New Who in Conversation: The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon S06E01/02

David is coming to New Who for the first time, having loved Classic Who as a kid. Tehani is a recent convert, and ploughed through Seasons 1 to 7 (so far) in just a few weeks after becoming addicted thanks to Matt Smith – she’s rewatching to keep up with David! Tansy is the expert in the team, with a history in Doctor Who fandom that goes WAY back, and a passion for Doctor Who that inspires us all.

We are working our way through New Who, using season openers and closers, and Hugo shortlisted episodes, and sometimes a couple of extra episodes we love as our blogging points. Just for fun! 

We are incredibly honoured to have tied for the William Atheling Jr Award, alongside Galactic Suburbia. Thank you to everyone who voted for us, and to all our readers for your support and for spreading the word. We also want to thank Lynne Thomas, Jo Anderton and Kathleen Jennings for their guest contributions. Congratulations to not only Galactic Suburbia on their well deserved win, but all the amazing nominees – you are producing some wonderful writing! We are looking forward to writing many more reviews about the show we love, and hopefully catching up with the new season soon.

ImpossibleAstronaut“The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon”

Season six, episodes one and two

The Doctor – Matt Smith

Amy Pond – Karen Gillan

Rory Williams – Arthur Darvill 

River Song – Alex Kingston

DAVID:

Well, what a great setup for for an episode, and what a great start to the season! Obviously we know that the Doctor can’t really die (especially from my viewpoint of knowing there is a Season 7), but we are immediately presented with a whole heap of questions and a massive time gap to fill. I may be a little obsessed here after watching all five seasons in a few weeks, but it reminded more than a little of Breaking Bad where you would see the aftermath of some catastrophe in the intros and then be left wondering how exactly you were going to get there. It’s certainly left me very excited about this season.

TEHANI:

Doctor WhoSo that early scene, when the Doctor started regenerating, was AWFUL. I’m glad I already knew Matt Smith was the Doctor for the whole season to come, else I would have been devastated! But yes, it’s very good :)

TANSY:
This is a really excellent season opener – the first time we’ve had a two parter to start a season, which seems odd because it works so well. It also marks the first time they really made inroads into promoting the show substantially in the US – I really like that they chose to do a historical story using all that beautiful desert cinematography, and the 1960’s stuff around it.

This story has major knock on effects in the whole season but I really like it as a self contained piece of Doctor Who.

DAVID:

Earth must get very cluttered with all the aliens behind the scenes pulling the strings, the basic premise is hardly new even to Doctor Who, let alone science fiction.

TEHANI:

Heh. The Doctor says it: Safe? No, of course you’re not safe. There’s about a billion other things out there just waiting to burn your whole world. But if you want to pretend you’re safe just so you can sleep at night, okay. You’re safe. But you’re not really.

DAVID:

But, there aren’t many completely new ideas, it’s all about how you execute them, and I thought that this was executed wonderfully. It had a great storyline, an excellent supporting cast and a very disturbing set of monsters. I was fascinated to discover the father-son sharing of one of the roles, and I thought Richard Nixon was portrayed really well. I can imagine there was a temptation to have him as a complete villain, but instead we saw a great performance. I did enjoy the little digs, though, like the reference to Frost, and the perfectly reasonable explanation for his obsession with recording all the conversations that took place in the Oval Office! But, the real stars for me were Gillan and Darvill, however I will expand on that further a bit later on.

TANSY:

I think the Silence are officially the scariest New Who villains now – Raeli has got over her fear of Sontarans but she can’t even cope with looking at these guys. The premise behind them is so chilling, the idea of taking away memories.

I do love all the Nixon stuff (if Abigail and Kazran are companions, so is he!) and that he came across as likeable but problematic. River and the Doctor debating his legacy (“Hippy!” “Archaeologist!”) was quite charming. Stuart Milligan, who played him, is perhaps best known as the kooky magician Adam Klaus in Jonathan Creek, and he also plays an amazing Big Finish comedy villain. It’s funny the way that the Doctor reacts to having a President in his pocket by employing him a bit like a sonic screwdriver, to open doors and unlock new areas.

