Doctor Who and Me 5

Doctor Who.

The sixth series has finished. Torchwood: Miracle Day has finished. The Sarah Jane Adventures are starting again with our beloved and (sadly) long-gone friend Sarah Jane. Now is a better time than any to come back to this little wild quest of mine in deliciously dissecting my favourite show of all time. Except, I’m not sure anymore. Except, I might have to stop watching this altogether. Give me a few paragraphs, please, to explain myself but I’ll probably use this writing progress, right here, in order to come to a conclusion as to whether or not I’ll be watching Series Seven and beyond.

Last time I did this I was all wibbly-wobbly with my writing ability, I still am, and I’ve only improved ever so slightly. Forgive the typos and try to dilute some form of substantial opinion out of this because Who is something I’ve yet to completely articulate my passion about. Who is a story about a guy who goes off on adventures and makes me cry now and then. It’s a show so diverse, so varied and so full of flair and love that it’s hard to resist hating it or using words like ‘hate’. Never, ever have I ‘hated’ the show. I have hated its practices, but at its very core, Who is too loveable.

Remember, I only do this because I love this show so much.

Series Six – Part One

Spoilers, obviously.

Moffat thought it would be fun to divide Series Six into two parts with a giant cliffhanger in the middle because writing tricks. Hell, I’ll do that too then.

A Christmas Carol

MICHAEL GAMBON.

MICHAEL FUCKING GAMBON.

I rather enjoyed this little episode. In fact, it brings me back to The Christmas Invasion when the Christmas specials weren’t a giant waste of time. It’s not quite a “Christmas is irrelevant, fuck the police!” that End of Time was (no Tennant regenerating here) but it instead spins off into just one jolly larf about Matt Smith running about planet and convincing MICHAEL FUCKING GAMBON that Christmas is alright. It plays a bit with the whole Dickens thing of Past, Present and Future ghosts along with some delicious trickery of mature stuff (like when he’s about to hit himself from the past and mirror his own father).

It’s fun. There’s even some Series Six setting up with the final sing-song from Catherine Jenkins or whatever her sexy name is. It’s all just one big hullabaloo of fun-filled with fun. Christmassy fun, too. Probably my favourite of all the Christmas specials.

The Impossible Astronaut

An impossible astronaut will rise from the deep

and strike the timelord

dead.

OKAY PROPS TO MOFFAT FOR HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK.

So, apparently, The Doctor dies on Lake Silencio in this big massive plot point in the very first episode and then River Song is all grieving and then the Silence turn up and then they go away. What I like about this opening episode is just how crammed with bombastic stuff it is. It’s the very worst opener for any new viewer yet it treats the vets and fanbase properly. There’s no ‘oh no who blew up the TARDIS’, this is proper ‘who killed the Doctor?’ Stuff that I can get into more than simple plot stuff. It’s probably because this is a show that, I think, should be more about the characters and weaving that into the actual plot-hints and LOST structure is alright with me.

Except then, at the end, there’s almost a foldback on everything we’ve just achieved. We have an interesting story, the characters aren’t wibbly-wobbly, Amy Pond is now a consistent character, Rory is fucking RORY WILLIAMS, River Song isn’t being totally annoying and the Silence are terrifying. Except, right at the end, we get the astronaut being shot and Pond saying she’s pregnant and a mysterious TARDIS and all manner of loose threads that you just know will hang around for the whole series. Yes, I’m all for ‘Act One sets the scene and shit’ but in the first episode? I don’t like it when a stand-alone story is crammed with too much stuff.

Day of the Moon

I am the eggman

I am the walrus

Koo-koo-kachoo!

Hmm.

You know, it’s weird me praising Moffat and going all wibbly and saying that he finally understands his own characters. Then, suddenly, with Day of the Moon we get this one giant prod at the Apollo mission and some more bombs of story being dropped with Act One of the actual story filled in later. In media res storytelling works for Who, somewhat, except it is a show that isn’t built upon flashbacks but rather actually living time itself. Not sure how I feel about this, but once again, we get this giant ‘run around and Scooby Doo shit also Nixon turns up and gives the Doctor a scolding look’.

