Tag Archive for russell t davies

Nu Who Bechdel List

The Bechdel Test applied to the 2005-2012 Doctor Who
I saw another list of Bechdel tested Nu Who recently, but it seemed pretty inaccurate to me.  So I went through every single episode individually and tried it myself.  These are my results, which kind of vague “citations” of how it passes the test.  I used the “named” version of the test, just to be hardcore!
I usually just list one example of test-passingness, because I didn’t look for every example.  If you know more examples, let me know, I’ll check them and put them on!
If you see any flaws, please point them out and I’ll check, then edit the list!
The rules:
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

 

Rose
Rose and Jackie talk about things like work and the cat-flap. – 3

End of the World
Rose talks to Cassandra about Earth and Raffalo about plumbing! – 3

The Unquiet Dead
Rose and Gwyneth talk about the Big Bad Wolf and the Gelth – 3

Aliens of London
Rose and Jackie talk about Rose disappearing – 3

World War 3
Rose and Harriet Jones talk – 3

Dalek
Rose just talks to the boys, I think – 1

The Long Game
This one only just scrapes by when Cathica and Suki chat about floor 500 – 3

Father’s Day
Little Rose and Jackie “talk” about Pete.  Barely makes a – 2

The Empty Child 
Rose and Nancy don’t get a chance to talk here – 1

The Doctor Dances
Rose and Nancy chat about the war and the future – 3

Boom Town
Blon and Cathy talk about the reactor blowing up, and irritable bowels – 3

Bad Wolf
Um…Rose talks to the Ann-Droid about peroxide – 3

Parting of the Ways
Rose and Jackie talk about Pete and the Doctor and…life travelling with the Doctor…could that make this a 3?  I’m hesitant.  Lets go with a – 2

 

Season Average: 2.5/3

 

The Christmas Invasion
Rose and Jackie talk about Harriet Jones – 3

New Earth
Cassandra and Rose talk about the human race and body image – 3

Tooth and Claw
I don’t think any two women talk about anything other than the dudes in this one – 2

School Reunion
Rose talks to Sarah about the Doctor – 2

Girl in the Fireplace
Rose and Reinette talk mainly about the Doctor, so – 2

Rise of the Cybermen
Rose and Jackie talk about Pete – 2

Age of Steel
Jackie and Rose have a couple of brief exchanges about Jackie being alive – 3

The Idiot’s Lantern
Rose talks to the Wire about the weather.  Barely counts!  – 3

The Impossible Planet 
There are 3 main female characters, but I don’t think any of them have a conversation – 1

The Satan Pit
Ida and Rose talk about the Doctor – 2

Love & Monsters
I believe the ladies of LINDA only talk about the Doctor in group discussions – 2

Fear Her
Trish and Rose talk about Chloe – 3

Army of Ghosts
Rose and Jackie talk about how Rose is changing; Adeola and Yvonne talk about work; Jackie and Yvonne talk about groceries – 3

Doomsday
Rose and Jackie talk about the Doctor; Jackie and Yvonne talk about Torchwood and Cybermen – 3


Season Average: 2.4/3

 

The Runaway Bride
Donna and her mum talk about her disappearing act – 3

Smith and Jones
Martha talks to Tish about the rain going upwards – 3

The Shakespeare Code 
The witches talk to each other, basically just about the Doctor and Will – 2

Gridlock
Martha talks to Cheen about life in the gridlock – 3

Daleks in Manhattan
Martha and Tallulah talk about their men – 2

Evolution of the Daleks
Tallulah and Martha talk about the psychic paper and dalekanium – 3

The Lazarus Experiment
Tish and Martha talk about the event, and to her mum about missing her – 3

42
Martha phones her mum to ask her questions for the thingy – 3

Human Nature
Martha talks to Jenny about flying away – 3

Family of Blood
Martha talks to Joan about passing medical exams – 3

Blink
the adventures of Sparrow and Nightingale! – 3

Utopia
Martha talks to Chan-Tho about swearing – 3

Sound of Drums
Vivian Rook talks to Tish about having alone time with Lucy Saxon – 3

Last of the Time Lords
Martha talks to Docherty about Toclafane and flowers – 3

 

Season Average: 2.8/3

 

