing it only as a little more grist for his Advanced Clever Clogs Doctor Who Hermeneutics) and the attitudes to homosexuality and unmarried/teenage mothers (where Jacob self-idugently writes, basically, 'ooh, Nancy's good at blackmail, my guess is she has a secret of her own!' when he's already seen the end of the episode!). I found it astounding that only now, thanks to BAFTA awards, Jacob has twigged that Doctor Who has more than a little to with the issue of national identity, rather than intimacy and recherche explorations on the nature of whatever the hell Jacob cared about in college. What's even more staggering is that Jacob seems incapable of admitting to himself that this oversight may mean he's been barking up the wrong analytical tree, and continues on his merry way.

Fundamentally, I don't think Jacob understands Sci-Fi, or even likes it at all -- he keeps trying to separate out what he considers the real stuff from the 'irrelevant' context of plot and setting. But while Sci-Fi is deeply intertwined with allegory, it does actually matter that the Doctor is an alien (not a bloody angel or other supernatural being) and that he has a working time machine or that humanity on Battlestar Galactica is 40,000 people crammed into tin cans, kept alive by imperfect technology and bullets. Or even that sometimes, with good writers, the technobabble is more than just filler to justify calling a show Sci-Fi and keep nerds happy (whose interest in such things marks them as childish intellects compared to Jacob apparently), because in time, some of that technobabble becomes real, and it's handy to have prior fictional explorations to give us some markers, or at least a common frame of reference, when dealing with new stuff, viz. the Internet, ubiquitous surveillance, genetic manipulation, robot attack planes, emerging diseases, megalopolii, videophones, (and, maybe in the next few decades), space elevators, human cloning, strong AI, quantum computers, etc. Imagine how Jacob would have recaped, say, Wargames or The Andromeda Strain...?

Seriously though, you need to put these re-recaps publicly somewhere. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, snarkwise and Jacob must be stopped! Also, seriously, where the hell are the TWOP editors?

Finally, did you catch this bit of unctuous translation? "Seven [eight] stories.. Um, no, idiot. The Ground vs. First offset thing refers to, y'know, floors, not stories. If I stand on a U.S. 3rd floor patio and look over the edge, and you stand on a U.K. 2nd floor patio and look over, and we're both asked "how many stories are below us?" we're both going to say '3' But by Jacob's logic, one story buildings simply cannot exist on the East side of the Atlantic.

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