And I... liked it, I guess? I tried not to set expectations too high for the show to live up to, but I'm sad that I wasn't crazy in love with it in a BEST EPISODE EVER way. It was well done, but it didn't reach in and tear out my beating heart. And I want to love it that much, to feel the exuberant joy that seems to have swept up everybody else. I may feel differently when I've seen the conclusion -- it is hard to judge half a story, after all. All the moments that people are mentioning in their reactions... I liked them, too. But I wasn't bowled over.
- John Smith, Clearly Not the Doctor, is, well, not a person I actually like all that much. In the Seventh Doctor version of this, he seemed to find it harder to fit into the culture of the boys' school. I know they couldn't exactly do the Boudicca lecture in this version, but... Oh, hell. I know comparing the TV version to the book is unwise; different things work in different media. And I think it's an adaptation that's faithful to the spirit of the original, hitting a lot of the same notes while not being slavish. There is a very distinct sense that the Tenth Doctor's John Smith has come out differently than the Seventh's, and quite rightly too. Except I actually liked the Seventh Doctor's version. Ten's awkwardness around Joan is a little cute, but... enh.
- Points for actually showing racism in 1913.
- The villains were easily the book's greatest weakness. I thought I saw an interview where Paul Cornell acknowledged that and said he'd improved on them for the TV version. I... thought that meant they'd be different in slightly more profound ways, but they still seem rather strange and weak and I can't tell why we should be afraid of them. They've got guns? So do half a dozen species the Doctor's eaten for breakfast. At least they lost the irritating names. And they are, uh, very short-lived? I didn't really catch that part.
- I presume the balloon can't kill people in this version. Too bad.
- Yes, the diary was awesome, composed entirely of win, Paul McGann is canon, squee for everybody. I never said I was made of stone. And is there a reason they didn't cover it, at length, in the Confidential? Next week, perhaps? Please?
- Verity and Sydney! Heh.
- They re-used the Creepy Little Girl music from Remembrance of the Daleks! Seriously! Is this Gratuitious Fanservice Week or what?
- I liked the frenetic teaser, but it doesn't quite hold up, does it? (And then they repeat the whole thing twenty minutes later. Clock. Ticking. We remember the damn teaser.) Once they're in the TARDIS, in the vortex, are they really in danger? Why? Nothing can get into the TARDIS. And if it's so urgent that the Doctor has to quickly gabble out an explanation and act, when on earth did he record that message for Martha? (In the book, it was a written list, and I suppose a recording works better for TV, and the apparent length of the instructions is funny, but...) And why would the TARDIS -- which is a weird little bit of handwaving, by the way -- pick an identity and a time period when the Doctor has to sort of be an asshole and Martha has to pretend to be his servant?
- Picking a non-angstful reason for the transformation changes the tone of things a bit. I'm a little sad about that. I suppose there'll be angst to spare once he's back, though.
- If the pocket watch is so vitally important, why didn't Martha just hang on to it herself? Why leave it on the mantelpiece in plain view?
- Funniest damn thing ever: the conversation with Smith and Joan that went sort of like, "Yeah, this Doctor person I keep dreaming about is such a slut. But I'm not like him!"
- I am pretty sure the "widows shouldn't have to just stop" conversation was actually about the Doctor.
- I think I may like Joan a bit better in this version. Alas, I bet she hasn't got a cat. Didn't Paul say something like, "If you have a favorite moment in the book, it's probably here"? Well, my favorite moment was the one where they were petting Wolsey, so you LOSE.
- For all the fevered speculation ahead of time, the Smith/Joan relationship hasn't actually progressed as far in the TV version as it did in the book. Both dropped into the situation a couple of months down the road, at which point book-Smith and book-Joan already had an ongoing relationship (which they were keeping quiet). In the TV version, he's barely asking her out. So, no, I'm hazarding a guess that they don't get married next week, and I'm also taking a huge leap and saying they probably do not have children and raise them for several years next week either. Pity; I was actually hoping they'd make it to marriage
so we can canonically prove the Doctor has had sex and a million fanboys will explode, even if he was out of his head at the time.
- All season, I've disagreed with those who say Martha is 'mooning over' the Doctor at all, much less that she is doing so inappropriately. Thinking the Doctor is hot is not a crime. (98.3% of fandom: "Amen.") Early in their acquaintance, he does several things that look an awful lot like flirting, coaxes her to come traveling with him by luring her into a dark alley and taking off his tie, gives off a bunch of mixed signals once she agrees to come along, rattles off a story that sounds more like he's recently been dumped than like he's grieving, and makes her get into bed with him even though he doesn't seem to need sleep... I mean, c'mon. The level to which she's responded to that hardly seemed out of line. So then, when they finally seem to be settling into a decently solid friendship, Paul or Russell or SOMEBODY throws in this anvilicious bit where she goes and mopes in the TARDIS about how John Smith isn't falling in love with her. Goddammit.
- Okay, I guess I know what the piano scene was there to convey, but would it not have been slightly easier to shout, "Stop!" to the lady pushing the buggy? Being the Doctor != doing everything like Rube Goldberg.
- And I guess a large part of my squirminess this week -- kudos to David Tennant and all -- is that I miss the Doctor. A lot. That clip of him straightening his tie, from next week's preview? Gives me actual chills.