I feel dirty today. Dirty and used. On Saturday night, Russell T Davies used me and abused me and lured me into his silken embraces with shiny toys and sugary treats, playing on my well-known fascinations in order to seduce me to his dark, dark side. I was his plaything, to do with as he wished.
And his fiendish plan nearly worked. Oh so nearly...Turn Left
is heroin for fanboys, to juggle the metaphor a bit. Or, if we must stick with the unintentionally dodgy subtext of the first paragraph, a big bag of gobstoppers for the rotting sweet tooth inside us all. It's so slickly done that it's very easy to ignore the fact that it's really the contents of a blender wrapped up in a rainbow coloured blanket, and pretend that it's actually a terribly clever reminder of the Doctor's Godhood and an affirmation that humanity will keep on keeping on, no matter what.
Or is it?
No it's not! It's a big, huge, mental mad rush of sensation and noise and swirly colours and sound and fury and EVERYTHING! Quick, someone get me a bib and keep on spooning the episode mush into my mouth, just in case I stop swallowing the damn stuff whole and start thinking about it instead an...sorry about that. Sugar overload.
It's only after the sugar high has worn off and you're coming down with a bang, that you realise that the whole magnificent edifice is, in fact, made up of nothing at all: the Emperor's New Clothes where even the Emperor and the horse he rode in on has turned out to be made up of smoke and mirrors.
But, crucially, only for fanboys.
Fanboys might wish to complain that it's not even internally consistent with last Christmas ('I'm the man whose going to save your lives, and all six billion people on the planet below
' the Doctor says in Voyage of the Damned
, but luckily by six billion he meant seven million and by the entire planet, he meant everything south of Northampton
and north of the Channel) - or indeed last month (that ATMOS system turned out to be a bit shit and the Sontaran invasion easy to nullify after all, didn't it?).
And they'd be right - apparently if the Doctor dies then aliens will be able to attack Earth with impunity, but fortunately it'll also turn out the Doctor was exaggerating the danger in order to make himself look good, like an IT support guy pretending that rebooting requires a degree and ten years network experience.
But fanboys are basically scum, so we can ignore their doe-eyed bleating and consider what Real People think.
Norms (as the scummy fanboys have been known to call them) are like a different species. A species which matters much, much more.
They matter because they'll only buy the plastic action figures, crappy magazines and plethora of tie-in literature so long as they're enjoying the show (fanboys will, of course, buy it all whilst moaning like old women on HRT about how crap the series is now and how Pertwee dumps on Tennant from a height so great that Tennant would need a hell of a long ladder to even see Ol' Big Nose).
Norms love Turn Left
. They don't care about consistent continuity or diegetic integrity or any of the other arty, pseudo-high brow drivel that fanboy scum use to pretend that they're seriously criticising an important narrative text and not slaveringly obsessing over a kids tv programme.
What the norms want is the Cybermen going toe to toe with the Daleks because they remember those two baddies from before and it seems a natural story to do.
They want to see the Master dancing across the room to the Scissors Sisters and the Doctor turning into Dobby the House Elf, because that's the kind of thing you get at the pictures nowadays.
They want cat people in traffic jams, Dalek hybrids who resemble Al Capone with his head stuffed in an octopus, the Doctor nailing every young white female in sight, Big Brother
spoofs, blow job jokes, farting Slitheen, Scooby Doo chases and Mavis Riley from Coronation Street
getting killed by that guy from The League of Gentlemen
(presuming they've heard of that).
They want Gary Russell
, not Lawrence Miles
In light of this week's episode, it's also fair to say that they want It's a Wonderful Doctor Who Life
, and going by the trailer for next week they presumably also want a super-hero team up of all the good guys at once! It'd obviously be better if the Doctor Who Fantastic Fifteen was up against all the bad guys put together, in a tag team match up of seventies ITV wrestling type proportions, but if they can't have that then the next best thing is having the Daleks fighting against Sarah-Jane and Martha and Captain Jack and Rose and Ianto and K9 and (for all I know) Morris the bionic gladiator from the Iron Legion
comic strip from Doctor Who Weekly
Bugger, just outed myself as fanboy scum, haven't I?
I loved Turn Left
when I was watching it and will happily watch it again, but really - it's not brilliant or particularly clever, it's got some genuinely dodgy directing and acting in it, it contains the series' worst alien baddie (the plastic time beetle from Toys R Us), it only works because Davies fudges the previous stories he references, it has some odd fancies (labour camps in Britain at the drop of a hat?) and is, when all's said and done, an alternative universe story so although everyone dies, it doesn't matter later - or, more importantly, at the time either.
You can handwave most of this away, but there shouldn't be any need for handwaves in such a simple story and - fun though it was - I'm now thoroughly past the point at which the sheer weight of handwaving required is acceptable.
So I loved it and disliked it at one and the same time - well sue me, I'm fanboy scum, me.
Labels: doctor who, who reviews