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I haven't done a post about the new series of Doctor Who with Matt Smith as Eleven and Karen Gillan as new companion, Amy Pond.

The reason is because I simply haven't been impressed with it. In fact, having had really high hopes for Steven Moffat's take-over (perhaps too high), I find the whole thing a bit of a disappointment - particularly the scripts, which have generally creaked with either plot holes or general story mediocrity, with good ideas going absolutely nowhere and established 'canon' being twisted or ignored for easy resolutions.

I'll put the rest of the post under a cut because I think there are still people on my Flist who haven't seen all the episodes.

So let's start with Eleven. I don't think Smith is doing a bad job - there are some nice elements of Two, Four, Nine and Ten in his performance, which helps give his Doctor continuity. The problem is that I'm not seeing what he's giving to the role and a large part of that has to lie in the script, which doesn't seem to be able to strike a balance between having him as a joker/mischief-maker or a dark and troubled I Am The Law! character. The lack of consistency means that there's little for him to get his teeth into and at times - particularly in the abysmal Victory Of The Daleks (scripted by Mark Gatis who needs a lesson on the perils of logic fail and history fail) he's just down right schizophrenic.

Amy Pond. I still don't know whether I like her as a character or not. I do know that I like Karen Gillan's performance, she's made the part (which could so easily have been a sub-standard Sally Sparrow) her own. I like the fact that she stands up to the Doctor, I like the fact that she is capable of saving herself and making her own decisions. I don't like the fact that her raison d'etre was waiting for Eleven to see her and I am so totally over the Moffat's continuation of RTF's "Every female companion must fancy the Doctor" that it's something that makes me gag when it gets referenced.

Hence, at the end of last night's Flesh and Stone while the feminist in me cheered her on for being in control of her own sexuality and going after what she wanted (without succumbing to 'I can only have sex with someone I want to spend the rest of my life with), the fact that this is yet another companion who wants to get his tweeds off is boring. Really, really boring.

Script-wise, the shows have been at best a curate's egg and at worst, down-right diabolically appalling - Mark Gattis, I am looking at you.

The Eleventh Hour tried to do too much with the time available and while it had some great lines "Your Scottish, fry me something" and some great moments, it didn't quite get over the line in terms of establishing a change to the previous seasons.

The Beat Below was average. Some great ideas (notable the grinning puppet things) that went nowhere - why were they putting children down into the basement when the space whale wasn't eating them? There was some spectacular Eleven schizophrenia here (the whole I decide speech is a throw back to RTD's worst excesses) and while I loved Liz XX, she wasn't given much to do despite the cool mask.

Victory of the Daleks was a complete bag of shite. I love Bill Patterson and his performance was the only thing that saved this for me as the sweet-natured robot who didn't know it (him and the Dalek offering him a cup of tea). I am also a fan of Ian McNiece (a great character actor who stole Rome with his public speaker role) but his Churchill was way OTT and I didn't buy his relationship with Eleven. Worst of all though was the way in which they went for the on-paper coolness of spitfires in space without thinking through the science of it. But the reboot of the pimped up Daleks (now available in a kaleidoscope of Smartie colours, just in time for Christmas) made me gag.

The Time of Angels was probably my favourite episide to date, even though it ripped off Ringu (angel coming out of the TV) and ignored the angels' ability as set up in Blink - gone is their ability to throw you somewhere in time, now they're neck breakers who can apparently look at each other. Moffat had some more RTD race fail (why did the first two victims have to be black and why was it the white and weedy Bob who got to have a continued speaking role?). I am a River Song fan and Alex Kingston is great - knowing, teasing, mysterious and smart in her own right. Plus she's teamed up with Ian Glenn (and why isn't he on TV more?). Would have liked to see some hint from Eleven that he remembers what ultimately happens to River in his exchanges with her but that's a personal peeve.

Flesh and Stone was rubbish. After a great set up, it becomes one long chase scene with enough plot holes to sink the Titanic. Now the angels can't move if they only think you can see them. The time sucking hole sucks. River was given nothing to do but run alongside Eleven waiting for him to save them all (with the possible exception at the end when she takes the initiative to fix the transporter). Ian Glenn dies solely to set up another episode (and a pretty blatant set up to the fact that River kills the Doctor). The ending with Amy throwing herself at the Doctor left me ultimately cold.

Next week it's Vampires of Venice, featuring Amy's wimpey nurse fiancee (another cliche - why do the companions have boyfriends who are shown to be nothing compared to the doctor - why can't a male nurse be a strong and interesting character in his own right?). Effects look good, but I'm not expecting much.

So all in all, Doctor Who is leaving me cold at the moment and I'm not sure I'm going to make a lot of effort to keep watching.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 2nd, 2010 04:56 pm (UTC)
At least according to a variety of conspiracy theorists, here seems to be a bunch of screen time being used (or wasted, depending on your POV) to set up some over-reaching timeline Thing in the arc, which may explain some of the seeming dead ends in the end but is, to my thinking anyway, all a bit of a waste.

We've GOT "Lost" on television with multiple timelines and flashback/forwards. You don't need do it again here.
May. 3rd, 2010 12:30 pm (UTC)
At least according to a variety of conspiracy theorists, here seems to be a bunch of screen time being used (or wasted, depending on your POV) to set up some over-reaching timeline Thing in the arc, which may explain some of the seeming dead ends in the end but is, to my thinking anyway, all a bit of a waste

I actually quite enjoy a good story arc over a season (Babylon 5 was one of my favourite ever shows for that reason), but it needs to be developed in some way. Even RTD did a better job than this with his Bad Wolf references. Here it's like "spot the surprise crack reveal at the end" and there's no real mystery to it. In fact, I keep thinking that it could be an advert for Polyfiller.
May. 3rd, 2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
I agree with a lot of what you say above (although the flaws you've identified don't bother me nearly as much as they evidently bother you), but not this so much.

One of the many, many things that annoyed me about the RTD era was the way that foreshadowing and arc amounted to little more than catchphrases that failed to make any real sense even after the supposed reveal. Bad Wolf? WTF was that all about, really?

I rather prefer the way that Moffat is setting up the crack as an obvious problem to be solved, not a narrative non sequitur. I'm wondering if he's writing the kind of recursive storyline that will play completely differently when you go back and watch it again. Seems like a stretch for the Saturday family viewing timeslot, but I live in hope...
May. 3rd, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
Should you be wondering where I'm getting the latter from, incidentally, you could do worse than read the discussion that starts here.
May. 2nd, 2010 08:33 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, but it's so much better than Rusty's stint. I got to the point where I couldn't even watch Ten without wanting to punch him in the face, so Moffat's run, despite its flaws, has been a breath of fresh air.
May. 3rd, 2010 12:31 pm (UTC)
I agree that the last season of Ten and those special episodes weren't much cop at all.

However I'm not seeing enough fresh air from Moffat to make me a believer - in fact, a lot of what he's doing seems to be stale air recycling from the RTD years.

May. 5th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
I saw the two angels ones back to back - my first exposure to Eleven - and I must say I enjoyed them. They actually make me want to watch more television, something that almost never happens.

Of course, I'm casual so what a fan would think, I'm not sure.
May. 5th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
Sorry, the above was me, by the way.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline Hooton

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