A Spoiler-Free Ranking of the 10 Best TV Seasons Released on Netflix in the Last Two Months

As part of my job for Uproxx, I watch at least the first season of almost all of Netflix’s original series (I do not watch the kid shows), so that I can keep a running list of the Best Netflix Original Series, a list that needs frequent updating (I’m about a month behind now). The period between the last week of April and now has been maybe the busiest Netflix period ever with both new series and their most popular returning series being released at an insane pace. I haven’t gone a weekend in nearly two months now without bingeing a Netflix series (plus I squeezed in one Amazon series), and that streak will not stop this weekend (Gypsy comes out on Friday, and then I get a merciful one-week break before Friends from College debuts).

All things considered, it’s a great gig, really, except for the lost sleep. While I wouldn’t necessarily gorge on Netflix to the extent I have without a job-related reason to do so, I have seen some fantastic television in the last two months.

If you’re in the midst of a glut of Netflix series yourself and would like to prioritize what to watch first, here’s a quick ranking of what I have watched, from worst to first.

10. GirlbossGirlboss was crap, but weirdly watchable, mostly because I like Britt Robertson despite the fact that she’s supremely miscast here and despite little evidence that she’s a decent actress. My two biggest problems with the series were 1) the fact that Sophia Amoruso is a problematic inspiration for the character, especially since the company she founded (which is at the center of the show) has since gone bankrupt because of her reckless management decisions, and the 2) wildly uneven tone. It’s like DeGrassi meets a raunchy Judd Apatow comedy. The show had no idea what it wanted to be, but it won’t have to worry about it anymore because it’s been mercifully cancelled.

9. Bloodline — The first season of Bloodline is legitimately one of my favorite seasons of Netflix television, a really intense, incredibly acted slow burn. There never should’ve been another season. A mediocre second season dovetails here into a pretty bad third and final season that coughs and sputters until the ninth episode, which is actually very good. Unfortunately, the series finale is a cheap, unsatisfying cop-out that left me wondering why I even bothered.

8. House of Cards — The placement of House of Cards on this is list is less an indictment of this season and more a testament to how good everything else has been. The fifth season is something of a mess, but a wildly addictive one that eventually spirals out of control. It wants to one-up our new Trump reality, but in doing so, it becomes even more unbelievable than our new Trump reality. It jumps the track, but Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright will continue to keep me coming back for more.

7. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — I liked this season, and I feel bad about ranking it this low, but honestly, I barely remember anything about it, and it’s only been a few weeks since I saw it. Kimmy tried to get her shit together and go to college; Jacqueline spent another season trying to rename the Washington Redsk*ns; Lillian ran for city council; and Titus had a lot of boyfriend problems. There was also a whole episode about Titus trying to use a convenience store bathroom to take care of his business (I also feel like it was one of the better episodes). The best I can say for Kimmy this season was that it was painlessly amusing, but completely forgettable. I am pretty sure that the infectious theme song also doubles as a mind eraser.

6. Orange is the New Black — I didn’t like this season very much in the beginning, and I hated the idea that the entire season was going to take place during a three-day prison riot. Crazy Eyes had a terrible storyline. I didn’t much care for Dayanara and Aleida’s storylines either, and I straight-up hated what they did with Flaca and Maritza until the finale. However, I love these characters. They figured out exactly how much to use Piper (read: not that much), and Taystee (Danielle Brooks) was fucking blow-me-away fantastic. Her and Gloria (Selenis Leyva), actually. Both deserve Emmy noms. Indeed, as annoyed as I might have been with much of the season, I still welled up three or four times in the season finale. It’s not the best season of OITNB, but it’s totally worth the investment.

5. Sense8 — Look: It was a good season. It wouldn’t be this low on almost any other list! It took a while to get going, though, but once it did, it was magical. Cheesy, nonsensical, bonkers, but magical. It really is a remarkably positive, life-affirming sci-fi series, and I am bummed as hell that it was cancelled, because nothing on television wears its heart on its sleeve as much as Sense8, and nothing on television embraces love in all its variations quite like Sense8. It’s a supremely uncool show, but that is part of its charm.

4. The Keepers — All the attention that Making a Murderer got should have been given to the true-crime docu-series The Keepers. Of course, The Keepers didn’t have an abusive white-trash OBVIOUS KILLER as its hero; it had two older women who have made it their life’s mission to discover the murderer behind their Catholic School teacher, a cold case that warmed up after sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church in Baltimore surfaced. This is a really great documentary series that does happen to be hard to watch at times, but it is important. And riveting. And completely fucking harrowing.

3. Master of NoneMaster of None came out on the same weekend as The Keepers, and I watched the doc first and circled back around to Master of None a couple of weeks ago. The reviews — or at least the headlines in those reviews — weirdly put me off, because there were lots of words like «more experimental» to go along with the effusive praise. But, there was no reason to shy away from the second season. It is every bit as good as the first, except that it’s more sure footed. It’s phenomenal, and heart-warming, and adorable and smart and insightful and completely winning. I do not think that Aziz Ansari is a great actor, but he is a fantastic writer and observationalist and performance-wise, he does play to his strengths. Also, the last couple of episodes were heart-wrenching in the best possible way.

