Why Canon Matters

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 12 FINALE EPISODE. 

I know I said I was done with Who but I promise this isn’t just another reason to rag on the series 12 finale and why The Timeless Children is undoubtedly the most insulting episode to anyone that cares about Doctor Who and its history.

The more I thought about this episode and all its foibles, the more I realized I had to say on the subject of canon and continuity as a whole. I’ve seen many different shows and movies fall pray to the desertion of both the holy “Cs” and they have suffered in quality as a result. This is particularly common in TV shows within the fantasy and science fiction genre.

There is the commonly used defense within the Who fandom that postulates that Doctor Who canon has always been messed up and, therefore, doesn’t matter. After all, it’s a show where “anything can happen” so it stands to reason any changes made (no matter how contradictory to the themes and history of the show) are to be accepted.

Firstly, I reject the premise that “anything can happen” in a story regardless of how mercurial in nature the narrative may be.

When you create a fictional world it is imperative to create continuity (or “rules” if you prefer) so the viewer knows what can and cannot happen in this world.

Harry Potter cannot use an AK-47 to mow-down Death Eaters, Walter White cannot use telepathy to melt Gus Fring’s head, and Joe from You can’t use vampire mind-control powers to win Beck’s affections.

Why? Because these things would interfere with each stories’ internal logic.

This isn’t to say there can’t be twists along the way that may call into question previous notions about a character’s past or motivations, but these twists should complement rather than contradict the world in which they are taking place.

If you just haphazardly throw in an unplanned twist that messes with logic of that respective universe, you usually end up with one of these guys.

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Let’s use Who as an example.

If the Time Lords gained regeneration energy from The Doctor as a child, how did River Song obtain regenerative abilities? Presumably, if the Time Lords weren’t given regeneration energy from exposure to the Eye of Harmony this shouldn’t be possible and River Song should be entirely human.

If Ruth is supposed to be The Doctor before Hartnell, why is her TARDIS a police telephone box when its chameleon circuit had not been broken yet?

Why didn’t Clara see any of the female Doctor’s when she jumped into The Doctor’s time-stream?

Why did the Time Lords need to give The Doctor more regenerations when he literally has an infinite amount of them?

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The answer is simple: Because the change in the canon wasn’t supposed to happen.

Imagine someone gives you a jigsaw puzzle as a gift. You pour all the pieces onto the table and work for hours to recreate the picture you see on the box. However, it quickly becomes apparent the picture isn’t forming the way it is supposed to. In fact, many of the pieces appear to be from a different jigsaw puzzle altogether. When you confront your friend on why this is, they explain to you that this is how it’s supposed to look and, if you don’t see it, you’re an idiot. And so you give it another try, forcing the pieces together, bending them and contorting them so they will fit within the whole. You take a step back only to realize no matter how much you try to bend the pieces, they do not–will never–form a coherent picture.

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This is what it is like when canon is tampered with arbitrarily. Anything you change in the past will invariably have a ripple effect, causing everything that happened prior to the “amazing revelation” to no longer make sense.

This drastically hampers the audience’s capacity to suspend disbelief which negatively impacts their ability to be engaged in what they are watching.

I don’t know about you, but if I am forced to do mental gymnastics in order to justify creatively bankrupt decisions in my media, I tend to just give up.

If “anything can happen,” then why does anything matter? If a character dies they can just be brought back to life through some improbable means. If a “rule” prevents a character from obtaining their goal, it can be retconned with or without explanation.

There’s no reason for the audience to internalize any new information because it will only be discarded at the writers’ convenience.

This robs the story of tension, mystery, heart and everything else that makes a good story worth telling.

I’m perfectly fine with subverting an audiences expectations, but just because something is shocking that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Thanks for reading!

My Thoughts on “Sonic the Hedgehog” (2020) Spoiler-Free

I would like to preface this review by saying I have absolutely no emotional ties with Sonic the Hedgehog in any capacity.

I did not watch the cartoon, I did not buy the video games, and as I child I had no interest in doing so.

The only reason I chose to see it was because it was an excuse to squeeze out some more girl-time with a group of friends of mine who had fond memories of the guy.

That being said…..I thought this movie was awesome.

No, really.

It was good.

I’m just as surprised as you are.

It didn’t exactly break new ground, but this was a well-written and fun movie.

What made the movie so great in particular was how well the titular character was handled. It would have been so easy to make him just another annoying, migraine-inducing yapper that spouts out cultural references at every given opportunity. Instead, they brought a real vulnerability to the character that I had not anticipated. He’s a lonely guy that finds solace in observing people around him. When it finally dawns on him just how alone he is in the universe, it’s genuinely heart-breaking.

