Doctor Who – The Matt Smith Era Rankings

December 27, 2013

Will I miss Matt Smith?

No, I won’t.

Why?

Well on the one hand, you look at his stories and think they weren’t very good on the whole. When I come to rank all the Doctor Who stories from An Unearthly Child all the way through to The Time of the Doctor, I can’t imagine that many will feature in the Top 100 let alone the Top 50.

I would honestly say that there are four or maybe five really good Matt Smith adventures, and that’s it.

Meanwhile, at least two will definitely feature in my Bottom 10, and one is a genuine contender for the worst story ever.

So what’s the problem? Is it him?

Not entirely, but I’ll get to him later.

The big problem with Matt Smith’s era is Steven Moffat. He’s just not a very good show-runner. When he was just a guest writer for the show, his output included stone cold classics like Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace, but when the responsibility of carrying the entire Doctor Who brand fell upon his shoulders, I think he failed and continues to fail to this day.

In the Matt Smith Era, Doctor Who became a mish-mash of repetitive fantasy yarns weighed down by convoluted story-arcs, recurring monsters and far too much fan-wankery. Don’t get me wrong, when fan-wankery is done well, it’s great, but some of just seemed so forced.

Of his 39 Matt Smith stories, 19 of them involved a monster/enemy who would appear in more than one of his adventures. I haven’t compared that to other eras of the show, but this is the only one where it’s been so obvious.

It’s not Matt Smith’s fault, but in his era you look at characters like River Song, The Daleks, The Cybermen, Madam Vastra and even the Weeping Angels and just wish they’d piss off, never to return.

And of course, with Moffat in charge, it’s not just that the quality of the show’s output has suffered, but the amount too.

As for Smith, I always felt his acting was too showy and performance-like. I’ve always believed that a good actor shouldn’t be seen to be visibly “acting”, but Matt Smith never showed anything less.

To me, Smith’s wild movements, delivery and gestures – along with the way he was written – felt forced compared to…well compared to almost every other actor who has ever played the part. In recent months we’ve seen him shown up by David Tennant, John Hurt, a really old Tom Baker, a 30 second cameo by Peter Capaldi and even Paul McGann. The public outcry from fans to get a Paul McGann series after only 10 minutes was incredible, but people wanted him because he just seemed a lot better – both in terms of characterisation and performance – than Smith.

Matt Smith has said he’s influenced by Patrick Troughton, but he’s nowhere near Troughton’s level. Smith, not now or ever, will command the screen when he is up against his peers.

So I won’t miss Matt Smith in the least; he wasn’t the worst Doctor, nor did he have the worst stories on average, but he’s a long, long, looooong way off being the best Doctor.

Anyway, here’s how I’d rank his stories…

MattSmith

The Stories

39. The Crimson Horror

I say this without hyperbole; The Crimson Horror is a serious contender for Worst Doctor Who Story of All Time. It is awful. With a terrible script stuffed to the gills with misfiring humour and a dottled guest actress who wasn’t taking it remotely seriously, it’s just embarrassing.

38. The Vampires of Venice

While I consider Matt Smith’s first season to be his best, this was a real let down. It has a funny pre-credits sequence but after that it’s just style over substance.

37. Hide

An incredibly boring story. I can’t muster up much more to say.

36. Let’s Kill Hitler

Classically bad River Song drivel. One of these stories that you can’t watch on its own merit either.

35. A Town Called Mercy

There’s that word again; boring. Nice setting, nice costumes, shame about the script.

34. Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

A good idea, but poorly executed.

33. A Good Man Goes To War

See “Let’s Kill Hitler”. Slightly better though.

32. The Wedding of River Song

Same again, though on the plus side it finally put that tiresome “Does the Doctor die” story-arc to bed.

31. The Impossible Astronaut & Day of the Moon

And again.

30. The God Complex

I feel we’re going round in circles, but this is yet another case of style over substance. So many of these stories look interesting but don’t have the plots/scripts to back it up.

29. The Beast Below

I described it as dull and awkward, and complained that Steven Moffat usually did better work than it. A sign of things to come I think.

28. Nightmare in Silver

Just what we needed; more Cyberman episodes. And bratty children

27. The Snowmen

This felt like more of a set-up of what’s to come, rather than a solid episode in its own right.

