Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor, Part III: Regenerations and Beyond

 (Here's another warning: more spoilers, folks. Do not enter unless you've seen the Fiftieth!)

As if Gallifrey wasn't enough, there are a huge amount of loose ends still in need of resolution. I can't find every one, of course, but there are a few really big ones that deserve a look.

First things first:

1) What's up with the Fourth Doctor?

I've already touched on this some in my previous posts, but there are all sorts of mysteries surrounding the appearance of a previous Doctor – an old version of him called “The Curator”. (And in case anyone was wondering, the scarf that the one girl was wearing was, in fact, given to her by the Curator.) And he implied, also, that the Doctor would be revisiting some “old favorites”—are there more Classic Doctors in our future?

Or, for that matter...a modern one? Although the Ninth Doctor declined to be in the Fiftieth, if there was some reorganization in the BBC and Doctor Who changed producers and head writers, there might be a possibility of his return. Revisiting old faces could be the perfect excuse for a cameo. It's a long shot (and, if we look at reality and precedent, completely impossible), but seeing Nine on the screen again would be worth a stretch of the imagination.

I've got a pretty good hunch that Four's appearance has something to do with Capaldi appearing twice before in Doctor Who. Moffat says that Davies had planted the Capaldi idea in previous seasons, and the idea will pan out over several more seasons. Perhaps the whole “old Doctor” thing has something to do with his regeneration limit. We may yet get some more hints this Christmas!

Which brings me to another point:

2) Eleven is about to die, there's a regeneration limit, and the Silence and Trenzalore will both be featuring in “Time of the Doctor”. Whoa!

Although I much prefer Davies's approach to the Doctor's regeneration—he started foreshadowing the Tenth Doctor's death in the middle of Series Four and gave Ten an epic and monumental two-part special to say farewell—this year's Christmas special is shaping up to be packed. Hopefully as the Eleventh Doctor's life draws to a close, we'll get some final resolution in his story arc: Silence Will Fall.

The Name of the Doctor mentioned the Valeyard. Could it be that the Doctor's dark side, the man between “his twelfth and final regeneration”, will also have a part to play in the special? Some people claim that John Hurt doesn't count as a Doctor and that Eleven is still Eleven; others claim that Hurt and Tennant's metacrisis fiasco count as regenerations, and that Eleven is actually the Thirteenth Doctor. We'll see!

And then the episode takes place on Trenzalore. Trenzalore is supposed to be the place where the Doctor dies; does he actually die there, and what about the battle that supposedly takes place? And if he doesn't die there, what's up with the giant dying TARDIS and the Doctor's time-travel “scar tissue”?

If that's not enough, Moffat is supposed to be addressing the regeneration limit, too. Like I said, it looks like this Christmas is going to be packed!

3) What about River Song?

While River has seen two regenerations of the Doctor, she really seems like an Eleventh Doctor “companion”, if she can be called that. The Name of the Doctor could work as her last episode, but everyone agrees that we need more resolution than that. Forest of the Dead was a perfect ending; but Moffat didn't leave her there and went beyond, leaving us with no end in sight. Does she just keep popping up now and then? Or does she have one last part to play before leaving the Doctor's story once and for all?

My hope is that she'll make a brief appearance in the Christmas special to see Eleven off, and that their stories will end...together. It could be wonderful and sad.

But what about after Christmas?

4) The Capaldi Era is coming. What new stuff could it bring?

Almost every Whovian is looking forward to the Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Gallifrey was a “seismic shift” in Doctor Who, but Capaldi is no less momentous. For once, the media is going against the grain: he's not young and attractive, unlike the Doctors of the last seven years.

And really, he looks intense. Old and somewhat grizzled, he brings John Hurt's Doctor to mind—and I definitely wouldn't mind a sensible and grumpy old fellow as the Doctor. Some of Nine's intensity and angst would be wonderful, too. Matt Smith was a fairy-tale Doctor, a young guy in a bowtie traveling through space and time with his magic box. Perhaps Capaldi could once again embody the sci-fi of the show: an ancient Time Lord traveling through the crazy and wonderful universe in his incredible time-travel machine.

