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S08.E06: The Caretaker

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I'm not sure why you say "I don't think anyone thought the Doctor was being racist" as I (and at least one other commenter in this thread) did immediately think exactly that. Assuming because he's black he's athletic IS racist.

The assumption was because he was an ex-soldier he must be good for nothing but sport, that was explicit. Skin colour did not come into it.

 

Either way, it was grossly out of character for the Doctor.

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"Pinky" has no idea who the Doctor is at this point.  Unlike you and I, who have been observing him for years.  This "asshole" is the only aspect of the Doctor that Pink has ever seen.  He knows nothing (or at most very little and only third-hand) about how he's saved the universe so many times, how integral he is to the functioning of the universe throughout history.  He's just some arse alien who has been belittling him without cease and seems to hold bizarre sway over his girlfriend.  Why on earth would that deserve respect at all?

I disagree. This posits that one should only have respect for heroism experienced firsthand - which is IMO, wrong.  Pinky saw the Doctor save them from the monster and heard about the saving of the universe multiple times from Clara. Even without that, he's clearly someone with superior knowledge and ability - I would, personally, show someone respect because of that alone. How do you stand in the TARDIS and make fun of the pilot? How do you wear the invisibility device created by someone, and disrespect him? But even apart from that, IMO, the Doctor's rudeness isn't an excuse for Danny's rudeness back. Not to mention his really uncalled for judgement of The Doctor and condescending attitude towards Clara at the end of the episode. Which is ironic because that's exactly what he was having an issue with throughout the whole episode - being judged unfairly and condescended to. 

 

I like Pink, I think that his denomination of the Doctor as an officer was quite spot on and touched a nerve. I also always appreciate characters using the mirror technique to show the other how their own behaviour is not good. The Doctor being stubborn about him teaching PE got him to be stubborn about the Doctor's rank/status. Also on the whole black thing, I can understand that there are cultural differences and the US is waaaayyy over-sensitive about race (Seriously, since coming to the Uni I have never had this many -if any- surveys asking for my race, it really weirds me out. I don't know what me being black has to do with what brand of soap I use). But it's a bit harsh to judge a British by American standards when it comes to race because it's different and the show is for Brits by Brits. It also shows in a bunch of other countries and they can't change the scripts just to avoid a misunderstanding that is quite clearly disproven in the dialogue just in case an American who doesn't know of the Doctor's dislike for soldiers (though exaggerated it is this series) thinks he is being racist. The man hangs with scaly green people, I think he might have elitist tendencies but race has never shown to be a problem. Anyway, I hope those who are tortured right now feel better about the show soon. I think the writers are also finding their footing when it comes to Capaldi so I'd like to think that by the end the show will be better for you guys if you stick around.

Bolded the part I agree with most strongly. 

Let's see a black person get elected Prime Minister and then I'll listen to lectures from Europeans about race in America!

 

Haha, in all seriousness though, as an American who has watched Doctor Who for 30yrs I will say yet again that I don't think anyone thought the Doctor was being a racist...the issue with that scene was it being doubly uncomfortable as the Doctor was being a complete ass about Danny being a soldier and on top of that he happened to be telling a black person you are athletic but not smart enough to be a math teacher. I'm sorry but there is something to that (as far as it being very insulting) and it's not just because Americans are supposedly oversensitive about race.

Okay, going by this I'm going to stop listening to Americans about feminism and secularism. However, jokes apart, I think the issue here is that I don't think the writers think of Danny's defining characteristic as black. He's not a black man to them, he's a British soldier. That is also how I look at Danny, which is why the whole black person = slow and athletic stereotype did not occur to me, and I'd wager with many of the home audience as well. 

I'm not sure why you say "I don't think anyone thought the Doctor was being racist" as I (and at least one other commenter in this thread) did immediately think exactly that. Assuming because he's black he's athletic IS racist.

But he's not being thought athletic because he's black. He's being thought athletic because he was a soldier who (apparently) saw combat. I don't understand this insistence of keeping the actor's race in mind while scripting every piece of dialogue and story. That's probably a surefire way to limit roles for non-white actors (casting them only where race is important), because otherwise people will keep reading things into canon which are not there. 

