Manchester, Abandoned Mines and Karaoke
Long train trip to Manchester for sweetcyanide's birthday. Long enough for me to re-read Neverwhere on the journey there, prompting me to buy another Neil Gaimon book (Anansi boys) for the way back, which has sparked a bit of a collection of Gaiman books for me to read through when commuting to work (that's when I've got enough sleep that is... some mornings I'm just too damned tired to read) :o)
Quite odd to think that in geographical terms, travelling to Manchester is travelling further away than most parts of France. I suppose it helps that there's not a sea in the way mind :oP
I'd had to rush about after work to get to the party at any kind of sensible time, which turned out to be around midnight. Still, party was ongoing when I arrived and I got to say hello to sweetcyanide and wave at people I don't know (not that I'm the most social of persons but it is nice to break the routine of only spending time with people I already know) :o) Gave me an excuse to open and drink one of my bottles of Dooley's too :oD
There was an outing during the day to a fetish event. There were apparently burlesque dancers through the day but we only saw the one. I'm not really into Burlesque myself so I'm probably not the best person to comment on that. My intial thoughts seemed to chime in with what others were saying though; it was a graceful performance and she looked good but she didn't really seem like she was into it. Every now and then there would be a flicker across her face of enjoying it but I suspected it was just a put on attempt to flirt with the audience, whilst a lot of the rest of the time she seemed a little bored/awkward. Still, I don't mean any strong criticism; more confidence than most people. Certainly more confidence in her body and performance than I could ever muster :oP (and I say that as someone who generally think I look at least 'okay' if not better for the vast majority of the time)
There has been plans to go down to Lush but people were still recovering, so we stayed in and played a game instead :o)
Too me a little while to work out how to leave sweetcyanide's house in the morning (most of everyone else was still asleep). I did manage to get out though and took a bus and then a tram to the station. I'd not ridden in a tram before and I think I quite like the idea. I'm not sure it would work in most cities though; Manchester has these lovely open streets that suit a tram system (as well as making the place seem less grey and oppressive than the streets of London). I suspect that I'd still move to London rather than Manchester if I had enough money for both to be an option though (if I wanted to pick a city for how it looked like and felt, I'd stay in Southampton... it's all about the number of people though really).
Diary: 17-18/09/11: Box Mine
Went on my first underground expedition.
That involved driving up to nearby Bath to get to the Box Mine, which was something of an experience in itself as I've never driven that far before. With friends to guide me, it didn't turn out too bad though. I think with a few more journeys like that then I'll quickly get used to it.
After a quick stop at a local pub to look at some maps (Box mine is huge and complicated) we headed down to find a small entrance in the Earth. Had to use an Allen key to open the gay (and to close it behind us) and spent the next seven hours down there exploring (and we still didn't see all of it). Pretty amazing though down there and a surprising diversity of character. There are the bits immediately around the entrance which are just covered in graffiti, the bits further in where you can start to see older dates on the wall (along with a lot of miner's math) and Victorian graffiti, further in you can start to see more modern workings and rusty left-behind tools and cranes. Some of it you can still see railway lines on the ground. Some of it are some pretty impressive brick arches and some of it is just rock cut open with rock saws in square tunnels. Other parts are collapsed and you spend your time scrabbling over rockfalls (or under them!). At one point we found a tiny crack in the wall which we crawled through to skip to an entirely different part of the mine. Most of it is pitch dark apart from the few occasions where you stumble across a cavernous area and there is a mineshaft heading straight up and letting some light in.
After several hours we climbed out of an entirely different tiny and not very noticeable hole in the ground, covered in dust and clay.
It's really impressive what you can find in the dark spaces of England.
Diary: 07/10/11: Troublegum
Decided to go to Troublegum on a Friday at Dungeon just because I hadn't been and was desperately looking for something a bit different and new to do. Turned out to be a Karaoke night. Well, suppose I can't complain given the circumstances... :oP
That being said, I didn't sing. I can't hold or hit a note and public embarrassment is not one of my things so I skipped that entirely. It wasn't made any better by the fact that there were quite a few people there who genuinely could sing and sing well. I think I've previously quite liked thinking of singing as something only an elite few can do well but it turns out that (to my ears at least) that an ability to sing quite well is not that uncommon.
