Thursday, October 8, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Name of The Doctor

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 Who post-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 28 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Name of The Doctor. My 'translations' are in red.

Wait, so this WASN’T the 50th Anniversary special? It’s an episode in which every single incarnation of the Doctor we know (and also…) is featured, a way that should horrify every true Doctor Who fan, where 50 years of Canon are apparently all from the mind of Steven Moffat, who was all of two years old when the show premiered.
and in a way that makes sense and isn’t stupid.
It’s full of past characters and references and mystery and intrigue and loss and sadness and endings and beginnings and…. Man, “The Name of the Doctor” had everything.
It's full of continuity questions and references to things NuWhovians neither know or care about and confusion and sluts and Anderson got lost in his hyperventilating glee at it all, never really caring whether any of it made sense.  Man, "The Name of the Doctor" had a lot of oddities in it.
It was even about what it said on the tin, and we didn’t have to hear it.
What it said on the tin was "The Name of The Doctor", but it wasn't a part of the story. 
So, let’s dive in, I guess.
So, let's get this over with, I guess.
Vastra calls a meeting of all the awesome people who help the Doctor and are still available to be shown onscreen.
Let's see: Susan Foreman, Ian Chesterton, Zoe Hariot, Jamie McCrimmon, Jo Grant, Romana, Ace...oh, that's right.  They're Classic Who, so putting them on what you thought was the 50th Anniversary Special would have been so erroneous.   
That means herself, Jenny, Strax, Clara, and River, whom we haven’t seen since she left the Doctor crying and alone at the end of “The Angels Take Manhattan.”

I'd like to know who declared Madame Vastra and River Song "awesome", so as to publicly horse-whip them.

Apparently, with the proper fragrance,
Eau De Stupidity
people can lucid-dream their way into a Matrix construct. I did not know that.
Man, my fan-fic isn't as good as The Moff's.
It’s a good way of getting people in the same room at once without having to mess around with pesky science or technology.
It's a lousy and lazy way to get around putting characters from the 19th, 20th, and 21st Centuries in one room at once without having to mess around with pesky logic.  Oh, and did I mention that The Bitch is technically dead at this point.  Oh, right, sorry...on Moffat Doctor Who no one ever dies. 
They are gathered because some crazy murderer knows information regarding the fields of Trenzalore. We know this, of course, as the site of the Fall of the Eleventh, as told to the Doctor by Dorium at the end of “The Wedding of River Song.”
What we DON'T know is how exactly this Victorian-era murderer knows all this information regarding the Fields of Trenzalore.  That isn't explained, let alone given a plausible explanation, but since this is Doctor Who, whose main virtue is its total lack of logic, it doesn't matter how this all came about. 
This is bad news.
This is bad episode.

The Great Intelligence, again played by the iconic Richard E. Grant,
I wouldn’t go so far as to say Grant is ‘iconic’, but he’s a good actor, so I’m willing to let that slide.

sends the Whisper Men, another in a long string of Moffat’s terrifying henchmen,

to take/kill the members of the pentagon whilst they’re asleep. Clara wakes up and tells the Doctor what happened, causing him to cry.

He wasn’t the only crying through this horror, albeit people cried for different reasons.
He knows where he must go, but he daren’t. If you could travel anywhere in time and space, obviously the one place you’d avoid is the place where you breathe your very last.

If you could travel anywhere in time and space, obviously the one place you keep going to is 20th Century London and Cardiff.

We see terrible things on Trenzalore,

Like The Name of The Doctor.

not least of which being the remains of the TARDIS, its dimensions broken down so that the outside matches the inside.


River is also here — not real River, mind, but the River that’s mentally linked to Clara.

OF COURSE RIVER HAD TO BE IN THIS!  She's the most important character on Doctor Who!  That's like not having Stormtrooper Number 7 in The Empire Strikes Back!

I don’t actually understand what River is doing there and why the Doctor, we eventually learn, can see her.
River served no purpose in The Name of The Doctor, and there's no logic to the idea that for the longest time, he apparently pretended not to see or hear where when apparently he could.
I get that she’s supposed to be the “saved” version of River from “Forest of the Dead,” but why wouldn’t they just pick a River who’s alive? I mean, she’s out of sequence with the Doctor; does that mean the very next thing she did after Amy and Rory got sent back to the ’40s was go to the library?
The whole River timeline, with his first meeting of her being her last meeting with him and vice-versa, has gotten so convoluted that there's just no way any of it makes sense now.
Either way, I think we’re led to believe that she’s not going to be in the show anymore.
I’ll miss her, I think, but I can live with it.
OH GOD, HOW I WISH THAT OLD BITCH WOULD GO!!!  I can't stand River Song, and the sooner we see the backside of her the better.  Granted, Anderson has a thing for cougars, or in River Song's case, saber-tooth tigers, but still, get rid of her! I can live without her.
The Great Intelligence’s plan is downright horrific, to jump into the Doctor’s time stream and un-right all the un-wronging he’s done throughout eternity.

