1

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Okay, I think I'm done, at least for this episode.  I've said my piece, most anything else would be repeating myself. Kill the Moon was a staggeringly good piece of television, I'm genuinely sad that so many of you didn't get what those of us who love it got out of it. 

I'm glad that this is a space where even though when opinions are heated, the discussion can stay respectful (largely) and and the arguments can avoid cheap shots (largely.)

2

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

BigDamnArtist wrote:

Or on the flip-side, can you give me a reason that the science being awful and wrong is actually helping the episode? Is there any reason why it's absolutely vital to the this episode that the science be so mind numbingly, face palmingly wrong, outside of it being a bold choice?

That's a great question Artist.

Okay, here is how I read this particular episode.  When the moon spiders turned out t be germs, and not only germs but giant germs that could be killed with household disinfectant.  My reaction was “that's ridiculous!” Which on some level told me that storybook logic was in place.  This was reinforced by the gravity stuff and by the time we get to “the moon is an egg” I am able to react to that in the context of “this episode is a fairy tale”.  I have already had the “that's ridiculous” reaction and can now accept the poetry of that notion in a very different way than if I was approaching it in default Doctor Who “pretending to be a science fiction show” mode.  It makes that reveal hit very differently and much better... at least for me and those like me. 

There are other things gained too. Making it more like a fable makes everything more off kilter than a normal episode which puts Clara out of her comfort zone.  It muddies what the “rules” for this dilemma which makes the Doctor's behavior even more angering for Clara.  And it let's the story end with a lyrical “and it hatched another egg”  which is beautiful and elegant if you accept the story book rules.

3

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

My counter to that is:  Do you not think that Peter Harness and Steven Moffat knew that giant spiders as germs and a a baby that immediately hatches an egg the size of the egg it hatched from is not literally plausible?  A conscious choice was made to unapolgetically have implausible science in this episode.  That's a bold choice.  This season has made the choice to revert to an older, crankier, meaner, more alien Doctor after seven seasons of young swashbuckling doctors.  That's a bold hard choice. 

As for inconsistent characters, I'm a bit at a loss.  Clara seemed wholly in character this episode and the Doctor seemed consistent with how he has been portrayed this season, which granted  is a different focus than the last three doctors, but not out of the blue, and definitely not out of character with the Doctor's 50 year history.  Or so it seems to me.

Whether or not one likes these choices, I would argue that  these choices were made with care and with intent.  Let me be clear on where I'm coming from:  I am not giving this episode's "problems" a  pass because I really like the idea of a moon-egg.  I like this episode more because of the fairy tale tone.  I love this episode because Clara is being true to her character and expressing her outrage at the character traits of this new doctor in a way that elevated her character and justified (again, in my eyes) the current take on the doctor. 

Clearly, I have watched a different episode than Saniss, Jp12x, C-Spin, Withkittens, Tomahawk Ellingsen, Bigdamnartist, and Cotterpin Doozer watched.  Again, I'm not saying you guys are wrong for not liking it.  However, I maintain that this episode was great and I am far from the only viewer who walked away from that episode convinced they had viewed something truly special.  I'm not trying to make any of you like this episode, but it would be nice if anyone would grant me that given how many people  are convinced they saw something great, maybe there is something to our point of view.

4

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

JP12x,

Let's toss out "masterpiece" and instead stick with "great work of art."  I wouldn't call Kill the Moon a masterpiece, because what does "masterpiece" mean within the context of television, but I would call it great and I would do that because I watched it, received it on the terms that it established and was stunned by perhaps the greatest episode of Doctor Who I have ever seen (to be fair I haven't seen the back half of classic Who).  The fact that many, many other people were similarly taken with this episode suggests that, yes this episode was indeed on to something.

When you say that a story cannot be great if it does not work for you, how can that be interpreted as anything other than you, Jp12x, are the final arbiter of what is great and not great.  I truly don't mean to be antagonistic, but how else can one read that? 