I feel quite bitter now!
That aside, it was a very good night despite being quite quiet. I danced a few times and had fun chatting to people (including a couple that I haven't met too often). Pretty good going to a club night really. In many ways measured up to Industrial Fallout the weekend before, although Fallout is still more reliable in terms of a good night out than Dungeon.
Thoughts: 12/09/11: 'Voice of Feminism'
The more I encounter feminism the more I find it hard to say anything general with it. Every time I'm told 'This is Feminism' I get a different picture and it doesn't seem right to say that any of these pictures is incorrect.
The truth would seem to be that Feminism is not one message and not one ideology. It's a whole set of broadly related ideologies, movements, belief systems, value sets and attitudes. Any attempt to put firm boundaries on what feminism is or isn't seems rather problematic.
From an outsider's perspective, any feminist trying to present their feminism as 'True Feminism' would be a bit like a Christian telling an Atheist that only their denomination is 'True Christianity'.
But I can't take that stance to group it all together because I do believe that there is something in feminism. I do want to see an end to sexism and there's presumably good and bad ways of going about that. I could then propose a definition of 'True Feminism' as being that branch of feminism that is factually correct and genuinely works towards the end of sexism. Of course, there's little agreement on that so we're back where we started.
So, from my perspective, I'm happy to throw any set of people or ideologies that aim to end sexism, end misogyny or better the position of women in society as 'feminism'. Some of it I might agree with, some of it not.
It's logically impossible for me to agree with all of it of course. Simply taking a stance on some topics, such as porn, will inevitably cause vehement disagreement from some feminists regardless of what the stance is.
Critics of feminism may try to use this as a line of attack. Feminism, they might say, isn't coherent. How can feminists claim to have the answers when they don't agree amongst themselves what those answers are?
I'd say the opposite; for feminism to manage to become a coherent set of beliefs, attitudes and values then I rather suspect it would have to become dogmatic and unquestioning. At the point at which a branch of feminism starts to resemble an orthodoxy then I think I'll just go elsewhere for answers.
The reality of feminism is that it's an ongoing discussion and debate and that's a good thing. Truth isn't found by deciding on what is true and then ignoring everyone who disagrees; it's ground out via discussion of opposing viewpoints. Truth doesn't get destroyed by criticism, it gets revealed by it.
Any rational thinker that wants to really learn the truths that are to be found in feminism has to engage with it. It can't be the case that you unthinkingly accept what is being told to you by any particular feminist as fact; that's just dogma. You have to have a critical and questioning mind; turn over things in your head and with others until you see the truth (or falsity) of them.
Yet some people still try to talk as if they are the voice of feminism, which, they reckon, makes them the voice of women in turn. This is despite the fact that feminism is a divided subject itself and not all women are feminists.
I'm a man and I do not engage uncritically with feminism. If a feminist tries to convince me of an idea or notion then I will examine that idea and notion with all the critical thought I would any other. If I have doubts or problems with it (or if I flat out reject it) then I will opently say so in the spirit of open discussion (because it's always possible that I've missed something and only though open discussion will I likely find that out).
That can be problematic in some feminist communities that are theoretically discussion communities. Certain ideas are set down as inarguable and even certain definitions are set down as the only true and acceptable definitions (Which is ludicrous; words just don't work that way).
Presumably the best bet is to avoid those communities (I'm especially becoming wary of anything with 'rage' in the title; rage may be a good motivator to action but it's a rubbish state of mind for investigating truth).
Seemingly, the best communities for me to develop my own thoughts are the most open communities possible. Sure, that does tend to mean that the odd outright misogynist will come in spouting some vile ideas and claims but that too can be a good way to investigate my own ideas by defending them.
As said; truth does not need protection. Insular communities may make useful 'safe places' but they don't make good learning places.
