So I’m home sick and caught Turn Left on repeat and it just made me miss the earlier days of Who, when the risk was real, when the characters and their hopes and their dreams and their wonder and awe at being companions and seeing the whole of time and space laid out before them was all so much more real and true.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, trying to pin down exactly why I haven’t particularly warmed to Moffat’s female companions, and I’ve managed to hash out a fair few points, so here goes.
1. Moffat creates his companions around his plot, whereas RTD creates his companions and the plot fits around them. Amy is created around the plot of the crack in the wall. Clara is created around the plot of the Impossible Girl. Because of this, they are both tied inextricably to the Doctor, and it seems as if they have no true life outside of the Doctor. They both seem to wait for the Doctor to whisk them away in his blue box. Side note on Clara, she doesn’t seem like a real teacher, because teachers have marking and planning and it’s very time consuming, you can’t just drop in and out of teaching. In contrast, in RTD’s era, the companions are picked completely by chance. They’re ordinary women who just happened to be at the right place at the right time. The whole Turn Left episode in Series 4 showed us how easily a person could end up or not end up as the Doctor’s companion. RTD’s companions are more fleshed out also, with aspirations and jobs and family. We never get to see Amy’s aunt and I can’t even remember the names of Clara’s family, so brief was their appearance. But I can remember the names of every family member of the Tyler, Jones and Noble families. The companions had lives outside of the TARDIS, something sorely lacking in Moffat’s era.
2. Moffat’s companions are inconsistent. Don’t get me wrong, I quite like the recent developments of Clara’s character in series 8, but it’s patchy at best, and it’s almost as if we’ve been given a completely different character. Amy always seemed to change her mind or opinion on things, particularly on Rory- throughout series 5, it was uncertain whether she would actually marry him. The inconsistency meant that they never seemed as real as Rose, Martha or Donna.
3. River Song. I could write a whole essay on River Song, but I’ll try and keep it brief. River and the Doctor being star crossed lovers travelling in different directions in time is such a good idea on paper, it’s a shame that Moffat couldn’t write it properly. Instead we’re given a character that loves her inside secrets that only she gets, her spoilers, and she loves to lord it over every man woman and child that she loves and knows the Doctor best, but there isn’t any growth or whatever in their relationship. We’re expected to like River Song, no questions asked. It never felt like we had a companion being forced down our throats in RTD’s era, something I sorely miss.
4. The companions always seem to exist just to exacerbate the Doctor’s clever look at me moments. Usually at the end of the series, we have a pivotal moment in which the companion shines, at least that’s what we had with RTD. Not only did they shine, they saved the world. In series 5, we had the Doctor saving the world, and Amy remembering him and saving him. In series 6, the finale was more about tying up lose ends than it was about saving the world, and in series 7, Clara saves the Doctor by jumping into his time stream or whatever. Moffat’s companions are denied their big moment where they save the world, where their development under the tutelage of the Doctor is complete and they thrive. It might be cheesy, but it was more interesting and more important to see ordinary people save the world, because the Doctor always has opportunities to do that.
So yeah, those are my major grievances with the characterisation in Moffat’s era. I have more issues with Moffat in general, but I thought I’d start with his companions :P
i’m having mixed reactions to moffat leaving. while it’s going to be a good thing to have chinball (broadchurch, torchwood, and other doctor who ep. he’s done), taking over; PLEASE GIVE MOFFAT LOVE THAT HE DESERVES!
he’s given us 11, amy and rory, river (with a bad ass backstory!), clara, 12, missy, and gallifrey, and the 50th!
and in my personal opinion, two of my ships (11/clara and 12/clara)
while we welcome chinball, please go and thank moffat for the best era we’ve had when russel had handed him the reigns! :D
Happy 10th birthday to the show that changed my life forever!
“When they made this particular hero, they didn’t give him a gun, they gave him a screwdriver to fix things. They didn’t gave him a tank or a warship or an x-wing fighter, they gave him a call box from which you can call for help. And they didn’t give him a superpower or pointy ears or a heat ray, they gave him an extra heart. They gave him two hearts. And that’s an extraordinary thing; there will never come a time when we don’t need a hero like the Doctor.” (Steven Moffat)
“Getting to tell the stories that you get to tell and travel in the Tardis and friendship, and just so many magical things. There’s nothing as whimsical as this show, I don’t think. It’s a dream. It kind of feels a bit like an adventure.” (Jenna Coleman)
“The marvelous thing about Doctor Who is that it tells stories that no one else can tell.” (Russell T.Davies)
“The world would be a poorer place without Doctor Who” (Steven Spielberg)
Clara, Rose, Amy, Donna, Martha, and River are all fantastic, distinct characters that have proved relatable to vast audiences. Never belittle the experiences of others in treating them as universally inadequate just because a character doesn’t resonate with you.
