August 31, 2014

Being a Pompous Pinhead Throuought Time and Space

Well, the premiere of the latest season of Dr. Who was quite silly but it was great fun. This was a masterful bit of sadism in that it resulted in my eagerly looking forward to tonights episode so that the kick in the teeth was much greater.

The scale was off, the premise was dumb and The Doctor was in full pompous, provincial, aristocratic sneer mode.  
Since its 'regeneration' some years ago, Dr Who has always had a bit of a left-wing cant, but only occasionally was it an active turn off. Tonight though, I very nearly wanted to punch the screen. I should give them credit though that they were remarkably open about their bigotry, wearing it on their sleeves as a mark of status.   

The BBC fricking HAETS soldiers. 

There's a new, possibly continuing, character, a schoolteacher, who happens to be a recent veteran. The fellow walks with a limp. It's implied that he's seen some horrid  things. Clara, the doctor's companion, asks him out and then proceeds to mock his service,  jokes about him being a murderer and sneers at the notion that there is a moral component to military service.

The Doctor meanwhile, expresses nothing but contempt for the crew of a spaceship that has asked him to heal a prisoner. They are hardcore, paranoid and ready to kill to protect OPSEC. Of course they are fighting an implacable and genocidal enemy that is technologically light years in advance of them and that has the ability (demonstrated in previous episodes and explicitly mentioned by their CO) to take over people and use them as perfect 5th columnists. Thus, the paranoia and strict adherence to protocols are obviously correct. Note too that the crew of the ship did NOT kill the prisoner. In fact they were operating on the assumption that their foes were robots until they realized that what they were trying to disassemble was a cyborg. Of course, to The Doctor they're just a bunch of lugheads whose only difference from their foe is that they had a chance to not sign on the dotted line and become soldiers, a profession he holds in utter contempt. At one point a member of the crew asks to join him. He points out that she's brave, intelligent and decent...but she's also a soldier and therefore to him a leper who can never be cured of her taint.

His attitude and Clara's unthinking dismissiveness sum up perfectly the unearned sense of superiority that so many progressives I have encountered, particularly in academia, posses. They often don't know jack about the military, but are proud of this, using their lack of empathy or knowledge as a signal to others that they are for all intents and purposes, aristocrats who do not associate with "those sorts of people".

Not everyone is cut out to serve and one of the things that (at least in the Anglosphere) the military protects is the freedom to make that choice and myriad others. However, this active contempt by those who never deigned to serve towards those who did or do is a contemptible, offensive and frankly stupid dynamic. 

And yet I may watch more, because the show did not necessarily portray The Doctor'd bigotry in a good light. Rather, quite the opposite was implied.  Quite strongly in fact.

Also, we learn that brave soldiers go to heaven....but that bit was just weird. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 03:00 AM | Comments (23) | Add Comment
Post contains 576 words, total size 4 kb.

1 I must be falling behind, I didn't know the new season was out.  But I'm not sure if I want to see this, even if Clara is a damned cutie.

Posted by: Mauser at Sun Aug 31 04:10:16 2014 (TJ7ih)

2 Yeah, this one was kinda...yeah.  I'm holding out a vague hope that they're going to do something with the Clara/veteran guy plotline, but I have my doubts.

Posted by: ReallyBored at Sun Aug 31 13:13:32 2014 (n3V1X)

3 My understanding is the next companion is going to be .

Posted by: RickC at Sun Aug 31 13:44:02 2014 (0a7VZ)

4 Also--I haven't seen but the first few minute yet, but Moffat needs some kind of boot to the head, and then to be strapped into a chair like Alex from A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch the old series.
The Doctor was only the scientific advisor for UNIT for like three of his incarnations--and his hatred for the Daleks should easily outweigh any dislike of these soldiers.

Posted by: RickC at Sun Aug 31 14:16:52 2014 (0a7VZ)

5 The whole anti-soldier vibe felt very out of place to me.  Even if they intend to pull a switch in future episodes and show us how much of a "great guy" the ex-soldier teacher is, there was no need to throw all the animus into this episode.

Posted by: Siergen at Sun Aug 31 17:16:41 2014 (Sn+fi)

6 I thought the premiere had too much Vastra and Strax, as well as a very awkward attempt to transition Doctors by having Capaldi attempt Smith-ish behaviors and physical comedy. And Clara's "anger" scene just didn't work for either actress. Jenny was really the highlight of the episode.

The second one was just... random. It felt like a collection of scenes in search of a story to tell.


Posted by: J Greely at Sun Aug 31 17:51:23 2014 (1CisS)

7 Having seen the whole episode now, I can only assume it was a setup for Clara's final line.  

Posted by: RickC at Sun Aug 31 20:46:27 2014 (0a7VZ)

8 Trying to work my way through it, but it's tough going. I keep having to stop when someone says something totally out of character. If it were a drinking game I'd be dead now.

I mean, did Clara forget that she was there for the entirety of the Doctor's life, helping in little ways, etc? You'd think she'd be used to Regeneration by that point.