TEHANI:

And I like that Nixon isn’t portrayed as a monster, either, even though we know (historically) his flaws. It’s very, hrm, human?

DAVID:

The Silence could have been been a bit ridiculous if they hadn’t been handled right, but I found them very creepy. You’d think that after the Angels, a creature that you had to keep your eyes on would be a bit old hat, but the twist was more than enough to differentiate them completely. For some reason the idea that you forgot them every time you looked away made me really uncomfortable, it made the characters seem so vulnerable and manipulated. No matter how vigilant they were, seeing the Silence was not enough. The scenes in the children’s home were particularly creepy, especially when Amy is all of a sudden covered in pen marks (which was a brilliant idea). At least with the Angels you knew they were coming for you, the Silence didn’t even give you that.

TEHANI:

That awful, “As long as there’s been something in the corner of your eye, or creaking in your house or breathing under your bed or voices through a wall…” line *shudder* – I think that’s what makes them so darn scary. Also, this:
Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 3.48.19 PM

TANSY:

day-of-the-moonThe horror concept of not being able to remember the monster is terribly clever and creepy. The haunted asylum is genuinely disturbing.

When I remember this story though it’s less for the effective horror stuff and more for the crunchy character material. I adore Canton as an addition to the TARDIS team, and all of the River Song stuff is great. She’s definitely on the team now, with friendship ties to both Rory and Amy as well as the Doctor.

And oh, TIME GAP. The Doctor who summons them all to witness his death is about two hundred years older than our usual model, and how interesting that Amy and Rory have been home since the Christmas Special, balancing domesticity with adventure. There are so many delicious implications to this story, not least that the Eleventh Doctor’s timeline is complicated, more complicated than we could ever understand, and that he’s going to be around for a good long time.

DAVID:

Excellent point. Certainly leaves lots of room for lots of adventures.

TEHANI:

Yay!

DAVID:

I was interested to discover that this isn’t the first major time gap in the Doctor’s chronology. The First Doctor claims to be 450 years old at one point, but that jumps up around 300 years by the time Four is travelling with Romana. Then, when we get to Six he is around the 900s! While we need to take the Doctor’s claims regarding his age with a pinch of salt, that does leave lots of room for “missing” adventures. It does make sense that a time traveller’s chronology is going to be complicated, of course!

TANSY:

Moffat has actually done a great job at leaving deliberate gaps in the chronology, for the associated media to play in whether it’s now or in 25 years time. He has said that he does it on purpose. Unlike RTD, who gave us that distressingly closed-in Series 1, so the only non-Rose adventures we can insert happen somewhere in the middle of “Rose”.

tumblr_lki4aownvW1qb658io1_500TEHANI:

The first time I watched this season I got all sorts of terribly confused. I’m still not sure I completely understand the timeline. Where’s that River Song chronology again?

TANSY:

It bears multiple rewatching! And I believe there’s a bit of retooling we need to do after the fact with later revelations in the show…

David, let’s talk about Amy and Rory! What was it you loved so much about Gillan and Darvill’s performances?

DAVID:

There are a number of scenes where they shine (like Amy in the children’s home *shivers*) but, for me, the real emotional core of this story is Rory trying hard not to be jealous as he fights against his insecurities, and Amy’s feelings for him and the Doctor. Who wouldn’t struggle with feelings of inadequacy if they felt they were competing with the Doctor? I think it is a really pivotal moment when Amy clarifies things properly, and certainly left me feeling much better about things (“Poor Rory!” punctuates most of my notes that I make while watching these episodes!).

