The Republican Party has moved to the far right in recent years–far to the right of Barry Goldwater and even Ronald Reagan–while the Democrats have moved towards the middle. The voteview blog has analyzed recent presidents and the result is exactly what we already knew:
Our findings here echo those discussed in a prior post that Republicans have moved further to the right than Democrats to the left in the contemporary period. Indeed, as seen below, President Obama is the most moderate Democratic president since the end of World War II, while President George W. Bush was the most conservative president in the post-war era.
On the other hand, in many ways Obama has had success at passing liberal polices in some areas where other Democratic presidents have failed. This success might be partially because of his moderation, and that a more liberal Democrat might have had fewer successes.
John Huntsman is still fairly conservative, but at least he avoid some of the really off the wall beliefs held by current Republican leaders. Here are some excerpts from an interview to air on ABC’s This Week. Huntsman will never win the Republican nomination if he keeps saying things like this:
I think there’s a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party – the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.
The Republican Party has to remember that we’re drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. And we’ve got a lot of traditions to draw upon. But I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula.
On Michele Bachmann’s belief that the United States should have defaulted on our debts:
Well, I wouldn’t necessarily trust any of my opponents right now, who were on a recent debate stage with me, when every single one of them would have allowed this country to default. You can imagine, even given the uncertainty of the marketplace the last several days and even the last couple of weeks, if we had defaulted the first time in the history of the greatest country that ever was, being 25 percent of the world’s GDP and having the largest financial services sector in this world by a long shot, if we had defaulted, Jake, this marketplace would be in absolute turmoil. And people who are already losing enough as it is on their 401(k)s and retirement programs and home valuations, it would have been catastrophic.
On Rick Perry calling Ben Bernanke treasonous:
Well, I don’t know if that’s pre-secession Texas or post-secession Texas. But in any event, I’m not sure that the average voter out there is going to hear that treasonous remark and say that sounds like a presidential candidate, that sounds like someone who is serious on the issues.
Paul Krugman, who has never moved beyond the Obama-Clinton primary battle, will never miss a chance to paint Barack Obama as a right-winger. He was given another opportunity to repeat his usual nonsense in response to Bruce Bartlett writing a poorly-reasoned post entitled Barack Obama: The Democrats’ Richard Nixon? Krugman ignores all the fallacies in Bartlett’s post because it goes along with his visceral and irrational hatred of Barack Obama.
Bartlett based his argument on these claims:
His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.
While these do show that Obama is a moderate economically, this does not come close to showing that Obama is to the right of Nixon as Krugman claims. His stimulus bill was less than what many on the left wanted, but it was tremendously more than those on the right (as well as many in the middle) would tolerate. While Nixon further escalated the Viet Nam war, Obama has been working towards disengaging from Bush’s wars (even if more slowly than many of us would prefer). His health care plan was similar to Romney’s, but was also to the left of the plans advocated by any of the Democratic candidates just four years before he was elected. The health care battle showed that anything more liberal than his plan would have no chance of passing in Congress.
Obama compromised on the extension of the Bush tax cuts in a deal which, among other things, provided an extension of long term unemployment benefits. Krugman should know that the claim of not getting any quid pro quo whatsoever is totally false. Similarly the last claim is also untrue, with many Republicans pushing for far more reductions in spending than Obama is agreeing to. In addition, Obama has pointed out the necessity of getting our fiscal house in order for progressives who want to be able to finance their plans in the future.
Bartlett also cherry-picked certain items, ignoring many all the social issues where Nixon was far to the right of Obama. Nixon promoted the culture war which led to the growth of the religious right, while Obama promotes a liberal social view which is in complete contrast to the Nixon years. Obama has been promoting the rule of law, while Nixon attempted to circumvent the electoral process in what came close to being an attempted a coup d’état.
There is one point where I partially agree with Krugman:
Obama gets no credit for his moderation, and never will. No matter how far right he moves, Republicans will move further right; and nothing he can do will keep them from denouncing him as a radical socialist.
It is true that Republicans will call Obama, as well as any other Democrat in the White House, a socialist. What Krugman misses is that Obama’s goal is not to be accepted as a conservative Republican (even if Krugman is deluded into thinking this is what he is). Obama’s goal is that he will receive credit for his moderation from the same coalition, including the independents, which elected him in 2008. I know that this is frustrating to those on the far left, and there are many areas where I disagree with Obama, but this is far preferable to a true right wing Republican.
Gawker uncovered this document showing how Roger Ailes came up with the idea of using television to circumvent the real news media to deliver “pro-administration” stories to viewers during the Nixon era. The advantage of television was that, “People are lazy. With television you just sit — watch — listen. The thinking is done for you.”
Richard Nixon didn’t survive, but Roger Ailes went on to put his plan into action at Fox.
