Doctor Who Discussion: Nerdfight!!! And Other Sh–

Posted: May 1, 2017 by Jaden C. Kilmer in Doctor Who Discussions, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
NERDFIGHT!!!

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Was the most recent Doctor Who episode empty nonsense or a solid commentary on industry and humanity? Well Jaden C. Kilmer and J.A. Prentice are about to duke it out.

There are Spoilers for Thin Ice past this point.

Jaden
I hope you loved it.
JA
I really liked it. Are we going to disagree?
Finally.
Jaden

Yes we are.

JA

I’m excited. There is a grand total of one scene I didn’t like.

Jaden
Which was?
JA
Telling Bill to tell him what to do And using the word Orders. It felt out of character when he told Clara to choose in Kill the Moon and it feels out of character here.
Jaden
Yeah I didn’t like that either.
JA
There we go. One thing we can agree on.
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Jaden
I have a major problem and a minor problem. The minor one is something I acknowledge sounds silly in a show about a time travelling police box but the historical inaccuracies really bugged me here.
JA
Which inaccuracies specifically?
Jaden
Bill is a little afraid at first because slavery is still legal, and the Doctor’s all like “oooooh you’re right.” Except slavery was banned in mainland Britain in 1722
You’d think the Doctor would know that. Or Dollard.
(Editor’s note: Or Jaden. He’s referring to an event from 1772, not 1722.)
JA

No. She said “still a thing,” which it was in a lot of places. So it’s a little odd, but not technically wrong.

