I've figured out one of the things that makes this 2-parter so upsetting - it's not unlike Goodbye, Mr. Chips (in fact, I shall be rather put out if 'Goodbye Mr. Smith' wasn't at least a working title for FoB*). That book bittersweetly destroyed my soul long before I had fandoms to do it for me, and the story of John Smith brings exactly that same type of profound sadness. And now I kind of wonder if there's a connection between the TARDIS-generated life and a fanboyish fondness for James Hilton.
[* = Oh, whatever, STOP TALKING TO ME ABOUT ADAPTATIONS OF DOCTOR WHO NOVELS. *disregards anything prior to 2005*]
*shakes head* Anyway! I think that the best way to handle this review would be to show you my original running commentary (well, ORC transcribed from shorthand), because I already have fond memories of my late night adventure, scribbling furiously in blue ink - hence the blue text - and then add more detailed post-ep thoughts between them in brackets. At least until about halfway through FoB, when it's much more impressive to just watch me devolve into a histrionic spazz, flailing and blubbering all over the place. And then we'll do a 20-minute rewind and speak with (slightly) fewer exclamation points and more appropriate capslock. Although we might not make it there until the next post.
3x08, "Human Nature"
*is knocked over backwards* HIGH SPEED OPENING, OKAY THEN. I have no idea what's going on. There had better be explanations right quick!
[I really am impressed that this thing kicks off with a bang and just never stops. I mean, it's full to bursting with quiet little moments - which, and I promise this is the last time I mention the novel, is a large part of what reminded me of GMC - but the undercurrent is always there, and you get that right off the bat. Watching it now for the second time, I still jump at the first blast into the TARDIS and the frantic 'you trust me, right?', no-time-to-explain leap into a plan of action...not envying Martha right now.]
Pajamas! Oh, oh, oh, I will never get tired of this.
[I forget how much I hate the general look of suits until I see him in something else, and then I'm overjoyed. This is one of the first pictures I ever saw of Tennant-as-Ten, and I've cherished that image for months. But not as much as I'm cherishing the set right now, which I would love to wander around for an hour. The pictures! The furniture! The things on shelves! You know about my all-consuming love for historical homes turned museum, right?]
Martha as a docile servant is an image that fills me with FAR more delight, most of it unholy, than it probably should. And yet beyond that, I do love this quiet morning scene, where he's welcoming and talks to her, and she smoothly glosses right over his mad dreams with perfect words about impossibility, belying nothing. [This is a familiarity that will not last, which makes me a little sad. I very much like the rapport between them right here.]
Freema's name in the credits? Still hurts me.
Of course, the one problem with discovering the soundtrack yesterday is that I am now hyper-aware of all music used in scenes. I also know that there are a ridiculous number of songs that belong to these two episodes and probably never get used again, which seems unbalanced, but maybe it'll be nice. In a related note, I'm very relieved that this annoying boys' choir anthem is not among them.
Teacher!Doctor! Unhealthy levels of excessive adorability! Not sure what the mortarboard is all about, though.
I was going to say "poor Martha" as I watched her on hands and knees, scrubbing the floor, but then I realized I was doing that yesterday. -.- And then I re-evaluated things, and decided that in a choice between "dinner lady for a week in 2006" and "housemaid for 3 months in 1913," I would still take the housemaid job. My ability to clean + repulsion by school cafeterias is just that strong.
[Actually, right here I'm kind of overwhelmed with solidarity!love for Martha and Jenny. Everything about this is just so comfortingly familiar - working with a partner, giggling over whatever silly thing will make the work go by easier and faster (it's not really a death sentence, after all), blending into the background,
"Tell me then, Jones. Hands like that, how can you tell when something's clean?" Ooh, racist insults! These please me a lot for their realism. Occupational hazard of time-traveling.
[Yep, Baines and his friend are right a-holes, but I kind of love their smug sense of entitlement about it. If overheard, they probably wouldn't even be reprimanded. Poor Martha, with her nothing-but-cheerful pleasantries.]
Ugh. The flirting hurts me. At least with Reinette it wasn't full of AWKWARD! The stammering and stuttering is unbearable. Make it stop.
[Now here's something that gets a complete overhaul in retrospect! OK, the stammering is still painful as hell to listen to (*cringes*), but the fact that her mere presence turns him into a bashful, stumbling schoolboy - especially while she's rather calm throughout, even bemused, with only a trace of uncertainty as she prods him into asking her to the dance - gets to me every time. *buries face in hands* Why must she be so likable?
Also, are those strains of "Miss Joan Redfern" I hear? Must be. Not my favorite selection, despite the flute featuring, but it fits both scene and character, all soft and plain and understated.]