Rolling Stone looks at Fox. They demonstrate, as others have pointed out previously, that Roger Ailes, not Rupart Murdoch, is the larger problem. The story shows how he has used misinformation, often fueled by his own extremist world to shape the Republican message and dominate Republican politics. This included his fear of Muslims, which is reflected in coverage at Fox.
Fear, in fact, is precisely what Ailes is selling: His network has relentlessly hyped phantom menaces like the planned “terror mosque” near Ground Zero, inspiring Florida pastor Terry Jones to torch the Koran. Privately, Murdoch is as impressed by Ailes’ business savvy as he is dismissive of his extremist politics. “You know Roger is crazy,” Murdoch recently told a colleague, shaking his head in disbelief. “He really believes that stuff.”
To watch even a day of Fox News – the anger, the bombast, the virulent paranoid streak, the unending appeals to white resentment, the reporting that’s held to the same standard of evidence as a late-October attack ad – is to see a refraction of its founder, one of the most skilled and fearsome operatives in the history of the Republican Party. As a political consultant, Ailes repackaged Richard Nixon for television in 1968, papered over Ronald Reagan’s budding Alzheimer’s in 1984, shamelessly stoked racial fears to elect George H.W. Bush in 1988, and waged a secret campaign on behalf of Big Tobacco to derail health care reform in 1993. “He was the premier guy in the business,” says former Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins. “He was our Michelangelo.”
In the fable Ailes tells about his own life, he made a clean break with his dirty political past long before 1996, when he joined forces with Murdoch to launch Fox News. “I quit politics,” he has claimed, “because I hated it.” But an examination of his career reveals that Ailes has used Fox News to pioneer a new form of political campaign – one that enables the GOP to bypass skeptical reporters and wage an around-the-clock, partisan assault on public opinion. The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.
The result is one of the most powerful political machines in American history. One that plays a leading role in defining Republican talking points and advancing the agenda of the far right. Fox News tilted the electoral balance to George W. Bush in 2000, prematurely declaring him president in a move that prompted every other network to follow suit. It helped create the Tea Party, transforming it from the butt of late-night jokes into a nationwide insurgency capable of electing U.S. senators. Fox News turbocharged the Republican takeover of the House last fall, and even helped elect former Fox News host John Kasich as the union-busting governor of Ohio – with the help of $1.26 million in campaign contributions from News Corp. And by incubating a host of potential GOP contenders on the Fox News payroll– including Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum – Ailes seems determined to add a fifth presidential notch to his belt in 2012. “Everything Roger wanted to do when he started out in politics, he’s now doing 24/7 with his network,” says a former News Corp. executive. “It’s come full circle.”
The article reviewed Ailes’s career, including how he used deception to influence the news. When he took over at Fox, he made sure it only presented his viewpoints:
Ailes then embarked on a purge of existing staffers at Fox News. “There was a litmus test,” recalled Joe Peyronnin, whom Ailes displaced as head of the network. “He was going to figure out who was liberal or conservative when he came in, and try to get rid of the liberals.” When Ailes suspected a journalist wasn’t far enough to the right for his tastes, he’d spring an accusation: “Why are you a liberal?” If staffers had worked at one of the major news networks, Ailes would force them to defend working at a place like CBS – which he spat out as “the Communist Broadcast System.” To replace the veterans he fired, Ailes brought in droves of inexperienced up-and-comers – enabling him to weave his own political biases into the network’s DNA. To oversee the young newsroom, he recruited John Moody, a conservative veteran of Time. As recounted by journalist Scott Collins in Crazy Like a Fox, the Chairman gave Moody explicit ideological marching orders. “One of the problems we have to work on here together when we start this network is that most journalists are liberals,” Ailes told Moody. “And we’ve got to fight that.” Reporters understood that a right-wing bias was hard-wired into what they did from the start. “All outward appearances were that it was just like any other newsroom,” says a former anchor. “But you knew that the way to get ahead was to show your color – and that your color was red.” Red state, that is.
Ailes biggest accomplishment was to proclaim George Bush the winner of the 2000 election when subsequent reviews of the vote showed that Al Gore would have won with a state-wide recount:
But it was the election of George W. Bush in 2000 that revealed the true power of Fox News as a political machine. According to a study of voting patterns by the University of California, Fox News shifted roughly 200,000 ballots to Bush in areas where voters had access to the network. But Ailes, ever the political operative, didn’t leave the outcome to anything as dicey as the popular vote. The man he tapped to head the network’s “decision desk” on election night – the consultant responsible for calling states for either Gore or Bush – was none other than John Prescott Ellis, Bush’s first cousin. As a columnist at The Boston Globe, Ellis had recused himself from covering the campaign. “There is no way for you to know if I am telling you the truth about George W. Bush’s presidential campaign,” he told his readers, “because in his case, my loyalty goes to him and not to you.”