2. GLOW — I echo everything that Ryan said about the series, and of all ten of the Netflix series I’ve seen in the last two months, this was the only one I watched straight-through in one sitting. I couldn’t stop. It’s not as smart or insightful as Master of None, not as important as The Keepers, and not as moving as OITNB or Sense8, but it is the most entertaining, addictive series of the bunch.

1. Dear White People — We haven’t written an official review of this series yet, because so far as I know, Lord Castleton and I are the only ones on staff who have seen it and we are white as fuck and this is not a series that I’d feel comfortable with a white dude reviewing. It is frequently funny, it is well acted, it is insightful, and it is entertaining. It’s also incredibly illuminating for the way it explores the social dynamics between Black People and White People, Woke People And People That Aren’t, Light-Skinned Black people and Dark Skinned Black people, and Black people who want to confront institutional racism from the outside and Black people who want to work within the system as best they can. It’s complicated as hell, and it challenges our prejudices at every turn and illustrates maybe better than any show I have ever seen the complexities of race. That’s exactly why all white dudes should be watching this show but none of them should be reviewing it. In series form, it is a textbook example of «Don’t talk, just listen.»

Did not watch: Flaked season two (because it’s the worst series on Netflix, and that includes Fuller House), F is for Family season two (the first season was fine, but not my thing), and The Ranch season two (the first season was better than I thought it would be thanks to Sam Elliot and Debra Winger, but still not very good). I also didn’t watch Anne, because it got terrible reviews, and I wasn’t in the demographic to begin with. I put it in the category of «kid» series.

I should also note that, while I don’t watch all the stand-up specials on Netflix, I have seen quite a few, and Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King has easily been my favorite — the man completely masters a mix of humor and poignancy and delivers the sweetest, funniest stand-up special I’ve seen in years. It is so incredibly good. If all you have is an hour to spare, I suggest putting this at the top of your queue.


In Praise of Janey-E Jones, The Best Character in the Twin Peaks Revival

The more aggravating David Lynch’s revival of Twin Peaks becomes, the better it gets. Every moment the show swerves into a seemingly random tangent or rambles on about insurance sales or dedicates several minutes to the sweeping of a floor is a glorious reminder of the freeing power of being utterly perplexed. When the goings-on in Lynch’s world become even too bizarre for its residents, their refusal to react in the expected way can infuriate, but then again, it’s always been that way in the mind of one of cinema’s true geniuses. We haven’t spent much time in the eponymous town, eight episodes in to the Showtime revival. For the most part, we haven’t really been with Dale Cooper either, as the beleaguered agent fights to regain control of his body and mind following his imprisonment in the Black and White Lodges. For now, he’s Dougie Jones, Nevada real estate agent, family man and gambling addict with debts to repay — the masculine ideal of suburbia, mundane yet chilling. The Dougie subplot has divided audiences, but it’s also offered the show’s best character so far, Dougie’s wife Janey-E, played by Naomi Watts.

In a show full of characters just trying to get on with their lives as madness descends, Janey-E does it with the most aggression. Whatever suburban dream she has been promised has been torn to shreds by a philandering husband who cheats with younger women and has locked the family into $ 50k worth of debt. Life as Mrs Jones seems to be an utterly thankless task even before her husband was swapped out of the planet in favour of Dale by forces unknown. When we first meet Janey-E, having spent time with Dale/Dougie being dragged around a Vegas casino and making bank in the process, Watts runs the gamut of emotions as the worried wife quickly turns furious. The audience has seen the absurd journey of Dougie for so long and laughed at the awkwardness of it all, but there’s nothing funny about it to Janey-E — after all, he’s been missing for several days and the countdown to pay off his debts is still ticking.

Lynch has always known how to use Naomi Watts’s talents in the most intriguing and effective manner possible, which makes watching her work in this season all the more exciting, and just a tough disappointing to know that everyone else in the industry seems completely incapable of giving her good roles. In episode four alone, where her part is only a few minutes long, she does some of her best work in years, offering the emotional opposition to the seemingly aimless oddity of Dougie/Dale’s cluelessness. She’s relieved her husband is home, shocked that he’s accompanied by the police, angry he’s ditched her for days without a word, and exhausted by this cycle of spousal neglect she seems far too used to at this point.

To expect anything in Twin Peaks is a fool’s errand, yet the Las Vegas of the Jones family, with its never-ending rows of matching houses burning under the harsh desert sun, is a peculiar world where nobody reacts that oddly to Dougie’s sudden catatonic state. Indeed, it seems to have only improved relations with him. At work, Dougie has gone from a coasting insurance salesman to an unwitting whistle-blower on in-company corruption, with Dale guided by omniscient lights that also lead him to the luckiest night of slot-machine playing the state has ever seen. It’s the most literal interpretation of the ethos that mediocre men will forever rise to the top. If every great man has a great woman behind him, every middling man failing upwards has a woman holding him upright, occasionally literally.

