Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So the Season Break..

EDIT: Apparently, if I press enter when I've written the title it publishes a blank post and makes me look like a dick.



Aaaanyway, would you say the mid-season gap is doing it's job? I'd say if the idea is to make me not give a fuck, then it is definitely working?

I'm actually reminiscing about RTD's style. Sure, people make a big deal, and I often did too, about certain crazy aspects that got thrown up - women who like having sex with preserved heads in robot bodies, giant evil ceiling nipples of the Hadrojassic Maxorodenfoe, robot Santas who had highly questionable reason for existing... but the idea was that all this stuff was deliberately bizarre.

In Moffat's Doctor Who, the idea is that the Universe is so random that all this stuff is everyday. I can't think of "A Good Man Goes to War" as anything but 45 minutes of insanity, a strange kind of inverse world-building where the object is to say "You think you know this place but it's more messed up than you could ever understand!" This is also combined with a strange quality where Moff seems determined to show us how clever he is every single episode.

I'll chalk that up as one of the big pros of RTD. A man who gets referred to as part of a 'holy trinity' of TV writers and gets his job due to the fact that the ENTIRE SHOW ONLY EXISTS to ensure that he is head-hunted away from ITV... a man like that is secure with his legacy, his identity and everything else and doesn't need to impress anyone with these scripts. (Also, doesn't need to take any crap from people online which is why he gives us so much shit - it's understandable really)

I'm not saying that Moffat is hungry for that kind of position but, I'm going to put my neck on the line and say that it's safe to say he's using the show to sell his name more - and why not? It'd be crazy to say that Jekyll and Sherlock haven't come off the back of Doctor Who and these sort of projects are where he wants to be. So the barrage becomes endless.

I was alienated massively by the opening of this series because there was no sense of a new adventure, of carefree abandon like we've been used to - he get smacked in the face with a soggy story-arc right off the back which will hang over the rest of the series - WHY??? Why this, right after The Big Bang which was a massive agglutinative ball of Timey-Wimey that coalesced to the point where THE UNIVERSE HAD TO HIT THE RESET BUTTON to recover.

Straight after THAT, the Doctor goes and creates three divergent realities by messing with the past of Michael Gambon. WHY??? Then, after that, he performs a Xanatos Gambit we still don't understand by allowing himself to be executed in front of his best friends by an infant River Song.

...why? WHY? WHHHHHY?



Is it too much to ask for the Doctor to not insane plan for a few days? To make an episode that's nice and straight forward? I mean, due to the fact that I don't remember the clusterbag of random shit that happens in the massive season finales these days I completely forgot that we had no explanation in the first place for who destroyed the TARDIS to try and kill River last year and didn't get to see the Silence fall... which I guess happened in this two-parter...

..in which we get no explanation for who the fuck The Silence are anyway. I mean, another Alien race shaping mankind's destiny....

WHY???

Ugh, I couldn't manage a real review because in a way it feels like The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon or whatever it was wasn't a real story. It did the most work in just piling up questions upon questions to kickstart this series and not answering many of them. The Silence are a cool idea and are handled quite creepily - the Orphanage scene was brilliant, along with many other great moments, and I also have to say that the Doctor's plan to destroy The Silence was admirably clever... even while being gigantically out of character in terms of ruthlessness (and, erm, what happens to all the bullet-riddled alien corpses?)

To see how meaningless some of the cleverness is look no further than episode 2. We're treated to a 'Three months later' or whatever it was cold-open where the entire TARDIS crew is being hunted down and then executed by Canton. Of course, since we've already seen Canton at the Doctor's funeral as an old friend (Jesus, it hurts to type this stuff) we know it isn't real and of course it's a triple-bluff to get them all (including the body bags for some reason..) inside a Dwarf-star alloy cell (sigh) which somehow Canton has gotten the cloaked TARDIS inside. Because they can't be monitored there.

..yes, this is true. They also cannot be monitored inside the TARDIS. Which they had handy when they encountered The Silence. And to hatch this convoluted plan, which they have lost a hell of a lot of time in setting up, they would have had to discuss in a situation where they COULD be monitored. Furthermore, it's never suggested that the FBI or CIA are infiltrated by The Silence, and even late in the episode it's made clear that they still have Nixon's support. In short, the entire sequence makes no sense whatsoever and exists purely to provide a twist out of thin air.


WHY????

(I'm suggesting that this, the follow-up to Season Fnarg, be dubbed Season WHYYYY????)