Without a doubt though is this giant mess of a scene:

Okay, heavy music. Big climax. Big, lovely climax all about the Doctor telling the silence to FUCK OFF and GET BACK TO YOUR OWN SHITTY LITTLE COUNTRY, BLOODY FOREIGNERS being all BNP up in this bitch. Except, instead, the Doctor does something non-Doctory.

He commits genocide.

At least he thinks he does, “One great big whacking kick for the silence” he proclaims while he lets the human race viciously murder the Silence. Yes they have controlled human history for so long and have probably led to millions of deaths, but the Doctor is a man who forgave the Master. The Doctor is a man who let Hitler live. The Doctor always forgives.

In Genesis of the Daleks, Tom Baker committed genocide for those most frightful of foes: the Daleks. Obviously, they came back, but there were many scenes in which The Doctor was questioning whether he had the right. He looks very complacent and quite stern in his decision. He knew there was no option but still grieves of his decision.

In fact:

It just doesn’t feel right to me. You know? The Doctor singing and dancing about murdering an entire species.

The Curse of the Black Spot

Hello I’m Rory Williams, your pilot for this flight to… ummm… 

oh

shit im dying again lol

I think this is a terrible underrated episode. It plays around with some fun stuff, has an actual sexy bitch alien, has Karen Gillan in a pirate costume, some proper actors and some great set design. There’s a sense to it all that it’s all some jocular funbits stitched together and that’s fine by me. I think we needed a breather after the Doctor committed genocide and all of those ‘plot threads’ started to blossom. It’s quite annoying to have those threads come back in the pregnancy scan and some other ‘hey guys’ stuff crop up with the hatch being opened in Pond’s mind. It detracts from its worth as a standalone story.

I made a somewhat joke at Rory dying and I’m fine with characters being put in peril. Rory dying every week or so makes me feel like he’s probably the badassest man who ever lived, even death doesn’t want to deal with him. I’ll come to A Good Man Goes To War but just think that opening speech of his and you’ll get what I mean. It’s fine and fun all in this episode and I don’t think I have any real problems with it. It’s not stellar or emotional or amazing but it gets the fun job done.

The Doctor’s Wife

NEIL GAIMAN.

NEIL GAIMAN WRITES AN EPISODE OF DOCTOR WHO

NEIL GAIMAN.

DOCTOR WHO.

One of my favourite episodes of Doctor Who.

I don’t even know where to start. Do I say “hey actors actors acting” or do I go “hey wibbly wobbly timey wimey and show coninuity all on display el oh el!11” or do I rant on about something else? This is simply the best episode of the series, no doubt about it, perfectly exploiting one of the more morbid relationships that science-fiction has to offer and making us all cry in the progress. It has Amy dealing with an ageing Rory, the Doctor being lectured on his TARDIS door by the actual TARDIS, a giant morphing being who wishes to consume Timelords and also Michael fucking Sheen.

The simplicity and brutality of that “Hello” towards the end is what makes it so wonderful. I was so caught up in the emotional goop that I hadn’t noticed the stupid “THE ONLY WATER IN THE FOREST IS RIVER” ‘hey guys’ moment. I don’t care. This is perfect Who. Rose Tyler deals with her dead father, Van Gogh confronts his depression, the Weeping Angels nearly destroy the Doctor’s last hope and the TARDIS tells the Doctor “Hello.”

Pure, artful television.

The Rebel Flesh

i think im a clone now

there’s always two of me

just a hanging around

Wonderful aesthetic, shoddy screenplay, poor pacing, wonderful performances and otherwise just a very wibbly-wobbly affair. The ‘1 hour’ bit stands out as one of those ‘real’ touches . It makes Who feel so wonderfully brutal and worrisome and reminds me, oddly, of The Thing and the paranoia that just dripped from every scene and punctuated every ounce of every dialogue crunch. The Rebel Flesh is a worrisome and tightrope affair. It somewhat succeeds in trying to panic is up to a conclusion, but is quite messy in how we get there. The plodding bits get to me.

