Sunday, February 25, 2018

Doctor Who Story 030: The Power of The Daleks

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The Power of the Daleks is not known to have any existing prints as of this writing, which is a great tragedy as it is the first story of Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor.  This is perhaps one of the most important stories in Doctor Who, as it would allow for that transition between actors that would be later known as 'regeneration'.  Now we have the animated reconstruction of The Power of The Daleks, and we see that it is a brilliant debut story, if perhaps at six episodes, a bit long.

Ben Jackson (Michael Craze) and Polly (Anneke Wills) are shocked to find a strange new man in front of them.  Polly is convinced this new man whom they saw change before their eyes is 'The Doctor', but Ben is not.  The Doctor (Troughton) is acting strangely, wearing funny hats and playing a recorder.  He also insists on going to explore where they've landed, and soon they find themselves thrust into a murder mystery.

The Doctor finds a dead body, whom he finds is 'The Examiner', sent to examine something.  He has no problem removing the dead man's badge, and is soon struck from behind.  Guards pick up Ben and Polly, and the three are taken to meet with Governor Hensell (Peter Bathurst).  The travelers discover they are on Vulcan, probably named for the high amount of high heat activity going on, and everyone on Vulcan is supposed to give the Examiner complete access.

However, one person is not eager for interruptions: Lesterson (Robert James), conducting his very careful experiments.  It isn't long until The Doctor discovers what Lesterson's experiments are for.  It is to revive strange objects he has found in a lost spaceship.

The Doctor introduces Ben and Polly to the Daleks.

The Doctor pleads with everyone on Vulcan to destroy these creatures, but Lesterson is convinced they will help in the mining on Vulcan.  He is especially convinced of that since he 'gave them life' and because the primary Dalek says to them, "I Am Your Servant".

If all that wasn't enough, there is revolution and coups going on around Vulcan.  Deputy Governor Quinn (Nicholas Hawtrey) is suspected of murder and attempted murder, but the travelers don't believe it.  Polly is abducted to try and keep her quiet, and Ben is later taken when Lesterson's assistant Janley (Pamela Ann Davey) is discovered to be majorly involved with the rebels.

The rebels, however, are being manipulated by acting Deputy Governor Bragen (Bernard Archer), who is playing both sides in an effort to take total control of Vulcan.  Lesterson is oblivious to all this, but his focus on reviving the Daleks is causing greater danger.  He agrees to give the Daleks all the materiel they want, ostensibly to help revive them but really to help create more Daleks.

With this new Dalek army arising, they will let the humans fight each other and then take Vulcan, exterminating all the surviving humans foolish enough to think they could either use the Daleks or think they would ally with them.

The Doctor now desperately tries to destroy the Daleks and save his Companions.  He gets help from an unlikely source: Lesterson, who has discovered the Daleks' duplicity which has driven him mad.  Hensell is assassinated by Bragen and the 'revolution' has begun.  Bragen's plan was to use the revolution to seize power, then eliminate the rebels once their usefulness ended.  The Daleks were a last-minute addition to his plan, but the Daleks in turn took the opportunity to play both sides against the other.

The Doctor manages to destroy the Daleks by overloading their power source, with help from Valmar (Richard Kane). a rebel mole who sees how they've all been played.  With the traitors killed and the Daleks apparently exterminated themselves, the Doctor and his Companions leave before they are seen.

There is one Dalek, however, who appears to have survived.

Image result for the power of the daleksThe Power of the Daleks was an incredibly intelligent way to begin the Second Doctor's tenure as it attract viewers to perhaps the show's greatest villains.  Who else but The Doctor could face off against the Daleks, making their first appearance since The Daleks' Master Plan?

The fact that the Daleks appear to recognize the Second Doctor as THE Doctor helps.

The animated reconstruction I think also helps to show how epic this story was.  At the end of Episode Four, where we see the massive number of Daleks appearing and their assembly line-like creation, it is both chilling and a sign of how the production values at the time could be expanded.

In the surviving clips from The Power of the Daleks, we can clearly see that most of 'the Daleks' were really cutouts or toys, but the animation allows for a larger scope.  Even the sight of a Dalek outside its metal casing is still quite effective.

It's a bit hard to judge performances given the circumstances, but the audio suggests that Troughton was indeed a very worthy successor to William Hartnell, whom he was replacing.  He was still sort of feeling his way around the role, his incessant recorder playing and goofy hat sometimes diminishing his stature.  However, he also was very strong and authoritative when he was pursuing his own goals.