Gack I'm losing energy... it isn't even so much about it being difficult to follow (though it keeps getting tricky) but failing to convince me that it's worth the effort of following it in the first place. The arc involving Amy's pregnancy is distinctly strange and doesn't make a heap of sense - why doesn't the clone know whether she is or isn't? It's a plot device but I think we're entitled to one that makes more sense. When was the real Amy kidnapped? Wait, in fact, nevermind that - when do we get to have an inkling for what ANY of this is in aid of?

You know what I have enjoyed this season? The episodes that are barely related to the arc. The Rebel Flesh and Curse of the Black Spot were, incredibly, fun! Remember that? Characters out on wild adventures for the hell of it? Oh, what a wild, retro idea. I could even write reviews for them, I liked them so much.

I keep hearing The Doctor's Wife was good. I might actually watch it some time.

Anyway, it all comes down to A Good Man Goes to War... an issue I have with this is a recurring them developing of Moffat liking to be epic within his budget, and the Universe has to bend for this to be logical. Rory fights Cybermen to get the info on Demon's Run. Why? Because they have plenty of Cyberman costumes. The Doctor doesn't bring an army of Sontarans, or Draconians, or Alpha Centaurians or anything so logical - no, his rank and filers are almost all Silurians. Why? Silurians have cheap costumes, clearly, because there was also a heap in Pandorica Opens. The Doctor's deadliest enemy is.... The Catholic Church. WTF??? Well, they have the cheapest costumes of all, so they can have two thousand of the fuckers in a scene.

The budget really seems to be writing the plot in that episode, along with ridiculous plot twists. There were nice moments, in much the same way I'm sure there are nice moments in bad acid trips. After the family watched it, none of us knew what to think. What the fuck had we witnessed?

River Song is... after we were abruptly told that there was a mystery about her identity when her first story couldn't have made it any more clear-cut and self-evident... Amy and Rory's daughter.

As noted by Mad Larry this incredible development... doesn't change anything whatsoever. Except make me feel a little more sympathy for Amy's plight. And mum was hoping she'd turn out to be Romana, naturally.

So the mid-season break hits and... it isn't like SGU I can definitely say that. Ahh, the small part of me that was worried that Robert Carlyle was gone from the show, and the other parts hoping that if he came back it would be badass enough.

But this? It became so baffling it's made me question the value of the show. Is it too much, asking for some coherence in a story arc now 20-episodes deep? Are we going to get any relatable, enjoyable simple adventure stories in the last 5 or is it going to be all Silence, Headless Monks, Lesbian Silurians, Canton, Time Loops, Dual River Song action? Instead of looking forward to the new series there's just apathy and a little trepidation. I'm really looking forward to the final so that hopefully this tortured and nonsensical mess can be behind us and the series can move on to... well, anything else.



To close off this rant, a bit from what was going to be my Impossible Astronaut review, discussing my issues with River who is unfortunately becoming a more important character.


"Then... River Song. It's definitely easier for me to think of her as a walking grab bag of memes than as an actual character. Like... every bad aspect of Joss Whedon's characters - the unbearable smugness, the lines that sound soooo over-written, the poorly executed Crowning Moment of Awesome - that only rub you the wrong way occassionally in, say, Buffy or Dollhouse - are relentlessly present in everything she does. A character trying too relentlessly to have get their Crowning Moment every 2 minutes and just coming across like a horrible, relentless grinning-and-wisecracking Mary Sue from Hell.

Oddly enough, Captain Jack had something of a similar genesis as another time travelling human from the 51st century who was effectively a lot like the Doctor but with slicker tech and a vaster quantity of gadgetry and street smarts and no qualms about popping a neuron ray in yo' ass, along with the smug attitude. I guess the difference is that Jack, being a fellow Alpha male was in contest with the Doctor, and because his name isn't in the title he was destined to either get smacked humiliatingly down or become a villian or BOTH. It wasn't enough for the Doctor to reveal Jack was responsible for the monster of week and turn him into his latest bitch, then RTD and Chris Chibnall devoted 13 weeks into wearing down Jack into a completely irredeemably worthless incompetent fucking buffoon before deciding he was due any more dignity.

Sadly, River Song is now the producer's personal Mary Sue and has annoying contractual immunity due to the fact that she dies in the past of the series, which is her future yadayadayada. So she continues to pilot the TARDIS better than the Doctor does, wisecrack better than the Doctor does, travel through time better than the Doctor does, leave messages through time better than the Doctor does... really, why don't you just save the Universe yourself, you lazy bitch? No? Just want to tag along with the guy who actually wants to but show him up every chance you get? Fuck you."