I would also add that you frame the discussion in terms of Kill the Moon (and Gravity) as being a "story."  To that I say, that television shows and movies are "films."  The difference being that the former term emphasizes the narrative aspect of the work while the latter acknowledges the importance of the visual aspects. This isn't hyper-relative to the discussion at hand, but I would suggest that by focusing on the narrative aspects of a work of film, one limits the myriad of ways in which movies and (to a lesser but increasingly more common extent) television can create different modes of expression.

Clearly (Cotterpin's damning faint praise aside) I am the only one posting here who actually feels good about this episode, and I felt very good indeed about it.  When you are the lone voice in a group, either you end up on the defensive, or you are a troll.  I hope I'm not coming off as either, as I respect that for most of y'all this is a disappointing episode of a show that you care quite a bit about.  I just loved it so damn much.  It's a great episode, it just happens to be a great episode with fairy tale science (and a complicated abortion subtext).

5

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Sure, if it a work is created to do a particular thing and fails, then it probably isn't good.  If a a creator makes nothing but easy, obvious choices, the final product will probably be mediocre. 
But if someone makes strong difficult choices and creates a polarizing work that some of the audience loves and some of the audience hates, then how can that work not be said to be great?

6

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

BigDamnArtist wrote:

Oooo, been a while since I heard a good, "It doesn't matter how actually horrible it is, if you didn't like it, it's your fault" argument.

I believe that is the opposite of what was put forth in this forum, no?  I believe what you read was a "not all things are for all people" argument.  What you heard, of course is a different matter.

7

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

First of all, no one has come off as a dick to me in this thread.  Smiley faces all around. 


C-Spin wrote:

I'm just baffled by some of the positive reviews I've seen for this episode, some sites called it a masterpiece or the best of series 8 so far, I think it's one of the worst episodes of Doctor Who ever.

I have to agree with those reviews, it is a masterpiece.  Can we agree that it is possible for something to be great even if it doesn't work for ourselves at all? 

Here's the thing, the way I see it,  a lot of truly great stories are making very strong choices and the things that make that thing great are going to rub some people the wrong way.  That doesn't mean that the great stories are only for smart people or people with taste, or even that the people who like the great works are “right” and the people who don't are “wrong.”  Anna Karenina is a masterpiece that I will never finish because it is not for me. 

A conservative is going to be less receptive to a great story from a liberal point of view and a liberal is going to be less receptive to a story from a conservative point of view, right?  The assumptions and way you look at the world and the things that you like are going to color how you perceive things. 

This episode has terrible science.  It is no more a work of science fiction than The Little Prince.  If you can't embrace that, if that crosses the line for you, then it isn't going to work for you.  However, for those of us that can deal with throwing that particular dimension of suspension of disbelief out the window, it is a great story for the reasons I tried to articulate earlier.  If you can accept the story on its own terms, and make no mistake it is a departure from the default Doctor Who terms, it is AMAZING. 

The real question, I suppose, is whether being an episode of Doctor Who confers expectations of being a certain sort of thing.  I would argue that this is a show specifically geared to tell many different types of stories and that this episode, while being on the far end of a particular type of story is “fair play”.  But then again I freaking loved it, so I would say that.  smile

8

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Regarding bad science:  sure.  It worked for me, I totally get why it didn't work for you. 

Regarding Clara getting angry:  It isn't about the Doctor forcing her to make the choice, it is about him being a condescending asshole about it.  It's about the fact that since he regenerated he's been increasingly difficult and patronizing.  His prick schtick as you say.  They are on the moon, surrounded by monsters, with a horrible choice in front of them, and he just takes off with no indication as to when or if he will return, and no indication whether he knows more than he is saying about this hard choice.  That is not the behavior of a best friend, which is how Clara has (to my eye) treated their relationship to this point. 

Or so it seems to me.  It rang very true to me.  I appear to be in the minority.  That's fine, but I'll be damned if this episode didn't resonate for me.  I was thunderstruck.

9

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Okay, well I am of the school that says Doctor Who is not science fiction, but fantasy that uses the trappings of scifi. So for me the absurd science is not a negative because Who always has dumb science.  It is a show with evil mannequins and subterranian dinosaur people and Martian Ice Warriors.    If you don't agree with that view, obviously this episode won't work for you. 

