Pushing Daisies: A Little Show of Pies, Whimsy, and Murder

So in the summer of 2007, I was going to the movies with my brother when, in the pre-show commercials, there was an ad for a new ABC show called Pushing Daisies. It had a fairly simple conceit at its center: it was about a man who could, with a touch, bring the dead back to life. Another touch would put them back to being dead. If he left the dead person alive longer than one minute, however, another person in proximity would die in their place. He worked with a private investigator to solve murders. The show had another element as well: the man used his power to bring his childhood sweetheart back to life, for good, which meant they could never touch or else she’d die again.

Needless to say, I was very struck by this ad, not least because it didn’t look like anything else I’d seen before. The colors were bright, the dialogue snappy, and there were elements of whimsy that just weren’t seen on TV back then (or even now). So I resolved to check it out when it came on.

I was not disappointed. What followed was a sharply written fantasy with delightful characters, twisty murder mysteries, and endless beautiful colors. I loved it. And then the writer’s strike happened, and ABC, to the show’s eventual doom, opted not to bring it back after the strike was over. Nevertheless, I loved what I’d seen, and took to the show with a great deal of enthusiasm, watching my taped (yes, taped on VHS) episodes over and over until the DVDs came out.

When the show came back in 2008, none of its glamour had faded it. It was brighter than ever, with brilliant costumes, silly storylines, and dialogue as sparkling as the first season. Unfortunately, the ratings were in the toilet, in large part, it seemed, because no one remembered the show from a year ago, or something like that. I can’t say I know for sure. I actually wrote letters to try and convince ABC to save the show, complete with enclosed origami flowers. The show was a happy place for me; I watched my taped episodes to cheer myself up after bad days, and remind myself of the beautiful things in life.

Unfortunately, the letters I and others sent did no good. The show was cancelled about seven or eight episodes into its 13 episode order. ABC aired the rest of the ten pre-Christmas episodes, then sat on the remaining three until May, much to everyone’s chagrin. The producers had to scramble to put together an appropriate ending, given the show ended on a cliffhanger (several cliffhangers, actually), and what they came up with didn’t please everybody, but was good enough for me.

I suppose now is where I talk about what the show meant to me and means to me still, having not watched it in a few years now. I suppose mostly it reminds me of a bright candle in a dark world. I was living with undiagnosed depression when it was airing, and I wouldn’t get a proper diagnosis for several years after it was off the air. It was there for me when I felt like nothing else was, and it reminded me how to be cheerful despite the demons I fought on an almost daily basis.

More than anything, it showed me how good television could be. It didn’t have to be gritty and awful all of the time; it could be bright and cheery, but with no less drama. Another show I watched at the time was NBC’s Heroes, but I gave up on it in 2008 because it was getting too convoluted and depressing for me to continue on with. It’s no coincidence that some of Heroes’ best episodes in Season 1 (particularly the pivotal “Company Man”) were written by Pushing Daisies’ creator Bryan Fuller. Fuller knows how to write drama very well, and some of his previous shows–namely Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls–show that he can incorporate comedy to great effect.

All in all, it was the little things that made me love Pushing Daisies. The chaste but passionate relationship between Ned and Chuck, the show’s romantic heroes. The hilariously suspicious coroner. Emerson the P.I.’s knitting habit. Olive Snook’s outbursts of song. Chuck’s highly eccentric aunts, Lily and Vivian. The increasingly wacky murders. Just… everything. I loved the show wholeheartedly, and I’m still sad that it’s gone, that it didn’t get six seasons and a movie and so on and so forth.

But I’m glad that it was here and that it brought, if only for a little while, a little brightness into a world that sometimes shuns it.


Pomodoro Productivity

So I’m trying something new to get my productivity in order. The Pomodoro Technique involves timers and set work times and small breaks, and so far, it seems to be working for me quite well. The gist of the technique is this: you set a timer (traditionally for 25 minutes), and work as much as you can until the timer goes off. Then you take a break (traditionally 5 minutes). Then you set the timer again, and repeat the whole thing until you’ve done (traditionally) four sessions of work. Then you take a longer break, and then you do the whole thing all over again.

What this reminded me most of was the 30/10/3 technique for writing that Chris Baty introduced in his NaNoWriMo guide book, No Plot? No Problem!. It works the same way, but with thirty minutes sessions, ten minute breaks, and only three sessions per round. I’ve used that method to great effect during my NaNoWriMos past, especially when the November 30 deadline loomed large. So given all this, I thought I’d give the Pomodoro Technique a try.