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Jim Carrey was….Jim Carrey. While I don’t know much about the lore of Sonic The Hedgehog (yes, there is lore), it seems to me that casting anyone else in the role of Dr. Robotnik would have been a misstep. Jim Carrey was more like a cartoon character than the actual cartoon character and never did it feel out of place. I wonder if the director actually gave Jim Carey any direction in these scenes, or if they just plonked him down in a room with a camera and space mech and said “go for it.” Either way, the end result was a masterpiece of cheese.

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That being said, I was caught off-guard by how well the jokes landed in this film It’s a kid’s movie so I was expecting low-brow humor, but this movie was funny for everyone. One gag in particular had me laughing so hard I went into a coughing fit.

What worked in this movie’s favor was it was self-aware without being ashamed of itself. It knew it was a movie about a blue hedgehog so it didn’t take itself too seriously, nevertheless, it never insulted the audience. It didn’t feel like it was another cash-grab from an idea-starved industry. It was a true love-letter to the fans of the franchise and it seems to be profiting from

I’m pleased to hear it had the best opening to any video game movie in history. I personally think I liked Detective Pikachu a bit more (come on, Pikachu is voiced by Deadpool), but this was still an incredibly fun movie.

If you are a fan of sonic, you will love it.

And even if you are like me and have no pre-established connection with the character, I’m still confidant you will enjoy it anyway.

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Thanks for reading!

Doctor Who The Hell Cares Anymore

****Warning: The following contains spoilers for Jodie Whittaker’s run of Doctor Who. Reader discretion is advised****

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of posts where I pontificated on the possibility of a female Doctor and, while I understood the backlash surrounding the character’s gender swap, I considered it the show’s only possible move.

By the time Moffat announced he was leaving the show, Doctor Who had devolved into a paint-by-numbers soap opera with worn-down concepts. Characters were flat and one-dimensional, consequences were nonexistent, and the show was slowly rending itself apart with retcon after retcon after retcon.

I didn’t want The Doctor to be a woman because of representation, I just thought this was an excellent opportunity for the show to be reinvigorated.

I was excited for the chance to start over. It had been so long since I actually wanted to watch Who. Moffat’s flagrant disrespect for his predecessors and the intelligence of his audience had driven me nearly to the breaking point.

Chibnail would breathe new life into this stale show.

So…..how is Chibnail’s era of Doctor Who?

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If you thought constantly bringing characters back from the dead and undoing series cannon for jokes is bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Princess!

Because we’re taken’ that bullshit and dialing it up to 13, baby!

Not only are we supposed to believe that The Doctor’s first incarnation was a girl—

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Yeah, not only was she a girl in her first incarnation…..

SHE’S NOT EVEN A TIME LORD!!!

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According to series 12, The Doctor was a little girl that fell out of a portal and was experimented on so Time Lords could develop regeneration. Uh huh. They are seriously suggesting The Doctor’s first form was a female.

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It wasn’t enough that The Doctor is a woman now--oh, no–we now have to go back in time and rewrite the entire frigging series so we can show how woke we are. I’m not going to lie, Doctor Who has always been a bit preachy, but are you kidding me? Are you actually kidding me? 

The question I cannot get an answer to is why? Why did The Doctor have to be a woman in previous incarnations? Why did they have to spit on Hartnell’s Doctor, on all the years that came before? Why is it not enough that she’s a woman now?

You know what makes this even worse?

It’s not even an original story. 

The entire premise is lifted directly from a Doomsday comic.

Originally known as “The Ultimate”, Doomsday was born in prehistoric times on Krypton, long before the humanoid Kryptonian race gained dominance over the planet about 250,000 years ago. It was at that time a violent, hellish world, where only the absolute strongest of creatures could survive.[4][5] In a cruel experiment involving evolution, intended to create the perfect living being, the alien scientist Bertron released a humanoid infant (born in vitro in a lab) onto the surface of the planet, where he was promptly killed by the harsh environment. The baby’s remains were collected and used to clone a stronger version. This process was repeated over and over for decades as a form of accelerated natural evolution- Wikipedia 

Uncanny, wouldn’t you say?

The Doctor—the most infamous Time Lord in all of Gallifrey—isn’t even a Time Lord.

Doctor Who has taken many a dump on it’s own lore, but this….this.

This is like finding out Harry Potter wasn’t actually a wizard but a house elf that was enchanted to look human.

This creates so many problems I can’t even list all of them or this post will be as long as War and Peace.  Here’s a link if you’re interested in some of the major plot holes this revelation has created.

I once thought that the constant rotating door of writers of this show would ensure it’s survival. With new voices being brought in, new show-runners taking the show in unique directions, it would be revitalized but this isn’t the case. From what I can tell from Moffat and Chibnail’s eras, the head writers simply have too much ego.

They want their run to be the definitive era of Who and they don’t care if they have to destroy all the hard work of previous generations to do it.