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Once again, my comment was in response to another poster saying "no one thought the Doctor was being racist" because I did AT FIRST.
 

And to quote my own post from earlier in the thread:

It's not Capaldi's fault in any way, it just seems to me that the writing is off. It's been mentioned in the thread already but I was immediately annoyed that the Doctor assumed Danny was the PE teacher. Yes, I immediately thought "oh god, because he's black!?" and it wasn't until later I understood the writers meant for the Doctor to put Danny down as a military knuckle-dragger who clearly can "only" manage PE.** Serious miss by the writing staff.

** having said that, I know many PE teachers who are not knuckle-dragging idiots by any stretch.

Edited by mledawn

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That is also how I look at Danny, which is why the whole black person = slow and athletic stereotype did not occur to me, and I'd wager with many of the home audience as well.

The stereotype is all about African-Americans (plantation owners were looking for labor, not intellectual conversation), so I don't see why anyone would automatically apply that stereotype to a citizen of another country anyway.

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That's how it was started but it's much more broader and much more recent. I mean even in Sports there was the think that Blacks are strong as Jocks because of their physicality but in the thinking aspects (like say a Quarterback) people were shocked and often disgusted when it happened.  I personally knew that the point wasn't the Doctor was Racist but it threw me out of the episode when it happened. It made me feel uneasy with the doctor. I couldn't take away my knowledge of how that stereotype has and often still is used to degrade and keep a whole race in place. 

The stereotype is all about African-Americans (plantation owners were looking for labor, not intellectual conversation), so I don't see why anyone would automatically apply that stereotype to a citizen of another country anyway.

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It's almost certainly giving TPTB too much credit, but it's just possible that the Doctor was insulting Danny in the hope of seeing if & how he'd stand up for himself. However, if that was the point, it was very poorly done.

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That's how it was started but it's much more broader and much more recent. I mean even in Sports there was the think that Blacks are strong as Jocks because of their physicality but in the thinking aspects (like say a Quarterback) people were shocked and often disgusted when it happened.  I personally knew that the point wasn't the Doctor was Racist but it threw me out of the episode when it happened. It made me feel uneasy with the doctor. I couldn't take away my knowledge of how that stereotype has and often still is used to degrade and keep a whole race in place. 

Bolded the part I am making my point from. Again, an American reference. This is in american football, I presume (I don't even know what the Quarterback does, just that boys in teen movies/shows always want to be one ). I am not saying that there are no stereotypes in England towards Black people (everyone, everywhere is given a stereotype if we are being honest). What I am saying is as a person who has all her family in West Africa, living in France then moving to UK and USA after that to study, there are differences in stereotypes and attitudes towards race in general and black people in particular. The US is particularly obsessed with race, and I understand with its history but as a non American coming here, it's weird. Also black people in Europe are mostly either 1st or 2nd generation nationals, so culturally there would be a big gap when comparing them with African Americans who don't have that much remaining from the "African" (putting quotation because, despite what so many people seem to think, Africa is not a country and differs vastly in cultures, like when contrasting West Africans to East Africans for example) culture and have been in the US for multiple generations. In England particularly there are probably so many overachieving, with grades obsessing parents, Nigerian students that I would be surprised if people just assume black people can't be scholarly. Like other posters have said, I have seen more issues with class boundaries in the UK. 

The writers would have to either come up with contrived ideas when writing for a character played by an non-white actor or do away with casting them if it causes this many issues. I would frankly rather they just hire whoever they think is competent to portray the character they have come up and stick to their creative trajectory. I guess I am trying to answer to people saying that the writers should have realised that from viewers' perspective, if the correct reason for the tension did not come across (and obviously for quite a few it didn't), there would be suspicion of racial bias and really my thought is; no they wouldn't think of it because they don't have the same social experience as the viewers who interpreted it that way. Here is an analogy: there are hand motions in Italy when one speaks to another that emphasise their words either positively or negatively. For example, 2 girlfriends calling each other "bitch" jokingly. This miscommunication would obviously change the scene from friendly to hostile. Would you expect a non-Italian actress to change her speech patterns and body language when the audience is much broader than Italy and the content is made for Americans and maybe British channels? I would guess that no, you wouldn't. In fact you probably wouldn't even know of the issue unless someone who knew the significance of that social cue told you about it.

