Tag Archives: Rose

Dr. Who’s A Christmas Carol

day of the doctor poster

image from skinnyglasses.deviantart.com

Imagine Alex Kingston in the guise of River Song saying, “Spoilers,” in that sing-songy way of hers.

In The Day of the Doctor, the very first Doctor (John Hurt), the one responsible for saving the universe and causing the destruction of Gallifrey in the process, meets his Kobayashi Maru. In priming the weapon to do this, a weapon so sophisticated it has developed a conscience (Billie Piper), the Doctor is connected through a time funnel with the tenth (David Tennant) and eleventh (Matt Smith) regenerations of himself. While engaged (literally) in trying to save Queen Elizabeth the First from shape-shifting Zygons, the three doctors realize that Gallifrey must perish in order to save the universe. In a nice parallel, UNIT agents realize they must destroy England to save the world from the Zygons. The solution to a win-win scenario is clear: all characters–UNIT and Zygon, and all Doctors–must come together to save themselves. Smith’s Doctor uses a memory wiping device in the bowels of UNIT’s storage vault to make both human and Zygon forget they are human and Zygon respecfully to keep them honest during negotiations. As for the Doctors, they enlist all iterations of previous Doctors and their TARDISes (TARDI?) to freeze Gallifrey in a moment in time. To the Daleks firing on the planet it will seem as if the planet were destroyed and they’ll wind up firing against themselves. In this way, the Doctor lifts a huge weight from his shoulders as he no longer regrets killing all of his kind, though he must live without knowing if what they did saved or destroyed them.

The Day of the Doctor might be better named “A Dr. Who Carol”, as the present Doctor meets two past iterations of himself and one future iteration. Like Dickens’s Carol, each iteration of the Doctor is held up for consideration by another. The very first Doctor–known as the “War Doctor”–realizes he has choices he didn’t know existed, barring the use of timey-wimey things he could only do with the other Doctors. The tenth and eleventh Doctors–cleverly dubbed “The One Who Regrets” and “The One Who Forgets”–learn they must accept their past, because at the time in question, there really was no other option. At the end, a previous (I think–I’m not up on my Who trivia) Doctor , number gives number eleven hope that his solution to the unwinnable scenario was the right one, and that Gallifrey lives on, but as more than a memory of a moment in time.

I have to admit–I’m a reluctant Dr. Who fan. I never cared for the series in the past, finding it too silly and fantastic for my sci-fi sensibilities. When my husband told me they’d revived the series, I had no interest to watch. When he insisted I watch I liked it, but not to fanatic proportions. I found the ninth Doctor, my first Doctor (Christopher Eccelston) rather arrogant. Then he regenerated into Tennant and I was hooked. The episodes are not consistently exciting, or even interesting, but The Day of the Doctor was one of the best, if not THE best, Who episode yet. William Hurt plays the War Doctor as the reluctant hero. Tennant and Smith are wonderful together playing parts more alike than not, Tennant channeling his inner Hamlet in contrast to Smith’s child-like, devil-may-care attitude. I liked the Torchwood nod, allowing Who companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) to escape from the Zygons with Captain Jack’s device, as well as the return of Rose (Piper), even if only as a facsimile of the original.

Though Tennant is still my favourite Doctor, I’m looking forward the Christmas special next month, though without Tennant and after this episode, it has a tough act to follow.

“The Other Typist” – Flappers gone wild

In her job as stenographer for the police department, The Other Typist‘s Rose Baker is forced to hear a number of graphic and sometimes gruesome confessions not suitable for a woman’s ears. Rose is a prim and proper young woman living in 1924 New York in an era of prohibition and waning morals. When Odalie joins the steno pool, Rose distains her at first, but then she becomes fascinated by her. It’s not long before Rose becomes Odalie’s friend and roommate and Odalie becomes her obsession. When Rose enters Odalie’s world, she is thrown into a world of lies, mistaken identity and murder.  It’s not long before Rose’s world begins to unravel. She fakes a police report, attends speakeasies, runs errands for bootleggers, and fights her feelings for the Lieutenant Detective and for Odalie.

I enjoyed the inherent suspense of Suzanne Rindell’s first publication, the likes of which I have not seen since S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep. In the beginning, the mystery revolves around Odalie. I wanted to know who she was, why someone of her stature and grace wanted to work in a dirty police station. When we are taken to her upscale apartment and learn she may have a sugar daddy, I wondered why, if she had someone to pay her bills, she would need to work at all, let alone with smelly drunks and underhanded murderers. After Rose attends her first club and finds out Odalie is both bootlegger and speakeasy organizer, the mystery shifts and the reader wonders how far buttoned-up Rose will go to be near the object of her obsession. Rose soon confides she is telling her story from a hospital and seeing a psychiatrist, adding another level of intrigue. Then Teddy appears to question Odalie’s identity, claiming she is not Odalie, but Ginevra instead, and that she has something to do with his cousin’s death. Later, when Teddy shows up at the police department, the page-turning reaches manic proportion. I think I missed most of Revolution in my haste to finish the novel. After all, Kobo told me I only had 1 hour left of reading to go. Having to re-watch parts of Revolution to fill in the blanks was a small price to pay for the punch line of this amazing book.

The Other Typist is an excellent example of the unreliable narrator. In most of what we read, we grow an affinity with the narrating character. Over the course of the novel, we learn to trust the narrator, identify with her, empathize with her, maybe even imagine ourselves in her position, but this is not always the case. By the end of The Other Typist, the reader is left questioning unsuspecting, mousey Rose’s culpability in the debacle. Did Odalie drug her fiancé and leave him to die in his car on the train tracks or was it Rose? Did Rose grow up in an orphanage or was it Odalie? Was Rose the one making changes to the confessions all along or was it Odalie? Did Odalie kill Teddy or was it Rose? What about Gib? Does Odalie really disappear to begin life anew at the end or does Rose kill her too? Is Ginevra Odalie’s alter ego, or is it Rose’s? Normally I like a story to tie all loose ends into a tidy bow at the end, but somehow, having these questions burn on in my psyche long after the novel is done is more satisfying.

As is the case with Single White Female and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the suspense of The Other Typist is in the build toward the climax, wanting to see how far the characters will go, waiting for the last thread to unravel.

Have you read The Other Typist? Who do you believe is Ginevra in disguise?