Red Scharlach (redscharlach) wrote,
Red Scharlach

Wet, wet, wet

Expectations adjusted to zero: check. Gin and tonic supplies replenished: check. Chocolate biscuits on stand-by: check. Excellent. Getting ready for the new series of Top Gear was easier than I thought.

But before that, of course, there was Doctor Who. So here are some thoughts on The Waters of Mars:

  • So, yet again we have a tale of a demographically diverse group of folk stuck in an enclosed environment, who are likely to be picked on one by one by something nasty. See also The Impossible Planet, 42, Voyage of the Damned, and Midnight (sort of). I don't know if the genre has a name (apart from "Alien Rip-Off"), but I always think of it as "Screaming In A Box".

  • "The Doctor. Doctor. Fun." - Sing that to the tune of "Llama, llama, duck", and you could have a novelty Christmas hit on your hands, Doctor.

  • "I hate funny robots." - Well, aside from the "Gadget gadget" thing, which was annoying, the offensiveness of Gadget was actually rather overstated, especially considering that it was basically just a remote control tool with no personality. (Come to think of it, plenty of D-list celebrities fit the same description.)

  • "Was it the Branson Inheritance lot? They've been talking about a Mars shot for years." - As a Virgin Media customer, I laughed at this. Hollowly.

  • So, the inside of the Doctor's memory looks just like Wikipedia, does it? I guess the mystery of what he's been doing in the TARDIS alone all this time is resolved. Contrary to popular belief, the internet is NOT for porn, it's for absorbing vast quantities of galactic trivia and boring everyone to death!

  • Despite the "OMG this episode is scary" hype, I didn't really feel it. Maybe I would have done when I was 10, but every time one of the possessed folk lurched into view, I couldn't help thinking of those dreadful but ubiquitous banner ads for stuff to whiten your teeth...

  • Ooh, a tie-in to The Stolen Earth! Not only a fact of significance, but probably the only moving moment involving a Dalek since... well, "Dalek".

  • I'm only slightly disappointed that we didn't get to see Action Procedures 2 through 4. Having said that, what comes between "run away" and "nuclear apocalypse"? Make girlie squealing noises? Get ridiculously drunk? Crap yourself?

  • Never mind the Doctor's obsession with bikes, surely roller skates would have been more effective? And would have made a great chase scene, albeit a bit riskier from a health-and-safety point of view.

  • Just for a moment there, I wondered whether we were actually going to get an episode in which the Doctor spends the last 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but walking away. It would have been quite astounding as a primetime example of the Inaction Hero in action. (See also Captain Jack at the end of Children of Earth, I suppose.)

  • But no, that's not what we get. We get the same Doctor as usual, only one who's tipped over the edge of bonkers and is having a mad Captain Ahab moment of obsessive hubris. (Was anyone else reminded of Star Trek: First Contact, here? But unlike Captain Picard, Ten had no one capable of stopping him until it was too late.)

  • Oh Doctor, why didn't you think of taking the survivors somewhere other than Earth in their own present day? You could have dropped them off at some nice little Earth colony in the far future, told them that it was impossible to return to their own time period, but that they could make a new life for themselves somewhere innocuous. Of course, that idea doesn't lead to angst, hubris and all that dramatic business, but still. Take a deep breath and there ARE other options, see?

  • A TV sideline: the Doctor's executive decision to do what he likes with time also reminded me of the time travel stuff that's been happening on Heroes lately. I won't go into the details for the sake of folk who are waiting for the BBC to show season 4, but the Doctor and Hiro should probably have words...

  • Acting round-up: Lindsay Duncan was predictably great, but I'd expect nothing less from such a proper thesp. Her quiet gravitas also brought out the best in DT, especially in the climactic airlock scene: it also helped that the combination of his helmet and the viewscreen made him look like a totally different person. His mad yelling at the end was less good, after the subtlety that had come before, but I suppose he may have been channelling Patrick Stewart again for some of that, which can't be all bad.

  • The only other crew member who stood out at all was the exhausted-looking Shane from Neighbours. The rest of the line-up were pretty much cannon fodder, but I suppose that's business as usual for tales of this type. They are human, they squeal, they die. Or, if they are Mia at the end, they run off down the street without a coat on, and will probably catch a nasty chill.

  • Anyway, the moral of this story is: don't make huge and meaningful life-changing speeches to people and then totally change your mind, because it makes you look like a prize idiot. I have no idea where the Doctor decided to rush off to at the end; perhaps he'll go and find Jack and found the Thoughtless Time-Travelling Bastards Club.

  • Is Ood Sigma the Ghost of Christmas Future, standing there in the snow with his shiny bauble? Perhaps we should all send him our lists of the things we want for the Christmas special. You never know, they might come true.

  • Overall: "Let's do DARK" is a risky ambition for Who, because you can so easily overshoot and end up looking a bit silly (cf. Torchwood), but some sterling acting work kept things fairly focused and led to one of the best Who outings for ages. You couldn't do it every week, of course, but I guess that's the point.

  • I confess, I did watch the trailer for Christmas. Without giving anything away to those who didn't, I didn't feel too spoilered by it, since it shows some of the ingredients without giving away the recipe, so to speak. So I also plan to take the plunge and watch the Children in Need teaser scene on Friday, just to keep my finger on the fandom pulse...
Tags: doctor who
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