Crossing The Ponds: Amy and Rory (and Me)

Ah the Ponds.  It’s a bit hard to know what to say about them.  You see, they never really made much of an impression on me–Amy especially.  She didn’t instill a sense of kinship and make me want to punch the air like Donna (most recently) did.  She didn’t feel like an old childhood friend like Sarah Jane or Leela.  She’s not an onscreen version of me like Nyssa was (hey, I was eight,* and I was smart and boring, sue me).  On the other hand, she didn’t bother me like Rose, bore me like Martha, annoy me like Tegan, or make me want to scream like Peri.**  Amy was just…another in a long line of companions.

Usually that’s not a bad thing.  I’m not going to love every companion.  That’s a lesson I learned long ago, and I’m cool with it.  I’m still going to enjoy watching them all (yes, even Peri) because it’s Doctor Who so it’s automatically wonderful.  In this case however, my ho-hummedness regarding Amy rather hurt my enjoyment of much of her tenure.  Steven Moffat inflated Amy’s importance to the Doctor, nay, to the entire universe far beyond what most companions achieve.  If I’d liked her more, I think this would’ve made things extra-bonus awesome for me.  As it is, I feel a bit of meh-ness for all those stories.***

Then Moffat made Amy the mother of River Song.  I just…I don’t even.  Sigh.  I’m not a River fan.  Never was.  So that nearly tipped Amy from the land of meh into negative territory.

Then there’s Rory.  He started out fairly meh for me too.  No plusses, but no big minuses.  Unlike Amy though, he grew on me–not his interactions with Amy, mind you, but his interactions with the Doctor.  I never could quite see the chemistry between Rory and Amy (not right away anyway, but more on that later), but I love how he put the Doctor in his place from time to time and was never overawed by the ancient Time Lord.  Hell, Rory was older than the Doctor for a while there.  Maybe he still is; I’m not totally clear on that.°  So Rory being pretty keen and Amy being just a girl°° made it hard for me to see them work as a team.  I even admit to thinking Rory could do better.

Now that has all changed.  Truly.

I still haven’t quite put my finger on why, but I as of series 7, I am fully on board with the Ponds—or should I say, “the Williamses.”°°°  Great timing, E.  They’re about to leave us—tearfully, if the Moff is to be believed, and I’ve just jumped on board.  It all started with Asylum of the Daleks…

I’ve seen a lot of people complain that Amy and Rory’s breakup at the beginning of series 7 didn’t ring true, that a couple who had been through so much ought not to have broken up like that.  I respectfully and fervently disagree.  After exploring (and recreating!) the universe with the Doctor for so long, acclimating to normal Earth life would be difficult for one person alone.  For two people in a relationship, it seems to me it would be damn near impossible.

Speaking as someone who has been in some pretty awesome relationships, let me say that when circumstances change, people change too.  Everyone deals with things differently.  If both partners don’t change in similar enough ways, that’s when strife can rear its ugly head.  Let’s face it, Amy was never the most…shall we say stable and certain-of-her-mind kinda girl.  She’s led one helluva life.  Trying to settle down into wedded bliss is nearly the opposite of anything she’d done up until then.  Of course she picked something to obsess over and let it drive them apart (her inability to have kids).  For Rory’s part, he never really believed Amy loved him enough anyway; of course he’d just go along with it and leave.

So yes, that breakup rings 100% true for me.

People have also said the tearful reconciliation scene in “Asylum of the Daleks” wasn’t realistic.  Again, I’m on the other side of that fence.  For me, that scene was brilliant.  I wept.  A lot.  Though people don’t seem to realize it, that’s exactlyˆ the sort of time an intense, heartfelt discussion would occur.  As a kid, when I needed to do my homework I cleaned my room instead.  Room-cleaning is a hated task, but it was better than the alternative.  When your lives are in terrible danger and you might die, it’s easier to focus on relationship issues than impending doom.  That’s not unrealistic, that’s humanity.

That kind of extreme situation is also a great catalyst for expressing true feelings—probably lots better than a marriage counseling session, even.ˆˆ  So I’m not surprised the feelings they were bottling up came rushing out just then.  I bought this.  Completely.  For the first time ever, I saw Amy and Rory as a real team, as partners, as lovers, as one single unit bigger than the sum of its parts (as any good relationship should be).

I could never see Amy and Rory like that before.  Somehow they didn’t really gel for me until they’d overcome this particular kind of personal obstacle.  The monsters and kidnapping and gangers and spaceships didn’t do it for me.  A near-breakup and a passionate, tearful reunion, now that’s a real relationship.