But if you are onboard with Who as a fairy tale, then “the moon is an egg” is a perfect idea for a story.  It is beautiful and weird and suggestive and magical.

This episode starts out appearing to be yet another Astronauts in Trouble attack of the moon spiders bog standard Who episode and then it lurches into something darker and subtler, almost a stage play where three humans have to make a huge difficult choice.

And it is smart and it is well-acted and it is nuanced and the fact that the Doctor takes off makes it disorienting and gives the decision gravity(which sure, is not an otherwise original dilemma). 

And then the double-twist of Clara letting the world vote but then overruling the world when the world is selfish and mean?  That elevates the problem of “do you be nice or not” into something far more complicated and dramatic. 

And it has all wrapped up right?  But no.  The Doctor behaved terribly this episode and Clara lets him have it.  There is a fundamental power imbalance in the Doctor/Companion relationship and the Doctor has always exploited it and this season he has been showing all of his least sympathetic traits.  And Clara does not do what Rose always did which was smile and take it.  She gets to be righteously angry and it is perfect.   

So for 40 minutes we have a perfect fairy tale for grown ups that is a showcase for spectacle, a mature exploration of a moral issue, and a character drama that ultimately affirms mankind's best nature. And then for the last five minutes we have a brilliant character drama that is firing on gears we've never seen on the show before but springs from issues that have been present for the entirety of the show. 

I was stunned by the skill at display in the crafting of this episode.  Most of the complaints levied here are things that I liked.  The only thing I take issue with is calling Clara out of character and a “bitch”.  Clara has always had a take-no-shit attitude and always treated the Doctor as an equal.   Good on her for getting angry. 

So  that's where I'm coming from.

10

(248 replies, posted in Off Topic)

So... I made some posts on this board for a couple of weeks and then some real world craziness distracted me from the internet and I never came back.

Well, I heard about Dorkman last night and I felt the need to come back here to express my concern.  I came to this thread and... I don't know, anything I could say seemed like a trite "me too" from someone for whom Mike is only a friend in his head, as it were.   So I didn't post anything here.

But dammit, that was wrong.  There are many strangers who feel a deep affection for Mike and I am one of them.  That should be expressed.  Those of you who have a real connection with the man, my thoughts are with you and of course with him.

11

(980 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Hmm...
So I see that the consensus is not that Kill The Moon was the best episode of Doctor Who ever.  Interesting.  I think it is my new favorite.

12

(2 replies, posted in Off Topic)

So my six year old daughter has fallen in love with Jedi.  She doesn't understand how I could possibly prefer Han and Leia.  To her they are better than superheroes, ninjas and benders put together.  She has built lightsabers for her G.I. Joes out of legos. 

We watched Attack of the Clones for the first time last night.  As we watch, she loves all the action beats and hates all the other bits.  Finally we get to infamous Yoda fight and she stops dead in her tracks and shouts "What??  How could Yoda do that with a lightsaber?  He's old!  He uses a cane!  Dad, what's going on?"  It was the first time she called bullshit on a movie, the first time she all but said "what are you doing movie?" and I was so very proud.

13

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

Bathilda wrote:

If it's only guys bashing how anti-feminist a movie is and women seem to love it (Twilight, Titanic, The Little Mermaid, etc.) then I feel like something's missing. If that many women love it then there's probably something real and serious in there that our culture trivializes about women. When people take what could otherwise be a thoughtful discussion about women and the arts and turns it into "why women are dumb for liking Twilight", something has gone seriously wrong. There's few things more soul-crushing to a woman than misogyny in the disguise of feminism. Misogyny, in part, minimizes the strength of female voices and their struggles; misogyny in the disguise of feminism practically eliminates female voices altogether. Women and teenage girls in particular have a hard time getting listened to once a man declares something "anti-feminist". If they defend it, the women look unenlightened, backwards and simple. If they decide to agree with the man, they reinforce the feeling that men know best and must decide what is fit for women to experience. That's not to say that men can't recognize mistreatment of women and call society out on it, just that, imo, women should be the key voices in a discussion like that.