Troughton showed the deviousness and intelligence of this apparent clown, such as when he keeps trying to make his glass of water 'ring' while locked up.  This is driving his next-cellmate Quinn crazy, but it is clear why the Doctor is doing it: he realizes the locks are triggered by a specific decibel, and the water is his way of trying to find the exact level to free themselves.

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Craze and Wills had a slightly harder time, as they as the audience identification had to work to make their shock and eventual acceptance of this new figure as The Doctor as smooth as possible.  David Whitaker's script was wise in having them essentially play two sides of this debate.  Polly is more readily accepting that this new man is The Doctor, while Ben holds out for a longer period of time.

I do think that it was a mistake to have Troughton's Doctor refer to himself in the third person.  In the beginning, he says things like 'where does The Doctor keep his diary?' and things like that where he says 'The Doctor' rather than "I".  Eventually this was dropped and perhaps it was to make this all more mysterious but it made things a bit bumpy in accepting him when he didn't appear to accept himself.

Moreover, there was never a definitive moment when the Doctor just said "I Am The Doctor", and I think perhaps we could have had a scene where the Companion's doubts, especially Ben's, were addressed.  Granted, all this was new in 1966, so we do cut them some slack.

The other performances were quite good.  Of particular note is James as Lesterson, who goes from crazy about the Daleks to just plain crazy.  His shift from seeing himself as the 'resurrector' of the Daleks to seeing them as the new order that would wipe out the humans is in turns frightening and sad.  Archer's power-mad Bragin is also quite strong, a man who is unmasked as evil.

Hawtrey's Quinn may have been a bit more noble than I would have liked, but it is still a good performance, as was Davy's Janley.  Maybe it's a sign of the times, but I would have cast Davy as maybe Lesterson or Bragin, to see what a woman could do with a role that wasn't an 'assistant'.

Whitaker's script also did something that might not have been intentional.  The Daleks are a variation on Nazi ideology: their will to power, their plans for 'extermination' and belief in their total superiority and the destruction of their 'inferiors'.  What was new here is that Bragin and his troops had on very fascist-looking uniforms.  I don't know if they meant to echo collaborators who surrender to the Nazi/Daleks, but it was a smart move.

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As for the animation itself, it mostly worked.  Whenever they were animating non-humans, it was astonishing and beautiful.

I should note I saw the black-and-white version, not color.

As stated, the sight of the Daleks, or when we see shadows and the various rooms, is so well-rendered.  The transitions from the Dalek eye to a round window in Episode Four is also extremely effective.

It is when we see the humans that we see the work is almost ghastly.  Of particular note is the animation for Michael Craze's Ben.  His chin is massive and it looks nothing like Craze.  Craze's face looks almost ghoulish.  Wills' illustration was slightly better, as was Troughton's.  However, for the most part the animated faces had little expression, giving the odd effect of looking as if they were not reacting.

Moreover, the movements were more in line with paper cutouts than of anything truly animated.  The animation for another Troughton story, The Invasion, was more realistic with the human characters.  Yet I digress.

In terms of the overall story, I still think The Power of the Daleks was an episode too long, especially given that the Dalek attack was one to two episodes when I would have liked to have seen more.  I think Episodes One and Two could have been compiled into one, but I confess never being a fan of stories that over four episodes with a few exceptions such as Inferno or The Daemons.  Still, The Power of the Daleks is one of the best debuts for any Doctor, and a fine way to begin the Second Doctor's tenure.

In Episode Five, a Dalek asks Bragin after he's killed the Governor, 'Why do human beings kill human beings?'  It's sad that Daleks appear to have more sense in not destroying their own than we do*.


Next Available Story: The Underwater Menace

*Unless there is an animation reconstruction of The Highlanders in the future, where we meet future Companion Jamie McCrimmon, we move on to the earliest Second Doctor story to have a complete episode. Note that the linked review for The Underwater Menace was before a second episode was rediscovered in 2011.  A review for the reconstructed The Underwater Menace is forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Long Goodbye of The Doctor


Well, that was nothing.

Twice Upon A Time, the final story for the 12th Doctor, was fifteen minutes of story fitted into ninety-odd minutes of running time.  There was not much point to it, especially since it was a regeneration story.  It did take a lot of time trashing the legacy of the First Doctor and it had a lot of 'everybody lives' which fits into Steven Moffat's worldview.  For all the Sturm und Drang Twice Upon a Time had, it was all just...nothing.