I downloaded an app, then grudgingly paid $2 for the “pro” (i.e., fully customizable) version. And I have my rounds set up rather like Chris Baty’s writing method: three 30-minute sessions, with ten minute breaks in between, and a longer 30-minute break at the end. I’ve only been trying this out for the last three days, but it’s working quite well thus far. At least as long as my day doesn’t get derailed by the unforeseeable, that is, like trips out of town to visit family.

I suppose what I’m really hoping to get out of all my pomodoros is a sense of accomplishment, and real movement forward on all my goals. I’m trying to do three rounds a day, which comes out to nine sessions, which is about six hours and change altogether. I certainly have enough time in the day to do all that, it’s just a matter of turning my distraction brain off and getting to work. It’s not really accountable to anyone but me (and the graphs in the app I’ve got), but it’s something. I will cling to anything if it can help me accomplish what I want.

Have you ever tried the Pomodoro Technique, or timed work sessions of some sort? How has it worked out for you? Do you have a different productivity technique that you use? Let me know in the comments!

You Know What Else is Hard? Writing.

Back at the beginning of the month, I set this little goal to have a short story written by the end of October. Well, it’s almost October, and guess what? I have almost nothing to show for it.

Writing is hard. It’s even harder when you’ve got depression. My moods have been up and down all month, and none of that is particularly conducive to getting words down on paper, especially when trying just makes you feel like tearing all your hair out and running into the night screaming. Ugh. So yeah, I’m one of those awful writers who waits for ~inspiration~ in order to write, because if I don’t I end up sometimes literally trying to hurt myself. Which is no good all around.

I have a short story idea. It’s actually a redraft of something I wrote in college. I’ve decided to expand it a little to see what I can get from it. I have a rough outline, and an expanded rough outline, but no actual words written. I’m hoping to change that today, but you just don’t know when the muse is going to cooperate. The only deadline I’ve got is a self-imposed one, unfortunately. I’ve started a little accountability club on my writing group’s forum, and that is something of a help, but that’s about it.

I guess I’m mostly writing this to defend my position. Like. I know the best way to write is to wrestle “the muse” into submission, not patiently wait for her to deliver. I know that waiting for inspiration to hit is a good way to never get anything written. But if trying to write is so awful I want to throw and break things, then that’s not good for me or my writing. Odds are anything I write while I’m so frustrated is going to crap anyway, so why should I torture myself in the name of writing every day? I’d rather write when I’m in a good mood to, and feel I can accomplish things, than make myself do it and turn the whole process into a chore that I hate.

So that’s where I am with the whole writing thing right now. It’s tough, and it’s frustrating to be making so little progress, but I live ever in hope that things will get done. I am giving the whole pomodoro method a whirl today, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get some writing done while I’m on it.


I suppose I could tell you a little about what I’m trying to write. The germ of the story arrived when I was introduced to the TV series Pushing Daisies and the film which inspired large parts of it, Amelie, in short succession. I was taken by the narration of both of these stories–very precise, often funny, and adding a great deal to the hyper-heightened reality of both properties. So I set out to tell a story in this sort of narrative style. I wrote a 2k version of the story, which was about a young woman who was hit by a car and dies, but gets to decide in purgatory whether or not she can keep on living.

The story and the idea have stuck with me in many ways. I used the aftermath of the story as the basis for a short screenplay in university. I rewrote one of the scenes as a writing prompt just last year. And this year I took another look at it and decided a major revision was in order. So I’ve got this idea, and some further ideas about what to do with it. The death and life-choice stand on their own as one piece, but I have since the beginning entertained ideas of making it something bigger.

Right now, however, I just want to focus on getting the short story version written. Maybe we’ll think about doing more… but later. Much, much later. For now, “The Death and Life of Caroline Carver” is a short story.


It’s tough when you know you’ve got a half-decent idea, but you can’t seem to draw out the right words to make it happen. I’ve got so many ideas like that. Sometimes it’s mostly planned out in my head, but making it work in actual prose is more difficult than it initially seems. I can’t even say that I put in a decent effort every day, because I don’t. I think about it a lot, but I don’t make things happen on paper. I’m always hoping I can change that, and always disappointed when I don’t follow through for myself.

Oh well. Such is life, I suppose.

