Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 14:48 on 14-12-2013, Bryn
Adrienne: here's one I came across today.
at 05:47 on 14-12-2013, Adrienne
Arthur B: got any rundowns that aren't on video? Because I'm interested -- I seem to have missed this kerfuffle so far -- but I can't deal with video.
at 21:42 on 13-12-2013, Arthur B
Another Kickstarter project, another heap of men crying about women getting into the videogame clubhouse. Video Game Therapist gives the best rundown of the "don't let girls touch my Mega Man ripoffs" controversy.
at 17:05 on 13-12-2013, Andy G
Ha, true. But what annoyed me especially was the false consolation it offered to something actually tragic: not sure whether this was because of the *form* of the consolation (fictionally representing the tragic thing as not actually having happened - bit like Atonement) or its *content* (Van Gogh's profound despair would be alleviated if only he had realised he would be a bona fide Celebrity and Tourist Attraction in the future). [not spoiler-tagging this since it was about three years ago btw!]
at 13:21 on 13-12-2013, Arthur B
Re: the Curtis/van Gogh episode: yeah, that did leave me thinking
"Wait a minute, isn't it profoundly counterproductive to take someone you know to be severely depressed and show them proof that they will be widely loved and respected after they are dead?"
at 12:54 on 13-12-2013, Andy G
Well, I did also really enjoying it, so perhaps our reactions aren't that different. I also agree that it is good that
like the Daleks, the Time Lords have now been firmly written back into canon - extraordinary narrative measures (i.e. timey-wimey bullshit) are no longer required to bring them back. But I don't think that the time war backstory can be blamed for Moffat's bad habits: RTD wrapped it up in a way that provided sufficient resolution yet also potentially allowed the Time Lords to be brought back in a way that didn't entirely reverse the gravity of what the Doctor had done before.

I also disagree with the analogy to "The Doctor Dances" (one of the best episodes of New Who): there, the happy ending was narratively earned and not just a feel-good cheap shot. It reminded me more of the ending to the Richard Curtis episode, when Van Gogh was taken to the future to show him how popular his art became, which was a facile gesture and one of the worst moments of New Who.
at 20:02 on 12-12-2013, Robinson L
Just got around to seeing the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special with my younger sister Aqua yesterday, and we both loved it so much there were points we were literally clutching each other with joy.

I don't know what Moffat was thinking when he rolled back so much of what Davies had established ... and honestly, I don't much care, as I am just so completely on board with this change of direction.

First, because it gave the Doctor an accomplishment that feels real and palpable. In most of this big, blow-out ending specials, he's saving either the Earth, the universe, or (more lately) himself - and each case, big deal, he does all three every other week; and if he even once failed at any of them, there'd be no more show, so when he succeeds, it doesn't feel like that big of deal. On the other hand,
over the past eight years, he's consistently failed to save or reunite with even one Time Lord; so when in this story, he managed to save all of them
, well, that was something substantial (rather like the "Everybody Lives" ending to "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances," actually).

Additionally, I see the whole
Last of the Time Lords
schtick as having enabled many of Davies' and Moffats' shared bad habits, namely, 1) angst, and relatedly 2) melodrama, and furthermore 3) deification of the Doctor. Not that I think any of these three will necessarily go away or even become more manageable now
the Time Lords are back and the Doctor is off the hook for wiping them out and no longer unique in the universe
, but I think it's a step in the right direction.

Plus, I feel like there are so many interesting stories the new show could tell involving
the Time Lords and Gallifrey, whereas so far, it's only been able to tell stories about them in the context of their death in the Time War

So, regardless of what Moffat thought he was doing, I think there are several good reasons to handle things the way that he did which don't necessarily involve spiting Davies.

All that aside, I was really impressed by the tone Moffat struck: he appears to have made the choice that this was going to be a fun adventure with multiple Doctors and even though the premise of the episode is a pretty grim one (and that aspect is handled respectfully, as best I can see), he only injected some barely detectable traces of his patented melodrama. It's an impressive accomplishment, and all the more so, I would say, considering it's coming from Moffat of all people.
at 21:19 on 11-12-2013, Melanie
Oh. I kind of wondered, because they're made of muscle, and... *vague gesture*
at 17:37 on 11-12-2013, Michal
It tasted very organ-y. Certainly not a great delicacy, but it was more than edible.
at 07:30 on 11-12-2013, Melanie
Speaking as someone who ate a moose heart on his birthday

...Not to derail or anything, but how was it?
at 06:10 on 11-12-2013, Michal
As far as I can tell, you don't heat the Christmas Tinner at all, and just slice off compacted hockey pucks of preservative-pregnant nutritional product from the cylinder over the course of a day.

Speaking as someone who ate a moose heart on his birthday, the Christmas Tinner looks absolutely revolting.
at 00:30 on 11-12-2013, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So, because I don't understand the value of money, I bought Bioshock Infinite a few weeks ago, and I've been having a playthrough of the whole series this week.

