Weekend review • 18 May 2008 • The SnowBlog
Phew. Thank goodness. An episode of Doctor Who that didn't make me feel weary and frustrated. All really rather silly, but original, thank goodness. I've really felt the quality of Who slipping even further this season with the previous two stories so fumbling their denouements (ooh, matron) that I'm still not exactly sure what happened. [There be spoilers ahead, yarrr!] The Sontaran exhaust gas that was sort of killing everyone, except it wasn't, but it would if it reached 80% concentration, except that it wasn't poison it was 'clone food', except not food because it turned you into a Sontaran, except we didn't see any sign of that. That's my best guess as to what that particular two episodes of running around was all about.
And then the Doctor's Daughter where the endless war had only been running for a week and yet no one remembered how it got started, even though the leader of the humans looked to be nearly sixty (and the machine was supposed to create 'mature' offspring, not middle-aged). And what all that had to do with a terraforming project escaped me. And why smashing the glass bubble stopped the war I didn't get. And why was the only person who didn't suddenly decide to stop the war the old guy and why - other than the inevitable demands of plot - did he need to shoot Jenny? So many question; so few answers.
Of course the same could, to some extent, be said of a story which had a giant shape-changing wasp getting angry, thus discovering its true nature and so having its brain imprinted with the plots of various novels currently being ruminated on by the person wearing the special necklace its father had left behind. Are we to believe that there's a lifeform out there which develops one personality for forty years and then uses jewellery to create another one from the uppermost thoughts of the wearer? I can't imagine that works out well very often. Or is particular common among aliens species as a path to maturity. But still, there was enough that did make sense, and enough that was original, entertaining, surprising and humorous to keep me happily distracted. Finally, an episode that I could award a hearty B- to. Well. At least a C+ then.
But that said, I have developed a worrying theory about the lowered quality of this and last season's storytelling. I think the production team actually think they're doing a good job. I think they've got into the mindset of 'the public will never know, it's all brilliant sleight of hand, look at what you can get away with'. I'm starting to worry that they think their sloppiness and lack of invention is actually brisk, efficient and economical television and not second-rate amateur theatricals. I exclude David Tennant from the preceding remarks, of course. Not only is he a fine actor, but he seems to be working so hard to bring charm, humour and a little gravitas to the proceedings that I'm worried he'll have a heart attack.