It would be quite obvious to anyone reading this review series that I had some real issues with the Nine-Rose-Mickey dynamic, but I find the Eleven-Amy-Rory one a lot easier to deal with. Nine was quite obviously competing with Mickey for Rose, and often rather nasty about it, and I often found it hard to watch. It was such an unbalanced competition and I constantly felt sorry for Mickey, and disdain for the Doctor’s bullying of him – because that’s what it was. There is a lot more friendship and genuine affection between the current (well, current as of this episode – I am SO far behind!) trio, and the Doctor has shown much more integrity in how he deals with Rory and Amy, and is far more mindful of boundaries. Plus, I do love the banter!

doctor-who-day-of-the-moonTEHANI:

Plus Matt Smith’s Doctor is a less “sexual” being than Tennant’s anyway, I think. He’s far more the goof (mingled nicely with the dark weight of everything he has seen) than Tennant ever was – this shows in his interactions with River Song, even as he grows into their relationship, I think.

TANSY:

I enjoy the odd, awkward balances and imbalances that come out between this trio and I agree that the Doctor’s role in it makes him a lot more likeable than when Nine was doing something similar – most of the Doctor messing up their relationship is a blunder rather than a deliberate jibe. I think it also shows that there are different kinds of friendship and jealousy and conflict doesn’t have to be romantic. Rory is brilliant in this story, it feels like he is coming into his own. I think my favourite bit is where he gets to explain everything to Canton, and that means Rory himself isn’t the new boy any more.

This team, running around solving mysteries in an invaded Earth in the 1960s. I could watch this team forever. I could have watched a whole season that was just this. Except, of course, that’s not how Doctor Who works…

We’ve already reviewed:

“Rose”, S01E01

“Dalek”, S01E06

“Father’s Day”, S01E08

“The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances”, S01E09/10

“Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways”, S01E12/13

Season One Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Christmas Invasion”, 2005 Christmas Special

“New Earth”, S02E01

“School Reunion”, S02E03

“The Girl in the Fireplace”, S02E04

“Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel”, S02E05/06

“Army of Ghosts/Doomsday”, S02E12/13

Season Two Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

“The Runaway Bride”, 2006 Christmas Special

“Smith and Jones”, S03E01

“The Shakespeare Code/Gridlock”, S03E02/E03

“Human Nature/The Family of Blood”, S03E08/E09

“Blink”, SO3E10 (with special guest reviewer Joanne Anderton)

Utopia/The Sound of Drums/Last of the Timelords” S03E12/13/14

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Spearhead from Space (1970)

Season Three Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

Classic Who Conversation podcast – Genesis of the Daleks (1975)

“Partners in Crime”, S04E01 (with special guest reviewer Lynne M Thomas)

“The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky”, S04E05/06

“Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead”, S04E09/10

“Turn Left”, S04E12

“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, S04E13/14 

Season Four Report Card – DavidTansyTehani

The Specials: “The Next Doctor / Planet of the Dead / The Waters of Mars

The Specials: “The End of Time”

“The Eleventh Hour”, S05E01

“The Beast Below / Victory of the Daleks”, S05E02/03

“The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone”, S05E04/05

“The Vampires of Venice / Amy’s Choice”, S05E06/07

“The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood”, S05E08/09

“Vincent and the Doctor / The Lodger”, S05E10/11

“The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang”, S05E12/13

A Christmas Carol, 2010 Christmas special

Season Five Report Card – David, Tansy, Tehani

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Keeping me honest

photo (38)

photo (37)

My holiday plans kind of went askew, because I decided to drive up to Queensland to spend a few days at Mum & Dad’s farm. The kids are having a ball, and though the temperatures are pretty frosty in the mornings, the sun is gorgeous! Master 1 is spending hours at a time outside, playing with the dogs and wandering the yard. Master 4 has decided he can’t be shown up by the baby and has overcome his concern about the dogs and also playing nicely, AND he caught the first fish of the holiday, much to Master 11’s disgust. Miss 8 spent the day at work with Granna on Friday being helpful, and has adopted one of the dogs as her personal friend. Master 11 has been fishing and bike riding with abandon and he and Grandpop have just disappeared to an offsite fishing spot, so he’s super happy. Of course, two days of driving (more than 1100km) and another two days of driving still to go home again has enshortened my break somewhat, but I’ll keep plugging away!