Voyage of the Damned
Foon and Astrid don’t talk, I think – 1

Partners in Crime
Donna and Sylvia talk about the 1980s, Penny and Foster talk about fat – 3

Fires of Pompeii
Evelina and Donna talk about the future – 3

Planet of the Ood
Mercurio and Donna have a brief exchange about the “Noble Corporation” – 3

Sontaran Stratagem 
Donna and Martha talk about their families (I don’t think that counts as “about a man”) – 3

Poison Sky
Martha and Clone Martha talk about poison gas and life – 3

The Doctor’s Daughter
Donna and Jenny talk about travelling, which, to be fair, isn’t talking about the Doctor – 3

Unicorn and the Wasp
Donna and Agetha Christie talk about her books – 3

Silence in the Library
Donna and Evangelista talk about how thick E is – 3

Forest of the Dead
Donna and Evangelista talk about being in the matrix thingy – 3

Midnight 
Pretty much all the women in this story at least talk to each other, but in a group discussion – 3

Turn Left
Donna talks to Sylvia about many things like getting a job; Rose talks to Donna about being the most important person ever – 3

The Stolen Earth
Martha, Harriet, and Sarah talk about the subwave network.  Its being used to contact the Doctor, but I think its more to the point that they’re all being mechanical whizzes and awesome – 3

Journey’s End
Martha talks to Francine about daleks and the key and stuff, if nothing else – 3


Season Average: 2.8/3

 

The Next Doctor
Hartigan and Rosita talk about Rosita being a prostitute – 3

Planet of the Dead
They women talk to each other but its so vague and brief I’d feel bad putting it on here.  But this story is at least half women, and they’re pretty diverse and interesting characters too.  Oh well  – 1

Waters of Mars
Brook talks to multiple crew members about various things that aren’t a dude – 3

End of Time Part 1
Sylvia and Donna talk about presents – 3

End of Time Part 2
Donna talks to Nerys about being a peach – 3


Specials Average: 2.6/3

 

Eleventh Hour
Amy and Jeff’s Grandma talk about something other than a man, but Jeff’s nan isn’t named!  Dr. Ramsden is named, but she doesn’t talk to Amy.  And Amy talks to Prisoner Zero, who spends most of its time as a woman.  So this one is really hard to rate.  It gets at least a 1.   – 1

The Beast Below
Amy talks to Mandy about keep out signs and the like – 3

Victory of the Daleks
Amy and Breen are named, though they don’t really talk to each other.  Breen talks to an unamed woman a couple of times, but that doesn’t count, i suppose – 1

Time of Angels
River and Amy talk about the catacombs and the injection, and the “well done” for beating the angel thing – 3

Flesh and Stone
River and Amy talk a bit about Amy’s counting down illness or whatever – 3

Vampires of Venice 
Isabella and Amy talk about being in the vampirey place, and Amy and Rosanna talk too  – 3

Amy’s Choice
Amy and Mrs. Poggit don’t talk – 1

The Hungry Earth 
Alaya talks to Ambrose about her son and Amy – 2

Cold Blood
Nasreen and Amy talk about how to bring the Silurians to the surface – 3

Vincent and the Doctor
yeah – 0

The Lodger
Amy and Sophie are named, but they don’t chat – 1

The Pandorica Opens
River and Liz talk about the Doctor; Amy and River talk about the crash of the byzantium and stonehenge – 3

The Big Bang
Amelia, Aunt Sharon, and the therapist chat about stars – 3


Season Average: 2/3

 

A Christmas Carol
Isabella and Abigail talk about christmas dinner – 3

Impossible Astronaut
Amy and River talk about the Doctor; Joy and Amy talk about the Silent.  If the Silent counts as a man, that makes this – 2

Day of the Moon 
Amy talked to Melody about shooting her, but Melody wasn’t named in this episode.  Ugh, so I dunno.  I mean, River’s named, and the little girl IS River.  And the whole point of the “not named” thing is that not being named makes the character less relevant.  However, Melody Pond is probably the most relevant character to the whole story.  So I’m gonna go with – 2

Curse of Black Spot
I guess the Siren doesn’t count as a “named character”.  Madame Kovarian is in the episode, but unnamed.  – 0

