Archive for March 11, 2020
Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for Doctor Who "The Timeless Children."
The finale of Doctor Who season 12 completed a storyline that was meant to be introduced during the era of 7th Doctor, at the tail-end of the Classic Series. The so-called Cartmel Masterplan was intended to establish The Doctor as a legendary figure with ties to the foundation of the Time Lords, and "The Timeless Children" has accomplished that.
Written by current Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall, "The Timeless Children" was the culmination of a season full of mysteries. The season started with the introduction of a new Master (Sacha Dhawan), who destroyed the Time Lords after learning of a great secret their elders had hidden away for eons. The ongoing story of Doctor Who season 12 also suggested that Jodie Whittaker's Doctor might not be fully aware of her entire past and may have had her memories altered at some point.
For all the complaints many fans made that Chibnall was trying to change too much of the show's mythology, most of what he has done falls perfectly in line with a rejected idea formulated by script editor Andrew Cartmel that would have changed Doctor Who in a similarly radical fashion. While very little of the Cartmel Masterplan made it onto the air, portions of it would later find their way into the Doctor Who novels of the 1990s. While Chibnall's designs are decidedly different, they still accomplish the same ultimate ends.
Doctor Who found itself in dire straits throughout the 1980s. With the BBC under the control of an executive who described the show as "garbage" and a showrunner whose aesthetic ideals clashed with the dominant undercurrent of the popular science-fiction of the time (i.e. make it look like Star Wars), it is no wonder that the show underwent significant retooling before going on hiatus between its 22nd and 23rd seasons. While opinion is still divided among Whovians as to who was most responsible for Doctor Who's failing fortunes throughout the 1980s, it can't be denied that the show's ratings dropped steadily as fan interest waned.
Enter Andrew Cartmel, an inexperienced author and editor, who was hired on as Doctor Who's script editor for season 24 at the same time actor Sylvester McCoy was brought into the series as the 7th Doctor. Cartmel had an unusual take on why Doctor Who was declining in popularity. To Cartmel, the issue was not that there was no place for The Doctor in the modern world or that the show looked too low-budget. The problem was that the sense of mystery which surrounded The Doctor and his race, the Time Lords, had been slowly eroded by stories like Arc of Infinity and The Trial of a Time Lord, which turned the once unknowable guardians of time and space into a group of squabbling bureaucrats in robes and funny hats.
With writers Ben Aaronovitch and Marc Platt, Cartmel began developing the idea that The Doctor was far more than a renegade Time Lord. It was Cartmel's intention that this would be slowly suggested through bits and pieces of dialogue slipped in to various episodes. The ultimate goal of this teasing would be the revelation that The Doctor was one of the Time Lords' founders; a mysterious being known only as The Other.
Cartmel's design was later dubbed the Cartmel Masterplan by fans, though writer Marc Platt denied that there was ever a formal plan as such. Still, the trio did manage to work several suggestions of the basic idea of The Doctor hiding some great secret of his past and having abilities far beyond those of a common Time Lord into a number of stories during seasons 24, 25 and 26. Unfortunately, most of these suggestions were written out of the show by showrunner John Nathan Turner, who was notorious for rewriting scripts that conflicted with his ideas of what Doctor Who should be. Despite this, Cartmel, Platt and Aaronovitch were able to pass most of their ideas on to Peter Darvill-Evans, editor on the New Doctor Who Adventures book line, which took on a new life after the show went on a second hiatus in 1989.
The central conceit of the Cartmel's Masterplan was the development of a Triumvirate of Time Lords who were responsible for the advancement of their race. Previous stories had already established two key Time Lord figures; Omega, the stellar engineer whose experiments developed the power source that gave the Time Lords the energy necessary to travel through time, and Rassilon, the founder of the Time Lord society and their first Lord High President. Cartmel proposed a third figure, The Other, who would simultaneously be the most powerful and most mysterious of the Triumvirate as well as the designer of the first TARDIS. Various legends would describe The Other as having been born on a world apart from Gallifrey (possibly a different dimension) and having come forward in time to give them his advanced knowledge.
The endgame of the Cartmel Masterplan would be the revelation that The Doctor was The Other; either a reincarnation of the legendary Time Lord founder or a future regeneration who had gone into hiding for undetermined reasons. Only a few fragments of the Cartmel Masterplan made it into the shooting scripts and most of these were vague hints voiced by enemies who knew something of The Doctor's secret past. One of these was Lady Peinforte, the chief villain of the episode "Silver Nemesis," who claimed to have knowledge of The Doctor's actions during The Dark Times of Ancient Gallifrey. Another was Morgaine, a sorcerer-queen from another dimension, who claimed that she had battled The Doctor before when he had used the name Merlin.
