Thin Ice

Doctor Who Thin Ice

When you walk the world for a while, you gather a collection of life experiences, each of which may teach you something: about yourself; about those around you; about existence itself. Those experiences give you a perspective on things, your “worldview”, if you will, that shapes decisions yet to be made, influences your reactions to future events. It also has a profound impact on what you will tolerate, what you simply cannot, and what you simply move beyond.

We as 21st century humans have a journey of ninety to a hundred years at the very most, and our opinions can develop to a near-impenetrable state over that time. Imagine the fortress around the worldview of a traveler over two millennia old.

This week, we step back to 19th century London, and walk the surface of the Thames in “Thin Ice”. As Sarah Dollard’s sophomore contribution to the series, we delight in the continued chemistry between Capaldi and Mackie, find ourselves fascinated by a discussion over lives saved and taken, scream in triumph one uncharacteristic but fantastic punch, and get word from Dollard herself about that succinct but powerful “species” speech:

But before we begin anything, let’s just take a moment to remember Pete. We feel like we barely knew you.

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Let It Be Written

Doctor Who Writers

We are appreciators, enthusiasts, and fanatics of certain television programs due in no small part to the captivating nature of the stories they tell. They are the creators and builders of worlds, the artists that add color, detail, and depth to an audio-visual experience that captures our imaginations, stimulates our minds, and often touches our hearts. With over 250 televised stories within Doctor Who, how does each writer put their individual and unique mark upon the tale being told? Can a producer or showrunner look to a repertoire of wordsmiths, knowing which ones can fulfil certain wishes or needs for the program’s trajectory in a given season? What aspects of fledgling writers stand out to make them ideal candidates to be given a first opportunity to write for the program?

This week, we look at the contributions of a series of beloved Doctor Who writers, classic and new, veteran and freshman. We discuss the nature of their individual craft, what impact their stories had upon the DWU both within their respective seasons and beyond, and what adept skills many of them demonstrate when penning a script for the Doctor. From the prolific Robert Holmes, to the acclaimed Paul Cornell, to brilliant newcomer Sarah Dollard, the pen so often proves mightier than the sonic screwdriver.

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The Year of the Woman?

The Year of the Woman

Series Nine of Doctor Who was, in a word, groundbreaking. The broadcast format changed. The tone shifted dramatically (pun intended, of course). The stories grew in intensity and weight. The performances from both principal and supporting casts expanded exponentially. The series as a whole felt cohesive, focused, and full of the thrills, adventure, and emotion that marks a stellar season for the program.

Over and above all these accolades, and in many ways directly feeding into them, was the rising strength of women involved in the program. Like most viewers, we were astounded by the immediately apparent acting prowess of Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez, Alex Kingston, Ingrid Oliver, and Jemma Redgrave; the directorial eye of Rachel Talalay and Hettie MacDonald; and the exceptional first episode contributions of Sarah Dollard and Catherine Tregenna. As we sit back and absorb all we’ve been given, the question is raised: in 2015, why are we still surprised to see these wonderful things happen?

Joined by brilliant blogger and Gallifreyan aficionado Alyssa of Whovian Feminism, we sit for a long session to discuss what has been a banner year for women in Doctor Who. We discuss the legacy of the program, accusations and confirmed instances of misogyny and chauvinism, the roles and representation of women both on camera and behind it. It becomes immediately clear that this is an ‘iceberg’ topic too large to address in one episode, so even with continued talk about the Bechdel test and other related issues in the “GPR After Dark” extended time that follows, we know for certain that we’ll be coming back to the subject — hopefully with news to celebrate about further advances for women’s equality in Series 10.

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