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April 2nd, 2010 (07:54 am)

current mood: excited

Before I head out on vacation (!!!!!), I just want to say I figured out the biggest problem with the Martha Jones episodes. We need to love the companion as much as we love the Doctor, but her character was too much defined by the Doctor. She did not have a life or force of will outside of that. Or at least not enough of a one to satisfy me. Which is really unfortunate on many levels, including the one where the person who is almost a qualified doctor is answering pop trivia questions rather than doing doctorly things. *sigh* Much wasted potential. Ah well. Time to move on, I suppose. And go on VACATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Posted by: Rochelle (seashelly3)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 12:43 am (UTC)

Oh dear, that anonymous post was me. Not logging into LJ for a while means I'm not auto-logged in any more, haha.

Posted by: Ping (sventhelost)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 12:59 am (UTC)

Hehe, no worries. :D

I haven't watched the new episodes yet. I'm terrified of spoilers, since most people I know have gotten their electronic hands, and I'm just waiting until this Saturday.

I think Donna is one of my favorite companions ever. And that's saying a lot, because I'm comparing old and new Who, too, and there were some top-shelf companions in the old series.

I did rather feel like the Martha/Mickie thing was basically "Oh, well, we have these two loose black characters, so we might as well make them hook up."

Posted by: Rochelle (seashelly3)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 01:10 am (UTC)

Ah, I was worried about that, glad I didn't mention any spoilers. :)

I haven't seen all the episodes, not even of the new series. Just recently started watching them at all, but I've seen through Rose and Martha, skipping an episode here and there. Every episode I've seen with Donna though makes her come across as kind of shrill and irritating, to be honest.

I've only seen a few old episodes, and from the very little I've seen, I get the feeling that old companions are mostly there to accentuate how amazing the Doctor is. I could definitely be wrong though. Any recommendations of old episodes for me?

I felt the same way about Martha and Mickie. They had nothing in common, and as far as I know, hadn't even met, right? OF COURSE they have to end up together - THEY ARE OF THE SAME RACE. *eye roll*

Posted by: Ping (sventhelost)
Posted at: April 16th, 2010 01:39 am (UTC)

Donna can get that way, but she's also been in many ways the most compassionate of the companions. How she reacted to the ghosting in "Silence in the Library." How she reacted to the Ood song of captivity. She doesn't let the Doctor give her any of his "I'm a time lord and better than you" stuff, which he really needs.

For old-school episodes and companions, my favorite companions are Romana in her second regeneration (check out City of Death for one of the very best) and Ace (Curse of Fenric is probably the least goofy, but I also like Battlefield if only because it's so completely random). Turlough is pretty cool, too, and one of the few male companions.

Posted by: Humph (spiralsheep)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 10:38 am (UTC)
ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom

Related to this post, criticism of Campbell, and writing generally so I thought you might be interested (I was although I disagree with some of it):


Posted by: Ping (sventhelost)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)

Wow, that's definitely very interesting! I have many thoughts in reaction.

1. Brandon Sanderson counters a lot of these examples in Mistborn. That's pretty cool. But then, it's also three books long, which gives you a lot more space to show the supporting cast having their own lives, too. It becomes much more difficult to do in a shorter work, especially a serial drama where the viewers/readers expect at least a mini-catharsis every episode. David Farland has an interesting comparison between the usual plot arc (Feralt's triangle) and the body's reactions to stress, with the posit that reading about a problem present and resolved may stimulate the body to produce endorphines. Whether that's true or not, at least the US audiences here are primed to expect certain things. (Whether the majority of USians really are as dumb as Hollywood things is another matter for debate, I suppose. I mean, we surely can't all be that dumb, can we???)

2. Even if you don't lean to the left, even if you've got limited time, authors SHOULD be giving their secondary characters more life. As Londondks points out, if they don't, it makes your whole story seem unreal. Your reader might not care. Not everybody is jarred by the same things. But if they do, it's one more thing that can make them put down the book. And besides, it's just more cool that way. :D

3. I had almost forgive them for Donna, until the End of Time, wherein SPOILER ALERT OR SURELY THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS HAS RUN OUT??? they give her a happy ending by making her married and rich. No return to the better Donna that we saw. We have seen her most happy chasing around with the Doctor, not a penny in hand. Yet we're now told that her happy ending is to be married and rich. Okay, so, granted, in the fic I might some day finish, she does end up well-off and married (and not just to some random guy, either, thankyouverymuch), but the Doctor part of her will be more accepting of the fact that she needs to sleep, and that some day, she'll be needed, just not yet. Also, granted, for Donna, being married had been a goal (she started as the Runaway Bride, after all). But as most people know, being married is NOT a happily-ever-after. It's a change into a new life, with different goals and responsibilities, and there's still no indication to the audience that Donna is, in this new life, going to recapture any of the compassion, caring, and daring that we saw her display as a companion. She's been shunted off to a fairy-tale ending, which we're just supposed to buy because that's what us wimminz want? Don't think so! (And don't get me started on the Martha/Mickey thing, which is random and frustrating and not just a bit offensive. "Hey, we're two spare POC characters, so I guess we should wind up married.")

Aaaanyway, I suppose that's enough of the ranty-mcrant-pants for now, because I have to get ready for work. (Not because I couldn't go on and on!) :D

Posted by: Humph (spiralsheep)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
spiralsheep Ram Raider mpfc

I'm glad you found it interesting. I thought you would.

