Thursday, June 4, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Wedding of River Song

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 13 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Wedding of River Song .  My 'translations' are in red.

Is it possible for something to be at once surprising and yet totally predictable?
Yes, especially if Steven Moffat wrote it.

After watching Doctor Who’s sixth series finale, “The Wedding of River Song,” I was left wondering why we fans spent so long speculating about things.
After watching Doctor Who's sixth series finale, The Wedding of River Song, I was left wondering why we fans spent so long wasting our time with all this garbage. 

Essentially, everything was answered in the very way it was telegraphed to be since the riddles were posed in the first place.
Essentially, everything was answered in the very way everyone, especially non-Doctor Who fans, said it was going to from the beginning of the series/season. It was so obvious that when we got to this point, everything pretty much ended as we expected it to. 
It would be very easy to say that Steven Moffat took the easy way out,

Steven Moffat took the easy way out.

but after Series 5’s completely flabbergasting ending, complete with set-ups paid off in totally unforeseen ways, the most outlandish thing he could do to mess with all of our heads is to have the resolution be what we all assumed was too obvious. That they were red herrings was, itself, a red herring.

but I'm going to keep shilling for him by giving him cover.  You see, Steven Moffat is such a genius that the twist, the really big twist, was to make everything obvious.  In other words, the fact that there WAS no twist WAS the twist!  Isn't that a genius move by The Moff?  The fact that he was totally predictable was completely unexpected! 

Is this okay? Not necessarily.

Is this okay?  Absolutely not.  We NuWhovians have been fed this big idea that this was going to be a game changer, but what we got instead was obvious, predictable, and far too lazy.  It was a cheat.  I know it, you know, we know it, even The Moff knows it, but you won't hear me calling him out on that.   Chris Hardwick didn't raise no fool (and he'd cut my check off if I dared to).   

In many ways, the episode failed to live up to the promise of the phenomenally awesome opening two-parter, “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon,” but in others it couldn’t have happened any other way.

In many ways, the episode failed to live up to the convoluted nature of the phenomenally disastrous opening two-parter, The Impossible Astronaut Parts 1 & 2, but in every other way there was simply no way to fix the mess Moffat had created.

The entire narrative took place in the split second between when River shoots the Doctor and when the Doctor dies, which is pretty neat in itself.

The whole thing took place in the literal blink of the eye between when the obvious killer of the Doctor shoots him and when the main character we knew wasn't going to die doesn't, which is all pretty awful in itself. 

While it wasn’t perfect, and in my opinion definitely needed a second viewing, the finale closed the book (I hope) on that chapter in the Eleventh Doctor’s reign.

It was by far one of the worst things I've seen on Doctor Who, and I'll watch it again so I can struggle to find something to praise and call Moffat's farts works of genius, but I hope that at long last we are through with this nonsensical storyline that wasted an entire season.

The episode begins at 5:02pm, April 22, 2011. Time is stuck, meaning everything is happening at once: Steam engines, Roman guards, Pterodactyls, and Emperor Winston Churchill. Churchill, being a pretty smart chap, realizes that time isn’t moving and so asks his Silurian physician to fetch the soothsayer, i.e. one who says sooths. I just looked up the word and “sooth” means “Truth or Reality.” So, throughout history, whenever a soothsayer has been called, they’re actually just calling a professional truth teller. The opposite of that, of course, are politicians. *Wackity-Schmackity-DOOO*

The opposite of a soothsayer, someone who is a professional truth teller, is this guy...

Anyway, the soothsayer is, of course, the Doctor,

Of course.  Who Else?  And this wonderful turn at this point in history occurred because...

and he enlightens Churchill on why time has stopped. It all starts with a woman. Say what you will about Steven Moffat, but he certainly knows how to depict strange anomalies of time.

It all starts with a woman.  Doesn't it always?  Say what you will about Steven Moffat (I choose to perpetually kiss his ass), but he certainly knows how to depict idiotic timey-wimey storylines. 

The realization of all time happening at once was quite spectacular.

The realization of all time happening at once was quite stupid.  Then again, since when was Doctor Who suppose to be logical? 

