I have loads of half-formed meta I can't make gel into proper coherence, so I'm just going to dump it all here to make it stop clogging up my brain. No spoilers for anything that hasn't happened in America on cable yet, and only vague ones at that.
The whole "no one in the real world knows about alien invasions" thing has been an issue for Who ever since it started paying attention to its own continuity. In Three's era (which is the first time the same setting persisted between one story and the next, so there was continuity within the era even though it was essentially a new show compared to the black and white days) there was a built-in excuse of UNIT covering it up, and it was actually mentioned in the plots sometimes. And in the '80s we get stuff like that lovely line in Remembrance about humans' capacity for self-delusion only being exceeded by their penchant for destroying themselves, or whatever the exact wording is. (Because in a Ben Aaronovitch story, Pacifism is Good and Weapons Are Always Useless In The End, unless you're one of the people that the Doctor's relying on to use them even though he's explicitly told you not to -- a paradigm probably inspired by Leela, but which I'm slightly surprised to see fits Davros in Remembrance too.) But all the time, we as the audience are in on it. It's a chance for the viewer to feel smug about having Secret Knowledge and/or being more open-minded than normal people. But it still felt like a club that anyone could join if they opened their mind enough. The problem with the new series is RTD's obsession with scale, such that everything contemporary (particularly at Christmas or a two-parter) happens in widescreen-cinema-style and it's all supposedly undeniable, "everything changes after this" etc. etc. And he's got the CGI to back it up. Except that things don't change (OK, there's Torchwood, but they're monumentally incompetent, they can't be covering everything up) and it leaves humanity looking stupid. Back in the old days, even things we were told were a big deal didn't feel so big because of the limited number of extras etc. So it didn't seem too implausible that humanity as a whole didn't know. But now we've gone from a Men In Black type situation where it's not too implausible that most people don't believe, to one where the fact that no one knows and Donna's being hungover every time aliens invade is played for laughs, and it feels like there's a barrier there -- the club is no longer open to anyone, being part of it is a Natural Speshulness. The fact that the opening of people's eyes is part of the Master's perversion of everything makes me feel ever so slightly skeevy, just like the treatment of Mickey in Rose or Julia in S&J. Maybe Donna coming aboard will make it better? Or will her sudden and unwilling induction into the club suddenly make her Magical Fairy Dust Perfect Companion material?
If Marthafen are pessimists (which seems to be the meme going round) it's only because every time we got our hopes up the canon beat us with a big stick and so we've learned to expect nothing more. 'Cos dammit, unrequited love and shipping people who aren't together in canon (yet) are both all about hope. We're the default optimists, surely? Shipping characters who the canon puts together pretty much from the beginning doesn't need any sense of hope, unless what you're hoping for is smut at 7pm on a Saturday. Anyway, I am hopeful that Martha will get some decent treatment in S4 because the vibe seems to be that the production team didn't realise how big a misstep the whole thing was and they'll be desperate to fix it. Of course, they may not fix it very well, but as long as it includes an explicit recognition of her worth by the Doctor, and I think it will have to, I will be a happy bunny. Obviously, I'd like a snog, but I'm not daft (though maybe a contrived situation where she needs to kiss him and she gets to tell him it means nothing and mean that it means nothing because she's properly over him in a way that doesn't invalidate her earlier feelings would be good). I am much more worried about what Torchwood will do to her, really (see #4).
It occurred to me the other day that in a lot of fandoms futurefic (in particular, I'm talking about the "everything's great now!" Deathy-Hallows-epilogue type of futurefic; I'm as partial to a good "things have got even worse and here is the horribleness that ensues" futurefic as the next angstwhore) is a very popular genre, and I don't think it's a good fit for DW because of the overall structure of the story. A lot of stuff (particularly more towards the fantasy end of the genre) posits a Great Struggle that the hero/ine/es have to overcome to attain/return to the "normal life" they crave. Buffy is a bit like this, though it's balanced out by the short life-expectancy and the fact the struggle has been going on since caveman times, so it doesn't feel like Buffy is going to be the victor who will finally make Good triumph (even if Fray says that's exactly what she is). HP is hugely like it, of course. And the thing is that for the fanfic authors setting things after the victory is a great opportunity to do all the schmoop and babies they want with the characters they like without the risk of imminent death getting in the way. But the thing about DW is that the Doctor's life is as close to Happy Ever After as it's going to get: he likes the constant travel and adventure and righting wrongs. And so you can't do it with him in a plausible way (at least for my personal plausibility filters). And while I think of it, that's why I never liked that (very neat and clever from a fan-theorising pov, I'll be the first to admit) idea that went round that he should have just appeared in the beginning of S3 70 years later, having lived Rose's life with her. That's not how it works.
I really really don't like the way Tosh is characterised almost entirely by her neediness, which seems to be rooted in some idea that geeks like her are just absolutely desperate for someone to pay attention to them, or something. But even if she has to have that neediness, it doesn't strike me as particularly plausible that she's so lacking in self-awareness about it. Which is not to say that geeks aren't sometimes hugely lacking in self-awareness, but it strikes me that Tosh should be sufficiently switched on to where her buttons are to know when someone's trying to push them. And yet she falls for it Every Single Time.
Thinking about Tosh/Mary (being a prime example of #4) got me thinking about the way sex with aliens has changed in SF in general. At first I thought it was a US/UK thing but then I realised it was a shift between different time periods. In (to take the obvious example) ST:TOS, the aliens are naive and it's all "show me more of this Earth thing called kissing", whereas in later stuff (and definitely in Torchwood, which is where I started with this) pretty much any alien knows how to show a human an amazing, often potentially fatal, time. And it occurred to me that its emblematic of the difference in our treatment of Western knowledge vs that of other cultures, and how that's changed. Previously, other cultures have been seen by the Western view as "primitive" and "undeveloped" and so on (we show them good sex), whereas these days they tend to be exoticised and seen as having access to knowledge Western cultures have cut themselves off from (they show us good sex). It feels like there's a wanky paper in this with a cheesy title like "Loving the Alien: Sex and the Other in Colonial and Post-Colonial Science Fiction", but I'm not going to write it.