The Doctor’s Wife
Auntie and Idris talk about Idris “dying” – 3

The Rebel Flesh 
Jenny talks to Miranda, and Miranda and Ganger Miranda chat – 3

The Almost People
Miranda and Miranda chat again – 3

A Good Man Goes to War
Amy talks to Lorna Bucket about the baby and stuffs.  Oh and Vastra and Jenny talk their kinky lesbian interspecies talk – 3

Let’s Kill Hitler
Amelia tells Mels off for stealing a bus and otherwise being generally naughty – 3

Night Terrors
Amy, Claire, and Mrs. Rossiter are all named, and Amy has a conversation with an unnamed woman, but I guess that only gives it a – 1

The Girl Who Waited
Ok, so the thing about this episode is that Amy is only one person.  However, not only are there two Amys who talk to each other, its vital to the whole concept of the story that their lives are as valid as one another’s.  So I have to argue that this gets a – 2

God Complex
Amy and Rita chat briefly about a clown and things  – 2

Closing Time
Kelly and Shona at the start talking about closing the shop and the electricity, though that’s interspersed between talking about Kelly’s wanting to go on her date or whatever. There are at least two other named women in this story. – 2

Wedding of River Song
Amy talks to Madame Kovarian about stealing Melody before she murders her – 3


Season Average: 2.2/3

 

The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe
Madge talks to Lily.  Madge talks to that Androzani lady a bunch, but I guess she’s only named in the credits.  So I think this only gets a – 2

 

Davies era average: 2.7/3

Moffat era average: 2.1/3

 

 

Domesticating the Doctor 2.5 – John Smith’s Human Nature

Previously in “Domesticating the Doctor” I looked at The Classic Years, which included a granddaughter in the TARDIS, an unexpected Aztec cocoa marriage and the Third Doctor being house-trained by Benton and the Brigadier. I also looked at the RTD era of New Who, with particular reference to the three central female characters of this period, and their mums, with The Missus, the Ex and the Mothers-in-Law.

However, I did miss out one particularly important bit…

Human Nature/The Family of Blood is the most significant New Who story to fully address the issue of the Doctor v. Domesticity, so worthy of a post all on its own.

Adapted from the original New Adventures novel, Human Nature (featuring the Seventh Doctor and also written by Paul Cornell) this story introduces us to John Smith, a man who dreams of being a Time Lord who saves the world and has fantastical adventures, but in reality is a rather quiet, unassuming teacher at a boys school in England, 1913.

Except of course, he isn’t. The Doctor is hiding from a devastating if short-lived alien family who want to drink the Time Lord right out of him. The only solution (apparently) was to use a Gallifreyan fob watch to transform himself into a human, with no memories or knowledge of the Time Vortex.

Martha, in disguise as a maid at the school, is the only one who knows the truth about her Doctor, a man who can no longer recognise her.

The Family of Blood are closing in, the country hovers on the brink of a different kind of war, and in all this, John Smith manages to fall, rather awkwardly, in love with Joan Redfern, the school matron. The Doctor planned for every contingency except the possibility of romance… and Martha has no idea how to handle it.

The contrast between John Smith and the Doctor is noticeable in every scene – this is not just a mortal, one-hearted version of the Time Lord we normally follow around. John Smith is nervous around women, he gabbles about his strange dreams and is a bit wet, frankly. But he takes on a different persona around the boys, not flinching from the casual violence that is part of the school routine, and getting offended when Martha gets ideas ‘above her station.’

There are class issues running rampant through this story, and it’s noticeable that Tennant affects a far posher accent than usual to play the educated gentleman teacher John Smith.

When people start dying, the Doctor is desperately needed, but that means that John Smith has to die. And he doesn’t want to. He protests at having to give up the simple life he has here, and his newfound love with Joan, to let the madman in the box take over his body again.

Paul Cornell has provided some fascinating insights into the Doctor in this story, and I particularly like the way that he portrays the uncomfortable aspects of this time period – from the racist comments directed at Martha from the privileged male students, to the maids drinking outside the pub because women can’t sit inside, to the boys volunteering to give each other beatings, and practicing with real guns for the coming war. Most discomfiting of all is the revelation of how ruthless the Doctor can be, and what a lonely figure he is.