The 12th Doctor (Peter Capaldi) is refusing to regenerate, but then he comes across a strange figure.  It's none other than The First Doctor (David Bradley), who himself is refusing to regenerate as he wanders away from the events of his final story, The Tenth Planet.  Into this mix comes a World War I figure known as 'The Captain' (Mark Gatiss), shocked to find himself in the South Pole in 1986.

The Captain was about to either kill or be killed in 1914 Ypres, but then time freezes and he finds himself having been taken out of time, which is something to do with the Doctors refusing to regenerate.  All of them now meet 'The Testimony', a glass figure that insists The Captain be returned to his exact moment of death.  An exchange is offered: The Captain for a chance to see 'her' again.  That her is Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie), but the 12th Doctor is a.) suspicious that it is the Real Bill and b.) won't let The Captain die.

Escaping 'The Testimony' the four go to the First Doctor's own TARDIS (the 12th Doctor's now in the hands of The Testimony), and we get quips from the First Doctor about women, the 12th working to not have his former self say sexist things, and Bill telling us she's a lesbian once again (six out of thirteen episodes by my count where she mentions her sexual orientation). 

We also arrive at The Weapon Forges of Villengard, where the 12th searches for information about The Testimony and The Captain.

Here, we meet up with Rusty, the Dalek the 12th crawled into in a previous adventure.  We find that The Testimony is really part of The Testimony Foundation, which swoops people just before they die, collects all their memories, and sends them back to die, so in a sense they don't die.

Seriously, Moffat has to see a psychiatrist about his issues with Death (and How to Avoid It).

Seeing that the Testimony is not malevolent, the two Doctors decide they will regenerate and return the Captain a couple of hours after he got swept up into this mess.  As a last request, he asks them to 'look in' on his family.  His family?  The Lethbridge-Stewarts, of course, for Captain Archibald Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart is (presumably) the grandfather or great-grandfather of The Brigadier.

However, as it happens, Captain Lethbridge-Stewart does not die (that old 'avoid Death at all cost, logic be damned).  As he is about to shoot and get shot by a German soldier in No Man's Land, we hear the first verses of Heilige Nacht, and the British soldiers begin singing the English version, Silent Night.  They've arrived at the Christmas Armistice, the one-day peace moment in World War I.

With that, the First Doctor goes back to regenerate into the Second, the 12th gives a long speech to his TARDIS and he finally regenerates into The Woman (Jodie Whittaker), who looks at herself and says "Ah, Brilliant", even if I heard Her say in her Yorkshire accent, "Ah, Berlin".  Hitting a button, the TARDIS promptly tosses Her out of the TARDIS...

Twice Upon a Time should satisfy NuWhovians whose only knowledge of Classic Doctor Who comes from the new series.  It has everything they love about NuWho: big pompous speeches, big tearful moments, no one dying, a bad musical score and massive points of illogic.

Take for example the entire plot.  First, the Testimony made much to-do about The Captain being taken out of his moment of death.  They seemed pretty adamant about him returning to the exact moment of his death.  However, in the end, for all the fuss and the 'he has to die at this exact time and place', Moffat couldn't let him die.  The Captain lives through this, so what was the point of The Testimony being insistent that he be returned to that precise moment if he didn't die then?

One presumes The Testimony knows exactly when The Captain will die, so they knew he wouldn't die December 25, 1914.  He may die the next day, and it would have lent Twice Upon a Time more pathos if he had died just before the Christmas Armistice began.  Moffat, however, couldn't do it.

In his seven years as showrunner, he has gone out of his way to introduce the idea of Death only to back out of it again and again.  In Twice Upon a Time, he's up to form, but no one ever calls him on how it renders his plots illogical and his efforts at moving moments moot.  Why should I care or worry if I know everyone is going to live?

Further, tying The Captain to The Brigadier is pathetic fan service, but what fan is he genuinely serving?  Most NuWhovians have only the sketchiest idea who The Brig is: they probably still see the poor man flying about as a Cyberman.  The Classic Who fans who know who The Brigadier is are probably either outraged that Gatiss has to tie himself into Classic Who or are so bored by the predictability of it all.

Nothing in The Web of Fear, the debut story for then-Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, or The Invasion, where he is now Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, suggests that The Doctor knew the Lethbridge-Stewarts or had any connection to them.  NuWhovians won't care or bother to look that up: for them, NuWho is gospel and cannot be questioned.  This idea of making The Captain an ancestor of The Flying Cyber-Brigadier is nothing more than Moffat and Gatiss working out their own fanboy/egocentric fantasies, making sure they are essentially part of the larger Doctor Who mythos.

