Archive for the ‘Doctor Who’ Category

End of Time Part II– Bloated and Ridick, but not Without Charm

January 14, 2010

The Time Lords are meeting talking about the prophecies of their seer is who doodling and babbling about stuff ending and earth. Um. What does a race of time travelers need with a prophet? This is seriously one of the smurfiest things ever. Mr. Cranky Old Time Lord (later I’ll learn he’s Rassilon, who is apparently a famous cranky old Time Lord) end up chucking a very special diamond at a hologram of the earth and that somehow enables the Time Lords to return to Earth. Seriously, the explanation we get is this: “The star was a diamond. And the diamond is a Whitepoint star.”

Thanks for the elucidation?

The Doctor and Wilf fuck off to space for awhile and have the most touching moment of the episode. In general I’ve loved Russell T. Davies Doctor Who, although this finale is bloated, overwritten, and idiotically plotted. But it can’t help but have some of the human touches I’ve come to love. Wilf gets all excited about being an astronaut. Then he gets serious: “My wife’s buried down there. I might never visit her again. Do you think they change? In their graves?”

Yeah, I totally cried, I’m not made of stone and dead wives of old men really get to me, and that’s such a quietly poetic thought. Well done RTD. Wilf goes on to tell the Doctor about serving in Palestine at the end of the Mandate. Hey! I know all about that!

Wilf and the Doctor talk about the end. And Wilf remembers the thing about the four knocks, so the stupidity is just reinforced. Wilf tells the Doctor to kill the Master and he’s all “Noooooooo” and tells Wilf vaguely about the events of The Waters of Mars. Wilf points out that the Doctor is a real asshole if he lets the Master live at the expense of the whole human race. Truth, but Wilf, the Doctor is kind of a douchebag now.

They return to earth full of resolve to confront the imminent return of the Time Lords who, by the way, have the stupidest plan ever. The cranky Time Lords and two Time Lord conscientious objectors arrive and a Time Lord pissing contest ensues. The Master threatens to make all the Time Lords him (seriously, this “medical device” is the WORST ever. How would it ever be useful to graft a whole population with an individual’s DNA?) but Rassilon uses his magical mitten to turn the Masters back in humans.

The Doctor realizes that Gallifrey is returning, and hurtling to earth is a burning planet. Worst salvation plan ever. Seriously. Transport to a planet that’s about to obliterated by bigger planet on fire. Super plan, Time Lords.

So the Master is endearingly excited about the return of Gallifrey, but the Doctor puts an end to that with one of those RTD phrases that rides the line between being awesome and evocative and completely overwritten and stupid: “You weren’t there. In the final days of the War. You never saw what was born. If the Timelock’s broken, everything’s coming through. Not just the Daleks, but the Skaro Degradations, the Horde of Travesties, the Nightmare Child, the Could-Have-Been King with his Army of Meanwhiles and Never-weres… The War turned into hell. And that’s what you opened, right above the Earth. Hell is descending.”

I think it lands on the right side, mostly thanks to the Nightmare Child (who we’ve heard of before) and the Could-Have-Been King and his Army of Meanwhiles and Never-Weres. Doesn’t that just intrigue you? It does me!

Rassilon says that the Doctor is correct, but that they will basically commit suicide by ending time and become creatures of consciousness. Oh for the love of Pete, that is an even more annoying excuse for suicide than “And THEN they’ll be sorry they were mean to me.”

The Doctor waffles for awhile but then shoots the diamond and the Time Lords and Gallifrey disappear. Like Sydney Bristow, the Doctor has once again avoided killing someone in a situation that begged for a killing. This scene by the way, is interminable with bad guy speechifying. And Rassilon could have dragged the Doctor back to hell with him if he hadn’t felt the need to villain ‘splain so much and had just used his magical mitten. For some reason the Master disappears into the Time Vortex with the other Time Lords even though the Doctor doesn’t. He shouldn’t either because he wasn’t in the Vortex to begin with, I would think. Whatever, it’s Kara Thrace all over again.

