Jun. 4th, 2011

x_losfic: (Best Enemies)
I don't even care what RTC quite rightly says re: how it's all over the place and nonsensical and characterization-dropping, I enjoy quite a lot of Edge of Destruction. I wouldn't if I were watching it as part of a series, in real time. Real Time makes me invested in characters/the season as an arc, more analytical, and less able to casually shrug off a dropped ball. I'm insistent on quality and don't yet have the distance necessary to enjoy occasional loveable badness, as I do with classic!Who. Which is maybe as it should be--it's right to demand the show be consistently good and not lose what's best about it, and right to get over failures eventually, so long as there's no irreparable damage. Maybe in time I'll look at S6 of New Who with the casual 'meh' detachment, amusement, and appreciation-on-good-points I reserve for serials like Remembrance of the Daleks and Ghostlight. My only fear would be that S6's problems are carry-overs of Seven era's problems re: fetishizing power, not dealing well with questions of agency, not properly thinking through the way watchers interacted with it as a text, and prestiging gods over characters, and that as such I can't say the Cartmell Master Plan can be laughed off now as a folly of the past that did no lasting damage--maybe it /did/, maybe the problems with S6 are the result.

But with Edge I laugh off the legitimate issues regarding everyone seeming to come in with wildly different acting styles that preoccupy the RTC writers, either as a point of mockery or something almost to be celebrated for its gusto. I like the episode's dramatic visuals, which paired with truly odd line deliveries in spooky voices give the serial genuine creepiness. I like this completely random dark, paranoid, murderous Susan and her enthusiastic spacebed stabbing. I love a good psychological bottle episode, and while this isn't quite one, it's the forerunner to Ten's Midnight in many ways, preparing the ground for that episode's 'something wrong with the ship' claustrophobic distrust and gnawing antipathy between its characters. The very IDEA of the TARDIS being itself the enemy in a way, and of the ship becoming unheimlich, is truly threatening.

This being the first glimpse of the TARDIS's sentience is intriguing. One's reaction sort of implies that the Time Lord line on TARDIS sentience is, at the moment, a relatively restrained one, which doesn't surprise me as an intellectual position the Time Lords we see in early Who would take up. It does, however, serve to enrich my knowledge of their culture/relationship to the TARDISs: one of deliberate stodgy demystification that resists romanticization, and prides itself on its intellectual rigor for doing so. Time Lords are unwilling to ascribe sentient personalities to technology, even these crafts, with constitutionally have a significant psychic component. The Doctor's sometimes-noted preference for organic over mechanical life could be rooted in a larger TL worldview (which he'd hate to acknowledge, being pretty iconoclastic). 

I really like One's apologizing to Barbara at the end and giving her a little talk, and his dizzy monologue on the birth of stars. These are some of the best facets of One: his total absorption in the wonder of the universe and his occasional doddery but compassionate and intelligent empathy, grandfatherly in the best way. RTC notes that Barbara's puzzle-solving doesn't quite work, but it seems to read more as a literary analysis to me. Maybe Babs double-majored. And Barbara's yelling at the Doctor is of course as excellent as everyone says it is, though not, I think, a major turning point in One's character arc, which is a slow project of learning to trust (again), and of taking his enormous capacity for, again, wonder and passionate investment in the universe and directing it (either for the first time or once again) towards individuals and their situations. If we're going with a narrative of Barbara winning One back to values and convictions he once had but has since become bitter and jaded about, Aztecs might be really revealing, because it could hint at a Doctor who's *tried* to alter fixed events, as Barbara wishes to, and has come up against a bitter realization that there are terrible things it's impossible or inadvisable to change, and that his well-meant interference has only made the people he's tried to help worse off. He warns her with a kind of sympathetic voice of experience. 

I'd really love some good One bildungsroman. I've said it before, but the more I watch, the more I think it. 


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January 2013

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