Friday, June 04, 2010

Catching up with Doctor Who (Spoilers, SPOILERS ahoy, ahoy)

So belated that it almost doesn't make sense to write this anymore, but hey - since when does that stop me?

So: here we are in the UK with just FOUR more episodes to go before the end of Matt Smith's first season. Others will be catching up no doubt, but this means that by the end of June we'll be without the Doctor again till at least Xmas (see; I'm so out of tune with things I don't even know if there will BE a Xmas episode...)


There have been some great reviews of the episodes since I last commented on DW episodes. They're not on this site though. Therefore you need to get yourself to the usual suspects. Although MediumRob missed out writing a lot on Amy's Choice, you can get reviews with comments a-plenty over at his place on all the other eps.

I'd also recommend nipping over to Behind the Sofa - with a big 'SPOILER WARNING' proviso that it can be hard not to give the game away with some of the reviews.

Marie has chipped in a good range of commentary, and unsurprisingly Anna was delighted with Vampires of Venice (yes, it really is that long since I managed a review. Shame on you Lisa!)


I SAID ****SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!****

There was, it seems in hindsight, a logic to failing to write reviews of the episodes since 'Flesh and Stone'. They're the "Rory Arc" (so far).

Yes, Rory - hapless, sweet, well-meaning, tolerant, dressed as the 'Raggedy Doctor' Rory to please young Amy - got his own arc in the season. We don't know how it will all end - not really, and frankly *SPOILERS* so shut up if you know!!!!!!!!!! - but these were the episodes where Rory came to the fore.

Except not really. Not least because we had bloody Chris Chibnall on call for half of said episodes.

If you don't know what THAT means, then clearly you've never been subjected to the hilarious Torchwood episode Cyberwoman (note: find, if you still can, the podcast for the episode by Tachyon TV - aka the Behind the Sofa gang). I should probably add that Cyberwoman wasn't - at least I kinda hope - intended as a comedy. Then again, it is the sort of comedy where you feel tempted to pull your eyes out.

But what do I know? Chris Chibnall has, whether I like it or not, been able to get his writing on screen for three Doctor Who episodes - he also wrote 42 (which was largely redeemed by the direction of Graeme Harper), two Life on Mars episodes (though they really weren't the best ones), and EIGHT Torchwood episodes (not all of them as derisory as Cybertits). He's done other stuff too. Sigh.

In other words, I may not think much of his writing is stinky characterless cobblers but I've had precisely ZERO number of scripts taken up and produced for television compared to him.

The Chib must be doing something right.

I digressed.

A lot.

Sorry. This was meant to be about Rory.

And that in some key respects is the point of that digression.

Vampires of Venice was hilarious, just as one might expect from the creator of Being Human. It also had some of the most brilliant bits of Smith's doctor so far - the cake appearance? Genius. After the rather random regression to attempting to snog the Doctor at the end of the Angels eps (aka 'playing with the Raggedy Doctor' that Amy had no doubt enacted many a time with Rory over her younger years), it was hardly surprising that the Doctor should attempt to remind Amy of her more established life on Earth with Rory by bringing him into the TARDIS. Rory came over as terribly well-meaning, probably endlessly amazed that Amy had chosen him, and (judging by the tone of the stag do before the Doctor appeared) probably only 'tolerated' by his 'mates' (who no doubt mostly just envied him snagging Amy: they didn't see the support through childhood and teenage trauma as the Raggedy Doctor haunted her days and nights).

Rory = good bloke, rather out of his depth.

In Amy's Choice we saw a somewhat different Rory, now caught between the DreamLord's realm(s) and reality. (BTW I thought this was a cracking episode and Cloud loved it. So a win all ways round there). But as Amy's Choice proved, when it came to it, Amy DID really care for Rory. It was genuinely horrible to see what happened and heart-warming to see the TARDIS scenes.

Therein lay the problem.

Moff, dude, you're going to need to sort this out for the next season (Season Fnarg+1?).

You're running the show, you need to get the whole shebang under control.

That means thinking about what you allow your writers to do across the whole arc. If that means shuffling episodes, or telling your writers 'sorry: you can't do that' then that is what you must do.


SPOILERS (like I said)

You can't kill Rory twice, in two successive stories, once 'not really' and then again with all the 'crack-in-time-eating-memory' and expect it to MEAN as much as it needs to.

True enough, the Chibnall and the Silurian episodes weren't as bad as they could have been (or many were expecting).

The Hungry Earth especially wasn't all bad. In fact, I'll defer at this point to Stu-N over at Medium Rob's place:
The Chibnallity was definitely toned down. The plot stupidity was more of the 'hang on a minute' variety after I'd watched it, rather than the derisive laughter and yelling at the screen of Cybertits. So, watchable and fun, but below par. I'm sort-of looking forward to and sort-of dreading the next episode.
That pretty much sums it for me as well.

Cold Blood was therefore stuck in an awkward spot: its preceding episode had been a bit dull but better than we may have hoped for from his Chibness so the two-part story overall felt much better than it deserved to be. The story in both episodes - major nods to Malcolm Hulke obviously - had some nice moments. Again, it wasn't awful. But it DID have a LOT of inexplicable plotlines dropped, things that made no sense (prime Chibnality [copyright Stu_N]), and bonkers character shifts in personality. From vivisectionist to gentle hero? As MediumRob would say - 'No'.

And as indicated earlier, part of a reason why such distractions were a real shame is that they took so much away from what happens to Rory.

Thanks to a Guardian preview that said Cold Blood had a dark ending, and the limited presence of Rory in the Vincent trailer, (let's ignore the heavy-handed preshadowing in The Hungry Earth - Rory in a grave? Subtle guys, very subtle) it really hadn't been hard to predict that Rory wasn't going to leave the Silurian story as part of the TARDIS crew.

However, whilst I regretted that some of the edge had been taken off this multipled killing of his character, I nevertheless thought the death was handled as well as could be hoped within these circumstances. Yes, Rory could probably have been moved away from the crack to the TARDIS earlier and potentially have been saved, and yes, the reaction by the end felt jarringly harsh with Amy's lack of memory. Nevertheless, those few minutes of transition from realising the memory of Rory's existence was due to be wiped out to the Doctor trying and failing to help Amy hold onto the memory - AND the Doctor's utterly conflicted expressions as he engages with a memory-losing Amy - these were all fine by me.

It was just it wasn't moving enough. Whilst RTD was emotion to the max - family all the way, heartstrings as often as we can - this swung too far in the other direction and instead slapped in the emotion almost as an afterthought. What emotion was felt was almost in spite of how the episode(s) went and not as a reasonable consequence.

Oh well.

I'd also like to add that I think there is a slight OVER-DOING of the crack in time reminders. I know watchers may come in at any episode, but did anyone else think there was just too much of a reminder here? One quick shot would have been enough but it felt like a full three minute reminder of the significance of the crack (it probably was only seconds but it seemed to drag an age).

Never mind. We have Bill Nighy next week and a Scottish Vincent van Gogh. So that won't be all bad.

1 comment:

JoeinVegas said...

I didn't really like Amy's Choice, just saw it and didn't rewatch (BBC America repeats them three times the next week, then again just before the new episode Saturday) as I have the others. Nice to see once, but no reason to see again.