I think we could all see what was coming at the end, which was a shame, without the blatant hints and shoves maybe that ‘1 hour’ could’ve been a reason for the ending. It would’ve been nice to go “Oh… OH!” and then the next part happens and it’s like… well…

The Almost People

hello doctor

i guess it’s time to get cracking

doctor

YES.

Only a show like Who could have chemistry between the protagonist and himself. The philosophical “What does it mean to be!” gets thrown about ever so nicely but then everything just sort of gets a bit weird. The emotional stuff seems a bit cookie-cutter, the sonic screwdriver continuity irks me, the ending is just one big “Oh we’ll come back to that.” since it’s so obvious that everybody could have easily survived down there. The screenplay again feels irksome and sloppy, which is a shame, given there’s so much to play around with in the Doctor/Doctor relationship. Good effort though.

And then Amy Pond turns into a puddle.

Okay.

A Good Man Goes To War

Demons run when a good man goes to war
Night will fall and drown the sun
When a good man goes to war

Friendship dies and true love lies
Night will fall and the dark will rise
When a good man goes to war

Demons run, but count the cost
The battle’s won, but the child is lost

Rory Williams swagger jaggers into the supreme Cybermen council chamber and tells them that they’re all shitmunchers. He doesn’t actually say that but… look at that shit. Look at that motherfucker right there. Just swaggers in like a proper Han Solo all covered in Roman gear ready to fuck shit up!

Fuck yes!

And then the episode happens.

The Doctor runs around ranting about how the babby couldn’t be a timelord, then he’s an idiot because for the past 910 years of his life he never figured that procreation exists, then he speaks babby, then he gets tricked by the puddle-making lady and then it’s all… weird.

“My friend you’ve never risen so high.” or something like that says the Silurian lady.

Wait, what? Destroying the Dalek empire? Saving the entire Earth? No! Saving the whole of reality and time and reality?! Saving everything. No, making a base of dudes run away for another group of dudes to run in and chop people’s heads off. That is the true note of heroship that the Doctor has. It’s like the whole “The Doctor will rise so high and then fall so much further.” feels so weird because… none of it is relevant. Honestly, it’s all relevant to Amy and Rory and The Doctor (obvious) but “Risen so high”? It’s like tricking us with language “You Are Not Alone” but it, once again, loses that feeling because we know The Doctor has risen higher to everyone in the universe before.

What I don’t like about this episode is that it’s fillertastic. There’s a guy who gets his head chopped off called “The Fat One”, there’s some militant guy who then disappears for the rest of forever even after a fantastic “Colonel Runaway” speech by The Doc but then it all just collapses into the reveal of River Song’s identity.

I don’t know about you but I’m just simply bored by it now. I’m getting Transformers syndome where I can’t hate or dislike but just sigh and sit bored. This tired ‘revelatory’ stuff just doesn’t fit in with what Who is about and the ‘cliffhanger’ feels so weak because it feels so lost. People have speculate for years as to who River Song is and whatever revelation you give them, only a handful will be satisfied. Once you leave something open to ambiguity, expect debate, but when you close up that gap, expect revolt. I for one finally realized this is what NewNewWho was about. These moments of somehow ‘giant revelation’ where it’s like ‘Oh, right’ instead of ‘Oh my god’ like the ‘YANA’ moment.

I doubted whether to continue watching Who. No, past tense, I’m still writing this. I’m still doubting whether I’ll watch the next series. I need to think some more and delay these thoughts further. I need time. I honestly lost all grip on Who after A Good Man given it was everything that the show had become from the RTD days. We got a Neil Gaiman episode but it feels irrelevant to this shoddy giant storyline. I’m fine with hints but when they damage the stand-alone stories or just outright weaken what you try to do then it’s like shock and awe. The first time, holy shit. The second time, shit. The third time, shit.

I’ll carry on thinking.

Next time/week/I dunno: Doctor Who and Me 6: Series Six Part Two and final thoughts on Who.

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