In any newsroom worthy of the name, such a conflict of interest would have immediately disqualified Ellis. But for Ailes, loyalty to Bush was an asset. “We at Fox News,” he would later tell a House hearing, “do not discriminate against people because of their family connections.” On Election Day, Ellis was in constant contact with Bush himself. After midnight, when a wave of late numbers showed Bush with a narrow lead, Ellis jumped on the data to declare Bush the winner – even though Florida was still rated too close to call by the vote-tracking consortium used by all the networks. Hume announced Fox’s call for Bush at 2:16 a.m. – a move that spurred every other network to follow suit, and led to bush wins headlines in the morning papers.
“We’ll never know whether Bush won the election in Florida or not,” says Dan Rather, who was anchoring the election coverage for CBS that night. “But when you reach these kinds of situations, the ability to control the narrative becomes critical. Led by Fox, the narrative began to be that Bush had won the election.”
Dwell on this for a moment: A “news” network controlled by a GOP operative who had spent decades shaping just such political narratives – including those that helped elect the candidate’s father – declared George W. Bush the victor based on the analysis of a man who had proclaimed himself loyal to Bush over the facts. “Of everything that happened on election night, this was the most important in impact,” Rep. Henry Waxman said at the time. “It immeasurably helped George Bush maintain the idea in people’s minds that he was the man who won the election.”
After Bush took office, Ailes stayed in frequent touch with the new Republican president. “The senior-level editorial people believe that Roger was on the phone every day with Bush,” a source close to Fox News tells Rolling Stone. “He gave Bush the same kind of pointers he used to give George H.W. Bush – delivery, effectiveness, political coaching.” In the aftermath of 9/11, Ailes sent a back-channel memo to the president through Karl Rove, advising Bush to ramp up the War on Terror. As reported by Bob Woodward, Ailes advised Bush that “the American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible.”
After the Bush years, Ailes has used his influence to terrorize and misinform his audience, spread scare stories about Barack Obama, and promote far right wing causes:
Ailes knows exactly who is watching Fox News each day, and he is adept at playing to their darkest fears in the age of Obama. The network’s viewers are old, with a median age of 65: Ads cater to the immobile, the infirm and the incontinent, with appeals to join class action hip-replacement lawsuits, spots for products like Colon Flow and testimonials for the services of Liberator Medical (“Liberator gave me back the freedom I haven’t had since I started using catheters”). The audience is also almost exclusively white – only 1.38 percent of viewers are African-American. “Roger understands audiences,” says Rollins, the former Reagan consultant. “He knew how to target, which is what Fox News is all about.” The typical viewer of Hannity, to take the most stark example, is a pro-business (86 percent), Christian conservative (78 percent), Tea Party-backer (75 percent) with no college degree (66 percent), who is over age 50 (65 percent), supports the NRA (73 percent), doesn’t back gay rights (78 percent) and thinks government “does too much” (84 percent). “He’s got a niche audience and he’s programmed to it beautifully,” says a former News Corp. colleague. “He feeds them exactly what they want to hear.”
From the time Obama began contemplating his candidacy, Fox News went all-out to convince its white viewers that he was a Marxist, a Muslim, a black nationalist and a 1960s radical. In early 2007, Ailes joked about the similarity of Obama’s name to a certain terrorist’s. “It is true that Barack Obama is on the move,” Ailes said in a speech to news executives. “I don’t know if it’s true that President Bush called Musharraf and said, ‘Why can’t we catch this guy?’” References to Obama’s middle name were soon being bandied about on Fox & Friends, the morning happy-talk show that Ailes uses as one of his primary vehicles to inject his venom into the media bloodstream. According to insiders, the morning show’s anchors, who appear to be chatting ad-lib, are actually working from daily, structured talking points that come straight from the top. “Prior to broadcast, Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson – that gang – they meet with Roger,” says a former Fox deputy. “And Roger gives them the spin.”
Fox & Friends is where the smear about Obama having attended a madrassa was first broadcast, with Doocy – an Ailes lackey from his days at America’s Talking – stating unequivocally that Obama was “raised as a Muslim.” And during the campaign, the show’s anchors flogged Obama’s reference to his own grandmother as a “typical white person” so relentlessly that it even gave Fox News host Chris Wallace pause. When Wallace appeared on the show that morning, he launched a rebuke that seemed targeted at Ailes as much as Doocy. “I have been watching the show since six o’clock this morning,” Wallace bristled. “I feel like two hours of Obama-bashing may be enough.”
The Obama era has spurred sharp changes in the character and tone of Fox News. “Obama’s election has driven Fox to be more of a political campaign than it ever was before,” says Burns, the network’s former media critic.“Things shifted,” agrees Jane Hall, who fled the network after a decade as a liberal commentator. “There seemed suddenly to be less of a need to have a range of opinion. I began to feel uncomfortable.” Sean Hannity was no longer flanked by Alan Colmes, long the network’s fig-leaf liberal. Bill Sammon, author of At Any Cost: How Al Gore Tried to Steal the Election, was brought in to replace Moody as the top political enforcer. And Brit Hume was replaced on the anchor desk by Bret Baier, one of the young guns Ailes hired more than a decade ago to inject right-wing fervor into Fox News.