Janey-E is a woman with a job to do, and she has no qualms about letting the world know she’s not happy about it. With so many cryptic conversations going on, Janey-E cuts through the fog with unstoppable force. She knows this world is bizarre, and getting worse by the day, so you damn well better believe she’s not going to negotiate with the loan sharks her husband is in debt to. She barely lets them get a word in edgeways while she makes her offer, emphasising how dark the world has gotten as she berates the crooks like they’re petulant toddlers. Dealing with the infantilised Dougie/Dale has put her through the wringer: She’s the «straight woman» to the clown who has long stopped being funny to her.

There is an increasing tragedy to Dougie/Dale’s fugue state, and the obvious impatience it elicits in Janey-E. The domestic unease it creates becomes more and more chilling as the Jones are forced to continue as if nothing has changed, as if the man Janey-E has been married to for at least a decade didn’t change height, weight and hairstyle in a flash and enter a semi-catatonic state. It is hinted at that Dougie, separate from the Dale situation, has suffered from «episodes», meaning Janey-E is dishearteningly used to this exhausting process wherein she, and others including co-workers and local authorities, must shove him into the most basic activities. Nevertheless, she powers on, pushing aside the puzzlement etched on her face, and she becomes Dougie/Dale’s fiercest protector. She has a role to play and she’s going to do it with impeccable commitment.

Naomi Watts became one to watch in Hollywood after starring in Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, where she played dual roles of sorts, not unlike Kyle Maclachlan’s array of parts in this season of the show. First, she was Betty, the bouncy Pollyanna starlet-in-waiting, the small-town girl who just knows she’s going to make it. The first time you watch the film, you can’t help but briefly wonder, as she bounces on-screen and talks like she’s reciting lines from a bad community theatre production, if Watts is actually a bad actress. It’s all too neat, too cutesy, and painfully naïve for a film drenched in unease. And then we meet Watts’s other character, Diane. She may be the reality to Betty’s pastel fantasy, or she could be what happens to Betty after too many years of crushing bitterness in the film industry. She’s frustrated, miserable, seethes with envy as the woman she idolises treats her like dirt, and has grown bored with pretending otherwise. The switch is jarring for the viewer. You wonder if something’s gone wrong somewhere, or if you’ve woken up from a dream. That’s when it hits you just how brilliant Watts’ performance is. Like the film itself, she’s monumental.

There’s a lot of Betty and Diane in Janey-E Jones, with the go-get-them drive of Betty mired in Diane’s smothering cynicism. Janey-E is the actress who got out of Hollywood before it poisoned her, but finds no satisfaction in the banality of domesticity. Dissatisfaction lies around every corner, but she persists, even if it means she has to drag her husband alongside her. With ten episodes to go, Twin Peaks could go literally anywhere, so predicting the fate of Janey-E and poor Sonny-Jim once Agent Cooper finally returns to our plain of being is a futile effort. Still, if Dale needs a cohort on his side once that happens, he would be smart to keep Janey-E Jones on hand.


Living Her Best Life: Let’s Talk About Jenny Slate

It’s not easy to be likeable. Too often, suspicious people write it off as «trying too hard» or a sign of unnatural goings-on — but if you could bottle it and sell it by the cartload, everyone would buy a lifetime’s supply. It’s taken too long for us to enter an age of acceptable unlikeability, particularly for women, as our society still views an ability to please as being of primary importance. Yet there are still limits on how unruly a woman can be in the public eye, as noted by Anne Helen Petersen in her latest book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman. You can be outspoken, but only to the extent that the balance of power is never truly challenged; you can push back against the demand to be «ladylike», but go too gross and society revolts; You don’t have to fit our culture’s ever-narrow definitions of beauty, but step outside your boundaries and people can’t help but question why you’re there. Do all of these things at once, while remaining effervescent and showing your vulnerabilities to the world, and you’re a goddamn genius. Some people are just easy to love, and that’s where we come to Jenny Slate.

Jenny Slate 2.jpg

When Slate made her debut on SNL, it was notable for all the wrong reasons. It would be facetious to call it «the F-bomb heard around the world», but going by the overblown level of press coverage it received, you would think it had done just that. The clip itself, which is part of a pretty mediocre sketch, passes by quickly, and many may not have noticed it if it hadn’t been for DVR rewinds to note Slate’s own reaction to the slip-up. She puffs out her cheeks in a moment of cringe, then gets back to work. Maybe if the sketch was funnier, people wouldn’t have minded as much. Slate herself never watched the clip, comparing it to being «like watching yourself fall down the aisle at your wedding! I feel like it happened to somebody else, and I want to tell her, «Oh, girl. I’m so sorry, but you need to move on.»»

