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Doctor Who: "The Shakespeare Code"

And then the Beeb said, "How much do we love them for rebuilding the Globe? THIIIIIS MUUUUUCCH!!!!"

Random comment of the week: "Lilith Has Two Mommies?"

Almost too many (or maybe one too many) quote moments, but kept fresh by the twists -- "You can't, that's someone else's" and "Hey, that one's mine!" Perhaps more than any ep ever, this one had to hang on the dialogue, and it succeeds admirably well. Not Stoppard, maybe, but who is? The only time it really fell down for me, ironically enough, was in the snippets of the actual LLW performance -- as if Roberts were afraid to attempt even any snatches with substance, instead resorting to a figure addressing the audience in a clunkily "narrator" way that sounded and felt absolutely nothing like Shakespearean narration. I have played Chorus, sir, and you are no Chorus. Even a fleeting glimpse of verbal sparks flying between two characters -- rather than one guy talking entirely to the audience and a second guy occasionally soliloquizing -- would have given it a touch of life that made it plausible as a "lost masterpiece." As it is, it seems like it's better off lost for reasons having nothing to do with the Carrionites.

And it's a curious lack indeed, when there's no shortage of sparkle and heart in the actual episode dialogue. Between this and the Judoon platoon in their lunar spittoon, I'm just now consciously realizing the extent to which a particular kind of joy in language has been a defining feature of Ten from the beginning. Maybe it's that I'm finally getting accustomed enough to the jackrabbit-on-crack pace of his verbalization that I'm actually noticing its form as well as its content. Or maybe it's just that it was forced to the fore by the pivotal importance of words in the events of the episode.

The favorite of the Shakespeare lover in me, of course, was the centerpiece of the Doctor's torrent of fanboy gushing: "The most human human!" What else could be the essence of his genius in the Doctor's eyes? Not that it's anything like an original observation, nor does he pretend otherwise. But the notion of Shakespeare as containing all of human experience in his plays, multiplied by the Doctor's endless admiration for humanity? Seriously, it's a miracle he didn't blurt something like "That'll give you bees."

Just when we thought there were no fresh ideas in the Whoniverse, hello, civilization built on Logos. (Which, okay, also appears to be the premise of the Big Finish audio ...ish, which I just started listening to the other day. But very different realization of the concept.) Words as math and science and power. A bit tiresome, perhaps, that the Carrionites are Yet Another quasi-mythic race from the dawn of time. Or...tiresome if it's coincidence. Intriguing if it's a pattern. What butterfly have we stepped on this time? (And how much do I love Martha's cultural literacy about time travel?)

The power of words, and of course, as any Weird Sister will tell you, especially the power of names. "There is no name." Lilith was shaken by that, as well she might be. Not just unexpected from a presumed human. Unexpected from anyone. Gods and storms might go without names, but not people. There are names that are part of who he is and always will be, and she seizes on the most freshly significant, but can't harm him with it. There is too much more to him. And within the power-by-naming framework, attempting to harm him through the name is tantamount to threatening the person. Which always has been and always will be a one-way ticket to a messy end -- despite his best and most sincere efforts to persuade them to get off that train before it leaves the station. It's a testament to the size of the universe that there's any villain left in it who doesn't understand that.

I was...not as thrilled by the randomness of "Rose would know what to say." Um, why, exactly? There are contexts in which that statement would make sense, where her particular viewpoint might provide the missing puzzle piece. This? Really not one of them. I'm all for acknowledging that Rose existed. I don't subscribe to the view that just because he's always compartmentalized departed companions means he always should. But building an image of her as something she wasn't? Not exactly an improvement. Still, one weird comment does not a pedestal make. I'm not going to worry too much about it unless it becomes a trend.

Speaking of compartmentalizing, I'm glad I don't seem to have lost my touch at ignoring everything RTD says in interviews. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to watch the Confidentials, because if I actually saw what he keeps saying I'm supposed to, it would totally ruin the show for me. Plz to stop nattering on about "unrequited love" kthxbye.

That was especially troubling, though, because it came off very much as throwing it in Martha's face, as if she somehow wasn't doing her job. When she's been passing every other little "test" with flying colors, that's a nasty slap in the face that's really unworthy of him.

So it's still "one short trip," is it? Exactly who is he trying to fool? And what is he trying to prove? That Donna was wrong about him needing someone? Or is he avoiding a repeat of the rejection? Because I don't think it's just (as some folks have been putting forth in a reasonable enough fashion) in contrast to how he got to know Rose. He issued the open-ended invitation to Donna, almost verbatim the same way as to Rose, and she shut him down. (It's a dicey comparison to make, but it seemed like the rejection blindsided him less than with Grace, while bothering him more. Even though she would have been a lot harder to live with day-to-day than Grace.) Martha doesn't get that leap. She gets tests and increments. She gets the Doctor assuring himself step by step by step that this is going to turn out right, and he won't again find himself confronted with a noisy almost-stranger making uncannily acute observations he doesn't much care to hear. Trying for a "right fit" that isn't completely by accident. He should be able to do that by now, right?

