Category Archives: Interstellar Gas

“Half-human on My Mother’s Side”

River, The Doctor, Rockin' Rory, & the Girl Who Waits
River, The Doctor, Rockin’ Rory, & the Girl Who Waits

The Doctor lies, so the title of this post is not the big secret at the end of “The Wedding of River Song.”

In any case, we got to the end of the season where the Doctor Dies! Dun-dun-dun… And, he–of course–did not die. I predicted this, so I’m feelin’ pretty gooood about things. I also predicted that the answer to how was right there, right in front of me. I’m in danger here of overselling, so let me admit that, had I said, “the answer is staring me right in the eye,” which–really–I might have, but didn’t, I would have a shaky leg to stand on that I had actually predicted the end of the season.

Of course, I didn’t. To be honest, I’m still not 100% on exactly how it all worked out, but that doesn’t really matter. What I am actually modestly hopeful about is the button at the end of the episode… wellll, the next to last button. The one where The Doctor indicates that he’s going underground, or back into the shadows, or something like that. In a previous post, I hoped that there would be less universe shattering shatterings going on, and more with companions like Donna and Rory. You know, the kind of companions who don’t fall in love with The Doctor and whose falling in love-nesss drive the plot while a season-long universe shattering shatteringness hangs in the background of every episode like Chekhov’s Ragnarök.

Anyone who didn’t know what the question as old at time is before the Big Blue Marble articulated it either hadn’t been watching the show long enough, or had been watching so long they forgot it, or weren’t paying enough attention to what the writers always do when The Doctor picks up a new companion and don’t want to make them notice or care that it’s bigger on the inside. Or they just didn’t want to try to tease that out of the plot.

And now I’m looking forward to seeing “The Doctor, the Widow, & the Wardrobe.” And the next season… when does that roll around?

Wrap-up: Babylon 5

It took a bit more than two years, but Geek Night in our house has moved on from Babylon 5. We watched the final two episodes a couple of weeks ago.

“Objects at Rest” finally payed off the prediction by (what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call) Mr. Morden’s ghost from “Day of the Dead.” In that episode, Morden hung out with Lennier and gave him some bad news about betraying the Anla-shok.
“Sleeping in Light” was, this time around, a less moving ending than I recall it being on previous viewings. This is possibly in part due to the somewhat erratic viewing schedule we used this time around. Another factor is that we decided, at essentially the last minute, to watch it so we would–finally–be done with the series. It’s not that it’s been a slog, but with this group of viewers, this time around, season 5 really did get treated as a tacked-on set of stories. 
imagesWe’re going to take up Stargate SG-1, and–I think–continue with classic Twilight Zone. We watched the original Stargate theatrical release (except for the final 10 minutes when the VHS went, strangely, to video snow and no audio) last week. Next week the TV pilot 2-parter, then… 
Since it’s a pot-luck, we try to shake up the menu week-by-week by looking ahead at episode titles, and trying to theme the food accordingly, though, keeping with the Egyptian origins of Stargate’s story, we’ll spend another week more-or-less Mediterranean.

The Doctor’s Autopsy

For the benefit of the man whose heart I long to break, some thoughts on the second season of the 11th Doctor. These are provisional, based on seeing only the first 11 episodes of this season, and seasoned with the experience of seeing all of the current series and a sampling of the old serials.

Generally, I like the work I’m seeing this season. Is your heart broken yet?

I’ll list a few things that seem to define the current era, and the current season for you…

