To begin with the obvious:
Chris Chibnall - he of the much derided Cyberwoman and Countrycide from Torchwood - wrote 42.
There. It's been said and you can all have your shudder of horror at the concept.
But here's the thing, despite all our worst fears - and there were plenty - this actually proved to be a fine example of Who. Not just NewWho but also general Who-ness. Because with Graeme Harper at the helm, what could have turned out much worse turned out to be inflected with directoral joys to over-power most of the worse negative Chibnall effects.
[NOTE: does Chibnall know how much he has been slated in print and especially on the net? It's been pretty relentless really. He must know...]
Anyway: here's my thoughts
What worked -
- THAT moment of silence. Genius. Far more emotive. Genuinely effective and beautifully shot.
- The palette of colours. Marie embraced her inner /outer geek and when she said:
Oh god, am I really going to say something as geeky as:As someone once said, "Quite right too..."
I thought the colour temperature was brilliantly handled this episode, contrasting warm orange on-ship / sun colours with the cold blue palate of the escape pod.
- Limited Sonic Screwdriver. Bliss. Possibly the best decision of Chibnall's script.
- Maths! Happy primes! (Geeky happy clapping)
- "Burn with me..." Dumb villain but a well constructed and unnerving nasty to freak the audience. And I so delighted in thinking "Soft Light" in a a good wat. Pilfer if you must but make it from good stuff.
- Vulnerable doctor. I'll ignore the worst of the "gurning" as its being commonly called, but seeing the Doctor uncomfortable is no bad idea. Better gurning agony than smug.
- Francine Jones. Righteously angry? Led astray by... Mr Saxon...? Will be interested to see how that evolves and her survival.
- Saxon. How excited are we still about that? Answer: very.
Worked worked less well -
- Script. Obvious really since Chibnall still litters his scripts with too many ideas, many ill-thought through. Sorry, but even with the Elvis/Beatles thing as a motive calling mom, that constantly intruding notion sucked. And everything that somewhat sucked came from the inadequacies of characterisation and what Chibnall got the characters to do.
- Running. Either Martha needs better shoes or some serious acting lessons in running cos she sucks. And I'm sorry but the Doctor also needs to review his alter-ego's running from Casanova, because he's definitely lost his touch on running convincingly. He looks as if he is doing what the acting requires which is running in short bursts for the camera to capture over and over again. He looks as if he is running from a standing start every time and it just jars at the moment.
So that's my two pennies. Hope it was worth the wait.
Behind the Sofa - a whole range of Chibnall haters here, and some measured plaudits for 42 as well