Thoughts & Essays

Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor (Spoilers)

The power of the Doctor was friendship. It was friendship. That’s what they were talking about.

Okay, so, a few quick thoughts about yesterday’s send-off for Jodie Whittaker. There’s gonna be spoilers, FYI.

  1. Plot? We don’t know her. Episode didn’t make a lick of sense. People just showing up randomly with no explanation, the Master’s plan was overly convoluted and unintelligible, Thirteen barely mattered to her own swan song.
  2. Despite that, it still managed to be a lot of fun, largely thanks to a metric shit ton of fanservice. Just mountains of it. Here’s Vinder – y’all liked Vinder, right? Hey, Graham’s back! Couldn’t get Ryan, he had another job, but we got every single living former classic Doctor who didn’t have a scheduling conflict, plus David Bradley to play the First Doctor again, whee! Look, classic companions, too, including Ian for a hot second (William Russell is 97, guys).
  3. Was Chibnall mad he didn’t get to write the 60th anniversary special? It kind of felt like he was mad he didn’t get to write the specials.
  4. When Ace and Tegan popped up I said, “Y’know, if I had to pick two companions to start shit with, those two would be near the bottom of my list.” Ace in particular, who spent her entire run either blowing things up or bashing things over the head. Which is most of what she did in the episode, by the way, good for her.

I really liked Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, but she was underserved by the scripts she got, for the most part. Wasn’t super thrilled with Chibnall’s run, but then, I’ve been saying basically that exact thing for three Doctors now.

Moffat got so far up his own ass that it really sold both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi short. He was hell on wheels for writing a good Doctor Speech, but he got so enamored of his own supposed cleverness that he spent all his time trying to recapture what he managed with Don’t Blink and never really got around to writing anything good again.

Chibnall just… well, his run wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t great. It was serviceable. That’s a damning thing to say, but I can’t summon one amazing moment from his seasons. The stuff I do remember – Jack Harkness popping in for a few minutes, for example, was just what last night’s episode was: Fanservice. I don’t hate a little fanservice here and there, but there has to be some substance to prop up the sizzle, folks.

It was a shame, too, because I liked the direction they started off in with Thirteen. I really liked her first episode – that little montage in the workshop where she was building a bunch of stuff. I wish there had been more of that, and less of her being shuffled to the side for no particular reason. I liked that she empowered her companions a lot more than other Doctors did, but the show kept sort of undercutting that, too.

Anyway, spoiler warning…

Continue reading “Doctor Who: The Power of the Doctor (Spoilers)”
Thoughts & Essays

About the new Quantum Leap show…

I have some questions.

What’s happening to Ben’s body while all this is going on?

In the original Quantum Leap, when Sam leaped, his body was left behind in the waiting room or whatever it was called. Sam leaped into a new body and the person he displaced chilled in Sam’s body in the waiting room. Occasionally Al would say he had to go interview the leapee in the waiting room for more information, or some such.

Is that happening here? If Ben’s body is laying around somewhere, no one’s mentioned it. We haven’t heard a word about David or Who’s-Their-Face from Ep. 1 that Ben leaped into. Did the sequel just decide, eh, never mind, too much hassle to do it that way, and retcon that? It wouldn’t hurt my feelings any to have a little clarification on that score.

If Ben’s body is still around somewhere… does that mean Sam’s is, too? Like, what happened to Sam?

We know Sam “never made it home.” But what happened to Sam’s body, assuming that hasn’t been retconned out?

Even if the original Quantum Leap Project was defunded and shut down, there would still have been Sam’s body to contend with, regularly hosting new leapees as Sam continued jumping. What happened to the body? Did Al take him home and install him in the guest room?

If that’s the case… man, I feel like there’s just a whole monstrous pile of fridge horror sitting right there, quietly festering away in the background. Like… Sam’s body sitting in some room somewhere, hosting one confused leapee after another, with Al and his wife checking in from time to time, everyone involved growing older and sadder as time passed.

That’s assuming Sam kept successfully leaping without Al’s help, too. You have to figure that at some point, no new leapee turned up in the body, and it just laid there and died. Either Sam had failed a leap or died himself, out there somewhere, alone.

Jesus. Thanks, Quantum Leap. There’s a nightmare I didn’t need.

What happened to the previous incarnation of Ziggy?

Did Al lose access to that too, or is that what all that computer equipment in Al’s kid’s basement was – a hacked-together version of the old Ziggy, possibly something Al was using to keep tabs on Sam until he couldn’t anymore?

Whats the timeline here?

The original Quantum Leap was set in the “near future.” I don’t think they ever gave a solid year. I have to admit I haven’t seen the show since it first aired and I’m relying solely on memory and what I can Google here. And since the original recipe aired pre-Internet, there isn’t a whole lot to Google.