Most striking, Ailes hired Glenn Beck away from CNN and set him loose on the White House. During his contract negotiations, Beck recounted, Ailes confided that Fox News was dedicating itself to impeding the Obama administration. “I see this as the Alamo,” Ailes declared. Leading the charge were the ragtag members of the Tea Party uprising, which Fox News propelled into a nationwide movement. In the buildup to the initial protests on April 15th, 2009, the network went so far as to actually co-brand the rallies as “FNC Tax Day Tea Parties.” Veteran journalists were taken aback. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a news network throw its weight behind a protest like we are seeing in the past few weeks,” said Howard Kurtz, the then-media critic for The Washington Post. The following August, when the Tea Party launched its town-hall protests against health care reform, Fox & Friends urged viewers to confront their congressmen face to face. “Are you gonna call?” Gretchen Carlson demanded on-air, “or are you gonna go to one of these receptions where they’re actually there?” The onscreen Chyron instructed viewers: HOLD CONGRESS ACCOUNTABLE! NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK YOUR MIND.
Fox News also hyped Sarah Palin’s lies about “death panels” and took the smear a step further, airing a report claiming that the Department of Veterans Affairs was using a “death book” to encourage soldiers to “hurry up and die.” (Missing from the report was any indication that the end-of-life counseling materials in question had been promoted by the Bush administration.) At the height of the health care debate, more than two-thirds of Fox News viewers were convinced Obamacare would lead to a “government takeover,” provide health care to illegal immigrants, pay for abortions and let the government decide when to pull the plug on grandma. As always, the Chairman’s enforcer made sure that producers down in the Fox News basement were toeing the party line. In October 2009, as Congress weighed adding a public option to the health care law, Sammon let everyone know how Ailes expected them to cover the story. “Let’s not slip back into calling it the ‘public option,’” he warned in an e-mail. “Please use the term ‘government-run health insurance’ … whenever possible.” Sammon neglected to mention that the phrase he was pushing had been carefully crafted by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry’s largest lobbying organization, which had determined that the wording was “the most negative language to use when describing a ‘public plan.’”
The result of this concerted campaign of disinformation is a viewership that knows almost nothing about what’s going on in the world. According to recent polls, Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of all news consumers. They are 12 percentage points more likely to believe the stimulus package caused job losses, 17 points more likely to believe Muslims want to establish Shariah law in America, 30 points more likely to say that scientists dispute global warming, and 31 points more likely to doubt President Obama’s citizenship. In fact, a study by the University of Maryland reveals, ignorance of Fox viewers actually increases the longer they watch the network. That’s because Ailes isn’t interested in providing people with information, or even a balanced range of perspectives. Like his political mentor, Richard Nixon, Ailes traffics in the emotions of victimization.
Update: Conservatives cannot handle the truth. They have been brainwashed by right wing propaganda to the point they do not recognize facts as opposed to right wing fiction. In contrast, many people in the Soviet Union realized that Pravda was lying.
If last year some fans felt disappointed that the entire season of Doctor Who didn’t have the quality of earlier episodes written by Steven Moffat, this season started an arc (foreshadowed in past episodes) which very well might exceed all expectations. The second part of the two-part season premiere, Day of the Moon, left most of the questions from The Impossible Astronaut unanswered while raising more. It should be quite a ride to see how these matters play out over this, and possibly future, seasons.
The episode resumed three months later. Just as The Impossible Astronaut appeared to start with the death of the Doctor, Day of the Moon began with Canton Delaware appearing to be hunting down and killing the companions. It all turned out to be an elaborate plan to reunite them all in what appeared to be another escape-proof prison, which the Silence could not see in. This made for some great scenes, but was a rather contrived way to allow for a brief period of action without the surveillance by the Silence. Besides, it is unclear how they could have hatched such a plan without the Silence knowing, and it was quite fortunate that none of the Silents were around when the Doctor tampered with Apollo 11, even if they believed he was still imprisoned.
At least this did provide for some answers, even if they were not the answers we were asking after The Impossible Astronaut. Were there aliens in Area 51? Yes, the Doctor, and later a Silent. Was there alien technology in Area 51? Yes, a Tardis and the material used to make the cell. Was their future technology in Area 51? Yes, a camera phone. Why did mankind go to the moon? Due to suggestions from the Silence since they needed us to build a space suit. Why did Richard Nixon keep the White House tapes? In order to record any suggestions from the Silence, on the advice of the Doctor. Do River Song and the Doctor really have a romantic relationship? It appear so (in the Doctor’s future and River’s past). Is Amy Pond really pregnant? Yes and No. See Schrödinger’s cat, or perhaps there are alternative time lines. Why couldn’t the FBI and White House handle Canton Delaware’s desire to marry? Richard Nixon might have handled his desire to marry someone black, but not a black man.