Today’s time waster: musing on the origins of the flapper look embodied by Phryne Fisher as played by Essie Davis.
Googling for famous flappers upon whom her look is modeled, the thing that really hit me was an irony that may not have been evident back in the day, but jumps out at you today. It’s a look meant to convey freedom, high spirits, joyful abandon, and rebellion, but there’s also clearly an element of infantilization. As someone commented on an earlier post (sorry, I forget who it was), 1920s flapper fashion was the beginning of the glorification – and sexualization – of youthfulness that continues to play out today. It’s not just that the perfect flapper body is flat-chested and hipless. It’s also the styling of the face: bobbed hair emphasizing a round baby face, giant eyes, Cupid’s-bow lips. I think this uncomfortable undercurrent of cognitive dissonance in flapper style would be a really interesting theme for MFMM to take on in a future episode (and let’s hope we get some of those).
Anyway, here are some fruits of my procrastination: images of famous flappers with that Phryne Fisher look.
First, the lady herself, Miss Fishah:
And finally, the epitome of the hyper-sexualized infantilized flapper – Betty Boop:
Isn’t it striking how uniform the look is from one to the next? Is there another fashion style so sharply delineated and defined not just by clothing, but by facial features as well (other than all of Western fashion being defined by whiteness, of course)? Imagine if they had plastic surgery back then – would everyone have been a carbon copy of this look?
Mind you, I don’t mean to pass some kind of simplistic judgment – in fact, I’m really drawn to this look – but I think it’s always good to bring an analytical eye to these things, so we can put them in context and be more conscious of the world we create.
I haven’t been so scathingly angry since Ten’s violation of Donna Noble in “Journey’s End.”
I was literally sitting on the couch shaking as Twelve bragged about his plan to Me–told her how he’d wiped Donna’s memories of him all those years ago and would do the same to Clara in the name of “saving” her. I could not believe he was going to do it again!
Filth. The only words I have for the Doctor are filth.
But what Steven Moffat did with that moment was beyond brilliant. He gave Clara Oswald everything RTD denied Donna Noble:
CLARA: Push that button, Doctor, it will go off in your own face! DOCTOR: Are you trying to trick me? CLARA: What are you trying to do to me? DOCTOR: I’m trying to keep you safe! CLARA: Why? Nobody’s ever safe! I never asked you for that. Ever! These have been the best years of my life. And they are mine! Tomorrow’s promised to no one, Doctor, but I insist upon my past. I am entitled to that. It’s mine.
Clara Oswald got the chance to defend herself and she took it. The outcome was sad, but unlike Ten’s actions, I feel no ill will towards Clara. The only person I feel pain for in this situation is Clara. She didn’t want to do what she did, but she had to defend herself. The Doctor gave her no choice. He was going to violate his best friend’s mind against her very adamant protests AGAIN and he deserved the consequence. Twice over.
Now, if only Clara and Me could find Donna somewhere during their trip the long way ‘round and right that putrid wrong.
This was very sweet of the cast and crew to do for the fans. We got bad news last night about a family member, so we’re in for some more heartache. I showed my mom this video and it made us both laugh and get teary. Michelle’s message was the funniest. :)
I was just reading this eloquent Doctor Who meta about River Song’s character depth and I realized what the source of so many arguments is between people who admire Moffat’s tenure and those who don’t.
It’s simply this: canon vs. head-canon.
Head-canons are lovely things. I indulge myself with them every time I encounter a character or situation in a show I particularly enjoy/dislike. However, I have to watch myself because, as I’ve discovered, I tend to want to take my head-canons and make them a part of canon. One example of this is my head-canon that in the weeks following Nine’s regeneration into Ten, Rose would wake screaming from nightmares to find Ten crouched by her bedside, eyes searching her tear-stained face with concern, until he just started cuddling with her every night to keep the nightmares away. Another example is my belief that the reason Ten didn’t tell Rose that he loved her at their first separation at Bad Wolf Bay was because he was aware of her finite lifespan and wasn’t ready to become so vulnerable with her.
However, our personal head-canons about the characters and situations we’re faced with in the show are not canon. They cannot be brought into arguments to try and win a point.