Being good on SNL is hard: Lorne Michaels has his obvious favourites, and countless talents have been shunted to the background of middling sketches while the handful of major stars are made in the spotlight. For Slate (and another alum of that year, Casey Wilson), the opportunities to prove herself on-screen were thin, and people just kept coming back to the F-bomb. Slate, in a piece with Glamour where she gives advice on surviving a workplace screw-up, was open about the fallout. «People tweeted that I was «ugly» and «not funny,» and it really stung. But even in those awful moments, I always tried to find a little bit of pleasure: I was still alive. I liked my lunch.» Slate takes no shame in the incident either, and nor should she. It was just one «fuck», she noted to the LA Times: «But I don’t care that I swore. No one will ever convince me that what I did was wrong or hurtful — especially when there are shows like Two and a Half Men on TV that are just, like, sexist.» After one season, she was fired from SNL, let go from the job she had so desperately wanted and without a word from Michaels. She found out online.

In the Glamour column, Slate admits the firing hit her hard and led to a bout of stage fright, but she also gives damn good advice on working through tough times: Be nice to yourself, have people you love in your corner, wallow for a while if you need to but remember the importance of perspective and be proud of your talents. So much of Slate the star is defined by what Scout Tafoya calls «empathetic messiness». She struggles, but you know that feeling all too well yourself, and that makes her all the easier to love. The bright star became the underdog, doomed by many to be nothing but a footnote in SNL history. Watching her prove those doubters wrong proved immensely satisfying to every girl who had screwed up.

Slate became familiar to comedy fans through her regular appearances on everything from Parks and Recreation to Kroll Show to myriad podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang. She could be brash yet warm; abrasive but quick to embrace. The sweetest, and most inimitably Slate-esque example of this would come with a stop-motion animated short called Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, co-written by Slate with her then-husband Dean Fleischer-Camp, who also directed. The film takes the form of an interview with the eponymous Marcel, a tiny conch shell with one googly eye and a pair of pink and white shoes, guiding an unseen documentarian through his house while providing commentary. It’s lo-fi, surreal, imbued with melancholy, and incredibly funny, with the laughs increasing as the child-like voice of Slate describes ever more bizarre exploits, like using a Dorito to handglide or using a man’s toenails for skis. It’s clearly a thing Slate and Fleischer-Camp made for themselves, or at the very most a handful of friends, but it’s so charming and committed to its uniqueness that it’s no surprise it went viral. It spawned a few follow-ups and a children’s picture book, with the pair planning a feature length film she says will be «a character portrait much like Billy the Kid or Grey Gardens.» Like Calvin and Hobbes, Marcel is all about the limitlessness of creativity and the bittersweet awareness of how quickly that imagination can end. Slate knows that all too well.

Her next moment of glory came in the form of the critically acclaimed comedy Obvious Child. Beginning as a short film, Slate and writer-director Gillian Robespierre expanded the story to feature length, premiering to widespread acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It grossed three times its budget, received top reviews from the New York Times and received two Independent Spirit Award nominations. You may know it best as «the abortion rom-com», a glib tagline that still captures the banal honesty of the story. It’s a sweet, very funny and sharply constructed film that happens to take on a major societal taboo, and with the casual truth that, for some women, an abortion is not a defining moment in their life. This is another key Slate feature — the willingness to be emotionally honest at any given moment, be it in her politics or in detailing a bout of diarrhoea on her Twitter account.

While she had previously described herself as «not very Internet-y», Slate has become one of the sharpest celebrity users of social media. Her Twitter page is part overshare therapy session, part best-friend rabble-rouser, while her Instagram account allows her to share her love of literature (she enjoys Virginia Woolf, Tamora Pierce and Anita Brookner — lots of women writers) and her family alongside the usual promotional fare. She’s unabashedly political, unafraid to use her fame to support the causes that mean the most to her, like Planned Parenthood, and seems aware of the price of silence, particularly during our current climate. There’s no reason she can’t go from jokes about vomit in her iced coffee to criticising the gender stereotypes in comedy to taking on Ivanka Trump in the space of six tweets.

Since Obvious Child, Slate’s film and TV career has been varied and non-stop, particularly her voice-over work. Between Zootopia and The Secret Life of Pets in 2016 alone, Slate’s voice was part of a $ 1.9bn box office sweep. This year, she’s in Landline, Robespierre’s follow-up to Obvious Child, another Sundance hit, The Polka King, and her voices appears in both The Lego Batman Movie and the third film in the Despicable Me franchise.

And then there’s Gifted. We could talk about its box office success as one of 2017’s most successful indie films, or we could discuss Slate’s acclaimed work in a more serious role that’s outside her usual wheelhouse. But let’s be honest, that’s not what you want to talk about. You want to hear about Chris Evans: Captain America, beloved sensitive beefcake, and very briefly, the man lucky enough to call Jenny Slate his girlfriend.