Moffat retconned the destruction of Gallifrey, completely undercutting all the character development The Doctor went through during Davie’s era. Now, upon watching series 1-7, the scenes where The Doctor talks about being the last don’t land with nearly as much impact because we know he isn’t. Or wasn’t.

Chibnail, in his turn, has destroyed all the emotional tension of Moffat’s era surrounding The Doctor’s death because now we know he (she, they, whatever) was never actually in any danger to begin with because The Doctor is immortal! 

Oh…and I guess River’s ultimate sacrifice was completely meaningless as well.

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Come to think of it, doesn’t this mean that every person—every single solitary person—that has ever died for The Doctor died in vain?

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This suddenly got a lot worse didn’t it?

The offenses didn’t start here. Chibnail gave us perhaps the most boring incarnation of The Doctor ever created, a bloated Tardis crew with no real character development or intrigue, lackluster stories as well as preachy messages so on the nose they make you sneeze.

The show has become so mired with contention Antiques Roadshow beat the season finale in the ratings.

Let me repeat that: Antiques freaking Roadshow beat Doctor Who in the ratings. 

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Simple: People stopped caring.

Now that the novelty of The Doctor being a woman has worn off there is nothing to drive people to this show.

I don’t even blame political correctness as many are wont to do.

I blame laziness and ego.

You can’t save a bland story by tacking on a “save muh planet” message onto it. It doesn’t matter if your cast is diverse if they are underdeveloped planks of wood. Nobody cares if The Doctor is a woman if she’s annoying and doesn’t bring a new spin on the character. She’s not even The Doctor. She isn’t funny or clever. She’s like a side-character in her own TV show, clever when it’s convenient and utterly useless when it’s not. Super inspiring guys!

Ratings are in free-fall.

The fanbase in the United States is basically nonexistent.

But they refuse to listen to any manner of critique, choosing the same path as many creators are these days and blaming the fanbase for not liking their product.

If you don’t like Doctor Who in its current state, it isn’t because the writing is bad, it’s because you’re a bad person.

You are an alt-right troll that doesn’t like progress.

I thought Chibnail’s era of Doctor Who would be a breath of fresh air, but it’s more like a fart; a loud, smelly fart right in our faces.

No doubt there are people who will bend over backwards to defend the changes to the cannon. For whatever reason that appears to be an unavoidable reality with this show. It doesn’t matter how many dumb decisions are made, people will always clammer to defend it with paper-thin arguments that should win them a gold metal for mental gymnastics.

I’ll leave them to it.

I give up on this show.

For good this time.

I just don’t care anymore.

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Black Mirror: Season Five Thoughts

SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON FIVE OF BLACK MIRROR

I consider Black Mirror to be one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made. Its portrayal of the effect technology has on the human psyche has made for some of the most insightful and realistic stories I have ever come across.

It has the ability to both haunt and inspire in equal measure, doling out some harsh truths about the fallibility of man all while creating interesting storylines and environments that will have you reeling for days.

That being said, this season was some serious meh.

While other episodes have shaken me to the core and left me soaking in the bathtub for hours in contemplation, this seasons helpings of dystopian doom lacked some serious flavor.

Let’s start with Striking Vipers. 

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When I heard this episode was going to be about virtual reality, I wasn’t impressed. Yes, the thought of virtual reality escalating in quality to the point of being on-par with reality is an intriguing concept in theory, however, it’s one that has been played out in most forms of media. I wasn’t sure what else they could possibly add to the conversation given the bevy of other stories that have explored this very topic.

Then the two heterosexual males started boning each other.

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As the story unfolded I experienced that familiar sense of foreboding that pervades all episodes of Black Mirror, the burdensome knowledge that shit is about to hit the fan and there will be nothing but wreck and ruin that awaits all involved.

Dany was going to lose his marriage. Karl might be experiencing  gender dysphoria (this wasn’t explored in as much depth as I was hoping). I had to pause and consider what the writer was trying to convey. Are we who we are only if we are in a certain body? If we existed in another body would we truly be ourselves, or do our souls merely adapt to the vessel that they are placed in?

At first, it’s merely a means of achieving a sexual high, that is until Karl accidentally says the “l-word” which presents them with an ultimate question. Are their virtual reality feelings real?

They seek a resolution to this conundrum, yet the answer isn’t as clean-cut as they think.

I don’t take issue with the ambiguity of Karl and Dany’s feelings for each other. The problem I have with this episode is that they get away with their adulterous acts completely unscathed.

Karl and Dany have a love affair that goes on for ages and there are essentially no consequences. Dany stays married to his beautiful wife with a baby on the way and Karl is still living the bachelor life without a care in the world

I’m not opposed to a happy ending (especially in a show with such a dark, nihilistic tone), but the ending doesn’t feel deserved. There should be at least some negative repercussions to emerge from this.