The Doctor is stoked about being alive when he hears Wilf knocking on the door of stupid radiation phone booth. Four times. For fuck’s sake, Wilf, you know the prophecy, knock three times or five times, what is wrong with you. This device is ridiculously stupid. Someone is locked in at all times and can only be let out when someone enters the other side. I can think of no good reason for this, other than that it’s a Doctor-killing machine.

The Doctor becomes an insufferable Douchebag. Explaining to Wilf that one of them has to die. “You had to go in there, didn’t you? You had to go and get stuck, oh yes! Because that’s who you are, Wilfred. You were always this. Waiting for me all this time.”

Wilf is all stoic: “Oh really, just leave me. I’m an old man, Doctor. I’ve had my time.”

The Doctor: “Well, exactly, Look at you. Not remotely important. But me! I could do so much more. So much more! But this is what I get. My reward. Lived too long.”

Seriously, what a dick. This whole monologue is designed to make Wilf feel as terrible and worthless as possible. What a fucking friend. I was dying for Wilf to be like, “You know what, fuck you. Leave, don’t care, just stop pontificating about how awesome you are when you already spelled out for me exactly what a douche you are an hour ago.”

But the Doctor eventually tells Wilf it will be his honor to die for him and swaps him out, absorbs the radiation, and comes out, having begun his regeneration into Eleven.

And then the Doctor leaves to “get his reward” which is a self-indulgent goodbye tour of companions that goes on, no joke for fifteen minutes. It’s so hideous I couldn’t even feel sad.

Mickey and Martha are married. Why? Who knows! (I suspect it’s the traditional pairing off of minority characters. What happened to Martha’s hot Doctor Without Borders?) Anyway, the Doctor saves them from getting shot by a Sontaaran. Then he saves Luke, Sarah Jane’s son from getting hit by a car. Then he arranges Jack a booty call in the Star Wars Cantina with Alonso from the Titanic episode. There’s a baby Adipose at the bar, which some clever TWOP commenter decried as “The product of a broken Britain!” Heh. He visits Joan Redford’s granddaughter, who has written about book about the grandmother’s encounter with John Smith the alien. Verity assures the Doctor that she was happy. The Doctor goes to Donna’s wedding and gives her a winning lotto ticket purchased with her dad’s money. He says goodbye to Wilf. Right because that’s what Donna needs, money. Super message.

And finally, Rose. The Doctor goes back to New Year’s 2005, before Rose met him. I don’t want to be unkind, but this is clearly not Billie Piper’s 2005 face. The Doctor groans thanks to the regeneration and Rose hears him. She tells him the date and he tells her she’s going to have a really great year. If this has been the only reward I 100% guarantee I would have cried and cried. But as it was I felt emotionally manipulated and irritated.

The Doctor regenerates into Eleven, whom Britain seems to consider hot but I find unnerving in an uncanny valley sort of way. He’s lacking eyebrows! It’s completely disturbing!

Seriously, where are they, it's unnerving!

So, I’m cool toward him, but that’s how I felt when Ten took over from Nine, so it won’t be that hard to convince me. (Although Eccleston remains my Doctor.)

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The End of Time– Shades of Battlestar Stupidity

January 3, 2010

I guess it’s possible the Doctor Who Christmas and New Year’s specials don’t suck as much as I thought they did on the first go round. Well, to be fair, I actually liked where part one seemed to be going, and then part two was just horrible. So blah. Round two, part one:

James Bond is intoning things about the last days of planet earth. Evidently everyone is having bad dreams about the Master, and no one remembers but Donna’s grandfather, Wilf. I love Wilf! He’s in a church with a stained glass window rendering of the TARDIS, chatting with an old lady I didn’t take note of the first time around. But you, gentle readers, have the benefit of my 20/20 hindsight. This, my friends, is foreshadowing.