Jenny Slate Chris Evans.jpg

We love celebrity relationships. It’s part fantasy, part cultural introspection. If we can’t stop thinking about the history of Brangelina, or why so many are irritated by Kimye, what does that say about us as a society? Celebrities are an exaggerated mirror for us to examine the anxieties of our culture, from gender to race to class and much more, so when they start pairing off, we can’t help but have all sorts of feelings about the entire process. Jenny Slate being with Chris Evans made sense: They’re both Boston natives, they’re funny and sweet, they both light up a room by walking into it, and they each inspire devotion from complete strangers, albeit for different reasons. For some, myself included, their pairing was just right; for others, it beggared belief, and they weren’t shy about letting everyone know how ill-fitting they found them together.

For many months, the comments on Slate’s wonderful Instagram page became unreadable, chock to the brim with vitriol from Evans fans who refused to believe someone like her could be with someone like him. It was always easy to love Slate, but now the need to protect her swelled amongst her largely female fanbase. How could you not celebrate her landing the prized bachelor of Hollywood? It felt like a mass victory for the screwed over woman, and it was about damn time guys like Evans saw how valuable women like Slate were. When half the click-bait buttons on every website you visit are toxic gawking spectacles over «child stars who got ugly» or «former babes who let themselves go» or «hot Hollywood stars with unattractive wives», it’s no wonder Slate and Evans’s love inspired such excitement. Never mind that Slate is very beautiful; by the standards of an industry that only rates skinny white 25-year-old women with the same interchangeable faces, she was average. Slate noted in a Vulture profile that, «I’m considered some sort of alternative option, even though I know I’m a majorly vibrant sexual being.» Yet, while we couldn’t help but celebrate her seeming prowess with the business’s sexiest singleton, the focus began to feel fetishistic. Even those who adored Slate, and I include myself in this, shared our proclamations in ways that felt a tad condescending towards the woman herself.

A post shared by @jennyslate on

The relationship lasted about a year, breaking up before the pair began their promotional campaign for Gifted together. In that time, Slate was interviewed for Vulture in what would be her most candid profile yet. Even the perennially honest star still had a few things to share. She’s honest — sometimes sweetly, other times brutally — about everything, from her divorce from Fleischer-Camp to the relationship with Evans and all the feelings it inspired, to the split and dealing with the fallout. For someone who has never had qualms about telling all, it’s a remarkably generous interview. This is a woman aware that, for many years to follow and for a sizable chunk of people, she’ll be known simply as Chris Evans’s ex-girlfriend, with all the faux-tragic, Jennifer Aniston-style narratives that entails. There’s no regret in that for her, as she says, regarding any future relationships, «Whoever is the next person is going to have to respect that I had a husband who I loved and this boyfriend who I loved so much, and I don’t want to have to act like they weren’t important.»

Now, we’ve seen photographs of Slate hanging out with co-star Jon Hamm, which has inevitably led to more dating rumours. Nothing has been confirmed, but it’s easy to dream, and once again, the celebration of Slate’s apparent dating powers have been brought to the forefront. Another sex symbol, an eligible bachelor with immense talents and a strong funny bone (and apparently casual relation to underpants) who presents a top catch for Jenny Slate. As argued by Anna Leszkiewicz in the New Statesman, «It’s like your best friend just turned around and told you she’s dating Jon Hamm. You love your best friend. You think anyone would be lucky to date her… But you’re still shocked and excited to learn she’s dating Jon fucking Hamm.» Even when we love them, we still struggle to see women like Slate, like ourselves, as worthy of «the best». Either that or our projections become too big to deal with.

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We want Jenny Slate to live her best life because she’s easy to love, easy to see ourselves in, and it’s good to see the underdog win. Of course, Slate’s been far beyond that point for a long time now. SNL‘s loss is everyone else’s gain.


‘Doctor Who’ Episode 11: Was ‘World Enough And Time’ The Best Episode of the Series?

There have been a few patchy episodes this series for sure, but this week? Wow. Episode 11 pulled out all the stops. If you haven’t seen it yet, DON’T READ ON; there are a ton of spoilers coming up. Go and watch it now, then come back. We’ll wait.


The trailer for this week’s episode kind of felt like it had given us some massive spoilers already, what with the teased appearance of John Simm and the Mondasian Cybermen. But my goodness, that wasn’t the half of it.

«I was watching you on the screen. It took me a while to work out who you were. You don’t remember me, do you. You don’t remember being here before. I’m very worried about my future.»

I still can’t quite believe I didn’t see it coming. Perhaps that’s a little embarrassing, but I’m not going to fib and pretend I clocked it early on. Gullible, perhaps, but I’m going to go with ‘trusting’ as that sounds a bit more flattering. With hindsight, the clues were there, and they were great big neon clues too.

