miss_s_b: (Who: Six (Ego))
[personal profile] miss_s_b
So, the two parter which began the new series of Doctor Who is over, and the critiques have started appearing. I've read several. Some of them were very good, and went into great depth about elements of the story and the craft of writing it. Some of them were more superficial, and full of squee. Almost all of them, though, had one thing in common: they all concentrated on the Doctor/Davros relationship.

Now I'm a big Davros fangirl. I think he's a fascinating character, and his relationship with the Doctor is a complex one. I am dead set certain that when the Doctor says to Baby Davros "I've come to save my friend" the friend he is referring to is Davros, not Clara; this two parter struck me as being all about the nature of the Doctor's friendships. But* it does strike me that there's a big bit missing here.

I am reasonably sure that in any previous Doctor Who story the other major character would not have been so comprehensively ignored by almost everybody, except for those who want to complain about that character even existing. When The Master was a man, his every appearance was greeted with gallons of digital and literal ink dissecting his every nuance. Now (s)he's Missy, (s)he doesn't seem to matter any more. Missy is a woman over the age of forty, and can therefore safely be ignored.**

This really, really pisses me off, and not just because I'm less than 3 years away from hitting the magic age of invisibility myself. Michelle Gomez has put in a stunning performance as Missy, yet everything I read is about Julian Bleach***. Missy is the fulcrum on whom the majority of this story rests - it is she who gets the Doctor's Last Will And Testament Disc Thingy; it is she who works out that the space station is a fake and they're actually on Skaro; it is she who goads Clara, with the help of UNIT, into finding the Doctor in the first place, and it is she who (magnificently) pokes Davros in his electronic eye. At every turn she is advancing the plot or the other characters or both... And yet nobody seems to have noticed, because the only important thing is the bromance. I can dig that people like a bit of Doctor/Davros - hell, someone once wrote me Six/Davros slash for a birthday present - but really, people, there were LOTS of other characters onscreen too.

I actually feel sorry for the Moff here. I mean, he's clearly made a conscious effort to address his subconscious sexism**** in writing lots of women. And there goes the audience, still concentrating on the men. Because we've all been conditioned to think that what men say and do is important, and what women say and do is frivolous and can be ignored.

C-, must do better, Who fandom.

Caveats:
  1. I have not read every critique on the internet of the first two episode of the new series of Doctor Who. I am sure you can find counterexamples to what I have said here. One or two counterexamples will not convince me you have found anything other than exceptions. No, this does not mean post a huge long list of links that I will have to click on that will turn out to not actually disprove anything I have said at all.

  2. I am reasonably sure that none of the people I have read are doing this consciously or on purpose. I have spent a long time cultivating my various reading lists so that the sort of person who does this sort of thing on purpose does not appear in them. IMHO the fact that I have spent so much time making sure my reading lists are full of non-sexist people and this kind of thing still goes on is, frankly, even more disturbing.



* I like big buts and I cannot lie
** I don't actually know what Michelle Gomez's age is, but Missy/The Master is several thousand years old, and therefore well past forty.
*** my view? He's good, but he's no Terry Molloy. I realise there are those among you who think "he's no Terry Molloy" is the highest compliment one can pay an actor. You're wrong :P
**** Although not entirely successfully. For example, while all the speaking parts of the scene between UNIT HQ, Missy and Clara were women, women still made up less than 20% of the faces on screen. It's true, count 'em. All the snipers were men, for starters. This is Geena Davies's 17%-in-crowd-scenes thing right in front of our faces, and people on certain internet forums which I will not link to here STILL complained that the women were too prevalent, too noisy, etc.

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 12:08 pm (UTC)
lilysea: Serious (Default)
From: [personal profile] lilysea
Michelle Gomez is 49.

& I totally agree with you about Magic Age Of Invisibility.

In film and TV, we need more Emma Thompson; more Judi Dench; more Maggie Smith; more Nichelle Nichols; more Helen Mirren.

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 03:32 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: black and white line drawing of a woman (neglected murderess)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
My feeds have been much, much quieter than usual on these two episodes in general - I think yours is the first post over 140 chars I've actually seen. Admittedly I don't tend to follow anyone specifically for Whovian commentary, and I do know where to find reviews if I want to go looking, but usually they just sort of come to me. But if it's any consolation, I have had in-person conversations with at least four people about the relationship between Clara and Missy and how good it is to see a Who episode pass the Bechdel test so easily.

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf
To be fair, I think I may have brought up Bechdel myself in most of those conversations. But I don't think I was the first person in any of them to bring up how great Missy is.

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
Agreed on pretty much all of this. (Bleach vs Molloy beind the exception. I like Molloy opposite Colin when he's running the funeral centre and has worked out how he wants to play Davros. His first story though, he feels as if he's floundering.) Enough Davros though.

Missy. I think Michelle Gomez is the best piece of casting Moffat is responsible for. John Hurt and Peter Capaldi as Doctors - they're pieces of casting waiting to be made. Gomez is a stroke of genius. She takes pretty much any piece of dialogue and runs with it. Possibly my favourite version of the Master - I really wasn't expecting to find a rival to Delgado.

Anyway, in episode 2, I realised I was resenting moments where the story cut back to the Doctor and Davros because I wanted more Michelle Gomez. I'm genuinely not sure which my favourite moment was - the gesture to say it was time for the opening credits, her method of finding the depth of a hole, her meeting with Davros...

Actually, scratch that. The scene where she gets Clara into the Dalek. When Clara starts shooting - Missy, lit by Dalek blasts and screaming with laughter, is positively demonic.

One side note that practically no one seems to have noticed. There is a man who speaks in the Unit scene. I think it's the person who announces that there's a call coming in on the Doctor channel. Not sure what it says that no one notices him - I only noticed on the third time of viewing because I was keeping an eye out at that point because I was looking to rebut some particularly stupid criticism.

One other thing that dawned on me. Missy's plan last year was motivated by wanting her friend back. This year when the Doctor needs help, it's Missy he calls. The plan worked. I think that's a first, isn't it?

Date: Thursday, October 1st, 2015 02:37 am (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (ArgueMainly)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
As to the point as ever!

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 07:35 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
I think the reason I wasn't so excited by Missy in this two-parter is that she was largely irrelevant to the plot (as was Clara). You could strip their entire existence from the plot and replace it with "Suddenly Abslom Daak bursts in through the door and shoots the contraption the Doctor is standing in, freeing him", and you'd lose nothing vital to the ending whatsoever. Or, indeed "The regenerating sewer-daleks erupt through the floor, cutting the power".

There were some very nice scenes, and some great dialogue between them, and I was happy they were there. But plot-wise I thought they were fairly irrelevant. Which was a shame.

Date: Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC)
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] tree_and_leaf
I love Missy. The weird thing is that I can see both Delgado and the Simm Master in her, which I'd have thought was impossible, and it's retroactively slightly rescued the Simm Master for me, who I didn't like at all. She feels like the Master without either trying and failing to be Roger Delgado, or reacting self-consciously against him.

Date: Thursday, October 1st, 2015 02:36 am (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
I've not found this, but then I have read the story as a Missy-led one and am led by all sorts of reasons to be less sensitive to exaggeration of the Doctor-Davros content...

Missy brilliant; Michelle Gomez also; unquestionably the Master and her own being too, successor to Simm in many, many ways but also to Delgado and Ainley, arguably integrating the character for the first time (Ainley only realised the Doctor and the Master were meant to be friends after watching The Daemons repeat in 1992, he once said).

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