Doctor Who Discussion: Pronoun Difficulties, Profound Disagreement, Prognostications of Doom

Posted: June 14, 2017 by J.A. Prentice in Doctor Who Discussions, television
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Welcome to the extremely late Doctor Who Discussion, where JA Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer argue the relative merits of Empress of Mars under a title that would make Henry Gordon Jago proud. (Editor’s Note: Google it. Then buy every season.)
Read on for scintillating wit, insightful analysis, and whatever it is Jaden’s contributing. (Editor’s Note: I make the edits, I make the insults. Dem’s the rules.)

JA: Overall thoughts?
Jaden: I like how when you write for Doctor Who you can literally write anything at all that you want, and this episode had not a single original thought.
JA:In a choice between original thoughts and Alpha Centauri, I don’t know what I’d choose.
Jaden: Was that part a reference to a past episode that went over my head?
JA: It was a reference to the Peladon episodes in the Third Doctor era.
They got the 92-year-old original actress back to voice them.
I struggled for a minute there with what pronoun to use for a hemaphroditic hexapod.
Jaden: I think if your reason for liking an episode is quick fanservice then it’s a sign the episode sucked.
JA: Did I say that was my reason for liking it?
Jaden: That was a generic your, not you you
Pronoun troubles again
JA: Stupid English language.
I thought the episode was good, but not quite as good as it could have been.
It had a lot of ideas that weren’t really explored.
It’s like Gattiss wasn’t sure if he wanted to do a fun Victorians vs. aliens or a critique of Victorians vs aliens.
Jaden: Here’s my critique on Victorians vs aliens: Don’t.
JA: A disproportionate number of the best Doctor Who stoires are set in the Victorian era.
Including Gattiss’s two best episodes.
Jaden: I’m gonna guess that it is perfectly proportionate, because way too many episodes take place there.
JA: Is it overused? Yes. But I prefer it over the overused present day settings.
Present day episodes are almost always the most meh for me.
Jaden: I can more or less agree with that.
But let me say this: If this series was the only series ever made of doctor who, this episode would still feel unoriginal.
Generic baddie capitalist Soldiers who just wanna fight and not talk “Force them to live together” solution proposed Extraterrestrial resource gathering
JA: The generic baddie capitalist was more a deconstruction of the British Empire.
And most of the episode was playing with Victiorian fiction tropes, etc.
I don’t think it went far enough in deconstructing them.
The episode had a really clever idea, but was too cautious to really lean into it: the humans are the invaders.
It’s Doctor Who in reverse.
But the episode still wrote the Ice Warriors as the alien monsters, so it didn’t entirely work.
It was the same deconstruction of the British Empire using a generic baddie capitalist as literally the third episode of the series. Just on Mars.
JA: If I’d done the episode, I’d have done it almost entirely from the martian POV.
Because I’m crazy.
Jaden: Would you have kept the generic capitalist villain?
JA: Yes.
I hate capitalists.
And I like seeing the Doctor shout at them.
Jaden: Because this isn’t even the only time this series where “humans are the REAL monsters” has been the lesson.
JA: I think that putting both this and Thin Ice in the same series was a bit of an iffy choice.
They’re quite similar.
But I suppose Moffat didn’t have the option of pushing one back, because he’s not doing the next series.
Jaden: It’s really weird though because this series has gotten SO repetitive for me that I just don’t know what to think.
Can I say an opinion that might cause you to have an aneurysm?
JA: Sometimes I look at Reddit, so I already get aneurysms.
Jaden: I don’t think I’ve even seen this on reddit yet. Might be wrong.
JA: My capslock is ready.
Jaden: I kinda sorta welcome a new writing staff at this point.
I’m genuinely dreading next series.
If it isn’t literal garbage, I will be pleasantly surpirsed.
I mean, sure, if the next writing staff was good, a change might be nice.
But they aren’t.
Next episode is by Rona Munro, who should have been writing an episode for every series since 2005.
Jaden: I am dreading Chibnall, but if he cleans house and brings in a new writing team, but keeps Mathiewson, I will not be upset at this point. This current team got a full year to come up with their stories, and most of them feel like first drafts
JA: Mathieson has a decent hit to miss ratio, but nothing he’s written comes close to Nightshade (90’s DW novel), so I actually rank him lower than Gattiss.
Also Rona Munro’s episode is probably going to be art.
“Everywhere is a good place for lesbian subtext.” Actual quote from her and the most inspirational writing advice I’ve ever read.
Jaden: Well Rona Munro isn’t exactly “current writing staff”
JA: There is no writing staff.
So I don’t even know who you’re complaining about.
It’s literally Moffat and freelancers.
Jaden: Dollard, FCB, Gatiss, and Moon Egg guy mainly.
JA: Only Gatiss has consistently written for every series.
And only FCB is worse than Chibnall.
And even then, not by much.
Jaden: You say that as though Moon Egg guy didnt write Moon Egg
JA: I like Moon Egg more than a lot of Chibnall’s episodes.
Not counting Cyberwoman, which is garbage of the best kind.
Jaden: I really wanna know what Chibnall episode is worse than Moon Egg
JA: I really don’t like Hungry Earth/Cold Blood.
Or the Power of Three.