Dany’s wife should have left him or he should have left her. Maybe Karl could have gone to Dany’s house on a whim and confessed his undying love to Dany only for Dany reject him out of principle, thus ending their friendship and leaving both of them feeling hollow and miserable.

Either one of these would have better than just letting them have their cake and eat it too.

A story devoid of consequences is one devoid of meaning.

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The next episode Smithereens was the best in the bunch, in my opinion. It was fast-paced, topical, and  provided the sort of thought-provoking commentary on social media I have come to expect from this show.

This episode’s greatest strength is there is no villain. The alleged antagonist is just a broken man; a victim of his own careless mistakes.

What makes it all so terrible is how relatable his situation is. He lost the person he loved most in the world because he was addicted to his phone. Like he tearfully explains to the founder of Smithereens, he killed his fiance over a cat photo.

These sorts of tragedies occur all the time and will continue to happen as long as social media is there to distract us.

It looks at social media companies and their drive to make their wares all the more addictive, subconsciously persuading us to risk our own lives and the lives of those we care about just so we don’t have to be bored for a few minutes.

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My thoughts on this episode summarized

As a side-note, the use of Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Franki Valli playing over b-footage of pedestrians habitually looking at their phones was genius. Black Mirror has always been clever with their choice of easter-eggs and foreshadowing and this inclusion was just superb.

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I liked Rachel, Jack and Ashely Too the least as it started with a fascinating premise only to degenerate into a mad-cap after-school special.

In the first act, we are introduced to Rachel, a lonely high school girl that is developing a quasi-obsessive relationship with her Ashley O doll, depending on it for self-validation and friendship. Meanwhile the real Ashley O is spiraling into an existential crisis that is leading her down a path of self-destruction. It’s a fascinating juxtaposition between the flowery fiction that is the Ashley sprite and the genuine article which is much bleaker and provides inspiring commentary on the entertainment industry.

For some reason I can’t possible understand, the second half completely drops this and becomes incompatible with the pre-existing message. It was like this episode was written by two different people who couldn’t agree on what the point of the story was supposed to be. 

Why build up the episode to be about a lonely, teenager girl who is developing an unhealthy dependency on a piece of tech if you’re just going to bench her in the end? The issue they introduced in the beginning of the episode never gets resolved. Does Rachel ever find the confidence to stand on her own? Does she find a way to believe in herself enough to overcome her loneliness? We don’t know. But here’s Miley Cyrus crowd surfing!

I didn’t care if Ashley O regained consciousness (they never explained how that happened btw), I wasn’t invested in her. I wanted to know what would become of Rachel if this dependency continued and the implications this would have on her developing mind.

Lonely people seeking companionship in technology is a real issue that should be talked about and makes an interesting story.

This was just predictable and, frankly, stupid.

If I was a creative writing teacher, I would give this a C. It’s watchable but it could have been so much more than it was.

The same could be said for most of the season. It had good ideas but it was not nearly as good as its predecessor.

Dammit, are there no British based programs that haven’t let me down?

 

Spoiler- Free Thoughts on “11/22/63” by Stephen King

Summary: Life can turn on a dime—or stumble into the extraordinary, as it does for Jake Epping, a high school English teacher in a Maine town. While grading essays by his GED students, Jake reads a gruesome, enthralling piece penned by janitor Harry Dunning: fifty years ago, Harry somehow survived his father’s sledgehammer slaughter of his entire family. Jake is blown away…but an even more bizarre secret comes to light when Jake’s friend Al, owner of the local diner, enlists Jake to take over the mission that has become his obsession—to prevent the Kennedy assassination. How? By stepping through a portal in the diner’s storeroom, and into the era of Ike and Elvis, of big American cars, sock hops, and cigarette smoke…Finding himself in warmhearted Jodie, Texas, Jake begins a new life. But all turns in the road lead to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. The course of history is about to be rewritten…and become heart-stoppingly suspenseful.

The best way I can describe this book is it’s Stephen King for people who don’t like Stephen King. Many of his tropes are in evidence (Maine, alcoholism, dumb rednecks, religious fanaticism, etc), but they are mercifully kept in the background, making their inclusion more tolerable.

I enjoyed the idea of time being like a sentient being that sets upon Jake like white blood cells on a foreign body, throwing unexpected obstacles in his way to change the future. It’s an interesting concept that I don’t think has been done in many novels. We’ve seen how changes to the past have detrimental consequences for the future, but we haven’t seen the past itself as a living organism. It raises a lot of interesting questions about destiny. If the past resists change, does that mean time itself has already been written and we’re doomed to follow one track forever?