26. The Doctor, The Widow & The Wardrobe

While by no means a stand-out, this did what it set out to do; it provided a decent bit of Christmas Day viewing for fans and casual viewers alike

25. The Doctor’s Wife

I seem to be a lone voice in my lack of enthusiasm for The Doctor’s Wife. We’re beyond the bad stories now, but this just isn’t one that peaks my interest. The look is too grim for my liking.

24. The Curse of the Black Spot

Conversely, I enjoy this more than most. I don’t see much in the way of flaws and I described it as “inoffensive fun” in my review.

23. Cold War

It’s great to see The Ice Warriors back, but I felt this was more a case of fitting them in to an existing story rather than finding one for them to thrive in. To give it credit though, it was atmospheric.

22. Victory of the Daleks

While I really laid into this in my review, and branded it “ridiculously lazy and stupid”, its main problem was that it tried to redo Power of the Daleks in 12 minutes. That was never going to work, but what was left was still ok.

21. The Bells of Saint John

Though it all felt a bit “by-the numbers” this was a reasonably good episode that introduced Clara properly at last.

20. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Not as good on second viewing as it is on first, this has its moments, but struggles to find the middle ground between grimness and buffoonery.

19. Asylum of the Daleks

This on the other hand is better the second time around, mainly because the first time I watched it I was caught up in the BBC’s lie about how it had every Dalek ever in it.

18. Closing Time

Not nearly as good as The Lodger, but still a pleasant watch. Cybermen being killed by love though really is them at their lowest ebb.

17. The Hungry Earth & Cold Blood

It’s “The Silurian Story 2K10″

16. The Rings of Akhaten

A sing-song in space. I thought it was breezy but enjoyable. Don’t understand the hate.

15. The Name of the Doctor

Strip away all the admittedly enjoyable fan-wankery, this is just the usual recent-Moff guff. But the fan-wankery was good this time.

14. The Eleventh Hour

A good start to Matt Smith’s era.

13. Amy’s Choice

I summed it up by saying “It’s a fresh, interesting idea and the small cast make the best of it, but there are some obvious flaws that hold it back.”

12. The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People

While it didn’t need to resort to having a “Monster” at the end, I thought this one was actually pretty impressive.

11. The Angels Take Manhattan

I said…

“As long as you don’t think about it too deeply (and by too deeply I mean “at all”), The Angels Take Manhattan is a very good story that combines emotion and visual impact to send off Amy & Rory in style.

But it doesn’t stand to reason, and that takes away from it.”

10. The Time of the Doctor

While it is what is it because of Steven Moffat’s inability to write story-arcs properly, I liked it. While not a patch on David Tennant’s final 20 minutes, Matt Smith manages to bow out with grace.

09. The Pandorica Opens & The Big Bang

I said it was “epic in its scale, clever,funny, charming, witty, good fun and like a modern-day fairy tale, but also riddled with continuity errors and plot holes that just drags the whole thing down.”

08. Night Terrors

Featuring surprisingly highly on the list is Night Terrors, which is this high because in a sea of story-arc pish, it managed to be an enjoyable, self-contained episode that hit the spot.

07. The Time of Angels & Flesh and Stone

While it weakened The Weeping Angels, there’s no doubt it’s still a solid piece of television.

06. The Girl Who Waited

I like that Doctor Who can still – when it wants to be – be fresh and interesting. This was that, both in terms of setting and storyline. And Karen Gillen was actually quite good, which is saying something.

05. The Power of Three

A pleasant change from what Steven Moffat usually churns out/commissions, this felt like an episode from a happier, by-gone era.

04. The Lodger

This story played to the strengths of everyone involved. Great stuff, though it would have been better if Meglos was in it.

03. A Christmas Carol

My favourite Christmas episode, I just don’t see how people couldn’t find this enjoyable and also a bit sad. Top cast, top effort.

02. Vincent & The Doctor

There’s a guy on the Pie & Bovril Scottish Football forum who’ll be raging at me for having Vincent & The Doctor this high, but I think it’s fantastic. The best story of its genre. Very well done.

01. The Day of the Doctor

That The Day of the Doctor finishes top of the pile sums up the Matt Smith Era for me. This is the best one in part because Smith shares the lead with other, more talented people. It’s also a brilliant story and a wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of this amazing TV show.

The Companions

03. Amy

Though Clara has far less to her character – in fact, she has almost nothing – I generally enjoy her performances. Amy Pond had more invested in her character than almost any other companion, but I didn’t like that character much, nor the actress who played her.

02. Clara

If only she had a reason to be there she’d be good, because Jenna Coleman is an accomplished actress

01. Rory

Some of the best bits of Matt Smith’s time in the TARDIS were when he worked alongside only Rory. A very underrated companion.