HEE! Oh, the face the Doctor John pulls while she stitches him up, all "nyyerh" like a displeased cat, is hilarious.
[And Martha bursting in all concerned, only to be quietly reprimanded by the nurse for forgetting her place...oh, this scene both thrills and breaks me at the same time. For once in my life, I actually feel a little bad for Martha. And yet while it seems rude now, Joan really has no reason to think what she's saying is particularly unkind.]
Somehow, I think physically hearing that he only has one heart just hatpin-stabbed Martha worse than anything else so far.
OH! *sits bolt upright* GAS MASKS and plastic men and DALEKS, and...
(dude, I really, really want this prop. I have my own Journal of Impossible Things in which I detail various props or replicas thereof I wish I could have from various TV shows - usually they're memento-type things, scrapbooks and the like, though I also covet the miniature crime scene models from CSI - and this one just made the cut. Wouldn't you just love to peruse all the lovely thick pages full of sketches, and pore over the messy script? *sighs dreamily*)
[I could spend a lifetime reading the text, and I spent a good deal of time doing that - half the fun is deciphering it yourself - but I was also a little relieved to find there are dedicated people online who've done screencaps and/or transcription of their own for the masses, like here. Or better yet, here. And - WOW, I just came within an inch of getting spoiled for the s.4 finale again. THIS WILL TEACH ME TO GO LOOKING AT STRANGE LIVEJOURNALS. (or, well, it won't)]
ROOOOOOOOOOOSE! *squeals* Inadvertently spoiled myself on this some ways back, but so what? IS STILL AWESOME. I am completely mesmerized by this drawing. Look, look, over on the left! "PERFECT ROSE." I die happy now.
[This is the one transcription I will include here, because it's all pretty and heartbreaking at once:
my dream... I know her well... I know... I know her... she is my s- (oulmate, clearly. NO REALLY. BECAUSE: he is human and he can think that way now!
In my dreams I keep walking. A girl where to find [smudged] and she is dressed in a most immodest way.
She will not answer me and she keeps walking away... my dreams I keep... a girl where its...
in my dream she keeps walking away
see her in my dreams
I will now proceed to pretend that my heart doesn't shatter at his casual shrugging off, "Rose, I call her. She seems to disappear later on." Only name in whole journal, remember; that must count for something!]
I love Martha's intense curiosity when she hears the name. (what, no pictures of Rose left in the TARDIS, Doctor? For shame..)
Oh, have to lol at the TARDIS description - about the only humorous thing in the whole journal. "Nothing can harm me here. Unless I get lost inside it."
And there she goes again, scolding Martha for forgetting her place, being "a little familiar with him." Wow, people really were bitchy about class. And again,this doesn't bother me NEARLY as much as I feel like it should. I'm kind of loving it.
Spooky green lights! Awwww, and I was having such a nice time forgetting this show was about aliens. Don't make me leave the quaint, quiet world of starry-eyed school teachers and alternately giggly and quietly snarky housemaids, where the most exciting things that happen are social dances and occasional falls down staircases! I like it here!
[*proceeds to ignore several minutes of excessively non-Doctor-containing-scenes* I do love Jenny, though. And John Smith's oh-so-1913-man, careless dismissal of "meteorites" in favor of escorting Joan back.]
Hi TARDIS! All tucked away in a little woodsy cottage; this is the cutest setting ever. Also I love Martha's outfit, in particular the boots, and the bike. And oh, is flashback time again! Explanation time now? Yes?
Wait. THAT'S the Chameleon Arch?! A...weird piece of headgear?! I assumed it was like...I don't know, a big stone arch out in the middle of the countryside somewhere. WELL, IT SOUNDS LIKE IT WOULD BE AN IMPRESSIVE STRUCTURE. Where do you even get "arch" from this device in the first place? Does arch mean something different in the U.K.?
None of this actually matters because on second thought, I don't care what you say; the Doctor's screaming and contortion achieves its intended purpose and is painful to watch. *cringes more than Martha*
Erm, when did he have time to write this list of instructions? It seemed kind of imperative that he change as quickly as possible, yet he's very calm in this video.
[Ooh, and I just noticed the post-it notes in Gallifreyan. Pretty. Also, Recapist has a spectacular caption filling in rules 5-22, my favorites of which are:
8) If we meet any of my former selves, or companions, don't interact with them.
9) Unless it's Rose. Keep Rose.]
Y HALO THAR, John Smith dressed in a most immodest way! (...you see what this show's over-use of suits does to me? I get flaily about bare forearms.)
