A Conversational Journey through New Who – S05E06/07 – The Vampires of Venice/Amy’s Choice

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 7 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

“The Vampires of Venice”
Season five, episode six
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill

Cast ShotTEHANI:
For me, this is one of the weaker episodes of the season. The writing touch is really obvious when you’ve just watched a bunch of Steven Moffat penned stories. I’m not usually one to look at the writing/directing combinations, but this season was interesting – the first five episodes were written mostly by Moffat, and directed by one of two directors. This is the first story not to have one of those three hands involved, and I think it shows. That said, director Jonny Campbell then goes on to do one of my favourite episodes ever, in “Vincent”! So, do I blame the writer? But Toby Whithouse also penned “School Reunion”! Maybe that’s part of the problem – a little too same-ish? Mostly I think it falls down for me in the dialogue and the strange juxtaposition between attempted humour that falls flat, and a very dark (at times) Doctor, which while definitely warranted in terms of the plot, rubs wrongly in the way it’s put together.

TANSY:
Heh I really like this one. It feels like more of a guilty pleasure than say, the Angels two-parter or some of the later episodes. Very high quality this season generally! But the combination of the gorgeous scenery and the banter makes it one that I will happily rewatch, over and over.

TEHANI:
Oh there’s stuff I like, but yeah, more I don’t, I think.

DAVID:
I actually thought the aliens were almost incidental to this episode. The real story is the interactions between the Doctor, Rory and Amy and they were the bits that I enjoyed the most!

Saying that, it is a lovely looking episode, and the historical backdrop was very well done. And, there are some great performances, most notably Lucian Msamati and Helen McCrory, who are both superb.

Lucian Msamati

TANSY:
Croatia is very pretty. I find it amusing that they had to go there to find something that looked like Venice, because Venice itself is too damned modern these days. They managed to capture the feel of Renaissance Venice, though, and I appreciated the dig at Casanova, and the Doctor not wanting to meet him again – Casanova will ALWAYS be David Tennant, for me.

Anyone noticed by now how many monsters in this season have some kind of scary teeth? This is indeed the scary pointy teeth season. I do in fact recall fan speculation that ‘scary pointy teeth’ was the Bad Wolf of this season. Fandom cracks me up.

TEHANI:
I did like the lush costuming (although the girls’ nightgowns were a bit of a cheap cheat!) and the lighting in this was lovely! Helen McCrory as Signora Calvierri was a highlight of the episode as well.

TANSY:
Her scenes with Matt Smith were electric.
Helen McCrory

TEHANI:
There seemed to be quite a few loose threads and hand wavey bits – if the perception filter operated as the Doctor described, then how did Signora Calvierri know when it wasn’t working? And it doesn’t make sense that the filter still worked when not attached to her, or that her “children” wouldn’t recognise her when she went into the water, despite the justifying line from Francesco earlier. What happened to the fire in the sky when Rory was fighting the fish boy? And WHY did sunlight explode him?! And what happened to the tidal wave? And boy howdy, doesn’t the Doctor get over the death of the species quickly? Another point where the balance of the episode is off.

DAVID:
I haven’t been keeping count, but the Doctor has wiped out a few species since we started this series, hasn’t he? Interesting to compare that to “Genesis of the Daleks” where Four refused to wipe out the Daleks…

TANSY:
Tehani, if you keep poking holes like that, the ship’s going to sink! To me the filter was quite clearly some kind of mechanical device in this one (the static when hers glitched suggested that) but it’s a brand new kind of handwavium that we’re going to see a lot of in this era, so mostly I just roll with it.

TEHANI:
You’re very good with the handwavium!

TANSY:
It is my superpower.

I definitely agree that the Doctor gets over the death of the species too quickly – though I was more put off by the deaths of the two human characters, the father and daughter, who are the innocents caught up in it. The fact that they both die horribly in what is otherwise painted as a romp is a bit odd, especially as it continues to be a romp after they’re gone.

TEHANI:
Yes, I think this clash of tone is part of why it leaves me a bit cold. Lots of death, lots of playing for laughs…

DAVID:
Well, the father did have a traditional Doctor Who heroic death!
Speak No Evil

TEHANI:
Can’t say too much, and of course this passed me by entirely first time around, but I think this is the first mention of the Silence, Tansy?

TANSY:
Silence will fall! Or … is it Silents will fall?

I actually think that the lady from Broadchurch let that one drop back in “The Eleventh Hour” when she was being Prisoner Zero. But yes, this is the time where it becomes quite clear that it’s a THING we should be paying attention to.

TEHANI:
*snort* Oh, the way you reference actors…

There seems to be an effort in this episode to force flirtation on the Doctor. I don’t think it works, because it kind of comes out of nowhere, a bit like Amy jumping him at the end of “Flesh and Stone” is a bit weird, given how well she and River have bonded. Not sure what the writer hoped to achieve with it.

TANSY:
I don’t know about forced – it is the first time we see the Eleventh Doctor flirt, and it’s pretty clear by now that however the Doctor feels, Matt Smith enjoys the flirting. I liked seeing the chemistry in his scenes with Helen McCrory – they bounce beautifully off each other, and it feels like a coming together of equals. It reminds me a bit of great Master stories, where the fact that the Master is the villain doesn’t matter quite so much as the fact that he and the Doctor have more in common than anyone else.

TEHANI:
It’s interesting how you say “Matt Smith enjoys the flirting” because during this rewatch, I’m seeing more and more of the actor overriding the role – a little Tom Baker-ish? As in, it’s not fundamentally bad, because he’s so adorable and we love him, but it’s not necessarily how the Doctor would behave?

TANSY:
Ah but the Doctor is so informed by whomever is playing him, it’s hard to draw that line!

I do like that when the Doctor gets into flirting (and this is very much the incarnation where he experiments in that regard) he mostly does so quite inappropriately. Because, you know, he’s been busy for the last 900 years and this is a New Thing for him. So he hasn’t figured out not to do it with the monsters…

DAVID:
Funnily enough, I got almost the opposite impression. I thought that Signora Calvierri thought that her and the Doctor were equals, and that the loss of their species put them on common ground, without really understanding that the Doctor was on a whole different level. The scene on the roof in “The Eleventh Hour” was a great reminder that the Doctor is not someone to be trifled with and the Universe is littered with those who had misunderstood who he was and underestimated him. That was her mistake, and led to her downfall.

Stag Night

TANSY:
This is the first time we’ve seen Rory for a while, and I think the whole storyline between him and Amy is one of the reasons I like this one so much. The fact that the Doctor responds to Amy kissing him by trying to fix things with Rory is quite interesting, as is the fact that he has finally figured out one important thing about humans: the one who travels with him will lose connections to her family and loved ones back home, coming to depend on him too much. It’s quite nice to see him trying something new as a way of admitting how much he stuffed up in the past, not just with Rose but with Martha and Donna too. He doesn’t want a companion who never wants to leave him because that always ends badly – so he’s setting Amy up with an escape route.

This is also the first story that really gives Rory something to get his teeth into, and Arthur Darvill puts a lot into it. The difference between he and Amy is shown at every point, and there are hints here of the way Mickey was tested/treated as a second class companion (this is the same writer who had Mickey point out he was the Tin Dog) but the humour is more gentle, and it doesn’t tip over into cruelty. Rory also stands up for himself more, and his sense of humour and self-deprecating wit helps to make the character feel very likeable already.

TEHANI:
I went in first time around prepared not to like Rory very much (cos REASONS) but he is wonderful. Combination of getting good scripts I think and the way Darvill plays the role.

DAVID:
This is another example of how much the Doctor has grown since the start of New Who. You have no idea how much happier I am with a Doctor who makes the right moral choice in this situation. I think that there is a lot to be taken from contrasting the Eleven-Amy-Rory situation with Nine-Rose-Mickey.

With Nine, we had a Doctor so insecure and in need of validation that he very much set himself up in competition with Mickey, who really had no way of competing at all. Almost everything Nine did, whether showing Rose the wonders of the Universe or putting Mickey down at every opportunity, seemed designed to ensure that Rose fell for him.

In this story, it seems to me that the Doctor is going out of his way to try and include Rory as if to ensure that Amy doesn’t forget who she has left behind. It’s rather cute that the Doctor is obviously a bit baffled by human interactions, and it is a lot of fun watching him trying to provide what he sees as the essentials for romance! The scene at the bachelor party was hilarious.

TANSY:
We are being shown that the Doctor is just as much at sea when it comes to making friends as he is with any kind of romantic negotiation. People are confusing!

vampire brides

DAVID:
I do agree that he is trying to ensure that Amy has something to fall back on when the inevitable parting of ways occurs, but I also think that he is aware of the damage he has done, first by abandoning Amy for so many years (because even though no real time passed for him, it was an abandonment that has shaped who she is) and then by sweeping in and sweeping her away. This is the Doctor doing his best to repair that damage.

