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 22:10 on 26-05-2013, Cressida
Guy: I think that comment on complicity was in the review of "The Path." Also, to respond to Shimmin's original point, I think you're onto something. A lot of my recent annoyances with entertainment have been the insistence on eliminating iconic heroes and turning everybody into a dramatic hero. There should be room for both kinds. (BTW, can I assume you've been reading Robin Laws' LJ if you're pondering these ideas?)
at 18:31 on 26-05-2013, Guy
I can't find it right now, but there's a comment somewhere on this website by, I believe, Dan, about games that "comment on the nature of complicity" in a certain rather overdone way... anyway, play this game. It is like that comment, but in game form.
at 09:28 on 23-05-2013, Dan H
I've not really followed either old or new Who but from what I've seen I'd say there's a definite change from "the Doctor is a plot device, allowing us to explore different scenarios" to "the scenarios are plot devices allowing us to explore the Doctor."
at 22:00 on 22-05-2013, Robinson L
I get the feeling I'm somewhat more positively inclined toward current Moffat than you are, Arthur (though I haven't viewed "The Name of the Doctor" yet, and I could easily see my goodwill towards him take a dive once again). However, I basically agree with everything you just said.
at 19:48 on 22-05-2013, Arthur B
Oh, I'm definitely much more lukewarm on Moffat these days than I was at the start of his run, and I agree that Davies' series arcs were a bit more varied.

Moffat is at his least variable where he seems to be carrying forward and amplifying patterns which Davies set that aren't intrinsic to Who, but are becoming more and more intrinsic to New Who. There is a non-zero chance that Moffat has "I <3 Bad Wolf" tattooed on his bum.
at 18:30 on 22-05-2013, Robinson L
Arthur: this is usually despite New Who's bad habits rather than because of them.

I'll mostly go along with that. I'd have to do a lot of thinking as to whether that argument holds across the board.

And I can't think of a single season-long plot arc which doesn't boil down to "it's all because of this season's main companion's intertwined destiny with the Doctor".

I think some of the Davies arcs may be debatable, but I agree that there's no clear-cut examples where that's not the case, and since Moffat took over, there isn't even room to question. In a way, I kind of admire the way he's able to churn out so many different variations on the same theme - on the other hand, I think it's long past time he discovered some new themes.
at 15:44 on 22-05-2013, Arthur B
Oh, there's been good episodes of the New Who, but this is usually despite New Who's bad habits rather than because of them. And I can't think of a single season-long plot arc which doesn't boil down to "it's all because of this season's main companion's intertwined destiny with the Doctor".
at 12:30 on 22-05-2013, Robinson L
@Arthur: I mostly concur, although it was only with this latest season that I began to suspect the writing team was trying to cram 3-4 episodes' worth of material into a single 45-minute episode. It was also with this season I realized just how many of the one-off monsters on the show are used as mirrors for the Doctor (which is not to say that it doesn't work ... some of the time).

Even so, I think the new series is capable of some quite brilliant storytelling, despite the self-referential/reverential quagmire. I don't blame anyone for finding the quagmire too thick to wade, but I don't think it makes the new show incapable of producing good storytelling, if that makes any sense.
at 10:54 on 22-05-2013, Arthur B
The difference between Old Who and New Who, in iconic dialogue:

DOCTOR: (Steps out of TARDIS.) Hi, I'm the Doctor and I'm here to help.
LOCAL: Who are you? Why should I trust you? And furthermore, wh-HUGHAHGHALGUGUGHG oh god i'm melting
(CLIFFHANGER HAPPENS, story spends 3-4 episodes on a slow boil before things get climactic)

DOCTOR: (Steps out of TARDIS.) Hi, I'm the Doctor and I'm here to help.
LOCAL: Oh wow, the DOCTOR! I'm actually meeting the DOCTOR! This is the most amazing thing which could possibly ever happen to me.
(Story wraps up within 45 minutes, with the plot just rushed and incoherent enough to make the viewer suspect that the production team write three-hour Old Who-style stories and then shrink them down by utterly butchering the pacing.)

I mean, there's exceptions in both shows. Old Who would occasionally have the local be all like IT IS OUR AN-CI-ENT E-NE-MY THE DOC-TOOOOOR! EX-TER-MIN-ATE! New Who will occasionally have people be baffled about who the Doctor is, but will usually skip the step where he actually convinces them to trust him and just have them spontaneously start trusting him for no obvious reason because he's just that awesome.