Beyond this, there were few more answers. We did see how the Doctor cleverly used the ability of the Silence to place suggestions in the minds of humans without our ability to recall them. Everyone who ever has or ever will watch the footage of the moon landing will receive the instruction to kill the Silence on sight. From time to time the Doctor has shown a dark side, and therefore it was no surprise to see him be willing to turn all of humanity into executioners of the Silence.
There has been plenty of talk about the many remaining questions, such as in this video. There are many rumors circulating around the internet but Steven Moffat has been careful to prevent fans from finding out the answers until ready to reveal them. This has included writing fake scenes for some episodes. Members of the cast know a little more regarding what their character knows. Only Alex Kingston knows what is really coming since the events to come are already in River Song’s past.
Among the many questions from the first two episodes, who was in the Astronaut suit and why did they kill the Doctor. How will they resolve the issue of the Doctor appearing to be killed two-hundred years, preventing further regenerations? What has become of the Tardis used by the future version of the Doctor? Why do the Silence care about the little girl and why did they place her in the space suit? Is Amy Pond her mother, as suggested by the picture of Amy holding the baby? Who was the lady with the eye piece? Rumors are that she will appear throughout the season, like the crack in Amy’s wall. What happened during all of the sightings of the Silence (as evidenced by the growing number of markings on Amy’s face)? Why did the Silence kidnap Amy? Why did they want her to tell the Doctor that she is pregnant? Is their ship (TARDIS?) the same as seen in The Lodger?
The biggest questions surround the little girl and River Song (and are they the same person)? Can River Song operate the TARDIS because she is a Time Lord? (If it wasn’t the Doctor who she killed, could she have been imprisoned under the belief she killed a previous version of herself before regenerating?) Is Amy Pond the mother of River Song and/or the little girl. Who is the father? The final scene creates the most questions:
Does the ability to regenerate mean that the Doctor is the father, or did living in the TARDIS while developing turn the baby into a time head, whatever that may be, as Amy feared? If not Amy’s daughter, do the Doctor and River Song have a child? Perhaps the little girl was the result of the need of the Silence to have their own Time Lord (or equivalent) to operate their version of the TARDIS. For that matter, why did the universe explode when they took control of the Doctor’s TARDIS last season? Was their goal really the destruction of the universe? Perhaps it was an accident as they would appear to be harmed by such destruction, unless they are surviving in an alternative time line (where Amy is or is not pregnant). There is much to speculate on, and I suspect Moffat has an answer quite different from what anyone now suspects.
Unless you were locked up in the Pandorica, you should know about the two big stories of the week: the season premiere of Doctor Who and the death of Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith). A video on Sladen’s career is posted above. My initial post on Elisabeth Sladen, which includes some major scenes from her career and tributes, was posted here. This week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut, began with a message in memory of Elisabeth Sladen on the BBC broadcast. A memorial show was broadcast afterward on CBBC. The full video of My Sarah Jane A Tribute To Elisabeth Sladen is posted here. David Tennant had this to say about Elisabeth Sladen on BBC Breakfast:
Those who need a refresher coarse on forty-seven years and eleven Doctors before beginning this season can check out this video which recaps it all in just six minutes:
Both NPR’s Morning Edition and The New York Times had stories about how this season is starting on the same day in the United Kingdom, The United States, and Canada (and soon after in Australia) to reduce pirating of the show. When there was a several month delay, there would typically be 200,000 illegal downloads the week an episode aired. The article reports that BBC America will not air a new episode on Memorial Day weekend, and then be a week behind for the remaining June episodes. That will get many US fans to resume downloading on the day it first airs.Even the several hour delay between airings will make downloading irresistible. I had a high definition copy hours before I could have watched a standard definition version on cable, but if I ever get a Nielsen box I promise to turn on BBC America when Doctor Who is on.
The Impossible Astronaut began both what is probably a season-long arc and a two-part story with events of a magnitude which is more characteristic of a season finale. Now that there is no longer a gap before the U.S. version airs, posts here on completed episodes will no longer avoid spoilers.
The episode began with a few minutes of fez hats and other fun before bringing Amy, Rory, and River Song to a meeting with the Doctor (now wearing a stetson) in Utah. While breaking out of prison was no surprise, I’m not certain as to how River Song managed to get to Utah in 2011, but she always has been a resourceful person. Soon afterward the Doctor was killed, and then shot again during the regeneration cycle by someone in an astronaut outfit, leading to the Doctor’s actual death. This left the three with no choice but to burn the Doctor’s body as it goes out into the lake.
Obviously we knew that the Doctor could not really be dead, and figured that it was all part of some sort of plan, considering that the Doctor clearly knew what was going to happen and told the other three not to interfere. He even arranged for gasoline to be delivered for his funeral pyre. This was delivered by ex-FBI agent Canton Delaware, played by the father of Mark Sheppard who played the ex-agent in the 1969 portion of the story.