TANSY
I often cite this episode as an example of the unconventional gender dynamics between Rory and Amy – that he’s the nurturing healer and she’s the bold, adventurous one. When they hear a scream, his first instinct is to run away and hers is to run towards the trouble.

TEHANI:
Oh, that is so true! Shows their characters perfectly!

TANSY:
But they both get to be brave ultimately, and we do see them working together as a team which is one of those important ways to get a believable romance across on film.

The decision to make the Doctor rather than Rory the third wheel was a clever one, and ensures that everyone complaining Rory was just Mickey Mark II could STFU. It makes the Doctor so much more likeable that he comes to appreciate Rory as a person distinct from Amy.

DAVID:
Have I mentioned how much I love Amy and Rory as companions? Rory is already one of my favourite companions of all time, and Amy is not far behind. Self deprecating was a great term to apply to Rory, Tansy, and there is something so intrinsically likeable about him. I have said in the past that my favourite dynamic is the Doctor and a female and male companion, and for some reason this one reminds me of my favourite combination ever – Four, Sarah Jane and Harry Sullivan.

In fact, there is something Harry-esque about Rory. I don’t know whether it is that self deprecating wit, their easy going nature or simply the sense of innate decency they both exude, but they do seem to have a lot in common.

TANSY:
A lot of fans get tied into knots about Amy’s willingness to cheat on Rory, which is I guess understandable, but I think it’s important to note that for Rory himself it’s not kissing the Doctor that is as much of a problem (after all he has to be used to that from her kissogram days) it’s the fact that she LEFT him and what that says about their relationship. He was looking forward to marrying her and she was trying to postpone it by running away the night before – that shows a major problem in their relationship and this is the beginning of the two of them working that out. The Doctor is giving them an opportunity to deal with a few therapy issues before going back to real life, and that turns out to be a very good thing for all of them – despite what is to come.

Ahem, and yes, Rory doesn’t actually know about the part where Amy propositioned the Doctor but either way, her behaviour was a symptom of something that is actually (hooray) going to be addressed.

Brilliant

“Amy’s Choice”
Season five, episode seven
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill

TEHANI:
Now wasn’t THIS interesting to rewatch, from a more “educated” Doctor Who fan perspective! The thing I took away most from the episode was how self-critical it was – some of the Dream Lord’s dialogue could have come straight from the mouths of those critiquing the series. For example:

Dream Lord: “Friends”. Is that the right word for the people you acquire? Friends are people you stay in touch with. Your friends never see you again one they’ve grown up. The old man prefers the company of the young, does he not?

Harsh! And given it’s actually the Doctor’s own subconscious…

TANSY:
Hahaha yes, this one is totally different on rewatching. I think the Doctor’s line “there’s only one person who hates me as much as you” is pretty telling.

Toby Jones gives a fantastic performance – this is the closest thing we get to a Master for the Eleventh Doctor, and it’s very, very effective. I appreciate the layered storyline, and the final whammy that both realities are fake.

But there’s also some rather deep psychological stuff in here, such as the fantasy village which is not the life Rory wants (the idea that he would want to become a doctor is beyond insulting, actually, given that being a nurse is NOT a second best career, it’s a distinctly different profession) but the life that the Doctor THINKS Rory and ultimately Amy will want once they leave him.

Which means the ponytail is the Doctor’s fault.

TEHANI:
Well, his fashion sense IS rather questionable…

DAVID:
My first thought on that line was that it was the Master, but only for a second. I actually was more convinced that it was the Valeyard (which, of course, it kind of was if you want to get technical haha). Toby Jones was excellent in this, just the right mix of awkward and oily and dangerous.

The Dream Lord shows us that the Doctor is actually very self aware, whether he allows those thoughts to surface or not. The past few seasons have been a voyage of self discovery for him, and we’ve seen that he is actually learning, whether it is here or when he is trying to repair Amy and Rory’s relationship. Of course, these fantasies show that he doesn’t always completely *get* humans!

Dream Lord

TANSY:
Something I found particularly interesting was Amy’s pregnancy – this is the only time ever in the entire history of Doctor Who that we’ve ever been shown even the possibility of a companion being knocked up despite the number of weddings that punctuate the RTD era – Donna’s pretendy children in the Library (MOFFAT AGAIN) is the only other case, and of course we found out eventually in The Sarah Jane Adventures that Jo Grant and Clifford Jones had a whole brood, but … it did feel odd to me.

TEHANI:
Ha, I just watched that episode with the kids!

DAVID:
But that is fairly typical of most fiction, surely? The wedding or the culmination of all the URST is seen as the finale of romantic subplot, rather than the beginning of a new chapter. You don’t always see what the “happily ever after” actually entails. That’s why I love stories that are about “what happens next”.

TEHANI:
There’s a whole genre of stories growing around the “after the happy ever” these days – as a culture we’re no longer satisfied with marriage being the end, it seems!

TANSY:
The Happy Ever After Is The End thing is absolutely true for a lot of romantic fiction and for movies, but not generally in the case of television drama – ‘family’ viewing in particularly usually means stories about families, including babies and kids. The surprise of Amy’s pregnancy (and pregnancy as a recurring motif in this era) only serves to point out how odd has been the lack of actual children (as opposed to adult women playing teenage girls who miraculously became adult the second a man showed interest in them) in the show for the first 46 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a pregnant heroine (though I could have done without all the boat jokes) but the character was so young at this point – 21? 22? it did feel like a weird narrative assumption, that this was what lay in her immediate future (though again, the Doctor’s dream, not hers). It was fascinating to see how Amy dealt with it, though, and I liked how much she stayed in character despite imminent motherhood.

Park Bench

TEHANI:
Isn’t it supposedly five years later? So Amy would be 24-ish…

DAVID:
Well, for the Doctor there probably wouldn’t appear to be much difference between a 21-22yold and a 31-32yold, or even a 41-42yold! Thinking about that, it explains a few things….

TANSY:
This is the man who felt it was appropriate to abandon various 16 year old girls across various times and places as soon as they got themselves a love interest so … yes, we can’t assume he knows anything about anything!

When old people attack

TEHANI:
Ooh look, Rory died! That could be interesting later on…

TANSY:
Shhh there’s no way that could be foreshadowing anything.

DAVID:
So subtle. :-P

TANSY:
Before we wind up I think perhaps worth calling attention to the title – only the second time that a companion’s name has appeared in one. A lot of people (including let’s face it, the Doctor) misread “Amy’s Choice” being about Amy choosing between Rory and the Doctor, but it’s not that at all. It’s about her choosing whether or not she really wants to be married to Rory.

And she does. She doesn’t necessarily want this marriage, this bizarrely boring future that the Doctor has so cack-handedly summoned out of his subconscious, but this is the point at which she decides completely that despite wanting adventures and everything the Doctor has to offer, and despite her severe abandonment issues and lack of trust of people, she really loves Rory and doesn’t want to lose him.

Once again, this is hugely different to the Rose/Mickey dynamic, where it’s pretty clear that seeing the universe has opened Rose’s eyes to the fact that their relationship wasn’t doing much for her, and that even if the Doctor and the TARDIS were not an option, she would not go back to her previous life choices as a default.

Amy, on the other hand, is greedy. She wants it all. Her TARDIS, her boys, love and the universe. She chooses Rory, but that doesn’t mean giving everything else up because Rory is actually too awesome to pressure her into going home before she’s ready.

Awww

DAVID:
Speaking of titles, there is a hint of irony in the fact that we had an episode called “The Runaway Bride”, which wasn’t actually about a bride trying to run away from her wedding!

I never saw Amy running away from the wedding as her running away from Rory, I always took it as her running away from what she thought marriage would mean. It seemed to me that she thought it meant the end of her independence, and being trapped in a life without adventure. One of the realisations she arrives at in this story is that she can have both – adventures AND marriage, and that, as Tansy alludes to, Rory doesn’t want to trap her. He seems quite content with the fact that Amy is a free spirit, in fact it is a big part of what he loves about her, and therefore has no desire to see that taken away from her.

TEHANI:
Just one more reason to love Rory…

TANSY:
I think that’s very true, and it’s clear that she takes Rory’s acceptance for granted, too. Amy is a bit thoughtless here in her early 20s and he clearly enables that – their relationship has revolved around Amy leading the way and Rory tagging along agreeing with her, and it mostly works for them though it was bound to lead to problems sooner or later.

It wouldn’t shock me at all if (and this is a detail never revealed to us) it was Amy who proposed and set the whole wedding thing in train in the first place, and only later began to freak out as the whole thing became a bit too real.

DAVID:
I don’t think her epiphany comes solely from the events of this episode, though. In the previous story she meets another married woman who certainly hasn’t let marriage cramp her style – River Song! I don’t think you can discount the impression River made on Amy.