The first clue was in the title, a reference to Andrew Marvell’s poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’. When I saw the title, I just thought it was a knowing reference to Missy’s redemption arc. Don’t be coy, Missy. You can do this. Let’s go; we haven’t got forever; «Had we but world enough and time, this coyness Lady were no crime.» But it turns out it was an even bigger clue than that. The poem is a persuasion poem, about the manipulation of a woman by a man, who flatters and then threatens in order to get what he wants. It’s playful and light-hearted, but with perhaps an undertone of emotional blackmail. The carpe diem message relies on a recognition that death is imminent: «At my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.» And it’s her death, not his. Because life’s too short to waste it on worrying about being good, and moral, and boring, the message is «let us sport us while we may.» Let’s have fun instead. I had thought it was about the Doctor and Missy; but it was more about the Master and Missy. It even sums up the Master’s attitude to Bill: don’t trust the flattery, it’s just self-interest. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a reference in the poem to different perceptions of time, albeit in a ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ way, rather than the impact of time dilation. So yes, quite a big clue, and I didn’t clock it.


Can we have a moment of respect for the Master’s commitment to disguises though? Bill was hanging out with him for years and he kept that accent going and that Mission: Impossible face on. That’s pretty impressive. I didn’t catch his name the first time (Razor), and just nicknamed him Sassy Filch, so I guess I had subconscious doubts about who he was meant to be. And I thought they’d put a lot of effort into making a random character vaguely hilarious! I was thinking, Ooh, they’ve done a great job writing this character whose name I don’t know, who will probably never be in it again… But isn’t his sense of humour a bit dark? «For some people it goes all…..vending machine.» And yet I still didn’t put it together.


Where are we in the Master’s timeline? I couldn’t quite figure it out… He’s been Mister Saxon already, but that was pretty much the first thing this incarnation of the Master did after he appeared at the end of ‘Utopia’. Does this take place before or after ‘The End of Time’?

«She scares me. She really scares me. Promise you won’t get me killed.»


The big Master reveal wasn’t the only shocker of the episode. I’m going to assume that there’s no coming back from this for poor Bill. Those big speeches from the Doctor never normally fail in such an epic way. That gun left quite a decisive hole in Bill’s chest, and that was before her conversion to the creepiest kind of Cyberman the Whoniverse has ever seen. She was another ‘Girl Who Waited’ for the Doctor to save her, and he was just too slow, and too late. They nearly lost her last week; she was introduced as a Disposable this week, and now it looks like she has met a similar fate to Danny Pink. Will she retain any of her Bill-ness? Poor, poor Bill. It seems like such a sudden end for her.

«I am Bill Potts. I waited. I waited for you.»

Another shocker? The regeneration. Now, they’ve trolled us with this before; they did it a few weeks ago when the Doctor tested Bill. They did it when Ten got shot by a Dalek trying to do a rom-com run towards Rose in ‘The Stolen Earth’. He got out of it then by channeling all that energy into his spare hand, which then spawned Doctor Two in ‘Journey’s End’. But we know that Capaldi’s departure is imminent, so if they are trolling us again, they need to be doing it more imaginatively, or Twelve is just the Doctor who cried ‘Regeneration’. Here are some theories for you: if Mission: Impossible reveals are now standard, maybe this is Missy or the Master disguised as the Doctor and undergoing his/her regeneration instead… If it is really the Doctor, then where is Nardole? The Doctor seems to be alone and desperate during this regeneration. Please don’t say Nardole meets a sticky end as well! YOU’VE TAKEN BILL, DON’T TAKE MY NARDY TOO!

«Hello ordinary person. Please maintain a minimum separation of three feet. I’m really trying not to kill anyone today, and it would be tremendously helpful if your major arteries were out of reach.»

Missy was an absolute delight this week. Seeing her play the role of the Doctor was like watching the Faith/Buffy body swap episode of BTVS in some ways; everything she did was a judgement on the Doctor’s perceived goodness and the hypocrisies she perceives under the surface. His relationships with his friends? Well, they are just Exposition and Comic Relief. The disposables. They are pets and babies. He’s the cradle-snatcher hanging around with infants. There is uncomfortable and inept flirting. It is all done with a flourish; Missy is enjoying making fun of the Doctor. But she is also doing this to establish her place in the Team TARDIS hierarchy. She outranks them; she is older, wiser and knows the Doctor better than either Bill or Nardole ever will.

And the affection is mutual. The Doctor describes the Master as his first «Man-crush». Let’s not diminish this by calling it a bromance; it’s much more profound than that. «She’s the only person I’ve ever met who is even remotely like me.» There’s a bond going back centuries. «We had a pact. Every star in the universe, we were going to see them all.»


This bond is firmly centered on how much they have in common, which is fine and dandy until she meets someone with whom she has even more in common. The show’s given us people arguing with themselves before — most recently in ‘The Day of the Doctor’, but what about when you are horrible to yourself? «He’ll never forgive you. Not when he discovers what you’ve done to his little friend.» Whereas the Doctor wants to mold Missy into someone moral, the Master plays on her guilt and her shame to manipulate her. This is going to come down to Missy’s choice: which double or version of herself will she want to listen to? Which shoulder angel will win the battle? The ‘good’ one that she has playfully lampooned but secretly admires? Or the ‘bad’ one that she is afraid and ashamed of? Clever and evil aren’t necessarily the same thing… Will she choose clever or evil in the end?


