charloween: (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] charloween
Finally getting caught up on my Doctor Who. I wrote that effing scary history exam yesterday morning (if DW does an Early-Modern Persia episode I'll be able to fast-forward through the expository dialogue, woo!) and I still have one paper left to finish. However. Since it's all researched, mostly written, and it just needs to be shoehorned into an essay that I can hand in, I decided it was time to watch some of the television that's been piling up.

Doctor Who 4x02, "The Fires of Pompeii":

The Other Roommate (not [ profile] amyisyellow) pranced (minced, really) into my room after she saw this episode a few weeks back, and informed me that it wasn't historically accurate because of that family, only the son survived. You see, Other Roommate started her high school's Classics Club (because there wasn't one before, you see) and led her high school's Classics Club to success in some high school Classics Club derby and tea party (or something). So she knows more about Ancient Rome than I do and oooooooh aren't I impressed with how she knows the real story of Pompeii.

Now, in my books the minute you start faulting science fiction for not being historically accurate, you leave yourself open to being called a moron, because I'm pretty sure a horde of magma-critters wasn't there. And I don't think Pliny wrote anything about the entire town being psychic. And much as a I hate to say it, I've never seen anyone travel in time, either. Besides, Bill Nichols doesn't actually believe in the category of fiction. To him, fictions are "documentaries of wish-fulfilment".

When I mentioned this not-historically-accurate thing to a DW-watching friend, she waved her hand, made a "pffffft" noise and started talking about the water pistol. Now, this friend has just completed a degree in Classics and is going to do a Master's about the daily lives of Roman children. (Which is a damn cool research topic, considering mine is pretty much "eh, TV doesn't really exist...") She's one of three Classics majors I know, and they'd be my go-to people on the true story of Pompeii. Or I'd look it up on wikipedia. If it actually mattered. People, I tell you. Some of them are crazy.

I'm very ready for this girl to move the fuck out for a number of other reasons. But Seriously, how not to win friends and influence people, eh? Oooh, you know more than Doctor Who, good for you. It's too bad I'm clean out of gold stars to give you. WHO THE FUCK CARES IF THE FAMILY ACTUALLY LIVED? It's fiction, not documentary. And the fiction versus documentary is not a debate one should get into with someone who's just completed an epic thesis on televisual realism. (I think that last sentence will do me good for another few months; "back off, I'm dangerously overeducated in the field of televisual realism"... and mentioning it will cause crazy to happen.) Television merely frames the lived experiences of us all and in the act of framing this particular epistemological paradigm (ie: our daily lives, which we have knowledge of) distorts that paradigm because the limitations of the medium make a perfect replication of that daily life impossible. There's a limit to what can be seen in the shot, there's the need to give a context to what you're seeing (so it's not ahistorical) and there's the fact that a two-dimensional representation (played back on a screen) cannot replicate the immersive perception of human senses.

The minute you start faulting one part of the frame, you've got to justify or refute all the other bits of the frame. It's a bit facetious to demand different degrees of realism for all different parts of that reality frame.

Grumble grumble grumble. And no, I didn't give her an intellectual beat-down (that would be deliciously hypocritical!); I just told her I hadn't seen the episode yet and could I please get back to writing that thesis now, thanks.

The episode, the episode. Not much to say, really. Monster of the week episode, solidifying of the Doctor-Donna dynamic and Good Fun with period jokes. "Sounds a bit Celtic", indeed.

As a monster of the week, it was a good monster, and they did well with explaining how and why the Doctor chooses to intervene in one disaster and let another play out. It was a good science-fiction intervention in historical events, too. This season's "Shakespeare Code" or "Tooth and Claw". I liked too that this year's Fun With History episode was a bit deeper than giddy geekery, and managed to tie plot (volcano day!) with characterization/backstory (the Doctor's dead planet* and his reluctance to alter history) with the overall themes of the series (once the supernatural touches you, you're pretty much damned).

*Don't bring a loaded tragic past on stage in the first act if you're not going to use it by the last, eh? There are so more time lords out there.

I loved that someone in the show asked them if they were siblings, 'cause that's what I saw in the first ep, too. The other companions have been too in love with the Doctor to yell at him, but Donna is more than willing to let him have what-for. About anything. Compared to him, she's so very grounded. Yes, she's impressed she's in Ancient Rome (or Pompeii), but after the initial giggle, she immediately tries to find out the rules of this new world she's in. How far does the TARDIS translate? Sure it was all a set-up for the running Celtic joke, but it could have been set up so differently. She could have done like Rose and Martha and tried to slip into whatever she thought was the local dialect (using all the Latin she knew, for example) and have the Doctor explain to her and us how to comport herself. Setting it up like that makes the Doctor the one with the all the knowledge and therefore the power in the relationship. Here, however, we get Donna asking a question before she acts, and then at his prompting finds out the answer for herself.

And I love how Donna can out-chatterbox the Doctor. It gives him a taste of how he seems to others, always filling the air with every thought that floats through his head. Well, not every thought, but certainly enough to keep things lively. His aside when the priestess-lady was going on about how she'd silence Donna forever? Love it. Love how she brings out the snarky side in him, and love how he seems to like it, too.

I think my favourite part was the "I am Spartacus" / "Me too" bit. The joke made me lol, sure, but the way they both played that moment was lovely, just lovely. Donna isn't going to make a fuss about being clever because she's not looking for the Doctor's approval. (It's the arrogance of an older sister, believe me.) She's just going to be clever 'cause she knows she's clever and the episode will move on from there. The point: I like how Donna's shaping up.

Did DT's accent seem a bit different in this one? The Doctor seems to be talking more like Donna now, whereas in s2 & 3 he had an accent closer to Rose's. Someone with a better ear and more knowledge of London-area accents would probably know for sure, but there were a few pronunciation things that made me wonder. Oh, gee. I guess this means I'll have to watch older episodes again. GOLLY GEE WHIZ. (I did go back and watch the bit where he said "magma" over again. It's such a fun word.)

I also quite enjoyed how there's a missing scene there where Donna and the seer-daughter did a girly OMG CLOTHES and Donna got to play historical dress up (and thank gawd she did, 'cause that top was a bit hideous).

....Now I'm going to take out the garbage, mop the floors and maybe watch the Ood episode before heading up to campus to see [ profile] amyisyellow's film! I love the year-end screenings. Last night's films were good. It's quite fun to see how different these fourth-year films are from the stuff this same group produced in first year.

Now that I'm nearly done everything, I promise I'll be back to ell jay very shortly. I've missed my flist, let me tell you.
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