If only the Great Intelligence could do that with so many NuWho episodes...

What a dick.

What a dick.

Planets, galaxies, people, begin to disappear from existence, including Jenny and evil-again Strax.

Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe The Name of The Doctor is actually good, if the episode wipes out Jenny and Strax.

There is but one thing left to do – for Clara to jump in herself, completely forsake her own life, and get split into a billion pieces to save the Doctor and ensure things happen the way they should.

The Companion sacrificing herself to save The Doctor.  Now THAT'S an original idea! 

She’s the one who tells him which TARDIS to take, for heaven’s sake (although, didn’t Idris-TARDIS say it was she who chose him?… maybe they were in league together).

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to integrate competing Moffat-era scripts that contradict each other.
Since “Asylum of the Daleks,” back when we were surprised to see Jenna-Louise Coleman on our screens, we’ve been wondering who exactly she is, and what exactly she’s doing in multiple places in history. Now we know; she’s not a trick, or a trap,

Maybe a tramp who turns tricks?

or some weird alien, or a robot, or anything like that.

She ain't a bitch or a ho, either.

She’s a young lady who essentially allowed herself to be fragmented throughout time and space to save the Doctor time and time again.

Well, there is a certain logic to that, albeit an idiotic one, to misquote All About Eve.  However, there's something sad in thinking that Steven Moffat, in a roundabout way, is claiming credit for ALL of Doctor Who because his creation now has 'interacted' with all the Doctors.

We see her “interact” with the Doctor throughout his whole life.

In the future, we see just HOW long her meddling in his life was.

I don’t care if it does look fake, seeing Clara and William Hartnell share the same frame is magical. And Tom Baker and Colin Baker and Patrick Troughton and everybody. It’s awesome. I love it.

Kyle Anderson, you are officially expelled as a Whovian.

Once things are righted, the Doctor does something even more insane that what Clara did: jump into his own time stream to save her.
She eventually ends up in some horrible, bleak place
a Moffat-penned Doctor Who episode...
and, miraculously (or not), the Doctor finds her, the real her. Except there’s another guy standing there… We do not know this guy; who’s this guy?

Seems pretty self-explanitory to where even an analytical critic could figure it out.
Evidently, he’s the man who had forsaken the name of the Doctor.
Yet he's billed as "Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor".  And perhaps this is not the best time to mention that "The Doctor" is not The Name of The Doctor.  The Doctor is a title.  Geez, even Peter Cushing's version at least named him "Doctor Who" and didn't go on with this "Name of The Doctor being a BIG MYSTERY" nonsense you lap up like the lapdog you are.
There have only been 11,
Well, there used to be only 11 Doctors until now.  Thanks to "The Moff" what had been a simple numerical system has been permanently thrown into needless chaos and confusion, but with apologists like you, "The Moff" need not worry about answering for illogic on a show whose whole premise, according to you, is in BEING illogical. 
but this one’s a mistake or something.
Kyle Anderson accidently hits the nail on the head.  Yes, this one's a mistake...or something.
Is he the Valeyard,

is he a future Doctor,
is he… a third thing?
NOPE. It says, "Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor".
I guess we’ll have to wait and see once the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors team up.

I’m sure there’s a lot of nitpicking to be done about this episode, but none of it really bothered me in the least.

I'm sure an analytical critic could point out how horrible this all is, how it obliterates Canon, how it does a disservice to 50 years of stories, how a lot of it simply doesn't make a lot of sense, but none of it really bothered me in the least.  I either get very well paid to shill for Moffat or am such a total lackey that it's beyond me to look past anything other than to bask in The Moff's reflective glory.  There is a third alternative: Kyle Anderson is an idiot.  Just a flat-out idiot too enamored of pretty lights and access to all the Doctor Who production team that he just doesn't care how good or bad a story is, so long as he gets a piece of the action.