3 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Yep.

The only thing I don't instantly agree with is how good Curse of the Black Spot is - mainly because it's clearly had half an hour edited out of it and replaced with Amy's pregnancy test and waking nightmares. You can only have the Doctor say "FORGET EVERYTHING I JUST TOLD YOU!" before you realize the writer didn't have a fucking clue.

That said, I disagree with Mad Larry about River. Her revelation isn't supposed to make her more interesting or change what she is. It's not meant to affect the Doctor, it's meant to affect Rory and Amy. Hell, I can't imagine anything crueler happening to Melody than turning into River. Well, appearing in Mark Gatiss script, maybe...

Did I mention I've really grown to hate all this ontological paradox stuff? Not so much because Moffat seems to use them as some literary payment to some cosmic drug pusher ("here's your bootstrap story arc, I need ma fix ye daft goon!"), but because they sort of kill the concept of free will.

There's no point any more! The Doctor was always going to lose at Demon's Run, so why should he bother? All he did was kill off characters more likable than River. I mean, at least in Earthshock there was an element of free will - the Doctor fails to save Adric, but not because Adric is destined to die. You see what I mean?

What's the point in watching the next six episodes? We know the Doctor's dead meat. Or else he'll be miraculously saved, ergo THE WHOLE SEASON HAS BEEN A COMPLETE FUCKING WASTE OF MY PRECIOUS TIME!

I just wish this whole story arc had been in Tennant's first year, to balance how bloody annoying the main cast were.

The only reason to keep watching is to see The Lodger 2 with more Cybermen. Who hopefully won't get their asses handed to them again.

Seriously, Moffat, would it have been so bad to swap the Cybs and Monks around? They chop off your head and steal your body, electrocute the enemies and have religious zeal already.

The only possible reason I can think the Headless Monks got top billing was to piss off Mad Larry.

Anyway, yeah.

The Doctor's Wife IS worth watching though. DWC's obsession over Neil Gaiman was distorted by

a) he's the ONLY writer to actually want to talk about their work
b) it's cut down to fifteen minutes, so why they kept his fifteen minutes, I dunno.

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

The only thing I don't instantly agree with is how good Curse of the Black Spot is - mainly because it's clearly had half an hour edited out of it and replaced with Amy's pregnancy test and waking nightmares.

...hmm, I don't remember the specific bit. I remember the pregnancy got brought up briefly...

I don't think Black Spot was a brilliant story as such - it's rather the classic example of a great mystery story with a very weak resolution - but it just came as such a relief as a 180 from all the arc-laden crap.

Her revelation isn't supposed to make her more interesting or change what she is. It's not meant to affect the Doctor, it's meant to affect Rory and Amy. Hell, I can't imagine anything crueler happening to Melody than turning into River.

Hmm, yeah but we're yet to see Amy and Rory's reaction - the show was quite Doctor-focused during the reveal. And, in-universe, aren't they meant to all LIKE River Song? (Aside from the Doctor on certain days..)

Did I mention I've really grown to hate all this ontological paradox stuff?

Maybe in passing but I know I've talked about it a heap..

they sort of kill the concept of free will.
There's no point any more! The Doctor was always going to lose at Demon's Run, so why should he bother?


Yeah, that's my perspective. That's why I've always been uneasy about them in fiction - they suggest that there's a higher power guiding all these actions.

I mean, at least in Earthshock there was an element of free will - the Doctor fails to save Adric, but not because Adric is destined to die. You see what I mean?

Definitely, it's a well constructed tragedy. It's quite poignant that the Doctor and Adric are both trying to save lives and, sadly, fail.

Seriously, Moffat, would it have been so bad to swap the Cybs and Monks around? They chop off your head and steal your body, electrocute the enemies and have religious zeal already.

I hadn't thought of that surprisingly... I didn't quite 'get' The Headless Monks. It didn't help that they're in two scenes and do nothing but they are rather severely limited in what they CAN do, aren't they? I get it, that they don't have brains so the Doctor can't win them over... but how are they meant to outsmart him? How are they meant to track him down if they can't talk? Can they hear?

Cybermen don't have those disadvantages AND super-strength and the power of logic! They make perfect sense! BRING THEM BACK AS A CREDIBLE ENEMY!!

The Doctor's Wife IS worth watching though. DWC's obsession over Neil Gaiman

Yeah, you said before... I should check it out. Response has been quite universally positive. And it could be one of the best eps this series for all I know..

Youth of Australia said...

I hopeI haven't jinxed it.

There's a Jekyll ref, though...