Friday, July 3, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: The Angels Take Manhattan

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 19 of The Nerdist as Whore: The Angels Take Manhattan.  My 'translations' are in red.

How do you say goodbye to people you’ve spent your whole life with?

Furthermore, how do we say goodbye to characters we’ve watched for two and a half years?

If it's Amy and Rory "Pond", with the greatest of ease and a final shout-out: "Let the door hit you on the way out!"

Doctor Who is all about change, and as much as we might want to hold onto things as they are forever, periodic refreshing of the status quo keeps things from getting stagnant.

Any cast change on Doctor Who immediately elicits crying fits among a sadly large part of its audience, which should frighten all thinking people.

Amy Williams (nee Pond) has become the longest-serving companion in the new series, and her husband Rory is the third-longest (Rose Tyler is still number two by virtue of all those Series 4 episodes she was in);

What is this?  A tacit acknowledgment that maybe Amy's last name ISN'T Pond anymore?  Curious though, that Rory, ever the wimp, still can't get anyone to call him "Mr. Williams".

they’ve been around a long while.

They've overstayed their welcome.

It’s time to say goodbye, but how? Steven Moffat deemed to answer that with “The Angels Take Manhattan,” one of his most Moffatty stories in a good long while.

Again I tell you, brothers and sisters: anytime a reviewer uses the writer's name as a term (like in "Moffatty") we can be wary of said reviewer's intelligence (and/or integrity). 
He’s brought back his signature monsters, the Weeping Angels, for a story that takes the timey wimey-ness of “Blink” and adds the menace and numbers of “The Time of Angels/ Flesh and Stone.”

And, which I'm happy to report, contradicts what had been established in both about the Weeping Angels.  Then again, when has consistency ever been something NuWhovians worry their pretty (empty) little heads about?

They continue to be very frightening in a way not many Who monsters ever have been.

The Daleks certainly had a fair number of years where they weren’t scary at all, despite how we’re supposed to fear them. By their very nature, though, the Angels can’t have grand plans very often so Moffat’s choice to use them sparingly is a good one.

If you count three appearances in five years as 'sparingly'. 

It’s a pretty ingenious idea, this: the Angels set up a kind of live-in buffet of people who are forced to live out their lives alone in an apartment while the stone bastards feed on their temporal energy. It’s very smart, yet very simple.

Where'd they find these people, who probably don't have any relatives or friends who would wonder whatever happened to them or searched for them.  Granted, I'm not well-versed in Weeping Angel lore, but once the victims get sent to this living death, how do they keep living?  Does this Death Hotel have room service?  Do the Angels bring up food and water for them?  What about exercise?  They'd be pretty worn out if they let their bodies atrophy to irrelevance.  What happens if someone accidentally wanders into this hotel, looking for a room or a tryst?  Is a Weeping Angel going to show him/her to a room?    

In the past, the Moff has opted for being too clever and complex for the sake of it, but here, he’s done it about as straightforward as he can, which I think is to the benefit of the episode and the character relationships at hand.

In the past, the Moff (remember what I said about reviewers who give cutesy names to those they review) has opted for being too clever and complex for the sake of it, but here, he's done it about as straightforward as he can...and that doesn't scare you?  Geez, here you are, promoting his 'straightforward' story, yet never bother to point out the contradictions between Blink and Angels Take Manhattan (as I understand them). 

The Angels remain the most consistently scary monster in the history of the show. Weeping Cherubs, also? Shit, man.

The Angels remain the most consistently contradictory monster in the history of the show.  You can have some continuity errors on a show as long-lasting as Doctor Who, but rarely has a monster been so idiosyncratic as the Weeping Angels are now.  They couldn't see each other or they would destroy themselves I believe.  Now, they CAN.  If one touched you, you were sent to the past.  Well, when one grabbed River, shouldn't she have been sent to another dimension (Hell would have been nice)?  The Angels were silent, until those Weeping Cherubs, who were anything but silent.  Do Angels lose the power of giggling as they grow older? 