ETA: Also I don't know if I said it before but even if you suspect there is underlying racist behaviour happening here, the dialogue quite obviously points to the fact that he can't believe a soldier could teach math. It was pretty explicit that he was being stubborn because of his recently overly disproportionate dislike for soldiers. My test is always: if Pink was white and the Doctor was being just as stubborn about him being a math teacher vs. a PE teacher would you have just wondered "Um...why does he keep saying that?" (meaning the unreasonable behaviour of the Doctor towards soldier is really surprising you) or would you have thought "Ugh, the Doctor is being an arse just because he was a soldier"?. I guess we'll never know now...

Edited by fantique
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I get that this show is a British show but I'm not British so my reactions about things are from my experience. I'm not asking them to change but if this was the Doctor's behavior to a Black man full time I would stop watching it. I don't watch shows I don't enjoy. Thankfully the Doctor's lines aren't usually directly things that hit a nerve with me. 

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The US is particularly obsessed with race, and I understand with its history but as a non American coming here, it's weird.

 

 

It's not just the history, it's demographics. Britain is probably 90% white and of the racial minorities how many are concentrated around London? Contrast to the USA where fully 30% of the population is non-white (it will be 50% in the near future) and it's just an entirely different dynamic.  

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It's not just the history, it's demographics. Britain is probably 90% white and of the racial minorities how many are concentrated around London? Contrast to the USA where fully 30% of the population is non-white (it will be 50% in the near future) and it's just an entirely different dynamic.  

Yeah but that dynamic is not just from the composition right? I have been told by people when I express my confusion about this that the History is the cause of it. Is that incorrect or not widely believed/told? I'm asking because following the logic of percentages, if anything the US should have gotten rid of certain stereotypes and prejudices a while ago since there is a much bigger pool to gather information from. The fact that I am asked my race before anything else when information is required from me points to it being a factor that's important and also it means that people are used to and find normal to be asked that constantly. Not knowing much about the country, all I can infer from this is that race is important in the US at least as a concept of self-identity and as a social construct as opposed to a biological one. Again not saying Europe is better or worse, I am just saying that when Americans react to a situation between two people, compared to people from other countries, they seem to have more of a tendency to see race as the reason for the behaviour of both parties, either positively or negatively. As for entertainment it's a lose-lose situation if you (general you, not anyone specific) look at characters only from the race point of view then any treatment of them will be observed as derived from their race.

Also while I do not know the statistics for the UK, there are non whites in most major cities not just in London. I lived for 2 years near Cardiff. There were people from every race and many countries. I know more about France since that's where I was for most of my life and there seems to be very few complaints from all my relatives that they are treated badly because of there skin colour. It's more to do with successful integration into whatever community we are in.

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I try to watch tv, movies, videos and general entertainment as the story intends and to keep real world out of it but when the stereotype is right there I can't ignore it. And Yes the US has had a turbulent racial history that is still playing out and we are years away before we have any true colorblindness here. 

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The fact that I am asked my race before anything else when information is required from me points to it being a factor that's important and also it means that people are used to and find normal to be asked that constantly.

 

 

That's mainly because historically it was done to try and ensure that minorities were not being discriminated against in various ways like hiring or getting loans. Speaking of France, not that long ago during one of the riots many French writers were saying that although they had prided selves on being 'colorblind' because there were no racial questions asked or tracking done, they now realized that allowed for very pervasive racism to stay ingrained in the society especially in terms of promotions to high level jobs and hiring in general. I know several French people here in the USA who moved here specifically because they felt they had a real opportunity to achieve as a non-white in the USA that they simply did not have in France (and some other Continental countries). As a side note, many French move to Britain for the same reason.

 

I'm not saying France is a racist country or that USA/UK are not, it's all too complex for such blanket statements. What I am saying is that just 'ignoring' race certainly doesnt mean things are any better.