So It Turns Out Getting Your Sh*t Together is Hard

It’s been a month, almost exactly, since I outlined my plan here to get my collective shit together and start acting like a productive person for once in my life. This mostly revolved around schedules and keeping to them, and… well, it’s a month later, and suffice to say it’s all kind of fallen apart. Whoops?

Part of the problem is that you can’t really schedule your life. There are always going to be things getting in the way of your schedules, and rolling with the punches is harder than it looks. You need to know about all the spontaneous things in advance, which kind of defeats the purpose of spontaneity. So I’ve had more off-schedule days than on. Part of it is things like day trips and family dinners getting in the way of things. The other part is that it turns out I’m not good at keeping to a schedule.

It’s funny. I was always so punctual in school, and I continue to be punctual and semi-organized in my adult life–just not with personal projects. I was reading up a storm the first part of September, and then, as the schedule fell apart, so did the reading. Ditto writing (well, let’s be real, that never got on track). If someone else or some other entity (like Failure) is holding me to a schedule, I will keep to it almost religiously. If I’m holding myself to it? Eh, whatever.

I wish I knew why my brain operated like this. I don’t care enough to get things done, but somehow I care enough to guilt myself about the things I don’t do. I want to have a finished short story by the end of next month, and here it is nearly October, and I don’t even have a first draft yet. I have a pile of books all due in a few weeks at the library, half of which I’ve renewed, and one of which I’ve actually renewed twice. I wanted to have the first three rows of the afghan done by the end of this week, but sewing the pieces together is such a chore that I keep putting it off. I don’t understand myself and my actions. I don’t understand how I can visit the same six sites online over and over for hours at a time, but concentrating on writing something for thirty minutes is an enormous difficulty.

These are probably things I could address with my therapist. Hmm.

The fact that I’m trying to introduce new things like exercise isn’t helping. I can barely do the three things I mainly want to get done, and now I’m putting new shit on the list? What am I, crazy? Yes, as it turns out, I am. Just not a productive kind of crazy. I want to make things happen, but I’m not sure how, and I’m really not sure how to hold myself accountable at all. I’ve started a writing accountability thread on my writing group’s forum, and it’s going fairly well so far, but that’s about it. And it doesn’t cover all the other things like exercise and knitting and reading books.

Nevertheless, I suppose it’s a credit to me that I keep trying anyway. I’m going to exercise here in a little bit, and I am hoping to sit down and binge-watch The Handmaid’s Tale while I sew afghan pieces together. Never mind writing and reading. Where do all the hours in the day go? I got up at 4am (AGAIN) this morning; why haven’t I accomplished more?

I think part of my problem is that I feel like I have to do All the Things every day forever. I can’t be okay with just doing Some of the Things. They ALL must be done, no matter what. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for the spontaneity of life, for example, or for bad things happening, like my cat dying. I need to focus on what I am capable of doing, day by day, and work things out from there.

Now I just need to convince my overachiever brain of all that. Definitely a task for my therapist, then.

I’ll be working on it, and I guess I’ll keep you all updated. For now, what do you do to balance what you need to do with what you want to do? How do you get things done instead of just sitting around online in all your free time? Let me know.

That Time I Played Dungeons & Dragons (And Had a Lot of Fun)

So a week ago I visited my brother and sister-in-law, who live about an hour from me. I was bringing them their anniversary gift, and just hanging out, because my parents were out of town and I highly dislike spending vast quantities of time alone. So I went for a visit.

My brother and SIL have both recently gotten into Dungeons and Dragons; they play a game with friends of theirs, and my brother recently began DM’ing for some of his work friends. I’ve been kind of interested in it, but I don’t have any local friends to play with, so… yeah. Then my brother asked me, when I arrived last Saturday, if I wanted to play a game while I was here. Just a one-shot, he said, no pressure. I agreed.

I had, by unlucky chance, been awake since 4am that day, which meant when it was time to start our post-dinner game, I was very tired. I kind of half-understood all the mechanics of character creation, and as it complicated, I was wondering if I’d even be good at playing. I’m not a great improviser, to be honest, so I wasn’t sure how this was going to go. Nevertheless, I created a wood elf sorcerer named Thia Galanodel, and that was that. My SIL created a half-orc rogue named Lucius, and my brother had a brief adventure written up already (I believe he used it for the first session of his work friends’ game).