Again, I'm not going to belabor these points, as I have yet to see Blink and have no memory of The Time of Angels Parts 1 & 2.  However, The Moff has to at some point give a logical, thought-out explanation why the Angels can be so arbitrary from story to story. 
Didn’t care for Angel Liberty, though; especially because she didn’t do anything. Is there any point during the entire 24 hour cycle of the day in New York frigging City where someone ISN’T looking at the Statue of Liberty? That’s ridiculous. It was staring us right in the face, but come on.

Courtesy of the man Kyle Anderson
keeps calling a 'genius'
logic be damned.

Even I, who provide excuses for everything on Doctor Who 2.0, know that the Angel Liberty doesn't pass the smell test.  To pretend otherwise would put my already shaky credibility in total doubt.  Let us discuss how the Angel Liberty simply does not work.

First off, as Kyle points out, at no point in time will there not be someone watching the Statue of Liberty.  Something as large as the Statue of Liberty (151 feet high) could not possibly move a millimeter without it being noticed, let alone get to shore.  Let's be exceedingly generous and say that somehow it got off Liberty Island.  By the time Lady Liberty got to shore, someone would have noticed (a sailor, someone taking a late stroll, a policeman or a criminal, a hooker, SOMEONE).  This, if Weeping Angel lore is to be believed, would have stopped it dead cold in its tracks, but apparently a Weeping Angel can move even if observed (which again, would contradict what came before).

However, the bigger issue, the really serious thing that makes this admittedly fascinating image impossible, illogical, and contradicting to everything we know about Weeping Angels is that the Statue of Liberty is not made out of stone.  It is made out of copper.  Now, again, I cannot claim to be a total expert on all things Weeping Angels, but I thought Angels were all made out of stone.  Do we now establish that a statue, regardless of its material, can henceforth be a Weeping Angel?  Will we now be allowed to have plastic Weeping Angels, or metallic Weeping Angels?  
After “The Power of Three,” we’ve learned that the Doctor will never give up the Ponds and they, in turn, will never give him up. (Begin Rick Roll now)

I'm a little bit more old-school than that myself, Kyle. I'll bet you though, that The Ponds conceived Amelia to this, since when you talk about 'the Ponds', you surely aren't talking about Amy and Rory, right? 

What I like about “The Angels Take Manhattan” is that there’s never an instant where either Amy or Rory say, “Oh, we should have stayed home.” They chose their path and they live with it. They don’t blame the Doctor for the predicament they’re in nor do they complain about it, save on their way to coming up with a plan. This series has given them a great deal of excellent character development in only five episodes, and at no point was there some larger arc about copies or daughters or best friends we’ve never seen; it’s just the characters living and existing. It’s sad that it took them until their final hurrah to become fully realized, amazing people.

This series has given them a great deal of excellent character development.  Let's see: Amy's perpetually bossy, Rory's perpetually wimpy (and perpetually dying).  At least here we got a story that didn't force its way into some grand epic tale that doesn't make sense.  Well, The Angels Take Manhattan really doesn't make sense, but by now we've pretty much given up on that quaint notion.  I'm so glad they're gone, forever it seems. 
Before I get to the sad stuff, I’d like to talk about the return of River Song (aka Melody Pond, aka Melody Malone).

I thought the return of River Song WAS the sad stuff. 

I would like to at this juncture point out a few things.  One, she would be, legally speaking, Melody Williams, as she is the daughter of Rory Williams.  The only way this creature could be Moldy Pond would be if Amy were unmarried when she gave birth to this bastard.  Now, isn't it curious that "Mels" from Let's Kill Hitler isn't mentioned.  Wonder why?  Now we're saddled with yet ANOTHER idiotic identity for our favorite psychopath.  So now she's some femme fatale out of film noir, though I figure we'll never get a proper explanation why we start out with a male voice-over telling what is suppose to be her story.       

I know some people who’ll be upset about the way River and the Doctor relate to each other in this episode.

Some people?  Boy, aren't we in self-denial.

The question of the validity of River and Doctor’s marriage, being that it took place in an aborted timeline, is highly controversial.

There's no controversy here.  They are not married.  End of discussion.