Thoughts: 18/09/11: Manslaughter via car
Charge drivers with manslaughter for causing death by dangerous or drunk driving
The basics of this issue ought to be quite cut-and-dried; we live in a nation where being responsible for killing someone does not count as manslaughter provided that you are sat in a car at the time. That's plainly ludicrous.
People who know me socially will be aware that this is a hot topic amongst my friends at the moment due to a death amongst our social circles. The person responsible had chosen to drink until she was double the legal alcohol limit for driving. That didn't stop her from driving (nor did the fact that she was angry from an argument with her boyfriend). Not only did she drive drunk, she was driving especially dangerous and then killed a motorcyclist (known personally to many of my friends) when overtaking.
Crimes that are far less reckless would normally get a person charged with manslaughter (aka, the non-intentional killing of someone via reckless behaviour) and that would normally mean a much larger sentence. In this country, it's a separate offence and not recognised as manslaughter (and carries a lesser sentence).
I'm led to believe that the reason for this is because juries were less likely to convict drunk drivers under the charge of manslaughter. Maybe at the time of drafting that was true (although I like to think our attitudes have moved on now) so I won't criticise their intentions. However, it's far from ideal and, at the least, the crime should have an equivalent sentence.
Now, anyone who knows my politics will know that I don't think this is a complete solution.
America does recognise killing someone via drunk driving as manslaughter, does impose more severe sentences and even has a higher drinking age... but has a much higher amount of alcohol related traffic accidents (ten times higher in Florida). Despite what our intuition, 'common sense' or 'gut instinct' might tell us, ramping up the severity of punishments is not very effective on reducing crime.
Rather than just punishing people after the crime, it's important to really stress the issue before then. It's very important that people are both aware of the risks and also have the full reality of those risks brought home to them before they ever sit down in a car. That includes those hard hitting adverts on drunk driving (that sometimes get complaints) as well as making it a crucial part of learning to drive. Beyond adjusting the legal framework we live under, we need to make sure it's part of the culture we live in.
That being said, just because law is not the whole of the solution, it doesn't mean that it can't be part of it.
Recognising manslaughter whilst in a car as manslaughter is a worthwhile acknowledgement. In many ways, that strikes me as more important than the actual length of the sentence (I suspect we over-use prison in this nation, we certainly appear to when compared to many other more progressive European nations)
The thing that strikes me as most surprising was that she was banned from driving for only five years, which I hope counts from when she's released (especially given that her full sentence is supposed to be six years, although she'll likely be out before that).
It strikes me that the simplest solution would be a life long ban on driving for people convicted on this sort of crime would be easy to justify. I favour prison mostly when people need to be removed from the public because they present a threat to the rest of us. Drunk driver's do present a threat to the rest of us but the easiest way to disarm them is to permanently remove their right to drive (and keep an eye on them periodically to make sure they're not illegally driving).
It might sound severe but, personally, if I killed someone via my own recklessness whilst driving then I'm not sure I could bring myself to sit down in a car and drive again out of guilt, which leaves me with little sympathy for anyone in that situation who complains about the inconvenience.
Thoughts: 22/09/11: Sexual preferences: Inclinations Vs Orientation
I got to thinking about this after a discussion about terminology regarding gender preference. 'Orientation' has established itself as the accepted term, whilst inclinations is the sort of word that you might expect a homophobe to use to talk dismissively about gay persons. I'm actually finding that quite unfortunate because I increasingly suspect that 'inclination' is a better metaphor for gender preference than 'orientation'.
'Orientation' conjures the idea of being pointed in alignment with something. That works well enough for a lot of cases; the idea of someone's sexual urges being orientated towards a particular gender makes sense if we're talking about people who are completely heterosexual or homosexual. The metaphor seems to break down somewhat when we go outside of that; does it make sense to talk of someone being 'orientated' towards more than one point? A person who pursues a relationships with people of different genders doesn't seem to be orientated in any particular way at all.