What followed was, in short, a great deal of fun. There was much joking around, and I had a very good time. The game started, as such adventures do, in a tavern. Thia and Lucius were grudgingly sharing a table in a dark corner of the barroom (one of many such tables; we decided the tavern had at least a dozen dark corners with occupied tables). And then a human farmer burst in, exclaiming that his son had been kidnapped by goblins. Thia and Lucius tried to make an exit, but the farmer lit upon us before we could. (Good old railroading.) The farmer promised us a considerable sum (60,000 GPs, because we cannot resist an Adventure Zone reference, it seems) to bring back his son, and we agreed.

Soon we found ourselves tracking the goblins through a forest. We settled down for the night, only to be attacked by a pair of wolves. It was a short-ish battle, not without its casualties. Mostly here I mean the wolves, but we lost some HP ourselves. After the wolves were dispatched, we continued our rest, recovered, and followed the track to a mausoleum in the heart of the forest. A single goblin guarded it. Lucius hit upon the idea of talking to the guard rather than fighting straight out, which I thought was dumb, so Thia left him to it while she faded into the trees.

While Lucius’ idea did not end in disaster, it did end in the goblin going into the mausoleum for reinforcements. Lucius returned to me, and when the goblin reemerged with two fellows, we decided to give this talking thing another go. The goblins were nervous, but Thia, with her high Charisma and +5 to Persuasion, managed to convince them to take us to their leader. (The goblins’ names were, hilariously, Dishrag, Soaprag, and, uh, Ragrag.)

We were taken into the mausoleum and into the crypt, where we saw that the goblins had, in addition to the farmer’s son, kidnapped quite a few halflings and gnomes as well. Their leader, Grishnak, who was trying way too hard to be a badass. He had a ruby-encrusted eyepatch that he didn’t even need, and he apparently had “bad motherf*****” tattooed on his arm in Goblin (not that our characters knew this, since neither of us spoke the language). He demanded from Ragrag to know what was going on, and what we were going to do about his bounty.

Thia and Lucius exchanged a look. “Just give us the boy and we’ll get out of your way.”

Grishnak was stunned. He didn’t want a couple of pragmatists only in it for the money, he wanted heroes! He wanted a nemesis, dammit! It had taken him forever to gather up all these folk and cage them! He was going to sell them for a lot of money, too!

We politely inquired how much Grishnak expected to get for his haul.

“Three silver pieces,” he replied.

Thia and Lucius exchanged another look. “We have ten gold pieces between the two of us,” Thia said. “How about we give you that gold in exchange for the boy? Would that be amenable to you?”

I rolled a heck-a high persuasion check, and Grishnak agreed. Our adventure seemed to be done, and we headed out of the mausoleum with the boy, heading back through the forest to return him to his father.


As we made camp that night, we were set upon by none other than Grishnak, who cried out, “I CHANGED MY MIND!!” as he attacked. Thia fired Magic Missile at him, with the three bolts going right through his ridiculous eyepatch. He was dead in an instant. Being the pragmatists we were, Thia and Lucius searched his body. We got our money back, and Lucius gained a better weapon while Thia took the goblin’s Bag of Holding. We also took the eyepatch so we could pawn the jewels on it.

And that was basically that. We returned the boy, got our considerable reward, and a good time was had by all, both in-game and out.


Obviously this was just a for-fun game with no real consequences or anything like that, but hot damn was it fun. I definitely want to play DnD again sometime, but it’s hard to tell when I’ll be able to. In the meantime, I’m going to at least work on my character when I’ve got some spare time, and get her figured out so maybe I can do something with her in the future. I’m not ruling anything out.

An untitled post about losing a pet.

We had to euthanize my cat, Lily, yesterday. It was the right thing to do. We’d found out a couple months back that she had cancer, and unfortunately we couldn’t afford surgery to remove the tumor. So the tumor grew, and Lily shrank, until her belly was gone and you could feel her vertebrae when you pet her. She walked unsteadily, climbed carefully, and lost a lot of the fire she’d had when she was healthy. No more picking fights with the other cats, just… sleeping and cuddling.

This might have all been okay, if not for the fact that she was only seven years old.

We have two senior cats: Norman is 15 or 16, and Smokey (who due to her anxiety lives in my room with me) is about 14. It’s funny, because I would have been almost okay with this happening to either of them. It would have been understandable if one of the older cats had gotten sick and enfeebled. But no. It was the middle-aged cat, and it was just so goddamn unfair.