Since then, I’ve found I’ve become an Amy and Rory fan.  Against all odds, they won me over.  I didn’t love “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” but I loved Amy and Rory in it.  Even when separated, they seemed grounded by their connection to one another.  That was refreshing.  I even found myself disappointed they had so little effective screen time in “A Town Called Mercy,” though I did appreciate that their conflict over the Doctor’s actions read like a solid couple fighting rather than a pair of teenagers squabbling (as some of their earlier spats did).

Enter The Power of Three.  Never in a million would I have thought that a story largely about Amy and Rory at home would trip my trigger the way it did.  I loved that brief glimpse into their double lives.  Matt Smith’s Doctor was as fantastic as ever, but for me it was Amy and Rory (and even Brian) who stole the show.  I enjoyed seeing them ensconced in their own surroundings.  While the story had some gaping holes, it landed firmly in the plus column for me precisely because Amy and Rory and their life just…made me happy.

As usual, my timing sucks.  I finally get used to these guys and want to see more, and they’re gone in a matter of days.  Pre-7A, I was rather pleased the Ponds were about to be toast, and I wasn’t overly concerned with how they left.  Now, I am both excited for and dreading the story that takes them away from us for good.  Please please please mister Moffatt, do them proud in “The Angels Take Manhattan.”  It turns out they deserve it.

And no one is more surprised about that than I.

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*I don’t actually know how old I was the first time I saw Nyssa.  Eight sounds about right.  I was definitely very smart and very boring at eight.

**Note that I mean “make me want to scream like Peri makes me want to scream.”  I don’t actually want to scream like Peri.  Ever.

***Or am I confusing the chicken for the egg?  Did I feel “meh” about those stories, and thus “meh” about Amy?  That may be the case, though I probably won’t ever know for sure.

°Please, fill me in here if you have some insight on this.

°°…who waited.  Sorry.  I couldn’t help myself.

°°°In case you didn’t catch it, when Amy signs the divorce papers in “Asylum of the Daleks,” she signs her last name “Williams.”

ˆSorry about all the italicized emphasis.  I just feel really strongly about this, guys!

ˆˆI am NOT suggesting that couples with on-the-rocks relationships should put their lives in danger!

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Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife (Commentated)

So my weeks of utter slackage have apparently come to an end.  After more days off than I’d like to admit, I got back on that horse called knitting.  I only got about 10 rows done in the space of this episode, but hell, that’s 10 more rows than I’ve done in…  Whoops.  I almost admitted it!  I told you I don’t like to do that.  Anyway, it felt good to get back at it.  Let’s hope this trend continues.  Does it count as a trend if I’ve only done it once?  No?  Drat.

Ok, so The Doctor’s Wife.  I love this episode.  It’s no secret that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, so when I heard he was writing a script for Doctor Who (years ago when he first mentioned it on his blog), I was thrilled!  I was also pretty apprehensive.  I mean, I love his work, but this is Doctor Who.  It’s practically sacred.  But I decided I could probably trust Neil to do it justice.  I’ve known for ages what a huge Who fanboy he is; I know what he’s capable of writing-wise; and I knew Steven Moffat was at the helm and would likely not steer us wrong, so…let’s just say I remained hopeful.  My cheerful optimism proved well-founded.  This story was positively lovely.

I hadn’t seen The Doctor’s Wife since it aired, and I’m rather wishing I’d watched it again recently before trying to watch it with commentary.  It was occasionally difficult to avoid ignoring the voices in my head(phones) while I fixated on the screen.  Luckily, Steven, Warren, and Chris from Radio Free Skaro are pretty damn amusing, so that didn’t happen as often as it could have.  I definitely recommend checking out their series 6 commentaries.  This one in particular held several laugh-out-loud moments for me.  The best of all being Steven’s Ribos Operation quotation (ooh! a rhyme!): “What’s a hole doing in my TARDIS?”  Thank god I wasn’t drinking anything or that would have been a legitimate spit take and my laptop would have paid the price.  Other commentary highlights include more agendas than you can shake a stick at, fun with Nazi fashion, glowing cleavage, and many of the usuals like Matt Smith-adoration and the obligatory trips into the gutter with tour-guide Chris.

As for this episode itself, I don’t think I’m alone in ranking it as one of the best of series 6.  Part of what I like most is the fact that it really doesn’t fit into the overall arc of the series.  This one really stands alone.  Now I’m usually a sucker for a story arc, but in this case, I was pretty pleased to just get away from that for a while.  I think any addition of arc-related nonsense would have only muddied things here.  Better to keep the love story between the Doctor and Idris pure and unsullied.  And that’s really what this was–a love story.  The most beautiful love story in the history of the show in my semi-humble opinion.  And as Steven said in the commentary, “it’s the only one I can ever believe.”  Nothing before or since can come close.