Moffat used some of his “timey-wimey” stuff to continue the story with a younger version of the Doctor, which was anticipated after a point was made of the Doctor’s age when he first met up with his three companions. Theoretically the story could continue after establishing that the Doctor would die when two hundred years older, but this would mean no further regenerations and that Matt Smith would be the last actor to play the Doctor. It is more likely that they will resolve this by preventing the Doctor from actually dying, and this was confirmed in an interview with Matt Smith.
While we generally know when watching a show that the main character will not be killed, Doctor Who has always appeared to place the main character in less danger due to his ability to regenerate. This episode shows that the Doctor can be killed, and that the character can feel he is at risk when taking actions which might endanger his life.
Knowing this detail of the Doctor’s future changes the dynamics as this time it is the companions who knew more, leaving the Doctor feeling very uncomfortable. He finally agreed to trust his friends and do what they say when Amy swore on something very important to her, “fish fingers and custard.”
They traveled back to 1969, with the TARDIS materializing in Richard Nixon’s oval office. I had expected that they would make use of a pre-existing set, but Doctor Who Confidential showed the crew actually building their version of the oval office. The Doctor wound up getting involved with the mystery of a young girl calling Richard Nixon every night, regardless of where he was. A new villain, which Amy first got a glimpse of in Utah, was present–The Silence. With the Weeping Angels, Steven Moffat created a threat which would kill you if you blink and stop looking at them. The Silence is even harder to fight as the moment you look away you forget that you even saw them. They were presumably behind the destruction of the universe last season, and Doctor Who fans are reporting evidence of their appearance in several previous episodes.
The Silence told Amy that she must tell the Doctor something, which probably explains why she suddenly told him that she is pregnant at what was not a very convenient time. Presumably their instructions, while forgotten the moment Amy looked away, remained somewhere in her mind. The episode ended with a cliff hanger in which we found that the little girl who had been calling Richard Nixon was in an astronaut suit. Amy, assuming this is the same person who had killed the Doctor, shot the girl.
The cliff hanger left a lot to speculate about. Was the little girl in 1969 the same person in the astronaut suit who killed the Doctor in 2011? Could the girl be Amy’s daughter? Perhaps it was River Song who was in the astronaut suit and killed the Doctor. We were reminded of River’s story (presumably to allow new viewers to catch up) and the Doctor even asked her who she killed. (“No spoilers.”) In Flesh and Stone River said she had killed “the best man I’ve ever known.” She also foreshadowed her own “death,” at a time when the Doctor would no longer know her, in Forrest of the Dead. Perhaps River is even Amy’s daughter. Someone known as Pond just might name a daughter after another type of body of water. Hopefully we will get some answers next week in Day of the Moon:
Karen Gillan does say there will be a lot of revelations in an interview in the Scotsman.com:
“There are going to be a lot of revelations,” she suggests tantalisingly. “There’s one huge one that will change everything. Steven Moffat went around everybody and only told them the bits they needed to know, and we’re not allowed to discuss it with each other, which is really relevant for the whole story.”
In an interview with The Telegraph, Karen Gillan said she wanted to be like Robin Williams, or perhaps Birttany Murphy. Karen Gillan’s interview with Craig Ferguson aired on Friday–a video is posted here.
In other Doctor Who news, Meredith Vieira and The Today Show will be traveling to the set of Doctor Who in May. Vieira will have a cameo role on the show.
Doctor Who has been nominated for three Hugo Awards, including two stories written by Steven Moffat, A Christmas Carol and The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang. A third episode of Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor written by Richard Curtis also received a nomination. In addition, a nomination went to a book entitled Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea.
The TV boss and lead writer has opted to give the aliens a rest in 2011.
He wants to give them another make-over and bring them back with a bang next year.
Diehard fans hated the multi-coloured fat Daleks from the last series and dubbed them Dipsy, Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa and Po after children’s favourites the Teletubbies.
Moffat said: “We will bring back the Daleks.
“But there will be lots of different kinds.
“I want them to come back in a really brilliant way.
I started the post by noting there were two important events this week. Fortunately we escaped a third. According to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, April 21, 2011 was Judgment Day, when the machines rose up to destroy most of humanity. We might have already been on borrowed time as the original Terminator movie set Judgment Day on August 4, 1997.
As teased in the new issue of EW, everyone favorite creature of habit is parting ways with his longtime roomie, Leonard.
“You have a situation where Priya is staying with her brother, and Leonard is spending time with Pryia,” executive producer Billy Prady says. “The current sleeping arrangement isn’t the best one. I think a little experimentation with people in different spots [is necessary].”
But who is the (un?)lucky soul to take Leonard’s spot in the apartment? Prady wouldn’t say, specifically, but guarantees, “It will be a human, and it will be someone we know.” Prady elaborates: “One of the things that Sheldon will [learn from] his new roommate — temporary or permanent, we don’t know — is just how long Leonard has been skating by. He’s going to have a terrific experience with this new roommate.”