The Cliffhangers

Were there any?

By default this surely goes to the cliffhanger at the end of The Name of the Doctor.

The Music

05. The Long Song (Rings of Akhaten)
04. The Sad Man With A Box (Various)
03. Abigail’s Song (A Christmas Carol)
02. Gallifrey Falls No More (The Day of the Doctor)
01. Four Knocks (The Time of the Doctor)

The Seasons

05. Season 7: Part Two (Mean Score: 26.625)

Absolute garbage for the most part. Not a single stand-out story in it.

04. Season 6 (Mean Score: 23.181)

Though it contained three stories in my top 12, the groan-inducing River Song/Doctor Dying story-arcs weighed his down heavily.

03. Season 7: Part One (Mean Score: 19.5)

A mixed bag, but it certainly had its moments.

02. Season 5 (Mean Score: 14.364)

In terms of actual seasons, this was Matt Smith’s best. Obviously before Moffat ran out of good ideas.

01. The 2013 Specials (Mean Score: 5.5)

There are only two of them, but one was good and the other was excellent.


Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor Review (or “How To Write Yourself Into a Corner, by Steven Moffat”)

December 26, 2013

Christmas TV in 2013 has been rubbish.

In the weeks approaching it, I knew that, and had joked to people that the only good thing about it this year would be watching Matt Smith die.

Of course, that raised a chuckle, but it made me think about how The Time of the Doctor would play out.

Oh sure, people die in grim soap operas like Eastenders almost every Christmas, but Doctor Who is family entertainment. Could they have Matt Smith’s Doctor die in a harrowing fashion on Christmas Day? Would that be appropriate?

Lest we forget that David Tennant’s final moments were broadcast on the less cheery holiday of New Years Day.

But of course, die Matt Smith would, so it was always going to be interesting to see how it happened.

Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor Review: What’s This One About?

Matt Smith departs as the Doctor and Steven Moffat realises he actually has to explain his tiresome story-arcs before it’s too late.

Thoughts – Haters Gonna Hate

Before I get to my thoughts, I think it’s worth noting how “The Internet” has reacted to Time of the Doctor.

Haters Gonna Hate

Haters Gonna Hate

As I’ve said before, Doctor Who fans traditionally have this instant Rose Tinted Spectacled view of a new Doctor Who episode before forming a long-standing opinion a bit later.

In the past, every episode was met with people shouting from the rooftops about how amazing it is. And yes, I think a lot of people – especially in the press and on one particular Doctor Who forum – are like that. Whether that’s them being honest with themselves or wanting to keep in with “Cardiff” is a question only they can answer, but they seem to be becoming the minority in fandom.

These days, the default view of new Doctor Who episodes – whether its on Twitter or on most of the forums – is that they are crap.

And you won’t get any argument from me that some of the recent episodes have been crap, but the difference is that I like to go into watching a new episode with an open mind. What I think has changed with Doctor Who fans is that they are beginning to go into these things with a deliberately negative mindset, almost looking for a reason to dislike stuff. They don’t like the direction Moffat has taken the show in so they’ll be damned if they like what he puts out, no matter the quality.

So take The Day of the Doctor as an example. I just couldn’t get my head round how so many people struggled to comprehend the Tom Baker cameo. It wasn’t difficult, was it?

Now that’s not true of everyone, and I’m not having a go at anyone in particular, so don’t get upset with me, but it’s definitely what I’ve observed.

If you'd told them both a couple of years ago they'd have to film this scene with wigs on they wouldn't have believed you

If you’d told them both a couple of years ago they’d have to film this scene with wigs on they wouldn’t have believed you

Anyway, it’s Boxing Day morning as I write this Time of the Doctor review, and the feedback is exactly how I expected it to be. People on the forums are hyperbolically saying that it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen, while everyone associated with Doctor Who in an official capacity - whether they be writers, members of the Restoration Team (Boooooo!!!! Give us our Missing Episodes!!!!) or the fabled Überfans - are saying its wonderful.

So what’s the truth of the matter? How good or bad was The Time of the Doctor? Well here are my thoughts…

A Bargain of Necessity 

Rather than just “hilariously” using the name of the fifth episode of the Reign of Terror, I think the sub-heading sums up The Time of the Doctor.

I’ve written before about Steven Moffat’s obsession with story-arcs and this need for everything to make sense in the end. It’s as if his desired reaction is not “Oh, that was brilliant” but rather “Aaaaah, so that’s what that meant”.