If one thinks about it, it's a wonder why anyone would think Twice Upon a Time would have NuWhovians watch any William Hartnell stories given what a wretched portrait of the First Doctor the story painted.  It was so disheartening and sad and infuriating to see how Moffat, Gatiss, and everyone involved with Twice Upon a Time went out of their way to make The First Doctor into some kind of raging sexist male chauvinist pig.

The First Doctor was never someone to think that women were inferior to him, only good for cleaning.  He was very respectful of his Companions male and female.  Barbara Wright, one of his first Companions, openly challenged him.  He would never have asked Security Agent Sara Kingdom to 'do some cleaning up', and he never suggested that Polly, one of his last Companions, was only good to keep house.

It's a clear case of confusing the times with the man and character, but Twice Upon a Time went beyond disrespectful to Hartnell's memory and legacy as the First Doctor.

There are so many ghastly moments where Moffat went out of his way to thrash the First Doctor.  "I am The Doctor and this is my...nurse," he tells the Captain while pointing to the 12th, adding that he knows it seems improbable because the 12th is a man.  Nothing in the First Doctor's tenure ever suggested he thought men could not be 'nurses' or any other position.

More 'greatest hits' from The Faux-First:

"Older gentlemen, like women, can be put to use".
"In fact this whole place could do with a good dusting.  Obviously, Polly isn't around anymore".
"Well, he clearly misses you," addressing Bill.  "That ship of his is in dire need of a good spring cleaning".
""Well, aren't all ladies made of glass, in a way?"

Perhaps the lowest point is when he overhears Bill call the 12th 'an arse'.  "If I hear any more language like that from you, young lady, you're in for a jolly good smacked bottom".

There is no way in Hell the First would ever tell any woman or person that he would 'smack their bottom' for any reason.  Moffat is misquoting something the Doctor said in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, but in that instance, he was telling his granddaughter that bit about 'a smacked bottom'.  There's a wild difference between telling one's grandchild and a perfect stranger that you are going to smack them on the behind.

This is taking a quote completely out of context, but it's the lowest point of the smearing of someone who didn't deserve this kind of treatment.

It's more the shame as I thought Bradley gave a good performance as The First Doctor if not hobbled by the dreadful dialogue he had to say.  There were moments when I could see the First Doctor there, but they sadly were brief.  Gatiss was unimpressive as 'The Captain', and Mackie was there just to remind us, again, that Bill is a lesbian.

Many NuWhovians shed tears when Clara and Nardole showed up, but for what they added it was a big 'who cares'.

As for Capaldi, I think no one will remember anything about his performance save his big farewell speech.  Is it now tradition for Doctors to be bombastic in their farewell stories?

Finally, let us turn to Her.  I think Her first line, "Ah Berlin", I mean, "Ah, Brilliant", is to suggest that being a man all these thousands of years was dreadful.  Remember, when the 10th regenerated to the 11th, he seemed genuinely shocked that he was 'a girl'.  Now, we're all supposed to say that when he regenerated into She, it is 'brilliant' and something She has always wanted.

Somewhere in the fact that She was essentially tossed out of the TARDIS is a metaphor.

Many NuWhovians are praising Whittaker's one line, "Ah Berlin" as iconic, brilliant, what have you.  Some even think She'll outdo Tom Baker's seven-year tenure as The Doctor.  Honestly, I'd be surprised if She lasted two years...before the BBC cancels Doctor Who.

It's not a slam on Whittaker or her acting abilities.  It's a slam on Chris Chibnall and the BBC for deciding that for the sake of 'equality' and because 'it's "time" we had a Female Doctor', a change was made to placate people who for the most part don't watch the show.

I predict Her debut story now won't get the massive jump I thought it was as The First Female Doctor, and that lousy stories, the bane of Doctor Who 2.0, will further sink a series in dire straits.  The fans who were pushed out won't come back, the ones who swore they'd watch because of Her won't actually watch past the third episode, and those who do decide to won't make up the numbers.

Twice Upon a Time is a bore, with a lot of smashing of established Who Canon.  Despite seeing the back of Steven Moffat and Murray Gold (whose music is again so tone-deaf, adding cutesy comic music to scenes that do not need it), Doctor Who failed and is about to take a massive fall.

Be Careful What You Wish For.


