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Preview for "The Bells of St. John."

Eleven & TARDIS by llorona_llorona
May be found on Doctor Who TV and is not region-locked.

From TV Tropes:

Merriam-Webster gives a definition of "trope" as a "figure of speech." In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly.

Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom... you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché.

I thought the idea of meeting Amelia Pond originally as a child was quite clever, especially since she was really pissed off at the Doctor when he showed back up. ("Twelve years -- and four psychiatrists!")

Meeting Oswin/Clara after she'd become a Dalek was one thing, but when she died a second time in the Christmas special, I started to worry. Were we going to go back to the jokes about Rory dying all the time? Not that Rory did, but perception was such that Moffat actually hung a lantern on it when Rory was about jump off the building in "The Angels take Manhattan."

No, not only was Clara dying a second time, but Moffat goes back and mines his idea of the Doctor meeting his new companion as a child again. Add that to the fact that he also meets River both as a baby (Melody) and as someone different (Mels) and that Ten first met Reinette as a child in a Moffat-penned episode, and the clever idea in "The Eleventh Hour" which paid off very nicely in "The Big Bang," has become a cliche.

I was on board when it was announced that Moffat was taking over from RTD as show runner. I'd like much of his other work and his episodes for DW. Now, though, I'm feeling less than enthusiastic because he's telling the same tropes over and over again.

And before anyone says RTD did the same thing, let me point out that all writers have their tropes that they go back to time and again. Hell, Aaron Sorkin does the timey-wimey stuff with his scripts quite a bit: give you something from the end, then jump back to show you how they got to that point. But that is a device to tell a story; with Moffat, the device becomes the story.

RTD told the same story over and over again: the Doctor causes people to become better, to rise above themselves. But the stories of how that happens to Rose, Martha, and Donna are different, the tropes within the stories themselves different. (And RTD did have his trope that I felt beat the viewer over the head: the Doctor's guilt over what happened to Gallifrey and how people around him kept getting hurt and how he'd beat himself up about all that. That, however, was not usually the main story point.) The fact that Donna and the Doctor keep meeting becomes the subject of comment by the Doctor:
"Sometimes I think there's way too much coincidence around you, Donna. I met you once. Then I met your grandfather. Then I met you again. In the whole wide universe, I met you for a second time. It's like something's binding us together." -- "Midnight"

That was Series 4; now in the second half of Series 7, the Doctor meets Clara for a third time in the above Prequel and for the fourth time in the upcoming "The Bells of St. John." The trope of "we meet again" has become the story, along with the "mystery" of why they keep being brought together. Sadly, I don't feel it's much of a mystery at all; the answer is that Moffat is a technical writer, not an emotional one, and his stories are clever and impressive in how they bring all the different strands together, but there doesn't seem to be much lurking behind the smoke and mirrors.


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Comments

( 3 comments )
mengu
Mar. 24th, 2013 02:44 am (UTC)
Except that this is only an extra, and you don't write episodes to rely on extras. Which means it's not going to be important to the episode... which means she mostly likely forgets about it by the time she meets the Doctor again. Which means it's the opposite of Amy's story: a subversion, not a repetition.
(If she does remember in more of a "well you do look vaguely familiar... ish?" then feel free to say I told you so but right now I'm just going EEE IT'S HER MUM!)
owlsie
Mar. 24th, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)
He's a 1000+ year old Time Lord; Humans have short, linear lives; it makes total sense that he would meet people out of order, and as children.
shadowkat67
Mar. 25th, 2013 12:06 am (UTC)
I am currently watching two tv series that are about to celebrate their 50th Anniversaries this week. Both in different ways suffer from well, being repetitive, because honestly after being on tv for 50 years how can you avoid it? Also both fall into time-worn cliches. Both have fandoms that fight over which writing team is better - because again if you are on for 50 years the writers are going to change and the tv show will become whatever the new writer wishes.

But, I wouldn't be fair to either if I didn't say that I see the same thing in writers like Stephen King, Anne Rice, Nora Roberts, etc...these writers also after a period of time start telling the same story trope over and over again, because I think most writers really only have one story to tell maybe two...either that or much like fans do, they get obsessed with a specific plot twist or trope and just can't let it go.

Whedon's current one is oh dear, I've sold my soul to the corporate devil, how do I deal with this situation?

RT Davies appears to be...oh the poor little woman she can't live up to the lonely god and he must push her aside or he will ruin her. And oh his guilt. (Personally found that sexist and offensive, so I gave up on watching things by Davies. But YMMV.)

Moffat seems to be how does a time traveler deal with meeting a woman or a friend at different stages in her life, but not in chronological order and out of sync? How does he affect her arc? And how does time traveling change you? He's obsessed with how one deals with time travel. (I keep wondering if he read Time Traveler's Wife and/or watched too many episodes of LOST.) I actually prefer this trope to Davies, because I find Davies to be more sexist and this one is more science oriented.

Sorkin seems to be obsessed with the same trope as Whedon, I sold my soul to the evil corporation, oh how do I deal?

I personally find Sorkin and Whedon's obsessions irritating at the moment...but I do get it. And hey, art is choice after all.
( 3 comments )

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