For instance, I know many wonderful people who love Moffat’s characters. However, when I try to explain why I find Moffat’s characters so one-dimensional, they retort with the following claims: “We’re not shown much of Amy’s grief for the loss of her child, but I bet that she was suffering off-screen and that it lingering throughout her last episode;” “River Song’s whole life didn’t revolve around the Doctor. She had a bunch of outside activities that were important to her, like her job, as well as several close friends that she loved spending time with;” and “Clara and the Doctor love each other so much. He’s shared a lot of things with her and it’s no wonder that they’re so close.”
If you love Moffat’s characters, great! Keep on loving them. That’s your choice and I don’t want to dissuade you. I do implore those who love Moffat’s work (and fans of Doctor Who as a whole, really) to recognize that a lot of their explanations excusing the problematic aspects of Moffat’s characters are personal opinions and not facts, just as some arguments about RTD’s era are opinions and not actual facts. If you want to believe that Amy grieved for her lost child throughout the duration of her travels with the Doctor, that’s fine, but there is no canonical proof to support your opinion. If I want to believe that the Tenth Doctor didn’t tell Rose that he loved her because he didn’t want to be that vulnerable, then that’s fine, but I have no canonical proof to support it.
If we’re going to discuss why we love/dislike Doctor Who then we can’t bring personal opinions and head-canons into said discussions. Firstly, these opinions in no way reflect the nature of Doctor Who’s canon. Secondly, personal opinions are a reflection of your personal passion for something and, if you’re debating about a certain topic, these opinions are closely followed by an emotional response instead of a logical one.
Let’s be honest about what Doctor Who is actually composed of and what we wish it could be. More than that, let’s be respectful to each other. Because in the end, we all love the show.
In 1926, a Chicago pediatrician by the name of Clara Davis undertook one of the most amazing experiments in the annals of nutritional research when she persuaded several teenage mothers and widows to place their infants in her care for six years. Fifteen babies, ranging in age from six to eleven months and who’d never been exposed to ‘the ordinary foods of adult life,’ were put on an experimental diet in which they could eat whatever they wanted so long as whatever they wanted appeared on a list of thirty-four foodstuffs that included water, potatoes, cornmeal, barley, beef, lamb, bone jelly, carrots, turnips, haddock, peaches, apples, fish, orange juice, bananas, brains, milk, and cabbage. The foods were all 'natural food materials.’ There was no sugar, no cream, butter, or cheese, and no potato chips, but there was salt for sprinkling. Each item was presented over the course of a single day.
The experiment measured 'self-selection.’ Children were presented with the food but in no way encouraged to eat this or that. If they wanted to eat with their fingers, no problem. What they ate and how much was up to them. The prevailing scientific view at the time was that children were guilty of the gravest nutritional idiocy. Frantic mothers pleaded with doctors about children who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. The leading doctors of the day advised that these children be starved until they did. So Dr. Davis set out to discover what babies transitioning from breast milk to food would eat if it was all left up to them. The answer: everything. At first, anyway. During the initial two weeks, children sampled a little of all thirty-four foods. (This is exactly what goats would do, according to Fred Provenza.) But over time, they each developed favorites, although these would change suddenly and unpredictably.
There were generalities—the children came to prefer protein from milk, meat, liver, and kidney, for example, over vegetable protein. And some meals were strikingly unconventional. One child had a pint of orange juice and liver for breakfast. Another had eggs, bananas, and milk for dinner. Taken as a whole, however, the children chose remarkably balanced diets. They 'throve,’ as Davis put it. Constipation was 'unknown.’ Colds lasted for only three days. When the children were growing and needed protein, their protein intake shot up. When the growing slowed and activity increased, their energy intake increased. During the one 'epidemic'—an outbreak of 'acute glandular fever of Pfeiffer’ (now called mononucleosis) during which every child 'came down like ninepins'—there was a curious spike in the consumption of raw beef, carrots, and beets as the children convalesced.
Several babies began the study in poor condition. Four were undernourished and three had rickets, a vitamin D deficiency. The very first infant Davis received, in fact, had a severe case of rickets and with each meal was given a small glass of cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D. Children’s hatred of cod liver is legendary, but this child consumed it 'irregularly and in varying amounts’ of his own free will until he was better, then never touched another drop.
These children, Davis found, were master nutritionists. By the end of the study, their overall state of health was so good that another pediatrician, one Dr. Joseph Brennemann, called them 'the finest group of specimens from the physical and behavior standpoint that I have ever seen in children that age.’