We see the return of Ian McNeice as Churchill, and it’s nice that he’s been given a chance to play the character again in an episode that isn’t utter bilge. (I know he was in “The Pandorica Opens,” but that was all filmed during “Victory of the Crap”)

We see the return of Ian McNeice as Churchill, and it's sad to see the greatest Prime Minister in British history dragged into an episode that is utter bilge.  I haven't forgiven Victory of the Crap (which is one of the rare negative reviews Anderson has actually given, though I was unable to locate it online.  Curious that....).

We then see what the Doctor did after he left Craig’s flat. He knows he must die at Lake Silencio, but he does not know why.

Maybe I'm jumping ahead, but isn't he suppose to die in Trenzalore?  The Doctor sure has a lot of places to die, doesn't he? 

He tracks down the Silence and runs across the Teselecta, the shape-shifting robot ship bounty hunter piloted by tiny people. The captain tells him about the “weak link” in the Silence, which turns out to be Gantok (played by Mark Gatiss under a pseudonym), a player of “Live Chess.”

In exchange for letting him live, Gantok will take the Doctor to where Dorium Maldovar (aka “The Blue Guy”) is laid to rest. He was beheaded by the Monks in “A Good Man Goes to War,” if you’ll remember, and so his head is now in a box. Apparently, if the Monks behead you, your head stays alive and the crypt is full of carnivorous skulls, which eventually devour the conniving Gantok.

Seeing Mark Gatiss devoured by carnivorous skulls?  Maybe this isn't such a bad episode after all!

Dorium’s head tells the Doctor that Silence MUST fall when the question is asked, because the answer to the question must never be spoken. Blah blah blah.

Yeah, yeah, Moff....get on with it.

The Doctor takes Dorium’s head in the box aboard the TARDIS, where he still feels like he has time to do what he wants before he has to die. After all, he’s in a time machine; he can do whatever he likes. He can help Rose Tyler with her homework or go to all of Jack’s stag parties on the same night. He’s pretty boss, if you think about it. He then calls an old buddy to go gallivanting around with, and finds that his dear friend, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, has passed away. It’s this realization — time waits for no one — which causes the Doctor to finally accept his fate. I thought this moment was one of the best of the episode.

The episode threw a nod at the passing of one of the most iconic Doctor Who characters, but mercifully Nicholas Courtney or the Brigadier weren't dragged into the horror that became NuWho.

As a classic Who fan, I always adored the Brigadier, and was deeply saddened when Nicholas Courtney passed away, as I think most fans were. That they chose to not only reference it in a new series finale, but also make it the motivation for the Doctor to stop running, is monumental. What a nice sendoff to such a beloved character.

Oh, Kyle.  If you think THAT was a nice sendoff to such a beloved character like the Brigadier, have I got a BIGGER surprise for you in a couple year's time, one I'm sure you and all Classic Who fans will absolutely LOVE...

Matt Smith played the scene wonderfully. I don’t know if he ever met Courtney in real life, but you really felt like he’d lost a friend. Understatement of the Year: Matt Smith is a damn good actor.

Understatement of the Millennium: Kyle Anderson will always praise Matt Smith no matter how awful he is (though perhaps Smith hit his broken clock minute here). 

Then we find out that, yes, River Song is the one in the astronaut suit, and yes, she does kill the Doctor even though she doesn’t want to.

WHAT?  River Song is the assassin?!  Captain Renault, any thoughts?

But wait!


She decides she can change history, even though it’s a fixed point in time.

If we've learned anything about NuWho, is that there is no such thing as a fixed point in time anymore.  Timey-wimey spacey-waysy can change anything to fit into some megalomaniac's ideas of epic. 

This is what causes the alternate timeline full of everything. There, the Doctor and Churchill find themselves fighting an enemy they can’t remember and eventually see a swarm of Silents hanging from the ceiling. I still say they are the creepiest villains the new series has produced, slightly edging above the Weeping Angels in my book simply because they look like things I used to dream about and be terrified by as a child.

Perhaps it's just me, but should we really judge the effectiveness of Doctor Who monsters based on the childhood dreams of Kyle Anderson? 

Just then, a bunch of soldiers burst in led by an eye patch-wearing Pond, Amelia Pond. Eye patches make people remember the Silents.

Gee, why didn't they think of this before?  The Silence isn't so terrifying now that we can remember to keep one eye open, one closed, right?