It would be interesting for people with a better grasp of the topic than I do to examine Amy’s storyline in light of the debate about whether modern women can have it all (whatever society’s idea of what “it all” is), and how the changing nature and desires of the companions reflects a changing society.

Frozen Star

TANSY:
There has certainly been a lot feminist debate about Amy Pond and her character arc – I think there are elements of her story which are incredibly positive and others which are a bit more wince-inducing (and not everyone agrees which elements are which). But at this point, it’s a very powerful story about a woman who starts to take control of her life despite being whisked away in the TARDIS – and that’s not something we’ve really seen before, even in New Who. In the RTD years, life in the TARDIS was so romanticised that the prior lives of the companions were seen as complete drudgery in comparison … and most of the positive changes that they bring to their lives after the TARDIS happen off screen.

I think it’s interesting to see how different things are now in the Moffat era – that Amy and the Doctor (and now Rory) are constantly negotiating this odd relationship of theirs, pushing and pulling against each other to create a kind of “TARDIS-life balance”. Despite Amy being a child when she first met the Doctor, and the potential uncomfortable power imbalance from  that, the whole thing feels to me like a more equal relationship than any we’ve seen in Doctor Who for a while.

Previous Episodes

“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time
The Eleventh Hour. S0501
The Beast Below/Victory of the Daleks,S050203
The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone,S05E0405

Show Them the Money!

It’s easy to become a bit cynical about crowdfunding. Like charity door knocks there seems to be a new one every day, and when you only have a finite amount of money it can be hard to decide who gets your cash. And, while there are lots of worthwhile causes, sometimes it seems that there are people who see crowdfunding as a bit of a shortcut.

But, then there are projects that are so exciting that you want to find the money for them, and that tick all the boxes of what crowdfunding should be all about.  Right now there are two projects in particular that I have absolutely no hesitation in spruiking because I think they not only deserve to succeed, but they represent things I want to see more of. Hopefully their success will breed more success for others.

Kaleidoscope

The first is the upcoming anthology Kaleidoscope, from Twelfth Planet Press. From the website:

Kaleidoscope is an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy stories, which will be edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Krasnostein, and published by Twelfth Planet Press. Too often popular culture and media defaults to a very narrow cross section of the world’s populace. We believe that people of all kinds want to see themselves reflected in stories. We also believe that readers actively enjoy reading stories about people who aren’t exactly like them. We want see more stories featuring people who don’t always get the spotlight, so we’re gathering a wonderful variety of:

* YA fantasy stories
* Set in the modern world
* Featuring teen protagonists from diverse backgrounds

There are lots of reasons to be excited about this anthology. The first is that Twelfth Planet Press have consistently released books of the highest quality that have transcended  Australian boundaries, finding international acclaim and being nominated for, and winning, major awards. Secondly, Alisa is an editor and publisher of incredible vision, and when you add Julia Rios (who I only know by reputation, but it s a stellar one)  to the mix you know you are going end up with an amazing selection of stories. If this isn’t one of the stand out anthologies of the year I will eat my hat.

And, thirdly, any project that encourages diversity in this fashion deserves our support. If this project succeeds it will breed more projects of a similar nature. Everyone deserves a chance to read stories that are about people like them, not just the standard demographic, and anything that makes that a reality is something I want to support.

You can contribute here.

SatalyteWhile Twelfth Planet Press has established itself as arguably Australia’s premier press, Satalyte Publishing is closer to the beginning of that journey. However, they have already announced some very exciting projects.

Satalyte Publishing is a brand new venture from an Aussie team, who want to see Australian works back on Australian bookshelves. Being an author and designer (as well as husband and wife), we have been involved in the process of book design for some years, and now looking at helping authors achieve their goal of seeing their words published.

I had the pleasure of working with Steve on a story in the Great Southern Land anthology and I was really impressed with both his passion and his professionalism. It was clear to me that his priority was doing the right thing by his authors, that to him they were not commodities but collaborators. Whether it is the percentage of royalties in the contract, or the level of support provided, Satalyte seem determined to ensure that the author is the focus, not the publisher.

That’s why I have no doubt that the funds that are raised by their Pozible campaign will directly benefit the authors, and be ploughed back into making the press the best it can be. As a writer I am thrilled to see a publisher that cares so much for its contributors, and as a reader I am very excited about what they have in the pipeline. Their success is not just going to be good for them, but for the Australian writing scene.

You can donate here.

A Conversational Journey through New Who – S05E04/05 – The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 7 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

“The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone”
Season five, episodes four and five
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
River Song – Alex Kingston

TEHANI:
I find myself really struggling with what to say about this two-parter. So much of what is to come in the future of the show has roots here!

TANSY:
Spoilers, sweetie!

TEHANI:
But River! When I first watched these, of course I had no idea about the events of “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, so River was this brand new character who apparently had a huge history with the Doctor and I was just learning about it. In light of later events (of which we shall not speak), the relationship between Amy and River in this story is FASCINATING, and her easy manner with the Doctor, the TARDIS, the past and future, well, it’s just marvellous, particularly this time around. That said, River Song’s timeline completely bewilders me. The first bit with the diary seems to imply River and the Doctor have had some intervening adventures offscreen. But then that’s later debunked! So confusing!

TANSY:
Best not to think about it, really. I think it’s great that you came in with this as your first River story – after all, we were told only in the previous story that the Doctor has also been friends with Churchill for ages. You don’t always have to have seen those adventures. One of the best things about Doctor Who (and something new people often don’t believe or understand) is that the massive weight of 50 years of continuity actually hardly matters. It’s always about new adventures, new self-contained stories – and we’re never going to see absolutely everything the Doctor gets up to.

Song, River Song.

TEHANI:
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I often assume that anytime we meet characters it seems the Doctor has a history with, I just assume there have actually BEEN adventures with them in Classic Who – works really well for newbies! :)

DAVID:
There have been lots of characters introduced in the show’s history who are meant to have extensive histories with the Doctor, even a companion IIRC! So, the idea of off screen adventures doesn’t faze me at all. And, with River Song there is the advantage that they don’t even have to have happened yet.

TANSY:
One of the things I like best about Amy and River in this story is that they are in no way jealous of each other’s relationship with the Doctor – Amy has given the impression that she fancies the Doctor a bit (and of course by the end of this story that has been ratcheted up to ‘quite a bit) but she’s fascinated by this other woman and what she might represent. The fact that she “might” be the Doctor’s wife (first time that thought has been vocalised on the show) is something she is amused by.

DAVID:
I much preferred the dynamic between River Song and Amy than some of the others we’ve seen. I think a big part of this is the fact that Amy looks at River and sees something she wants for herself, a life filled with adventure and travel, and someone who is very capable and good at what she does. I did get the impression that Amy didn’t feel particularly challenged by her career path. And, perhaps most importantly, she sees someone whose life hasn’t ended the day she got married.

So, perhaps it is that when she looks at River she doesn’t see a competitor, but a role model.

TANSY:
That’s a wonderful interpretation, I like it a lot. You’re absolutely right that Amy hasn’t figured out yet what she wants from life – travelling with the Doctor is about searching for that. And while Rose got caught up in the Doctor himself, I do feel that Amy’s attachment at this point is as much about where he can take her as it is to her “raggedy man” himself.

On the beach

TEHANI:
So, Moffat just makes up “canon” to suit himself when the story requires it, right? ‘Cos there’s stuff happens here that seems to conflict with other stuff in other stories? Or is that just me showing my newbie status? :)

TANSY:
Show me your ‘broken canon’ and I will explain it!

But yes, of course he just makes it up as he goes along, he’s a writer. That’s what we do. It’s why I have no time for people fussing about the whole ‘the Doctor only has 12 regenerations and then he’s toast’ malarkey. What will happen is, we’ll get to that point, and then a writer will MAKE SOMETHING UP TO FIX IT.

Sadly of course that didn’t work for Donna. But there’s still time. I have a theory about how that’s more possible for Doctor 12’s era than Doctor 11’s but will save that until David is caught up.

TEHANI:
That totally works for Donna if you read the wonderful fanfics! Like this one, which I still adore :)

DAVID:
There is no way that the 12 regenerations limit is going to stop the BBC from continuing, and I can think of several ways to get around it – and, if I can, someone like Moffat or Cornell can definitely manage!

TEHANI:
Personally, I thought they had already done that in … um, but not yet, sorry David!

*changes subject quickly* I sincerely love the cave of statues set – it’s brilliant!

TANSY:
Gorgeous, as is the forest-on-a-spaceship concept as realised, and the beach shots as well. Add to that the very stylised opening sequence for River Song and the clever museum scene and this is honestly one of the best looking Doctor Who stories of all time.

DAVID:
This season really has taken the visuals up a notch, and this episode is no exception. There is so much eye candy, from the waterfall to the caverns full of angels, it looks amazing.