I was genuinely on the edge of my seat wondering how King would wrap this whole thing up and, without giving anything away, I was not disappointed.

It is a long book (like many of King’s novels), but it doesn’t feel like you’re reading a big novel. The pacing is always snappy and even the more subdued scenes have a steady forward-moving momentum that makes it seem like everything is in aid of the overall plot and not just an excuse for the writer to lolly-gag.

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However….that’s not to say I had no problems with it.

In fact, there’s one issue that dogged me for a greater part of the novel: Jake’s motivation to stop the Kennedy assassination.

In all honesty, when you look at all the variables….this is actually a pretty stupid idea.

Jake’s hypothesis is that if Kennedy had lived he would have put a stop to the Vietnam War which would invariably save the lives of thousands of people.

Without getting too political,  JFK was objectively a competent leader who did more good in his tenure than harm. However, the question of whether or not Kennedy would have chosen to continue the war had he lived is an on-going debate even today. In fact, many Vietnam historians both left and right of center, believe he would have continued to keep troops overseas regardless of any personal hang-ups he had with the conflict.

Simply put, Jake is banking on a lot–and I mean a lot–when it comes to the potential outcome of saving Kennedy.

Imagine sacrificing six years of you life, virtually everyone you’ve ever met, all modern amenities including medicine, your freedom, and potentially your life, all based on a theory. 

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I might be more willing to buy his dedication if he was a public defender or former military with a checkered past he needed to atone for, but he was an English teacher with a squeaky clean record. It wasn’t as if he had become a jaded post-modern lump that wanted more fulfillment in life either. From what I could tell, he was perfectly content living as a high school teacher in a small town. He really didn’t have a reason to dump his life so quickly, family or no.

I would be lying if I said this ruined my reading experience, but these were thoughts that followed me as I read deeper and deeper and the stakes grew ever higher.

Even as someone who normally does not gravitate to King’s writing, I found this to be a very engaging and entertaining read. I recommend anyone, regardless of literary tastes, give it a try.

It’s suspenseful, dramatic, engrossing and overall good fun.

8/10

The Twilight Zone: “The Comedian” Review

Disclaimer: The following review contains spoilers. To watch the free pilot, click here

As a fan of the original Twilight Zone, I thought I would give the revival a try. I heard it would be helmed by Jordan Peele so it was in competent hands. Unlike many writers of political satire in the post-modern age, he is talented enough to take on such a project. After all,  he already has two movies under his belt, both of which have been critical and box-office hits and contain great social commentary.

The pilot for this reboot is about a failed comic, Amir, whom, after a chance encounter with a legendary comedian, is granted the ability to make people laugh. But there is a catch. Everyone he jokes about disappears.

So…what did I think?

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Okay, well, it wasn’t awful but it wasn’t good either.

To its credit, the message is very Twilight Zone-isque and the metaphor of people being “unpersoned” is effective in helping to convey it. Conceptually, it’s a thought-provoking perspective on comedy and how making oneself so available to the public takes away a person’s sense of self.

The execution, however, was a bit derivative.

For starters, the main character isn’t likable from the offset. Sure, he isn’t supposed to be funny (that’s the point), but rather than sympathize with him for his lack of talent in a craft he so clearly admires, I thought he was just a pretentious neckbeard. Not misunderstood, not flawed, but a fedora-hatted neckbeard that thinks everyone should recognize his brilliance because his comedy “means something.”

To add to the general unlikeability of this person, even after he makes his girlfriend’s nephew disappear, he doesn’t really care. It’s true that he freaks out at first, but it seems like he’s more upset that he can now break reality, rather than the fact that his girlfriend’s sister’s child is gone forever. That kid did nothing to him and he quickly shrugs it off like it never happened.

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This makes it much more difficult to feel any grief for him when he comes to his fate at the end of the episode.

Moving on, I realize that the Twilight Zone is meant to be a drama and the most important thing is that the story’s message is properly conveyed, but come on. They couldn’t have made it a little funny? This was an episode about a comedian performing at a comedy club in an episode about trying to make people laugh written by a comedy writer.  I know Amir isn’t supposed to be good initially, but hell even a broken clock works twice a day. Couldn’t the curse have made him just a bit more witty so it’s not as much of a chore to sit through?

I realize it’s a short format so there’s less time to work with, but the characters in this story suffered a noticeable lack of development, especially Amir’s girlfriend. As a result their relationship isn’t well defined, so it’s difficult to care when they end up breaking up. We learned that they were apparently on the rocks before they took a trip to Paris but we didn’t see any evidence there was anything wrong with their relationship prior to this scene. And how can an extravagant vacation cure relationship woes? Have you ever travelled to a foreign country with someone you’re at odds with? That sounds like a bleeding nightmare.