Hi Bathilda, I hear what you are saying.  Things get messy.  Sometimes men maliciously try to twist
feminism into non-feminism.  Sometimes men are well intentioned but don't understand something key due to their privilege.  Some times a man can be entirely in favor of destroying male privilege while still subconsciously using his against a woman.  Some women are explicitly anti-feminist.  Different feminists have very different views of what feminism means.  The waters muddy real quick.

Whenever I discuss anything, I try to couch it in the language of "or so it seems to me."  Sometimes I don't state it explicitly but it is core to how I try to conduct myself.  When it comes to matters of gender, or race, or any other topic where I have the privilege, it should be doubly true. 

There is a problematic aspect to your point about letting women drive the discourse on matters pertaining to women, which to be clear, I very much back you on.  Any time a man states an opinion about feminism and a woman argues the opposite position, the man's opinion is automatically trumped by the woman's because he is not a man, right?  That seems bad but maybe it is a reasonable bad.   

I do consider the Little Mermaid and Twilight to have anti-feminist components.  I'm certainly not saying anyone man or woman who enjoys those stories is in the wrong or being a bad feminist but I find the messaging more than a little troubling.  Should I be able to make my case? 

I'm really asking.  I like discourse and I love being challenged but I have strong opinions.  I don't want those opinions to be hostile or condescending or combative.  If they are perceived as such, that's a good enough reason for me to shut up.

14

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

I totally hear what you're saying Cotterpin.  I think, as redxavier points out, my issues are less about the movie and more about the world I want my child (and all other people) to live in.   While I could nitpick further, but "is Mulan a great kids movie or only a very good one" is probably not a debate that warrants further hashing.

15

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

Cotterpin, as a story I agree that none of those are problems.  As a narrative, or even as a feminist narrative I don't have an issue with them.  But as a story consumed by young children, I don't like major parts of the messaging.  The takeaway of Mulan can easily be read as "normally men are soldiers, but Mulan was an exception."  The world of Mulan is one where all soldiers are men, for a while one woman was a very good soldier, but at the end we return to the status quo of all soldiers are men.

There is also some cultural insensitive stuff, and the fact that a woman in drag is a soldier, but a man in drag is a joke. 

Nonetheless, I'm happy that my daughter has a Mulan poster on her wall.  Mulan the character is a great hero.  The positives clearly outweigh what I perceive as negatives.

16

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

Lilo and Stich is an absolutely amazing movie, and Mulan gets heavy play in our household but Mulan is not without problems.  Mulan being a warrior is the exception not the rule, they sing a song about how being a soldier is the same as being a man without much irony, and unlike in the original story, Mulan walks away from being a soldier at the end. 

Again, I love Mulan, but I cringe at several aspects.

To be fair, the soccer analogy isn't a great one because it ignores the social pressures that discourage the other girls from playing with the boys.  Alexander's essay has some flaws but the overall point is fairly incontrovertible.   Quigley acknowledges and then ignores the actual issue to the detriment of the position he claims to support. 

Of course Hollywood has a white male director problem.

18

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

Doctor Submarine, I agree with your critique but can you point to mainstream kids films (Disney or otherwise) with better messaging and iconography of girls with agency? 

Picking movies to show your kids if you are a feminist seems like nothing but compromises.

19

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

I think Brave's flaws are due to the fact that Pixar now makes Disney animated features, and Disney cartoons are clearly toy commercials first and stories second, right?  The Bear and Bow version of the film was probably a better story, but the job this movie had was to create a character for the Disney Princess branding line that the feminists wouldn't raise a stink about.  I don't know nothing about nothing, but I'm guessing those corporate concerns were the problems that needed "fixed" in this movie.  The needle to thread would be that Merida had to be a "strong female character" without actually undermining the core ugly notions of being a princess.  Surely it also is why there are cute bear cubs. 

By the way, Teague, do you have links to the online comments you mentioned in the commentary?

Also, multiply this critique by a hundred and you arrive at Frozen.