Next Story: Ah Berlin

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Aragon vs. Anderson: Listen

Now that I have a few minutes free, I thought I'd go back to one of my great passions...bashing The Whorist (or as it's generally known, The Nerdist), in particular their Doctor Who reviews by one Kyle Anderson.

Mr. Anderson (now doesn't that sound sinister) in my view, has rarely if ever met a Doctor Whopost-Rose story that he hasn't loved. I don't mean liked. I mean L-O-V-E-D, to where that particular episode is the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time...until the next episode when THAT becomes the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time. It's gotten to be almost a point of parody to see how Anderson rarely finds fault with a Doctor Who episode. I don't mean just to nitpick on a few things. I mean give a bona-fide negative review. Even I, someone who has been vociferous in my condemnation for many NuWho episodes, do admit when I see a good one (like Flatline or Mummy on the Orient Express). Anderson, however, will almost always find something to wax rhapsodic about, even on something as atrocious as In the Forest of the Night

I was intrigued by this, so a little research was required. I went as far back as I could regarding Anderson's Doctor Who reviews, and the earliest one I could find was the Series/Season Six opener, The Impossible Astronaut. What I've done is taken Kyle Anderson's review verbatim, and offered my own 'translation' to the text to see what Anderson is, in my view, really saying. I also throw in my own thoughts as to what is being said.

I hope this will be a fun and informative journey into the strange mind of the Functioning Nerd.

I present Part 34 of The Nerdist as Whore: Listen. My 'translations' are in red.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

TECHNICALLY, President Roosevelt said "the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself", but in this case, I'm not going to split hairs, as quotes are often misquoted. 

That appears to be what was zipping around Steven Moffat’s brain when he wrote this week’s Doctor Who episode, “Listen,” directed by Douglas Mackinnon. It’s an episode all about being too afraid to function,

It’s an episode all about being too afraid to function…as a rational, logical episode.

or possibly to realize the truth of what’s going on,

Something Doctor Who abandoned long ago.

and one that raises a lot of questions it doesn’t answer,

And will not only never answer, but leave a wild and outlandish continuity error so brazenly irredeemable that not even our sycophantic Disfunctional Nerd can possibly answer without going into mental contortions to try and make a completely illogical plot thread work on any rational and/or coherent level.

and answers questions we didn’t know we’d asked (but were glad we did).

This episode boasts a very small cast, but very big ideas, a lot of creepiness, and a lot of “probably”s that are PROBABLY true.

They are ‘probablies’ (yes, it’s not a word but I think you change “y” to “-ies” to make something plural) because to use ‘probably’ is an easy and convenient way to explain away plot points and whole stories that in retrospect, won’t make any sense.  By saying ‘probably’, you have an escape clause where you don’t have to tie yourself down to a particular point or plot idea in Listen that another episode, say, Death in Heaven or Face the Raven, will contradict or render impossible.  
Every series, I think, needs a good ol’ creepy ghosty scary episode and, (as AliciaLutes aptly pointed out), “Listen” had a lot of Series 7’s “Hide” all over it, and that’s not at all a bad thing.

“I adored this episode, easily my favorite of this half-series, and possibly for the whole series, but we’ll have to see about that. It had everything I love about Doctor Who and did something different. Sure, the end went a little soft, but it never got stupid or implausible, which is truly commendable. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go watch it again”.

It’s no surprise Anderson thinks having a lot of Hide isn’t a bad thing.  It’s so rare when he thinks anything Doctor Who-related is a bad thing.

Honestly, in your heart of hearts, could the closing paragraph from his Hide review have come from just about ANY Kyle Anderson Doctor Who-reviewed story?

“Listen” begins with the Doctor talking to himself, something we know he does and have seen him do quite a lot; this time, however, he ponders WHY he does it,

Why ask why?

My guess is because there is no one he can talk to, with Wilson, I mean, Handles, gone and Clara a Part-Time Companion, though I'm sure Anderson wouldn't mind if Jenna Coleman were his...

and if possibly he isn’t talking to himself and that when people think they’re talking to themselves they’re actually talking to a thing that’s hiding just out of sight, something that follows everyone around at all times. That’s a pretty terrifying thought, but certainly one most if not all of us have had.

That’s why we’re afraid of the night, or of spooky old houses, or of forests,

Can you imagine how scary In the Forest of the Night must be then?  In fairness, it was, though perhaps not the way Anderson might want to think, but now we're getting ahead of ourselves.

or of etcetera – because MAYBE someone or something else is there with you.

