December 26, 2007

Doctor Who

Am I really the only person to have been disappointed by the Doctor Who Christmas special?  And consistently so?  The first one was too short to successfully develop the myriad of ideas presented; last year's was better, although I was disappointed to see the Santas recycled, and I'm not a fan of Catherine Tate either (could make Series 4 a tough watch); this year's was the most ambitious of the lot, and had evidently had a lot more money thrown at it. 

As lavish as the set and CGI were (the CGI particularly was a vast improvement over previous series), and as many big names (Kylie Minogue!) they got for the cast, the writing and the plot turns were, as with most of Russell T. Davies' episodes, quite frankly rubbish.  The twist at the end where the baddie has control of the boat's engines and shuts them down remotely defied belief, not least because if that was the case, why did he go to all the elaborate lengths of paying off the captain, controlling the Host, etc.?

The only really nice twist (in the "good" rather than the "nice" sense of the word) was that the bastard stock dealer survived when everyone wanted him dead. 

There was too much cheese in the writing, and Kylie's character, Astrid, was so two-dimensional in a 1950s-Sci-Fi-B-Movie kind of way that I almost didn't feel anything when she died.  Twice.  If it wasn't for David Tennant's masterful portrayal of the Doctor making something good out of a dodgy script I honestly couldn't have given two shits whether Astrid lived or died.  Compare this with Davies' handling of Billie Piper's exit at the end of Season 2 whose pathos almost moved me to tears.  

So, BBC, please get someone else to write the Christmas specials.  Davies does have some great ideas, but they can't be realised in the small time slot allocated to the specials (even this year's longer slot).  Ideally, consign Russell T. Davies to a director or executive producer role where he can retain overall creative control and plot direction over the series, but for God's sake stop him writing scripts!  His episodes are consistently the weakest in each series, carried more by the strength of his ideas than their generally ham-fisted execution, and it pains me to think of what someone like Steven Moffat, whose episodes have consistently been the best in each series, might have produced.  

Good morning, world. 

- 3 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Ps – Why exactly was ‘the baddie’ actually on the ship in the first place? Yes he would have survived the crash, but what for?

    27 Dec 2007, 13:24

  2. I do agree with you. You kind of felt that all of the good moments of the show were brought together by Tennant’s performance and not necessarily the writing. In series three you can see the same pattern, and then you get some fantastic episodes by Stephen Moffat (I think he wrote Blink which was arguably the best of the new incarnation) Get him to write the next one – it could be awesome!

    Have you seen that Billie Piper is coming back… Not sure how that is going to work…

    28 Dec 2007, 12:19

  3. Totally. Blink was my favourite episode yet, definitely. Moffat also wrote The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances from season 1 (the WWII episodes with the zombie people in the gas masks) and The Girl in the Fireplace from season 2 (with the clockwork men in revolutionary France). All of them creepy in their own way, but Blink is the only one that made you jump right out of your seat every 2 minutes :) Or, rather, cower behind the sofa in time-honoured fashion.

    I’m not sure what to make of Billie Piper’s return; I certainly mourned the series’ loss of a great character. I guess time will tell, but I also assume that Russell T. Davies will take on the responsibility of bringing her back, and as such it will be particularly ham-fisted. Check out what happened with Freema Agyeman’s character dying at the end of season 2, for example. Sometimes I wonder – for a brief moment only – why I watch Doctor Who, until I realise at the end of the episode that it’s flown by and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Some of the episodes are truly innovative (the traffic jam episode from season 3, anyone?); it’s just a shame that there is such a wild discrepancy in the writing and that the important episodes are given over to the series’ weakest writer. It’s a shame also that the cast list is starting to look like a Who’s Who? of British television, with people seemingly being cast based on their level of recognition rather than their talent.

    But this is the great thing about being British – you can rant against something that’s pretty good, love it deep down, and tune in for more! Much like the BBC generally, I think… :)

    I’m glad I’m not the only one out there, anyway :)

    04 Jan 2008, 01:12

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