Girl talk

TEHANI:
Have to say it: Father Octavian = Ser Jorah Mormont! #geekcrossover

TANSY:
I KNOW RIGHT? It was the other way around for me because I came to Game of Thrones late, but I have a disturbing feeling that I like the character of Jorah way more than I should, simply because he is Father Octavian. Who is a really excellent supporting character in this. But of course that’s all mixed up with how I always get him confused with the comedian Bob Franklin…

DAVID:
Haha yes, I may have squeed a little.

Father Octavian was my favourite character in this. I thought that he could have very easily been a caricature, but instead was a complex and nuanced character. I liked how uncompromising he was, and how he refused to be overawed by the Doctor. But, he wasn’t one of those unthinking, bull headed military types that seem to crop in so many TV shows, who are unable to listen to or consider other viewpoints. But Iain Glen could bring dignity and gravitas to any role – what a voice.

TEHANI:
Some really great guests already this season, that’s for sure.

Yes, Khaleesi!

DAVID:
The militant Church of the future was a fascinating concept and I would love to see them again. I’ve found it interesting that Christianity has featured a few times in New Who’s portrayal of the future, though I am not sure the writers have really thought about the ramifications of that, other than that it makes a fun plot device. And the line when we learn that Bob is a Sacred Name – hilarious!

TANSY:
It’s interesting, isn’t it, considering how often Christianity (or religion generally) is just quietly “forgotten” about in so much futuristic science fiction, as if it could have disappeared completely from history despite being so integral to humanity’s recent past – in this case it certainly adds another dimension to what could otherwise be just random troops, Aliens style.

Bible Bashers!

TEHANI:
I had not forgotten how bloody terrifying Amy alone in the forest was – I think I was more scared this viewing, and for goodness sake, I know what happens! The Weeping Angels really are the scariest darn monsters, especially in this episode, when they’re actually killing people, not just stealing their time.

TANSY: I like that this story isn’t just “Blink 2: the Revenge”; they are doing something quite different with the Angels. And on such a larger scale. The scene in which Amy watches the video of the angel is a fantastic piece in its own right, and the fact that the story revolves around her having to keep her eyes closed (rather than not blinking) is quite devastating.

(there’s a thing in this that I desperately want to talk about and I won’t but you know the thing right, Tehani? The thing in the forest? It does make this one an especially good rewatching episode)

Walking blind

TEHANI:
Yes, the thing! (sorry David…) :)

I’m using this rewatch to take much more notice of the resolution of episodes, and to look for pointers to overall arcs. I’m really rubbish at seeing this stuff normally, getting all caught up in the viewing, so trying to put my “critical viewer” hat on. Not sure it will be maintained, in the face of Matt Smith awesome, though…

DAVID:
While I really enjoyed “Blink”, I actually thought this two parter was superior. It’s already been mentioned, but the scene where Amy is trapped with the TV screens is as good as anything I have seen in any horror movie for years, while my flesh was creeping when the Doctor was talking with Dead Bob.

Bringing back something as popular as the Angels could have been a terrible mistake, it is hard to recapture the same magic, but by inverting their threat and ramping up the stakes Moffatt has taken them to the next level in this story.

Don't blink!

TEHANI:
I love them both for different reasons, I think. “Blink” is something a bit special, and stands out as a Doctor-lite episode, but this is packed with all sorts of other good things…

And I’m back to River – I just love her, and the interaction with the Doctor, but I still can’t fathom the timeline. Is there a gif for that?

TANSY:
There’s a map somewhere.

TEHANI:
Oh, there’s this! (David, DON’T CLICK THAT!) – it’s out of date now though… :)

TANSY:
At this point, from David’s point of view, it’s easy – this is before the Library for her, and after the Library for him. She’s still technically imprisoned in the Stormcage at this point, but is obviously earning her freedom one good deed at a time. Note what she’s wearing, though, you will see it again…

TEHANI:
More zingy Moffat dialogue in this one – I’m starting to think the dialogue might be my very favouritest thing about this season…

Amy: Explain. Who is that and how did she do that museum thing?
The Doctor: It’s a long story and I don’t know most of it. Off we go.

The Doctor: I can run away from anything I like. Time is not the boss of me.

The Doctor: Didn’t anyone ever tell you? There’s one thing you never put in a trap—if you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there’s one thing you never ever put in a trap … Me.

River: There’s a plan?
The Doctor: I don’t know yet. I haven’t finished talking.

TANSY
Moffatt’s dialogue is the best thing about all Moffatt’s writing ever. Which is why it’s quite good he went into telly, I suppose. Remind me to lend you my Press Gang DVDs some time … and I’d love to see a fanvid which compares the various Mighty Speeches we get from Matt Smith’s Doctor with the Mighty Rants Jack Davenport gets to utter in Coupling. His are mostly about things like pillows, girls being stupid, and putting the toilet seat down, but I’m sure there’s some sort of crossover potential there…

Speaking of the ‘one thing you don’t put in a trap’ line – the cliffhanger and resolution of this two parter is one of the best of all New Who even if you have to be paying very close attention to the screen to figure out what has happened. It’s certainly up there with ‘Go To Your Room’ in “The Doctor Dances”, another Moffatt script. I do feel he handles two parters (especially the second part) much better than RTD did.

The terrible trio

TEHANI:
Yes, especially the second part, completely agree.

TANSY:
Before we finish we should totally look at the final sequence, in which Amy and the Doctor return to her room and she comes on to him. Thoughts?

(I will admit right now that my original response to this scene was to burst out laughing – but I’ve given its ramifications a lot of more serious thought since then).

TEHANI:
Laughter here too, yes, but then as you say, further consideration leading to different conclusions. And again, in light of what comes later, it changes the perspective again, I think.

DAVID:
As I think everybody is aware, I was a bit uncomfortable with some of the romantic elements we have seen, especially with Nine, and found some of the Doctor’s moral choices … questionable at best. So, I was actually a bit relieved by his reaction here. It’s another example of the growth we have seen in the Doctor since we first encountered the guilt ridden, traumatised survivor of the Time War. Here, he seems more startled than anything else.

It’s hard to decide what to think about Amy’s actions here, she is obviously have a terrible case of wedding jitters and being swept off your feet by your childhood hero, travelling around the universe and nearly being possessed by one of the most dangerous creatures in cosmos wouldn’t make for an uncluttered mind. So, it is unsurprising that all those things add up and express themselves in throwing herself at the Doctor. But, I can’t help but think of poor, devoted Rory waiting back at home.

Angels in the forest

TANSY:
Oh yes, poor old Rory. Amy gets a lot of stick for her Doctorlust in this season, but I think the important thing to note is – SHE’S TWENTY ONE. People make dumb decisions at this age, and she’s someone who has more confusion and trust issues in her background than most.

The more you learn about Amy, the more understandable it is that she does not in fact entirely believe that anyone would love her the way Rory does. What is happening right now is classic ‘testing’ how far she can go before he gives up and leaves her. It’s not nice or pretty but it is quite realistic, as is the long fallout from what she has done – and of course, running away into space the night before her wedding is part of that too.

I find Amy’s flaws quite refreshing, especially as she does have to deal with the relationship fallout that comes from her choices.

DAVID:
Upon reflection, I think that her actions are far more about a physical reaction to the events of the story than born of any real romantic feelings for the Doctor. At the risk of sounding crass, it seems far more of a “let’s get it on” than a “let’s settle down forever”. Not that I think it makes it okay, but that they are two *very* different motivations.

TANSY:
Another concern that many have raised (which made me uncomfortable about how funny I personally found this scene) is that Amy is ignoring some pretty serious consent issues – physically accosting the Doctor multiple times despite him clearly saying ‘no’ and not being interested. It is not something we would EVER see a male character do to a female character without the writer being aware they were doing something wrong – in television these days, anyway. It’s a slapstick scene that takes its comedy, like many Moffat scenes which raise feminist hackles, from a very old fashioned premise which is that a hot woman throwing herself at a bloke who isn’t interested is inherently funny.

(My excuse for finding it hilarious the first time is simply that I was raised on Carry On… movies, you can’t always shake that stuff off)

DAVID:
Now that is a very interesting point indeed. Shows how much we are conditioned to view things a certain way. I would have been very unhappy, angry even,had the roles had been reversed, but I have to confess I didn’t even blink an eye at that. I will have to think about why that would be the case.

TEHANI:
And like you, Tansy, it’s not something that crossed my mind at first. Our friend Mondy often talks about how he is always having his eyes opened to things by his podcast co-host Kirstyn, and by other media like Galactic Suburbia, and I’m a bit the same – a few years ago, I would have been oblivious as well. Growing up means things aren’t always as easy as they used to be, but I hope it makes me a more aware person!

DAVID:
There is not a “like” button on this, so I’ll just say I’ll second that!