The author speculates that it will be Amy Farrah Fowler. That is a definite possibility, but the two are so much alike. There could be far more conflict if Penny moves in with Sheldon to save money. There is already a bizarre chemistry between the two.
Matt Smith and Karen Gillan discuss the upcoming season of Doctor Who in the above video. More from Matt Smith here and Karen Gillan here. Here are some of Karen’s comments:
“There were clues planted in the last series that are going to become major storylines in this one,” divulges a conspiratorial Karen Gillan; a revelation which is bound to have all Whovians avidly watching Series 5 to spot what the Inverness born actress is referring to.
“There’s a really interesting arc in this series that involves all of the major characters and it’s evident from the first episode that everyone on the TARDIS is withholding secrets from one another,” continues Karen.“It makes for a fascinating dynamic between the characters and it’s incredibly important to the overall series.”
Karen also believes that Amy has more respect for her new husband Rory after his recent adventures.“I think Rory has perhaps developed the most out of all the characters,” explains Karen.“By the end of last series he became a Roman Centurion hero and he had changed a lot; it felt like he had earned his place in the TARDIS. In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine the TARDIS without him now!”
But has married life changed Amy Pond? Karen quickly sweeps that concern out of the way exclaiming “if anything she is even more Amy Pondish! I don’t think it would work for Amy to completely change now that she’s a married woman and I certainly don’t think she should become a subdued version of herself. However, I do think being married has helped to define the Doctor and Amy’s relationship and I can reveal thatsomething takes place this series which makes Amy see Rory in a new light…,” teases the actress.
More from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan here. Karen Gillan will also be a guest on Craig Ferguson’s show on April 13. Perhaps she will show him how to operate the TARDIS on his desk. The picture above is from the third episode.
Steven Moffat: Well we’ve moved through the funfair a bit – we’ve done the rollercoaster, now we’re on the ghost train. Last year, in a way, was all about saying, don’t worry, it’s still him, it’s still the same show, nothing’s really been lost. Losing a leading man like David Tennant is seismic – unless you gain a leading man like Matt Smith. It’s been the biggest joy to see him stride in and just claim that TARDIS for his own. But now he’s really here, and the part is his, and the bow tie is cool, he’s ready to lead us places we didn’t know existed. Last year we reassured you – this year, to hell with that, we’re going to worry the hell out of you. How well do we really know that man, or what he’s capable of? We’re putting the Who? back in the Doctor.
Is there a major story arc to look out for?
Oh, there’s a big story being told this year, and major mysteries from the very off. As ever, in this show, the stories all stand alone, and every episode is a perfect jumping-on point for a new viewer. But at the same time the over-arching plot will be a bigger player this year. More than hints and whispers – we’re barely ten minutes into episode one before our heroes face a dilemma that they’ll be staring at months from now. And there will be no easy answers.
Will there be new monsters?
They’re … scary. Very scary. And, ohh, I don’t want to say more – there’s the Silence in 1 & 2, the Siren, in episode 3, the Gangers in 5 & 6, all these are more than just freaky costumes and masks; there are SCARY ideas here. And just wait till you meet Idris in episode 4.
Is this series scarier than the last one?
See above. Yes, I think so. But it’s not JUST scary – it’s funny and moving and revelling in its own insanity too.
How have the characters evolved?
The big difference, I suppose, is how long the Doctor is hanging around in the lives of his Companions. His normal MO is get them while they’re young, and leave them while they’re young too. He’s careful to put them back where he found them, before he screws up their lives. But here he is, married couple on board – and much as he loves them both, he does wonder if it isn’t time he got out of the way. Before something really BAD happens.
What can you tell us about the cliff-hanger at the end of episode 7?
Normally our cliff-hangers are lives being threatened. With this one, three live are changed FOREVER.
The poster for The Impossible Astronaut (above) is available for pre-order. Here’s the synopses of the first two episodes:
Episode 1: The Impossible Astronaut
Four envelopes, numbered 2, 3 and 4, each containing a date, time and map reference, unsigned, but TARDIS blue. Who sent them? And who received the missing number one? This strange summons reunites the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song in the middle of the Utah desert and unveils a terrible secret the Doctor’s friends must never reveal to him.
Placing his life entirely in their hands, the Doctor agrees to search for the recipient of the fourth envelope – just who is Canton Everett Delaware the Third? And what is the relevance of their only other clue: ‘Space 1969′? Their quest lands them – quite literally – in the Oval Office, where they are enlisted by President Nixon himself to assist enigmatic former-FBI agent Canton, in saving a terrified little girl from a mysterious spaceman.
Episode 2: Day of the Moon
The Doctor is locked in the perfect prison. Amy, Rory and River Song are being hunted down across America by the FBI. With the help of new friend and FBI-insider, Canton Everett Delaware the Third, our heroes are reunited to share their discoveries, if not their memories. For the world is occupied by an alien force who control humanity through post-hypnotic suggestion and no one can be trusted. Aided by President Nixon and Neil Armstrong’s foot, the Doctor must mount a revolution to drive out the enemy and rescue the missing little girl. No-one knows why they took her. Or why they have kidnapped Amy Pond..