'Inclination' meanwhile conjures the idea of a slope. When I over-analyse the metaphor of sexual inclinations, I imagine it as a room with various slops in various directions, all leading to various points. Those traits and persons we find attractive are the easy and comfortable downwards slopes whilst the ones we're just not interested in are the steep slopes. A heterosexual person's sexual landscape inclines down in one direction and a homosexual person's in the other.
Also, rather than suggesting that there is one direction that we're facing, it allows us to imagine the idea of there being several paths we could walk down. That may not be true for everyone of course but it seems true for some people; some people may have several different 'types' that they find attractive, which in this over-extended metaphor would be various little paths leading away for them to explore (or not explore) as they so choose.
Choice also seems to be brought to the forefront of the metaphor. It's not that people are stuck facing one way; no, their inclinations may make certain paths more natural, more obvious and more easy but they can choose to walk in any way they want. Should a homosexual man decide to closet themselves in a heterosexual relationship then they can turn around and claim the steep, craggy and sharp cliffs behind him. It might not be a comfortable place to be but it is a choice that he is able to make if he so wishes.
It still doesn't seem a perfect metaphor mind because it drastically simplifies sexual tastes. For instance, it may overplay the importance of gender for some people, whose sexual landscape has little or nothing to do with gender/sex at all. It also doesn't really seem to cope well with people with multiple partners. That being said, I acknowledge that it was an over-extended metaphor to begin with. :oP
I think that's the way I think of my sexuality though; not composed of an over-riding orientation where I'm stuck facing one way... but of various inclinations that make me naturally drawn to certain people, certain features and certain behaviours. Not only are there multiple paths for me to explore, I can decide to take a wander and explore the parts of my sexual landscape that may not seem hospital at first, perhaps discovering a plateau that I didn't know existed and enjoy or perhaps finding nothing I want to come back for.
I'm not suggesting that the term 'orientation' should fall out of use mind; it's an established term and now quite distant from the sort of literal and etymological interpretation I've just been engaging in... if it works (and it mostly does... at least to the extent that it's useful) then there's no need to fix it.
But when it comes to how I relate to myself... definitely inclinations and not orientation.
Thoughts: 10/10/11: Inalienable Rights
I always reel when I hear people talk about how the state should remove the rights of people who don't deserve them, most usually because they've broken the law and been sentenced to prison. To me, it seems to miss the point entirely.
I feel the problem is that there are two notions of human rights, one of which is more pliable than the other and neither of which seem well understood by the general public.
(1) Human rights as a moral ideal
(2) Human rights as a political tool for limiting state power
Rights as a moral ideal rest on the notion that everyone has certain inalienable rights. For theists, these are often called 'god-given'. This is not my own moral philosophy. I admire it and I wouldn't criticise someone who felt that way but it's not something I personally subscribe to. Unfortunately, neither do most people. Most people are of the mind that what people deserve is based on what sort of person they are. This means the worse a person is, the less they deserve. In extreme cases, such as child abusers and rapists, a lot of people will start to think of killing and torture as justified. This is also not my moral philosophy.
The tricky bit with the above is that arguing morality is often fruitless. Worse, it's not only fruitless in practice but also in principle. If someone doesn't come to a debate about morality with the same basic principles and values as you then you will not get anywhere. To have any kind of meaningful moral debate, you must agree on at least some principles (even if you disagree on how to apply them).
Fortunately, I don't have to because human rights as a political tool for limiting state power doesn't have to rely on any moral notion at all. It relies solely on fear of the state, which can be rationalised as easily by self-interest as it can by moral concern for others. That's what I love about liberalism; you can make a rational argument with it regardless of the morality (or lack thereof) of the person you're talking to.
The issue here then isn't that vile racists deserve the right to express their opinion. It's not that I'd feel any kind of moral compassion for a racist silenced by a state. No, it's because I don't trust a state that has the power to silence unpopular and controversial opinions. Not only do I not think that's a productive way of addressing vile opinions, it's a power that can all too easily be used against ideas and beliefs that I am sympathetic to.
The exact same applies to whether criminals should get the vote.