Teacher!Doctor strikes again! Just when you think he cannot get any more adorable, he (gently) chides a student for not living up to his potential. Gah. I am such a terrible sucker for dedicated teachers. (Ever wonder why "Boston Public" owned my soul as long as it did? Harry Senate, that's why)
OI! BRATTY KID, PUT THAT WATCH DOWN! IDIOT boy! [FYI, this is the first of many, many times I shall be yelling that. For example, right now.]
IDIOT BOY! STOP OPENING THE WATCH. [Watching it back for the second time, my incredible resentment towards this kid is growing at alarming speeds. Everyone else seems to love him, but I'm telling you right now that he is the only supporting character in this whole glorious arc that I can't stand. With the possible exception of Baines after he's body-snatched, every character is deep and compelling...and then there's Tiny Tim, the twitchy little ferret.]
AHHHHH, LIVING SCARECROWWWWWS! It's been a while since you played on my irrational fears, Doctor Who! I've missed that. The fact that these scarecrows have seriously evil faces isn't helping.
Ohhhh, please don't take the pretty little girl with a red balloon. Noooo!
"Permission to take Latimer for a beating, sir."
Permission - WHAT?! Are you - oh my God, you're completely serious! OI! This is a side of 1913 nostalgia that I do not approve! What happened to your soft-spoken self, good sir?! Not to mention I think you just indirectly broke the "don't let me hurt anyone" rule. Ugh. I want to forget this part.
[Yeah. I stand by the fact that this is one of the most stomach-twisting parts of the whole thing. Shoulders creeping up to ears now.
[I LOVE how tight-lipped and disapproving Joan looks as she walks out and looks over the target practice. You go, Nurse Redfern. And I kind of hate how dismissive he is of her concerns about military discipline. It's like, I get that this would be a perfectly normal way of thinking to him, same as Joan dismissing Martha, but, but...]
HAAAAAAAAA HA HA, PIANO! I've been waiting AGES to understand that one last macro in the DW/PP Epic Crossover Macro, and now I think I get it! [*reads things online* Shut up. I didn't watch that many cartoons in childhood.] Impressive Rube Goldberg antics to avert the crisis, too.
Eeh! I love how "Gallifrey" just pops right out without even thinking. *pets*
Scarecrow: *turns evil head*
RS: *freaks the F out*
[See, one of the many ways in which Human Nature is similar to but infinitely better than The Empty Child is that scarecrows? A trillion times scarier than a kid in a gas mask. Because people wearing gas masks normally move. Scarecrows normally do not. WALKING SCARECROWS WITH EVIL, ABSTRACT-FEATURED FACES = DOUBLY FREAKY.
Totally random addition: I'm also of the opinion that Human Nature kicks Empty Child's tail because it's the era of WWI (OK, a tick before, but there are flashes!) instead of WWII, and I love the first one way more. Why? Because the second one is SO overdone. Hardly anyone ever talks about the Great War. It's always about Hitler. I want it to be about the trenches and barbed wire. More on this later.]
"You've made me far too beautiful."
"Well, that's how I see you."
Oh, don't...*winces, groans* don't...wait, yes, do! I've not seen you be emotional and tender like this in ages, possibly ever. Awww, I don't feel bad when it's John Smith.
*sighs* Such a soft and gentle kiss, and then the -- oh, my, suddenly it's 1913 snogging time! Um. OK then! Right!
[Yeah, honestly, right here is where I went from vaguely tolerating Joan/using her as a visual Rose substitute to falling head-over-heels for John/Joan in their own right. This is, unequivocally, the most beautiful scene in the series to date and the most swoon-worthy Tennant scene all rolled into one. I've watched it something like 500 times, and still am reduced to "guh" by the end. Plus, hear that music in the background? Yeah, it's that track. Just to make it a little more poignant when it's repeated later on.
"Widows aren't supposed to be beautiful. I think the world would rather we stopped." The half-laugh, without mirth. "Is that fair? That we stop?"
"That's not fair at all." Oh, that voice, and the hair-smoothing. He never takes his eyes off her. Death by squee in 3... 2...1...
[This space reserved for video clip of scene, to be added when it's safe to visit YouTube again. Unless you want to find one for me and give me an embed code. I'm normally not one for embedded videos, but half of what took me so long to finish this review was that I kept getting stuck on this part, and not wanting to move on. It's just that good.]
Most beautiful kiss I've ever seen. And the addition of the hesitant "I've never...", well, if this scene had a little finger, I'd be wrapped around it. The subsequent kissing is kind of pretty, too. Very hands off, I like it - achieves a deeper sense of passion. It seems very weird to apply the word passionate here, but it's convinced me that I need to read a lot more historical romances. (that is, er, romances actually written back in the day. Not 21st century romances set back in the day. I think those would fail.)