Doctor Douchebag lands on futuristic Ood planet to have a chat with Ood Sigma about his future death. Apparently he had sex with Queen Elizabeth I and is the sort of man who kisses and tells. Gross. There’s some annoying time banter here where Ood Sigma is mad at the Doctor for “delaying” and then tells him about all the crappy stuff happening on 20th century Earth which the Doctor has to “hurry” to stop. Um. What? This is a show about TIME TRAVEL. You should always be able to turn up on time, jeez louise. Also, the “it” that is returning is a problem the Doctor solves in like, ten minutes. So basically the Ood prophecy is a little underwhelming. It’s like the Opera House vision in BSG: really ladies of Galactica? You need years of prophetic dreams to tell you to pick up a toddler and carry her through a door away from gunfire? Isn’t that pretty fucking obvious? (I watched BSG in a glut over a couple months, I imagine it was less stupid when it was more spread out.) The comparison to BSG isn’t purely a product of my feverish imagination either. Ood Sigma is all “Events that have happened…. are happening now” which is the new “All this has happened before, all this will happen again.”

So there’s a fake-out where you think it’s the Master who has been resurrected via horacrux magic ring, and then this creepy father-daughter team want to round him up for their immortality machine, but they might as well be named Pa Plot Device and Ms. Plotdeviceovna.

Also contrived… President Obama is going to be giving a Christmas Day speech announcing how he’s going to save the world from the economy. This is just awkward in the way where you feel really uncomfortable watching something, even though you have nothing to do with it. First of all, Doctor Who doesn’t share our history. The American president (some white dude not named Bush) died in a previous episode, and they have different prime ministers. Even assuming Obama managed to be independently elected in this alternate ‘verse, the US president would never give a big speech about the economy on Christmas. Finally, it’s just sloppy semiotics. What is Doctor Who trying to say: beware of charismatic world leaders with easy fixes you idiotic Americans? I may have my differences with Obama, but I definitely don’t think he’s a genocidal ancient alien with an eerie fixation on ethnic cleansing and doomsday machines.

So anyway, Wilf finds the Doctor apparently “way too easily” although trust me, this comes to nothing. The Doctor tells Wilf about the prophecy of his death (he will knock four times) which is important, because Wilf is uncharacteristically stupid later in the episode. Whatever, the Doctor is afraid to die. I’d tell you to take note, but he will repeat it nine MILLION times before the episode is up. Church lady reappears to Wilf to say portentous things about old soldiers and how Wilf has never killed but must take up arms, and that he must tell the Doctor nothing. Again, this seemed really interesting at the time, but it came to nothing.

Anyway, through some stupid medical tech, the Master turns everyone on earth into himself. The two cactus aliens disguised as techs explain that it’s like the nanobots of The Empty Child, and will rewrite the DNA of the whole planet. So everyone but the doctor, Wilf (who is in a special box), Donna (who is part time-lord), and the aliens turns into the Master. Including Barack Obama, who has just begun his speech. The machine only affects humans because the Master “set the template for human.” Why is that even an option when 20th century humans don’t have inter-stellar travel? Whatever. Weirdly all the other Masters are happy to serve the “real” Master, because subservience is so in his character. So, in that annoying way where prophecies are always sort of lies (see: Death of Tyler, Rose) this is what Dalton meant about the end up planet Earth. He voiceovers about the return of the Timelords, and it is a SERIOUS say-it-don’t-spray-it/asked-for-the-news-not-the-weather moment.

So that’s part one!

The Waters of Mars

January 2, 2010

Dude. This was an episode of tv that made me afraid of water. Way to go Doctor Who, and way to prove, again, that it’s really psychological terror that’s incredibly effective, not fancy ridiculous special effects. (Or um, science. For all the times fission is said, it makes no sense at all.)

So, the Doctor comes to the first human colony on Mars, Bowie Base One. It’s Russian! Take that America! Also, YES, that Bowie!

Or this Bowie? (Hey Bowie, do you have one really funky sequined spacesuit? Or do you have several ch ch changes?)

There’s an annoying robot and the most kickass astronaut you have ever heard of in your entire life, Captain Adelaide Brooke. One thing I looooove about the Doctor is how much he respects women. He works with some seriously awesome ones! And like, he’s clearly impressed with them, but not more impressed than he would be if they were dudes. It’s a case of “I’m not surprised, but I’m impressed.” And Adelaide Brooke is probably the most bad-ass of them all.