I don't feel any compassion or sympathy for a child abuser who isn't allowed to vote. However, the idea that the state can strip away anyone's vote because they broke the rules that the state created and got a level of punishment dictated by the state seems rather foolhardy to me. It's all well and good feeling morally comforted by the state removing the right to vote from a child molester but what happens when the state comes for someone who has broken a law you don't agree with?
No, much safer to say that everyone gets the right to vote.
It's not only dangerous to not speak up when they come for people you like; you also have to speak up when they come for people you hate.
Review: 25/09/11: Doctor Who - 6:10: TGWW
Lots of good concepts this episode. Not certain how I feel about the execution.
The idea of a story where people are moving at different speeds is an interesting one. There is tons that can be done with it; it's a concept that Iain M Banks has played with before (In Feersum Enjinn I think?) and it was pretty damn interesting when he did it. Here it's mostly a tool to create 'super Amy', which is fair enough just not quite an interesting an in-depth exploration of the concept. I'm also not sure how it works; if this 'compressed time' is such that it means that Amy doesn't get hungry and need to eat, why does she still age? Seems rather selective and arbitrary.
Future-Amy was quite interesting, although it's never quite explained how she managed to learn to make sonic probes. I suppose you could achieve a lot in 36 years of quiet study. I'm not sure I could learn far future technology in that time but perhaps if I was stuck alone and without anything else to do (and with access to appropriate resources) then maybe I could. Interesting how Moffat basically called the 'sonic screwdriver' out as being a 'sonic probe' with a playground name, which basically is what it is now.
The facility and robots were quite a good stab at creating something scary and the 'This is a kindness' phrase has the potential to be genuinely terrifying as well as memorable given a strong enough accompaniment. The setting is nice, clean and sterile and the robots and AI all have nice and reassuring voices, rather like the way GLADoS has a falsely reassuring voice and all the sentry gun robots are so polite and friendly (as well as childlike, which was missing in this case). However, Portal succeeded in creating an atmosphere of dread in a way that this episode just didn't for me. Close but not quite there.
We got a 'Dark Doctor' moment that really felt like it lived up to the name though. Usually, that falls flat for me. Yes, the Doctor is often surrounded by death and destruction and spending time with him can ruin lives but it strikes me less as him being a dark and morally problematic person and more of a 'Gandalf Stormcrow' problem; it's not that there's anything wrong with the Doctor, it's just that he's the sort of hero that spends a lot of time in dark and dangerous situations. Sure, it means we can associate him with dark and dangerous situations but we can't blame him for them.
In this case, we really do get a Doctor who is acting in a dark fashion. Sure, it's easy enough to argue that he did the rationally good thing but it was also the cold thing to do and not the happy Hollywood ending. We've only got occasional glimpses of that in Nu-Who, such as Ten punishing the family of blood. Given that Moffat likes pushing this idea of the Doctor's dark side, we really need to see more of this... we're told that the Doctor is dark quite a lot and that's fine as long as we're shown it at least as much; otherwise it feels like being told what to think without being given any reason to believe it.
That could get quite tedious in general; I don't like programmes telling me what to think about a character. Good writing should make me feel that way about the character without having to spell it out explicitly in the dialogue.
Not keen on the Doctor knowing what Twitter is either. I think he ought to be a little bit more detached from human events in general and certainly shouldn't possess such specific contemporary information. It's important that he retains that sense of the alien and not being 'quite one of us'.
Review: 25/09/11: Doctor Who - 6:11: TGC
Another episode with an interesting concept that just doesn't have an execution that reaches me.
The idea of a hotel that houses people's worst fears sounds like it's something that should be nightmare fuel. Instead, what we're given isn't 'nightmares' but 'bad dreams'. The rooms seem to mostly comprise bad memories and minor phobias rather than 'the greatest terror you can think of'. I can get how a disappointed angry father might be a horrible memory that you don't want to revisit but is it really 'terrifying out of your mind scary'? Similarly, having to do things in your underwear (such as if a gym teacher tells you to) may be horrible but is it really someone's 'worst fear'? Surely we can think of worse.