TANSY:
Having the DVD I now always watch the version of this episode with the extra scene in the TARDIS after the kiss, which I highly recommend – it’s a fun, friendly scene which shows Amy challenging the Doctor’s supposed lack of interest in having sexy female companions around and also shows that she wasn’t actually all that invested in having sex with him. The next adventure is just as enticing…

TEHANI:
Darn it Tansy, WHY IS THERE ALL THIS CONTENT I HAVEN’T SEEN?!

TANSY:
DVD box sets, this is all I am saying…

Angels crowding in
Previous Episodes

“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time
The Eleventh Hour. S0501
The Beast Below/Victory of the Daleks

A Conversational Journey through New Who – S05E02/03 – The Beast Below/Victory of the Daleks

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 7 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun! 

Tansy and Tehani love this season so much we’re making David do more work – we’re changing up our usual plan and reviewing each episode, in sets of two.

“The Beast Below”
Season five, episode two
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan

The Beast Below

TANSY:
This is one of those favourite stories of mine that I tend to forget because of so many other favourites in this season – one of the things I especially love is the set up. The whole concept of a Starship UK, and the way a whole culture tries to recreate its past on a moving ship is fascinating to me, and all the little details of it make the place feel real – even if it is based on a lie.

DAVID:
The fact that there is something not quite right with Starship UK is evident right from the start, I love the way that it is the children who are aware of it and have built their own little rules to navigate it safely. The Smilers are delightfully creepy, too.

TANSY:
The Smilers are the reason Raeli can’t rewatch this episode! It has a real Stephen King vibe at the beginning, all sinister fairground motifs and children being aware of dangers while adults are blithely oblivious (or pretending to be so – not sure which is scarier)

Smiler

DAVID:
What a fibber the Doctor is!

“An important thing. In fact, Thing One. We are observers only. That’s the one rule I’ve always stuck to in all my travels. I never get involved in the affairs of other peoples or planets.”

How he said that with a straight face, I have no idea.

TANSY:
I love that they set up through the narrative both that he is lying but also perhaps that he genuinely is fooling himself? The Doctor needs a certain degree of pomposity and it’s good that Amy is being shown this early on that it’s her job to question his grandiose statements about the universe.

(Thing One of course maps beautifully on to River Song’s Rule One but we’re not quite there yet)

DAVID:
One of the things we have seen over and over in Doctor Who is a very British future. While many other science fiction shows have a US slant, or even a sort of homogenised United Nations feel, we have seen lots of British influences and I for one love it!

TANSY:
I hope we run into Starship Scotland someday. But I agree, the gratuitous BRITISHNESS of the future is almost parodic here but it also is a lovely nod towards the history of Doctor Who and the various futures we have been shown since 1963.

Starship UK

TEHANI:
The parallels between the Star Whale and the Doctor are made overt in this – I suppose if we consider Eleven as a jumping on point for people, reiterating some of the things long-time watchers know (last of his race, alone, kind) are important. I remember them being so for me. And isn’t it interesting to see the differences in reactions between Nine, Ten and Eleven when asked about the Time Lords?

TANSY:
It’s less raw for him now, perhaps? And of course, this time around he’s had a chance to see what would happen if they came back…

DAVID:
It’s a good point that you make about the Doctor’s differing reactions when asked about the Time Lords, Tehani. I wouldn’t say he is at peace, but there is an air of quiet resignation, almost acceptance, when he talks about them that is in stark contrast to Nine especially. We’ve been on a journey with the Doctor, and there is no doubt that he is in a different place than we started.

There is also a nice little tease here when Amy asks him if he is a parent. Tansy is probably better placed to comment on this, but we’ve never really clarified all that much about the Doctor’s family, though there has been all sorts of conjecture. But, if Susan is his granddaughter (and that is a big if), then it stands to reason that the Doctor is also a father. Interesting.

StarWhale

TANSY:
As was pointed out to me recently on the Verity podcast, of course back in the 60’s no one would have questioned this at all – why would the Doctor NOT be Susan’s grandfather if he said he was? I think it was only later fandom in 80s, so secure in the Doctor’s identity as someone who was in no way sexual, who decided otherwise.

New Who, along with making the Doctor more aware of human notions of sexuality, has also already identified him as a dad back in “Fear Her” – though like being a grandfather, that could be an honorary title.

TEHANI:
Has the Doctor always been so angry at humanity for the terrible things they do? Amy cops the brunt of his anger, even though Liz 10 is really a more appropriate target! Listening to Splendid Chaps the other day and they mention it in relation to the Seventh Doctor, which is interesting to me (I’ve seen so little Classic Who I remember, and almost none outside of the Tom Baker era). Nine and Ten both showed this at various times – how far back does it go?

TANSY:
He’s quite mean to Amy in this one, which is an element I really don’t like – very harsh on her in a way reminiscent of Eccleston with Mickey or Adam. The Doctor is hot and cold about humans, honestly. Sometimes he’s supremely scathing and other times he loves them to bits. It’s an unhealthy relationship really! Hartnell despised most people but not humanity specifically – Pertwee had some definite anti-human moments, notably when the Brigadier was blowing things up as with the Silurians. Tom Baker praised humans for being ‘indomitable’ in one story and yet sneered at them in others. Like the Doctor being ‘non-violent’ there’s so many exceptions that it’s practically a rule.

DAVID:
It’s interesting that the thing that he gets angriest about (other than the imprisonment of the Star Whale, of course) is something he does to his companions, and those around him, all the time! There have been plenty of times that the Doctor has decided what others need to know, with varying results. Ace in “The Curse of Fenric” is an extreme example, but there are plenty of others.

I do think he was overly harsh, but he did have a point. For all Amy knew, the Star Whale might have simply shrugged off the whole city before even realising it!

TANSY:
Ha yes, she gets away with her random behaviour purely because she is lucky. But then the Doctor does that all the time – gets (mostly) good results from random life choices.

The City

TEHANI:
This episode is as much about establishing Amy’s character (impulsive, observant, curious, caring) as it is about new viewers learning about the Doctor. She seems to have an almost instinctive understanding of how the Doctor works – she’s been travelling with him approximately five minutes, but she already knows him well enough to know that he will not be happy about the Star Whale situation…

TANSY:
I love that she solves it by seeing an option that he doesn’t – and saves him from doing something terrible. And the scene of them being swallowed by the whale is quite funny and entertaining – possibly one of the grossest Doctor-companion bonding moments of all time.

DAVID:
That’s spot on, Tehani. Straight away we discover the sort of companion Amy is going to be, that she is filled with a sense of wonder, but refuses to be overawed by anything, including the Doctor. I don’t think the multiple mentions of her Scottish heritage are coincidental, she is being deliberately painted as independent minded, and unwilling simply to take answers at face value.

TANSY:
It’s interesting that we are now seeing a tradition where companions are pretty much auditioned for the role over their first few stories, as if there’s some kind of probationary period – or an exam they might (like Adam) fail terribly. There’s always the possibility that the Doctor might fail them and dump them home at any minute – and while it is more realistic to show the companion developing the skills needed to travel with the Doctor over a number of stories, there is a power dynamic to it that is a bit uncomfortable. More so here than in “The End of the World”, say, or “Gridlock”, but I do think it’s an element they could back away from.

I especially don’t like the Doctor’s quickness to condemn Amy in this story because frankly, after the events of “The Eleventh Hour”, why can’t we see him failing to live up to HER expectations which must be massively over-inflated after all these years?

TEHANI:
Yes, considering how much he has to live up to in Amy’s eyes, and how much she’s already been let down by him, it’s a bit rich!

TANSY:
Something I found fascinating about this season (because of course having kids who love the merch) is that the toy manufacturers picked out elements that they thought would be important and iconic ahead of time, and made the toys accordingly with some very mixed results. The Smilers in this one were evidently supposed to catch on, because they turned up in the Character Options not-Lego and I think got an action figure too. The priesty bloke in this also turned up on some of the merchandise – and yet the toy people didn’t realise that Liz10 was the OBVIOUSLY most visually interesting character in the episode?

Liz10

TEHANI:
Oh, I didn’t know that! I’m not much into the merch (the bits I have so far are TOTALLY PRACTICAL!) so it’s not something I’d notice. But that’s what happens when they don’t let people like us make such decision. :-)

TANSY:
Liz10 springs off the page, a fascinating character, so complex and flawed with a hell of a backstory. I love how she starts out like a Cockney space mercenary like Han Solo, and yet reverts to her more refined Queen persona – and that she has been working out the mystery all along, just as the Doctor does, only she’s done it dozens of times over.

Fun fact, Sophie Okonedo (Liz10) was the companion in “The Scream of the Shalka”, a webcast audio/animation written by Paul Cornell which was intended to relaunch Doctor Who in 2003 before the actual show was recommissioned and buried the project. Richard E Grant played the Ninth Doctor in it, and Derek Jacobi was the Master. It’s coming out on DVD imminently!

