Monday, May 18, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Girl Who Waited

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 10 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Girl Who Waited .  My 'translations' are in red.

As I’ve said several times, my favorite Series 5 episode is “Amy’s Choice.”
As I've said several times, Karen Gillan turns me on.
My reason for liking it so much is that it tells a relatively simple, straightforward story, but, within that framework, is able to get to the heart of each one of the show’s three leads, and forces them to hash out their differences and avoid death at the same time. 

My reasoning for liking it so much is that Karen Gillan is hot.  We also get the first of what will become a running joke on Doctor Who: Rory Dies Again.  

It was, to me, a perfect 45 minutes of science fiction storytelling. 

From what I know, Kyle Anderson thinks a lot of Doctor Who is perfect science fiction storytelling, which leads me to think he hasn't much experience with perfect science fiction storytelling.

Episode 10 of Series 6 of Doctor Who is called “The Girl Who Waited,” and in many ways it could be called “Amy’s Choice 2,” 

I offer "Rory's Choice".

yet, while they share a lot of basic elements, 

yet, while they are repeating themselves

Tom MacRae’s script goes a step beyond. It’s not merely whether Amy will choose a life with or without Rory, it’s Amy being forced to live a life without him, and how that changes her view of everything. And latterly, 

Amy has on at least one occasion shown she is perfectly willing to live a life without Rory (that was when she tried to rape the Doctor).  I also think that later on, she is perfectly willing to live a life without Rory (when she wants a divorce), but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Curious that.

Rory has to decide if he can live with an Amy he failed to save.

Though given how Amy has pretty much pushed Rory both away and around throughout the whole of their time on Doctor Who, one wonders why he loves her so.   He's lived for thousands of years without her, waiting for that big box to open up, so a good thirty-some odd years can't be all that bad in the great scheme of things.

Through a simple pressing of a red button instead of a green one, Amy spends 36 years alone waiting for Rory to save her, which is longer than either of them have been alive. 

However, it is longer than River Song has been alive, and she's their daughter!  Timey-wimey indeed...

It’s a painful proposition no matter which side you’re on. It’s made even more painful for Rory knowing that, to her, he failed to save her, but to him, he’s in the middle of doing so. 

Amy can be so, difficult, can't she?  One would think she would have done something constructive in those 36 years, or someone would have come around, or Rory and/or the Doctor would have told her which button to push and we could have avoided all this, but alas, I don't have an analytical critic's mind.

He and the Doctor know that they can figure out how to save past-Amy, but that means that present, older Amy won’t have existed, something she does not want to happen.

She would have lived 36 years for nothing, like a lot of Doctor Who fans waiting for a coherent story.

The central idea of the Two Streams facility is an interesting one: When a plague that kills in 24 hours hits the resort world of Apalapucia, a place that’s incredibly fun to say, they set up a way that the infected can live out an entire life’s worth in a quicker time stream and their loved ones can watch from a slower one. There are two sides to the argument of this place, as represented by the Doctor and Rory.

Doctor Who makes a stab at being intellectual. 

Rory thinks it would be terrible to watch and not interact with someone you love for their whole life,

which is odd because as The Last Centurion, that's pretty much what he's done for two thousand years.  He could have gone and seen an authentic Shakespeare play, set sail for the New World, stopped Miss Davison from throwing herself under the King's horse, had a real chat with Churchill, but no.  Instead he spent all those years guarding the box of a woman who for more years than he can remember barely gave him the time of day, a woman who was more interested in running after her Raggedy Man than in the wimp she had in front of her.  Given that, why would Rory think it terrible to 'watch and not interact with someone you love for their whole life'?  Granted, he didn't have any say in either the Auton or Pandorica Box business, but still, isn't Rory "The Boy Who Waited?" 

A little reciprocation would be nice, Miss Pond.

while the Doctor thinks it’s incredibly kind because at least they aren’t watching them die. This is the central difference between the Doctor and Rory. The Doctor is detached from that type of emotion after centuries of traveling with people he is inevitably forced to leave behind. Rory, on the other hand, could not imagine having to witness a life and not be a part of it.

