Dr Ew (contains spoilers)

These evil people are clearly suspicious. They have hacked a young woman’s head so she can actually understand the internet. #drwho #ew

The current Doctor Who series has exactly zero women writers. Perhaps this is why it’s kicked off with a show that fails the Bechdel Test – at least between adults. The child and the nanny do have a brief conversation.
The show has two strong female characters and two strong male characters as well as two additional supporting male roles. The major male players are of course, The Doctor and a character that one might not expect to have a gender: The Great Intelligence. The other male roles are two subordinates at an evil company that hacks people. The strong female roles are Clara, the Doctor’s new sidekick; and the woman in charge of the evil company.
As Laurie Penny notes, the evil company adds computer knowledge to Clara’s head. Previously, she was entirely inept at getting online, ringing a helpline for aid logging in to wifi. She seems to be a middle class woman in her 20’s in modern-day London, who has access to a netbook and a reason to want to get online. The idea that she would be unable to manage something as simple as loggin in to wifi actually seems profoundly unlikely.
Her job is working as a nanny, a reprise of the job of her previous incarnation. The Doctor keeps trying to ask how somebody as obviously clever as herself got stuck as a nanny – an often female-specific job. Things are not getting off to a great start.
The other strong woman character never speaks to Clara. She mostly speaks to her two male assistants, to the Great Intelligence and to the Doctor. At the end, after the Doctor saves the day, she is reset to her state before the Great Intelligence started shaping her personality and actions, or ‘whispering in her ear’ as she puts it. UNIT finds her sitting on the floor, speaking in the voice of a little girl, asking where her mummy and daddy have gone. Her talents and even her entire self is thus not her own, but belonged to the male Great Intelligence.
Clara did get to save the day in her debut, but only by offing herself in the process. She manages to live through this episode – sort of. She dies twice, but the Doctor brings her back both times. As she’s dead, she’s especially helpless as a captive and thus is not able to play an active part in her own rescue. However, she’s not useless. She discovers the location of the bad guys through a clever insight into social engineering – that the weak point in computer security is usually the people. However, this insight is not entirely her own. All of her computer knowledge and therefore all of her hacking skills, remember, have come from the bad guys. Again, this mirrors her first episode where she also has superior hacking skills than the Doctor, but only because the Daleks have tampered with her mind and body.
The power of women in the episode is, therefore, largely not really their own, but given to them by the machinations of a male intelligence. Meanwhile, the Doctor’s abilities come from his own great intelligence and from his magical powers – he uses the sonic screwdriver to ‘hack.’ This device functions more or less as a magic wand in recent years. In this episode, he also has a magical flying motorcycle. (The linked article at the top mentions JK Rowling as a sci-fi author. I would normally strongly contest this claim, but her influence on Doctor Who is very clear, thus pulling the show further and further away form sci-fi and towards fantasy.) The source of the Great Intelligence’s power is not yet revealed in it’s current arc – it’s a nemesis from the old days, so a backstory does exist, but without benefit of that knowledge, one does assume it is intelligent and powerful in it’s own right.
The episode does not contain any great moral questions of good and evil and does not intentionally engage gender roles in 21st century Britain. Instead, it gives us the doctor acting silly, doing magic and centres mostly on London geography. The tallest new building in the capital, which is also a a ticketed tourist attraction, is the main point of action, but there’s also South Bank and a joke about the blue police box at Earl’s Court.
For those of us who miss Davies, there are not LGBT characters, but there are some POC and there are women working in tech jobs at the evil company, although these are not speaking parts. These women, like their male colleagues, also have gotten all their job training via evil mind control, so this doesn’t really imply anything about their abilities, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

Torchwod Recap

Torchwood is a Doctor Who spinoff which features aliens, explosions and sexy dialog. I’ve been watching it because I liked Doctor Who when I was a kid and because the male lead is like a bisexual Indiana Jones / 007 / I want to be him when I grow up. Right, So season 2, episode 2.

The Torchwood team exra-legally kidnaps a black woman whom they suspect is an alien. They subject her to torture. Because aliens are trying to sneak into Britian Earth to gather information. Yes, Cardiff (a town in Wales), humble Cardiff, is at terrible risk from alien sleeper cells bent on committing acts of terrorism.
So the have the alien other, the black woman illegal immigrant, and they’re denying her rights to due process, because, of course, she’s alien, and because it’s clear as soon as they even suspect that she’s alien, that she’s up to no good. I mean, why would anyone want to come to Wales if not to wreck up the place? You have to keep your eyes peeled for aliens because none of them are peaceful and they’re all walking amongst us, plotting our doom.
This alien is under the terrible misconception that she’s integrated into British society and is so devastated when she finds out that she’s actually not British, that she begs for death and gets the Torchwood team to kill her. The end.
And that’s everything wrong with this bloody country in a nutshell.
Clearly, they need to introduce a points system, where aliens can apply on their own planet to be allowed to come to the UK as a high skilled migrant. Once they get to the UK, they can be issued an alien ID card, with an RFID chip that makes it easy for local authorities to monitor their comings and goings. Furthermore, the aliens should be denied access to sensitive information unless they can pass all kinds of security checks. Therefore, universities and employers wanting to take on aliens will have to provide evidence that they’re not allowing said aliens access to anything they might be able to use when it’s inevitably revealed that they’re inherently evil beings bent on colonialism and destruction.
Of course, this is folly, because , as one Torchwood person pointed out, “everything about her is a lie.” You can’t expect ALIENS to tell the truth on application forms! Lock down the borders, that’s the only solution.
It’s kind of funny that Brits are so terrified of being invaded by outsiders, subject to violence and economically exploited. They’re such a rich and powerful country! How could they possibly have such concerns?
Um, anyway. In other news, my shower finally got fixed. Apparently, it was broken for more than 4 weeks. I don’t know what the letting agent think they got out of stalling so long. It’s not like they could get away with not fixing it. I suspect that they just didn’t bother because the house was occupied by three Africans. Not for financial reasons, just because it didn’t seem important. The plumber who finally came explained that they’d all completely forgotten! How funny that it didn’t remind them when I called last week. Huh. I called twice this week. I think what pushed it over the edge was my using words like “flabbergasted” and “appalled.” My vocabulary showed I was worthy of consideration. Meh.
Oh, that last link up there is really terribly funny, btw.

Jobs I want

I want to be that guy. OMG, it would be so awesome to work for the BBC on Dr Who music. That video is so awesome. Also, check out his kewl old keyboards. That Arp Odyssey is sweet! He says the BBC never throws anything away, so those are all lurking around there someplace.
The new series does not have incidental music that is as killer as the original series, alas. This is why they need me.
Also, they point out that the teme song is about a minute long. The guy spent 5 weeks on it and used like 16 tracks or more. I spend like an hour for a one minute piece and use around 4 tracks. I feel like such a slacker in comparison.
I think I’ll add some complexity to the three pieces in my queue now.