48c

Jaden
If this had been a modern episode slavery is still technically a thing today. Dollard clearly meant Britain still had slaves and Bill was afraid she’d be captured or something.
JA
Didn’t they still have slaves elsewhere in the empire? But I would agree the line should have been tweaked.
Slavery Abolition Act is 1833. Until then slavery was legal in parts of the British Empire, even if it was illegal in the UK.
Jaden
I know, but that doesn’t explain why the Doctor had that look like she was in danger.
JA
Cause racists were a thing? And still are, I guess, but moreso back then.
Like I said, the scene could have been clearer — the Doctor giving exposition on racial issues/slavery in 1814 might have actually fit and been educational for the viewers — but it’s not like the 100 years war line.
Jaden
The 100 years war line is worse, but that line, for me, kind of sums up my major complaint.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think Dollard half-assed this script
JA
It’s not on par with Face the Raven, but I wouldn’t call it half-assed.
Jaden
The kids did nothing but we’re supposed to care about some boy who’s had two lines at the end of the episode. The “villain” was cartoonish with no clear motivation or characterization beyond “evil racist” and barely had an effect on the plot. The moral dilemma was stolen from The Beast Below Preachy, shoehorned speeches. I think I have more but that’s a starting point for discussion.
JA
The villain’s motive was to make money. That’s the reason for most real life evil, so I’d call it a motivation. I liked that the villain was just a human being with human motivations.
Jaden
I thought he was a cartoon.
JA
He was a little cartoony, but so’s the leader of your country.
Jaden
(Insert Cartoon Trump clip here) I think his whole racism thing in particular was so lazy to me. Like, there’s no attempt at integrating it into a character, it’s just “hey look at how modern and progressive I am compared to the olden days.” Or possibly “crap I need to cut down some runtime guess I’ll just cut this guy’s lines in half.”
doctorwho-ep3_8
JA
I felt like he had a coherent, integrated character. Not a deep one, but it all fit. He’s a cold-hearted industrialist and a believer in social Darwinism and his own racial, national, and societal superiority. Thematically, the whole episode is, of course, about the industrial revolution and the costs of capitalism, so he fits.
Jaden
That’s strange because I thought the theme of the episode was “half finishing.” But I guess I’ll agree that that’s a theme left half finished.
JA
The whole “is it worth it?” thing with the creature wasn’t just a copy of Beast Below, because thematically it’s entirely different. The whole question of humankind’s future resting upon suffering is the story of slavery, of the industrial revolution, of capitalism. It’s Marxist Doctor Who and, as a socialist, I love it. 
I think that’s the first time I’ve made a direct statement about my politics on this blog.
Jaden
How is the question of humankind’s future resting upon something else’s suffering any different from The Beast Below?
JA
They feel different to me. The Beast Below doesn’t feel like a metaphor for anything else.
But maybe I’ve been misreading The Beast Below.
Jaden
I see The Beast Below as not strictly a metaphor but still with a clear message to say. Same for this one and it’s pretty much the same message to me, so that’s why I find it a rip off.
And looping back to the one scene you didn’t like, that scene’s equivalent in Beast Below was so much better
JA
I agree on that point. But I don’t also don’t think the dilemma was the heart of the episode here. Not like it was in The Beast Below.
Jaden
No, that’s true. But then again I don’t really feel like this episode had a central focus. I didn’t really get metaphor. But maybe that was her goal.
JA
It was going for a few things: examination of capitalism, introduction of Bill to time travel, the development of their relationship.
Jaden
That last point would lead me to my positives but I want to get in my extremely nitpicky second inaccuracy And then positives.
JA
Second nitpick away.
Jaden
They used the wrong Union Jack.255px-union_flag_1606_28kings_colors29-svguk-union-flag
JA
Really? The BBC’s usually good with historical scenery.
Jaden
They used the pre-1801 version, without the Ireland cross. (The smaller red x inside Scotland’s cross.)
JA
Maybe everyone was using 13 year old flags? 
Jaden
I guess? What bugs me is they obviously noticed the error though because the last shot that included a Union Jack had the correct version.
I guess this is why I wouldn’t be allowed to direct a historical, since I would demand a reshoot of the wrong scenes. Or at least some CGI-ing the proper flag in.
JA
“And that’s why the rest of the season has to take place entirely in the TARDIS with no guest actors. I had to fix those flags, no matter how much it cost.”
Jaden
Yup, exactly. Then again that would be a pretty interesting idea. A bottle season.
JA
Pitch it to the BBC. They’ll love it. “You mean we get to do Doctor Who for less money than a soap?”
Jaden
Million dollar idea there.
I’ll do my positives soon I swear, but I just saw a point on reddit that for me sums up a problem I have that I wasn’t quite able to put my finger on
JA
The chances I’ll agree with a point made on reddit are pretty low, so go ahead.
Jaden
A lot of it was telling us how to feel. Especially when it comes to Oliver Twist.
JA
I didn’t feel like it was. But I can see where that’s coming from.
Jaden
Well for a reddit comment that’s a better reaction than I’d expected. OK positives for realsies.
doctor_who_thin_ice_review___a_splendid_production_and_a_story_with_hidden_depths_
JA
I don’t know about you but I liked all the Doctor and Bill character stuff.
Jaden
Yes. I really really like Bill
JA
Bill’s great. She’s exactly what the show needed.
Jaden
She’s basically what Clara should’ve been if you ask me.
JA
Yeah. She works so well with Capaldi.
Jaden
Yeah the teacher student dynamic continues to work well outside of the “orders” line.