Too bad that doesn't necessarily work with humans. They tend to throw you curve balls. Part of what you love about them, Doctor, remember? ;-D

She also gets to be the Dark Lady of the sonnets. *g* Which, okay, blaringly obvious and pat and cheesy. But it just would have been an enormous elephant in the room if they hadn't, y'know? And crush on the Doctor or no, she doesn't have a boyfriend back home (taken for granted or otherwise). She's free to flirt or not, seriously or not, with whomever she pleases. It's a nice balance to her analytical tendencies, and has the potential to go some fun (and potentially complicated, though not in this case) places. I love that her sense of wonder is...tempered, I guess, but by no means diminished by the analytical thing. I love the "mentor" vibe that's continuing to happen between her and the Doctor.

Now if only they'd be consistent about the role of dress in historical tourism. *sigh*

ETA: Oh, and am I the only one starting to get a sense that Martha is being tested and prepared for something specific? Not just for being a companion, but like Something Is Coming? Possibly I'm just insane, but it's starting to feel that way to me.

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
jennetj
Apr. 9th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Just finished watching it. My favorite line was "Fifty-seven academics just punched the air." Too funny for words.
wiliqueen
Apr. 9th, 2007 02:15 am (UTC)
Oh, good gods, yes. And a popular one, I'm noticing. Not that it's a surprise. :-D
leeflower
Apr. 9th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC)
*died* laughing at that.

That, and expiellarmus, but mostly that.

No really, I'm dead. This is a comment from beyond the grave.
mrv3000
Apr. 9th, 2007 02:16 am (UTC)
I was...not as thrilled by the randomness of "Rose would know what to say." Um, why, exactly?

It was a direct reference to the episode "Rose" and the big wheel! *cries*

http://mrv3000.livejournal.com/532381.html

Too bad that doesn't necessarily work with humans. They tend to throw you curve balls. Part of what you love about them, Doctor, remember? ;-D

Uh huh!
wiliqueen
Apr. 9th, 2007 03:31 am (UTC)
:: reads post ::

The size of Taunton. (Which possibly someone already said; I didn't read all the comments on account of Must Bed Soon.) Which is, unfortunately, not exactly close at hand. *wry g*

And hmmm. I can sorta see it, but that was a tangible thing that Rose spotted after he described what they were looking for -- she looked past what was expected. This was a very vague "something wrong here." There weren't really any expectations to look past, or any pattern to spot the weirdness in. There wasn't even really anything right in front of his face; he simply didn't have enough information yet.

So it ends up feeling to me like a very forced reference, which I can only explain in-universe as his projecting that Rose would come up with something I really don't think she would. And (unintentionally, perhaps, but it doesn't help much) implying that Martha is falling down on the job by doing so. It just wasn't necessary.
wiliqueen
Apr. 9th, 2007 03:32 am (UTC)
falling down on the job by doing so.

Or even by NOT doing so. :: going to bed now really ::
mrv3000
Apr. 9th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)
This was a very vague "something wrong here." There weren't really any expectations to look past, or any pattern to spot the weirdness in. There wasn't even really anything right in front of his face; he simply didn't have enough information yet.

But he was talking about a power generator - something that would harness this psychic energy - and it'd be HUGE. And then he started talking about how it was right in front of his face but couldn't see it. It might not have been right in front of him at that exact moment, but he had already been in the Globe, so it had stared him in the face.

During all this my mind immediately went to the wheel in "Rose" since exactly the same thing happened there. It was just an amplifier instead of a generator.

And (unintentionally, perhaps, but it doesn't help much) implying that Martha is falling down on the job by doing so.

I...I...I just...I honestly had not a single notion of this until reading someone's comment in my journal and then people's Posts of Rage today. This really baffles me. Of course, it's probably due to my always thinking of it in the wheely context. This morning I was like, "Wait. The Doctor was thinking about when he was a moron and Rose pointed out his moronity and suddenly the Doctor has disparaged Martha? What just happened?" And then there was flailing. Followed by ham.
chiroho
Apr. 9th, 2007 01:18 pm (UTC)
During all this my mind immediately went to the wheel in "Rose" since exactly the same thing happened there. It was just an amplifier instead of a generator.

It was a similar moment I suppose, but back in "Rose" the Doctor described in detail what he was looking for - a big round metal thing. I agree with Val that this was different. How was Rose supposed to have made the leap to understanding that the Globe was the generator because words were the key? The whole aspect of language hadn't yet come out in the episode, and the Globe certainly didn't look like a generator. For all we know, she'd have jumped to the conclusion that it was hidden in a spaceship in the Thames.

I think that this somewhat forced piece of dialog was really meant to indicate that Rose would say something that would help him think outside "the box" of his own thinking as it were. She'd help him find a new path to jackrabbit down. Martha, because of the education she's had, tends to think more traditionally and rationally. Rose, perhaps because of her background and upbringing as much as anything else, was more open to other possibilities. But I certainly don't think she'd have jumped to the conclusion that it was the Globe that was the generator.

I honestly had not a single notion of this until reading someone's comment in my journal and then people's Posts of Rage today.

