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Doctor WTF?

Posted by on Apr 12th, 2009 and filed under Pictures, TV. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

I know I’m not alone in being a bit underwhelmed by last night’s Doctor Who Easter special. In fact our Head Chef’s already called it ‘tripe’ and I think he’s only being a smidge uncharitable. David Tennant has emblazoned our screens with many classic episodes - ’Midnight’, ‘Blink’, ‘Forest of the Dead’, ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ – but ‘Planet of the Dead’ wasn’t one of them.

The opening lazy heist sequence was a frank slap in the face with it’s ‘Mission Impossible’ wire work, ‘Entrapment’ lasers, James Bond farting horns, ‘Indiana Jones’ bag swap (woefully done, incidentally) and idiotic RTD dialogue (‘Sorry Lover’). And I still can’t work out why, having been on the roof, Michelle Ryan was running through the gallery when the alarms went off. Is she supposed to be the worst cat burglar in history? Apparently.

And it got worse.

She flees on a bus that the entire Metropolitan Police force can’t seem to stop, the driver having accepted her diamond earrings as payment (as if) and then they disappear through a wormhole to a desert planet straight out of ‘Pitch Black’, three suns, swarming monsters and all. Yes, the sand is actually the pulverised bodies of a billion dead (hence the title) and why the wormhole was created in the first place and how they get back through it is plausable enough when you think about it, but the passengers themselves were the typical ‘normal’ human types the Doctor seems to adore these days, with their ‘food, home and people’ that he feels are somehow so much more powerful and significant than being trapped on the other side of the galaxy with the dust of the dead in your hair and a trillion flying sharks ready to reduce you to a bloody sandpit. And did I mention that there’s a wise woman? There’s always a wise woman, invariably Carribbean, with ‘psychic ability exacerbated by an alien sun’, sprinkling her doom-laden patois over proceedings: “Sometin’ is comin. Sometin’ is comin. Ridin’ on the wind. And shinin’…..Death. Death is comin’” Oh come ooonnnn.

Here’s the first ten minutes. Just watch it. If you’re an adult with a fully functioning Cerebellum you should hate it, and if you don’t there’s probably something wrong with you.

UNIT arrive soonafter and things deteriorate on the London front. The lady in charge thinks the Doctor is a god, the Doctor somehow gets through to her on a mobile (that Sonic Screwdriver has become such a Deus ex machina it’s sickening) and Lee Evans, as UNIT’s resident mad scientist, gets to do his slapstick routine with a fire extinguisher whilst elevating the pro-Doctor sycophancy levels to absurdly high proportions (when they finally meet all Evans can say is “I Love You”, over and over) 

Meanwhile, back on Planet Death, Michelle Ryan and the Doctor are retrieving some crystal from a pair of humanoid houseflies in a sequence that steals liberally from the first two ‘Alien’ movies but still manages to be borderline tedious. And when the Doctor finally does manage to fly the bus back to Blighty why do only three monsters come through the wormhole with him? It takes a full minute for Lee Evans to seal the rift, and back on the planet the nasties were all over their arse, so why do only three steel sharks get to eat UNIT lead? It makes no sense.

But then most of it makes no sense. It’s as if, having deprived him of a companion, Russell T Davies has written a one-off romp for the Doc that feels like one of those throwaway comic-strip stories you get in spin-off magazines, and perhaps I wouldn’t have minded that if the hype machine for this special hadn’t been cranked up to 11. The Times review basically said “We haven’t got a preview DVD but an insider says it’s ‘awesome’” and they just took their word for it. Since when did it become a positive thing for critics not to be able to review a flagship BBC programme?

As far as I’m concerned the whole enterprise was a waste of time. For all the audience gratification on offer Russell T Davies might as well have flopped his arse out of the television screen and shat in my child’s lap. 

Here’s hoping ‘The Waters of Mars’ is better. It has to be.

5 Responses for “Doctor WTF?”

  1. Marcus says:

    I’m a Who nerd and have generally loved the new series, but Davis seems to be out of ideas. All the faults with last nights ep were him at his worst. I was surprised to see it was co-written, but I think that just backs my theory up. Even Murray Gold’s music is sounding tired and hopefully Moffat is going to give the series a complete overhaul and bring back a slightly scary Dr Who.

  2. roomybonce says:

    I think you’re right about RTD’s writing, and the co-write credit surprised me too. The Moffat/Smith combo is a great chance to reboot the franchise and I hope they do darken it slightly because much as I love David Tennant I think he’s beginning to settle into an intense/comic holding pattern that is closing on parody.

    I don’t want Moffat to make the Doctor too tragic though. In that vein I thought one of last night’s lines was just plain wrong. When Christine asks him why she can’t go with him he says something like ‘I’ve had companions, and I’ve lost them all’ but he hasn’t. In many cases he’s just dumped them on street corners. Every single one of the half dozen companions in last season’s finale survived, despite Dalek Khan’s prediction that the ‘most faitfhful’ would die. No companion has actually been killed since the relaunch and I can’t remember how many have died in the entire history of the franchise, but I bet it’s no more than a couple.

    Anyway, I just hope Davis can make the Xmas finale work, because it would be terrible if Mr T’s otherwise glorious blue box tenancy were blighted by the decision to leave four specials too late.

  3. Dukes says:

    The one consistent love of my life has been Dr Who. I adore it and will faithfully defend it. And Russell T Davies has done such a great job of rebooting the series. I was on a train yesterday & 2 kids were passing the time by playing Dr Who Top Trumps. It was a genuine joy to hear them reel off the names of enemies old & new.

    So yeah. Planet of The Dead stinks. All that creativity, talent, budget and experience resulted in something so… thin.

    There was nothing at all special about the Easter Special and I really hope Tennant gets the great send off he deserves over the next 3 episodes.

  4. Marcus says:

    Tennant said reading his final scripts made him cry. After POTD not sure if that’s good or bad. My money’s on the Master.

  5. roomybonce says:

    He’d be mad to go for The Master again, although I do think it’ll be another Time Lord or some other significant figure from his past. What about Rassilon? or Omega?

    Dukes, I’m also very gratfeul to RTD for what he’s done for The Doctor. The series’ current cultural dominance would have been unimaginable only a decade ago, but I think a lot of that can also be attributed to Christopher Eccleston.

    It was Eccleston who took the Doctor and applied every ounce of his acting skill & reputation to make him a dramatically valid character again, in a way not seen since Baker, and maybe not even then to the same degree. It was the actor who made people finally take the Doctor seriously again. Without Eccleston, Tennant would never have had the latitude to take it to another level.

    Lawd luv ya Chris.


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