Oh, okay, late, late, late, so sue me. Got busy yesterday; didn’t have time to finish.
The third prompt is quite a poser. I’ve been considering and considering, and, as much as I would like to choose just one episode, I find I have to choose two. Both deal with companions, both have some timey-whimey going on, and both have the baddie as somewhat silly and definitely secondary to what’s going on between the Doctor and the companions. Your clue? Tin dogs and apples.
Today’s meme two-fer is….
The Eleventh Hour
Let’s start with School Reunion, shall we?
I was already predisposed to like the episode from the moment it was announced that Elisabeth Sladen was returning to Doctor Who. Sarah Jane Smith has always held a special place in my heart, so the fact that she was being resurrected int he new series made me all gooey in my center. The story did not disappoint. Yeah, Sarah had Issues about her life post-TARDIS, but it was no different than the Issues any middle-aged woman faced. She persevered, and rediscovered her center (and went on to her own series, which is so brilliant in many different ways).
(No, seriously, many women in middle age lose their focus, and have to be reminded of how awesome they are. It’s the fabled “midlife crisis,” except women don’t need a Trophy Spouse or at sportscar to prove their worth. I will be discussing this factoid later in the meme month.)
The episode made it quite clear that the Doctor was in love with Sarah, and was so happy to see her again. And when he had the following convo with Rose? It was obvious he was referring to Sarah.
The Doctor: I don’t age. I regenerate. But humans decay; you wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone that you— [The Doctor breaks off]
Rose: What, Doctor?
The Doctor: You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can’t spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.
Mickey also stands out in this story, because he realizes what a wuss he has been (“I’m the tin dog!”) and makes a bold move to correct it. He’s really grown from his first appearance by finally wanting to travel in the TARDIS. IN general, he helps way more than he hinders in this story.
Speaking of tin dogs, hooray for K-9! I know he’s a pain to work with on set (always demanding WD-40 and memory chips), but he’s so brave, so clever, and he reduces the Doctor to a pile of “Aw who’s a good doggie” goo.
As for the baddies: the Krillitane are a goofy, almost old-school alien race, and Anthony Stewart Head nails being Mr. Finch– suavely evil, oh so sure of himself (and his peeps), a perfect old-school villian. I like how they invade a school, and how they use the kids in their
block transfer computations cracking of the Skasis Paradigm. Actually, this story seems to be a backdoor pilot for The Sarah Jane Adventures, so I can see where RTD etc. got the idea from.
My favorite part of the story, besides the obvious Triumphant Return of Sarah Jane Smith, is the staging/direction. So many great, unusual angles in the telling of the tale. I especially adore the swimming pool scene– first of all, a great location to stage the discussion, and second, wonderfully shot. The gulf between Mr Finch and the Doctor finds itself illustrated by a tiled hole filled with chlorinated water– wonderful stuff. Also wonderful, the scene where Sarah finds the TARDIS, then finds the Doctor as the Doctor. Ah, Sarah backs up, then the shot widens to reveal the Doctor a moment before she turns…. makes my Inner Cinematographer all squishy with glee.
There’s only one thing I don’t like about this episode, and it’s Rose. Since I don’t like her at all with the Tenth Doctor, it’s a series-wide problem and thus doesn’t affect my enjoyment of School Reunion.
And, now, with that story out of the way, it’s time for a bit of chatter about The Eleventh Hour.
This story serves as both an introduction to the new Doctor and to the New World Order. I know a fair number of fen are Moffatt Haters– and that’s too bad, because Moffatt is a mad man with a word processor, and he will take you to amazing times and places if you’d only let him. Verbosity, wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey, turns and twists and people not being who they seem– that’s what Moffatt is about, and it’s why I love the stories he wrote for Nine and Ten and why I’m grooving so much on Eleven.
“The Eleventh Hour” in particular introduces the season’s themes as much as it introduces the new cast of characters. Part of the joy in rewatching the story several times (in addition to catching all sorts of dialog missed in previous viewings) is being able to spot little things that come into play later in the season that I had no idea about in the first several viewings. (Like, last time I watched it, I finally noticed the crack on the TARDIS monitor at the end of the story.) I love how the story careens from plot point to plot point, even as the TARDIS careens through the time/space continuum failing to make promised appointments. I love how this story has layers like an onion, always something more to find.
Favorite bits include:
- All the trying of food. Well written, well staged. “Bad, bad beans!”
- The Atraxi ships shows up in the sky, menacing earth… and everyone whips out their cell phones to record it. As much as I agree with the Doctor’s disgust of it, it’s such a Human thing to do.
- Rory. He’s clearly not stupid, even though everyone seems to think he is. He’s not ambitious, either (which is probably why he’s a nurse and not a medical student). He’s solid, he can be counted on, he’s in short a great companion.
- The rooftop confrontation with the Atraxi, and how Eleven bursts through the image of Ten. I took that very much as an “up yours, Tennant fans,” moment, much like the unraveling of the scarf in “Castrovalva” was an “up yours, Tom Baker fans” moment.
The only thing I can think of about “The Eleventh Hour” that I don’t like is Amy being a kiss-o-gram. But, saving my Amy rant for later on in the month meme, so for now I’ll just say “Was that really necessary?”
(Kroll, it sounds like I have Companion Issues, doesn’t it? Maybe I do, in a certain respect, because I find I have difficulties with the two companions everyone and their frenemy is cosplaying… the two companions closest in age to the girls watching the show… and I have objections to what kind of messages Rose and Amy send to young women looking for a role-model inspiration. But, like I said, fodder for a different post.)
Onwards now to Day 4, which suspiciously looks like Day 3 due to being busy….