Not to mention, certain scenes with her made no sense. I initially thought it was a dream sequence when she stormed into the theatre and started shaming him in front of his audience.

“I found this book! It’s only filled with names! I don’t even know who most of these people are!”

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Okay……

…….and?

It’s a notebook not a Death Note.

It’s weird but it doesn’t warrant confronting someone in the middle of a crowded theatre  while they’re performing on stage. According to the curse’s rules, anyone he mentions will be whisked out of existence. No one else besides Amir is aware this is happening. So why such a hostile and public reaction?

Seriously, who does this?

The intended “emotional pay-off” wasn’t much of a catharsis either.

The episode tricks us into thinking he’s going to make his girlfriend go “poof” but in reality he turns his own ability inwards and unpersons himself. The reason why this doesn’t work all that well is, when you think about it, he really didn’t lose much as a result of his curse. Other people did.

His girlfriend lost her job, his girlfriend’s sister lost her child, countless other people had their sons and daughters wiped from existence. But what did he lose? A relationship. That’s it. He lost his live-in girlfriend. She didn’t die, she just left him.

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It would make sense if he showed any signs of being self-sacrificing before, but he didn’t. His ego is the size of a hot weather balloon from Day 1 and it only gets worse the more fame he achieves. So why would it make a difference to him if he had to break a few more eggs to make his fame omelette?

From a character perspective, he would have to lose a great deal more in order for him to be motivated to make that final call. Especially when taking into consideration–apart from his girlfriend working at a diner as a result of his actions– we don’t really see any truly negative consequences for him having snuffed out these people.

It would have been more effective, in my opinion, if his girlfriend actually cheated on him as he suspected she might and, in an act of self-righteousness, he unpersoned her only to regret it and effectively commit suicide to undo all the damage he had done.

Would that have been more predictable?

Maybe.

But it would have made more sense.

Overall, this was an episode with a decent premise that just flopped.

Other people seem to enjoy it, but, in my opinion, Black Mirror is a much better spiritual successor to the old Twilight Zone. It focuses more on the technological side of society, favoring the sci-fi elements over the fantastical. Nevertheless, the themes and social commentary it presents hit home much more accurately than this episode.

If nothing else, you won’t have to subscribe to yet another bs streaming site in order to watch it.

Man, The 13th Doctor’s A Woman: My Super Late Thoughts On The First Female Doctor

This reaction is so late that it borders on irrelevance, however, I wrote a majority of it the week it was announced so I wanted to publish it anyway. 

So…yeah…here you go:

^ What happens when you leave a professional media major alone on the weekend.

So, in spite of the super subtle *cough* hints from the show-runner that The Doctor could be a woman like-

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and-

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I think many fans were still surprised by the announcement that the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

Surprised and…perhaps a bit perturbed.

When I discovered Jodie Whittaker was going to be the Doctoro numero trece, I went through a whole roster of emotion. The first and most prominent one being–

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This was the most random casting choice I’d ever heard of. Sure, I knew Chris Chibnail had worked with her on Broadchurch but…..the bitchy mother from Broadchurch?! The bitchy mother from Broadchurch is going to be The Doctor?!

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However, the longer I thought about it, the more this idea seemed like a good one. I don’t know much about Jodie Whittaker, but I know from what I’ve seen of her that she can act.

Okay. I’ll give this a shot.

Then, as I thought about it even more, I realized that this could potentially be the best thing that has happened to Doctor Who in years.

I already addressed this in posts previously, but, no matter how many people insist this show will last forever, it probably won’t. And the surest way to make sure that it suffers a premature death is by continuing to do the same crap over and over as it has done unapologetically for the last six years.

Making The Doctor a woman is the surest way to wipe the slate clean, to show us a new angle and convince us to care. I couldn’t be arsed if The Doctor thinks he’s a good person anymore. I don’t care if the universe is in danger. It’s in danger every frigging episode. I need to be persuaded to give a crap again.

This is new. This gives us a completely new color pallet to work with. This is something we’ve never seen before. And considering this is a show that is nearing its 54th birthday, that’s saying something.

I’m invested now.

I care.

Aaaaaaaaand now it’s time to address the controversy-

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As with any Doctor, the casting choice has left the fanbase divided. However, unlike in Doctors past, this one spurs controversy for a completely different reason.

No points for guessing why.

Now, considering the tongue baths I just gave to making the choice to hire a woman as the starring role, my opinion on the opposition to The Doctor being a woman might surprise you.

When people say they don’t want a female Doctor… I kind of get where they’re coming from.

Some people might not want a woman to play The Doctor simply due to their sexist perspectives, nonetheless, I don’t believe that this is the majority.

I’m willing to give most the benefit of a doubt because many people who didn’t particularly like Capaldi’s Doctor (a.k.a people like me) were often pigeonholed as being ageist and shallow.