We knew pretty much from the diagnosis that euthanasia was going to be the end for Lily. As she got sicker, the death date drew ever closer. Last week we were saying it would probably be this week. And even just a couple days ago, we were saying it would be this week. And then yesterday it was sort of decided: it was going to be yesterday. And I was… okay with it, almost. I tend to be unfeeling and strange when it comes to death. The last two pets we had to say goodbye to were elderly and sick, and I didn’t cry when they went to the vet for the last time.

But Lily was different. We got her as a kitten on May 19th, 2010, I think? I would have to check my journals for the exact date, but that seems right. I was still in university, having just finished my first year away. The daughter of one of Mom’s coworkers had a cat who had just had kittens, and we had put one of our much older cats to sleep several months before. Mom wanted another cat, because we only had two at the time. So the daughter brought the kittens to the office after work one day (I worked in the same office, scanning papers), and we picked out Lily.

She was sweet and playful. She hit it off with Norman right away, but unfortunately did not get along with Smokey, who wanted to be left alone when Lily wanted to play. But she was a nice cat. She grew into a large, beautiful kitty. She didn’t really like being picked up or handled very much, and hardly ever purred for us humans, but she did sometimes purr for me. Her fur was soft as anything, and on her belly was a gorgeous patch of fluffy orange fur.

She was a good cat, for all that she was something of a bully (she was much larger than Smokey, and when we took in a litter of feral kittens, she turned up bigger than them as well). I loved her. I thought she was sweet, when she wanted to be, and isn’t that always the way with cats?

So finding out she had cancer was a blow. And realizing, yesterday, that I would never see her again, never coax her into purring, never give her the chin scritches she loved so well… hurt. I cried a lot. Sending her with my dad to the vet hurt, and I went from having an okay day to being miserable because I had lost a friend.

I’m doing better today. I’m probably going to talk about this in therapy next week. I have to remember not to let this ruin my week. But it hurts. It hurts in an awful way, and I just wish I knew what to do with all this pain.

I know we did the right thing, but it still hurts, and it’s still unfair and awful.

I’ll get through it. Maybe in a few years, after our seniors have passed on, we’ll get another cat (we have five–Norman and Smokey, and three of the kittens we rescued). But for now, it hurts, and I just wish I knew what to do.

May you rest in peace

Doctor Who S5E03: Victory of the Daleks

Like the episode before it, Victory of the Daleks largely exists to fulfill a certain purpose, and that purpose is evident in the title: the Daleks are back (again) and this time, they’re going to win.

This episode is something of a necessary evil, since Russell T. Davies killed them off once and for all again at the end of Series 4. There’s a perpetual rumor that a Dalek has to appear in every series of Doctor Who because of a contract with their creator, Terry Nation, but that is apparently untrue. Nevertheless, the Daleks are Doctor Who’s most iconic monster, and it makes sense (a little) to bring them back so they can potter around in the background of things again, rather than being totally annihilated time and again. (I have a few tiffs with how Davies handled them during his run, but this is neither the time nor the place for them.)

So! What we’ve got is Daleks in World War II Britain, posing as secret weapons “invented” by a Scottish scientist. Their secret plot is to get the Doctor to confirm their identity so they can make newer, better Daleks, thus metafictionally allowing the Daleks to be around for future stories. It’s not the best plot in the world, but writer Mark Gatiss gives us a serviceable story nonetheless.

However, we do get a couple extraordinary things out of this episode. One is Matt Smith’s downright terrifying performance in the face of the Doctor’s sworn enemy. He captures the Doctor’s fear and fury almost effortlessly, and while he maybe goes a bit over the top in his confrontation with the Dalek at the episode’s midpoint, he still sells it quite well.

The other thing we get from this episode is yet more insight into Amy. While her lack of knowledge of the Daleks is interesting from an arc perspective, what I find most fascinating is her conversation with Bracewell as he attempts to commit suicide. Her gentle, “I know. Really, I do,” tells us so much about her in so few words. It tells us that she has been in these dire straits before, that those psychiatrists mentioned in The Eleventh Hour were no joke, that growing up in a world where everyone always leaves you really leaves a mark. It’s just a thread of character, but it holds so much together. All that conveyed in a gentle word!

All in all, however, Victory of the Daleks is largely a functional but sometimes forgettable episode. It does what it needs to do and (perhaps unfortunately) doesn’t strive for much more than that. That said, there are little things I like, so it is at least occasionally rewarding in rewatches.

