Monday, March 18, 2013

Day Seventy-seven - Dr.Who: Series 1, Episode 11, or "Oh, you were SO CLOSE... then you went and ruined it."

It should come as no surprise to any Couchbound regulars that I'm a bit of a naysayer when it comes to the new Doctor Who... at least Christopher Eccleston's run so far *snarf!*

While I've enjoyed bits here and there and, like the rest of the world, fallen into an unrequited bromance with Captain Jack Harkness, it's just never thrilled me with the kinds of scifi stories that I've desired.

No real meaty choices or reflections upon humanity.

Sure, there have been a few attempts, like the glare of the mass media obscuring real truth, the rational world cornering the fantastic and taking the joy from life, etc., etc., but I've had more poignant stories from Reboot than Dr.Who in it's first series.

And that's a damning thing.

With episode 11, we see a return to the modern era and, fittingly enough, the return of an enemy thought dead.

It seems there is a Slytheen still kicking who has somehow, in the past year of relative time on Earth, managed to gain the Lord Mayorship of Cardiff, started a nuclear power initiative in the heart of the city, and managed to endrun around no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of historical preservation laws to demolish Cardiff Castle to build said plant over... all in yet another MacGuffiny quest to ride a pan-dimensional surf board out of the solar system at the cost of the obliteration of Earth.

Utterly... freaking... ridiculous.

But... hidden in the dreck that is the A-story is something odd, an actual real scifi dilemma.

There's a difficult choice that The Doctor has to make. Now that she's been discovered, the Slytheen (named Blon) is captured by the TARDIS' crew (plus Ricky... or Micky... whatever) and will be turned over to her people... a people that have the death penalty... to which her family has already been condemned to centuries ago.

That's right... in getting a dangerous criminal off our planet (saving it yet again), he must turn her over for immediate, deadly justice.

Now THAT'S the sort of story I want from my cheesy scifi shows like Star Trek and Farscape... searching moral parables.

Granted, it's also the kind of story that I want from my hard scifi series like Planetes and Ghost in the Shell:Stand Alone Complex.

Anyways, as much as I hated the Slytheen as a villain race, being a hybrid creation of terrible CGI coupled with laughable practical effects, Blon didn't bother me as much this time around. Especially after the episode dispensed with the "getting reaquainted" portion of the story where we see just how blase she still is about murdering to keep her secret. The moment we get to the bathroom scene, though, and she spares the reporter, things actually get interesting.

Sure, there's the blah annoyance of Micky and Rose's continued "you left me behind" drama, but that's offset beautifully by The Doctor and Captain Jack's fun banter. It gets a little trying when Jack yet again has to prove himself by lampshading his knowledge of ancient Earthican slang, but oh well, every time travel show does that to try and establish legitimacy for itself.

In any case, I was pretty happy with the episode after that... until there's a crisis in the TARDIS and the whole moralizing of the episode is for not when it's shoehorned into an ending... as Blon was playing them for fools all along.


I really, really dislike the writing for this show... it's like they're afraid to step too far out of the Dr.Who rubric of standard plots and resolutions. Everything ends up sounding like the Christmas Special almost immediately. Rote... and boring.

Still, I'll soldier through over the year until I see my River Song again.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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