I will try to steal Heather’s jump on this topic today as I had the rare chance to watch Dr Who first time round.
It was always going to be hard for Dr Who to improve on last weeks brilliant episode and I am not sure this week managed it. Last week, there was a fantastic mix of tension which gave the episode the air of a classic horror film (i.e. not relying on gore). This week it seems to have fallen back on some tried and tested Dr Who routines but it was still watchable.
Warning – spoiler. Don’t read on if it will bother you to get an insight into the plot.
In a nutshell, the Dr has been catapulted to the end of the universe, comes across a bunch of humans who are heading to Utopia (which may be mythical) and he helps them on their way. The humans are being attacked by “Future Kind” (frankly pathetic baddies) and at the end the doctor realises he is not alone when he confronts the Master. Next week, in the series finale (season finale to colonials) we find out what happens after the Master steals the Tardis and abandons the Dr on the planet, about to be overwhelmed by Future Kind.
As I said, it was watchable. It didn’t have the tension that “Blink” had but it was head and shoulders above some of the dross episodes previously (like the first one of the season). As general TV goes, it is one of the BBCs strongest programmes and probably the only worthwhile UK-made Sci Fi on TV now. This isn’t saying much though.
Almost as if the scriptwriters were pandering to my demands, this episode (and the next one, I assume) was set quite some distance from 21st century London. This certainly helped the episode and is well overdue for the series. Moving to an alien planet in an alien time is what Dr Who should be about. I will admit my heart sank when the episode opened in Cardiff but thankfully that was brief!
Added into this, the two-parter nature gave the plot lots of breathing space. Russell Davies was allowed to create a few minor twists and introduce some side-characters to give the whole thing a feeling of depth. This helps and really, the BBC should make every “story” span over several episodes. Do they really have such a low opinion of their viewers?
Pushing on from this, there was the requisite “crazy science” thrown in – sometimes this worked, but sometimes it dropped a bit of a stone. I like the concept of the rocket etc., but I am intrigued how, gazillions of years in the future, Humanity has managed to avoid evolving beyond how we are today – even in dress sense. Comically, the human enclave was guarded by men carrying AK-47 assault rifles, I am sure if Mr Kalashnikov had known how robust his design actually was, he would have been over the moon. Suspension of disbelief is important, but really, a culture which has a rocket that can escape the end of the universe using an assault rifle that is, even now, over sixty years old… 😀
Last, but not least, of the good points. David Tennant is a brilliant Dr Who. Easily on a par with Tom Baker – which is saying an awful lot! Freema Agyeman is now a more than competent assistant. I have revised my opinion of her acting skills over the last few episodes and she is quite good now. Well done to them both. Sadly, the supporting cast rarely match up to their acting skills.
There were downsides. Capt Harkness is always a negative point. A massive one most of the time. Possibly the most irritating character to ever “assist” the Dr, he was put out to pasture in Torchwood. This was terrible, so why they have brought him back is beyond me. Obviously he either owns the BBC or has lots of black mail material. Do they think it was the other people (cant bring myself to call them actors) who made torchwood crap? Please, can’t they just kill him?
The “Future Kind” we offensive as monsters go. It must have taken about six seconds to come up with them and less time to decide on their look. Most school kids can make more believable baddies. Add in the sole effect of evolution seems to be a lot of tattoos and jewellery and it becomes a bit too comical. And not in the good way. Might as well have made them all march in step, taken loads of shots of their feet stamping and put them in jump suits – it is what they have done for all the other baddies…
I am going to hold judgement on the Master. I never really took to him in the Tom Baker episodes, and he has stolen the Tardis before IIRC so this might be an unoriginal plot… Hopefully he will be more than a stereotyped cackling baddie, and I am a bit optimistic from the part where the Master says how he isn’t going to spend time telling the Doctor his plans, which would allow the Doctor time to come up with a counter. I liked that, but it has been done before.
Overall, though, this was a good episode. It had the requisite back references to other geek-culture items (blogs for instance), but it was not brilliant. “Blink” was much better.Â Much, much better. That said, when the series finishes next week I will be sad. Hopefully the BBC will replace it with something decent, otherwise I can spend the hour after eating, before NCIS starts, playing Medieval Total War II….
[tags]bbc, david-tennent, david-tennant, dr-who, doctor-who, freema-agyeman, Captain Jack, Jack Harkness, Captain Jack Harkness, Tom Baker, Tardis, Master, Timelords, NCIS, Torchwood, Future Kind, Evolution, Russell T Davies, Televistion, Sci Fi, Science Fiction, Science[/tags]