OK, I'll give Anderson that.  The Doctor has always bee a bit different because he isn't human.  Colin Baker said it best that the Doctor one moment could casually walk over a dead body and the next cry over a dead butterfly, not because he doesn't care about humans or is passionate about butterflies, but because he sees things from a different perspective.  That makes sense.  It wouldn't to Rory, but while I on a personal level liked The Girl Who Waited on the whole, I can't say this ground hasn't already been travelled over on Doctor Who. 

It’s this exact question he’s faced with when he meets older Amy, now world-weary and hardened from living nearly 40 years on her own, running from androids that will literally kill her with kindness. He doesn’t mind that she’s old; he minds that he didn’t get old with her. 


I mind that she grew old.  I like my Gillan hot!

He would gladly take that Amy with him, 

Heaven knows why.

though he’d much rather spare her from having to be alone for so long.

though he'd much rather have sex with the nubile redhead than the tired old bit of crumpet he's been offered.

Rory is maybe the most kind-hearted person in the history of Doctor Who.

Rory is maybe the most wimpy person in the history of Doctor Who. 

Let's get this straight: in the history of Doctor Who, Rory Pond...Williams...Pond-Williams...Whatever, is the most kind-hearted.  So what were people like Barbara Wright, Vicki, Sarah Jane and Nyssa among others: Nazi sympathizers? 

The word “stalwart” comes to mind.

The word "moron" comes to mind.

But this Amy doesn’t want to disappear; she doesn’t want those experiences of being alone to leave her, which I think is a very interesting dilemma.

Given how bitter and angry Amy became in all those 36 years, wouldn't she be glad to be free of those experiences?  Just a thought.

To get to relive 36 years of loneliness with the person you love at the expense of being who you are now: Would you do it? I can’t say if I would or not.

Kyle hasn't been told by Moffat, Gatiss, or Hardwick what to think yet.

Rory blames the Doctor for not being more careful about where they land, to which the Doctor says that’s not how he travels. Rory then says he’d rather not travel with him anymore.

Rory to The Doctor: I QUIT!

Ultimately, there can only be one Amy, 

despite the lie the Doctor told about taking them both on the TARDIS. It would indeed cause a paradox. 

For someone who travelled with a doppleganger of Amy for so long, aren't THEY rather picky....

The Doctor does what could be considered the cowardly thing and leaves it up to Rory to choose, either HIS Amy, or the Amy who lived without him for so long.

Exactly how is that cowardly?  After all, the Doctor isn't "Mr. Pond".  Why should the Doctor get to decide? 

To his credit, it’s a harder choice than it might have been. There’s no doubt he’d love either Amy with all his heart, but it’d certainly be much easier on him if he didn’t have the one he’d failed for so long. By the end, we realize the name of the episode could have been “Rory’s Choice.”


What makes “The Girl Who Waited” great is that, with the exception of Imelda Staunton as the voice of the Interface, and a brief hologram of a hostess, the whole episode is just the three leads.

A Doctor Who episode that stays with just the main characters?  We've never seen THAT before!

"Amy’s Choice” had this element as well, but there was still the Dream Lord to act as antagonist.

I miss the Dream Lord.  He could have been the Valeyard.  He could have been the Celestial Toymaker.  Instead, he's someone we'll probably never hear from again...

In this, time is the antagonist and the kindness robots are the inevitable end. It’s nice to know that the characters are so rich and the actors so good that they can sustain an entire episode essentially on their own.

It's nice to know that despite how awful the scripts and dumb their characters are, the actors can actually do something with them.

MacRae turns out a powerful character study, somewhat in keeping with his earlier Who effort, the Series 2 two-parter “Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel” which plays with the idea of an alternate universe where Rose was never born and her father didn’t die.

Of course, thanks to Rise of the Cybermen Parts 1 & 2 we're stuck with perhaps the worst version of the Cybermen on the show.  It also shows that MacRae is either repeating himself or drawing from the same well and trying out a variation.  It be nice to have the show go beyond what it's done prior, but why break something that's already dysfunctional?