Don't know about anyone else, but I find it interesting how Bioshock 2 and Infinite seem to mirror one another. The major story arc of both games is about a father (the player) trying to recover his daughter from a malevolent "surrogate" parent. Both games also seem very uncomfortable in their relationship to the original Bioshock, and both spend a lot of their time wrestling with the fact that they're sequels to a self-contained game. B2 literally makes this anxiety its subtext: every character in the game is either a self-interested looter trying to salvage something from the ruins of Rapture or a squatter trying to start up their own utopian project with Rapture's technology, neither of whom give a damn about Ryan's objectivism. By contrast, BI seems to be trying to turn the original game into a myth, a timeless story that is repeated in countless times and places. (And to be less charitable, there are parts in both games when you can see one story draft clunk up against another.)

After all that's done, it'll be time to play You Are Empty, the Bioshock series' weird older Russian half-brother, which has its own spin on things.
at 21:12 on 10-12-2013, Arthur B
Well, it looks like you're supposed to some poor sucker is supposed to eat it throughout the day, with the scrambled eggs being for breakfast. I guess that means leaving the can open all day?

Possibly, but then how'd you heat it? Besides, it's presented like tinned foods like spaghetti or baked beans or soup where you're meant to empty it out of the tin before heating, so wouldn't it all become one continuous mass once you've cooked it?
at 18:22 on 10-12-2013, Melanie
For that matter, what's scrambled egg and bacon got to do with Christmas dinner?

Well, it looks like you're supposed to some poor sucker is supposed to eat it throughout the day, with the scrambled eggs being for breakfast. I guess that means leaving the can open all day?

I have so many questions, but I don't really want to know the answers to any of them. :(
at 11:50 on 10-12-2013, Fin
Dog food for gamers? Seems appropriate somehow.

Don't worry Arthur, Captain Picard is here to save Christmas.
at 11:22 on 10-12-2013, Arthur B
What the shit is this?

Also what sort of fucking barbarian eats their mince pies and Christmas pudding at the same time as their turkey? For that matter, what's scrambled egg and bacon got to do with Christmas dinner? Where's the pigs in blankets? 0/10, CHRISTMAS IS RUINED.
at 00:50 on 10-12-2013, Arthur B
If anything that kind of seems worse - it's like Moffat felt a burning need to dredge up a plot which was basically done solely to say "nuh-uh, you did it wrong, this is how it should have turned out".
at 23:49 on 09-12-2013, Andy G
I very much agree with that, though RTD mostly did wrap up the Time War stuff. It's not been referenced much during Moffat's era: RTD left a fairly blank slate.
at 00:40 on 09-12-2013, Arthur B
It did occur to me, reading the spoilers about the special, that its sum effect is not just to retcon away Ecclestone-Doctor's character arc, but basically to completely warp and in a lot of cases outright invert the point of most of revival Who, both RTD's and Moffat's, what with a central premise of all of it being that
the Doctor is sad because he blew up Gallifrey

It's almost as though Moffat was out to cancel a whole bunch of RTD's decisions about the series purely so he and Peter Capaldi could have a clean slate. Which is an impulse I can understand if you are the showrunner for a show with 50 years of continuity, with the most recent 8-9 years of continuity weighing particularly heavily on your shoulders, but it also feels kind of disrespectful.

I mean, it's possible that this is exactly where RTD intended to take the series, but given the entire Master plot arc that's highly doubtful - not least because I'm 99% convinced that if this was RTD's plan, he'd have seen it out himself before he left as showrunner.
at 23:06 on 08-12-2013, Andy G
Two slightly different perspectives on issues that have been discussed on Ferretbrain before and are now in the news due to recent studies:

Firstly, the decline (or not) of British education.

Secondly, hard-wired differences (or not) between "male brains" and "female brains".

Plus, Who Said It: Steven Moffat or Fake Steven Moffat?

Particularly enjoyed this from Fake Steven Moffat on "Christopher Eccleston’s absence from the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special":

“His exact words were, ‘A fucking reset button? Like fuck am I coming back to canonically nullify my character arc.’ I still can’t figure out what he meant by that.”
at 19:57 on 08-12-2013, Melanie
Sometimes, you just have to ask "why?" And "what?"

...Well, bravo.
at 18:43 on 06-12-2013, Adrienne
Aha. Along the same lines as sites like PUAs.txt (and family), then. I'll keep it on my radar, thanks. )
at 13:37 on 06-12-2013, Arthur B
"Fundies Say the Damnedest Things", allied with sites like "Racists Say the Damnedest Things" and "Conspiracy Theorists Say the Damnedest Things".

Basically it is about highlighting silly and/or awful things said by people on the Internet, usually with a hyperconservative fundamentalist/Biblical literalist spin. Think a Web 1.0 version of Shit Reddit Says. Used to have a nasty Smug Atheist streak but that's lessened now that they've started to occasionally throw in quotes from obnoxious atheists (though they could do more of that).