TEHANI:
That IS a fun fact! And I think that might have just come out – sounds cool!

DAVID:
Liz10 is the standout character in this for me. You may not agree with her moral choices, but there is something tragically regal about the way she has taken on the burden of responsibility for her subjects, in a way parallelling how the Star Whale carries the city.

While I absolutely loathe the Elizabeth I running gag, I do like the way that the Doctor and the Royal Family have a history, and the the idea that they are very aware of who he is and what he does.

Liz10

TEHANI:
The one liners zing in this episode! Some of my favourites:

“Help us, Doctor, you’re our only hope.”
–Liz 10.
How very Star Wars!

“It’s always a big day tomorrow. We’ve got a time machine. I skip the little ones.”
–The Doctor

TANSY:
I can’t go past “I’m the bloody queen.”

Oh and if like David and Tehani you didn’t watch these episodes via DVD, do go hunting for the extra scenes from this season–- one of them is a prelude to Amy floating in space and it’s wonderful, adding more warmth to the Eleven-Amy friendship. The other comes immediately after “Flesh and Stone” so don’t watch it quite yet…

“Victory of the Daleks”
Season five, episode three
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan

Victory of the DaleksTEHANI:
The Nazi = Dalek parallel is once again at the forefront of this episode. And oh look! Yet more Daleks (they’re never really gone…). It’s a Gatiss-penned episode, and I am starting to think that he is big on spectacle, but not so much on the plot/making of sense thing – just me?

TANSY:
This is one that desperately needed another 5-10 minutes, I think, there are so many good scenes in it, but it doesn’t quite hang together. New Who is *so* fast-paced these days, and Moffat Who seems to be even faster and snappier and more packed with words than RTD Who – there are times when it just tries to push too much in.

Having said that there is a lot to like about this episode that I think often gets forgotten in a sea of fannish loathing. I like all the Churchill-in-the-bunker stuff, especially the odd friendship between Churchill and the Doctor which has obviously been going on for some time (he calls him dear!), and I will forgive a lot for that jammy dodger scene.

DAVID:
I am starting to think that I am too easily pleased! I rather liked this episode, I thought it provided a nice little twist on the whole Nazi/Dalek comparisons, and oh boy did it have a nice bit of spectacle! It doesn’t get much more exciting that Spitfires in space attacking a Dalek spaceship. If this had been a movie that alone would have been worth the price of admission.

Never have so many...

TEHANI:
Is this the first time we see Moffat use the Doctor (and Amy) to defeat evil with the power of love?

TANSY:
Yes, yes it is. If you don’t count “The Beast Below” which is more the ability to defeat evil with the power of spotting that a monster is capable of love and kindness…

DAVID:
While it was a bit of stretch to have the bomb disarmed by Bracewell’s belief in his humanity, I found that sequence quite moving and a perfect contrast to the inhumanity of the Daleks.

TANSY:
I really like Bracewell, and how much humanity is packed into his few scenes. We haven’t had enough of the Doctor playing with mad scientists in recent years and I love the way that Bracewell is so very certain that he created the “Ironsides.”

Dalek BlueprintTEHANI:
I’m not sure what “conventional fan wisdom” says, but I’m not a fan of the new Dalek design – they just don’t seem scary in those bright colours!

TANSY:
Ohhh sweetie, fandom hated those Daleks with a fiery vengeance. I didn’t mind the colours myself, but detested the new shape. Even the OPERATORS hated them – you’d think that they would give them more room, but instead they just provided more bulk to move around, so they were less useful.

Moffat said afterwards that the whole ‘new paradigm’ was the pitch he used to get the BBC to let them build more Dalek models, because they had hardly any left by the time he took over. A reboot meant lots of publicity, lots of merchandise (see how often the new Daleks are placed so you can’t see the fact that they have the wrong silhouette from side on) and the kids mostly liked them.

However, and I am TOTALLY going to spoil David here, because I don’t want him to suffer as we did, the new Daleks never looked as bad again as they did in this one. And the old Daleks never went away – from now on we’ll always get a fun cocktail of both.

DAVID:
They were a bit garish! I can’t say I was a big fan of them, either.

Game piece

TANSY:
I do, however, like the whole concept of the Ironside Daleks, and of Churchill inadvertently signing up the Daleks to help him fight Nazis. The plot is actually really clever, and leads to the brilliant scene of Matt Smith’s Doctor trying to get the humble tea-serving Ironside to admit it’s an evil war machine. Unfortunately, and this is where the story lets it down, he succeeds. A longer and more involved plot would have allowed this tension to be drawn out a bit, especially with the benefit of a companion who can’t corroborate the Doctor’s insistence that the Daleks are not to be trusted.

However, having said that, I just described the plot of “The Power of the Daleks”, the very first Patrick Troughton story. And, well, “Dalek” a bit, too.

You have to admit, though, there is not much in the world that is more awesome than a Dalek carrying a teatray.

Victory of the Daleks

DAVID
I liked how they weaved in some real quotes from Churchill to give some credence to the idea that he would have seized upon any weapon to defeat the Nazis. It is easy to forget how desperate Britain’s position was at that point in the war, and there is no doubt Churchill would have felt an incredible temptation to use the Dalek technology, and it makes the Doctor’s decision to destroy it all completely justified.

This is where the whole Dalek/Nazi thing can get a little dicey though. The writers need to communicate that in the Doctor Who universe the Daleks are in fact worse than the Nazis, as hard as that is to get the mind around. But, how do you do that without minimising an unspeakably terrible part of our real history and using that suffering as a plot device? I can definitely understand why some people are quite uncomfortable with the Nazi/Dalek parallels.

TANSY:
That’s a really good point, and I think it’s too complex an idea to deal with sensitively in this story – we don’t actually see Daleks do much that’s bad, so it’s all Doctorly rhetoric as far as Amy and the other humans are concerned, and very easy to come off as trite. I suspect Daleks are best kept away from humanity for a while and given the huge drawcard of them as characters it would be nice to see them saved for some massive futuristic space battles instead of serving to remind us yet again of what used to be a subtle and discreet metaphor for the ultimate evil.

Having said that, an important detail we could easily miss: Amy does not know what a Dalek is. Despite the fact that humans from her era would have seen them semi-regularly on the evening news (and indeed Blue Peter). What could this mean?

DAVID:
I can already see them building towards a season finale, throwing around clues like we saw with all the Bad Wolf foreshadowing. This is going to be fun!

Crack of Doom?Previous Episodes

“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time
The Eleventh Hour. S0501

My writing space

Over at her blog, the indefatigable Zena Shapter has been running a fun series of posts called #WhereWritersWrite. As the name would suggest, she is posting a series of pictures of the writing spaces of a number of authors. As a writer, I find it fascinating to get a peek at how other authors work so I’ve been following it with interest, and you should go check it out.

Zena has also opened up her Facebook page for anyone to post pictures of their writing space, so I took advantage of that and posted a pic of mine. After a few questions I added an annotated version. I have to say, I am usually a bit neater than this. Enjoy!

My writing spaceAnd in its annotated glory!

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Great Southern Land available for preorder

I am still readjusting to mundane life after an amazing trip to Texas for LoneStarCon (details to follow!), and it has been a struggle. It’s hard coming back to the day job!

But, some news today that put a smile on my face..

GSL6-2EBFrom the website:

Journey into visions of the Great Southern Land by eight Australian authors.
The novelettes of this series will take you along arcane paths into fantastic Australias of the imagination.

Disciple of the Torrent by Lee Battersby
This Corner of the Earth by Dean Mayes
Acts of Chivalry by Sean McMullen
Bobby, Be Good  by H.M.C

Dreams Didgeridoo by Salwa Samra
After the Red Dust by Charmaine Clancy
Jaylin by A. Finlay
Set Your Face Toward the Darkness by David McDonald

 * Featuring Aurealis and Ditmar Award winning authors, along with some surprisingly fresh new writing.

Foreward by author of Savage Tides and Rotten Gods, Greg Barron.
“…These stories are compulsively readable…”

I am really excited to be working with the names on that list, and to be involved with Satalyte Publishing. They are a new press with an exciting vision, and Stephen has been a pleasure to work with.

Coming in at just under 12,000 words, Set Your Face Toward the Darkness is my longest piece yet, and a bit of a stylistic experiment for me. Hopefully, it has worked and you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Great Southern Land is now available for pre order here

A Conversational Journey through New Who – The Eleventh Hour S05E01

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 6 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun!