Period.

Doctor Who: Series 5 (& Football, wtf?)

So last night I finished my re-watch of series 5.  I should really re-watch things sooner than I do.  I just don’t seem to have the inclination to go back and re-view new series episodes the way some people do.  (I’m looking squarely at a certain podcaster here.)  I think I used to take comfort in watching the same thing over and over again (see: Labyrinth, Red Dwarf, etc.).  Somewhere along the line, that changed.  Nowadays, I feel like there are so many wonderful things I haven’t seen yet, I oughtn’t watch the same things repeatedly.

So why watch again now, you ask?  Well I tried watching it with Radio Free Skaro commentary a few weeks ago, but it was a total bust.  It had been so long since I’d seen series 5 that I found myself utterly transfixed by the episodes themselves.  Thus, I was ignoring the witty podcast repartee that had prompted me to sit down to watch in the first place.  Solution?  Watch the entire series through first, then go back and do it again with commentaries.  (I was ever a problem solver.)

Anyway, my weird quirks aside, I liked series 5 even better the second time through.  And I loved it the first time ’round, so that’s saying a lot.  Matt Smith is quickly cementing his place in my heart as…dare I say my favorite Doctor?  Hm.  I might just dare.  He’s simply brilliant: frenetic when it’s called for, silly often, alien nearly always, and pitch-perfectly understated at just the right moments.  I can’t get enough.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that Steven Moffat’s writing, in addition to being right up my alley, is so well-suited to Smith’s performance style, it’s like they were made for each other.

Ok.  Enough fangirl gushing.  I should talk knitting for a moment.  And what I should say about it is “don’t drink and knit.”  This is a lesson I have yet to learn, despite being bitten in the ass by it time and time again.  Sigh.  So this time I accidentally skipped all the mini-stripes in between two colors.  Whoops.  The only reason I even noticed it was ’cause I noticed that the preceding stripe was two rows too thick.  Also whoops.  So I had to do something I dread: rip out many rows of work and thread the needle back through the stitches to start again.  I’m always terrified I’m going to put the needle through the wrong way or something and twist the stitches.  This time I was very careful (and utterly sober), and it looks like I succeeded with no major mishaps.  I still haven’t gotten quite “caught up” to where I was (or where I thought I was), but I’m not far off.  Making mistakes sucks, but I do have to admit I’m sorta glad of the chance to practice fixing my screw-ups.  I’ll probably need that expertise somewhere down the line.  Because I know eventually I’ll decide a cocktail and some knitting sounds like a good idea.

So then today, for reasons I’m not even sure I can properly express, I’m watching (American) football. (Go Pack!)  As it turns out, football is kind of perfect to knit to.  I don’t really need to pay attention most of the time ’cause there’s so much downtime between plays.  Even if I miss something, it’s no big deal in these days of instant-replay.  Probably the only drawback is the fact that the susurrus of the crowd just makes me want to stretch out on the couch and take a nap.  Not the best for motivation.  But I resisted the call of the afternoon-snooze, and stuck with my end-weaving.  (Yes, I got past my end-weaving issues, and am trucking right along on that.)

So knitting-wise, it was a weekend of ups and downs.  Doctor Who-wise, it was up and more up.  All in all, I really can’t complain.

Doctor Who: The Empty Child

Looky here, two posts in just a few hours.  It’s a red letter day!  Or something.  Anyway, I’m trucking right along on the scarf.  Finished the mini-stripes and the next full red stripe.  I’m on a bit of a roll!

So.  The Empty Child.  I knew (well, hoped) that I’d like this episode from the moment I saw the title.  It by no means escaped me that it was a nod to the first Doctor Who episode ever, An Unearthly Child.  That’s the Hartnell episode I’ve seen the most times, hands-down.  (As an aside, a Doctor-loving friend and I wrote a radio play for acting class in high school.  The main characters were, naturally, named Ian and Barbara.)  Titular allusion aside, this is a great episode.  Thank you Steven Moffat for another (well, technically, this was his first) creepy, enthralling, and delightful episode of Doctor Who.  Not only does it have the shiver-factor in spades, but we meet dreamy Captain Jack Harkness for the first time.  I tell ya, tv doesn’t get much better than this.

And this is just the first episode of a two-parter.  I am going to force myself to go to bed because I have to get up for work in the morning, but trust that I’d much rather stay up and watch The Doctor Dances.  Sigh.  Instead, I expect that both the dear Doctor and the captivating captain will be dancing through my dreams.