Joan, who might look on paper like the kind of passive female character SF fans deride and dismiss in favour of the girls with low cleavage and big guns, is actually strong and secure enough in herself to call the Doctor on his bullshit, despite the fact that he looks so much like the man she loved. Both she and John Smith, in fact, are equally scathing of the kind of person the Doctor is, and his priorities. Considering we most often see the Doctor through the eyes of people who adore him – such as Rose, Martha and Jack – it’s always refreshing to have characters who are good people, and yet completely disagree with the Doctor, and are not proved wrong in the context of the narrative.

There’s not actually a lot of domesticity evident in the story, despite the premise. John Smith may be sacrificing a future as a husband and father to let the Doctor save the day, but apart from that brief glimpse of the lost future with Joan, we mostly see him at work, or at war. But domestic scenes are used, to illustrate how comfortable John Smith is in this school (his study is so cozy that I want to live there!) and the contrasting horror of the Family of Blood, who literally steal bodies and kill families.

The scene in which Joan shows that she has already figured out not only that the Cartwright girl possessed by Sister of Mine is dead, but her whole family is dead too, is quietly horrible. It shows what kind of person she is, though – thoughtful, compassionate and very pragmatic. The Cartwrights are dead, but their house might shelter the rest of them.

And while we’re talking about domestic horror, let’s look at the Family themselves – a parasite group of aliens who take over bodies of humans, including children, in their quest for immortality. Their use of familial names and language with each other only make their more sinister acts more horrible – but also make them feel like rich, developed characters, which is in turn more disturbing when the Doctor gets his revenge on them.

More than anything, this story explores the idea of what the Doctor would need to lose, in order to have an “ordinary” life. Which is an odd sort of thing, really, because an “ordinary” life for the Doctor shouldn’t involve Earth or humans at all.

What shall we do tonight, guys? Pizza, booze, telly?

What was Gallifreyan domesticity like? We never got to see those parts, on our brief visits. Do they have robot maids to dust all those shiny white surfaces, or nano genes to do the washing up? Certainly we get the impression that Time Lords, the educated aristocracy of the Doctor’s home planet, are at the very top of the class pyramid, which makes the comparison to the boys at this school all the more apt.

There’s a lot in this story about the traditional ideas of masculinity, and the historical tradition of incredibly young men going to war. Which nicely foreshadows a story coming later in the season, of two very particular men at war with each other, and the planet they have lost.

In this particular duel of Domesticity vs. The Doctor, the Doctor wins, but it’s a Pyrrhic victory (nobody really wins). Having seen John Smith react in horror to the idea of turning back into a man who is the very definition of inhuman, it’s oddly anti-climactic to realise that the Doctor is back, pulling switches and blowing up spaceships like usual. And he killed a man to do it. Took him over with his own personality… just like the Family of Blood did with their victims.

Tennant is brilliant in this episode. Both characters feel so utterly him, and yet you never doubt the difference between them for a moment. Jessica Hynes (I can’t get used to her not being Stevenson) is also brilliant as Joan Redfern – subtle and affecting. The final scene in which she faces the Doctor with all that anger and hurt pushed down deep inside her is incredibly powerful.

We’ve seen the power the Doctor has to hurt Martha with his romantic indifference to her, but that’s nothing to the casual cruelty he demonstrates at the end of this story, when he suggests Joan come along in the TARDIS, as if she can set aside her grief and loss as easily as he removed John Smith from himself, joining him and Martha for great intergalactic larks and cherry cake. He honestly doesn’t seem to realise what he has done, and how badly he has treated her – and yet how else do you explain the other cruelty he displays just before this scene, when he condemns each of the Family of Blood to eternal life? Was it the Doctor or John Smith who decided on their fates?

One thing seems certain, the ultimate message of this story is that if the Doctor stops running, and falls in love, and gets a job and a home, and has a family… then he wouldn’t be the Doctor any more. Or at least, to have and do all those things, he would have to stop being the Doctor first.

Which all ties in to the ongoing theme of these essays – that domesticity and the Doctor don’t fit together comfortably, unless one of them is prepared to change pretty radically. And the Doctor never changes. Right?