At some point after writing Blink he seems to have decided that Doctor Who should no longer be about writing a good stand-alone story, but rather about complex story-arcs that don’t need to make sense right now; like he thinks that is the only way to keep viewers coming back for more.

But I would say writing good stand-alone stories is exactly what makes people want to keep coming back. It doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

Anyway, the result is that seeds Moffat planted as far back as The Eleventh Hour still hadn’t borne fruit, and Matt Smith had announced he was leaving, so this final episode had to explain everything.

Ageing and with nothing left to lose, The Doctor gets a bit rapey

Ageing and with nothing left to lose, The Doctor gets a bit rapey

There’s a chance Moffat had planned to wrap everything up in Smith’s final episode from the start, but I doubt it.

And so The Time of the Doctor is unfortunately a bit of a mish-mash of things that I’d have a hard time believing any writer would be truly happy with in an ideal world.

In one hour, we had to get through…

  • Christmas Day on contemporary Earth
  • The War on Trenzalore
  • The reason for the Crack in Time
  • The meaning of “Silence Will Fall”
  • The reasoning for why The Daleks know the Doctor again
  • The explanation of how this is actually the Doctor’s final regeneration
  • A means for him to get another set of regenerations to keep to show going
  • A way for him to actually die
  • The regeneration sequence/Matt Smith’s goodbye.

There’s too much there, and so while I’d like to make it clear that I don’t think it was bad – because I did enjoy it – I think it could have been far better if things had been explained earlier on in Matt Smith’s run so that his final episode could have had a chance to breathe a bit more.

Instead, much of what was going on ended up being explained away in a couple of rushed exposition scenes, and what seemed like good ideas on paper just felt flat in execution.

So for example, it seems as though it was decided that the only way to give the Doctor new lives was to reintroduce Gallifrey, and by doing that, the Daleks had to be around, and for the story to work, the Daleks also had to know who the Doctor was. But didn’t they have their memories of him wiped? Of course they did, but they’ve found out about him again by harvesting information from the mind of the Doctors never-before-seen-but-long-time-close-and-personal-friend Tasha Lem. So what was the point of having them forget him if the first time they’d see him again they’d have to know who he was?

And while it’s a nice idea to explain the Doctor’s ultimate fate as having to stay on Trenzalore for the rest of his life, that wasn’t exactly exhilarating to watch.

Ach well

The Regeneration

For me, the big draw of The Time of the Doctor was seeing how Matt Smith would die.

If his first line was "Who the fuck are you" it would have been the best thing ever

If his first line was “Who the fuck are you” it would have been the best thing ever

Now as you know, I thought David Tennant’s departure was by a mile the best of any Doctor. Many people disagree with me on that, but I thought it was brilliant.

How would Smith’s departure compare? Could it match Tennant’s or even the understatedly brilliant departure of Christopher Ecclestone?

For me, it’s a no.

The reason for the Doctor dying was done well enough – even if I was a bit confused about how everyone in the village of Christmas seemed to age at a far slower rate to the Doctor – and the scenes with Coleman and an ancient Doctor were nice, but they couldn’t compare to Tennant and Cribbins for emotion. And that was made even more obvious by the welcome return of one of the two greatest pieces of incidental music in Doctor Who – nay Television – history, Four Knocks. Watch both scenes played out to the same music and you’ll know exactly which one hit the right emotional chord.

(*Writer’s Note 2014: You know what though; as much as I said that, and as much as I’d probably stick to that, I actually find I now associate Four Knocks more with Time of the Doctor than The End of Time. That one scene there was wonderfully played and probably just needed a bit of time to settle in my memory)

But where I got a little confused was that he appeared to regenerate while standing atop that building, and yet didn’t.

Again, maybe that’s another case of Moffat writing himself into a corner. He wanted The Doctor to die an old, old man, but also wanted Matt Smith’s final scenes to be as the Doctor we knew and so had to fudge things a bit. He just never learns.

But Smith’s final scene was well done, and the surprise appearance of Amy Pond was a nice touch, even if it did make the characterless Clara seem even more of an afterthought than she already is. If I’m going to complain about anything it’s that it maybe tried a bit too hard to be poetic, although the symbolism of him removing his bow-tie was surprisingly good.

