Monday, April 30, 2007

DiM: The Perfect Acronym

If you've spent any time in the last two years in the festering cesspool that is 'Doctor Who' fandom, then you'll know there have been two distinct reactions to Russell T Davies' reinvention. One faction believes he's ignored everything that made the series great in the first place - intelligent plotting, a proactive hero who uses his brains and not his fists, science winning the day over ignorance - and replaced it with lazily written stories, populated by soap opera characters in a world in which science is just something to nod at in passing, so long as it all looks terribly shiny and there's lots of bright colours. The other faction doesn't care and forgives anything too dreadful by saying 'that doesn't matter', 'no, neither does that' and 'or that.'

The latter group are, of course, wrong. But if you're one of them, give out a mighty cheer: you'll love the Dalek two parter. It's silly. It doesn't make sense. The monsters are laughable, and the Doctor doesn't do something clever to defeat them.

It's true that the plot is almost ludicrously stupid. The Doctor takes Martha to New York, where it turns out that Depression-era civilization is nearly entirely trapped in poverty. People spend their lives living in a slum camp in the park, working for achingly small amounts of money to feed themselves and apparently never noticing that the massive city around them exists. Occasionally one of them will relieve the monotony by getting captured by some Dalek-created pigmen. With the aid of everyone's favourite form of lighning, Gamma Radiation, the Doctor does some DNA rewiring, opens the human Daleks hearts to 'lurve', and saves the day. That's it.

But to complain about the lack of plot in New Who is akin to complaining that 'Hamlet' ....right, stop there. This is getting too silly. Someone has compared Russell T Davies to Shakespeare. Even in passing and partly tongue in cheek, this is far, far too silly.

So now for something completely different.

The Dalek two-parter is rotten. The acting is frequently sub-standard (the girl playing Tallulah escapes some criticism purely because she was surely told to play the part as an exaggerated carciature - 'top of the woild' and all that). The direction is dreadful (the choreography of Martha's dash across stage, the way that Lazlo is quite clearly the mysterious shadowy pigman but Tallulah can't spot it). The writing is amongst the worst in all of Doctor Who ('' may be the worst line in the series ever). The design is abominable (why does the Dalek Human hybrid look like Scaroth wearing a penis wig?). The music is bad even by Murray Gold's standards (a Dalek Sec choral?). The plot is non-existent, even according to those who don't think plot matters so long as the show looks nice and sparkly. The science is - as someone remarked - almost a new artform, it's so obviously uncaring bollocks.

Put it this way - if the Dalek two parter (and last week's Gridlock) had been a Big Finish audio would anyone genuinely notice the difference in quality between those stories and {random examples} The Apocalypse Element or Catch-1782? Would anyone other than the maddoes on the OG Forum bother trying to staple and glue this hideous monster of a story into something which you didn't have to keep in a locked airing cupboard and feed on scraps of raw meat?

Daft question.

If you love RTD's 'vision' of Who, you're going to copnvince yourself that you like this. You have no choice. And never mind: it looks like a great big exciting story full of bangs and flashes next week - I'm sure you'll love that even more.

* with apologies to Jonn who wrote the original version of the first half of this review.

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Blogger SAF said...

Another spot-on summation. Honestly, even if I could be motivated to blog about these episodes, I'd probably just end up linking to your reviews here :)

2:13 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:25 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

What do your children think of the show, Stuart?

2:35 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

AV: "What do your children think of the show, Stuart?"

Fair question - my son loves it, but was bored silly by Gridlock. He did enjoy the first part of the Dalek story, but the second part less so. He's 8 and he pointed out holes in the plot. He did like the Daleks flying over the trees shooting.

My daughter, who's a few years older and doesn't usually watch, thought it was..well 'meh' about sums it up.

The show does seem to have moved from a relatively dark Eccleston series with themes which adults could play with while still entertaining the kids to a kids show, full stop. And younger kids, to boot.

But the Eccleston season and the best fo the pre-RTD seasons have demonstrated that the show doesn't need to be just flashy lights and glitter - it can be many things to many people.

Christ - even in this season The Shakespeare Code managed to cobine some degree of intellect with great visuals, great fx and funny jokes. It can be done - I just don't think it's been done as much over the past season and a bit as it should have been.

3:31 pm  
Blogger Jonn Elledge said...


Just because I started it.

4:20 pm  
Blogger Jonn Elledge said...

And, as certain sex pests known to us both have noted, I don't think anyone's been defending that two parter as anything more than 'not completely terrible.'

4:22 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Jonn: "Just because I started it."

Sory, but what can I say -



And yeah - I've not really heard anyone say it was good (thank God, that would be a sanity check moment).

6:21 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

A comment to the sfx review:

This 2 parter wasn't good, it was BRILLIANT!!!

Fantastic visuals, excellent make up and a new slant for the daleks. David Tennant gets better with each episode giving humanity and sadness to the Doctor. Yes the Radio Times did give away the cliffhanger but i was still impressed by the dalek/human hybrid. I can't believe it was all filmed in Cardiff, the visuals really made it feel and look like 1930's New York.

Cracking episode, once more proofing this series is just getting bettter and better.

P.S. Hannibal & Jaffa and the rest of you negative band of people, say hi to Kermit when you see him.
My response:

Sorry Cybos, but I guess Jaffa and Hannibal and the rest of us negative band happen to apply some critical standards to the programs we watch!

We don't belong to the: "This is Doctor Who, what every drivel they cram into the script must be good- it is Doctor Who, we have no brains!"

That's just moronic- on that basis Caves of Androzani and Twin Dilemma would be equally good stories.

I'm not negative about Who- I just don't like bad writing! I loved the Shakespere Code because it was well written and interesting!

Ps: I will say hi to Kermit by the way- the was lucky- he had good script writers for most of his career!

Brilliant review- you nail RTDs Who on the head in the opening paragraph!

6:31 pm  
Blogger TimeWarden said...

I don't think I fit into either category as to say I'm not keen on RTD's approach is an understatement yet I have to admit to enjoying "Manhattan" and to a slightly lesser degree "Evolution".

I found the choice of quotes in "The Shakespeare Code" rather obvious but had they chosen lesser known examples most of the audience wouldn't have got the references.

7:12 am  
Blogger SAF said...

timewarden: "I have to admit to enjoying "Manhattan" and to a slightly lesser degree "Evolution"."

SAF: [keels over]

8:09 am  
Blogger alienvoord said...

As a member of the other faction, can I just say I don't think it's about saying 'that doesn't matter', it's just about different tastes.

4:03 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Ah well, that was a deliberate bit of meanness aimed at Jonn, author of the original review I...ahem...borrowed from.

Both he (I assume) and I (definitely) were exaggerating for effect in our first and last paragraphs.

9:21 pm  
Blogger SAF said...

To be fair though, "it doesn't mater" is an argument I've heard put forward in other quarters, and like the "Doctor Who's no more rubbish than it's always been" defence, it doesn't convince. But like a lot of views expressed by the 'Naysayers', it's an easy target for exaggeration etc. :)

12:08 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:37 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

Not you John - the other Jonn, and the meanness was all mine :)

The review is here:

3:09 pm  
Blogger alienvoord said...

"To be fair though, "it doesn't mater" is an argument I've heard put forward in other quarters"

Sometimes I've said "it doesn't matter." But good writing does matter to me, and I just don't see many of the problems that Stuart sees - lazy stories, soap opera characters... I feel like we're watching different shows.

6:24 pm  
Blogger Stuart Douglas said...

AV: "we're watching different shows."

That would explain it :)

8:41 am  

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