Sunday, April 19, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Almost People

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 6 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Almost People*.  My 'translations' are in red.

Can you believe that happened? The last five minutes; WOW! What a cliffhanger, right?
An entire hour to set up a situation that is so outlandish and insane that when we get to it, won't make much if any sense.  I get orgasms through Moffat.

Yeah, well I’m not gonna talk about that yet. “The Almost People,” the penultimate episode of this half of That Show, as Mr. Simon calls it, was also the conclusion to “The Rebel Flesh,” an episode, if you’ll remember, that I found sort of bland and unimpressive.

Yet I also said that "for the most part, I enjoyed The Rebel Flesh".  Is it me, or there a little bit of inconsistency there?  Also, who is Mr. Simon?  Did I miss something?  It does bring to mind the Queen Mother, who referred to Mrs. Simpson as "THAT Woman", if memory serves correct.  

Would the second part redeem the first or would the whole thing float away out of memory like a witch in a bog?

I vote for the latter.

I guess you’ll just have to wait. Until…

…now. The last episode set up some interesting quandaries for our lead characters.

Yes, a whole hour of set-up.  That was almost as clumsy as Phantom Menace, where it basically filler for something that wasn't there. 

With “Flesh” copies of all of Acid Island’s workers, the heroes were in the middle of a very strange war. Rory had taken off to protect and defend the Flesh Jennifer, who had a very touching scene where she said that if she looks, sounds, and has the memories of Jennifer, then she is indeed really Jennifer.

Oddly, so did Sean Young in Blade Runner, not that one was borrowing from the other, right?  I guess if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it's a Ganger.  For some reason, Pinhead from Hellbound: Hellraiser II came to mind.  Don't ask why: he just did.  Is it me or was he made slightly more comical as time went on?  I don't know.  I saw only the first two.  Now I digress.   

The Real People and Flesh People struggled to come to grips with identity while the Doctor, who knew a lot more than he was letting on, created a Flesh version of himself (whether it was accidental or not is left ambiguous).

I smell continuity error...

All up to speed now? Let’s move forward. The bulk of “The Almost People” involved both factions trying to escape the acidy island and melt the ones who aren’t them. It’s often been said that the best science fiction tells us something about ourselves in real life and might even send a social message. The effectiveness of this is almost always tied to how well the story is told that surrounds the message. The message here is all but beaten into our skulls with some sort of message-delivering hammer. At one point, referring to the humans leaving half-melted Flesh people to rot, Flesh Jen even says, “Who are the real monsters?” Ow! My head has had something knocked over it. It’s a story about prejudices and how people will always fear and hate “The Other,” even if that other is literally exactly the same as them.

Maybe.  Anderson's right about how science-fiction at its best does say something about the contemporary world, working as allegory.  I think of the original The Day the Earth Stood Still or District 9Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a prime example: it can be read as both an anti-McCarthy story and a pro-McCarthy story.  The X-Men franchise I think has a layer of the divide in the African-American push for civil rights: the Martin Luther King-like Professor X (who wants to peacefully co-exist with non-mutants) versus the militancy of Magneto (who wants to at best, be separate, at worst, rule over them).  Granted, both their past histories influence their views: Erik Lehnsherr's imprisonment at Auschwitz versus the FDR-like background of Charles Xavier. 

However, I'm not convinced The Gangers had that in mind, let alone achieved it as well as Anderson thinks it has. Then again I'm one semester from getting my Master's in Library Science, while he has an 'analytical critic's mind'.     

This idea is a sci-fi staple that has been used in such properties as Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica. I honestly don’t know how well this idea is actualized here, considering having synthetic people running around is immensely different than having exact copies of people with the same memories and emotions running around.

They tried to crib this idea from genuine masterpieces and blew it big time.  They can't even get the premise right.

Something strange about “The Almost People” is that it doesn’t continue to explore the same themes and issues as “The Rebel Flesh,” but instead it creates a new batch of them and characters who behaved one way in part one are almost completely unrecognizable in part two, notably Real Cleaves and Flesh Jen.

Even though Steven Moffat didn't write this, his fingerprints are all over it.  We get that damn pattern of having two-part stories so disjointed they are really one-part stories tied together by having the same characters in both of them.  We can't get any real continuity in any aspect of The Gangers: the characters aren't the same from one part to another, the story goes all over the map.   

In part one, Real Cleaves starts the war by refusing to listen to the Flesh People and fries Flesh Buzzer. So, we assume, she’s the hot-head who can’t be reasoned with. But in part two, she’s one of the most level-headed. Flesh Jen, as I said earlier, had a very heartfelt speech to Rory in part one about how she knows she’s Jennifer even if she’s not the original one. It’s a really nice sentiment, and one that makes Rory immediately feel for her, as he knows what it means to be artificial, even if it’s just in his memory.