What is extraordinary about that statement, "I'm sure there's a lot of nitpicking to be done about this episode, but none of it really bother me in the least" is that Anderson essentially is saying that whatever flaws The Name of The Doctor has as a story, he just doesn't care what they are.  He just doesn't care.  He'll let it wash over him and go on his merry way, disinterested that a show he claims to love and analyze with a critical eye is being brought to wrack and ruin.  It's a bit like saying one loves antiquities but doesn't care that Palmyra is being obliterated before our eyes. 

I thought everything paid off what was promised,

I was handsomely paid off.

and River’s ghost being able to open the tomb’s doors aside, the episode wasn’t a cop out.

It WAS about the name of the Doctor,

it WAS about finding out who and what Clara is,

it WAS about something that completely changed what we knew about the show, but it doesn’t besmirch or negate any of it.

That last line was so bad, it deserves another Vincent Price Laugh.

How can Anderson truly say that with both a straight face and any sense of decency?  This John Hurt Doctor oh so much besmirches and negates what has come before on Doctor Who.  The idea that CLARA of all people has been boucing around the Doctor's entire existence, bailing him out of dangers like some big-eyed guardian angel completely takes away from all the good work various writers, producers, cast and crew put into the show.  Clara doesn't fit into Canon pre-Bells of Saint John, and even in her two prior appearances not only does she "die" but neither story fits very well together.  Yet now she's been shoehorned into pre-An Unearthly Child, and for what?  To please the ego of the man Anderson rims metaphorically at every opportunity he gets.    

It’s an episode about the past, present, and future of the character, which is something everybody can enjoy.

I shouldn't be shocked, SHOCKED, by the levels Anderson willingly sinks to in order to please Moffat (or show himself to be a total acolyte to Moffat's overwhelming sense of genius).  However, what I see is a man desperate to convince me (and perhaps himself) that The Name of The Doctor is some turning point in television, nay, world history, when it's an open sewer (and Anderson knows it).  Now, either he knows it and is not saying so for reasons opaque (a love of money, a desire to please Moffat, blanket stupidity) or he doesn't know it and genuinely believes that The Name of The Doctor or Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS are somehow equal to or above The Caves of Androzani or Genesis of the Daleks.

This is the gist of my long 'feud' with Kyle Anderson.  You CANNOT be an 'analytical critic' AND a cheerleader/apologist for the person you are analyzing.  There is a clear-cut conflict of interest that renders your 'analysis' nothing more than promotional puff pieces or worse, shameful and shameless propaganda.

One can advocate for a particular writer or artist (I make no secret of my love for Mia Wasikowska as an actress and would call myself a champion of her career).  However, when I think she is in a bad movie (like I thought of Stoker or Alice in Wonderland), my admiration for Wasikowska as an actress will not blind me to what I consider the failures of either the films or the performances in them.  Well, perhaps at times I was a bit too in love to be completely impartial.  However, a true 'analytical critic' will be honest enough, with both his/her audience and him/herself, to recognize when the one he/she supports does something wrong. 

Anderson doesn't.  He is quick to leap to Moffat's defense at every opportunity.  The Leader cannot be questioned, cannot be criticized, cannot be mocked.  Via his Twitter feed on October 6: "People who dislike Moffat: You can't say he does the same thing every series, because they've all been structurally fundamentally different". To my own mind, this statement doesn't come from a 'critic', analytical or otherwise.  

It comes from an apologist.  It comes from a fanboy.  It comes from someone who rather than argue the merits of Moffat's writing, sees himself as a Defender of The Faith: 

There is No God But Moffat and
Kyle Anderson is His Messenger. 

When a critic goes from analyzing the pros and cons of a subject and goes into an impassioned defense of that which he/she is covering, then that critic cedes being a true critic and goes into being an advocate.  That's all well and good, but Anderson should be up-front about it.  He should say, "I think Moffat is the new Rod Serling, and as such, no criticism will pass my lips".  He should say, "Any criticism of Steven Moffat, either for Doctor Who or Sherlock, will be met with fierce condemnation and furious anger from me, for I will defend him at every turn".  The fact that he wants it both ways (be thought of as a serious, objective, analytical critic AND as a champion of The Moff) shows either a disconnect or patent hypocrisy.

Make up your mind, Kyle.  Are you an analytical critic or an advocate?  You cannot be both.           

I adored this entire series, from “Asylum” to now.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

It really only had a few missteps for me,

Precisely ONE negative review out of 13 for Series Seven.

but I almost don’t care at this point.

