Archive for March 2nd, 2020

Doctor Who Series 12 Overview

Posted on March 2nd, 2020 in Culture | No Comments »

Fuck me, that was rough.

My final rankings are as follows…

Best of a profoundly sorry bunch was The Haunting of Villa Diodati (4 out of 5 stars) which actually had some thematic unity and dramatic power to it.

Praxeus (4 out of 5 stars) and Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror (3.5 out of 5 stars) are thin but they basically work. Spyfall (3 out of 5 stars) was nonsense but it was fastmoving and the surprise reveal of The Master was well-handled. Can You Hear Me(2.5 out of 5 stars) and Orphan 55 (2 out of 5 stars) are both mis-fires. Ascension of the Cybermen (2.5 out of 5 stars) showed some promise, but the finale isn’t worth any stars at all because it wasn’t a story. Fugitive of the Judoon was the story I enjoyed most as it was on, despite its maddening flaws. Whether it’s still worth the 4.5 stars I gave it then is up for debate.

This compares to the noble burghers of GallifreyBase as follows. Averaging their scores out of ten, we get the following. They put Fugitive top with 8/10, then Villa Diodati close behind on 7.9. Ascension and the two parts of Spyfall are next, all scoring in the mid-7s. TeslaThe Timeless Children and Can You Hear Me are all in the mid-sixes and Praxeus gets 6.1 before Orphan 55 rounds out the series with a pretty poor 4.8. What these averages don’t reveal is the enormous number of ones (balanced by a fair few nines and tens) for the finale which really has proven to be divisive.

At the end of his first series “I don’t read reviews” Chibnall suddenly seemed to realise that his plan to treat this as a brand new programme with no past, and to never reference the show’s 57 year history had been an error and so he threw the lever so far back in the other direction it snapped off in his hand. What the hell this means for Series Thirteen is anyone’s guess. I suppose I’ll still be watching. And hoping.

 

The Tiresome Children

Posted on March 2nd, 2020 in Culture | No Comments »

This isn’t so much a review as a collection of disorganised rambling thoughts. I can only assume Chris Chibnall would approve.

The current showrunner of Doctor Who appears to be incapable of structuring a story. The companions are once again shunted off into a side quest which is boring on its face (running away from Cybermen, hiding from Cybermen, mysteriously not being shot dead by Cybermen). The Doctor is completely passive throughout. Absurd plot elements such as a so-called “death particle” are introduced arbitrarily, their abilities never defined, and then they are written out when convenient.

The current showrunner of Doctor Who appears to be allergic to drama. If we absolutely have to disinter the foundations of the central character and make what was once so appealing – those lovely mysterious origins – so much more prosaic and dull, then could we not at least find some way to do it which has a bit more power to it than the Doctor being shown a slide show? And how does the Doctor escape from her confinement? She plays herself a clip compilation of old episodes of Doctor Who. Does she literally fanwank herself out of jail??

The current showrunner of Doctor Who has decided to have three companions and has forgotten why. I don’t think we even see Ryan back on Earth. Why should we bother? He’s a nothing character. A space where a person might be.

The current showrunner of Doctor Who is impervious to the dramatic possibilities of his own ideas. Committing, for whatever boneheaded reason to putting a piece of the Doctor’s DNA inside every Time Lord, he then continues to write a story in which there’s a piece of Time Lord in every Cyberman, but the implications of this are never addressed because let’s just blow them all up instead. Not by the Doctor though, ugh, yuck, violence. Let’s have someone else do it instead. Hurrah. I love happy endings. Never cowardly or cruel! Run away and have them all blown up by someone else. Look for a third way? Why bother?

And the stupidity mounts up and up and up. Two of the companions and some other people I couldn’t give a shit about are trapped on an impossibly vast Cyber battle cruiser. Some of the Cybermen have been activated to go and kill humans on the planet below. How many? Not sure. What about the rest? Never specified.

The humans have been detected by Cyber technology so they need to hide – and quick. Luckily, they come up with a plan to very slowly and laboriously dismantle the dormant Cybermen they happen to be standing next to. Hide all the (apparently odourless) body parts they’ve had to scoop out from the inside. Then climb inside the suits – what do you know, they’re all a perfect fit – and stand and wait for Ashad the hero Cyberman to do his rounds. On the countless floors of this enormous ship, WHICH HAS SENSORS TO DETECT HUMANS, he finally wanders into the bit where the humans actually are, potters around a bit sniffing the Cybermen and then just leaves. Phew. Now our plucky humans can escape to the planet’s surface. Not before, that would have been silly. How do they get there? Never specified.

This, for one reviewer, was the highlight of the episode.