Oh, you don’t like the 12th Doctor? Well, he’s old so that must mean you don’t like him because you can’t imagine him as a boyfriend anymore. Go back to watching Twilight. 

It’s a lazy argument and–while it was justified in some cases–most of the time it was just used as a scapegoat so people didn’t have to defend the poor direction and bad writing choices used when it came to the 12th Doctor.

But the people that are opposed to Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor haven’t even seen her in action yet. They’re basing their opinions of her entirely on her gender!

Yeah but the BBC kind of packaged her that way.

All we saw her do was peal off her hood and walk towards the TARDIS. We didn’t hear her say anything cool, interact with companions, or anything.

It’s obvious that the main focus was meant to be on the fact that The Doctor is a female.

I could see how someone could interpret this negatively as Doctor Who has become more brazen in recent years with its political opinions and, whether you agree with the messages they espouse or not, Doctor Who is generally pretty bad at telling political stories.

Most attempts come across as ham-fisted, choosing to paint people with opposing ideologies as inherently evil or stupid (usually both). What’s worse is the stories themselves often can’t stand alone without the context of current events and are usually boring or convoluted, lacking the gravitas that the subjects they are addressing deserve. Some may argue that the over simplification is due to Doctor Who being a kid’s show, but then I would have to point out that this show has also discussed mass genocide so…yeah. The argument that nuance is too mature for this show is a bit moot.

Sylvester McCoy recently bragged in an interview that during his tenure, the show mocked Margret Thatcher mercilessly, creating plots with a political edge designed to protest her and her policies.

What happened after that?

Oh yeah.

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Regardless, I honestly think this could potentially be a great decision, provided they go at it from just the right angle. Some claim that her gender is completely irrelevant, but I think it’s a topic that needs to be addressed.

In spite of what many claim, there are differences between men and women, both physiological and psychological, and I think it would be a great idea to explore some of those concepts. I’m not saying they should make stereotypical jokes about women at her expense or that we must constantly bring attention to the fact that she is no longer a male, but since The Doctor has never been a woman before this is a great opportunity to explore the concept of gender and how it affects a person’s worldview or how the world perceives that individual.

There are so many ways to do this right that they just have to make a good character out of this.

I have a lot of confidence in Chris Chibnall as a character writer so I have faith that he isn’t just using this as a way to pander to progressives. In his hands I’m hoping Doctor Who will regain the magic and wonder it once had and bring in the viewers it started losing midway Matt Smith’s tenure.

Kris Marshall is The Doctor?

So rumors have been floating around that Death in Paradise’s Kris Marshall may be taking up the mantle of The Doctor following Capaldi’s departure.

And, of course, you realize what this means….

THE DOCTOR WILL FINALLY BE GINGER!!!

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I thought this would be the main topic of discussion when it came to his potential role. However, this was what most people had to say about the matter:

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My questions is why are people so adverse to him playing The Doctor? I’ve read quite a few tweets and I’ve been able to determine two reasons for the wave of haters:

  1. They don’t like him because he was in that one thing that they didn’t like so that automatically means he’ll be crap at being The Doctor because reasons, I guess.
  2. He’s a straight white male.

If your reason for not liking him being The Doctor is reason #1, give him a break. Sometimes actors get cast in crappy roles in crappy movies/tv shows. It happens. There are a lot of factors that go into making a production. Sometimes actors have poor direction or the writing is bad. Even the best actors can’t turn straw into gold.

If your reason for being up in arms is #2, well, I suggest you listen to this on full blast.

Okay, perhaps a bit harsh.

All the same, I think it’s a dumb reason to be upset. Yes, I’ve said in a post before that it would be cool if The Doctor was a woman. Nevertheless, I’m not up in arms that he’s not. I just want the show to improve and I thought him being a woman would give us a new dynamic to work with. However, I think we’re going to see plenty of different now that we’re getting a new head writer AND he’s bringing in a whole new group of writers.

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Of course, it’s only a rumor that he’ll be the 13th Doctor. Still, I’m actually really hoping it’s true (and it seems to be since nobody from BBC has denied it).

I know from Death in Paradise that he does socially awkward and smart well so he seems like he’d be a perfect fit.

As most people have pointed out, people usually hate the guy that’s replacing the old Doctor, only to fall in love with the new one. That didn’t necessarily happen to me with Capaldi, but I know where they are coming from and have experienced it myself when Tennant became Smith.

So, if he truly is the Ginger Doctor, we should all give him a chance.

Who knows? Maybe he’ll become your favorite Doctor.

How I’m Writing What I Don’t Know

Conventional wisdom says that you’re supposed to write what you know.

However, I have decided to go the harder route and try writing what I don’t know.

Why am I trying to carry out this obviously horrible idea?