Probably it isn’t, but maybe it is. 


Moffat’s made a lot of generally mundane things quite scary (like statues, silence, the dark, robots…errr), but now he’s actually decided to make nothing scary. NOTHING, the concept. It’s terrifying.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Most Terrifying Show In History:

Clara, meanwhile, has finally gone on her date with Danny Pink, and boy howdy does it not go well.

Jenna Coleman in My Dinner with Danny.

Danny’s very touchy about having been a soldier, and doesn’t appreciate any kind of offhanded comment about his having killed people in the line of duty, nor does she appreciate being lumped in with all the other people who do make stupid jokes like that.

Far be it for me to be ‘highly critical when needed’, but if I were accused of war crimes in the guise of jokes while on a date, I’d be a bit touchy too.  

From my vantage point, I’d say Clara was shockingly insensitive, even condescending, towards Danny.  Here though, I figure it is reflective of Moffat's (and perhaps, Anderson's) worldview of those in the military.  I figure in the U.K., you don’t get people coming up to those in uniform and saying to them, “Thank you for your service”.  After all, all those serving in the military are all war criminals, and generally stupid as well.

What was it Almost-President John Kerry said: unable to get into college so they’re ‘stuck in Iraq (read: the military)’. 

My sneaking suspicion is that Moffat genuinely feels the same as our almost Commander-in-Chief: only those with little to no education actually serve in the armed forces.  This version of The Doctor certainly thinks so.  Why else would he go on about how former soldier Danny Pink couldn't possibly be a maths teacher and had to be a P.E. teacher?  There is a horrid elitism behind Moffat, The Doctor and Clara's thinking, one that seeps in and finds form in the dialogue.  I've long argued that a writer's dialogue, consciously or not, presents his/her worldview through the stories and dialogue.  The whole 'The Doctor hates soldiers' thread, I think, reflects both Moffat and the Doctor Who production staff's mindset.

We could go over again about the Doctor's deep affection and respect for The Brigadier, the epitome of the military, but why?  Most NuWhovians have the vaguest idea of who The Brigadier was.

I’m sure Anderson would like to be touch-feely with Coleman, but now I digress.

It’s all a bit of a mess, so she’s more than happy (or less than willing to argue too hard) when she returns home to find the Doctor and the TARDIS waiting for her in her room.

Bless The Doctor: the only man who can be waiting for Clara in her bedroom and not think about going to bed with her.  Anderson, on the other hand…

He tells her his hypothesis and asks if she’s ever had the dream (or not a dream) where you think someone’s in your room, so you sit up quickly and then something grabs your ankle from under your bed. According to him, everyone has.


That seemed like a flawed premise to me, but by time you get to the end of the episode, we find out it IS a flawed premise, but one with a reason behind it.

It’s a flawed premise, but one with a reason behind it.  Ah…is it me, or is Anderson's argument a trifle convenient and eager to cover up something that might not have sat right with him?

In order to get some empirical evidence, the Doctor has Clara plug herself into the TARDIS’ psychic goo flanges to go back to a time she remembers it happening in her own past.

She’s not supposed to get distracted but she can’t stop thinking about Danny, and they end up in Gloucester in the ’90s in front of a children’s home.

She’s never been here, but immediately she sees why her mind brought them all: a little boy in the window, named Rupert Pink, afraid of being alone.

Already the tangles are getting very knotty.  The TARDIS is connected to Clara’s time-stream, but it’s Rupert/Danny Pink’s past we go to.  Already, we’re getting the suggestion that Clara and Danny’s time-streams are connected, but as we will see, it ain’t necessarily so.  Perhaps here I can be a little more flexible, and maybe just thinking of someone will lead you to their past rather than their own.  However, would this not mean that either Clara or the TARDIS had knowledge of Danny's past?  How else could Clara get to Danny's exact childhood?  If I didn't know something about the past of someone I know, how would I be able to go to find it?

I just find something here slightly amiss, but I can trust others to guide me if they can find the way.

She goes up to see him and make him feel better while the Doctor asks the caretaker (under the guise of being an inspector) whether strange or creepy things happen. The building’s always creepy at night, isn’t it?

Clara tells Rupert there’s nothing to be afraid of, because the only thing under the bed is her, once she goes there. She beckons Rupert (who IS Danny, let’s face it) to come under with her…

OH MY! We’re going from knotty to naughty.  Rupert 'Danny' Pink in Lolita: The Boy's Turn.

then something sits on the bed. Luckily, the Doctor’s there as well and whatever it is on the bed is hiding under the bedspread.