My take on this was that it was actually more like when two people have a conversation, but one of them isn't actually having the conversation. The Doctor was talking to himself, and while he was peripherally aware that Martha was there and words were coming out that may have seemed to be in response to things she was saying, it was really two separate conversations. And Martha's reaction was exactly like one my wife would have in the situation where she's trying to talk to me about something and I'm the proverbial brick wall - she rolls over in a huff. So while some of the words may have been somewhat hurtful, or misinterpretable in relation to Martha, it wasn't intentional as I don't think the Doctor was actually talking to Martha at all.
mrv3000
Apr. 9th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
How was Rose supposed to have made the leap to understanding that the Globe was the generator because words were the key?

Okay, bad choice of the use of the word "exactly" in that sentence. It was like I said in my post about this - the Doctor was thinking this was the same *type* of situation. Where he was looking at something and not seeing it, *exactly* like in "Rose." Oh, who knows if Rose would have actually been able to spot this - I have my doubts. But he was recalling the situation.

The Doctor was talking to himself, and while he was peripherally aware that Martha was there and words were coming out that may have seemed to be in response to things she was saying, it was really two separate conversations.

Yes! Exactly this!
chiroho
Apr. 9th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
But he was recalling the situation.

Okay. I'll give you that. I still say it's because he's thinking she'd have come up with something, albeit inane, which would get him thinking in the right direction, but I guess it's the same sort of situation.

Yes! Exactly this!

Do you want your brain back now then? ;-)
wiliqueen
Apr. 9th, 2007 03:16 pm (UTC)
It might not have been right in front of him at that exact moment, but he had already been in the Globe, so it had stared him in the face.

Then sorry, but I think it's a clumsy parallel. I can see it working if the conversation had happened while the Globe was in sight. As it is, I don't know if I would ever have gotten there, and if I had it would have been from conscious analysis, not "Oh! *Dinnnnggg!!* Cool parallel!" Which might be because I'm not All About Rose, or because I'm just dense. Take your pick.

This really baffles me. Of course, it's probably due to my always thinking of it in the wheely context. This morning I was like, "Wait. The Doctor was thinking about when he was a moron and Rose pointed out his moronity and suddenly the Doctor has disparaged Martha? What just happened?"

Yup, I would definitely say it's the wheely context. And again, I think it could have worked if the same dialogue had taken place at the Globe.

I don't think the Doctor was intentionally disparaging Martha. Nor am I raging, nor have I yet seen pretty much anyone else's post. If there is actual rage, then yeah, I think it's a bit of an overreaction.

I do, however, have annoyance because carrying on said conversation with himself and oblivious to the very confused person three inches from his nose thinking "Um? How am I meant to be responding to this? Apparently this Rose person would know? Know what? HUH???"? Not exactly low on the "thoughtless" scale. Which is far from a first for him, but still annoying.

Plus, while I agree that the Doctor isn't directly comparing them, the scene is blatantly calling on us to do so -- whether he's referring specifically to the thing with the Eye, or in general (as I parsed it) to the usefulness of Rose's perspective. And as it stands, it does so in a manner that feels clumsy, arbitrary and gratuitous to me.

It's the only time I've felt like "Hi, not in any danger of thinking he's forgotten about her if you don't make the two-mentions-per-ep quota, honest."
diannelamerc
Apr. 10th, 2007 07:48 am (UTC)
O.K., the Wheelly parallel just made that bit work for me. It's actually pretty funny... if it had been at the Globe and therefore not quite so obscure.

I never took it as directly disparaging Martha regardless -- just the Doctor talking to himself (while looking at another person three inches away) and being obliviously thoughtless, as he is known too often to be.
diannelamerc
Apr. 10th, 2007 07:38 am (UTC)
Too late to make anything resembling original comments, just thrilled I can read everyone's reactions now ;-)

Random comment of the week: "Lilith Has Two Mommies?"

*g* Great minds, sweetie... great minds...

Seriously, it's a miracle he didn't blurt something like "That'll give you bees."

*snorts*

Still, one weird comment does not a pedestal make. I'm not going to worry too much about it unless it becomes a trend.

I'm hoping that they pretty much leave it here. They've acknowledged her, he hasn't forgotten her. He's even brought her up to (two, now) potential new companions. Is enough.

Speaking of compartmentalizing, I'm glad I don't seem to have lost my touch at ignoring everything RTD says in interviews. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to watch the Confidentials, because if I actually saw what he keeps saying I'm supposed to, it would totally ruin the show for me. Plz to stop nattering on about "unrequited love" kthxbye.

Hmmm... never watched the Confidentials... seeing even less reason to start now....

So it's still "one short trip," is it?

"Good night. Sleep well. I'll most likely killdump you in the morning."

I can actually see it going on that way for a while. I'd be amused if Rose was the only one he's asked twice and Martha makes up for it by being the one he never actually asks at all. ;-)

Now if only they'd be consistent about the role of dress in historical tourism. *sigh*

I know... what, they've just decided not to dress her up?
wiliqueen
Apr. 10th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
"Good night. Sleep well. I'll most likely killdump you in the morning."

BWAH! Yes, exactly. I'm ashamed of myself for not thinking of it. :-D
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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