In the interests of keeping me honest, here’s my holiday list again, with a WHOLE POINT ticked off!

  • Edits for many, many stories. Announce and advance a couple of other projects in the works. Apply for a grant. (all FableCroft things)
  • Interviews for a blog project. Done! Well, the first part, anyway :)
  • Write about eight zillion reviews (books and TV).
  • WA School Library Journal layout.
  • Application for Google Teacher Academy in Sydney.
  • Sort and dispose of several boxes of toys.
  • Catch up with friends. I can claim a little of this, but they are QLD friends, rather than Canberra ones! 
  • Paperwork/tax stuff.
  • Keep up with emails – already struggling with that, but please bear with me! Actually, I’m happy with where things stand for this, despite the blow out of travel days. 

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Eddings Reread: The Diamond Throne (Elenium 1)

Because we just don’t have enough to do, Alex, Joanne and I have decided to re-read The Elenium and The Tamuli trilogies by David (and Leigh) Eddings, and – partly to justify that, partly because it’s fun to compare notes – we’re blogging a conversation about each book. We respond to each other in the post itself, but you can find Alex’s post over here and Jo’s post here if you’d like to read the conversation going on in the comments. Also, there are spoilers!

Diamond_ThroneTEHANI:

I was feeling a little book-weary yesterday so thought I might as well start my reading for this conversational review series, given it’s usually a soothing experience. Within a single PAGE, I was reaching for Twitter, because SO MUCH of the book cried out to be tweeted! Great one-liners, the introduction of favourite characters, and, sadly, some of the not so awesome bits as well. I was having a grand time pulling out 140 character lines (#EddingsReread if you’re interested), but the response from the ether was amazing! So many people hold these books firmly in their reading history, and it was just lovely to hear their instant nostalgia.

ALEX:

And I read those tweets and everything was SO FAMILIAR that I immediately started reading as well. And finished a day later.

JO:

Ok. A) You people read too quickly! B) Tehani those tweets were enough to start me feeling all nostalgic. I was in the middle of cooking dinner and had to put everything down, run upstairs and dig the books out of their box hidden in the back of the wardrobe. Continue reading

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School holidays

It’s school holidays and I feel like I’ve kind of fallen off the internet in my mad efforts to get ALL THE THINGS DONE in the two week break before ploughing back into my full-time and full-on job. I’ve spent most of the first few days cleaning, washing clothes (had to wash two boxes of clothes that got damp – luckily discovered before any damage was done!) and unpacking/moving boxes around. Also managed to get my hair done today (at LAST) and the kids got haircuts yesterday too – all looking very smart now. So, what else do I plan (hope) to achieve before school goes back?

  • Edits for many, many stories. Announce and advance a couple of other projects in the works. Apply for a grant. (all FableCroft things)
  • Interviews for a blog project.
  • Write about eight zillion reviews (books and TV).
  • WA School Library Journal layout.
  • Application for Google Teacher Academy in Sydney.
  • Sort and dispose of several boxes of toys.
  • Catch up with friends.
  • Paperwork/tax stuff.
  • Keep up with emails – already struggling with that, but please bear with me!

Sure, that’s doable, right?

 

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Hello blog, I miss you

While I do write up over at FableCroft more frequently than here these days, it’s not really at all the same thing, and I miss blogging here! Hopefully we’re getting back on track with our Doctor Who reviews soon, but I’m also going to make a concerted effort to put down more words in general at this place, else otherwise, where’s the proof it all happened? :)

Gosh, scrolling back through the last few posts here (and goodness, a long time between drinks there too!) it seems I really haven’t recorded much at all this year! I suppose a full-time job (and family and everything else on top) will do that to you. So, to sum up:

