The Cutprice Guignol

The Fifth Year: How to Get Away with Meh

Note to Self

I’m content right now. I’ve been listening to eighties pop, trying to French inhale with my new vaporiser, and dancing with the cat all night, and I feel good. Which feels like something close to a miracle, because a few months ago, I was so depressed that I was legitimately struggling to get out of bed in the morning, and when I’m in those states, it feels like the only thing facing you is this unassailable wall of shit, on the other side of which is another, more festering, more rancid pile of shit – you know, something like Game of Thrones’ treatment of women in season four. It feels fucking endless, and even though I could lie there, one hand in the eleventh bag of crisps of the day and the other to my mouth so I could chew off what remained of the skin around my fingers, and know that I had gotten out of worse in the past, I just for the life of me couldn’t see a way out of this one. It felt permanent – terminal, in the least fatal way possible.

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Doctor Who: Tremendous? Appalling? – Reviewer Definitively is Stumped

Well, that was something.

And something is, without a doubt, better than nothing. And, this season on Doctor Who, we’ve had nothing after nothing after nothing after nothing, relentlessly – and that makes this something feel like a grab-your-chest-and-gasp relief. But that doesn’t mean that this something is good just virtue of it being something instead of nothing.

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The grey jacket was back today, and on an unrelated note so is my hand fan.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself: this episode opens with the Doctor fielding Missy out on a mission to see if she really has changed. Bill, Nardole, and Missy arrive in an enormous spaceship careering towards a black hole, and Bill finds herself missing a substantial portion of her chest after an encounter with a crew member spooked by a mysterious threat. She’s whisked off to the other end of the ship and finds herself with a metal chestplate – and a mysterious new companion who bears a striking resemblance to an old foe of the Doctor’s.

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Two brilliant, brilliantly-dressed women, and also Nardole, for what it’s worth

And, bloody hell, was this episode full-throttle. I mean, there was no holding back on any aspect of it: Missy swishes out of the Tardis delivering lines so on-the-nose I’m pretty sure mine’s now broken, while the Doctor and Bill swap pointed remarks about the gender of the Doctor in flashback (which, you know, since you mention it). John Simm – back at last – spends most of the episode in cosplay as a character from a Gogol play, only to literally – and I’m not making this up – pull of a mask to reveal his true form as the Master beneath it. The episode also leans into the gothic horror in a big way, with some really chilling scenes as Bill wanders through the agonized wards of soon-to-be-Cybermen. For once, Murray Gold’s outrageously pointed score doesn’t feel like too much, because this entire episode was too much – in both good ways and bad. It fucking opened with the Doctor regenerating, for Christ’s sake. World Enough and Time didn’t come to fucking play.

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Okay, so let’s talk about the biggest deal this evening: the return of John Simm. As ever, it’s always an utter delight to see John Simm hamming it way the fuck up as the Master, even if we only really caught a glimpse of him at the end of the episode as he revealed himself to Missy (and asked for a kiss, making me realize in a horrified rush that my ultimate sexual fantasy is to see these two iterations of the Master get down on each other). Yes, I think we can all agree that this reveal would have been an utterly mind-blowing TV moment had they managed to keep it under wraps, and the Next Week On of last week’s episode did leave me keeping an eye peeled for his arrival, but fuck, if it isn’t good to have him back. While I was totally satisfied with Missy (who is, as ever, just a swooningly hysterical delight in the episode), the two of them together is a tasty prospect and I, for one, am here for it. 

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This episode also saw the genesis of the Cybermen, which was pretty cool – not only did it actually give the ever-charming Pearl Mackie something to do for once, but it drew some genuinely unsettling moments out of the premise – the actual reveal of the CyberBill (CyBillman? I’m working on it) actually earned it’s impact for once as we’d seen what went into creating this creature, and her reaching for the Doctor and desperately imploring “I waited” was an unsettlingly brilliant moment for the show. Yes, I shit on Moffat a lot and he 100% deserves it, but once in a while his mad genius seems to align into something thunderously engaging – funny, scary, rich with great ideas, and executed with flair and confidence (with great direction from Rachel Talalay to boot).

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Missy has been underused in her run, but honestly if she’d been the lead of the show she’d still have been underused in my eyes.