General Life Update: A Treatise on Goals and Accoutability

I’m doing okay. It could be better, but it could always be better. I’m paying as best attention as I can to my moods and my productivity. I had therapy yesterday, and we went over some stuff I’m going to work on over the next few months. I got my meds adjusted a little so I can hopefully sleep through the night. (Though I will say the first night on the adjustment did not go very well. Having anxiety dreams did not help.) Just little things happening so I can hopefully make big things happen.

I don’t really know what else to update you on. I’ve just about gotten through Series 5 of Doctor Who, so that’s good news on the reviewing front, though I’m going to have to rewatch some episodes so I can write about them properly. I am trying to write, but it’s not going that great. It’s the worst when the words don’t want to come, because you know you are capable of this thing, you ARE, but the words are like “lol nope” and hide from you. I’m reading a lot more than I was, but it’s still not enough, because I keep checking out books from the library’s digital collection, and it’s doing me no good at all. My knitting is actually going the way I want it to right now; I’m about on track to finish the first three rows of this afghan I’m making by the end of the month.

But there’s just so little to write about and report. Life goes on. It isn’t terribly interesting, but it’s going. Always going. I saw a nurse practitioner the other day who gave me some advice on losing weight, which is something that’s been bothering me for last few months. Or years, really. So I’m going to try to start exercising and eating better and smaller portions. That’s for next week, though. This week still has some days left in it, so I’m going to do what I can to enjoy it.

I suppose it’s mostly a matter of making space in my schedule. We have a recumbent bike at home, so I think I’d be perfectly capable of reading while I work on that. I also have WiiFit, but you can’t really multitask doing that. Still, any movement is good movement, especially compared to where I am right now (which is no movement at all). I know if I actually put in the work–like with everything else–good things will happen and I’ll start to accomplish things.

It’s just hard to work. Maybe it’s a mental problem, but I’m not so sure. It’s probably just a result of being a semi-prodigy in my formative years, where I didn’t have to work very hard to accomplish a great deal. Unfortunately, you can’t lose a lot of weight by doing it all three days before your weigh-in. It has to happen over time. Ditto writing, ditto knitting, ditto everything. You have to do the work. And rushing it will result in sloppy finished products, and this is why you don’t procrastinate, kids.

What I really need is someone to hold me accountable. I have all these goals, but it’s easy to just set them aside, because no one is standing over me yelling at me to get it done. I’m hoping my mom and I can hold each other accountable regarding exercise, and maybe my online writing group can hold me accountable with writing (I want to have a finished short story by the end of October). It’s just a matter of willpower, but sometimes having other people in on it helps, too.

I actually managed to go on about this a lot longer than I thought I could. Well, that’s rambling for you. You start out not knowing where you’ll end up and in the end you find you’ve gone quite a ways further than you thought you could.

What about you guys? What do you do to hold yourself accountable to your goals? Do you get friends and family involved? Or do you have another system in place? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it.

Doctor Who S5E02: The Beast Below

This is a strange episode to write about, mostly because it falls squarely in the middle of the quality spectrum, at least for me. This episode, like the one that follows it, serves a function–it lets us get to know the new Doctor and new companion in different ways. However, it’s pretty clearly the least among Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who stories. It doesn’t have the same glitter and glint to it. While the dialogue’s sharp as always, the story kind of meanders and makes only a little sense.

That doesn’t make me hate it, though, but neither does it make me absolutely love it. Nevertheless, this is not an episode I’ll always skip. There’s some good stuff here, mostly in the climax, but little things like the Star Wars references make it fun in rewatches. The cinematography is also top-notch, carrying over from The Eleventh Hour with long takes and beautiful compositions. Matt Smith continues to dazzle as the Eleventh Doctor, and Karen Gillan begins to show a bit more range outside of the feistiness we got in the premiere.

I really wish I had more to say about this episode, but I honestly can’t think of anything? It’s wholly unremarkable. It gets in, gets the job done, and quietly exits stage right. The comparisons between the Doctor and the star whale are a little on the nose, but it’s not like the show hasn’t done on the nose before.