“The Eleventh Hour” – S5E01
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy Pond – Karen Gillan
Amelia Pond – Caitlin Blackwood
Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill

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DAVID:
After four seasons of reviews, I finally got to encounter Eleven!  I’ve tried to stay clear of spoilers, but people really have talked up Matt Smith and to be honest I expected to be a bit disappointed after having my expectations set so high. Plus, I loved David Tennant, so it was always going to be tough for a new Doctor to measure up. And, this is really petty and irrational, but there is part of me that struggles with the idea of an actor who is younger than me playing the Doctor – it just doesn’t seem right!  So, sitting down to watch this I didn’t have high hopes.

But, I am happy to have been comprehensively proved wrong. Not only is this a very strong episode in its own right (Which I am sure will discuss later in the review), it also serves as a wonderful introduction to a new Doctor and a new Companion. I was a bit dubious when I saw the new title sequence, but fortunately it was all uphill from there!

TANSY:
You’re not alone, David! I remember well the waves of fannish skepticism around Matt Smith’s casting, not least because of his age. They lasted until about ten seconds into “The Eleventh Hour,” I believe.

*

TEHANI:
And here I am, back at what was, for me, the beginning. “The Eleventh Hour” was where I started – I wanted to watch the Neil Gaiman episode (season six) but thought it would be a bit silly trying to jump on there. So I decided to start with the beginning of Matt Smith’s era, and this episode. It sure worked its magic on me, because as you know, I’m now a massive fangirl! I’ve seen this ep a bunch of times now, and it’s still shiny and lovely – adore Matt Smith, adore Amelia, and Amy and Rory aren’t bad either!

TANSY:
Oh I didn’t know that, I thought you watched the Neil Gaiman episode first! I think this is one of the best jumping on points of the show, up there with “Spearhead From Space” and “Rose”.

TEHANI:
I can delay gratification, see! :) I agree, I think it’s a great starting point for people wanting to test the waters (very hookable indeed – I’m living proof!).

DAVID:
In the past, I’ve found that a lot of the attempts at humour have seem a bit forced, or gone too far towards slapstick and fat jokes, but there are some genuine laugh out loud moments in this episode. In fact, the whole thing is sparkling, lots of great dialogue and action. I missed the writer’s name at the start but I wasn’t surprised to discover it was Moffatt, it had him all over it.

I particularly enjoyed the sequence at the start. Caitlin Blackwood is the perfect foil for the madness of Matt Smith, and the way she doesn’t even blink an eye at his outrageous behaviour is a delight. The food scene is hilarious (though him not liking bacon nearly pushed the suspension of disbelief too hard!), but there is just the right mix of seriousness. His quote about how her being scared of the crack in the wall must mean it was something *really* scary was a perfect illustration of the perceptive mind beneath the clown and said volumes about both his character, and hers. Great writing.

TANSY:
“The Eleventh Hour” is one of my favourite stories of all time – I think one of the best opening stories for a Doctor and a companion ever. And after having to nudge and coax my kids for some of the later Tennant seasons, I didn’t have to nag them at all to put on this DVD. Little Jemima thinks the earth orbits around Amy Pond, and while Raeli is more of a Ten/Rose girl, she has a soft spot for any story with Young Amelia.

I agree with you David that the opening scene with Caitlin Blackwood (who by the way is the cousin of Karen Gillan, her older counterpart) is brilliant, setting up the Doctor as funny and serious and odd and all the good Doctor things. I adored Tennant before he got the part and so was easily won by him, and Christopher Eccleston had me at “Run,” but I love how much of this story and the first ten minutes in particular is about the Doctor as a person, how alien and how human he is.

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TEHANI:
Had no idea she’s Karen’s cousin! That’s cool :)

TANSY:
My heart breaks for Amelia, every single time she sits on that suitcase.

TEHANI:
Every single time. Right there with ya.

It’s hard to judge how much of what makes this story work so well is Moffatt’s writing and how much is Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor. He inhabits the role so instantly, it’s impossible not to immediately go along for the ride. Watching it this time, I was interested to see how many Tennant-esque tics he uses – of course, as far as I was concerned when I FIRST watched it, that was just Matt Smith’s Doctor, but now I can see how much he riffed off Tennant. But I think it’s a clever use of the style, just enough to remind long time viewers that yes, he IS the same character, and yes we WILL learn to adore him too!

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TANSY:
I also feel like the look of the show has leaped ahead somehow – there is some gorgeous, arty direction in this story, particularly the use of reds and TARDIS-blue in the first few scenes, but somehow everything just looks shinier. It’s impressive that Murray Gold, now pretty much the only ‘name’ member of the production crew who has been there since “Rose” in 2005, manages to make the music sound completely different to anything we’ve had in the show so far. A whole new palette for a whole new Doctor…

DAVID:
The special effects are excellent throughout this episode, especially the sequence at the start with the TARDIS flying over the city and the Doctor hanging on for dear life. While the SFX at the start of the new run were a radical change from the Classic series, this is another leap again and just shows how times have changed and how accessible good effects now are.

TEHANI:
I loved the music in this episode! There have been episodes where the score jars or even overwhelms the story, but it’s perfect in this.

I’m pretty fond of the steampunkish aesthetic of the newly regenerated TARDIS – heavens, I’m turning into one of those fans who has OPINIONS on the TARDIS console!

TANSY:
This one is my favourite of the New Who TARDIS console rooms. I like the tactile nature of it, and the way Smith interacts with the bits. There’s a coziness to this one that I feel is more ‘classic’ than the more grand, austere 9-10 console. Also the orange just makes me think about Axons.

It looks pretty slick on the outside now too! The old girl has had a revamp inside and out.

DAVID:
While I quite like the look of the TARDIS in this episode, I have to admit that I still feel the occasional yearning for the classic white design!

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TANSY:
We also get some interesting additions to TARDIS canon in this one – it’s the first time we ‘see’ and hear about the details of the internal decor being rearranged, and it’s fascinating the way that this is tied into the Doctor’s trauma and his regeneration. In the past, changes were mostly not mentioned at all, or in the case of say The Five Doctors, discreetly referred to after the fact.

The idea that the TARDIS can actually grow/make a sonic screwdriver is pretty fascinating, and gives a whole new perspective to that time the Doctor gave K9 away to Leela and then found himself a new ready made duplicate in the cupboard!

So, grown up Amy. What do you think of her in her first outing?

TEHANI:
I had no idea how to take Amy when I first watched this and it took me a while to warm up to her. This time around, I really really liked her from the word go. And interestingly, it’s not just because I now have a history with her. This time, I really noticed how hurt she had been by the Doctor’s absence, and how much that had affected her entire life. And even though she still jumped at each opportunity to go travelling with him, I think this time I saw her really thinking about what she was leaving behind when she eventually left. Although I think she was a bit blase about his assurances of being back by the next day – given his track record, it seemed fairly naive!

DAVID:
I liked her from the moment she hit him with the cricket bat! My first impressions are really positive, and I am looking forward to seeing exactly what sort of companion she becomes. I always find it interesting when the show explores the ramifications of the Doctor’s actions beyond the end of an episode, as in the “Face of Evil”. One of the strengths of New Who has been examining the impact an encounter with the Doctor has one people, and how ex Companions often struggle to go on with their life. We get the Reader’s Digest version here, in the space of fifteen minutes (or less!) it becomes pretty obvious how much that brief encounter with the Doctor has shaped Amelia’s whole life. Not just in the drawings, but in the way she seems unsettled and distrustful. The Doctor can be pretty cavalier about these things, but to his credit he seems to realise exactly how much he has hurt her.

The revelation that she is not a real police officer was played pretty well, I thought, and added an interesting layer to her character, without being too creepy. As we discover her job, it only adds to the sense of someone who is dissatisfied with her life and doesn’t quite know what she is meant to be. I say that not because of the nature of her job, but her obvious embarrassment about it.

Happily, she seems like she is going to be much more than a damsel in distress, and certainly holds her own in the witty banter stakes. It will be interesting to see what the dynamic is going to be like over the course of the season. I have to admit to being a little concerned about what is going to happen with her wedding, and poor Rory!

TEHANI:
Oh, you’re in for SUCH a ride…!

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DAVID:
So, on to the rest of the episode! Another example of Moffat’s unerring ability to build tension, subtly and effortlessly. From the crack in the wall to the revelation of the prison, there is a sense of something not right about the house. Each oddity, like the unnoticeable door (“dim”, as Stephen King would put it) builds the unease. And, Moffat certainly has a knack for creating creepy monsters! It wasn’t so much the real form of Prisoner Zero that got to me, it was serviceable but not exceptional. It was the “human” form, or its disguise, that really disturbed me. The way the talking was out of sync with the mouths, and the juxtaposition of human features with alien was something that stayed with me long after the episode.

TEHANI:
Moffat’s got the whole “take something ordinary and make it super scary” thing down…

TANSY:
I like the way that the Prisoner Zero snake thing and the whole stressful countdown is used every step of the way to show us what kind of people Amy and the Doctor are, building their characters. We learn that Amy is bold and reckless and untrusting – and also that she stands up for herself. I adore the bit where she shuts his tie in the car door, and the poor old gentleman asks her so politely for his car back. You get the impression she has been terrorising this village since she was eight.

