Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

It's just you and your sand tonight

Well, it's time for some thoughts about Planet of the Dead, or as I'd like to rename it, The Last Doctor Who Special That I Ever Watch Sober. At least when the Christmas episodes roll around, I've usually had a bit of festive spirit by that hour of the day, so I'm not too demanding. But I watched this one in the morning with all my faculties about me, and found it a gobsmackingly dull experience. Still, I've dredged up a few coherent thoughts on the subject, and here they are...

The Good
  • Oh, naughty Doctor, using your psychic paper as an Oyster card! This sort of behaviour is NOT condoned by Transport for London, and will probably be used as an excuse for quadrupling the price of Travelcards next year.

  • Normally I loathe Lee Evans to the point of physical pain, but here he wasn't in the bottom 30 things about this episode, which somehow translates as "quite liked him". Whodathunkit? And the "I love you!!" fanboy bit at the end was even rather sweet.

  • It's Liz from Teachers as Carmen the Psychic Bus Lady! Sadly she's been shackled with a lot of "Doom! Doom!!" soothsaying and not a lot else to do, but as you can see, I'm scratching around for crumbs of goodness here.

The Bad
  • This wasn't a story, it was just lots of scribbled-down ideas found at the bottom of a filing cabinet, all stuck together. Heaven only knows, I don't demand hardhitting social comment and/or core-shaking emotional drama in everything I watch, and I'm certainly open to the concept of a silly romp (I'm a Torchwood fan, after all), but this was about as fun as dropping your choc ice on the beach: any potential pleasure lost in a heap of indigestible grit.

  • Chief among the bits of grit that I wanted to spit out was Christina "Lara Croft Was Unavailable" De Souza, who was living proof of the old adage that if you go around talking about how cool and clever you are, there's a high likelihood that you aren't either. Michelle Ryan is not entirely bereft of acting ability (well, there was at least one scene in Merlin where she was actually semi-decent... um, possibly) but pretending to be posh drains the few thespian skills she possesses, and the lacklustre script does her no favours, leaving her to deliver dreadful lines like "That's how I like things. Extreme." with all the self-destructive thrill-seeking passion of someone about to clean out their sock drawer. Nor does she change or grow or learn anything in the course of the story: all she does is hand over a piece of expensive junk that isn't even hers. And for that, she gets a climactic kiss-up, albeit one so lacking in chemistry that she might as well have snogged her own rucksack. Not impressed.

  • Little wonder, then, that the Doctor gave her the old "it's not you, it's me and my Lonely God (TM) angst!" brush-off at the end. Yeah, right. You just don't want to hang around with anyone who's keener on flashing their tightly clad arse than you are...

  • I can see why the plot didn't really focus on the other bus passengers, because that's a bit too Midnight-y, and why they didn't elect to kill them off one by one, because that's a bit too Voyage of the Damned. But the result was that they did hardly anything at all, which seemed like a huge waste.

  • Those fly-headed guys had obscene-looking mouths, didn't they? Another reason why you wouldn't want to snog them, I suppose.

  • Oh, Captain Magambo. One moment you're going to shoot Malcolm in the head and shut all those people into a wormhole forever, and then a few minutes later you're all "hey Doctor, great to see you!" Still, maybe you don't need moral fibre when you've got a truckload of hunky UNIT boys to keep you warm at night.

  • And as a tiny but niggling example of the paucity of invention on display in this episode, the International Gallery is the world's least imaginative name. Either use the name of a real place OR make up one that is clever or interesting or a reference to something. It's giving Rose a job in Big Shop or making Donna work for Corporate Offices Limited. It's like someone couldn't even be arsed.

The Future Foreshadowing
  • I have no idea what "It is returning through the dark" and "He will knock four times" may mean. I can only guess that perhaps the latter is a misheard revelation about the Doctor's secret hobby of shoplifting from bookstores - "He will nick four tomes"? Or maybe it's a prediction about Zachary Quinto's film career - "He will Spock four times"?

  • The trailer for The Waters of Mars actually looked okay. At least it has Lindsay Duncan in it and she's generally good value, so perhaps I won't readjust my expectations to rock-bottom. Although I'm definitely going to play it safe and have a large gin and tonic on stand-by before it begins. Never let it be said that I don't learn from my own mistakes...
Tags: doctor who
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