So. Horrifying things are happening on the Mars colony! The ice the colonists are using to make water is possessed! And it plans to hop back to earth with the colonists, tempted by all the water on Earth and the jiggly water-sacks that are humans. After coming into contact with even one drop of the creepy Mars Water, the colonists are possessed. They get all weird, their heads drop and they seize and get growly and chorus-y (which I like– water, in many languages, is a plural word.) then massive amounts of water starts pouring out of them, especially their mouths, but really all over, and the skin around their mouths gets all cracked and parched looking and erode-y and it makes me never want to drink water again. Also their teeth turn black and eyes go white, but that’s somehow less creepy than the water. *shiver*

The Doctor points out that water is patient, and it wins just by overwhelming you. Water is forever and it’s fucking EVERYWHERE.

A little moment I liked… the Doctor fixes the light in the garden and Captain Brooke is all “Are you the Doctor or the Janitor?” It reminds me of how, in Joan of Arcadia, God appears as a custodian, and how “custodianship” is a very Semitic concept of both how to be properly religious and how God is. That’s why you have tikun olam (fixing the world) and some of God’s more nit-picky behavior, but it’s also how you get an alternate title for the King of Saudi Arabia as “the custodian of the two Holy Mosques” (at Mecca and Medina).

Anyway, the sad thing about this story, is that the doctor knows that all these colonists have to die, because Adelaide’s granddaughter becomes the first faster than light human space explorer because she’s inspired by her famous dead grandmother. So the doctor isn’t “allowed” to save everyone from the water, even though he can. Even the fucking Dalkes respected this, and didn’t kill her as child in the s4 finale, even though she came face to face with one, it just floated off. When Captain Brooke asks the doctor to save her he tells her: “You wondered all your life why that Dalek spared you, I think it knew: Your death is fixed, in time, forever. And that’s right.”

So the doctor keeps saying he should leave and not leaving, and it’s all so sad and doomed, and this is the stuff I fucking LIVE for in time travel stories, because I’m an emo angst junkie.

So it all gets AWESOME, because the Doctor basically does what’s been coming for a long time, and becomes an irresponsible, emotional, arrogant god. Up until now he’s always respected the time line, and the importance of leaving fixed events fixed. But watching all these lovable colonists die he freaks out and justifies it to himself all “I’m the last of the timelords, the timelord victorious, I can do what I waaaaaant!” Ok, it’s sliiiightly more mature but not really: “There are laws, there are Laws of Time. Once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they died. They all died. Do you know who that leaves? Me! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine. And they will obey me! We’re not just fighting the Flood. We’re fighting Time itself. And I’m gonna win!”

So… almost everyone dies, but the Doctor uses the annoying robot to fetch the TARDIS and saves Yuri, Mia, and Captain Brooke, whisking them back to Earth, where it’s snowing, and Mia freaks the fuck out, as you would if you were instantly transported by a time and space navigating ancient alien.

Adelaide gets really unfair, but in a very human sort of way, grilling the Doctor about whether the future will happen for her granddaughter and all that now that the doctor has fucked with a fixed point in time. (Just as she begged him to, like, five minutes ago.) Anyway, she gets PISSED and tells the Doctor he should have left them. And like, it sort of makes sense, because the Doctor really is supposed to know better, but I guess it just shows that Captain Brook is much more awesome than me, because I would have been wibbling my thanks for getting my bacon saved.

Anyway, I’m going to quote a bit, because this is the heart of the episode, the Doctor’s egomania and Captain Brooke’s awesomeness.

The Doctor: I’ve done this sort of thing before. In small ways. Saved some little people. But never someone as important as you. Oh, I’m good!
Adelaide Brooke: Little People? What, like Mia and Yuri? Who decides they’re so unimportant? You?
The Doctor: For a long time now, I thought I was just a survivor, but I’m not. I’m the winner. That’s who I am: The Time Lord Victorious.
Adelaide Brooke: And there’s no one to stop you. [This is some Donna shit right here, way back in the Runaway Bride.]
The Doctor: No.
Adelaide Brooke: This is wrong, Doctor. I don’t care who you are, the Time Lord Victorious is wrong.
The Doctor: That’s for me to decide. Now, you’d better get home. Oh, it’s all locked up, you’ve been away. Still, that’s easy! All yours!
(He sonics the door open, which is super creepy and violate-y. Let a girl think a strange alien can’t just walk into her house whenever he gets the urge, Cheesus. Oh, and the previous dialogue was all in a TOTAL DOUCHEBAG tone of voice.)
Adelaide Brooke: Is there nothing you can’t do?
The Doctor: Not anymore.