And what about those Cybermen? There’s something universally horrifying about the sound of a dentist’s drill, so thanks for that. We knew where this was going, as the trailer had told us. The voices were another clue, promising that Bill «will be repaired», and then reassuring her that «Full conversion wasn’t necessary» just yet. The repeated sound of «PAIN» echoing through the hospital was pretty grim, as was the horrible realisation that Sassy Filch’s Nurse friend (unimaginatively, I nicknamed her Nurse Ratched) wasn’t fixing the pain, just turning down the volume of the alert. They are all in agony. «KILL ME.» By the time Bill is converted, they have a new gadget; it «won’t stop you feeling pain, but it will stop you caring about it.» Heart = broken. I’ve usually found Cybermen more ridiculous than scary, but these ones are definitely more sinister. It’s the cloth masks. They look like a cross between a robot, a mummy and a clown to me.


Honourable mentions

Please don’t be too upset that ‘Doctor Who’ has finally been used as a name. It’s a joke, run with it.

That enormous ship was definitely Red Dwarf-esque, right?

Superman Gravity and Time Dilation! Apparently this time anomaly is a Real Thing, though I confess I did have to Google it.

The Doctor criticises modern society for its «Petty obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes». Does that mean that Moffat is getting annoyed with the whole ‘make the Doctor a woman’ debate, or does that mean that the showrunners might have made an interesting casting choice? I read a rumour online that Pearl Mackie might be the next Doctor. If so, that would be a first! (I would obviously be delighted as she has been amazing this series. I would be very sad to see her go, but I can’t see any way to save Bill that won’t feel like a gimmick… Would it be too jarring for Pearl Mackie to play the Doctor?)

Another blue man! And a nice little touch: you couldn’t tell he was blue on the monitor, so when he arrived, it was a bit of a surprise. In hindsight, this was another clue, wasn’t it? SHAME. SHAME.

Project Exodus sounds remarkably like the quest to Utopia, where humans were converted to Toclafane, in the three-parter ‘Utopia’, ‘The Sound of Drums’ and ‘The Last of the Time Lords’.

For more info on the Mondasian Cybermen, check out the wiki here.

Next time: The finale! It’s an epic battle against the Cybermen in ‘The Doctor Falls’, and Missy needs to choose a side. Plus that regeneration is still pending… (But Capaldi is in the Christmas special, right? So all may not be exactly as it seems…)


10 DEVASTATINGLY Great and Simple Ideas That Hollywood Needs to Adopt Now to Become its Best Self

Once upon a time, in the comparatively innocent age of March 2016—oh how young we were then—a starry-eyed buck of a writer called Lard Castletoon (or something like that) wrote a wonderful deconstruction of the concept of ‘Hollywood.’ Last seen wandering over the US-Mexico border with a bottle of something brown smuggled underneath a raincoat, he nevertheless left us with some hard-won wisdom before he disappeared into a desert both real and metaphorical. He wrote:

People are drawn to the glamour of ‘Hollywood’ like moths to a flame. But in general, there is no governing structure. There is no comprehensive plan. There is no agreement about how best to proceed or who to hire or where to spend their money because every company is different and they’re all scrambling for funding and relevance and commercial success. But there’s no love lost between studios, generally no honor among thieves and sorry to say, there is no ‘Hollywood.’

Not in the way most people think, anyway.

Nuanced. Considered. Sensible.

Well burn your eyes, Castlethwaite, you degenerate art dealer. I’m hungover. I don’t have time for your nuance.

Here are ten DEVASTATINGLY great ideas that the monolith, singular entity known as Hollywood needs to adopt in order to become its best self. Some of these ideas are not new. In fact most of them are pretty common in certain circles.


Roll tape…

1. Hire More People Who Aren’t White Men, You Twats
Hey, did you hear the one about gender diversity in Hollywood? How about the other, similar one, the one about race? The punchline to both is: White Dudes Have Too Much Power. True in Hollywood; true almost everywhere else. And guess what? That hurts everyone. Do you want a paucity of perspective in your stories, Hollywood, you twats? Because that’s how you get paucity of perspective in your stories. Give other people a chance. And don’t just point at one or two that you’ve deemed to let in front of the camera. Let them run the show. Let them hire people themselves too. Change the fucking system. Everyone will benefit. Or, you know, keep telling that story over and over again.

2. Quit Making Everything a Shared Universe, You Bellends
Here, listen: Kayleigh already expounded on this particular hangnail of a Hollywood obsession much more eloquently and with more balance than I ever could. My one contribution is: Just stop it with that shit! Bad Hollywood! Bad! Put that shared universe down. Tell me some stories that don’t depend on being surrounded by the creaking scaffolding of other stories!

3. Make More Buddy Cop Movies, You Crusty Old Jizz-Rags
Yes, you should diversify and make more types of movies, but hitting some reliable tropes now and then ain’t such a bad thing. A formula worked well can be a very satisfying thing indeed. So work one of the finest ones of them all. Hey, I know a guy who’s got loads of great ideas and who’s willing to license them for very reasonable amounts of cash-in-hand. A new golden age of buddy cop movies could be just around the corner. Think about itttttttt, the Rock and Tilda Swintonnnnnnn; you know it makes sensseeeeeeee.