1. I was listening to a politician being interviewed on the radio today and she kept trying to talk about intersecting issues, and how policies effect each other in their implementation, and the presenter kept trying to stop her before eventually claiming his listeners couldn't think about more than one thing at a time. O_O (I mean... he was gifted with a politician who was actually trying to answer the questions and he didn't believe his audience could cope with that... so he tried to STOP her! ::headdesk::)

2. Yeah, I don't think good storytelling, or experience of networks of relationships irl, is a left/right prerogative, heh. And, like you, I tend to enjoy characters with, y'know, actual characterisation... who also interact with each other... so they're like people in a way.... ;-)

3. ::nods agreement::

It amazes me how many people seem to think of marriage as a one-off goal rather than a (supposedly) life-long process.

Posted by: Ping (sventhelost)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 08:49 pm (UTC)

1. Oh, that just makes me sad. People tend to live up to or down to the expectations others have of them, so even if people aren't that smart, treating them as if they could be can only help to improve things, right? /sighs for the world.

2. Yeah, the whole, like, real characters thing, really interacting. It's a shocker, I know. I mean, okay, yes, it can be hard to do, but ... the fact that not everybody makes an effort worries me.

Though I did also wonder how much of the article was based more on speculative fiction, where the protag perog is strongest, rather than literary fiction, where there's usually not that much focus on the person making a difference in their world. (Granted, my exposure to literary fiction is not as broad as it could be, and a lot of what I've read I haven't liked....)

3. I know! I have sometimes fallen into that trap myself, and it's one that seems to be perpetuated by the Hollywood happy ending, too, especially for romantic comedies. Which makes me want to be all subvertive. :D

Posted by: Humph (spiralsheep)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom

1. Research has shown that people who don't exercise their brains tend to end up with diminishing brainpower so feeding people on a diet of cultural idiocy would seem to be doing us no favours in the long term.

2. I did also wonder how much of the article was based more on speculative fiction, where the protag perog is strongest, rather than literary fiction, where there's usually not that much focus on the person making a difference in their world.

My first reaction was that there ought to be a difference between character-oriented fiction and plot-oriented fiction but then I realised that londonkds seemed to be talking about character-as-plot which would circumvent that neat division.

3. :-)

Posted by: Ping (sventhelost)
Posted at: April 20th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC)

1. Yeah. In general, I find that part of why I tend to watch more British TV and movies that USian is because (at least those that I watch) tend to expect me to be able to keep up with the plot and characters. This article comparing the two version of Death at a Funeral seems to encapsulate a lot of the unsubtleness of American film-making.

2. The plot vs character thing is a major debate in writing circles, going back to at least Aristotle. They tend to drive each other, though at least in my writing group, I found that people tended to start at one end or the other. Those who started with the plot tended to have stuff happen more easily, but their characters weren't always as well-developed. Those who started with character had lots of interesting characters, but their plots tended to get bogged down. It was an interesting thing to watch.

It is all too common, especially in the less-well-crafted novels in any genre, that plot over-rides character. It's one of the reasons I never got into Heroes, because the characters would often do things that didn't seem consistent with what we'd learned of them, just to serve the actions, rather than because that's truly what they would do in that situation. Frustrating!

Of course, I set up my tent in the "characters should drive the plot and action" camp, but I do make forays into the "plot" camp to steal a twist or two when what the characters would otherwise be doing is sitting around and moaning or whining or whatever. (Characters are so annoying that way. I had one guy who wouldn't do anything unless someone else was in the room. Otherwise he'd just sit and navel-gaze. Soooo irritating!)

The one thing I think would be interesting to see from londonkds are more examples of some of the egregious Protag Privilege. I find that's helpful for my writing to see various examples.

This does kind of go against the very American ideal of one person can make a difference, though. The point that, in the end, it has to be a lot of people doing something to make a real social change does make sense, but how often do causes rally around a central figure or two, or have sparking points of one or two events? Someone needs to rally the troops, keep up the morale, make the points, etc. Or someones.

4. One of the interesting things that I've noticed in several books (the Mistborn Trilogy being the most recent example) is that people tend to take the Soviet Union collapse as the model for most fallen dictatorships. Unless the leadership takes an autocratic (and often fascist) approach, the country completely falls into anarchy. Maybe I'm just an idealist and don't want that to happen in all cases, when that's actually the case. Studying more of the history of Pakistan lately has certainly made me consider that this might be so. Must it always be so, though? Under what conditions would it not be?

People often say, "Well, the American Revolution worked because the people were for it." Not everybody was. Heck, even the Founding Fathers weren't particularly into the idea of everybody voting. (Or at least not all of them were.) How did they manage to set up a democracy in the vacuum of leadership, when so many other countries haven't managed it? Is it because the British system was more democratic at the time? Did they just have really good propaganda? I want to know, and I fear that, sadly, I may never get an answer. (Especially because that seems to be one of the more unknowable things.)

Annnnyway, rambling, and it's time for me to go home. :)

Posted by: Humph (spiralsheep)
Posted at: April 21st, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
ish icons Curiosity Cures Boredom

Interesting comment. Lots for me to think about. Instant responses below.

more examples of some of the egregious Protag Privilege

I hesitate to leave anything as dangerous as a tv tropes link laying around but....

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ProtagonistCenteredMorality ?

The point that, in the end, it has to be a lot of people doing something to make a real social change does make sense, but how often do causes rally around a central figure or two, or have sparking points of one or two events? Someone needs to rally the troops, keep up the morale, make the points, etc. Or someones.

Hmm, the historian in me wants to ask: "When many people are observed walking in the same direction, how does one know if they're following the person in front or all heading towards the same goal?" Even the military, with designed-in theoretical pyramid hierarchy doesn't necessarily work that way in practice ("No plan survives contact with the enemy.").

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