If the BBC goes against the grain now, what other things might they do in the future? Non-modern companions, perhaps? Non-romantic companions? Male companions? Or even aged companions? (Dude, bring back Wilf already!) There's only so many things you can do with young women traveling with a guy in a blue box. If Doctor Who's producers broadened their horizons and looked beyond the stereotypes that it has developed in the last eight years, they could do a lot of awesome things.

Or, for that matter, they could start focusing less on convoluted plots (I'm looking at you, Moffat) and more on character development. Viewers like to laugh and they like to be shocked. Good character development is more subliminal and not as easily recognizable—but, in the end, makes the story better than the most hilarious one-liners.

4) Clara's got to leave sometime.

Speaking of character development, can somebody direct the character development gun at Clara? She's painfully underdeveloped. What's wonderful is when you make a character hurt, when you give them awful dilemmas and make them choose. So far, the only thing Clara has really done is flirt, retort, and save the Doctor a thousand times. I appreciate the self-sacrifice of her action, but she needs more substance. She's just kind of...there.

It's a bit early to start thinking about her departure, especially since Moffat's last companions stayed for two and a half seasons, but still. What would be ideal would be for her to stick with Capaldi for a season and get developed like nobody's business. Then, she dies, or something equally horrible, and we get room for a Time Lord companion.

Maybe I'm just working her arc into my own preferences, but my point still stands. Having her on board at the same time as a new companion could work, too. There's precedence for it in Classic Who!

Whatever happens, it looks like the BBC has enough material to run Doctor Who for ten more seasons. Here's to hoping we get some resolution soon.

And a Time Lord companion!

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor, Part II: Gallifrey

(In case you didn't expect spoilers, here's a warning: this post is chock full of them.)

David Tennant, when speaking of Day of the Doctor, said that it was a “seismic shift” in the history of Doctor Who, taking it in an entirely “new direction”.

And I have to agree with him. Bringing back Gallifrey is a seismic shift – for seven seasons, the Doctor has suffered from what he thought was his decision to destroy his own people. Now, as it turns out, he didn't make that decision after all, and Gallifrey is still out there somewhere, along with the war-torn remnants of his people.

It wasn't badly foreshadowed, either. The first hour of Day of the Doctor set up Gallifrey's return perfectly. And it makes me wonder whether Davies had this idea too, or whether Moffat just utilized the subplots that he found. The Time War has been set up as far back as the second episode of “NuWho”, the End of the World. (“There was a war. A Time War.”) And the fact that the Doctor still had to come to terms with his decision has been sowed since Doomsday, which aired seven years ago: “I was there, at the Fall of Arcadia. I fought on the front lines. Someday I may come to terms with it.”

Properly viewed, Day of the Doctor was the culmination of seven seasons of Doctor Who. While it was definitely not as dark or dramatic or huge as anyone expected, “Gallifrey Falls – No More” is more than enough to make up for the rest of the episode.

But where will the show be going now, and what are the ramifications if and when Gallifrey returns?

1) The Doctor is no longer the last of the Time Lords – and that's going to bring a lot of new vigor to the show.

Time Lords bring, quite literally, a whole new world of possibilities to the show, including more of a “Classic Who” feel, since the old seasons featured Time Lords quite often – as enemies, friends, and even companions.

Something I've wanted for a long while is a non-modern companion: a Time Lord companion would be a thousand times better, and it has precedent. It's happened before; why can't it happen again?

And with the Time Lords back, the Doctor's role will definitely change – there are a thousand possibilities. Could the Doctor be held accountable for stealing the Moment? What about regeneration limits? (That one apparently won't be featuring prominently, at least for the Doctor, since Moffat has promised that the Doctor's regeneration limit will be addressed in Time of the Doctor.) Or the fact that the majority of the Time Lords were corrupted by years of war? What sort of things might the Doctor have to stop them from doing? And what's up with Rassilon, anyway? He's certainly not dead – he was sent back to Gallifrey in The End of Time. Is he the immortal Time Lord from The Five Doctors, or is he just a namesake?

Speaking of The End of Time, that leads into my next point...

2) The Master could be coming back – and soon.

In The End of Time, the Master threw Rassilon and the Time Lords back into the Time War, and presumably went with them. With Gallifrey still alive, the council of Time Lords is still at large, and so is the Master. (The council's work was mentioned briefly in the Day of the Doctor: “the council is making its own plans”, as one Time Lord said to another in Arcadia.)