And the scene where she's introduced to Mr. Pink (what is this, Reservoir Dogs?)... Nothing isn't done for a purpose, so why is Clara prominently displaying a copy of The Guardian?

Posted by: Mauser at Mon Sep 1 02:44:39 2014 (TJ7ih)

9 Every time I try to convince myself to dip a toe into the Who-continuum, I see a thread like this and thing "you know... let's not after all."

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Mon Sep 1 05:58:44 2014 (ZeBdf)

10 Av, threads like these are the same as posts saying that the upcoming anime season will be "the worst ever."  They're almost never right.

We're now two episodes into the new Doctor's run, and people are already proclaiming him to be terrible, awful, the worst one yet. 

Yeah, and they said the same about Smith, Tennant, and Eccleston too. 

Maybe Capaldi will prove to be the worst ever.  Maybe the show has finally jumped the holographic space shark (after 50+ years).  Or maybe we should give them more than a couple of episodes to figure out the show's new voice.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon Sep 1 07:22:03 2014 (eNsTS)

11 Actually, 'Duck, so far I like him.  I just don't like the rather rabid anti-military stance of this episode.
Like I said, though, the last line held some promise.

Posted by: RickC at Mon Sep 1 10:27:56 2014 (0a7VZ)

12 As I said, I'm continuing to watch and am actually hopeful. 
Avatar, threads like this can also indicate that suckage is anomalous enough to warrant comment.  In general it has been entertaining. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Mon Sep 1 13:24:11 2014 (DnAJl)

13 There's also an element of backlash against the hype surrounding this season. They made a lot of big promises about the new season and the new Doctor, and... under-delivered.


Posted by: J Greely at Mon Sep 1 20:05:40 2014 (1CisS)

14 There's also an element of backlash against the hype surrounding this season. They made a lot of big promises about the new season and the new Doctor, and... under-delivered.


Posted by: Wonderduck at Mon Sep 1 21:02:53 2014 (eNsTS)

15 I don't mean "man, I guess this season of Who isn't as good as past seasons" so much as "Jiminy Cricket, just how much Who do I need to have watched to grok what's going on?" It's like trying to pick up a Spider-man comic these days... I mean, sure, I could watch and just kind of let it flow over me, I'm sure, but if I wanted to actually get into it, I'd be way, way, waaaaaay behind.

It's like, if a buddy said "hey, I watched an episode of Naruto at random and now I'm interested, how much is there?" I would just respond with "I know how you feel, but don't go there."

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Tue Sep 2 00:40:25 2014 (ZeBdf)

16 Yes, it's only the first two episodes, but first impressions count. There are only 10 more, after all, and there's a fair amount of information available on what's in them (including, sadly, the importance of Missy).

Also, I'm buying them from Amazon (cheaper than upgrading my Dish subscription to add BBC America), so each week I have to ask if it's going to be worth it, or if I should just wait until the season is free on Prime.


Posted by: J Greely at Tue Sep 2 02:56:48 2014 (1CisS)

17 They can also be torrented from EZTV.

Posted by: Mauser at Tue Sep 2 05:15:05 2014 (TJ7ih)

18 The Doctor's bias against soldiers goes back to the Patrick Troughton days (the First Doctor was biased equally against everyone) - so it's at least as old as I am - but he's also frequently been shown to be unjustified. And having seen what Steven Moffat has come up with over the past 10 years - he wrote probably eight of the top ten episodes since the reboot - I'm inclined to trust that he's going somewhere with this.

As you say, Brickmuppet, soldiers Pink and Blue are presented very sympathetically in this episode, more so than the Doctor.

And yeah, Missy and her little slice of heaven is... Strange stuff. Strange with cake, but strange.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Sep 2 08:06:20 2014 (PiXy!)

19 Mauser:
Did Clara forget that she was there for the entirety of the Doctor's life, helping in little ways, etc? You'd think she'd be used to Regeneration by that point.

Yes, she did forget.  All those versions of her died; she apparently remembers little bits here and there because the Doctor pulled her back out of his timeline, but it's mostly faded and dreamlike.  (Or so I gather, having rewatched the last few episodes from last year.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Sep 2 08:12:19 2014 (PiXy!)

20 I have a vague memory that the Pertwee doctor spent a lot of time hanging around with soldiers.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Tue Sep 2 09:17:47 2014 (+rSRq)

21 Yep, UNIT, who are still around in the new series.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tue Sep 2 09:39:47 2014 (PiXy!)

22 Steven, yeah, see my comment #4. Doctors 3, 4, 5 (?) and 7 were all involved with UNIT, which was somewhat of a different organization than the one in the reboot (although a LOT of things are that way!)
Hell, Matt Smith even called up the Brigadier's rest home, although Also:  I just logged in yesterday to comment and just had to do it again just now.

Posted by: RickC at Tue Sep 2 19:00:42 2014 (0a7VZ)

23 Not .all. soldiers. He was genuinely saddened to learn that the Brigadier had died.

Posted by: Douglas Oosting at Tue Sep 2 19:00:43 2014 (sdWdc)

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