Beyond the two-part story opening the season in the United States, an episode written by Neil Gaiman entitled The Doctor’s Wife is attracting considerable attention. Newsarama interviewed Gaiman:
“Getting to write a Doctor Who episode, for me anyway, was probably the nearest to being God that I have ever been or will ever get,” Gaiman told Newsarama. “I remember a similar feeling of megalomaniac power for about fifteen minutes in 1988 when I got to write my first Batman line. I got to bring on Batman and write dialogue for Batman and, I’m making Batman talk. But making Batman talk does not actually compare to the feeling of glorious power you get the moment you type, ‘Interior TARDIS.’”
…Gaiman isn’t exactly sure why Doctor Who is making such a big splash in the U.S. finally, but he did venture a guess. “I think partly, it’s probably broken at the States because there isn’t anything like it and I think it probably took it five years to break in because nobody was really promoting it. It was something that has been driven by fans,” he said. “If I can say this without being taken outside and beaten up by the BBC, it was probably in many ways, driven by people downloading it and torrenting it. It was being driven by people falling in love with it one person at a time and then telling somebody else, ‘Look, you have to watch this. Here’s ‘Blink,’ watch this. Here’s ‘The Girl In The Fireplace,’ watch this. Here’s ‘Dalek,’ watch this,’ and I think that’s what drove it.”
“But I also think the lovely thing about having a new Doctor is, it gave everybody a nice place to jump on. You didn’t have to feel that you were in this five episode…you know, Russel’s [T. Davies] arc was this five year run and now we’re into the new one,” continued Gaiman. “But also, I think the worst thing about Doctor Who is also the best thing about Doctor Who, which is you’ve got 47 years of mythos and it’s unfortunate, but people think that they need to know or understand that 47 years of mythos rather than the simplicity of Doctor Who which is, there’s this wonderful man, in this blue box, that can travel through space and time and it can turn up anywhere and it will turn up somewhere where there’s a problem and he will sort it out.”
Gaiman didn’t reveal too much about the episode, providing this summary:
Although he was reluctant to give too many details, Gaiman also mentioned a few actors he was excited to write for in his episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” and what we can expect. “It stars Suranne Jones playing a character named Idris who may turn out to be an old acquaintance of the Doctor’s with a new face. It co-stars Michael Sheen as a mysterious baddie called The House,” he revealed to Newsarama. “It begins on a junkyard planet out on the very edge of the universe and I thought it would be fun to start in a junkyard just because Doctor Who started in a junkyard, so this does.”
Thirteen minutes were cut from the final version (which hopefully will be included on the DVD) and Gaiman had to settle with less CGI than he initially wrote into the story:
The other thing Gaiman had to get used to, was writing for a show that doesn’t necessarily have the biggest budget in television. “There’s a lot of CGI. I remember handing in the first draft to them and having a dinner afterwards at Steven Moffat’s place where they said, ‘Look Neil, we love the first draft. It’s brilliant, it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s wonderful. Just so you know, each episode of Doctor Who has,’ I forget what the exact numbers were, I think they basically said 100 man-hours of CGI, ‘You have 640.’ So there was a level on which lots of things went away,” he said, “They still wound up essentially taking other episodes out around the back of the bike sheds, beating them up and taking their lunch money and giving it to me. All I know is the finished episode looks beautiful and it has, like I say, it has everything I would have wanted and it takes you places you’ve never been before.”
Interview with John Borrowman and Bill Pullman on Torchwood: Miracle Day at Cannes in the video above.
Going beyond the obvious suggestion of “don’t,” here is today’s tip for morons who are planning to have children: Name your child Palin. What better way to honor such a prominent person who has been promoting ignorance as a virtue? Today Moms reports that “the number of families naming their babies Palin tripled from 2008 to 2009.”
While the number is up, there is still a relatively small number of people naming their children Palin, or after any other living politician:
Blame Nixon. “It used to be we would have seen Palins everywhere. Up until Watergate, every election reliably brought in a measurable generation of baby names,” said Wattenberg. But post-Watergate, it became too risky to name a baby after a politician. A good politician today could be mired in lifelong scandal tomorrow. “There’s the element of risk. Presidential names are still hot, but only presidents who are safely out of office or dead. Everyone’s a little more jaded today, for good reason.”
But there is one measurable trend with political names – naming babies after politicians’ children. While Palin and Barack may not overrun the playgrounds in a couple years, their children will. Malia, Sasha, Bristol, Willow and Piper are all trending upward in name popularity.
“Bristol, Piper, Willow, that’s where you see the effect the politicians (have). It’s a safer thing, politically sort of safer, but you’re not making an homage,” Wattenberg said. “It shows that politicians are celebrities and their kids’ names are in the news,” said Wattenberg.