And I could go on, and on, and on. Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to care about the Doctor’s previous lives. Clearly the interesting version of the Doctor is the one who decided to steal a TARDIS and go on the run. Previous versions apparently just obediently did what they were programmed to do by a higher power – you know the way The Doctor never would. In fact, the insight which allows the Whittaker Doctor to get her shit together and dive back into the fray (for all the good that does) is that her past doesn’t define her. How can it? Her memory of being all those other incarnations has been wiped. So, it hasn’t changed her at all, then? And all that build up was for… nothing, I guess. Why should we care? Why should she care? Why should anyone care about all this bullshit?

It hasn’t “broken the show”, because it’s all just demented fan theory nonsense that doesn’t mean anything either while it’s on, or for the future of the programme, or its past. But I guess at least we know where Chris Chibnall stands on the Morbius Faces Debate now. Next year – the UNIT DATING REVELATION THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING. “Doctor, every calendar you thought you knew, was a lie.” Etc, etc. Continued on page 94.

And I’m sorry Sasha, but I’m really bored of this performance now. Third time out, there’s no gas left in the tank. While Michelle Gomez’s Missy revealed layer after layer in writing and performance, this time around, the actor repeats the same pop-eyed ranting and the writer just turns the character into his own personal avatar. “You miserable fans! Quake in fear as I threaten the very nature of your realities! Ha ha ha!” He’s so keen to make the Master the hero of the story (he does have agency after all, which is more than can be said for any other character) that he has him in two places at once. Heaven forbid that the Doctor should be allowed to investigate her own back-story.

And like all good writers, with two charismatic mega-villains, facing off against each other, he just unceremoniously writes one out in a flat second when he’s run out of ideas. Ashad, the paranoid Cyberman, brilliantly played by Patrick O’Kane, reduced to a magic mega bomb to end the story with.

It’s all so stupid and pointless, that it’s barely worthwhile trying to summon up the energy to point out all the plot holes. How did the Master find Gallifrey? Never explained. How did he manage to get past their defences and kill everyone? Never explained. How does this enable him to discover the Doctor’s boring origin story? Never explained. Why are portions of Gallifrey’s darkest secret which must never be revealed to anyone because… reasons… redacted and others not? Never explained. Why is Ruth Martin swanning around as the Doctor when Brendan has no idea who he is? Never explained. Why is Brendan’s magic power to survive death by shooting and falling unscathed, when the whole point of this stupid backstory is that what makes Time Lords special is regeneration? Why did they call themselves Time Lords when they gave themselves regeneration not Time Travel? If there are countless previous incarnations of the Doctor running around the Universe, why have our Doctor and them never crossed paths before? Why does Ko Sharmus even have a bomb which can only be detonated manually? Who would make such a thing? Who would buy it? Why is the TARDIS suddenly so vulnerable to incursion? How can the Judoon suddenly identify their quarry on sight? Are we meant to be pleased that the current showrunner remembers how funny it was when an earlier showrunner had the Doctor repeatedly say “What?” during an end-of-season cliffhanger?

This is not so much a story, it’s a mad Whovian ranting his idiotic fan fiction in your face for an hour.

And that’s who’s running Doctor Who now.

Jesus suffering Christ.

Anyway, I hear Star Trek: Picard is good.

So, what did I think… oh for fuck’s sake, I can’t even…

Posted on March 2nd, 2020 in Culture | No Comments »

In 1986, a teenaged Chris Chibnall appeared on BBC television to publicly criticize the 14 part serial The Trial of a Time Lord which made up the 23rd Season of Doctor Who. Now, in 2020, he is able to put his own vision of the show on screen. A vision which includes…

  • The Doctor in an incongruously colourful costume
  • The unexpected return of The Master
  • A heavy reliance on old enemies and PR-friendly guest stars
  • An alternative version of the Doctor whose provenance is uncertain, and who we don’t realize is the Doctor until later in the story
  • A desolate alien planet revealed as Earth in the far future
  • Evil capitalists who want to use human brains for their own purposes
  • An over-arching season-long storyline revolving around Gallifrey and the Time Lords, which makes it hard for casual viewers to understand or keep up.
  • Lengthy sections consisting of the Doctor watching Doctor Who via the Matrix instead of taking part in the story.
  • In the final bumper-length episode, the Doctor and the Master disappear into the Matrix, a world of illusion where it isn’t clear what’s real and what’s not (a bit like in The Deadly Assassin).

Make of that what you will.

As to the content of this episode – I mean it defies reviewing really, doesn’t it, being mainly gibberish. Not so much a sci-fi adventure story as a mad Whovian ranting his dreadful fan theories into your face for an hour. I may have some more detailed thoughts later, but for now I’m just profoundly disappointed and shocked at the vacuous inanity of it all.

And then there’s this.

So… yeah…