The most overt hint at The Doctor's secret past as The Other came in the season 25 premiere, "Remembrance of The Daleks." It was here that the 7th Doctor and his companion Ace returned to Earth to recover a Time Lord artifact called the Hand of Omega, which The Doctor had left behind in one of his earlier incarnations. The Doctor described the artifact and its power to Ace, muttering to himself "And didn't we have trouble with the prototype." When Ace asked what he meant by "we," The Doctor quickly corrected himself and said he meant"they."
While the name of The Other is not mentioned in "The Timeless Children," the finale of Doctor Who's season 12 accomplishes the same ends as Cartmel's Masterplan. Ironically, while Doctor Who is not facing the cancellation fears it did in the 1980s, many critics and fans have complained about the series being in a similar creative rut. One frequently cited concern is that former showrunner Steven Moffat went too far in trying to explain various aspects of The Doctor's past and the science of Time Lord regeneration and that, as before, much of the mystery surrounding the character had been destroyed.
For better or worse, current showrunner Chris Chibnall worked to restore that mystery throughout deason 12; first by arranging the destruction of Gallifrey and the Time Lords at the hands of a new incarnation of The Doctor's archenemy, The Master, then by introducing a new wrinkle - that The Doctor was an unreliable narrator who had no clue as to the truth of her own past. This conceit was further compounded by the introduction of Ruth; a never-before seen incarnation of The Doctor, who doesn't fit into the previously established succession of The Doctor's regenerations.
"The Timeless Children" offered an explanation for all of this, by establishing The Doctor as a grown-up version of a legendary figure known as the Timeless Child. The Master revealed the truth behind the lie upon which Time Lord society was built to The Doctor, explaining that an early Time Lord explorer and scientist named Tecteun had discovered a child standing before a portal to another reality. Adopting the child as her own, Tecteun would later discover that the alien child could not die and would regenerate into a new body any time she suffered a fatal injury. Tecteun studied the so-called Timeless Child, eventually discovering the means by which the alien child was able to heal itself and introducing that element into the Time Lords' biology. The Doctor also experienced flashbacks to memories regarding a Time Lord organization called The Division, which apparently recruited the Timeless Child as an agent to help them with subtly altering the timeline by averting great disasters.
While this seemingly explains why The Doctor was afforded so much latitude by the Time Lord establishment in her rebellious behavior over the years as she violated the laws regarding interfering in the affairs of other planets, the answers Chibnball offers in "The Timeless Children" only yield more questions. It is unclear now just how extensive The Doctor's past is and what role she might have played in Time Lord society, beyond being the source of their immortality. However, the greatest revelation to come from this latest Doctor Who story is that The Doctor is now, as Andrew Cartmel intended some three decades earlier, a figure of mystery whose past is tied to the origins of the Time Lords.
Bachelor Nation agrees that The Bachelor's Hannah Ann Sluss should have been the new star of The Bachelorette instead of Clare Crawley. Given the young model's ballsy performance on Tuesday's The Bachelor season 24 finale, her season would have been one for the books.
Hannah Ann showed up and showed out during her gut-wrenching reunion with former fiance Peter Weber. Viewers were shown the dramatic end of her relationship with him, as well as his reconciliation with Madison. Hannah Ann walked onto the set in a bold crimson cocktail dress. Her first act of dominance over Peter was when he went to embrace her and she gave him a platonic side-hug instead. They sat down and Peter spoke about what a sweet girl she is. Hannah Ann, on the other hand, had fewer good things to say about her ex. In fact, she took the finale as an opportunity to deep-dive into some of his inferior personality traits.
Hannah Ann wasted no time before jumping into the real problem: Peter's indecisiveness. She said, "Even after our breakup, you reached out to my parents saying that you were just processing your emotions and that you wished more than anything we had met outside of reality TV. How does that make any sense? You signed up to be the Bachelor. You told me these things that I held onto." Hannah Ann continued, "You didn’t respect me enough to have that open conversation with me." She then told off Peter with one final line, that has since become iconic: "Word of advice, if you want to be with a woman, you need to become a real man."
Hannah Ann started off the season as a villain, following "Champagne-gate" with Kelsey. As the season progressed, she continued to deepen her connection with Peter while the other women's numbers dwindled. What makes her a better choice for the lead in the franchise is her ability to make Bachelor Nation fall in love with her en masse. Viewers are praising Hannah Ann for her acerbic insights and unflinching commentary on Peter's behavior. Even fans who were on the fence about Hannah Ann before the finale are now singing her praises.
There are some amazing parallels between Hannah Ann and Clare Crawley. Both are smart and beautiful women who looked into the souls of the men who did them wrong and pumped the brakes on their offending behavior. Still, one can't help but wonder why the producers of The Bachelorette would gift Clare Crawley with her own season six years after she stood up to Juan Pablo. And why they would now when there's so much fresh and relevant content starring Hannah Ann. She was so articulate when she dumped Peter and told him how he had disappointed her. Maybe ABC wanted to put an end to the Hannah Brown dynasty once and for all, or maybe they felt that Hannah Ann was too young and heartbroken to handle her own season. Whatever the reason, the finale should not have been Hannah Ann's last stand. In the words of Peter's mom, Barb, "Bring her home to us."