Because if I never try anything new, every single protagonist I write will be an introverted middle-class white girl from the midwest.

In this particular case, I am writing military sci-fi so I have to learn more about the armed forces.

How hard could that be?

It was a challenge at first. However, once you get past all the acronyms it still feels like your brain is melting.

Once you learn the ranking, then there’s the weapons and machines/equipment they use, and the training regiment. Then there’s figuring out the difference between a fire team, a squad, a platoon, a company, a battalion, a brigade and corps.

There are 8 to 16  soldiers in a squad, 2 or 4 squads in a platoon, 3 to 5 platoons in a company, 6 companies in a battalion, 4 calling birds, 3 french hens, 2 turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree.

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When I venture out into uncharted territory, I always experience paralysis. Even after I do my homework and try to get as close to the facts as I can, there’s that persistent nagging sensation that tells me I’m going to get it wrong.

This leads to procrastination and mental gymnastics, all designed to keep me from trying.

Because not trying is better than trying and failing. Or at least that’s what my ego tells me.

Part of me wants to give up, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that the best way for a writer to understand something is for them to write about it. By doing that I was able to come up with a list of strategies to use to fix my problem and yours as well if you’re struggling like I am:

1. Get a beta reader who knows more about the subject you’re writing about than you. Hopefully, you have a friend or a friend of a friend who is knowledgeable about the topic you are writing about and would be willing to provide their services. If they are reluctant to do so, I would recommend bribery: a pizza dinner for every chapter they read.

2. Get another beta reader who knows less about the subject than you. While you want to write like someone who understands the subject they’re talking about, you don’t want to get so technical that only people who are directly involved in this line of work or have studied this subject comprehend what you’re saying.

3. Reconcile yourself with the fact that you may get something wrong anyway. Try as hard as you can to make a good product. But if you wait until everything is perfect you’ll never produce anything. Take it from someone who knows.

Now go out there, my pretties, and make good work!

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Should the 13th Doctor be a Woman?

Unless you’ve given up on Doctor Who and unliked all the DW-related Facebook pages as I should have done long ago, you’ve likely heard everyone screaming from the ether: THE NEXT DOCTOR HAS TO BE A WOMAN!!

Now in the past, my opinion on a female playing The Doctor has been-

However, now that Moffat is on his way out and a much better character writer is slated to be the next show-runner, my opinion on the subject has changed slightly.

I can’t say I’d be over the moon about The Doctor being a woman, but, let’s face it, Doctor Who needs a change. Fast.

Theoretically this show could go on forever. Since it has a continually revolving cast that changes every few years or so, there’s no reason for it to stop even if actors or producers quit.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t get formulaic and predictable after a while.

If you have played a Doctor Who drinking game in the last four years or so, then you’re probably reading this post from a coffin. How’s the wifi down there, by the way?

No one I know watches Doctor Who casually anymore. Or at all, actually.

Most of them stopped watching after Matt Smith left, or even before the baby-faced wonder bid us adeu.

And I think the reason why is obvious: the writing got boring.

It’s the same shtick over and over.

First act: The Doctor, meaning to take companions one place, ends up taking them to another place. They are then confronted with a deadly danger/dangerous mystery/deady dangerous mystery and are forced to run from alien monsters of some description.

Second act: The Doctor becomes discouraged, but then the companion needlessly reminds him that he’s “The Doctor” and he’s amazing and stuff. The companion is usually captured and The Doctor is forced to contend with seemingly impossible odds. He does a thing and confronts the big bad.

Third act: The Doctor performs a now paint-by-numbers speech about how awesome he is, defeats the villain, then sods off with his companion who usually has a witty quip or two to offer about the whole situation. They then pop into the TARDIS and all is well. Cue end credits.

See what I mean?

So…perhaps…just perhaps…changing The Doctor into a woman wouldn’t be the worst idea? For one thing, it would give us an opportunity to explore The Doctor’s character on a level we never have before. We’ve already done the “am I actually a good guy?” thing a million times by this point. Changing him into a woman would give us a whole new dynamic to work with. And if he had a male companion we wouldn’t have to watch them constantly measuring dicks all the time. That’d be a nice change of pace.

I envision a female Doctor as like a Romana/10th Doctor hybrid.

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Only not a colossal disappointment. Damn you Hell Bent. The fandom will never recover.

Realistically, however, it’s very likely that they will cast another man. Because safety is better than creative risks when it comes to television. At least that’s what most people in the biz seem to believe.

However, if they cast Eddie Redmayne all would be forgiven.

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The Doctor would finally be ginger. And adorable.

Regardless, I swear to Cthulu, if this show disappoints me again once Chibnail takes the lead, I am leaving!

FemmeDoctor or no FemmeDoctor.