She can remember the other timeline because remembering things like that is what she does. She takes the Doctor aboard her steam train office to Area 52, which is in an Egyptian pyramid. Awesome? Yes.

Stupid? Yes.  On a more serious note, exactly how, when, why did Amelia Pond become this revolutionary to fight in this particular timeframe, or am I overthinking things?

There Amy and Captain Williams (yes, it’s Rory)

WHAT'S THIS?  Rory's last name ISN'T POND?!  Call me shocked!

show the Doctor all the Silents they have trapped in water tanks. He also sees River and a tied-up Madame Kovarian. River and the Doctor are at the epicenter of the temporal disturbance and if they touch, it’ll short out and time will start ticking again in the right place. River, being the obstinate tart she is, doesn’t want to fix the problem, even if it means the entire universe will disintegrate, because she loves him and stuff.

OK, here I concede that Anderson is right: River is an obstinate tart.  She is a selfish, obsessed bitch who is willing to freeze the universe because she is mentally unstable and has a fixation on a being who has shown no interest in her (despite all their 'dates').  Seriously, why would the Doctor want that woman in any way: mentally, sexually, what have you?  She isn't smart, she isn't beautiful, she isn't accomplished (let us remember she went into archaeology not because she found it fascinating, but to find a good man).  She is not the Doctor's intellectual equal and the idea that she inspires lust in the Doctor is a nuttier idea than most of the convoluted plots that The Moff comes up with.  I've never believed River Song genuinely loves the Doctor because she hasn't shown an ability to love anyone apart from herself (which she does plenty of).  All she is is a catchphrase or two ("Spoilers" and "Hello, Sweetie"), and I know a lot of NuWhovians think that's brilliant, but I personally require more than catchphrases to make an interesting character.  Ever notice Sarah Jane Smith didn't have a particular catchphrase?

Capt. Williams is worried that the Silents all seem to be far more active now that the Doctor is there and Madame Kovarian laughs in her “I’m evil for no reason” way and says that they weren’t trapped at all, but waiting for the Doctor to arrive.

Ooh, a big twist.  Totally unexpected. 

The creepy, suit-wearing things break out and the eye patches all begin shorting out and killing folk, including Kovarian herself. Rory very nearly dies at the hands of the Silents, but Amy shows up with a machine gun and kills them all. This paid off the whole “Rory always dies” thing for the most part.

Yeah, we're all getting tired of making Rory the go-to guy for being killed off, but I'm pretty sure he'll die again later on down the road.  It didn't pay off at all.

Amy then kills Kovarian by not helping her, saying that River didn’t get “it” all from the bad lady.

Insanity runs in the family.

River then shows the Doctor a temporal beacon thing that she’s used to send a call for help throughout the universe, outside of the time bubble in which they are. This pisses off the Doctor and embarrasses him, though the universe apparently is entirely willing to help. She just didn’t want the Doctor to die before knowing how loved he is. This is sort of the antithesis of “The Pandorica Opens.” Instead of everyone that hates him teaming up, everyone that likes him agrees to help.

And where were all these beings when he was getting locked up in the Pandorica?  Fine time for THEM to help out. 

It’s unnecessary, however, as the Doctor decides to marry River.

And in the "Stupid Decisions" Department...

This still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

This makes no sense to me on any level: storywise, intellectually, erotically.  Yes, I know I'm into cougars, but still...River Song?!

Why did they have to get married to make out?

Why buy the cow when, you know...

The answer is, they didn’t. Other than the fact that it’s always been suggested that she’s his wife, there’s no reason why at that moment they had to do a makeshift wedding.

Throughout their whole convoluted storyline which now is totally torn to shreds beyond repair, there's never been any real suggestion that The Doctor and River Song is this great Love Story my Lord and Master The Moff is insisting it is.  In all their encounters she comes off as less a woman in love and more a woman obsessed in a bunny-boiler style.  They had to get married because Moffat through Song insists they are, but at this moment there is no reason to have them pair up.   There's never been a reason to have them pair up, but whatevs...

Before that point, he whispers a secret into her ear which he says is his name. Then they make out.

And an entire generation is traumatized....

Then time starts going again. Then she kills him and all the rest of the season happens.