20

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

I find it interesting that there was a lot of talk in the commentary that this movie's flaws were shocking because Pixar is so good at story.  Interesting because Pixar of late is not really good at that at all.  Before Brave we have Cars 2, Toy Story 3, Up, and Wall-E.  Cars 2 is flatly awful, and Up and Wall-E are both movies that everybody loves the first act so much that they ignore the problems of the back half.  They are all uneven stories that lack a strong authorial voice.  Even Toy Story 3, which doesn't really have the story problems of these other films feels assembled by committee.

I love animation and Pixar animation quality is uniformly amazing. But when talking about the storytelling of Pixar, I think post-Ranft, post-Disney acquisition Pixar is an entirely different beast.

21

(60 replies, posted in Episodes)

I have a lot of responses to this film and this podcast.  I'm going to break them up into a few post because they are largely separate thoughts. 

I have a big blind spot for this movie.  First, I'm an animation junkie and story, schmory this film looks great.  Like Pinocchio, the flaws of the story get a huge pass from me because of how damn good it looks.

My blind spot is widened by the fact that as father of a young daughter, I am starved for stories to show her that she likes that feature women with agency.  This is a mainstream action story for children that has a young woman as the hero and her relationship with her mother at the center.  The value of these things cannot be understated. 

Yes, they meet in the middle despite Merida being entirely right but what my daughter takes away from the movie is that Merida is a badass who trained to become excellent with a weapon.

So, for these reasons I am too close to the sun.  Y'all seem convinced that this isn't a just a flawed movie but a bad one.  I want to push against that assessment hard but I think I may be too close to the sun on this one.

22

(38 replies, posted in Episodes)

There was a passing line of discussion in the commentary about the exceptionally rare Female/Male buddy roles.  When I watched Winter Soldier, I loved that this was the Cap/Widow relationship.  After I saw the film, I talked to people who unlike me, were not informed by the comics, and a bunch of them brought up the great  sexual chemistry between Cap and Widow.  We're so trained by Hollywood patterns, we see them even when they aren't there.

23

(429 replies, posted in Off Topic)

Hi Zak!

Some people are very sensitive to contrivance in story.  I have heard repeatedly from writers that one of the hardest things is getting readers/audiences to accept that the hero could do something dumb or make a mistake. 

It's one of those things where what breaks a movie for you is going to be different than what breaks a movie for me is different for what breaks a movie for Viewer X (masked filmgoing crimefighter).  I think it is a truly subjective thing.  If you are taken out of the movie, you are out. I cannot argue that you are wrong just because bad science/ lack of verisimilitude/ one coincidence too many/ whatever didn't bother me. 

JP (John?) I'm in particular thinking about how Gravity didn't work for you while it worked fine for me.  In a case like this, all I can do is say "trust me, the movie might not be for you, but it was a damn fine film."  And you have no reason to give me that trust because we met on an internet forum a few days ago.

Teague wrote:

2. We want to make Godzilla fucking terrifying for a modern audience... the way he originally was for an audience that was fucking terrified of atomic power. Terrifying as a deep fear, only realized.

C-Spin wrote:

I honestly kind of think the ship has sailed on Godzilla being truly scary to a degree. Godzilla and his monster battles break buildings, and we've made ourselves immune to that by doing it so much in the past decade. Unfortunately that seems to be kind of all he can be.

I'm just thinking out loud, but I agree with C-Spin.  I don't think you can make giant monsters tap into our current primal fears.  I think any attempt to do so would ultimately be a kludge.  We associate them with rubber suits and a certain kind of Japanese flavored fun.  And yet, we're still scarred by 9/11 and gleefully destroying cities is of questionable taste.

Cloverfield and Pacific Rim were both good-not-great movies.  Maybe could only raise to a certain level of quality because of the subject matter?

So let's set aside the Godzilla angle approach it from the fear angle.  What are we afraid of in 2014?  It seems to me that the answer is resoundingly "economic collapse."  There is a palpable sense that in America, everybody is going to lose their jobs and that it is the fault of the guys at the top.  To the left, "guys at the top" means unchecked corporate greed and to the right it means socialist government run amok but there is a last-days-of-Rome feeling in the air.

So, I don't know what Chris is, but I think the city that is destroyed has to be Detroit, right?