He excels at these “What if?” scenarios, and is able to explore the character relationships more deeply.

Karen Gillan gives her best performance to date as she convincingly portrays the character of Amy Pond both in her 20s and in her late 50s. There is a definite age behind her mannerisms and physicality that goes far beyond the old-age makeup she’s wearing. The scene where she speaks to herself through the looking glass is truly phenomenal. 

Broken clock, broken clock....

Nick Hurran’s direction really adds to it as well, with the use of shot/reverse-shot and the slow fading between the two. Amy Pond as a character needs to be written well to be effective, and this script surely does that.

Amy Pond as a character is a bit...challenge, and this script gives her something better than that 'feisty' redhead, right?

Let it never be said that Karen Gillan isn’t a good actress, because, given the proper material, she’s clearly very good.

So, are you saying Selfie wasn't good material?  In fairness, she was good in Guardians of the Galaxy, so could that be a broken clock I hear ticking?

Arthur Darvill is likewise very good playing the pain, frustration, and difficulty of Rory’s predicament with aplomb. As stated before, Rory has really become the heart of this TARDIS crew and has shaken off any of the just-the-boyfriend problems and has become quite the character. You buy the love between Rory and Amy, even when it seems neither have any reason to.

Well, OK,  Darvill was good in something that actually showcased him rather than being the eternal sad-sack he usually is.  However, he still hasn't shaken that whole 'just-the-boyfriend' problem.

Matt Smith has the least to do in this episode; however, he’s still at the very tip top of his game.
This was essentially, a Doctor-lite episode in all but name. The way the Doctor basically got shunted off is ridiculous: this virus will target only those with two hearts?  How many two-hearted beings could there be, given that Time Lords are extinct? 

However, I still suck up to Matt Smith.

The Doctor, as old Amy says, is like the voice of God, trapped in the TARDIS to help with the plot but detached from his companions. However, the reaction shots by Smith convey all the guilt, regret, and sadness the Doctor feels because of his action (or inaction) and masques the trickery and deceit that was needed to get old Amy to help them.

Nope, not buying this one. 

I also really enjoyed his relationship with Rory in this episode. Rory objects to the Doctor trying to make Rory more like him, which in a way is very true. The Doctor has protégés, and Rory flatly does not want to be one.

Which might be the only smart thing Rory Williams has done in his life.

Like “Amy’s Choice” before it, “The Girl Who Waited” gives viewers a story about the main characters entirely unhampered by a guest cast.

**cough**Inside the Spaceship aka The Edge of Destruction**cough**

The Doctor and friends can help strangers week after week but they often have the hardest time helping each other.

Nope, not buying that either.

In both stories, we get the very real sense that the Doctor does what he does because he has to, but hates himself because of it. For all of the Eleventh Doctor’s silliness and cheer, he harbors a real darkness which is maybe most fascinating.

For all of the Eleventh Doctor's silliness and idiocy, he harbors a real darkness which will not be tapped in the future, for NuWhovians prefer him to be dimwitted.

And there was a Twitter reference in it.

For someone who HATES Twitter...

And, what was that about "harboring a real darkness", again?

What more can I say? I dug it.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

Next week is Toby Whithouse’s “The God Complex.” It also looks very good.

Seriously, has Kyle Anderson found a Doctor Who episode that to him, DIDN'T 'look very good'?

Doctor Who meets The Shining. Love it.

Doctor Who meets a rip-off.  Hate it.

In fairness I didn't hate The Girl Who Waited and thought it was pretty well acted.  It isn't my favorite episode and not one that I would rank among the classics, let alone offer as 'perfect science fiction storytelling', but I didn't hate it. 

-Kanderson would rather not wait 36 years for you to follow him in the TWITTERS… but he will.

-Kanderson would rather not watch the first 26 years of Doctor Who...but he will, and will make fun of it because Curse of the Black Spot, in his mind, is a triumph over something like The Aztecs or Tomb of the Cybermen.

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