 Doctor Who S10
JA
Yeah, that scene feels bizarre.
What would have worked better is if it was portrayed as a sort of Socratic questioning. Like he knows what he’s going to do, but he wants to see if she knows what to do.
Jaden
That was what I was thinking the scene was going to do.
JA
But instead it went all Kill the Moon.
It was odd because the Doctor was perfectly in character for the rest of the episode.
He reminded me of the Mummy on the Orient Express take: cold because he has to be, but he actually cares underneath.
Jaden
He wasn’t actually in character for me the whole time. But I can’t really put my finger on why. He seemed to alternate between light hearted and broody doctor.
JA
Isn’t that just what the Doctor does, though?
Jaden
Fair.
Oh, before I launch back into negatives let me just say Dot and her tiny voice was adorable.
JA
She was.
Jaden
Needs more Dot and Pete.
JA
Dollard’s killed two companions now. Ballsy.
Jaden
George RR Martin ain’t got nothing on her.
JA
RIP Pete. One of my favorite companions. So many great stories.
Jaden
*salutes*
What did you think about the effects?
JA
Mostly acceptable. Something about the breaking ice at the end felt a bit fake.
But I’m a Classic Who fan, so I have an incredible tolerance for bad effects.
doctorwho_sfx_3-400x300
Jaden
I thought it was OK until it was straight up bad with the escape sequence. Though I’m a Pirates of the Caribbean fan so my standard for effects is way too high
JA
Doctor Who is never going to be Pirates level. Although it’s usually decent now.
Jaden
Yeah a little jarring to get that at this stage in the show. Wouldn’t have been out of place in 2006
JA
I think the budget was probably a bit strained for a midseries episode.
Jaden
Probably yeah. Pilot had very good effects.
Want to single out any moment in particular for positives or should I launch into more negatives?
JA
I liked the “How many people have you seen die?” conversation. And the whole thing about Pete.
Jaden
Pearl’s acting was great in that scene. She goes from cheery to somber so well.
JA
Her and Capaldi are both incredible. I’m annoyed we’re getting only one series of them.
Jaden
Me too. I just hope there isn’t a series 8 Clara style character assassination
JA
I actually like Clara better in 8 than 7.
By a lot.
Jaden
I like start of series 8 Clara way better than end of series 8 Clara.
JA
Well, I’d agree with that.
I liked that this episode went with an era prior to the Victorian period and a specific historical event — the Frost Fair. I keep hoping one day we’ll get another pure historical.
Jaden
Oh, I totally forgot to give the setting its props. So cool. Literally.
JA
And even if the effects were a bit dodgy, the set was cool.
Wrong flags aside.
Jaden
I think it is yet another story that would’ve been better as a pure historical though. Serial killer luring people to the frost fair to drop them beneath the ice for shits and giggles.
Maybe the monster’s there so it’s not as dark.
JA
That would have been a completely different story, though.
Like literally 100% different.
Also I just remembered another scene I loved: the Doctor infiltrating the workyard.
“Keep that kind of thinking up and you won’t be working here long.”
Jaden
Uhh I guess that was a scene in the episode.
JA
I thought Dollard did a great job with all the dialogue.
Oh, and the Doctor calling the guy a cheat but just wanting to know his trick.
Jaden
I thought most of the dialogue was good except for the speeches.
JA
I liked the dialogue and speeches. Apart from that terrible orders scene.
Jaden
The speeches themselves were decent but felt out of place. And there were like three. Kind of overkill.
JA
I’m pretty sure I’d give Capaldi ten if I wrote an episode.
Jaden
But would they be integrated well?
JA
Hopefully?
Jaden
Rephrasing: Would you waste a speech on a retort to a cartoonish underdeveloped villain with a simplistic world view or would it be prompted by an intellectual rival with a point of view that challenges the doctor’s or his companion’s?
JA
Probably the latter.
Jaden
Correct answer.
I think I have still more stuff to complain about but in the interest of time want to go to final thoughts? Or another positive?
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JA
I can go to final thoughts. Or you can complain some more if you want.
Jaden
I think I’m good for final thoughts.
JA
Cool. You want to go first?
Jaden
Sure
Jaden
I wasn’t expecting another 10/10 like Face the Raven but I was expecting more. It felt half-finished. It expected me to care about the kids, despite them not really doing anything much. She constructed scenes around grand speeches that didn’t work because the villain of the story was so cartoonishly and unbelievably evil, and also never really felt like a threat. She clearly didn’t feel bothered to do some easy research which in a normal episode would be brushed aside but this time underscores the already present feeling of laziness. There was some good exchanges and great acting, especially out of Pearl. And Dot was the most adorable thing. But they don’t outweigh the many negatives and overwhelmingness of the story. It’s a hair better than last season’s weakest episode, and gets a 5.5/10
JA
I think that’s actually a lower rating than you gave any episode last season.
Jaden
I think I retroactively gave Girl who Died a 5
JA
I really enjoyed this episode. I liked the dialogue, I liked the Doctor and Bill’s relationship, I liked the Doctor punching a racist in the face after saying he needed to use charm, I liked the message, I liked the speeches… I liked a lot of things. My only issue was that orders scene. 8.5/10. Although Pete’s death was horribly unnecessary.
JA
A three point difference!
Jaden
High Score!
 
JA
That’s actually a significant disagreement for once.
Jaden
That’s about a Rogue One sized difference.
But nowhere near Stardust.
JA
Stardust is a 10 point difference.
Jaden
9, unless you gave it an 11.
JA
I might just to annoy you.
Join us next week for our discussion of the Doctor Vs. Hercule Poirot Knock Knock!
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