  • I’d like it if every season didn’t end with Universe-shattering shatterings which hinge on the personal story of the Doctor.
  • I’d like it if there were more Donna Nobles and Rory Williamses in the companion roster, which is to say, people who accept the Doctor for what he is, give him what-for when he needs it, but aren’t all moony-eyed about it.
  • I’d like it if the personal story of the Doctor didn’t keep hammering on the fact that he’s an ego-maniac with a God complex whose interactions with his companions often verges on the co-dependent. (There’s an irony which deserves more attention than I’m going to give it between the fact that I want other stories and the fact that, actually, the way things have been going since at least the 4th Doctor, there’s probably some good justification for the Universe-shattering shatterings hinging on the Doctor’s personal story, and the fact that, despite a human perspective to see his personality as ego-maniacal and all God-complexy, he’s probably justified in having those traits.)
  • The problem is this: we viewers keep getting the same story: The Doctor picks up a new companion, and they go on a series of adventures, as the villains get increasingly powerful, or, at least, knowledgeable about the Doctor and threaten him by threatening his companions directly or (increasingly) by causing the Doctor to face up to the effect knowing him has on those around him, especially the companions. Then, at the end of the season, there this Universe-shattering shattering thing. This season set us up with the apparent death of the Doctor when we see him get killed mid-regeneration and then burned in a boat. Difficult to see the way out of that one. I’m sure the answer is sitting right in front of me.
Complaining done. Probably. I like the program, since, even though it’s always the same story, it’s always told really well–or at least really entertainingly, which, really, is the same as telling the story well.
I like the concept of River Song, so I’m not going to quibble about things I wish were different. I like the idea that there’s someone out there who knows a lot about the Doctor, and who has built up a relationship with him asynchronously. I like seeing how that relationship writhes. Particularly since, as she’s not a Time Lord (do we still say Time Lady?), all she really has is knowledge and insight.
I find Amy Pond’s thing, Being the Girl Who Waits, interesting, and (just for a moment) I’m going to complain that this has an unfortunate side effect of making her the Girl Who Goes Missing and Has to Be Found Before She Dies. This was, however, well addressed in the episodes I’ve most recently seen, “The Girl Who Waited” and “The God Complex.” In these episodes we see Amy dealing with the fact that sometimes the Doctor doesn’t save the people–sometimes not even the companions. We viewers have seen this before, notably Donna Noble and Adric.
So. Looking forward to the end of the season. I don’t follow the trades, so I don’t know what’s on deck for the next season, or how (or indeed if) the Doctor getting shot to death and burned up on a boat gets resolved. I don’t know if the end of this season means the end of our interactions with River Song, or Amy & Rory.
What I hope for, though, for future developments is less focus on melodramatic character development (show us the Doctor’s character in action, not in stage-whispered dialog), less soap-operay plots (let there be continuity, but lets have more Donnas and Rorys in the mix), and more stories that sort of happen rather than Mean Something To The Doctor. I think six years deconstructing the Doctor is plenty for the time being. Time for some different stories.

Rockin Rory

I like the Rory of “A Good Man Goes to War” and the way he built up to that much better than the character we saw in “Night Terrors.”

I like that Rory had developed from an adjunct to/necessary alternate focus for Amy into a character who could enter a situation, act on his own, and reflect the ethos necessary to being a Companion. Especially see his actions in “Rebel Flesh” and “The Almost People.”

That is all.

(Image credit: BBC)

Whoa. That’s like 550 hours…

Over at TrekWeb, John Luck Pickard has begun watching all of Star Trek again. I’m looking forward to the blog posts as this happens.

I wound up not following this project at all closely. As of Jan. 8, 2019, the above link is still live. In the last year or two I have watched TOS, TAS, ENT, and DS9, basically in that order. Netflix and hand-washing dishes were fantastic for catching up on things. However, although I started Voyager, I just couldn’t make it through the first couple of episodes.

Moorcock is out of his mind

Caught your attention, didn’t it, those about almost none of you who know who Michael Moorcock is. I have no idea of that’s true, actually, since all I have to go on is just about almost nothing I’ve ever read by him, being about two Elric books, one other Eternal Champion title (if I even did read it, which I’m not sure about, and even if I did, I don’t remember the title, or even which embodiment it was about), and the essay about how crappy Tolkien’s books are. Or something. And all that many, many years ago, except for one book and the essay.

Anyway. I just wanted to mention that, having read Elric of Melniboné, I’m not all that impressed. But that’s possibly an unfair criticism. It’s early work, and all like that. But I’m just not all that impressed. Here are a few reasons.

  1. It doesn’t really hang together, it’s more of a series of episodes. Which is more of an aesthetic preference than a real criticism.
  2. It’s uneven. By this I mean Elric begins with morals at odds with his cultural norms, and physically weak, frail, uncertain, and then–suddenly–he’s not, and then way, way later Moorcock seems to remember that Elric’s thing at the beginning was that he is different from how he spends most of the novel (or collection), and makes a hand-wavey attempt to reconcile the difference.
  3. The narrative voice is… intermittent. Sometimes the narrator is more-or-less Elric. Sometimes it’s some third-person omniscient. This might be to do with the edition being an early edition of an early collection of early stories.
  4. And, looking at it externally, I have to say that it just doesn’t seem to do what Moorcock claims he’s up to in terms of transgressive sword and sorcery stories. Though, again, this could be due to it being decades later now than it was when they first came out. Transegressiveness has a way of shifting the boundaries. I mean seriously. Look at the picture up there. Is this really transgressive and different from sword and sorcery? Nah. By the way, the Tunnel Under the Marsh which Leads to the Pulsing Cavern is pink, and fleshly, moist and huggy like something that expands and contracts around you as you wriggle through it.

So, go ahead and read your Moorcock, it’s fun. Really, this book was fun to read. It’s just not anything more than some fun fantasy in a distinctive voice.