Some people will complain that this makes the Doctor demonstrably a husband and behave accordingly toward River. For all those who say “the Doctor is and should always be asexual,” calm down.

Kyle, my dear Kyle.  Do you know who was one of the people who said that "the Doctor is and should always be asexual"?  It was this guy...

Remember him?  But then again, what did Jon Pertwee know about Doctor Who, especially compared to Steven Moffat.  Pertwee always said that the Doctor was fond of his Companions, but that fondness was quite different from desire. 

I’ve never seen a more chaste exchange between supposed spouses in my life.

No sex please.  They're British.

Their “marriage” has nothing at all to do with physicality. He kisses her on the cheek, he touches her hand; it’s incredibly innocent.

We’ve already established that the Eleventh Doctor loves people deeply and it’s never about sex. Casual flirting and playground stuff, sure. River herself essentially said they can’t fully be together so this is the Doctor’s way to be married.

River herself essentially said they can't fully be together.  THANK GOD!  If this is the Doctor's way to be married, what was he doing with Cameca in The Aztecs? Playing tiddlywinks?  At least Cameca was both highly intelligent and a lady, two things our dirty River has never been accused of.  

I see nothing wrong with it if it stays this way.

I hope they never get together, let alone have a sex scene.  THE HORROR!  THE HORROR!

The only part of this I didn’t like is how he used regeneration energy to fix River’s broken wrist. Really? Is it really that easy for him to harness, and furthermore to transfer? Could he, then, have regrown his hand in “The Christmas Invasion” regardless of if he’d still been in his regeneration cycle or not? Seems fishy.

Doctor Who dives into another convenient plot contrivance that was never mentioned before and will probably never be mentioned again.

River was right to yell at him about it. How dare he do things that break the established rules?

What you whining about, Kyle?
You excuse it every time HE does it.
Now for the big stuff: what every media outlet on the globe was talking about was the final adventure with the Ponds.

Oh, how nice.  We were finally going to meet Amy's parents.  After all, Amy's last name isn't Pond, and Rory's last name certainly isn't Pond.  What was that about if you repeat a lie often enough, you'll pass it as the truth?  I do wonder how the Kabul Times and Pyongyang Gazette covered the final adventure with the Ponds. 

How would Moffat get rid of them?

Badly, of course.

Would he kill them off or would something else happen? He said it’d be very sad and Karen Gillan mentioned that her ending was pretty final.


That could mean anything, though. How well was it handled? I think, very well.

Kyle Anderson thought something on Doctor Who was handled very well. Well, NOW THERE'S A SHOCK! 

He had to make sure it was a life-or-death situation, one that they didn’t choose themselves, and one that the Doctor couldn’t just go pick them up from. This was all spoken about and made sense.

I think more than one person has pointed out that in a way, the Doctor COULD 'just go and pick them up'.  Again, I'll just let things stand as they are, with them fated to live in the thirties or wherever they were sent off to, conveniently together (since the Angel, out of the kindness of his/her heart, sent them to the exact same time and place).  Of course, I have a question, which I'm sure that more in-tune Whovians could answer.

If Rory and Amy are now trapped in some past in New York, where and when will they conceive River?  Ah, good old timey-wimey...

...and someone else brought up something in a discussion that I hadn't thought of.  In Cold Blood Part 2 I believe, the Pond-Williamses saw themselves in 2020 and even waved to each other.  Given that now they are a.) stuck in the past and b.) they are long dead by the time they waved to each other.  They certainly are dead before 2020, when the current Pond-Williamses spotted the future Pond-Williamses. 

Riddle me that, Kyle, and tell me how it 'made sense'. 

It played with the notion of fixed points in time and if you know your own future, then it has to happen that way. Not totally sure if I buy that, but it fit the story.

It played with the notion of fixed points in time and if you know your own future, then it has to happen that way.  Not totally sure if I buy that, but it fit the story.  My, what a turn you've made since the last time we altered a fixed point in time.