I thought Rory was artificial in terms of character and Arthur Darvill artificial in terms of acting.  By the way, if Rory is still an Auton (with no Nestene Consciousness to control him), can an Auton produce sperm? 

Yet, here in part two, Jen is militant and violent and even turns into a weird CGI monster thing that Doug Jones would play were it a del Toro movie. She mentions to the other Flesh beings that she can feel the death of all the wasted Flesh Folk from the past, which gives her a bit more motivation, but where did that come from?

As is the case with these two-parters, consistency in terms of character, of story, of anything is not something NuWho cares about.  Why should it?  The NuWhovians suffer from The Silence Syndrome, where they pretty much forget what came before.  This is why they can't be bothered with something like The War Games, Inferno or The Silurians.  All those episodes would make it so hard to keep up with the story.  Who can follow something that's over two hours long? 

Matthew Graham’s nickname should be “Deus ex Machina.” The success or failure of any of the characters in the story comes from coincidence and not from any of their own actions. It starts right in the post-credit sequence where they just happen to find a duct system in the supposedly impenetrable chapel. Why go to the trouble of saying there is “only one way in or out” just to change that almost immediately?

Seriously, you expect consistency in Doctor Who?  You expect LOGIC in Doctor Who? This two-parter is from the same guy who wrote Fear Her, which even Kyle Anderson derided as the worst Doctor Who Story of the Revived Era (a judgment I call into question...because I found quite a few stories even worse than that one.  Sadly, it was as easy as finding a coffeeshop in Seattle).  You're not dealing with the Jon Pertwee Doctor, who had to think his way out of things.  You're dealing with the Matt Smith Doctor, who is an idiot.  Of course something will 'magically' come around to save him.  How else can he get out of things?  By reason?  

They could have said, “The most secure place is the chapel, it would be the easiest to fortify,” or whatever. Then there’s the idea of the TARDIS, stuck in the ground thanks to a pool of acid, which just so happens to fall directly into a TARDIS-shaped area in the most remote room in the compound. And the door to this room needs to be held by two people, even though they seem to have ample time to get to the TARDIS before Monster Jen got to them. Also convenient: No set of “twins” survived. Both Buzzers and Jens bit the dust, Flesh Jimmy and Flesh Dicken survive, as does Real Cleaves, whom we’re supposed to side with at the end… It’s all her damn fault the whole thing happened in the first place!

Yes, yes, this is all rubbish and so horribly convenient.  Graham shows yet again how bad he is as a writer by his inept plotting and too-easy-to-believe contrivances. One would have thought Anderson would have gotten used to such things by now.

Also, she didn’t have a blood clot in her brain in episode one, did she? I swear they never mentioned it at all, but here she has one just so the Flesh Cleaves can also have one. AND, it doesn’t matter anyway because the Doctor had a vial of special clot-unclotting elixir. So, a terminal illness we didn’t even know she had is cured thanks to something the Doctor just happened to have lying around. Thanks, Graham.

Look, at a certain point even I have to wonder not just what the hell is going on, but whether what IS going on makes sense.  Nothing in The Almost People made sense, even when divorced from The Rebel Flesh (which is ridiculous since they have to fit to be a real two-parter).  This episode is a shambles: introducing things that appear to be important only to have them removed with nary a thought.  Graham totally obliterates the Chekov's Gun Rule with total abandon.   

One final thing, Flesh Jimmy and Flesh Dicken (and who the fuck is Dicken? Is he even a character?)

Little Jimmy Dickens

stand on a special place in the TARDIS and they’re suddenly stable and can go on living like real people. Has the TARDIS always had the ability to make artificial things real? I feel like it would have come up in conversation once or twice before then.

THAT IS JUST PLAIN STUPID!  All this horror could have been avoided if the Doctor had just mentioned this fact.  HOWEVER, as we will see, that little plot element (which I forgot about because I just didn't care) which you are so hung up, will with equal ease become irrelevant.

“Boy, Kyle,” most of you are saying, “you sure have a lot of complaints about the writing of this episode. Does that mean you didn’t like it?”

"Boy, Kyle," most of you are saying, "you sure have a lot of complaints about the writing of this episode.  Does that mean you are going to give it a negative review?  Does that mean you'll finally be honest with us, or at least with yourself, and admit that Doctor Who has really horrible episodes?  Does that mean you won't go out of your way to praise flat-out shit like you always do?  Does that mean you will stand up to people like Chris Hardwick, Mark Gatiss, and Steven Moffat and tell them that they are trying to use you to push a shoddy product?  Does that mean you won't play stooge to the BBC and finally speak truth to power?" 