But. And there always will be a but with this season, because of just how fucking bland it’s been. This episode, as I said above, was something, and that something looks almost revolutionary next to the endless nothings that the show has offered up in the last ten weeks (ten weeks!). This being a Moffat episode that came deep into the Moffat era, I could see all his tricks coming before he even got near them – John Simm’s character was clearly the Master in disguise from the very moment he popped on screen, the black-hole-time-distortion explanation was blindingly obvious from the start, and this whole thing (and I can’t overstate this) was as subtle as a fork to the leg. It was terrible, really, but it was entertaining and engaging and kept me glued to the screen right until the last moments, as opposed to reaching for my cat just to give me something to do through the entire third act. But TV, as a base level, should be entertaining – and Doctor Who shouldn’t earn points for this episode just because it suddenly seemed to remember that.

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Wearing the same outfit she did in the first episode, if my memory serves me correctly – relevant? Probably not, but I care.

 

Not to mention, of course, I’m no fool, and I remember my reviews for the last two first parts of season finales. And they were good, too – they were both about how great these episodes were in comparison to the rest of the season, how funny, how sharp, how scary. Then came the second parts of those stories, which have been without fail dull, contrived, and vein-poppingly frustrating. I’ve no reason to think this double-hander won’t take that route too, so check in next week for what will inevitably be a tear-stained review about a terrible, dissapointing episode.

But, right now, with a week to spare, I can say without a doubt that I enjoyed this. World Enough and Time might have been ridiculous and outrageous at points, but damn it all if it didn’t land some body blows over the course of a tight and compelling forty minutes. It’s a reminder that when the show goes big, it should really commit to the enormity of the story and let the gigantic nature of Doctor Who’s premise shine through. Yes, the show really succeeds in it’s ability to tell small, human stories, but once in a while, when it lets off the leash like this with something monstrous and alien and enormous, it gets away with making us forget that.

But, if that turns out to be another fake-out regeneration? I’ll have you yet, Moffat. And in preparation for next week’s finale, please feel free to browse through all of this season’s reviews at your leisure here.

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TV Characters I Would Fight, Part Two

Thanks for all your lovely messages of support (and some frankly mean ones of snark, but hey) on my post yesterday, they are all much appreciated and spurred me on over my first major hurdle. And, in light of the fact I have the Not Smoking Rage, it seems as if now is as good a time as any to follow up on that TV Characters I Would Fight list from a few weeks ago, because I realized, with everyone commenting to let me know who they would pummel given the chance, that I had missed out on some frankly embarrassingly obvious choices. To the list!

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Operation Quit Smoking: Part One

Hello, I’m Louise. For reference, this is me:

 

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And the corner of the very cool “Visit London by Tardis” poster I got at a Comic-Con a few months ago, which now taunts me as Doctor Who continues to get worse and worse.

I love smoking.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Chapter Fifteen

Yeah, in amongst all this Doctor Who nonsense, it seems as though I’ve let my commitment to my first true blogging adventure slip. Sorry about that. Without further ado, let’s plunge back in Fifty Shades Freed! We only have about a dozen chapters to go, and I’m already planning what I’m going to recap next – any ideas?

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Doctor Who: This? All Really Diversion from the Interesting Story

Right, one thing out of the way upfront: that two-second clip of John Simm’s Master at the end of the Next Week On was, without a doubt, the best part of the season to date, and if anyone was temporarily deafened by the high-pitched keening shriek emanating from my flat, I can only offer my condolences and earplugs. Slap some bread around him and call him a sandwich; hammy John Simm is back, and I can’t fucking wait. 

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*fumbles desperately with trousers*

 

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Doctor Who, Stunt Casting, and the Elusive Female Doctor

So, I write a lot about Doctor Who on this blog, and there’s a question that I haven’t addressed yet. One that, with the end of Peter Capaldi’s tenure as the show’s lead drawing to a close, has been asked more and more: why is the Doctor always a white dude?

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Doctor Who: Torpid Adventure Reveals Descent into Stagnation

I think it’s pretty telling about the season as a whole when an episode like Empress of Mars, this week’s outing, is one of the best of the series.

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Reviewing Every Movie I’ve Seen This Year

Well, it’s election day, which means we’re all way too antsy to sit down and read anything heavy because we need to get up and check the poll numbers one last time dammit so I’m fulfilling my national duty by providing some futile form of distraction to keep you busy until ten tonight when everything stops and starts. Basically, I’ve been to see a bunch of films this year that I never got around to reviewing, so here’s my hot take on shit you’ve lost interest in by now!

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Doctor Who: Turgid Adventure Really Designates Imploding Season

Whew, team. I thought last week was bad, but we’ve reached a new season low with this week’s episode of Doctor Who.

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This jacket is FUCKING GREAT though, in all fairness. 10/10 would smash

 

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