Weren't you the one raging about how the Doctor altered his fixed point in time in The Wedding of River Song?  Weren't you the one who said that "Moffat does not have a plan"?  If so, why then are you letting it slide here when you didn't let it slide (too much) there?

Once we got that (even to you) ridiculous ending at the end of Series Six, we threw out the idea of 'fixed points in time' on Doctor Who, which come and go at Moffat's whim.  How can you say it 'fit the story' in one case, but not in another?   
I adored the scene in which Rory thinks about jumping off the roof to create the paradox. He never questions it. He’s a hero; he does what he must.

He's an idiot and a wimp; he does what he's told to.

The conversation between he and Amy is just lovely, especially when she asks if he’s going to just come back to life and he replies, “When have I not?” Just glorious.

By this point, even Rory knew he was basically immortal...or had died so often that he figured a few more 'Rory Dies Again' bits wouldn't already bring both the show and his character's reputation any lower than they already are.

I also love the implication of their relationship: Amy wants to travel with the Doctor; she can’t live without Rory. Further, when the true departure happens in the graveyard (very fitting… very, very), she would rather never see the Doctor again than never see Rory again.

Well, I agree with half that statement.  I'd rather never see the Doctor again, but at least Rory will never appear on Doctor Who again, so that's a plus.

So telling, and harkens back to what we learned all the way back in things like “Amy’s Choice.”
The question of whether or not the Williamses get a “happy” ending is, I think, left purposely ambiguous.

Moffat can never kill off a character properly and thoroughly to where they are not just merely dead, but most sincerely dead. 

WAIT A MINUTE?  Did Kyle Anderson just call them 'THE WILLIAMSES?!'  Who the Hell are 'The Williamses'?  I thought we were seeing the final adventure of 'The Ponds'!

Because of the paradox, the Doctor will not and cannot see them again (unless some bullshit Donna-esque re-writing goes on) and, as far as he knows, they lived a long and healthy life together, as per the afterward in the Melody Malone book.

Time (and Doctor Who Canon) can be rewritten.

Riddle me this, Andy.  How does Melody Malone/River Song/Moldy Pond/Melody Williams/Mels/Beelzebub/The Great Satan know they had a long and healthy life together since even her going back with her Time Vortex Manipulator or whatever she has would bring too much paradox for the Earth to survive?  If she saw them, how was it the Doctor couldn't go to that time and arrange to meet with the Pond-Williams in Buffalo or something?

A more serious question: who agreed to publish Melody Malone?  We start out with a male voiceover typing it out in noir fashion, like it was his own creation, but we see that Moldy Pond based this femme fatale on herself (an ego trip if ever there was one)?  SHE couldn't go around saying 'the book Melody Malone is really my autobiography'.    

Now, I’m drawn to what River said to Amy, about never letting the Doctor see that you’re suffering.

I personally never got that.  The Doctor has seen quite a bit of suffering, starting from when he let his granddaughter go.  Why he felt the need to be shielded from pain I never got or accepted.

This may have darker implications on what happened to them in the Angel-induced past. They very well could have done exactly as Amy said, or the Angel may have sent her to a completely different time and she and Rory never saw each other again. Will we ever know for sure? I hope not.

Will we ever know for sure?  Do we really care?  Will we ever have to endure them again?

I hope not.

The Doctor believes them to be happy and that’s what matters, for now.

Ignorance is bliss.

I love Amy and Rory and do hope that they live a happy life in the ’30s or whenever, but, like the Doctor, if they didn’t, I don’t want to know.

So, onward and upward.

So, lower and lower we go. 

The Doctor, we know, isn’t going to be alone for very long. In fact, this Christmas he’ll be joined by whatever character Jenna Louise Coleman will play, be it Oswin from “Asylum” (I really doubt it) or a new character entirely.

Wanna bet it will the character Jenna Louise Coleman plays in the Christmas special will be the one that joins the Doctor?

It’s a new dawning for this version of the show, and, as always, I can’t wait to see what kind of insanity we’ll get.

It's the death throes for this bastardization of the show, and, as always, I can't wait to rim Steven Moffat's ass whenever he gives us the shit I so admire.