I’ve now watched “The Almost People” two times and most of my complaints arose during the second viewing,

I was too distracted the first time by all the pretty lights.

but I still have to say that, no, I actually DO enjoy this two-parter.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

Kyle Anderson, you are such a whore.  Also, maybe it's me, but shouldn't it be 'DID enjoy this two-parter?'

To explain, let me say two words: Matt Smith.

To explain, let me say two words: Cashed Check. 
To explain, let me say two words: Ass Kisser.
To explain, let me say two words: Contractually Obligated.
To explain, let me say two words: Intellectually Bankrupt.
To explain, let me say two words: Hardwick's Bitch.
To explain, let me say two words: Pathetic Whore.
To explain, let me say two words: Hopelessly Sycophantic.

He is just so naturalistic and believable in his role that even in the most ridiculous of situations, he adds the proper amount of credence to the happenings.

Obviously, all the other actors who played the Doctor were playing it much too serious, even Tom Baker and Sylvester McCoy.  They were playing the Time Lord as Hamlet compared to our cool bow-tie wearing dimwit.

In this episode, Matt plays double duty as both the Doctor and Ganger Doctor. Every scene with them together is magical, and I have to assume Steven Moffat himself took over the writing of these scenes and the stuff with Amy’s dislike of who she believes is the Ganger.

We got double the horror of the Idiot Doctor, and every scene with them together was a nightmare of goofiness.  I have to assume Steven Moffat couldn't let Matthew Graham destroy an episode all by his lonesome, or couldn't tolerate someone else doing the wrecking and decided he needed to do it himself.  Talk about killing your darlings. 

A second viewing of this episode really adds and changes everything.

A second viewing of this episode really adds and changes nothing.  A second viewing of this episode really brings it home just how awful Doctor Who under the dictatorship of Steven Moffat has become. 

Once you know the twist, that the Real and Ganger Doctors swapped shoes to see how they’re treated, you can see just how heartbreaking it is for Amy to mistrust the Real Doctor just because she assumes him to be a “fake.”

Amy is a bigot, but she's still hot.  I'm genuinely surprised that someone with such an 'analytical critic's mind' didn't figure out sooner the 'twist' which was so obvious it wasn't a surprise and frankly has been used before (though for the life of me I can't remember where). 

In this episode, we really get the feeling the Doctor knows everything and is manipulating the action, something that deepens his character and makes him far more complex. Amy also confesses to the Real Doctor, believing him to be the Ganger, what she knows about his eventual death, something he is not prepared to deal with.

NOW I know where they got this from: Back to the Future!  Marty McFly kept trying to warn Doc Brown of his eventual death, but he kept refusing to listen.  When McFly goes 'back to the future', it appears history repeated itself, but this time, Doc had on a bulletproof vest because he HAD read Marty's note and taken precautions.  Anyone who didn't think at this point that the Doctor's 'death' in Lake Silencio (which is Spanish for 'silence', by the way) was fake and that he had a doppelganger take his place is obviously an idiot.  I predicted that long before The Wedding of River Song, and I am not blessed with such an 'analytical critic's mind', just average intelligence.

Really, when Matt Smith was on-screen, I loved the episode, and when he wasn’t, I was bored.

Really, when Matt Smith was on-screen, I hated the episode, and when he wasn't I was bored. 

Favorite thing: when he called Rory, “Roranicus Pondicus.”

So the Eleventh Doctor now speaks Pig Latin?  Roranicus Pondicus?  THIS is clever?  I so truly hate this idea of 'the Ponds' when Rory's last name is not, has not, has never been and barring a legal change will never be "Pond".  He is Rory WILLIAMS.  His father is Brian WILLIAMS (not the NBC liar).  Why does the Eleventh Doctor continue calling him "Pond"?  Yes, some fans have told me it's because he thinks Amy is the stronger of the two and that Rory, as the weaker one, would have taken her last name, but the Doctor has been around humans for hundreds of years.  He knows how marriages work. He isn't clueless about human life.  I never bought that "he thinks he's Mr. Pond" business.  I so HATE this "Rory Pond" business.  Even and especially in the Pond Life minisodes, where AMY called him "Mr. Pond", to which the eternally pathetic and wimpy Rory never said anything against.  It's obvious Kyle Anderson is nuts: N-V-T-S!

And for the record, the Latin for "Pond" is "Lacus".  Therefore, it would be "Roricus Lacus", even if that is also idiotic because, again, his last name is "Williams", not "Pond".