Sometime later, River, fresh off the crash of the Byzantium, appears in Amy’s backyard where her mother is waiting for her. They compare notes about when they are and River decides to tell Amy the secret which the Doctor told her. The Doctor lies, of course,

Of course, despite all evidence to the contrary throughout the first forty-odd years of Canon...

and he didn’t tell her his name.

Two things: either he WILL tell her his name sometime in the future (or her past, which still makes this story idea nonsense because if he's told her in the past she would have remembered it prior to her sham marriage) or the entire "River Song knows the Doctor's name" was a lie from the get-go, a major story arc that Moffat in his typical ineptitude forgets and won't bother addressing again, finding it insulting that anyone would dain to suggest he is anything other than the brilliant mind who created Sherlock Holmes out of whole cloth. 

River also lies, she says, and has had to pretend she doesn’t know stuff she already knows all the time. Hey, guess what: the Doctor’s alive.

NO!  Well, break out the smelling salts.  Never saw THAT one coming!

He got on board the Teselecta and made it look like him and then that Doctor died but the real little one inside the ship could get away. As he puts Dorium’s head back in the crypt, he says that he wants the universe to think that he’s dead, that he’s been too high-profile and is going to go back to skulking around the galaxy on his own, or at least not being so visible, setting the stage for the next series which promises to be more standalone and less arc heavy.

Given this is Steven Moffat we're talking about, I find the idea of more standalone and less arc heavy episodes hard to believe.

Still, though, Dorium reminds the Doctor, and us, that the “fall of the eleventh” is still ahead and the question that must never be answered is “Doctor WHO?”

Oh, there's that damn "Doctor Who?" joke that Moffat finds funny.  Well, Moff, to quote The Great Morrissey...


Rule one: The Doctor lies. Rule zero should be: Steven Moffat lies. My real problem with this episode is the “big reveal,” simply because it’s Moffat fucking lying to us.

And you believed Steven Moffat?

Honestly Kyle, why are YOU so upset?  You keep eating Moffat's shit at every turn and have been one of his biggest lackeys.  Why are YOU suddenly getting all huffy about Moffat being unable or unwilling to play fair or logical with his story arcs?  YOU, of all people, should be telling us how brilliant it all is.  You're a hopeless apologist for The Moff, and now here you are, expressing faux-outrage at what we all know is a pack of lies and nonsense.  It's too late to board the Honesty Express, Kyle. 

I could write off the fact that River in the space suit was the obvious answer, and I could let go that they got married like everyone expected them to, which is another obvious answer, and the info-dump scene itself in the garden was actually kind of nice.

I ALWAYS write off the obvious if it comes from Moffat.

I could even let slide the fact that we still do not know why the Silence wanted the Doctor dead, nor who caused the TARDIS to explode in Series 5.

Oh, good grief are you STILL on that?!

I’m fairly confident that we’ll never learn these answers, and I don’t really care at this point.

Personally, I don't think you cared at ANY point, more fascinated you were with the spectacle of it all than the logic, despite your 'analytical critic's mind'.  I've learned that when it comes to the plot knots Moffat creates, either with his own writing or overseeing others, there are no answers possible or plausible.  You, Kyle, should learn to let go too.

What I cannot embrace, though, is the entire crux of the season-long storyline, where the Doctor dies, was the biggest cop out since the floating Christ figure ending of Series 3. After “The Impossible Astronaut” ended, Moffat was quoted as saying that what we saw was indeed the real Doctor and that he was indeed really killed. Well, no, he fucking was not.

My goodness but you are stupid, Kyle.  NO ONE believed The Doctor was really going to die.  I figured that it was going to be the Teselecta long before you did.  You, sir, were in denial of the obvious and it isn't my fault that you are such a whore you refused to acknowledge that the truth was going to be what non-Whovians were saying all along.

From the introduction of the Gangers in the first part of the series and the Teselecta in the second part, the idea of the Doctor having a double became all-encompassing. In fact, at one time or another, all of the main characters had another version of themselves running around (except Rory, who is above such things)

Rory doesn't need a double.  He dies so often it be rather redundant to create two figures who constantly drop dead.

and they were really hammering home that idea. But all the while I kept thinking, “nah, it’s not gonna be a Ganger or a Teselecta; it’s going to be more complex than that. Moffat said the Doctor died and I’m going to believe that.”

That, surely, was my mistake.