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I know I don't have to ask with this crowd, there is someone else out there who would like to see the TARDIS to hit Ms. Snapping Fingers on the backside as she left.

 

When did the Doctor become so prejudiced against soldiers?  He took the whole - the church is now militarized or vice versa- bit in stride.

 

I actually feel near-physical pain that Clara can snap her fingers and the TARDIS obeys. I wouldn't care so much with River, but it is an honor that Clara most definitely has not earned. Just another example of how Moffat's Companions are always in an eternal war to be the Freaking Best Ever. Just... gah.

 

And to answer your question, (1) The Doctor has never been exactly a superfan of soldiers (most notably in "The Doctor's Daughter"), but he hasn't been this level of ass to them on principle either. And (2) because Moffat needs him to be, right now, immediately, for insta-drama in this season's insta-arc.

 

Also this is a man who worked for UNIT almost his entire third incarnation and was best friends with the Brigadier (a professional soldier if there ever was one) across almost ALL his incarnations. This whole anti-military mindset of the twelfth doesn't make any sense whatsoever since it comes out of nowhere and its actually insulting to the history of the character.

 

I agree, and this new and sudden aspect to his personality really angered me. In the past he might have yelled at a soldier, but if one had wanted to STOP SOLDIERING he would have let them come along because that is exactly the lesson he wants to spread. So the idea that soldiers are no evil beings irrevocably infected by soldiering just makes me angry because no way would the Doctor act like that. He would only do so if the soldier showed that they were unable to be redeemed.

 

I really don't care for Danny. He sort of blundered into everything, but most of it was Clara's fault for not really speaking up when she should have and the whole "talking about two different people when they think they're talking about the same one thing", you really went there, Moffat?

 

I don't like him. I thought he was beautiful for a split second -- before he spoke, episodes back. But ever since, he is an odd and off-putting combination of blithering dwerb, and pompous asshat.

 

Whatever is going on, Missy seems to have been plenty busy.  She used to greet arrivals personally, now she has an assistant.  

 

I love this detail -- really made me think about the big picture about who Missy could be. And the idea that all these people are a bodycount somehow due primarily or secondarily to the Doctor's choices and actions is intriguing.

 

Clara is definitely the wrong person to be companion to this Doctor. Little Miss Control Freak doesn't even like him, that much has been made painfully obvious. She sees him as a project, her responsibility. Oh, for the kind of genuine friendship of past Doctor-companion relationships - but these characters aren't drawn with nearly enough depth for that to be possible.

 

I cannot stand Clara, and cannot wait for her to waltz off with Pink into whatever boring passive-aggressive horizon they build for themselves. She doesn't even LIKE the Doctor (now that he's not young and hot anymore), can barely be bothered to travel with him, and every clumsy supposedly "cute" extraneous scene with her being unpleasant and passive-aggressive (but flirty and cute, of course, not to mention FEISTY!) makes my teeth itch.

 

I just really don't like the dynamic that's formed between them. When Clara called herself his carer that time, it was amusing as a joke at the time, but more and more it seems like that really is how she sees herself - as his conscience, his minder. She acts as the moral arbiter keeping him on the straight and narrow, treating him as one of the kids she looks after. That is not the Doctor-companion I want to see. The Doctor doesn't - or shouldn't - need a bossy human to be his conscience. He does actually have one of his own and I'd quite like for the show to remember that and bring a bit of balance back into the relationship. But that won't happen while Clara is around. And I do get the definite impression that she doesn't really like him very much any more - and if that isn't the impression Show wanted to give, then it has failed and needs to do something about it.

 

Clara transparently dislikes the Doctor now. That could be an interesting plotline to explore, the problem is, her reaction all season long has been completely disproportionate to his words and actions. I find it unpleasant to watch her as a Companion any longer, and the worst part for me are the occasional flashes of sadness her words and actions bring out in Twelve. It's pretty poignant to see him trying to get her to hang in there and travel with him when she can barely be bothered to be civil to him.