Actually, that’s not my only complaint. Here’s another one…

If the villains in this were the Monoids, it would have been immeasurably better

If the villains in this were the Monoids, it would have been immeasurably better

Though Peter Capaldi’s very brief cameo was excellent and made me very excited to see him in the part, complete with his Scottish accent and scary demeanour, the lines he was given were crap. They were funny, but they were crap.

He’s thrown by the changing of one of his body parts and the TARDIS is flying out of control. Wow, that’s original isn’t it? It’s not like that’s how the last two regenerations were done, was it?

Personally I’d have preferred it if his first words were “Who the fuck are you and what the fuck are you doing in my TARDIS”. If it had been, it would have been the finest moment in Doctor Who history.

But you can’t have it all I suppose.

Random Observations

  • Despite the story being rushed, there was still time for the Doctor to abandon Clara twice. That’s a bit much isn’t it?
  • For the second episode in a row, events of previous stories have been rendered nonsensical. So yet again, this stuff just doesn’t tie in with The End of Time at all, but more pressingly, the idea that Matt Smith is the final Doctor confuses the story arc of Moffat’s second season. When River Song shot the Doctor by that lake, he was about to regenerate. How? Oh I know, because when Moffat wrote that, he hadn’t thought up the War Doctor and wasn’t considering what happened in Journey’s End to be a regeneration.
  • How many times can the entire Dalek fleet be destroyed? Leave the Daleks alone, we’re sick of them.
  • And we’re sick of the bloody Cybermen too.
  • And the Weeping Angels.
  • But by all means bring back the Monoids.
  • The early stuff round at Clara’s house seemed incongruous, and while I did laugh along with bits like the hologram clothes and Handles, I think perhaps that time could have been better used in making the main plot a bit smoother.
  • As I say above, Clara is still an afterthought. I don’t think anyone could say that Jenna Coleman is a bad actress or that Clara is unlikeable, because neither is true. I have no complaints on those scores at all, but I still don’t know who she is really. What’s her motivation? Beyond the Impossible Girl stuff, who is she? We got a glimpse of that when she said she travels with The Doctor because she fancies him, but that’s hardly fresh material is it? And I can’t see that being her motivation for staying with Peter Capaldi, can you?
  • If The Doctor hasn’t seen Amy for hundreds of years, would he not take a moment to think “Who’s that?”
  • And didn’t the Daleks kill everyone on board the Church? And if so, how did the Doctor end up fighting alongside The Silence and those soldiers?
  • Does this mean we’ll never say River Song again? Fantastic.
  • Look everyone! A Cybermen voice not done by Nick Briggs!!! Amazing!!!!!!
  • I wasn’t particularly enamoured by the latex masks Matt Smith was wearing to make him look older. Not the most convincing if you ask me.
  • Going through the episode on iPlayer I’ve seen Peter Capaldi’s cameo a few times now and every time I have a beaming smile on my face. Superb.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – The Time of the Doctor Review: Final Thoughts

Far from perfect, but not nearly as bad some are making out, The Time of the Doctor unfortunately felt like it was hamstrung by Steven Moffat’s need to conclude his tiresome story-arcs.

As a result, Smith’s final story feels like it could have been better.

Will I miss Matt Smith? No, not really.

Do I want this to be the end of Steven Moffat in charge of Doctor Who? Yes.

Will it be? Probably not (although if you’re reading this down the line and it actually was, or if he got his act together to make the next season amazing, then chuckle with hindsight)

The main thing to take from this is that there’s a new Doctor in town, and going by first impressions, he’s going to be great.

Look Out For The Book

And so that’s 50 years of Doctor Who reviewed. As I’ve said before, my plan has always been to release all this as an e-book and I’ll press on with that in the New Year.

If you’re looking for my own Doctor Who Mighty 245 or whatever it’ll be, that’ll be part of that.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor Review (or “Three Cheers for Chinny, Sandshoes and Grandad”)

November 24, 2013

And so the main event finally arrived.

But did it deliver?

In the lead-up to the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who - The Day of the Doctor - the chances are that fandom let themselves get carried away with how this episode would pan out, especially since so little was actually known about it in advance (and incidentally, well done to the BBC for keeping all that info under wraps).

What I did notice though, having checked some of the Doctor Who forums last night and this morning, is that great many people were disappointed with it. Some of the criticisms included the special effects, the performances of Tennant & Smith, the lack of older Doctors, the retconning of the Time War and the supposedly confusing cameo by Tom Baker at the end.

Are these criticisms valid?

Or do some people just automatically dislike “NuWho” and clamour for the old days?

