There were several things I liked about these two episodes.
- They looked gorgeous. I got itchy fingers more than once and wanted to take scenes, cut them up and put them to a soundtrack. The space shots, for instance. Shiny.
- Simms, even when not on top form, is a lot of fun to watch. (Seriously, it takes, like, anti-talent in direction for him to not be in top form, as far as I can see, so what the hell happened?)
- The goodbyes. Seeing everyone again made me happy, which was exactly the point.
- Rose! Adorable. Ditto, Jack.
- Yay new Doctor! He's adorable too.
- And best of all, Wilf! They didn't give the actor much to work with, but by God he made the most of it. I fell in love with him a little, especially when he said his final goodbye to the Doctor. *smishes Wilf*
There were some things I thought ranged from rather silly to downright bad. The most memorable:
- The Doctor jumped out of a spaceship, aimed himself perfectly and fell through a glass dome, and then ended up with a few scratches? Really?
- Where were the strong female characters we've come to expect from Who? Nowhere, that's where. Seriously, the Time Lords can break the Timelock, but Donna is still trapped in her own mind? Bleh. Also, Martha? Dropped Tom and married Mickey? Rose's ex-boyfriend? That Mickey? Double-bleh with bleh icing, and I say that as someone who likes Mickey. Seriously, can Martha never catch a break with following in Rose's footsteps. It's super-icky now, RTD.
- The Master's resurrection played out like bad fanfic. Seriously, I've read way better versions of that exact scene in fanfic. More than once. (Also, why was Lucy wearing lipstick? And was I the only one who flashed-back to Voldemort? I thought this was meant to be a homage to Star Wars. HP is just one fandom too many.)
- Star Wars. Just, no.
- An "immortality arch"? (Which, as an aside, does not actually seem to confer immortality, but rather acts as a kind of super-nanogene a la The Empty Child; and don't get me started on the Master reprogramming it, because it was still not an immortality arch before that.) And it came from the wreckage of Torchwood? RTD: you are an asshole.
- The father/daughter thing? I think I speak for us all when I say, ewwww. Was that necessary? Apart from the incest angle, could those bad-guys have been any more cardboard cut-out? Why are these bad guys never actually smart? It would be so much more interesting.
- Who were those cactus-like aliens? And why was their presence never explained? Seriously, if you have scavengers from all over the universe coming to pick over Earth in the wake of both Canary Wharf and the 4-5-6, and therefore Torchwood's fall, that's kind of a big deal.
- The gun. Please. Shock value only works once, and you wasted it on that?
- The Doctor's death. Not only was it too long and overly emo in several places, but the only bit of it that really made me sad was Wilf's goodbye (which was awesome). I hate that I ended up disliking Ten more often than not (due to poor writing, not the acting), but his death should still have been something to me, as I still like the Doctor (despite RTD's very best efforts to change my mind). On the other hand, the companions, Eleven and Wilf nearly saved it, so it's only in the Bad category, not the Ugly.
- Jack. The Doctor goes on his goodbye tour, saves Sarah-Jane's son, saves Martha and Mickey in a war zone, makes Donna rich (he'd already saved her with the 'safety feature' on her brain lock thingy; plus, 'best friend', naawww, I actually liked Ten right then), and then he gets to Jack and... pimps out a really, really young guy to him. I mean, it was nice to see Jack smile again. But... WOT? SERIOUSLY? JACK IS ONLY GOOD FOR SEX? (With other people obviously.) THAT IS WHAT WILL SAVE HIM, AFTER YOU'VE IMPLIED HE'S A SLUT, OVER AND OVER?
The only thing that saves this from the Ugly (other than Jack's smile -- oh, Jack, why do you still listen to Ten? He's an asshole to you.) is that Alonso seems sweet. But seriously: Doctor Pimp, please go back to your day job. Ewwwwww x a bazillionty zillion.
ETA: Predictably enough, there are several different readings of the Jack/Ten scene, and you can find discussion in comments. I will just clarify that I think we're meant to read the Doctor's actions as him being a friend to Jack and helping him move on. But a more insulting way to go about it I honestly can't conceive of. Alonso seems nice enough; it's the pimping that rubs me totally the wrong way.
To me, it reads like the Doctor saying, "Oh, hey, sorry I called you a slut all those times. Your sexuality is still the only thing I really notice about you, even though I know it was the social norm in the 51st and I've met weirder aliens, but here, have sex with this random person, and I won't judge you for it." That's largely because it was done via a note, which I get is for parallelism, but it adds a weird vibe to the situation.