Admittedly, evoking mind-shattering terror within a fixed setting of a hotel room may be tricky. It would have been better if the corridor opened up into non-hotel settings. An arachnophobes 'worst fear' shouldn't be a a hotel room with a few spiders, it ought to be a dark cave full of cobwebs with swarms of spiders or perhaps a few giant ones. If you're scared of baboons then it shouldn't be one that roars inside a hotel room but one that chases you through a jungle where you keep tripping up on vines.
Not only that, the process of people being forced back onto their innermost faith through fear didn't come across as someone broken by fear but instead rather goofy. The involuntary speech afterwards also didn't feel effective (not to me anyway) and had already been done better with Amy and the Weeping Angels (which was genuinely creepy).
Of course, why this whole structure exists at all is a bit of a puzzle without wondering why it's so badly done. So it's an entity that sets itself up as a God but then was imprisoned by a species that had become advanced and secular? Okay, so they cast the entity out. Why, however, did they decide to set up a system to keep it fed on innocent people? Pretty strange.
I only really liked Rita out of the four new characters in the episode, mostly because she's the only one that felt fleshed out as a character and thus felt real. Joe, who had the fear of puppets, never had the chance to be a fleshed out character. Howie was just a stereotype of a blogger and a conspiracy theorist and didn't feel real. Gibbis, the Tivolian alien was mostly just comedic relief.
The plotline about Amy losing her faith in the Doctor also seemed strange. Beyond the fact that we've never been given that much reason why Amy should have such special faith in the Doctor, we're not really given much reason to understand why it's now she lost it. Earlier in the season, the Doctor failed to save Amy's baby and just last episode he left a future version of her to die. Both of those events would be much better basis for Amy to lose her faith in the doctor but aren't even mentioned. Perhaps if the Doctor had drawn attention to those failures then I'd have been more impressed with the scene.
We also had the ending dialogue from the Minotaur creature who then turns out to be talking about the Doctor. Personally, I think this would have been more effective had the dialogue not walked us through it. We could have seen the parallels between the Minotaur's self-description and the Doctor without needing an 'actually, I was talking about you' line. The comparison could have been done much more subtly than that.
It also would have taken away from the 'saying without showing' issue that Moffat is increasingly having with painting the Doctor out as a dark character. We had a moment of a truly dark and morally ambiguous doctor last episode but this time the opportunity was skipped over. When the Doctor realises that Gibbis was responsible for getting Howie killed, he doesn't do more than stare at him (it's a well-acted and emotive stare but just a stare). If that was Ten then I'd expect to be seeing some serious anger and wrath coming down on Gibbis but, despite being told how hard Eleven can be in certain episodes, he doesn't do anything... he just lets it be. Little bit disapointing.
Gibbis talking about 'the nearest galaxy' was a bit annoying (especially since he was close enough to see his own planet, which means they must have been within his home galaxy at the time) but that's relatively petty.
Review: 25/09/11: Doctor Who - 6:12: CT
This episode doesn't have any fresh or deep concepts... yet I rather enjoyed it anyway. Turns out you don't need interesting concepts if you had good character-based scenes combined with a fast and interesting plot.
It's technically a Cyberman episode but I think you could insert any number of bad guys into this plot line; it's not really about the cybermen as such. It's a shame in some ways because I don't think the cybermen are really well used; they've certainly lost something from their first appearance in old-who; back then they were really eerie and the idea of what people might do just to survive was really creepy and terrifying. Now they're more generic bad guys.
It's also odd that these seem to by Cybus cybermen yet crashed on Earth hundreds of years ago but then it's also unusual that these Cybus style cybermen have entire fleets out in the galaxy. Hard to say what is and isn't the case any more since Moffat started using the Big Bang reset to ignore any previous continuity as he sees fit.