OKAY. I CAN MOVE ON NOW. REALLY.]
HEE on the snapping at Martha. Although I really feel bad for everyone at this moment of interruption.
"You had to go and fall in love with a human. And it wasn't me." Oh my GOD! *slaps the self-pity party* I was actually feeling sorry for her up to this point, and then she said that and left a bad taste in my mouth. She comes off so immature and petulant.
Heartbreak Moment #4128: Jenny shivering and crying in a corner. [also, in retrospect, this is where I decide I loathe evil!Baines, in a he-is-unwatchable way. Bulgy eyes and oversized nostrils. Evil!Jenny will be so much cooler.]
OOH that is a pretty dress on Joan. *wants* She really is beautiful, in a simple and classic way.
Attic servants' quarters! Threadbare, but oh, I love this set too. And I don't know if it's sad or sweet that it's a highlight of Martha's day to get fancy tea, but I like sweet. Wonderful glimpse into the lives of them as friends. [This is where I kind of wish that this 2-parter was a standalone movie rather than part of a series, so that it could have an extra hour and we could get a better introduction to their arrival here, which naturally would include lots more day-in-the-life-of-Martha scenes.]
Oi! If Martha's going to interrupt another kiss, I should at least get to see the start of that kiss!
OH. *jaw drops* Ouuuuuuuuuch. That was condescending, the business about "this is a stor-y." Totally understandable, but WOW. *is exchanging raised-eyebrow glances with...well, no one, but you get the idea*
[Martha and I responded with identical reactions, but for me the shock value is more the difference between the Doctor and John than the actual condescension. I am very fond of societal norms within historical context. That said, the way she wrings her hands and whimpers, I completely forget that she's Martha Jones - all I can see is an uneducated housemaid. There's a glimmer of someone who knows what they're doing when she zeros in on the missing watch, and I think even Joan could see she's more than a servant, but then she says "but we need it" and all the authority is gone. It's a weirdly abrupt shift. Although she does get it back for a second with the very 21st-century hand movement on "THIS is not you."]
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Servants do not go around slapping their employers! (And poor Doctor; if he's not careful, he's going to end the season with a permanent handprint on his face) Though I can't blame Smith for throwing her out and firing her on the spot. That was uncalled for. I'm just going to point to Joan for the remainder of this scene, and have you assume I'm echoing her.
[Aaand, skipping all the dancing, which even with an adorable couple and structured form is still not fun to watch, his face when Martha pulls out the sonic screwdriver kills me. We both want to deny the truth of what she's saying right now.]
*is on edge of seat, making little whimpering noises at Smith's helpless bewilderment as both women are taken captive for reasons he doesn't understand* [Music: Smith's Choice, a track that achieves dramatic effect here but gets really annoying with the final sforzando notes when listened to on its own, and doesn't deserve a whole track on the CD.]
RS: D'ahhhh! OK, fine, we'll just sneak a peek at the preview, but after that, it's BED. *is [hilariously] firm*
Preview: *shows John and Joan getting married...and holding a baby*
RS: *spazzes and flaps about* That was a dream sequence, right? At least in part? Has to be. Don't care, must know! It's 12:08 on Tuesday morning, I work at 6 and I only got 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night, but WE NEED THE NEXT EPISODE RIGHT NOW! ALLEZ!
[You see, I had a plan worked out that night (7/21, OBSESSIVE FUTURE SELF. [Obsessive Future Self: Thanks!]). I got out of the computer lab at 10:30, went back to my room, decided I'd put an episode on my MP3 player so I could watch it in bed (hence the notes taken in a notebook) and then go to sleep as soon as I got tired. I should really learn that that doesn't happen during Doctor Who. Anyway, that took an extra 40 minutes, but I am stubbornly in love with watching videos on the player, so I waited. Read a book in the meantime. Finally got it converted, and was about to shut off the computer when I realized I should probably fetch 3x09. You know. For lunch break tomorrow. The plan at this point was still to watch one episode and then go to bed.
I should also really learn that I cannot split 2-parters up for even 10 minutes in between, because before I knew it, I had foiled my whole "relax in bed" plans and hauled a chair back up to the computer. Watched part 2, exploded with tumultuous emotions and was sure I'd never be tired again, then finally ran out of energy at 1:45 and keeled over, beginning the slow road to recovery.
But that's for another day. I expect you're all quite exhausted by now. I know I am.]
Instructions upon successful completion of reading all of the above:
1) Pat self on back.
2) Treat self to cookie from plate. *points to table* We have chocolate chip and gingersnaps.
3) Feel free to leave comments of equally ridiculous length.