Po3 has the worst ending I’ve ever seen in a Doctor Who episode.
And this isn’t even going into Torchwood.
Jaden: Possibly. But the set up was legitimately good.
Also, I remember when we started out talking about the episode. Good times.
JA: Right. We should do that.
Jaden: You said it had interesting ideas. Any besides the humans as invaders thing?
JA: There were hints at an exploration of Ice Warrior culture.
And the common ground between Victorian soldiers and Ice Warriors.
The Doctor being conflicted as to what side he should be on.
An exploration of imperialism.
An examination of the racism of noble savage stereotypes. “Friday”
Jaden: Hm. You and I had different definitions of interesting this week. Which is good, for our conversations’ sake.
Also, even though I’ve been with you defending Gatiss, I think you give him A LOT more credit than me
JA: Anyone who can write An Adventure in Time and Space and Nightshade knows what he’s doing.
Jaden: I don’t know what Nightshade is about but between Adventure and Sherlock I think Gatiss is just better suited for more realistic stuff than soft sci fi.
He also needs more than 45 minutes for his ideas.
JA: This episode definitely needed more time.
Jaden: I think what it could’ve also used was unpredictability.
JA: I felt that the Ice Queen was supposed to come across as more complex and admirable, but she came across as just another alien warlord.
Jaden: Well the actress certainly played her that way.
JA: The Colonel was a great character, though.
Very well acted.
And well written.
Jaden: I agree with one of those things.
JA: Plus Catchlove may have been just evil, but he was fun.
The actor seemed to really relish being evil.
Jaden: I’ve had enough “just plain evil but fun” villains for a series.
And by series I mean that in the american way.
JA: I was going to say that I think we only had one this series.
Jaden: Two. Thin Ice guy.
JA: I meant one other.
Even the Master’s not that now.
The vault
What even is its purpose narratively?
This has to be the worst arc to any doctor who series.
JA: It was suppose to keep him on Earth until this episode had him popping off to Mars.
A clash between the Doctor’s natural inclination to travel and his sense of duty.
But now he’s just running off and Nardole’s letting the Master out, so…
That’s weird.
Jaden: Well he’d also popped off to space in Smile and Oxygen.
And I still have no idea why it was made out to be a mystery.
JA: Yeah, but there Nardole was arguing with him.
I think making it a mystery was a mistake.
It would have been better to just have the Doctor talking to the Master through the whole series.
Jaden: What grinds my gears is that they had a full year to plan this. And clearly didn’t.
JA: Wrap up time, then. Do you want to go first?
Jaden: Sure
JA: I’m predicting our biggest point difference ever.
Jaden: I mainly discussed my problems with this series because this episode itself was a big ball of nothing. There was nothing remotely interesting or new about it. It rehashed the evil capitalist story for the third time in a single series, made uninteresting one dimensional side characters out of soldiers for the zillionth time this series, (though I concede the Colonel was played well) and brought back a monster that was just so well received last time Gatiss tried to do it. I honestly think they’re out of ideas. The creative well they dipped into for series 9 is gone, and I don’t even think this series’s failures are noble failures with big ideas that weren’t executed, I think they’re failures because they’re lazy. Grasping at straws, resorting to overplayed archetypes and devices. I think there’s noticable burnout among a lot of the many of the veteran writers this year and frankly, the series could use a shake up. I just wish literally anyone else was leading it.
This episode is a 4/10.
Gatiss wrote a fun Ice Warrior story, finally taking us to their home planet for the first time in a TV story. The Victorian soldiers were all fun characters and I thought the Colonel was excellently developed and acted. I liked the deconstruction of Imperialism, but I felt it didn’t go far enough. This could have been a real Doctor Who flipped on its head episode, but instead it was just fun. The Ice Queen was cool, but lacked the depth she needed to make the ending work. 7.5/10
Jaden: 3.5 point difference!
That ties Thin Ice for the biggest point difference we’ve had
JA: So this series we’re just disagreeing a lot more.
Jaden: Well it’s hard to criticize near perfection like series 9
JA: Series 9 was amazing. Best series since the classic era.
Jaden: I feel like this one however will wind up thanking whatever god tv seasons believe in that series 7 exists.
JA: The only writers left are Munro and Moffat, who are both amazing.
I’m predicting that the worst score I’ll give is an 8.
Jaden: I’m predicting 9, 8.5, 6. Series finale Moffat isnt as good as middle of series Moffat
Join us next week for Eaters of Light and see if our predictions hold true!
  1. Lynn Love says:

    Great Who chatting! Capaldi hasn’t really done it for me, though I think he’s settled into the role as time has gone on and as always, it’s a case of whether the Whos are served well by the stories – so many, sadly are forgettable. I love reboot Who best when it has a strong plot, doesn’t try to wedge too much story into the time and has some heart. Have been rewatching some Tennant era Who with my son and I really think he had some stronger tales for his time in the blue box.
    So, who do you fancy for the next Who?

    Liked by 1 person

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