What really made this episode for me was similar to what I enjoyed about the Lodger; the character acting. The risk with Doctor Who is that he's always in similar situations, which means he's always going to react and behave in rather similar situations. The good thing with Lodger and Closing Time is that it puts the Doctor into situations that we don't normally see him, which gives Matt Smith the chance to really broaden his portrayal of The Doctor. Having the Doctor be an employee in a Toy Shop was genius for instance. I also really enjoyed the Doctor's conversations with the baby (Alfie) and Craig.
Still not sure on the whole 'I speak Baby' stuff, especially because I'm not entirely sure on how seriously we're supposed to take it. The show feels like it's leaning towards the angle that The Doctor really does speak baby, which is amusing but hard to take seriously.
We also got the 'Shush' power, which is presumably going to be a bit like the 'headbutt telepathy' in that it's a power we see in this episode and never see again.
The Star Trek reference was interesting. It's presumably deliberate that they were talking about the fact that a teleporter (that they explicitly reference Star Trek to describe) could be anywhere whilst standing in an elevator with a roof design that closely resembles the roof of a teleporter from Star Trek, yet they never gave us a clear shot of the roof to drive that point home. Bit unusual and not what I would have expected.
Craig coming down and using the laser scanner as a pretend weapon which pretty fun and exactly the sort of thing that the Doctor would try and get away with, although apparently not Craig.
The best thing about Craig going into the suit is that I was genuinely not sure what was going to happen next.
I could easily imagine a tragic ending where Craig either dies or otherwise can't be unconverted. It seemed imaginable that Craig dying would be what made the Doctor feel guilty enough to accept his own death in the finale. That would have been interesting (although perhaps we had a bit too much of that kind of extreme angst with Ten for Moffat to repeat it so soon)
Instead we get Craig overcome the programming because he could hear his child crying. It increasingly seems like it's not that hard to overcome cyber programming; we've already seen it twice before with Hartigan in The Next Doctor and Yvonne Hartman in Doomsday.
The Doctor's suggestion that there's a more complex explanation helps take some of the cheese away from the 'power of love' storyline but we're still talking about the idea that anyone who is motivated enough can overcome conversion, which I don't really like. The terrifying thing about the cybermen is that they can strip you of your emotions and there's nothing you can do about it, which is taken away from if we know that it only works that way if you don't fight it.
That's not to mention that we've had the whole 'father saves the day because he hears his child crying/scared' storyline in this very season.
Still, it was a fun watch and did keep me paying attention and the character moments definitely make it worth it. :o)
The end bit of course is a set-up for the next episode and does admittedly make me feel a bit excited for what happens next. I like the idea of the children as historical witnesses, although perhaps they could have found more interesting things for them to say (two out of three of them did not say anything historically interesting).
That it's grown up River in the space suit is definitely interesting. I'm not sure whether this means she knew it was her or not... there's that line that she speaks in The Impossible Astronaut when she shoots at herself and says 'of course not', as if she knew she couldn't possible kill the astronaut (which is what made me feel quite sure it was going to be her in the first place).
That being said, if she knew it was her then why was she surprised? Even if she didn't know the exact location or time she knew that at some point she would walk out of a waterfront and kill the Doctor, which ought to have made her rather nervous of being near the waterfront with the Doctor at any time...
I guess we'll find out next week :o)
Oh, and one final thing that stands apart from the episode... the scene with Amy and Rory.
I like the idea of having them wander through and the Doctor want to talk to them but decide not to. That's a very emotional scene and it works well. That part of the scene gets a huge tick from me.
I'm a bit less impressed with the whole 'look how well Amy is doing now because she's famous' bit.
Up until now we've had two types of send-off to ex-companions. The first is the type seen with Rose in Doomsday; she lies and pretends to be working in a shop again, which is a bit disappointing but then we learn that she's actually working with the alternate Torchwood and the Doctor gets to deliver the 'Rose Tyler: Defend of the Earth' line.
The other we had with Donna, who doesn't get to continue being a hero but we're shown that she goes on to live a happy life, gets married and becomes wealthy, which is as nice as we can hope with given how her time with the Doctor ended.
This doesn't really fit either to me.
Rose is 'Defend of the Earth'. Amy is a model for (presumably her own) brand of perfume.