'Whatever' is on the bed.  Indeed, this is one of those pesky little aspects to Listen that people consistently ignore because…THE FEELS!

The Doctor then gives Rupert a very lovely pep talk about fear being a super power that scary things just don’t have.

Be Not Afraid.

This was such a great moment for the Twelfth Doctor and one of Capaldi’s defining scenes so far. He’s been nothing but great in these kinds of scenes and I just think he’s shaping up to be a wonderful, complex, and actually quite easy to like Doctor, despite the “darkness” we’ve seen within him.

OK, I’ll give him that: Capaldi has been better than his material. However, given that this Doctor fought off Robin Hood with a spoon, I find the ‘darkness’ claim a trifle dubious.

The three stand looking out the window while the Doctor tells the thing to leave. He thinks that if something had a “perfect” ability to hide, for someone to look at it would be catastrophic, so better safe than sorry. Now, this PROBABLY was just another boy in the home playing a prank, but can anyone be sure?

Now, let’s look at this particular situation. From all appearances, there was something alien in Rupert’s bed (and no, that isn’t a Jenna Coleman joke).  What weird creature was lurking under the covers?  Though whatever was there disappears quickly, the quick look did not look human.  So, was it human or was it otherworldly? 

Well, Listen never answers that, and we’ll never get an answer to this particular curiosity because it’s a plot device, a way to get Rupert to ‘be scared’ but which leaves a viewer who actually thinks things through hopelessly frustrated.

We’ll be left forever hanging, because either answer (it was an alien or it wasn’t) will have no logical basis can be drawn on the evidence.  If it was alien, we’ll never know what it was, how it got there, why it was there.  If it wasn’t, then that is the best costume for an orphan ever made.

It's a needless mystery, but one that Moffat needed because a.) he needed to make an episode last a certain amount of time, b.) he had to hammer in his point, and c.) 'analytical critics' like Kyle Anderson will rarely if ever question anything.

Clara gives him a toy from a box of soldiers which she calls the boss, the one who goes into a battle without a weapon because he’s the bravest (while Mackinnon focuses on the Doctor in the background…great moment) and the time travelers leave.

OK, I’ll concede that too: that was a good, subtle commentary on The Doctor.

Clara gets the Doctor to take her back to the restaurant, just moments after she left and things with Danny seem to be going well again, until she lets slip that she knows his name is Rupert.

Jenna Coleman in My Dinner with Rupert.

I have a question at this juncture.  Clara didn't know Rupert/Danny was in a children's home (read: orphanage) prior to her journey to the past, but she still managed to get to his childhood because she was thinking of him.  Now, after essentially popping back into their disastrous dinner, she lets out something that shocking to him?  Again, something here is still amiss.  What could it be?

He doesn’t like being lied to, but she can’t even make up a story because someone in a space suit is beckoning her back to the TARDIS.

This signals the first part of the story ran out of steam, so we need something wild to put us in the second part.

It’s not the Doctor, it’s someone who looks AMAZINGLY like Danny.


It’s Orson Pink, a time traveler from 100 years in the future. The Doctor found him through searching Clara’s time stream again (clearly something’s going on between the Oswalds and the Pinks).

Guess again, oh Highly Analytical Critic.  Guess again.  

Listen is tying itself into Gorgon knots that not even our Andy will be able to untangle.  

He’s been stranded on the Last Planet in the Universe, a desolate rock with nothing, no life, no sounds, no anything. And yet, even though there is truly nothing out there, Orson has been terrified of the night because he thinks something might actually be out there.

Is he afraid of the dark?

The Doctor has Orson and Clara wait in the TARDIS while he opens the lock and lets whatever’s out there in. But he gets his head knocked and almost gets sucked out the airlock, but Orson saves him.

I don’t want to sound too picky here, but Anderson uses ‘but’ twice in the same sentence.  I was taught that one doesn’t begin a sentence with ‘but’, but it seems that sentence is a bit off structurally.  Any grammarians are free to pipe in.

With the Doctor unconscious and something outside (or maybe it’s just the air settling), Clara uses the psychic circuits to take them somewhere else. They arrive in a barn or stable and she follows the sound of a small child crying.