As a farewell to the Ponds, though, “The Angels Take Manhattan” was damn fine television.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!
As a farewell to the Ponds?  Did I miss the part where Amy's parents showed up? 

I do wish both Kyle Anderson and the NuWhovians would stop using "the Ponds" and "the Williamses" so interchangeably.  It isn't the same thing. 

For something that was 'damn fine television', we never got to something that I think was key to why The Angels Take Manhattan is not just utter rubbish, but also so contradictory that it makes whatever fixed point in time he thinks worked so mind-blowingly inept.

In The Eleventh Hour, little Amelia Pond is left waiting for the Doctor, which led to several years of her babbling on about 'the Raggedy Man' and psychiatric treatments and a bitter and angry Amy.  In The Angels Take Manhattan, we see that the Doctor, rather than not showing up at Amelia's door the next morning, DID show up at dawn's early light, delighting our little girl.

That being the case, why then would she refer to The Doctor as 'the Raggedy Man' if he was going to appear to her fully and rationally (for him) dressed?  Why would she not recognize him in The Eleventh Hour if his appearance was the same from them seeing each other at the end of Angels Take Manhattan and beginning of Eleventh HourIF I understand things correctly, this particular scene in Angels Take Manhattan takes place when Amy is a little girl (and more importantly, during The Eleventh Hour).  I would think the Doctor would explain to little Amelia that she couldn't come travelling with the Doctor just at this point, but that he would return for her many years later and they would have all sorts of adventures.  Little Amelia satisfied, she would have grown up expecting the Doctor to arrive when she was older, not left waiting for him like she was in Eleventh Hour.

Now, am I the only one who thinks that with this one (admittedly cute) scene, Moffat rendered the entire two and a half previous series/seasons invalid (if not downright illogical)? 

What was it that motivated Amy for all those years?  It was her anger, her anger at getting left behind when the Doctor promised he'd return.  Now, we see he DID return, so why is she angry now when she should know at least part of the story?  Maybe other people can make all this work in some way, but I don't have enough of an analytical critic's mind to accept all this as 'logical'.  For the sake of one brief scene, Steven Moffat was willing to eradicate two seasons of continuity.

Yet here is Kyle Anderson, gushing over the 'farewell of The Ponds', with nary a suggestion that some if not all of Angels Take Manhattan doesn't make sense within its own story, let alone within both the larger Doctor Who Canon or the nature of the Weeping Angels.

Perhaps his tears over the end of The Bitch and The Wimp clouded his viewing of the episode.

Well, at least they're gone, so that's something to cheer about.  I'd like to dedicate this song to Amelia Pond and her lapdog, Rory Pond...



  1. I was just thinking about this scene with Little Amelia in the Eleventh Hour. If you remember from the Eleventh Hour, there was a brief shot of Amelia looked up after a night of waiting to see the Tardis reappeared. But that Tardis was of the Doctor from the end of Amelia's timeline. It was the Doctor traveling back to tell little Amelia those stories. It was just like in Flesh and Bone when the Doctor appeared before Amelia, but it was the Doctor from the later timeline at the time of The Pandorica Opens.

    In the next scene, the grown up Amelia woke up, as if she had woken up from dreaming of the Doctor's appearance in that morning when she was a little girl. For all we know, the Doctor may not have told Amelia that he will come back for her later. For all we know he had simply told her those stories and then left, so her version of "the Raggedly Man" was still intact; the reality of his re-appearance as time passed became something like what happened with memory - you can't be sure if you'd dreamt it up or whether it was a reality.

  2. I think this is a case of splitting hairs. It does go through a lot of hoops to make things fit in my view.

    Assuming the Doctor HAD come back at Eleventh Hour to tell Little Amelia that she couldn't come for her now, it doesn't explain why she was so bitter when he did show up decades later, as if she HAD been left waiting for her 'raggedy man'. As I understood Eleventh Hour, that was the gist of what happened (she'd been left waiting), but now I'm suppose to understand he did come back, so why is she angry when she should have known he'd be back.

    I still am not convinced the pieces fit.


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.