Now, there's nothing wrong with being a model, heck, there's nothing wrong with working in a shop for that matter. However, it's not remarkable or admirable in the way the heroic endings we see for most companions nor does it feel like any guarantee that Amy is happy and fulfilled.
Of course, if it is her own brand of perfume (and the name and tagline suggests so) then she's presumably famous for something else too but I'm not nearly enough into celebrity worship to think that being ranked amongst the sorts of celebrities that have their own perfume line is something to be impressed by.
Of course, we can't be sure what she's famous for... but then we're not told. Moffat clearly didn't think it important; it was presumably enough that she was famous and a model.
I guess it's part of Moffat's general downgrading of Amy from superhero to normality. She may have a glamorous job but it's one that falls within normal and traditional boundaries, rather like being Amy Williams instead of Amelia Pond.
You make liking your writing hard work sometimes Moffat...
It was suggested to me on a Doctor Who discussion group that maybe she was doing something significant; she could be a children's author telling stories based on her adventures for example. Unfortunately, we're not shown that... if we were then that would be fine; had it been a poster with her face and a book with the tagline 'The girl who was tired of waiting' then that would have felt much better to me.
Review: 03/10/11: Doctor Who - 06.13: TWoRS
My overall impression was the same as last time; if Moffat wants to build intricate storylines up to a big finale then he'd better not cheat at the last moment.
Last time we had this epic cliff hanger of the Doctor being locked in the Pandorica. That was impressive and exciting stuff... and it was undone in the first two minutes of the next episode with a couple of throw away scenes involving time travel... to easy.
This time The Doctor is going to die. We've been told over and over again that it really is him and we see him regenerating before he gets killed... and then a similarly simple cheat is used to side-step it. It's not actually the Doctor being killed; it's the Tesselleta and he's hiding inside.
Obviously they needed to find some way around the Doctor being killed, just as they needed to find some way around the Doctor being locked in an inescapable prison, but it ought to have matched the intricacy and excitement of the story so far, not be something cheap.
In fact, the whole scene is a bit odd. The Doctor ended up telling River anyway, which would have avoided the whole alternative time line if he had in the first place. That being said, given that River said she was not in control, I'm not sure why River had to be there in the first place; why couldn't it have been anyone in that suit?
I was actually hoping the Doctor would be dead and they were going to do something clever. I was quite disappointed when it was The Doctor who looked up at Churchill at the beginning (which was the point where I guessed something cheap was going to happen). My original bet was that it was going to be Rory.
The alternate reality was quite fun, although I'm not sure how it was supposed to work (all of time is happening at the same time and there's no passing of time... yet time is clearly moving because events are happening in a causal chain... not sure that makes sense).
The 'unseen chase' of The Doctor and Churchill was very well done though. It's one of those occasions where less really is more and plays on what is genuinely scary about the silence.
The appearance of the Daleks in a way that didn't over-run the script was well done. I hear that they were apparently obliged to mention the Daleks at least once but wanted to keep it as low-key as possible. It actually works better for it.
Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart mention was quite touching. It not only formed a brilliant tribute to Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart but really worked in terms of advancing the plot too; the idea that the Doctor could see things in perspective about his own life by learning that a close friend had died; was a nice way of handling it.
The marriage between The Doctor and River Song seemed randomly inserted and lacked any punch, which is odd because it was the title of the episode. It's also worth noting that The Doctor didn't actually tell River his name, so that's presumably yet to come...
Lastly, we have the set-up for the next season; 'Doctor Who?'
It was one of the things that I'd thought of and dismissed. Firstly, it felt too obvious. Secondly, it might be the oldest question in the history of the television show but it's not the oldest question in the history of the whoverse. Big difference.
I've got nothing against looking more at the Doctor's history, it's a nice return to Seven's 'I'm far more than just another Time Lord' stuff, but I'm not so keen on the idea that The Doctor is the most important thing in the universe.
I could accept him being an extra-special Time Lord but he is still a Time Lord and by no means the only one to have wandered through time and space.