The Bachelorette premieres May 18th on ABC.
Netflix's I Am Not Okay With This has a few subtle connections to The End of the F***ing World. The seven-episode first season of I Am Not Okay With This recently debuted on the streaming service and gained the attention of many. With IT star Sophia Lillis in the lead role as Sydney Novak, her journey of discovering that she has superpowers makes the show a compelling watch amidst the teen angst drama.
What many viewers of I Am Not Okay With This might not realize is that the series is based on a graphic novel by Charles Forsman. The comic was initially released in 2017 and quickly acquired by Netflix to turn it into a TV series. However, I Am Not Okay With This is not the first comic Forsman created to be adapted by Netflix successfully. The company previously brought Forsman's work to the small screen with their show The End of the F***ing World, which is based on Forsman's 2011 graphic novel. Beyond the shows' shared connection of being Forsman creations, Jonathan Entwistle helped bring both stories to Netflix. This begs the question, does I Am Not Okay With This connect to The End of the F***ing World in any way?
I Am Not Okay With This season 1 confirms that it is set in the same universe as The End of the F***ing World. One quick Easter egg shows Syd previously wrote "TEOTFW" on a piece of paper, but there is a more significant way that the two shows collide. There is another blink and you'll miss it Easter egg of a newspaper in the Novak household that features a photo of James (Alex Lawther) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden) from The End of the F***ing World. It's difficult to spot, but Decider confirmed the presence of the Easter egg on set and with Entwistle.
With this connection, fans of either Netflix series now know that I Am Not Okay With This and The End of the F***ing World are tied together. However, that doesn't mean that a crossover is coming soon. Entwistle says that while he'd be interested in seeing a crossover, they are not planning one at this time. Instead, James and Alyssa will continue their adventures in the UK while Syd learns more about her powers and past as I Am Not Okay With This continues. If plans for a crossover do materialize, it will have to come in a future season of I Am Not Okay With This, as The End of the F***ing World season 3 isn't expected to happen.
There is one more small connection that the two shows share and comes through their music. Music plays a big role in the first season of I Am Not Okay With This through a series of needle drops and an all-around great soundtrack, but it also features the stylings of a fictional band named Bloodwitch, who Syd and Stanley (Wyatt Oleff) are obsessed with. This band was created for the show by Graham Coxon and Tatyana Richaud, and Coxon previously produced music for The End of the F***ing World. With I Am Not Okay With This confirming a connection to his other world, fans will now be left wondering if James and Alyssa were also Bloodwitch fans.
The first movie was based on the hit YA novel of the same name but will Beautiful Creatures 2 ever move ahead? Following the huge success of the original Hunger Games movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, there was a sudden influx of YA movie adaptations. This includes The Maze Runner trilogy and The Divergent series. This thread burned out almost as quickly as it began, with the box-office gross for Divergent: Allegiant being so underwhelming that a planned fourth and final instalment was cancelled.
Beautiful Creatures joined the YA pile-up in 2013, which was based on the first instalment of the Caster Chronicles book series. The movie starred Solo: A Star Wars Story's Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan, a teenager who falls for mysterious new student Lena (Alice Englert). Ethan soon learns Lena comes from a family of "casters" and that she has magical powers. This does little to dissuade their romance, however, much to the chagrin of some members of Lena's family. Beautiful Creatures featured some sumptuous production design and a supporting cast of heavy hitters like Viola Davis (Widows) and Emma Thompson, but it disappointed fans with its many changes to the source material.
The ending certainly left the door open for more installments, but how likely is Beautiful Creatures 2?
Beyond Beautiful Creatures, the Caster Chronicles series spawned three further books and a spinoff series too. The next book is titled Beautiful Darkness and continues the love story between Ethan and Lena and follows in the aftermath of the death of the latter's uncle Macon - played by Jeremy Irons in the movie - while they discover some secrets about their hometown of Gatlin.
Despite being based on a successful novel and featuring a talented cast, Beautiful Creatures was a financial disappointment upon release in 2013, and just about covered its production budget. Critics felt the movie was dull and the central romance was a little too sappy, while followers of the book series hated many of the changes it made.
While the original film has its own fans the odds of Beautiful Creatures 2 coming together now are close to zero. The first film was a flop and the lead actors are too old to convincingly play teenagers, as Ethan and Lena still are in Beautiful Darkness. The YA movie bubble has long since burst too, so even if the first movie has a cult following, there's simply not enough interest in a Beautiful Creatures 2. Maybe the Caster Chronicles will receive a movie or TV reboot in the future, but for now, the franchise is dormant.