You're too hard on yourself.  I don't think you ever really cared to begin with.  Personally, I find that last statement rather sad.  You're saying that you don't care that a show in your view has taken some wrong turns.  It doesn't matter to you whether something is bad, so long as it has Doctor Who stamped on it, mindlessly accepting the dribble that comes from Moffat or Gatiss or anyone else without saying anything other than "I LOVED IT".  

This is the show that I love to watch every week and the one I’ll be excited to watch for the next six months until the special. So, to sum it up, I loved “The Name of the Doctor,”

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

and if you didn’t, that’s cool.

Look, I know The Name of The Doctor was shit from the moment Clara spotted The First Doctor and Susan and told them which TARDIS to steal (thus Clara, and by extension, Steven Moffat, essentially CREATED Doctor Who, and also contradicted The Doctor's Wife a mere series ago) right down to "Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor", but I'M not about to openly criticize it.  I know many Whovians, even NuWhovians, know that The Name of The Doctor was really a shambles that in the future will make even less sense.  I really want to say it, but I cannot.

Do note though, that Anderson loved both The Name of The Doctor (where Clara Oswald told the Doctor which TARDIS to take, and remarkably showing that The Doctor really was senile as he had no memory of having met Clara in his very first incarnation or wondered who that mysterious being was when she popped in on Gallifrey) AND The Doctor's Wife (where the TARDIS in human form told the Doctor SHE selected him).  He tries to bridge this contradiction by suggesting the TARDIS and Clara possibly, potentially, perhaps worked together.  "Maybe they were in league together" is how he tries to fit two contradictory stories despite no evidence to suggest that such a collusion entre Clara et Idris took place.

They were not in cahoots.  The Doctor's Wife: the TARDIS chose The Doctor.  The Name of The Doctor: Clara chose the TARDIS for The Doctor.  No amount of finagling, no amount of mental gymnastics, no amount of apologetics can make these two stories fit into one coherent narrative.  However, for a true believer like Kyle Anderson, no proof that Moffat is wrong is possible.  If one episode says the TARDIS chose the Doctor and another episode says Clara chose the TARDIS for the Doctor, there apparently is no contradiction that some good old 'timey-wimey' can't resolve.

The fact that he'd rather come up with rationales and excuses and wild theories (far-fetched as they are) to force the pieces to come together rather than just say Episode B contradicts Episode A I think says all there is to say about why Kyle Anderson is no 'analytical critic'.    
I’ll be back at some point this summer with a more thorough postmortem of Series 7 in its entirety, but right now I’m gonna go to sleep.

The Damned Sleep Well.


  1. Even more ridiculous than Clara being the one to be involved in every aspect of the Doctor's life is that she's doing it to stop the Great Intelligence, who probably wouldn't be as infatuated with her as Kyle Anderson, and could dispose of her very easily.

    Then there's the fact that Clara was supposedly only going back to undo the Great Intelligence's meddling. So why was there a Clara in Asylum of the Daleks then? Did the Great Intelligence also appear on Gallifrey pre-An Unearthly Child and tell the Doctor to steal another TARDIS first, then run away when Clara appeared?

    But this episode also marks the definitive moment when it becomes clear that Steven Moffat is like a dog urinating on a tree, trying to mark all of Doctor Who as "his". Seeing Clara interacting with every Doctor was Moffat's way of saying that he not only controls the present and future of Doctor Who, he also now controls the past. And if he wants a Clara on Gallifrey or Ice World, then he'll put them there. And this doesn't just extend to Classic Doctor Who, as Moffat is even distorting and mutating Russell T. Davies-era Doctor Who, with his Time Cracks and now(then) Moffat's complete and utter rewriting of the Time War, to turn it into something that could not be shown on tv, into something that had already been shown on tv many times before, on other shows.

    Pity he forgot to tell how the Doctor and Clara escaped the Doctor's timestream. And that really is Moffat. he spends his whole time on Doctor Who trying to rewrite all established canon to fit in with his puerile fan fiction, yet the stuff he himself creates, he can't even keep consistent from one episode to the next.

  2. The fact that Name of The Doctor contradicts The Doctor's Wife with regards to the TARDIS, and in the future The Witch's Familiar contradicts Asylum of the Daleks with regards to what a Dalek can or cannot say says volumes about how a.) Doctor Who has no story editor to try and keep track of things, and b.) Moffat not only contradicts other writers, he contradicts himself.

    Fortunately, he has lackeys like Anderson to cover for him, apologize for him, run interference for him, and praise him, logic be damned. Again, Anderson is free to like anything he likes. I just wish he would stop pretending to be an 'analytical critic' and just admit his goal isn't to examine Doctor Who but to promote it.


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