Doctor Who - John C. Kirk
Aug. 1st, 2007
12:23 am - Doctor Who
A few weeks ago, the latest series of Doctor Who finished. I was a bit disappointed by the finale; if I wanted to watch Star Trek: Voyager then I'd just find repeats of that.
The story started when the TARDIS picked up "Captain" Jack as a hitchhiker and then went forward in time to the end of the universe. When they landed, he fell off the outside and landed dead on the ground. This then led to more dubious first aid from Martha: after she couldn't detect a pulse, she went back inside the TARDIS to get her stethoscope so that she could check more closely, rather than starting CPR. Of course, in Jack's case this didn't do any harm.
If I decided that I was going to write some cautionary stories with a bumbling protagonist who always makes stupid mistakes, and I chose a black woman for that role, I'm sure that people would accuse me of being sexist and/or racist. I suspect that the only reason Doctor Who gets away with it is that people don't realise she's screwing up, and that's why I keep harping on about this: she's setting a bad example for the audience to follow.
Anyway, it was nice to see Jack again, and I enjoyed the banter between him and Martha about Rose. ("Oh, so she was blonde?!") I also thought that Jack had a valid objection to being abandoned on the space station (by Doctor #9), which seemed a bit harsh to me at the time. However, I was less impressed by the Doctor's response, when he said "You two! We're at the end of the universe, eh. Right at the edge of knowledge itself. And you're busy... blogging!" This struck me as the writer speaking through the character, using a phrase that makes no sense in context, and breaking the fourth wall in the process. Essentially, the Doctor as sock puppet. (Of course, I do recognise the irony in complaining about it on my blog.)
The trio then met up with a guy who was running away from a mob. They waved him down, supposedly so that they could help him, but then all four of them wound up running away, so I'm not quite sure how he really benefitted from this; he would have been better off with a longer head start. Still, it acted as a way to get the trio inside the compound.
Speaking of the compound, when they reached the gate they had to show their teeth, to prove that they were human (as opposed to whatever the mob were supposed to be). That seems like a sensible security precaution, but it was ignored later on when a truck arrived. When I saw it, I assumed that this would be the way that the mob infiltrated the compound, but it turned out to be irrelevant, so it seems like a sloppy loose end.
Derek Jacobi did a great job as "The Professor", and I was surprised when they revealed that he was really the Master. It's a shame that he regenerated, because I think he's a far better actor than his replacement, but I suppose that it does make sense in story terms.
Anyway, skipping forward a bit, the Master wound up as Prime Minister of England, and staged an alien invasion. He does get points for correct usage of the word "decimate", i.e killing 1/10th of the population rather than killing almost everyone, although this seemed to be ignored almost immediately by everyone else.
I can understand why we didn't get a proper crossover between Doctor Who and Torchwood, given that the latter is aimed at an older audience. The continuity was a bit iffy between them, but I think it works out more or less ok. What I find more interesting is that it basically makes Torchwood (the organisation) look completely inept.
Going back to when Queen Victoria created Torchwood, their specific mandate was to keep the Doctor away. Based on that, it makes sense that they would develop some kind of anti-Timelord weapon, especially if they had access to UNIT records later on, and this could then be used against the Master. More recently, the Cardiff team have claimed (in the opening credits) that their job is to gather advanced weapons to defend the Earth against alien threats. Like this one, for example?
I suppose it's commendable that Jack felt responsible for them, so he went back to them at the end of the story. However, I can't share his attachment. Thinking about The Sarah Jane Adventures, I'm aware that she used to be a regular companion, but those episodes were before my time. So, even though I've only seen her in two episodes recently, I have a lot more empathy for her character than for all of the Torchwood mob put together (after a whole series).
Speaking of that one-off episode, I enjoyed it. I'm not sure whether I'd watch it for a full series, but I definitely thought it was fun, and the bad guys stayed on just the right side of being pantomime villains; I liked the way Mrs Wormwood hissed "Sarah Jane Smith!" Generally, I'd say that the Sarah Jane series is equivalent to the Dr Who episodes that I watched when I was a kid, and the main Dr Who series is now doing a good job of entertaining an adult audience.
I particularly liked the scene where she was talking about K-9 (against accusations that he was "lame"), saying how much she missed her friend. That ties into a wider issue - I assume that Kelsie (sp?) was supposed to be really annoying, since it was the decent kids who came out better in the end.
Incidentally, Paul O'Brien compared the two spin-offs here and here (about half-way down each page), and I agree with his comments.
Coming back to the Doctor Who finale, I have to agree with Neil Gaiman that the three series of the relaunch have all ended in basically the same way: huge fleet of enemies, far too many to tackle one by one, so use a handy deus ex machina to zap them all at once. Beyond that, using the Big Red Reset Button (TM) is pretty clumsy, hence my Voyager comparison above.
On a more positive note, this picture of the Doctor's companions is quite funny.
Going back to the episode "Blink", there was a particular quote that I liked:
Doctor: "The angels have the phone box."
Larry: "I've got that on a T-shirt."
I've now found various sites that offer that slogan on shirts, and I think this one is the best. There was another nice one here, but it's no longer available, which surprises me; I'd assumed that once you submitted your design to CafePress, they'd handle all the production for a cut of the profits, so nothing would ever disappear. Ah well, live and learn, and it's something to bear in mind if anything catches my eye in the future.
Edit: The guy with the T-shirt design I liked has now set up a free site for them; I particularly like the crypto dark one.
Speaking of T-shirts, I saw an amusing one on SJA duty last month: it had Winnie the Pooh standing in the doorway of the TARDIS (wearing a long scarf), and the caption underneath said "Dr Pooh". This is based on the story "The TARDIS at Pooh Corner" by Peter David, which you can read via his blog: chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. It has a bit of a slow start, but it gets better as it goes along, with some very nice touches.