Actually, I do have a little tiff with the fandom on this episode, in particular a scene near the beginning where Amy says, “One little girl crying. So?” It seems that a lot of people have interpreted this to mean that Amy doesn’t care about the girl crying and therefore doesn’t have a lot of empathy. Which is frankly incorrect. We see her getting a bit dewy-eyed at the very start, when she’s watching Mandy through the scanner. She even remarks that it’s kind of cold to just watch and not do anything. The line above is in reaction to the Doctor’s previous line that there is a police state on Starship UK. Amy doesn’t see how one little girl crying is evidence of a police state, and the Doctor goes on to explain it to her. Is this nitpicking a bit? Yes, frankly. Also frankly? I don’t care.

If anything, this episode is meant as a reassurance to the viewer. Everything about Doctor Who was new with Series 5–new showrunner, new Doctor, new companion, new look, new TARDIS, new EVERYTHING. The Beast Below reminds us that for all his wailing in The End of Time, the Doctor is still the Doctor. He eschews the “observe only, do not interfere” mandate of the Time Lords, he helps when he sees children crying, he tries above all to be kind. He’s the same man, through and through.

The episode also shines more of a light on Amy, who at the end of The Eleventh Hour was running away from her own wedding. We find out that she’s a little afraid of her impending marriage and what it might mean for her, as evidenced by her talk with Mandy and her interest in her marital status in the voting booth. She comes close to confessing what she’s done to the Doctor at the end, but gets distracted–whether inadvertently or on purpose, we might never know. But we are starting to see that under the layer of toughness and feistiness, Amy is scared of a lot of things. She said in The Eleventh Hour that she’d grown up, but it seems here that that’s actually what she’s afraid of.

As I said before, The Beast Below is an episode that gets the job done. It takes us by the hand and leads us slowly on, reassuring us that nothing has changed in the core of the show, it’s just the outside bits that are a little different. We begin to see into the heart of the companion, and find out the Doctor is nearly the same as always. It’s a gentle pat on the shoulder and a quiet voice in our ear: this is still Doctor Who.

What’s Coming, What’s Going, and What I’m Doing About It

(By the way, let me know if these overlong post titles are getting a little too twee for you.)

Since my last post:

I have been doing fairly well overall with the schedule. It’s helped me get a lot of things done–I’ve finished a few books, and written at least 750 words every day (even if it’s more journal style writing than fiction writing). I’ve made progress on the afghan for my brother and SIL. Everything has been going well, and I’m happy with what I’m doing. I can’t say that I’ve managed to totally get my crap together, but I’m making a decent stab at it.

What’s Coming:

Remember that lonesome review of the Doctor Who episode “The Eleventh Hour” that I posted back in January December?  Well, it’s hopefully very soon going to have some company. I haven’t yet written anything on further episodes, mostly because I need to rewatch them. But I am hoping to get that out of the way by the end of the weekend, and then I’ll settle down to review everything and carry on with what is probably my signature project at the moment. With Steven Moffat’s tenure on Doctor Who coming to an end in December, I might as well get this overview of his time on the show completed, right? It’s just a matter of sticking to it. My schedule may need an edit to fit episode watching time in there.

I am also, bit by bit, getting ready to write more seriously. I do still have fanfic on the table, because I am not cruel enough to leave people hanging, but! I have been doing some research and reading on writing short stories, a format I have struggled mightily with in the past. I am hoping to have a short story of some kind or another completed by the end of October, whereupon… something. Will happen.

But for the time being, I am trying to set up a professional profile online. To that end: a Twitter! It’s set up under my real name (which is also on the About page of this blog if anyone’s ever cared to look there), and will hopefully be a landing spot for… things. I don’t know yet. Probably a lot of self-promotion is in my future.


What’s Going:

Well, depression, hopefully. I am doing much, much better in the mental health arena this week. I am hoping things will continue to improve, though my quality of sleep lately has kind of fallen. Luckily I’ve got an appointment with my meds manager in about a week and a half, so hopefully we’ll be able to sort something out.

Nothing much else other than that, though.

What I’m Doing About It:

I’m making schedules. I spend about every day ranting in 750 Words about what I’m going to do. I need to start putting my money where my mouth is and commit to getting things done other than reading and knitting and basically journaling. I am hoping to have a decent output of words in September. I will try to keep you all abreast of what’s happening in that arena, if nothing else.

I’m going to sit down and watch Series 5 of Doctor Who this weekend. I’m going to take notes and write reviews and get things ready for a flurry of posting in September.

I’m going to, in short, get my shit together. Won’t you join me on this magical journey?