I'd forgotten that I put together a "year in review" post about things I loved in 2011, and then never posted it because the list seemed so short, and I wanted to see if anything else came to mind. It wasn't a fantastic year for falling in love with new things, I guess. I read 38 books, which I know is barely a sneeze to some of you speed-readers out there, but is a decent sum for me. And I quite enjoyed quite a few of them. 2011 was the year that I finally read A Room With a View (which I liked, but perhaps not as much as Howards End) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle; and I read the odd little book The Brontes Go to Woolworths, and I liked Connie Willis' Blackout and All Clear, and Cat Valente's Fairyland. But I didn't read or watch anything much new that I felt the need to buttonhole people about, and that's generally my standard for a good media year. I didn't have a due South this year, or a Tamsin. Still, what there is, come see. (I have been spending *way* too much time with As You Like It lately, seriously.)
Year in review 2011
--THE PONDS. I've found myself saying lately that "all of my feelings are Pond feelings," and it's perfectly true. Doctor Who is beloved to me generally, of course, but this year has especially belonged to Amy and Rory. I love that their relationship has developed in s6, that Amy is more comfortable showing tenderness to Rory, that they are a love story in every universe. And I love that their relationship with the Doctor has grown and changed, too, that their bonds have deepened and been tested, and that they remain a strange, wonderful family. (*Christmas special flail*)
--honorable mention to Matt Smith, of course, whose face still exists and therefore has delighted me all season. Special kudos for his double act in "The Almost People," which I'm pretty sure I referred to at the time as giddy-making. And oh, that scene with Alfie (aka Stormageddon) in "Closing Time"...I don't want always to have Beat Up on Ten Corner, and that isn't really even how I mean it. But Eleven faces his death with the ability to focus on the good, to remember what he's loved as well as - or more than - what he's lost, and I'm so grateful for that. It's become a commonplace to talk about the way that Matt can suddenly turn so old in scenes like that one, but I think it's partly to do with the way he manages to make one believe that he's actually capable of reflecting on hundreds of years of experiences - sometimes to be made weary by them, but more often to be grateful, even if that gratitude comes with a tearful edge.
--another honorable mention for "The Doctor's Wife." Because Neil Gaiman wrote a love letter to the TARDIS, and it was beautiful. Hello, TARDIS. It was so very nice to meet you.
--And just one more for "Good Night," one of the minisodes on the S6 DVDs (aka the one where Amy and Eleven go get timey-wimey ice cream). This encapsulated so much of what I love about the Moffat era so far: its insistence on the benevolence of time, even in the face of its tragedies, but a benevolence that stems from the way that people orient themselves toward others, and choose to care for each other, as much as from time itself. (I still love the fact that ultimately they don't go back in time to save Vincent van Gogh, but to befriend him. Even though they can't change his fate, they can change his life.) The Doctor can't fix Amy's life; he can't make time travel make any sense. But he can give her the gift of perspective, a little touch of reparation for a childhood sorrow that becomes an answer for her current dilemma. In the face of the inexplicable and the unfathomable, this Doctor puts his faith in the grace of the moment. "Cheer up. Have an ice cream."
--going to London this summer with my friend. Also, theater-stalking several favorite actors: David Tennant, Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker, and Arthur Darvill.
--(this gets its own line) the Summer of Jamie. This began in London, watching him and Sam in R&G Are Dead, which was like magic (oh, my boys). Then his brilliant turn as Hal in 1 and 2H4, which made me feel so much for Hal for maybe the first time: he was so immediate and in the moment, really piecing together his princehood through the course of the plays. And it's no exaggeration to say that the knowledge that he's playing Henry in H5 has brightened my life so much over the last few months: I so want to know where that journey will have taken him.
--very honorable mention for Roger Allam, who made me enjoy Falstaff. I did not know such a thing was possible.
--Passenger by Lisa Hannigan. I discovered this CD during the lees of the year, and it's quirky and enveloping. (I also bought a copy for my high-school Spanish teacher, as a Christmas present.)
--The Hour. Despite a sad paucity of Jamie Parker, this series was engrossing, and I rather fell in love with the rich textures of cloth it put up on the screen. (so much tweed. <3) /shallow There's also the relationship between Bel and Freddie, which I loved: I don't even necessarily need them to get together romantically (though because I have seen television before, I'm pretty sure they will), so long as they remain so important to each other. They're comfortable together, in a way they can't be with anyone else - particularly Bel, who spends so much time protecting herself emotionally, for all that she's reckless sexually when it comes to Hector, wanting to play by the same rules as men, who can have affairs and not be thought the worse for it. With Freddie, she gets to be both playful and childlike, and motherly and nurturing - because it's also always clear that Freddie couldn't make it without her; he's completely fearless, and he also doesn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain: he's got no instinct for self-preservation, literal or social. They've grown up together: she's proud of how she's molded him, and exasperated by his stubborn obliviousness; he knows her intimate habits, and can be scathing and unfair when he thinks she's playing it safe. It's interesting to watch them both try to grow past that old relationship they share, and yet to continue to need to come back to it. And it occurs to me, incidentally, that the way I respond to their relationship, especially when compared to my response to Bel/Hector, is completely telling about my priorities: the relationship that's supposed to be hot-and-heavy, all passion first and foremost, never interests me like the ones where two people find a resting place or haven in each other.
--Luther s2. I didn't love it quite as much as s1 (needs more Alice!), but I would watch the "Luther does domestic and awkwardly protective" show all day, every day. He's so bad at caring for himself that it's startling to see that he knows the offhand, ordinary routine of caring for someone else - not just protecting someone else, because that's part of his job, but the daily activities of cooking breakfast and nagging someone to go to the job center. It makes me wonder about or imagine the possibility of some occluded history of kindness in his life: who took care of him, when he was young and needed it? Did anyone?