She assumes it’s Rupert again, or Orson, but when people arrive, she hides under the bed. They talk about how he’ll never be a good soldier if he keeps crying, nor a good Time Lord. WHAAAAAAA?!?!? Clara has somehow gone to the Doctor’s childhood on Gallifrey (which doesn’t REALLY make sense given that Gallifrey is hidden somewhere in another universe, but I’m willing to overlook that).

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson would be willing
to overlook something which doesn't
REALLY make sense

I am curious though, is the TARDIS still stuck looking up Clara’s timeline, because if it is, it’s doing a damn lousy job.  It’s taken her to Danny/Rupert’s past, the future of someone named Orson Pink, and now The Doctor’s.  Either she’s related to ALL three of them, or there a major malfunction somewhere in all this.

She realizes it’s her being there that causes the Doctor to fear the dark, and dreaming, and being alone. She tells him it’s a dream, gives him the same speech as he gave young Rupert, and then says a line Hartnell says in “An Unearthly Child” all the way back in 1963 – “Fear makes companions of us all.”

I take great umbrage at the use of this line because it is taking the line completely out of context. He said that in response to his Companion Barbara’s comment in the story.  It wasn’t meant or intended as some grand philosophical statement, but as a reply.
I get that Moffat was nodding to the original series, but the ‘fear makes companions of us all’ bit is stretching things.  Further, I am mistrustful of Anderson’s cheering on something that doesn’t quite fit just because it sounds nice.

Also, how does The Doctor NOT remember Clara, whom he’s essentially met twice before meeting her multiple times when she was split through time to save him, again and again?

We also see a glimpse of the War Doctor walking with the Moment back to this very stable, clearly a place where he felt safe.

Because we needed the “War” Doctor (or as I call him, the real Ninth Doctor) shoehorned in to please Moffat’s ego.

“Listen” is a truly wonderful episode that only makes sense once the whole thing is completed, like the best of Moffat.

“Listen” is a truly wonderful episode that only makes sense once the whole thing is completed, like the best of Moffat.

“Listen” is a truly wonderful episode that only makes sense once the whole thing is completed, like the best of Moffat.

“Listen” is a truly wonderful episode that only makes sense once the whole thing is completed, like the best of Moffat.

“Listen” is a truly wonderful episode that only makes sense once the whole thing is completed, like the best of Moffat.

Everything we thought was scary actually WAS the “probably” we all tell ourselves to make us feel better.

I CAN'T BREATHE...I need a few minutes.  Oh, Kyle, even for you you've gone overboard.  You transcend ass-kissing into straight-up rimming.

It was another little boy under the comforter; it was just a dream about someone under your bed;

It Was All A Dream.  What is this: Doctor Who or Dallas?

it was just the Doctor being scared of being alone and in the dark. It was all there. So often, Doctor Who takes things every little kid fears and says, yes, it actually is something scary; here, Moffat tells the audience that being scared is normal and it doesn’t always point to a real danger, that being afraid is a badge of honor and can help you become brave, and that admitting you’re afraid can be the bravest thing of all.

Such a lovely episode.

Something tells me that Kyle Anderson liked Listen.  What say you?

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a Doctor Who episode!
Oh, and I didn’t mention yet this time out: Jenna Coleman is SO FRIGGING GOOD!

Oh, and he didn’t mention yet this time out: Jenna Coleman is SO FRIGGING HOT!

My God, they’ve just been giving her cracking things to do and she’s been delivering to the Nth degree. She’s great great great.

I so look forward to see where the Danny/Clara storyline goes

Nowhere, Fast.  Let me play psychic to his psycho, but the Danny/Clara storyline will end up being a rubbish heap of total nonsense that Kyle Anderson will insist is a hallmark of genius.

but mostly I look forward to where she goes as a character, because right now she’s easily my favorite companion of the new series. Yeah, I said it.

SHOCKED that Clara is his favoriteCompanion of the new series!

Next week, we have a heist… in a bank… having to do with time… and a weird Not-Ree-Yees alien creature and Keeley Hawes looking stern librarian. 

I can genuinely say I have no idea what he's talking about at this point, though to be fair I rarely can make genuine sense out of Anderson's cheerleading, as muddled as most Doctor Who episodes are nowadays.

“Time Heist” is next week, written by Moffat and Stephen Thompson and directed again by Mackinnon. Have a gander!

And let’s talk about “Listen” below! Did you like it as much as I did?

That, my dear Kyle, is impossible.  No one can like a Doctor Who episode more than you.  Then again, no one gets paid to like them more than you.  Yeah, I said it.