"New sun, new air, new sky. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there's all that life out there?" -The Doctor
"Asking a linguist how many languages they speak is like asking a doctor how many diseases they have." -Unknown

Sunday, September 11, 2011

River, Make 'Er Blue Again!

[EDIT: I originally drafted this in Germany, when this was the only episode I had access to. I've since caught up but I thought I'd post this anyway.]

I shouldn't have done this. I shouldn't have watched the first half of a two-parter when I may have to wait two months for the second half. But as we've heard so many times in the past: who can resist the Doctor?

Couldn't You Just Slap Him Sometimes?
Sometimes I feel a bit silly telling people I'm a Whovian, especially when there's been a long gap between me and the last time I saw a new episode. I start, in the way a good companion never should, to doubt the Doctor. Is he really worth waiting for? Is the new adventure really worth the anticipation?

The short answer is always "hell yes!"

This also applies, in part, to our beloved Mr Moffat. I assume he has a genius plan to get himself out of the hole he's dug for himself here (he usually does), but still...a fake-out regeneration is a low blow, and there'd better be a damn good justification for it.

Twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez
Have to say: so far the plot doesn't make any sense to me at all. There are too many unconnected pieces: the zombie astronaut child, the Area 51 psychic zappy aliens, the moon landing, Elder Eleven's murder at the hands of (presumably) the same zombie astronaut child, which has been, what, lying in wait in a lake in Utah since 1969 just to kill the Doctor?

The lack of sense plus the looming cloud of Elder Eleven's death makes the whole thing pretty dark.

You Better Get Down Here, Sir; She's Doing It Again
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any episode with River Song in it must be at least a hundred times better than the same episode without her. She throws the Doctor off-kilter, makes him nervous, although he seems drawn to her as well. Actually, that's pretty obvious; a good 3/4 of their dialogue to each other seemed to be flirtation and innuendo. If the Doctor doesn't trust River (which he clearly doesn't), he doesn't seem averse to her company, to say the least.

There were two great River-related moments in this episode of the tragic flavor, both involving the Time Traveler's Wife nature of their relationship. The first is the Doctor's half-justified, half-petulant demand for information which his companions refuse to share, leading to his scoffing in River's face at the idea of trusting her. River continues to be a mystery; her past is in shadow, slowly coming to light, but never quite enough to really answer any questions. The anguish on her face when the Doctor tauntingly asks her questions he knows she won't (can't?) answer is painful to watch.

The second is River's admission to Rory of the worst day coming for her, an inevitable result of her and the Doctor's backwards relationship. The really heartbreaking thing about this is that we already know that her worst fears come true: she meets Ten in the Library who has no memory of her at all, and in a way, it does kill her. We know she's heading for that, but we don't know what kind of horror is hidden in her past for the Doctor still to discover.

Linguisticky Quibble of the Day
At 31:50 in, this happens:

Canton: So, we're in a box that's bigger on the inside, and it travels through time and space.
Rory: Yeah, basically.
Canton: How long have Scotland Yard had this?

Canton is supposed to be American, and does the accent rather well (I think, but I'm miserable at accents, so there's that). But eh, what's this? A plural verb ("have") with a collective noun? Uh oh. That's highly unusual in American English but fairly common in British English. I'm not sure how subject-verb agreement norms for collective nouns have changed since 1969, but to my modern American ears, that sounds very odd...and British-y.

Canton has no excuse for this BritEnglish slip as he is, so far as I can tell, totally American with little to no exposure to BritEnglish, especially not enough to influence a grammar feature like subject-verb agreement. Another such mistake occured in series 4, "The Sontaran Stratagem", where Luke Rattigan (also supposedly American) says to the Doctor, "I thought you were meant to be clever." In this case, both "meant to be" and "clever" sound like Britishisms; to my ears, the sentence would sound much more like standard Amerikanisch if it were instead, "I thought you were supposed to be smart." Luke, though, has a possible excuse in that he's been living in England with BritEnglish speakers; it's possible he's picked up the phrasing he uses from his environment, consciously or no (a phenomenon that many BBC-addicted American anglophiles are likely very familiar with).

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled review...
Favorite Moments
Prison guard: You better get down here, sir. She's doing it again. Dr Song, sir. She's...packing. Says she's going to some planet called...America.

Amy: Someone's been a busy boy then, eh?
Doctor: Did you see me?
Amy: 'Course!
Doctor: Stalker!
Amy: Flirt!
Rory: Husband.

Doctor: I'm being extremely clever up here and there's no one to stand around looking impressed. What's the point in having you all?
River: Couldn't you just slap him sometimes?

Doctor: Don't play games with me. Don't ever, ever, think you're capable of that.

Doctor: Swear to me. Swear to me on something that matters.
Amy: Fish fingers and custard.
Doctor: My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.

Rory: He said the scanner wouldn't work!
River: I know! Bless.

Doctor: Oww! River, have you got my scanner working yet?
River: Oh, I hate him.
Doctor: No, you don't! River, make 'er blue again!

Doctor: That child just told you everything you need to know, but you weren't listening. Never mind, though, 'cause the answer's yes. I'll take the case. Fellas, the guns, really? I just walked into the highest security office in the United States, parked a big blue box on the rug...you think you can just shoot me?
River: They're Americans!
Doctor: Don't shoot!

Nixon: Five minutes.
Doctor: I'm going to need a SWAT team ready to mobilize, street-level maps covering all of Florida, a pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez.
Canton: Get him his maps.

Doctor: Dr Song, you've got that face on again.
River: What face?
Doctor: The "He's hot when he's clever" face.
River: This is my normal face.
Doctor: Yes it is.
River: Oh, shut up.
Doctor: Not a chance.

Amy: Why would anyone want to trap us?
Doctor: Dunno! Let's see if anyone tries to kill us and work backwards.

Doctor: Ah, back with us, Canton!
Canton: Like your wheels.
Doctor: That's m'boy!

Doctor: Shout if you get in trouble.
River: Don't worry, I'm quite the screamer. Now there's a spoiler for you!