TEHANI:
I love love LOVED the Mrs Angelo and Jeff byplay – the way the Doctor just bursts into the house and expects them to believe everything he says, and do the impossible. And it’s gorgeous that they all recognise him as Amy’s “raggedy man” – he really did leave a mark on her!

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TANSY:
I also like the fact that everyone around Amy has heard of the Doctor because she’s been banging on about him since she was a child – they’ve all seen the artwork and heard the stories. One of my favourite Rory lines of all time is when he says ‘you made me dress up as him!’ It does suggest that while Amy has this massive loss in her life – the empty hole left by her absent parents and so on – she has had a village community around her who cares and pays attention. It’s a nice balance against the idea that she spent her whole childhood biting psychiatrists and suffering her aunt.

DAVID:
Yes, I loved the real sense of exasperated affection that the village had for Amy. You could tell that they had adopted her as their own daughter, albeit a rather wayward one. And the way that they recognised the Doctor and didn’t even bat an eyelid, but just treated it as somehting that had only been a matter of time and was straightway filed under Amy shenanigans – brilliant!

TEHANI:
On this rewatch, Rory was just brilliant from the first. On my original viewing, I didn’t realise he would be important – with the backward looking perspective, I love how much of his character is revealed in this episode. He’s introverted and shy, but clearly devoted to Amy, actually rather good at his job, and funny as all get out.

TANSY:
All true but at the same time – he plays Rory so YOUNG which is lovely because it gives him lots of space to grow into.

DAVID:
I can already see that Rory is going to be one of the characters you root for and hope has a happy ending. He seemed so devoted to Amy and willing to put up with anything to be close to her, even if it means playing second fiddle to what he must have deep down thought was an imaginary friend. I do worry though that it won’t be an easy road for him; it’s a bit of trope, the steady dependable guy who is around all the time competing with the flashy, worldly guy who ducks in and out of someone’s life and you can see that someone can easily get hurt here.

While that is a little Bridget Jones’ Diary, Rory reminded me more than anything of Tim in the British version of the Office (more so than Jim in the US version), with the whole hangdog resignation about him.

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TEHANI:
The shooing off the aliens scene is awesome. For me, coming new to the series with this episode, I reckon this is what really hooked me. I had no idea what had gone before, in either Classic or New Who, but that speech by Eleven, couple with the lovely flash through of all the Doctors, well, I was in.

TANSY:
Well I have all that baggage going for me! But it’s SUCH a powerful scene, with the music and the images, and him choosing his costume all at once. Matt Smith is going to (spoilers, sorry David) give a LOT of great speeches during his tenure, with appropriate pomp and ceremony, but it’s hard to go past the significance of this one.

DAVID:
The rooftop scene is amazing, and was the perfect contrast to the hyperactive, funny Doctor of earlier in the episode. It is vitally important that we get to see both sides of his character, and he reminds me of Seven in particular in the way he can be an amicable clown, but can turn on the big bad Doctor who the monsters are afraid of when the situation calls for it. Quite often throughout the show we see the Doctor through the viewpoint of humans, and he is taken just a very clever, but otherwise human, character. I do enjoy the moments we see that he is, in fact, a player on a cosmic scale and that the Earth is very lucky indeed that he has a peculiar fondness for it.

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TANSY:
Comparing him to previous Doctors – Christopher Eccleston quite literally hit the ground running, while David Tennant spent half his first episode asleep, building up to a reveal of what kind of Doctor he would be in the last moments of The Christmas Invasion (and, it could be argued, that reveal wasn’t entirely accurate). I think Matt Smith splits the difference here, giving us a Doctor who is very active even before he properly finds his feet.

I can’t criticise this story. It’s honestly one of my most beloved pieces of Doctor Who of all time. And oh, if you spend any amount of time around kid Doctor Who fans, the whole fish fingers and custard thing has become so RIDICULOUSLY iconic that it’s giving Tom Baker’s scarf and jelly babies a run for their money.

TEHANI:
There’s ain’t nothing to criticise. It was my gateway drug and I’m still hooked!

DAVID:
Like some of Moffat’s other work, this would be the perfect episode to show someone with no familiarity with Doctor Who whatsoever. It’s clever, it’s funny, it’s creepy – and had some beautiful emotional moments. It’s hard to believe that the season can get any better, but if it maintains this level of quality then I can’t wait!

TANSY:
For me, this season isn’t just about the new shiny direction that the show had taken (in all senses of the word) but also it marks the time that I started becoming aware of trock (Time Lord Rock!) and the Ood Cast, a brilliant podcast (that started their proper song and dance, comedy skits version of themselves with this season) which means that nearly every episode from now on has multiple musical accompaniments in my head.

So here’s a musical number for The Eleventh Hour: Chameleon Circuit’s Still Not Ginger

Previous Episodes

“Rose”, S01E01
“Dalek”, S01E06
“Father’s Day”, S01E08
“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10
“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13
Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani
“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special
“New Earth”, S02E01
“School Reunion”, S02E03
“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04
“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06
“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13
Season Two Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
“Smith and Jones”, S03E01
“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/03″
“Human Nature/Family of Blood”. S03E08/09″
“Blink”. S03E10″
“Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords”, S03E12/13/14
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)
Season Three Report CardDavid, Tansy, Tehani
Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
“Partners in Crime”, S04E01
The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, S04E0708
“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead, S04E0910
Turn Left, S0411
The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End,S04E1213
Season Four Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani
The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars
End of Time

Native Lands….lands at Shore Leave!

It’s been very quiet on the blogging front of late. Part of of it is that I am slack, but there is also the fact that we are going through a restructure at work, it’s finals time for winter cricket and I am secretary of the association, and I am under the pump with some deadlines. But, just so you know I am alive and working hard, some exciting news..

From the Crazy8 Press website:

One nation under God…no more!

With the return of the old gods, the modern world came to a virtual standstill.

Around the planet, deities whose names had no more meaning than as characters out of myth and history were suddenly revealed to be real…and once again demanded to be worshipped by the people of Earth. And, in an instant, the borders set by man were erased and the world reshaped to conform to their divine plans.

But what of North America? When last its native gods walked the world, their people occupied the lands from the Alaskan coast through the Gulf of Mexico. But war, disease, and colonization severely reduced the tribes’ numbers, and their presence. Now, with the number of Native American worshippers significantly diminished—and drastically outnumbered—the Spirit Chief, Coyote, Raven, and the rest of that proud pantheon are desperate to regain and then maintain their hold over so vast a territory.

This third volume of the critically acclaimed ReDeus series features fifteen brand-new tales of a distinctly American nature by Lorraine Anderson, Kevin Dilmore, David Galanter, David R. George III, Robert Greenberger, Robert T. Jeschonek, Paul Kupperberg, William Leisner, Steven Lyons, David McDonald, Scott Pearson, Aaron Rosenberg, Lawrence M. Schoen, Lois Spangler, and Steven H. Wilson.

Native Lands was launched at Shore Leave over the weekend, and I am delighted to be a ongoing part of the series – to be working with writers and editors of the calibre involved is a wonderful opportunity..

My story, Homecoming, involved a fair bit of research into Native American cultures, and I was amazed by what I learnt, even though I am sure I barely scratched the surface. I hope that my story reflects the respect I feel for the cultures I have written about, and encourages you to learn more about them. And, of course, that you enjoy the read!

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Wednesday Writers…is not here

Because I am currently working in Tasmania, and having such a great time I forgot to organise anything! To keep you going, here is my view from work:

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Unfortunately, the iphone camera doesn’t do it real justice, but hopefully it shows why I think Tasmania is the most beautiful place in Australia (and that’s saying something!).

See you next week! :-)

Galactic Chat – Kirstyn McDermott

In the latest interview from Galactic Chat, I have the pleasure of interviewing one of Australia’s most talented spec fic authors – Kirstyn McDermott. From the show notes:

David McDonald returns this week with another interview from Continuum 9.  In this episode he talks to Kirstyn McDermott, award winning author of Perfections and the recently released  Caution: Contains Small Parts, and co-host of the Writer and the Critic Podcast (fear not, this is a Mondy free zone).

In this episode they discuss the challenges of transitioning between short and long fiction, and the comeback of the novella. Kirstyn shares her thoughts on the changing face of the publishing industry and discusses her experiences with the ebook only release of Perfections. And, we hear Kirstyn’s tips on how you go about reviewing the work of people you know.

You can purchase Perfections from XoumAmazon or Kobo
 Caution: Contains Small Parts will be available from Twelfth Planet Press

Author Website: http://kirstynmcdermott.com/

Author Twitter: @fearofemeralds

You can follow this link to listen!