But the fact is that in Old Who the major defining event of most bit-part characters lives is that their planet got invaded by the Daleks and the Doctor happened to save them, whereas in New Who the defining moment is THEY GOT TO MEET THE DOCTOR!!! oh and there might have been Daleks somewhere in the vicinity too. My instinct is to blame this on New Who being run by fanboys who are so absolutely giddy about being allowed to write Doctor Who they end up writing stories about how awesome Doctor Who (the show and the character) is. It's all become rather self-referential and self-reverential and drunk on its own past glories.
at 08:29 on 22-05-2013, Shimmin
Passing thought: I was idly wondering whether some of the differences of opinion about Doctor Who, and especially Old/New Who, come down to dramatic vs. iconic heroes? So I think you could argue that Old Who is basically an iconic hero, and the series is about When Happens When The Doctor Encounters X, whereas New Who is much more of a dramatic hero with stories that tend to be more about The Doctor Experiences X. Except that I don't know the theory well enough to be sure.

I mean, personally speaking I stopped watching it because it started to feel like Eastenders in Space when I felt it should be like Sherlock Holmes.
at 21:58 on 21-05-2013, Melanie
I just found this blog that writes delightfully sarcastic responses to bizarre questions written in to (unrelated) advice columns.

What kind of ignorant shitbag eats 'dinner' at night, indeed.
at 21:49 on 21-05-2013, Arthur B
"Members of subculture based around literally looking like a clown on meth behave in a manner which lacks dignity" is not in any sense news.

That doesn't stop Juggalos of OKCupid from being hilarious.
at 02:02 on 18-05-2013, Adrienne

I have been watching it intermittently, but I'm way behind. I'm looking forward to the finale, though, with that recommendation. :)
at 16:18 on 17-05-2013, Ibmiller
So, anyone watching Elementary? I thought the way the finale played with expectations re: gender, etc, was pretty interesting.

Okay, to be honest, I loved it, but having no idea what anyone else thinks, I was trying to play it cool.

But yeah, I thought it was fantastic.
at 10:55 on 16-05-2013, Shimmin
I don't see the problem. It's magic cheese.
at 23:43 on 15-05-2013, Michal
So a wheel of enchanted cheese reported in Poland in the sixteenth century reappeared in Kent in 1651.

This is where I start seriously questioning my choice of field of study.
at 20:11 on 15-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
I do expect Yelp to shut that shit down at some point, since a lot of the new "reviews" are from people who admit to never having gone to the restaurant or are otherwise worthless. It's fun and all, but Yelp isn't Reddit or Facebook.
at 19:37 on 15-05-2013, Arthur B
The yelp page is even more enjoyable if you flip the date sorting so it's oldest-first and read it like that, because it really underscores the fact that no, this isn't an act, they've been determinedly alienating people for the past three years or so.
at 18:24 on 15-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
Also, as a fan of trainwrecks, I'm quite enjoying their Yelp page.
at 18:11 on 15-05-2013, Fishing in the Mud
This is awesome. The husband and wife clearly feed off of each other's egomania to the point where they're obviously completely immune to criticism. They're rich enough that the restaurant likely doesn't need to make money, so they probably won't even have to shut the worthless sink down. I guess if you can afford to live in a fortress of delusion, you might as well.

Also, that waitress was having the best day she'd had in a while. Her grin just kept getting bigger. Good for her.
at 17:31 on 15-05-2013, Axiomatic
So I'm not the only one who took feline as a second language in school!
at 17:22 on 15-05-2013, Arthur B
Those people are just...kind of...scarily glorious? Or gloriously scary.

I know, right? It's nice to see that Klaus Kinski is looking so well for a guy who's been dead for twenty years at any rate.
at 16:31 on 15-05-2013, Kit
I don't know why I watched this. Major trainwreck syndrome, probably. Those people are just...kind of...scarily glorious? Or gloriously scary. Insane, at any rate.

On the other hand, their waitress is incredibly cute. I wanted to give her a hug throughout the whole thing.
at 10:38 on 15-05-2013, Arthur B
Kitchen Nightmares is my televisual comfort food but the latest series finale of the US version is absolutely incredible. One of the restaurant owners combines an utter inability to deal with any criticism with an unshakeable belief that she is a genius chef and anyone who doesn't like her food is objectively wrong. The other is a tyrant who won't let any of the staff use the till, takes all of the (only) waitress's tips for himself, and at one point gets in Gordon's face and starts talking about how he's a gangster.

They also threw an amazing tantrum on Facebook after the episode aired.