Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

Up Pompeii

Greetings, citizens. It's 79 AD: do you know where you parked your TARDIS?

And now my thoughts on The Fires of Pompeii:

  • They're on the set of Rome! (Which I've only seen one episode of, but still.) I approve of this sort of thing, and am now pondering which other TV shows have sets that could be usefully reused for Who adventures. (But EastEnders doesn't count.)

  • Do the TARDIS translation circuits not know that the plural of amphora is amphorae? Or maybe this is a deliberate mistake: the Roman equivalent of the greengrocer's apostrophe, perhaps.

  • This week in "Who's Your Metafictional Daddy?", we ask the question: is the oracle girlie in the red cloak the secret love child of the dwarf from Don't Look Now and the clown from Ashes to Ashes?

  • I know they like to keep the Doctor in the same outfit these days, but I'm just a tad disappointed that Ten didn't get to wear an outfit like Frankie Howerd's. Hey, it's brown and stripey, it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch...

  • "Volcano day!" I like to imagine that a youthful Captain Jack, still in his conman days, was hanging about behind some Pompeiian corner, feeling up a legionary. Maybe his invisible spaceship was right overhead, and we didn't see it?

  • At my school we didn't do Latin, so I didn't recognize the fact that the family's names were taken from the Cambridge Latin course textbooks. But it is nonetheless a great shout-out, and now makes me determined to find cultural uses for la famille Marsaud (offspring: Jean-Paul, Claudette and Marie-France) and die Familie Schaudi (including Hans and Lieselotte and Lumpi the dog), who were instrumental in my learning French and German, respectively...

  • Quintus was oddly louche and worldly for a supposed sixteen-year-old. Guess they don't build teenagers like they used to.

  • And now, a couple of horoscopes for the season:
    • "She's returning." - There's obviously A Certain Person returning, as glimpsed last week. And there may well be other returning She's, for all I know...
    • "You have something on your back." - Well, Donna's had quite a lot of irate fans on her back already. I'm having trouble thinking of what else this might mean, though. Does she too have a mole between her shoulder blades, perhaps? And would that mean that she really IS the Doctor's sister?? The mind boggles.

  • Speaking of unexpected relatives, the Doctor's implied mention of his dad may well be a total red herring, but it made me raise an eyebrow, if only because we've heard him refer obliquely to his own offspring, but never to his parents. At least, not in the new series, and even before that, I can only remember that bit from the TV movie when Eight lied through his teeth for US TV executive reasons (hem hem).

  • Evelina may not hang around down the shops with her mates like modern teenage girls, but she has wireless networking sorted out twenty centuries early.

  • Phil "Lucius Petrus Dextrus" Davis is a good old scenery chewer, isn't he? I do think it's rather a shame that he didn't get cast as Davros, though, if only because it would have justified my Bleak House crossover icon.

  • Oh look, it's a stone Transformer in a gladiator helmet! Having said that, I thought the Pyroviles looked good, even if they didn't feel very threatening, and the effects looked significantly shinier than usual. (Perhaps there'll be a green bubble-wrap episode later in the series, to compensate.)

  • I do like it when they emphasize the alien side of the Doctor, and the fact that he literally does see things differently. Nonetheless, he still needs to be reminded that what he perceives isn't necessarily the be-all-and-end-all (look at Jack's "wrongness", for example). He needs humans around to remind him to look beyond those initial limits, and I think this came across well here.

  • I hesitate to say that the spontaneous invention of the word "volcano" was cringeworthy, but I watched this episode with wheeler, alasdair, ewa and elethe, and our collective groaning almost made Tooting tremor.

  • From lonely god to household god: does this count as the Doctor doing domestic?

  • So what did we learn about Donna this week? Well, for all her abrasiveness, she can be quite huggy and affectionate, she asks difficult questions (both silly-difficult and serious-difficult), she generally takes no crap, and although she sometimes won't shut up for daft reasons, she also won't shut about important things. Ignoring a couple of overplayed lines that sounded straight from her sketch-show repertoire ("I bloody love you!" and "You have GOT to be kidding me!"), she did really well here. I fear that the temptation to have her mugging and catchphrasing again before long will be a hard one to resist, but let's hope this good work continues.

  • In conclusion: well-paced and surprisingly thoughtful, not to mention packed to the brim with geekathon references (see Wikipedia for a full run-down). On the downside, the alien baddies felt rather lacking in weight or threat (the volcano itself was ominous in a way that they couldn't really touch) and there were a couple of cringes, but overall it was old-fashioned in the best Who sense of the word.
Tags: doctor who
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