So Adelaide goes into her house… and shoots herself! And thus the timeline is restored, granddaughter inspired by death of famous grandma. (Though I have no idea how Yuri and Mia explain their reappearance back on earth, and the future wikipedia the Doctor keeps flashing on doesn’t really say.)

It’s really intense. And the Doctor immediately realizes he’s gone too far, that he should have known better.

Out of all the specials, this was the only one that stood out to me as excellent, despite having a seriously unlikeable Doctor. But it’s a logical story, from everything that’s happened to the doctor so I’m glad it happened. But damn! Heartbreaking! I wish Adelaide Brooke had her own series.

It’s jarring that Dreamland actually follows this story, since that’s all back to fun doctor, and he’s back to moody bitterness for Christmas and New Year’s. Speaking of which… they kind of suck!

The Magical Natives of Dreamland

December 28, 2009

In a year of Doctor Who specials, you’d think they’d take care to make all of them really good. The creators decided to go a different way though, so what do I know.

The monstrosity under discussion today is Dreamland, the animated episode which follows The Waters of Mars (I’ll return to that, as it was actually awesome, as was the Christmas special).

So, let’s get this out of the way. The animation is HORRIBLE. It’s worse than most video games. In particular the walking seems weird and off-pace and takes me right out of the moment, since it looks like the olden day driving a car blue-screens. We have decent computers here in the future, use them!

The Doctor arrives in 1950s America and meets up with Cassie (confusingly voiced by Georgia Moffett, who played Jenny the Doctor’s “daughter” in the episode of the same name—minus the snotty quotes. Because really they just cloned the doctor and made him female. Somehow. Even though you can’t switch the gender of a clone. Whatever, a wizard did it.) and a magical Native American, Jimmy Stalkingwolf who harnesses the power of feelings, and nature awareness, and deep sadness about the plight of the laaaaaaaand. If there’s anything worse than the way Hollywood represents Native Americans it’s how the BBC does. At least liberal Americans are leery of colonialism, I can’t imagine an episode like “The Satan Pit” in which an American hero in the aughts claims that some alien race just love being slaves.

Anyway, the Doctor and his human friends end up at Roswell because of an encounter with a Viperox (which is an awesome alien name) and some intergalactic men in black whose job it is to shield the humans from dangerous tech. They find a lady grey alien, and the doctor is all bleeeeee blaaaaah charm and quirkiness whatever. Okay, that’s not exactly what he’s like, but there’s something REALLY jarring about this episode following on the heels of The Waters of Mars which showed us the darkest, most nihilist, most angry god doctor we’ve ever seen. And now he’s all “Allons-y” and quippy, and it bugs.

Whatever, giant space bugs, the greys created a genocide device, the Doctor insists they must be allowed to live people and enormous centipedes can chaaaaaange and modifies the device to make it not fatal but extremely irritating to Viperox ears. I guess I’m just a violent American, because I pretty much think that if someone credibly threatens to kill everyone on your planet, you’re justified in killing them. (There is one creeeepy shot of the Viperox Queen laying her eggs, I should say in defense of this episode.)

Jimmy has a grandfather Night Eagle who is (obviously) handy with the bow and arrow. Being in tune with the whole universe, Night Eagle has been sheltering a friendly grey, the husband of the one at Area 51.

It all works out. The greys are reunited, the doctor leaves, and Cassie and Jimmy get together, because any two single people of opposite sexes have to get together, it’s like… the law.

The story isn’t horrible, but it seems out of pace with the rest of the events in the Whoniverse, so… fail.