At any rate, the original show’s timeline was always pretty wishy-washy. I assume the writers never nailed that down on purpose so they’d have some room to play if they needed it.

I read somewhere that the original show was set about six years ahead of IRL time. So, the show premiered in 1989, meaning it was set around 1995-ish. It’s been 30 years since Sam leaped, apparently, meaning the new show is set in 2025-ish.

How old is Ben Song? The actor, Raymond Lee, is 35, so I assume the character is around the same age.

I’m asking because in theory, leapers can only jump in their own lifetimes (I think there were a couple of pre-Sam’s-life jumps in the original show that were handwaved in, but those were pretty uncommon and tied to fairly-unlikely-to-be-repeated flukes). The overlap between Sam and Ben’s lives has to be pretty small, so the opportunities for Ben and Sam to bump into each other have to be thin on the ground, is what I’m getting at here.

Also, one random question – I wonder if the “evil leapers” are going to show up?

Sam bumped into an “evil leaper” (or did they call her a “dark leaper”? Something like that) once on the show. A woman who was leaping through her lifetime, “setting things wrong that once went right,” as it were. Pretty sure we only saw her once, and it was never followed up on in the show. It would be kind of neat to pick that thread up again eventually.

Wait, one more random question – is Ian nonbinary?

I know the actor playing Ian Wright, Mason Park, is nonbinary – is Ian, also? I don’t think I’ve heard anyone use any pronouns for them on the show so far, so I’m not sure. Just curious.

Thoughts & Essays

Re: Long COVID

Anything written by Ed Yong on the subject of COVID-19 should be required reading. His latest article is about long COVID and ME/CFS, or myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. ME/CFS is basically what long COVID is.

I’ll note here that the disabled/chronically ill community was pointing that out a year and a half ago, back when most doctors were still unsure that “long COVID” even existed.

📰 Anyway, the article: “Long COVID Has Forced a Reckoning for One of Medicine’s Most Neglected Diseases.”

A wide variety of infections can cause ME/CFS, and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is no different: Many cases of long COVID are effectively ME/CFS by another name.

Here’s another thing to know: Masking is one-way now. In the beginning, we all wore masks to protect each other. Well, it turns out that giving a shit about your fellow man is very boring, so we’ve all basically stopped doing that. So now those of us who don’t want to catch a shitty disease and risk becoming chronically ill and/or permanently disabled are stuck masking to protect ourselves. That means you need to get and use the best masks available.

Here’s a Twitter thread packed full of resources for obtaining and using the best quality masks:

🧵 “We’re in a one-way masking world now. Therefore, it’s time to upgrade your respirators. Cloth and surgical masks (and even some KN95s and N95) simply won’t suffice.

Also, re: masking: I went to visit my folks last week, which necessitated flying and airports. For the first time in two years I did not mask religiously, and guess what? I immediately caught a cold. (I tested. Just a cold.) And since I haven’t had a cold or flu in two years, I had kind of forgotten how much they suck. THEY SUCK SO MUCH. Seriously, I’m using a box of Kleenex a day right now. It’s bullshit. We should all mask forever.

💉 To wrap up, this is your reminder that the new bivalent boosters are available, and you probably need to go get one.

Thoughts & Essays

Hurricane Katrina

Today’s the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Jesus, what a horror show that was.

On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (8/29), I’m reminded of not only the destruction of my home and community, but also that the experience radicalized me. I was 17 at the time. These events below, personally and systemic, shook my worldview.

– Chris Dier. Read the thread on Twitter.

There’s a lot of just really awful stuff to remember about Katrina. Christ, just the shit that went down in the Superdome, and the horror stories that came out of that…

But one thing that sticks out to me about the weeks afterwards is the incredible callousness of the conservative people I dealt with day in and day out back then. Back then I managed evening shift at a diner-type restaurant that was a local favorite for the religious conservatives that filled the town where I lived. And the things I heard these people say, oh my god.

I remember one in particular, a 40-50 year old white guy, part of an absolutely rotten Baptist group we used to get in every week, who explained to me in sneering, sanctimonious tones about how he would have just left and not been in that situation. I said something about how a lot of people were trapped there and couldn’t get out for various reasons, but he brushed me off, explaining that the problem was that all those people were just lazy.

By which he meant, of course, that they were poor and/or people of color, and a fine, upstanding, well-to-do white man like himself would never have been so morally suspect as to be trapped in a hurricane.

It’s the complete inability to empathize with anyone who isn’t exactly like them that always catches me off guard. And even with people who are like them, if those people haven’t done things in the exactly correct way they get no empathy. It’s like some kind of weird conditional sociopathy.

It’s been almost 20 years, and the memory of those conservatives and their inability to see other people as human beings has stuck with me. It’s a kind of brokenness, like this particular combination of privilege and good fortune just rots the empathy out of them.

Photo: Hurricane Katrina on August 28, 2005. Photo by NASA.