Monday, April 22, 2013

The Problem with Clara

This is spoiler-esque, potentially, if you haven't watched any of the second half of Series 7 of Doctor Who.

So be warned.

I'm not going to bother to invisotext this, as it's mostly ranting, but I'll add lots of annoying line breaks for anyone who hasn't seen "Hide" and previous eps.

Yeah, okay.

The problem with Series 7 hasn't specifically been Clara, the Doctor's latest Companion, but she's certainly a major part of the problem.

So Amy Pond and Rory Williams (aka "The Ponds") were written out at the conclusion of "The Angels in Manhattan", leaving the Doctor with broken hearts. This was for no real reason that I can figure. I mean, the Doctor is a time traveler. He may not have been able yank them out of their being trapped in the past for some arbitrary and contrived reason (and, make no mistake, "Blink" proved that this was utterly and completely arbitrary and contrived), but he could still have jaunted back and said "hey there" and checked-in with them from time-to-time-to-time-to...

Instead, the Doctor goes into a sulk in the insanity that was "The Snowmen" (the Xmas special) and starts living on a cloud.

So, re-enter Clara. At first, she was a converted Dalek whom the Doctor chatted with but never saw as a human. This time, he meets her and she's a saucy barmaid who doubles as a proper nanny. Interesting and adventurous character. Instantly everyone loves her. That's good, 'cause the episode plot was utter, nonsensical rubbish. And then it ended with her dying.

And that's when everything goes straight to hell.

So the Doctor jumps the rails at the end of "The Snowmen" at that point. He becomes obsessed with Clara and the idea that she's died twice and returned so she must be out there somewhere, like some adolescent holy grail owed him.

And the entire series suddenly becomes a story of a time-and-space traveling stalker picking up some girl-slash-obsession-object.

Enter "The Bells of St. John", a story that has all the coherence of a room full of monkeys on acid using broken typewriters. I've gone into that in detail elsewhere and I won't rehash the entirety of my bile, but the story serves to introduce the "main" version of Clara - a 21st century computer illiterate woman who is cute but very, very bland. She lacks the clever and witty ability of her counterpart in "Asylum of the Daleks" and is nowhere near as adventurous and interesting as she was in "The Snowmen".

She isn't a character at this point. She's a cypher. A plot device. An object.

What annoys me is that the Doctor, who otherwise tends to have respect for his past companions, seems to treat Clara as an object. She's a mystery to be solved, not a traveling companion with whom he intends to enjoy his journeys.

And the Doctor suddenly bounces around like a true, psychotic lunatic in the writing Moffatt and Cross have offered thus far. I don't blame Neil Cross for this. It has the flavor of Moffatt meddling. He clearly has some overarcing plan that just isn't working.

The entire thing isn't working. Clara feels the TARDIS doesn't like her 'cause she can't re-enter in "The Rings of Akhaaten". Well, that could also be because the Doctor hasn't given her a TARDIS key.

That made sense until, in "Hide", the TARDIS actually manifests a particularly-bitchy holographic image to snipe at Clara.

Okay, I was so-so on the TARDIS having a manifested self in Neil Gaiman's "The Doctor's Wife" but this is getting ridiculous. If the TARDIS hates Clara so much, why let the Doctor find her in the first place? Or, if the TARDIS is suddenly chatty, why not tell the Doctor why the time machine's got such a distaste for the plucky-if-bland companion?

Oh, I'm sorry. That would make sense. Besides, the Doctor is too busy being a stalker.

Moffatt is trying very hard to do a number of things:
  • Establish a mystery around Clara Oswin Oswald
  • Make us like Clara
  • Make the Doctor seem to have some compelling reason to investigate her
He layers this with references to the Doctor previously encountering her, but learning only that she's "normal" (except for suddenly getting never-again-referenced computer skills thanks to... oh nevermind). Oh, and the TARDIS doesn't like Clara so... big mystery there.

Moffatt hasn't bothered to seduce the audience with her. He's clubbing us over the head with this mystery and all of this contrived and forced bullshit. The only reason these eps are watchable at all is because Matt Smith and Jenna Louise Colman have a genuine chemistry and rapport. If the writers would just tone down this Moffatt-mystery-bullshit a lot and let us get to liking (or hating) Colman on our own, things will go a hell of a lot smoother. And stop, for the love of Rassilon, STOP this stalkery crap with the Doctor.

Just... stop.

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