4. Stop Remaking Shit, You Sozzled Old Drunks
I don’t care how much financial sense it makes in the long run, leave some of the old shit alone! It was wonderful. It was classic. It lives forever, alive and free, in our memories. There is almost never a valid artistic reason to remake an older thing. Sure, Michael Mann made Heat, the greatest movie of all time, by remaking an older TV movie of his, and there are other exceptions that prove the rule. But generally speaking: Don’t. When someone comes in to that boardroom with their mouth gurning a touch too much, their eyes un-blinking and wild, take that as a hint and throw them and their ‘Let’s remake Total Recall! Or Robocop!’ horseshit out on their powder-vacuuming arse.

5. Stop Revisiting Old Properties, You Silly Silly ****s
This one is the sister idea to number 4. Anchorman 2. Zoolander 2. Prometheus. Fuck off with that noise. I don’t care how ‘Hey you know what? That wasn’t so bad’ Alien: Covenant might have been. Even hiring a talented auteur like Denis Villeneuve doesn’t distract me enough from the odious stench that excavating an old relic of perfection like Blade Runner releases. Don’t. Challenge yourselves to create new worlds. Show us some wondrous new horizons. Those things don’t need sequels.

6. Stop Giving Abusers Chance After Chance After Chance, You Devious Shit-Gobblers
Does this one really need an explanation? You know who I’m talking about. There’s a whole bunch of these guys out there who, instead of feeling the sting of karma hobble their careers as payback for their heinous behaviour, get rewarded by a system that values entertainment over human life. These people might be talented, sure, but you know what? There’s a whole fuck-tonne of talent out there that isn’t tainted by malevolence. Start filtering out the latter, you might make more room for the former.

7. Stop Writing Relationships Where The Man is Double The Woman’s Age,
You Unimaginative Knobkicks

Yes, of course these kinds of relationships exist, as they have every right to as an act between consenting adults; but if you don’t see that the relatively high preponderance of such relationships as compared to the gender-reversed version isn’t a symptom of the underlying patriarchy that runs our society then you’re just being silly. And, also yes, sure: telling stories is a way of reflecting the world we live in, and if these kinds of relationships exist then we’d be remiss to occasionally not show them. But there’s two provisos to that:

1) At a certain point, reflection can tip, tip, trip across the line to become reinforcement and/or endorsement.

2) You show way too fucking many of them. It just gets boring. There’s only so many times I can see Tom Cruise paired up with Emily Blunt before I start to feel sorry for both genders.

8. Gay People Exist, You Staggeringly Retrograde Tossers
And trans people. Basically there’s a whole huge swathe of humanity out there, full of people who don’t fall into that narrow heteronormative worldview that has dominated your industry for the vast majority of its existence. It would be nice, I think, for everyone, to see more of their stories. Ah, but don’t worry, I hear you—yes, you have gotten better at having nonheteronormative characters on screen in recent years. But, uh-oh, here I come again with the provisos:

1) Sometimes it would be nice to have a gay character played by a gay actor. It’s just neater that way. The same goes for trans actors. Loads of them out there. They love a gig just as much as cis actors. Woo, meritocracy!

2) When writing these characters, ask yourself the question: Do they have any other characteristic other than their sexual/gender identity? They probably should. Just makes for an overall richer story that way. If there’s a gay or trans character whose primary characteristic is that he or she is gay or trans, well—if you don’t see why that’s maybe not ideal, try and flip the situation and imagine a heterosexual character whose main attribute is their heterosexuality. WOW HOW COMPELLING, RIGHT!

9. Stop Making Star Wars Movies Every Bloody Year, Force-Feeding Force-Fuckers
Yeah. I’m sick of it already. Once they were mythical monoliths. Still products of a money-oriented business, sure, but there is something about the assembly-line Disney-ification of the Star Wars franchise that fills me with dread. Like any remaining magic is being slowly and methodically drained out. There was good in The Force Awakens and Rogue One, but it seemed like it was in spite of the controlling hand of the puppet master, rather than because of it. Call me a cynic, sure, but the recent Han Solo movie news about the firing of Lord & Miller looks too much like the stifling hand of corporate control hovering heavily over the restless spirit of invention. I don’t care if this time it’s Larry Kasdan, long-time Star Wars auteur. You’re gonna end up grinding this series into the dust if you’re not careful.

10. Put Rosario Dawson in Every Movie, You Daft Cockwombles
Self-explanatory this, innit? Rosario Dawson is the best. Warm, funny, full of empathy and fire; she’s the complete package. Versatility is Rosario Dawson’s middle name. She enlivens every project she’s in. DO YOU WANT YOUR PROJECTS ENLIVENED?! Then you know what to do.


Petr Knava lives in London and plays music


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