  • Still loving my job – it’s full on, engaging and lots of fun. There are challenges, but I’m enjoying finding ways to overcome them, and there are fantastic opportunities, which I’m loving grabbing hold of. This was a good move.
  • We had a FableCroft book party in Hobart in March, which was fun, and was nice that my parents were there (child-minding for a week!).
  • The CBCA Judges’ Conference in April was interesting – a very passionate group of people and some really hard decisions. As with any other judging panel, but bigger!
  • photo (36)Awards! Delighted to say we won an Aurealis Award for One Small Step in the Best Anthology category at the Aurealis Awards in April, which was awesome – it’s not the first AA something has won, and we’ve been shortlisted a few times, but it’s the first time I got to bring home a pretty trophy! I was also stoked that Jo Anderton won Best Collection for The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories, and she also took out the Australian Shadows Award for the same category! Super cool. And at the Ditmars earlier this month, Tansy, David and I were awarded the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism and Review for our conversational Doctor Who reviews, and because they both got pretty trophies (designed by the amazing Kathleen Jennings) for wins in other categories (yay!) I got to bring that one home too! Are they not beautiful? :)
  • I’ve more projects going on over at FableCroft than I can shake a stick at. Cranky Ladies was fully funded (148%!) in our Pozible campaign in March, and is simmering away with stories starting to trickle in; Insert Title Here is on the bubble, with a table of contents to be announced very shortly (and another special announcement to go with that too!); we launched Jo Anderton’s new novel Guardian at Continuum, and it’s starting to get some reviews around the traps; and there are another couple of things going on that are yet to be announced. SO MUCH GOOD STUFF!
  • I didn’t win NAFF, but I did make it to Continuum over the June long weekend anyway, and had an absolute ball. Only had two days there, but I think it’s possibly the most fun I’ve had at a convention ever! I was certainly on more panels than I’ve ever been on before! Caught up with loads of people, sold some books, learned some things – it was great.
  • Undertook my two CBCA Judge’s talks (one in Launceston, one in Hobart) to small but engaged audiences. Can’t say I’m sad I’m not judging again this year, because I’m still in a bit of “forced reading” fatigue. Hence probably the fact I’m doing a new reread review project of The Elenium and The Tamuli with Alex Pierce and Jo Anderton now – comfort reading for the win!
  • Aurealis Awards will soon open to entries – we’re trying to fix up some behind the scenes problems with the entry form before we go live, but looking forward to another year of finding out about all the great work that’s been published this year.
  • I’ve been gradually getting out and doing a little bit of socialising with friends around Canberra. Had an unexpected movie date with Shauna O’Meara the other day when I took a group of students to watch How to train your dragon 2 (which was fabulous!), so that was lovely, and met up with Rebecca James last weekend and Donna Hanson yesterday. Saw Nicole and a few others a few weeks ago at a Canberra Society of Editors meeting where we talked about our editing processes, and went out to dinner with my library staff last Friday. Still have lots of people I really want to see, but time is against me! I will get there…
  • Probably the biggest thing in the past few months is that the family have made the move to Canberra! With all the time sink and financial expense that goes with an interstate move. We’ve been trying to sell our house since January and FINALLY (having changed agents a couple of months ago) have an unconditional contract on the property. We’re losing a bucketload of money, but at least it’s (hopefully) done now. Holding our breath until it’s finalised though! Of course, that has meant a whole heap of living out of boxes, unpacking boxes, chucking stuff out because why have I bothered to cart it about for so long… All that stuff, but we’re slowly getting there! Just renting now (and for a while, I think) but a pretty good place, even if it can’t hold a candle to our lovely Launceston home :( Oh, and we have a nanny now! Because I have no idea how we would manage otherwise. She’s great, a young lady who used to babysit for us in WA, and we’re super lucky to have her. Kids are all settled into schools and doing pretty well, though we still miss our friends in Launceston. And WA, for that matter! Stupid nomadic family… :)

Is that it? No, of course not! But it will serve as a catch up for now. I’ll try to do better. Really, I will!

 

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