Commonplace: Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

“Suppose within every book there is another book, and within every letter on every page another volume constantly unfolding; but reduced to quintessence, held within a picture, a sign, held within a place which is no place. Suppose the human skull were to become capacious, spaces opening inside it, humming chambers like beehives.”

–Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall


The Day of the Doctor Trailer

I feel bittersweet about the Doctor Who anniversary special on November 23. Contrary to how everyone apparently acquires their “doctor,” I’ve adored Matt Smith as the Doctor even though I began watching the show from the rebooted beginning. The lore goes that “your doctor” is the doctor from your entry point into the series, so Christopher Eccelston’s version should be my doctor.  (I’ve watched reruns on PBS of the original series, but I couldn’t tell you which ones or even what Doctor it was, it was so long ago. I’m pretty sure it was while babysitting as a teenager. In fact, I think I remember the house I was in more than I do the episode.) While I’ve loved both Eccelston and David Tennant’s incarnations of the doctor, Russell T. Davies’s writing and show running direction became too twee for me, especially with how he yo-yo’ed poor Martha around in season three.  Martha is one of my favorite companions, and I felt like there was so much more that could have been done with the character. I also watch TV differently than a lot of people because of my training in the serial novel. I get into the characters to be sure, but I’m invested in the quality of the writing and dialogue too. The episodes of Alias where they discuss food and where they could go out to eat if they had normal lives are some of my favorite touches of comic normalcy in the series. I also feel like Amy Sherman-Palladino got sloppy with her story telling in season six of Gilmore Girls. There’s such a fantastic set up at the end of season five with Lorelei potentially being pregnant and having to decided whether or not she wants to be courted for bigger things professionally. There was no need to explode the mother daughter relationship in order to get the CW to reup the series. The pregnancy and career possibilities and what that would have meant for her relationships with Luke and Rory seemed so much more organic to the series than where Sherman-Palladino went with the show. But I digress. For me, my doctor is part and parcel with Steven Moffat as show runner. My favorite Doctor Who episodes of the Russell T. Davies years were the ones written by Moffat. (I’ve always wondered if Blink wasn’t set up the way it was in order to avoid having to deal with the crapfast Davies made of Martha’s character by that point. Nothing against Freemya Agyeman’s acting. Her performance was fantastic for what she had to deal with.) Perhaps unsurprisingly given my focus on narrative, my doctor is the doctor crafted by Moffat. So, as Matt Smith’s run as the doctor comes to end, I find myself a bit sad. All controversy about picking yet another white, cisgendered male to to play the next doctor aside, I’m sure Peter Carpaldi will live up to the role. And I do see why Smith is leaving now; it does make sense. I’ll just be sad to see him go.

What we would do without Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey pretty much have the market corned on making the world a better place. Mindy Kaling is working her way up there. I mean The Mindy Project is pretty much the best comedy on television since they canceled Happy Endings. But back to Amy Poehler. She’s got a short piece in the New Yorker this month, and it’s just fantastic. Smart, funny, and wickedly honest about the things that drive us to move on to the next thing, everyone should read it. And then watch The Mindy Project tonight, because honestly people, we kind of need our smart, funny women right now.