Until now, the prospect of bringing back the Master seemed like a convenient “Oh, looks like he's not dead after all” thing, like the Daleks. But with Gallifrey back, the Master's reappearance will be easy and organic. No need to force a plot twist there!

And let's get a regeneration, while we're at it. A regenerated – or even better, incognito – Master would be a plot twist and a half.

3) Could there be resolution for The End of Time in the future?

Russell T. Davies had a penchant for throwing in foreshadowing, even when he wasn't going to use it. The End of Time is a prime example: to this day, there are unanswered questions. Who were the two “dissenters” who refused to comply with Rassilon's decision? What did Rassilon mean by his Weeping Angels reference? Who was the woman in white who kept helping Wilf throughout the episode?

With Gallifrey back, these questions could easily be answered, or expanded into plot twists and new characters.

4) Time Lord technology could literally open up whole new universes.

In “Rise of the Cybermen”, the Tenth Doctor mentioned that travel between parallel universes was possible with Time Lord technology. But since Gallifrey was gone, so was the ability to travel to other universes.

But with Gallifrey back, travel between universes could be possible again. This may mean that the Doctor could revisit one universe in particular: the one where Rose Tyler is living with the Metacrisis Doctor. What happened to them? What if they had children? Could those children have unknown abilities? In a deleted scene, the Doctor gave Metacrisis a piece of the TARDIS so he could grow his own; is that still canon, and if so, what sort of possibilities does that bring?

Parallel universes aren't the only things that might be found with Time Lord technology. More TARDISes, for one thing. What do those look like?

Like I said, bringing Gallifrey back opens universes of possibilities. Moffat has a lot of material to work with!

But what about the other loose ends? I'll be addressing those in my next post.

Until then, what did you think about Day of the Doctor? Did you see any implications that I missed? Let me know.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Foolish Hopes

It seems that every person who follows the industries of film and books and music has foolish hopes. Foolish hopes are those impossible things that you wish that could happen but almost never do happen.

I have my own foolish hopes. Quite a few, actually.

For instance, one of my most foolish hopes is that, someday, the film industry will produce something that is both clean and well-made.

The movies that are clean tend to lack in other areas, such as in plot, character development, and so on. The prime example of this is in children's movies. While there have been some brilliant movies directed toward younger audiences (How To Train Your Dragon and Megamind, for instance) the tendency is to recycle the same story-lines over and over, wedded with new “ideas”. What the film industry doesn't seem to realize is that the ideas don't make the story; the story makes the story.

And children's movies lack a certain amount of depth, as well. You can only go so far in exploring deeper themes when you are limited to a child audience.

The movies that are “well-made” tend not to be clean. Gratuitous violence and suggestive content are all over in movies targeted towards adults. There are, however, some stunning exceptions. The Lord of the Rings is a good one. Another one is Ender's Game, a newer movie that stands as a beacon of what the film industry can do. There is no suggestive content, and you can count on one hand the amount of curse words that were used, all of which were mild. Best of all, it has an incredible and remarkably deep storyline.

What if more movies like Ender's Game were made? What if Hollywood, for once, experimented in “clean”, and yet deep, stories? The result could be wonderful.

Here's another foolish hope of mine: that someday, someone will remake the French play Cyrano de Bergerac. So far, nothing has come close to beating the 1950 black-and-white version. And indeed, beating it would be hard even if the producers of a modern version were strict purists. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like if someone made a long epic of a movie out of the play, with incredible actors, stunning cinematography, and a screenwriter committed to preserving the original text of the play. It would be beautiful.

The trend is there. Les Miserables, like Cyrano de Bergerac, is an old French piece of literature – and it turned out to be a success. Perhaps Cyrano could make it back on the screen one day, providing that he was properly adapted. No adaption is better than a bad adaption.

Also, while we're wish-granting, how about a three-volume leather-bound set of the Complete Works of G. K. Chesterton? No such collection even exists, much less in a three-volume set. And a shiny, new, high-quality hardcover of the Hooker translation of Cyrano de Bergerac would be pretty cool too.

What about you? Do you have any foolish hopes for the various “story” industries? A movie you'd like to see made? A book you'd like to see in an awesome edition?  Comment and let me know.  

'Cause sometimes dreams have to come before reality can follow.