 

This prejudice against soldiers doesn't play off funny because when he accused Danny of being a PE teacher 7 times or more he just came off as being willfully obtuse or stupid. Also it flies strongly in the face of 40 years of characterization. He disliked soldiers with guns because they shoot first. Danny was also unarmed engaged in a civilian lifestyle. River killed numerous Silences? in front of him and he showed no contempt for her. 

 

The soldier prejudice exists, to me, because Moffat needs it to and that's what he does, he writes a new wrinkle as if it were always there. But I was very angry at the Doctor calling Pink a PE teacher repeatedly and I did find it offensive, rude and really over the top for him. 

 

That's exactly what grated about this episode. "Go away humans" on a sign? This is the same man who, as Ten, made such impassioned speeches about how complex humanity was, and who could read Rose's expressions like a book? There's a difference between not really caring as much about humans and not understanding humans. I know they're trying to make him more "alien", but he shouldn't be losing his knowledge about them.

 

I agree. I don't like Twelve's attitude about humans -- I don't mind him finding us stupid apes, mind you, but he seems to have lost any semblance of feeling that specialness that humans can offer, that thing that makes us worth saving.

 

The conversation with Clara was also classic. Oh Clara, person I've been going out with for (presumably) less than a year. How could you not tell me that you travel through time and space in a blue police box with a shapeshifting alien. I can never trust you again. 

 

Oh, and I know this alien after interacting with him for 30 min, much better than you could ever know him, though you've been hanging out and having adventures with him for a much more than 30 min. 

 

The Doctor was being an ass, sure. But I don't want to see an eventual mutual respect grow between Doctor and Danny. I saw enough of that dynamic with Mickey and Rose and Rory and Amy. What I want is for the Doctor to dump Clara and Danny Pink and go pick up Psi. And maybe some hoYaY there. 

 

I am with you on all of these thoughts completely. It was just shoddy writing that Pink was so angry that Clara had a secret she kept from him (any secret!) when in actuality, most rational people would probably react with, "Well, yeah, I can see why you had to keep your friendship with a 2,000 time-traveling alien a secret..."). I also intensely disliked Pink's immediate assumption that the Doctor was just another "officer" and he knew him instantly. (Just, please.) And last but not least, I would dump Clara and Pink for Psi as a companion SO fast! <signed and cosigned>

 

Also loved the mention of River and the other mentions of previous generations in other episodes.

 

I did like the River mention because I love those little callbacks that tie this Doctor to those Doctors, etc. And I actually do think Twelve would get a kick out of River and they'd be fun to see together (not that I expect this since to me her story ended pretty definitely in her last scene with Eleven after she'd been uploaded).

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Wow, I really like Clara.  She's adorable to look at and her accent is wonderful.  The quick jump into saying she loved Pink was off putting.  Plus, this I run around with the Doctor in my spare time and am having a relationship without telling him is shortsighted.  How many times have we seen, (Buffy, Angel, etc.) people with secrets not tell someone they are in relationship and it never ends well.

 

Now the Doctor, oh my.  Capaldi acting is superb, but the new doctor is really a douche.  I really liked Chris and then Tennant was great and so was Matt Smith, but changing the Doctor's personality from a 90% silly and 10% serious to a 90% serious and 10% silly was a big mistake.  Plus, this Doctor acts like the 1st Doctor, but with Alzheimer's or dementia.

 

The soldier, math teacher exchange with Pink over and over again was tedious. 

 

Plus, I didn't think the alien in this ep was as scary as they made it out to be.

 

I hope they change the Doctor back to being more silly.  I just can't imagine that much personality change over one regeneration.

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I agree with a lot of the comments that in this and other episodes the writing seems to be for Tennant and Smith and that doesn't work with Capaldi.  The Robin Hood episode that  would have been delightful with Tennant or Smith is just awkward with Capaldi.  This episode was similarly awkward.  And the thing is, I like that they made this Doctor different from the previous two.  There has been plenty of whimsical and warm and fuzzy the past several years, so a prickly misanthropic Doctor is a nice contrast.  But write episodes that play to that better.  Let him be dark and serious and no-nonsense and make the hard choices.  And also allow him to grow some and learn from his companion to appreciate the lighter side of things.  But don't try to make him something he's not.

Edited by Dobian
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