Also, random thought: How many sonic screwdrivers are there? At one point, the Real/Fake Doctor tosses the sonic screwdriver to the Fake/Real Doctor, but later on they each have one. Soooo… what’s that all about?

We need not bother with plot discontinuities...

I suppose I ought to talk about the cliffhanger.

Do tell, Kyle. Do tell. 

Throughout, the Doctor has been saying weird things to Amy randomly like “breathe,” and “push when she tells you,” things that don’t make a lick of sense until we understand what’s going on.

Which is pretty much never.  When has the Eleventh Doctor said anything, you know, rational?  I admit I wasn't paying much attention to the ramblings of our Idiot Doctor, but I don't remember him telling Amy to 'push when she tells you'.  I guess this means he knew Amy was held by the Eye-Patch Lady and was preggers.  Oh boy, don't I care...

The Doctor wanted to go to the castle to inspect the Flesh because he had figured out that the Amy that had been with him for months now was, indeed, a Flesh Amy, and her real body was elsewhere while her consciousness was driving the clone. I thought, and still do think, this is a genius move.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find Kyle Anderson would think this is a genius move!

It totally explains why the Doctor was getting alternating scans of her pregnancy; Amy is really pregnant, but the form she’s in currently is not.

Does it explain how long the Flesh Amy was bumming around with the Doctor, or when Amy became Flesh (that sounds odd)? 

I was wondering how they were going to explain the Eye-Patch Lady and how she can be all over the place, watching Amy. That’s because she isn’t. It’s Amy who is occasionally seeing her while she’s locked in some weird birthing tube. The Doctor presumably now knows where she’s being held, more or less, and destroys the Flesh Amy to wake Real Amy up.

Several questions we need to ask about this:

We might need to ask, but asking ain't getting...

1) EXACTLY how long has the Amy we’ve been seeing been Flesh? The first time we see the Eye Patch Lady is in “Day of the Moon,” in the creepy orphanage. I believe sometime during the 3-month gap after Amy shoots the little girl in the astronaut suit and when Canton is pretending to hunt them down, she was plucked out and replaced with the duplicate. If you remember, Amy tells the Doctor she’s pregnant, and then when she’s on the TARDIS in “DotM,” she says, “Just kidding, I’m not.” It had to be sometime in that gap that we don’t see, which explains why we didn’t see it. (Moffat, you jerky genius)

Wonderful.  We'll explain a major, massive plot point by basically saying it took place offstage, like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's deaths.
Moffat, you jerk.

2) WHO took her and why? Clearly, based on the next time trailer, the Eye-Patch Lady is not a nice person and works for some nefarious, clandestine organization lead by a shouting military guy. While I don’t actually know who these people are, the symbol on their flag and insignia is a symbol we’ve seen before. In last series’ “Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone,” the blanket and stuff River wraps bears the same symbol. It sure looks an awful lot like a certain Greek letter, doesn’t it?

You mean THIS one?

What letter could that possibly be?  I go through all my Greek alphabet and can't find any Greek letter that has any connection to Doctor Who: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon...right on down to Omega.  No, can't think of any Greek letter-Doctor Who tie-in.  If ONLY I had that 'analytical critic's mind'... 

3) Where is she? I don’t know.

I don't care.  Karen Gillan is hot!

Okay, I have nothing more to say before what is now the most excited I’ve ever been for a new Who episode all year.

Really Kyle, aren't you excited over them all? 

Didn't you say pretty much the same thing about The Doctor's Wife?  And I quote, "I’ve been wanting to see this episode ever since I first heard about the possibility of it 18 months ago or so, and then the anticipation ratcheted up to a new level when it was announced that it would actually be episode four of this season."  Sounded pretty excited about THAT one too. 

I give you the trailer for episode 7, “A Good Man Goes to War”:


And the prequel and some clips:

CRAP ON A CRAPSTACK I could not be more excited. All right folks, in one short week, we will know who River Song is, we’ll know what Amy’s baby is, and we’ll know why a good man goes to war.
You need to ask, 'Do any of you care who River Song is, who Amy's baby is (and if you can't guess how the two are connected by now you're obviously someone with an analytical critic's mind), or why a good man goes to war (even though it should be 'why an idiot goes to war)?

Next Time: Aragon vs. Anderson: A Good Man Goes to War

No comments:

Post a Comment

Views are welcome, but I ask that there be no foul language. Any comments with either vulgar words or that are bigoted in any way towards anyone based on sex, race, religion, or any other protected category will not be published. Keep it clean and keep it respectful. Thank you.