No matter how it was intended, the actuality of it is skeevy. Your mileage probably varies and you're welcome to continue to discuss it in comments, but I'm not just saying this because I haven't considered other readings. /ETA
There were several aspects of the plot that were ill-conceived and poorly executed.
- The pacing. This was especially poor in the first episode, which dragged terribly. As well as being slow, it had a false-ending in the middle, which was bizarre. The second episode was better, and actually had some great moments -- I liked the Doctor's rescue in the chair, although even that didn't get my heart racing. Even in episode two, though, things dragged to a crazy degree in places, like the stand-off at the end. Sooooooo, looooooong, and to so little effect.
- The narrative choices. The story began with the endless
BasilOod Exposition scene. This was compounded by the addition of Timothy Dalton's portentious voice-over. Now, I love me some Timothy Dalton, and was kind of rooting for him to be bad-ass and awesome. But instead, he intoned a lot, sat in meetings and waved his Evil Glove around to not much effect. (What happened to the rule of three, there, RTD?) There was just way too much telling and not enough showing. And then, just when a bit of telling would have been handy -- fifth-column woman who appeared to Wilf, I'm looking at you -- nope, all is silence.
- Characterisation. Was there any, apart from Wilf? Despite the amusing car-lock thingy for the TARDIS, the Doctor's opening speech was out of character. He seemed to be going through the motions for a lot of the rest, which I suppose could have been the point, if he was tired and emotionally beaten, but then why so angry at the idea of death? Some logical progression would have been nice, there, RTD. Moving on. Clearly the Master lost IQ points in the resurrection. His evil plan was fun, and almost up to his usual standards (even if Jack did it first), but his total fail to grok that Timothy Dalton was not only a) evil, and b) going to kill him, but more importantly, c) was trying to oust him as the Doctor's number one enemy... that was just silly. Dude, he wiped out all humanity to get the Doctor's undivided attention. MORE THAN ONCE. And then he's supposed to just snippily say, "Oh hai there new Time Lords. Let's have funteims!" And as for Timothy Dalton... even he could make nothing of Evil Overlord President Poobah of Gallifrey, as he was given no motivation, no personality, and no backstory. Talk about sound and fury, signifying nothing. And who was that woman???? The Doctor's mother, one presumes, as the text does not tell us.
- The plot's end-goal. I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but the plot seems to have been: the entirety of the Master's life and his feud with the Doctor was founded on the Time Lords' asshole-ish escape attempt from their extinction in the Time War... Which they did in order to still die, but take everything in all space and time with them. Brilliant plan, there, Time Lords. (Also, the budget was all spent on the audience chamber from the Phantom Menace, and so we had the White Light of Doom rather than a set for the denouement -- a grand old Doctor Who tradition, but it doesn't work as well when the rest of the sets are no longer cardboard.) Anyway, this entire plot FAILED ON ALL COUNTS. NO, REALLY. All that, and we don't even seem to have Time Lords back to be a new Dread Enemy of the Doctor. (And the Master! Which would have been epic.) For a second or two there, I was actually excited! But no, SO MUCH FAIL. What a waste of my time.
A final word
I have a lot of admiration for the fact that RTD reinvented Doctor Who. I love that we have this show back. But as time has gone by, it's become pretty clear that RTD has some serious limitations as a writer. By far the worst, in my opinion, is that he doesn't have the courage of his convictions in too many plots; he tends to shy away from his best set-ups without giving an even better pay-off. Like the suicide run in the space-ship -- the Doctor aborted it, but then we get the silly jumping-from-the-hatch-and-falling-throu
It happened in Children of Earth too, over and over and over. I'll just give one example so I won't get sidetracked. Dr Rupesh. Here we had an undercover agent who just about managed to infiltrate Torchwood Three, and did so while the remaining team were still reeling from loss. Awesome! What a fantastic premise! And then it was totally wasted on a cheap death after the shock of it had barely finished sinking in. Dude! He should have been there with them at least until Day 4! And that is just one of the many ways that we got premature payoff in CoE.
Anyway, I'm really glad RTD gave us back Doctor Who, and I'm even more glad he's moving on. Bring on Eleven and some new ideas, I say! It's more than time.
This entry was originally posted at http://cupidsbow.dreamwidth.org/338933.html.