Rather surprising for an analytical critic like yourself.  However, let me set your mind at ease, Kyle.  It wasn't your mistake.  The payola got in the way.

When this episode began, and the “previously on” material started playing, heavily featuring the Teselecta Amy from “Let’s Kill Hitler,” the idea was planted in my head that it would surely play some part in the proceedings, but couldn’t possibly be the answer.

Sometimes, the most obvious answer is the truth.

Then, when the Doctor met them again while searching for the Silence, again I thought it was too easy. And then, the big ending happens, and we see that the Doctor is in a Doctor suit and that IT got killed and not him, I was angry.

Just imagine all of us who don't have analytical critic's minds?  Think how we, of average intelligence, felt when we saw that nonsense spread before us by the man you consistently tout as a genius, this generation's Rod Serling, one who ranks alongside William Shakespeare.

Do Teselecta’s regenerate? Do they have regenerative energy? I fucking doubt it!!

Kyle, Kyle, Kyle.  Don't you know: Teselecta CAN regenerate...if The Moff says they can!  His word is law.  He decides what is Canon and what isn't.  If Story B contradicts Story A, then both can be Canon if The Moff says so.  End of discussion.  Why get your knickers all in a twist now?

So how did they fake that? When the astronaut shoots the Doctor in the very first episode of the series, one of the best scenes ever produced, the Doctor very clearly starts to regenerate and then gets shot again before he can, killing him permanently. Then they burn his body.

Which would cause him great pain because he would still be conscious of being set on fire, but that's for another time...

But, I guess it’s okay because it was just a shape-shifting android suit.

Those kinds of excuses have worked before, so why stop now?  Why get all high and mighty at this point when before, you thought it was all so clever?

Did I think the Doctor would actually be dead? Of course not. I knew there was some way out of it, because the show’s not getting canceled, but to have the climax of the entire story arc literally just be “Hey, can I borrow your car?” is beyond frustrating. It spits in the face of not only fans, but completely taints the greatness of the opening two-parter, which was some of the best writing Moffat’s ever done.

I'll debate that whole "best writing Moffat's ever done" line, but for once, Kyle Anderson actually is being honest.

Am I the only one shocked too?

News flash here, folks! Moffat does not have a plan. He might have had one at some point, but it went way off the rails along the way.

News flash here, Kyle!  Moffat NEVER had a plan.  He just makes things up as he goes along, and it's even more bizarre and outrageous when you stop to think he had time to plan all this out logically but refused to because NuWhovians willingly swallow his shit and he has shills like you to promote it.

I still love the series, I still love the era, and I even generally like this episode (though a second viewing was required).

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

Hell, I still really like Steven Moffat’s work as a whole. He’s incredibly innovative from a storytelling standpoint and continues to make compelling, thought-provoking television. I’m glad he’s showrunning my favorite show.

I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry, Chris Hardwick and Steven Moffat.  I forgot who was paying my bills.  I lost my head there for a few minutes.  Having recovered from my temporary insanity, I shall go back to praising my boss' works, though I'll throw out some little critiques to show that I'm somewhat impartial.  However, let me get this straight.  You just went off on a tear about how awful all this was, how insulting it was to the fans, and yet you end up liking this episode and Moffat's work as a whole?  That's as convoluted as well, a Steven Moffat Doctor Who story! 

But, man, did he screw the pooch on this ending. There’s a Christmas episode coming up in a few months and then we get to wait until October of 2012 for the next series to start. Hopefully by then Moffat will pull his head out of his ass.

Oh, Kyle must have really been upset to say something like that.  I've been saying that for years, yet no one declares ME an expert.  Of course, I don't get paid by the BBC to write near-glowing reviews of almost everything they put out. 

As for Steven Moffat pulling his head out of his ass, I wouldn't bet on that, especially when he has folks like Kyle Anderson to rim said ass.

What’ll we do in the intervening months/year? Well, there’s nearly 50 years of content to talk about; I’m sure I can come up with something Doctor Who-related to write about for you lovely people to enjoy.

Stick to the Classic Who DVDs.  Much better than this crapfest I push at you.

-Kanderson is sorry for yelling. He’s not mad at you. Please follow him on TWITTER

Kanderson is sorry for promoting shit like this.  He's not mad at you.  He's mad at himself for turning into such a whore.  Please follow him on TWITTER.

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