Not wanting to make a snap judgement, I’ve now watched this twice and here are my thoughts…

Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor Review: What’s This One About?

Faced with ending the Time War and destroying Gallifrey and all its children, the War Doctor – John Hurt – is offered a glimpse into his own future and how his decision will affect him going forward.

In this case, it’s in an adventure involving the 10th and 11th Doctors (or should that be 11th and 12th?), the Zygons, present day & Elizabethan England and then Gallifrey again.

Oh, and it also includes a posh Billie Piper playing the conscience of a weapon (and no, Laaaaaaaads, I don’t mean a “phwoar” weapon, but rather a weapon in the conventional sense)

Thoughts – Not Just Nostalgia

For a story like the Day of the Doctor to work, it has to tick the right boxes.

I prefer the one on the right

I prefer the one on the right

It has to appeal to everyone, from the most casual of Modern-Who fans to the most staunch Classic Series fanboys. That’s something that some long-term fans struggle with it would seem. There’s this belief that the Classic Who fan has more claim to Doctor Who than someone whose first experience with the show involved Christopher Eccleston. I disagree.

So while I – like many others – would probably have been thrilled if they’d just chucked all the surviving Doctors in a room and had them play Scattergories, I think there has to be more to it than that for it to live up to the hype.

Day of the Doctor has nostalgia in abundance, with plenty of enjoyable lines that nod to the past, like “Wearing a bit thin”, “Good to know my future is in safe hands” and “I don’t want to go” , and little bits that will appeal to older fans like the pictures of all the companions and the reference to Ian Chesterton on the Coal Hill School sign. It also has nostalgia for newer fans, like the character of Bad Wolf Billie.

You’ve also got the Zygons, UNIT, a return to the oft-mentioned Time War and even David Tennant’s Doctor’s unseen adventures with Queen Elizabeth. And it’s all brought together in a plot that makes sense.

That’s no mean feat.

But it’s not just about nostalgia. Rather than simply being a show that wallows in its past, it also looks to its future.

It explores new ground with John Hurt’s character, it gives the Doctor somewhere to go and most of all, it presents around 80 minutes of dramatic, easy to follow television for fans of all tenures to enjoy.

So although it’s been a while since I’ve said this, well done Steven Moffat.

The Doctors

One of the key elements of any multi-Doctor story is the interaction between them.

I'm going to be very OCD here, but they aren't in the right order. That's bugging me more than I'd like

I’m going to be very OCD here, but they aren’t in the right order. That’s bugging me more than I’d like

You saw it in the Three Doctors, The Five Doctors (although not enough) and even the diabolical Two Doctors; so The Day of the Doctor had to get that element right.

And it did.

All three men worked very well with one another, with plenty of humorous exchanges of dialogue between them. I found myself laughing out loud plenty of times, usually at the way they were slagging each other off.

John Hurt’s Doctor seemed to be written to vent some fans’ frustrations at the way Tennant & Smith’s characters were written and performed. I loved the criticism of the way Smith’s Doctor gesticulates while he talks and the way they both have catch-phrases.

But the funniest bit of the lot was the way Smith’s Doctor called them “Sandshoes and Grandad”. Far better than “A Dandy and a Clown” if you ask me.

Meanwhile the whole scene in the dungeon was also a resounding success for me. It developed their relationships and characters and it moved the plot along nicely.

And the way it all came together at the end, with Hurt’s Doctor being accepted as part of his own timeline was a touching send-off to a character who we’d only known for such a short amount of time, but who – in my opinion at least – felt like one who was long established. That’s a testament to Hurt’s acting more than anything else. Sadly, the way it was written means he’ll probably never be seen again.

While I’m on the subject of acting, I thought all three were on top form. If anything though, this confirmed to me that I do prefer David Tennant to Matt Smith. He’s more likeable, more relatable, less weird and I think more comfortable in the role.

If you recall my earlier reviews, I was a bit tired of Tennant by the time he left, and maybe that same tiredness has been passed on to Matt Smith, but when both men shared the screen, Tennant came out on top.

The Tom Baker Cameo

While I thoroughly enjoyed The Day of the Doctor, I have to be honest and say I’d have been deeply disappointed if there weren’t any appearances from Classic Doctors in this story.

Aaaaaaaaaah!!!! Tom Baker!!!

Aaaaaaaaaah!!!! Tom Baker!!!

In my review of The Five Doctors from earlier this year I was strong in my beliefs that it didn’t matter if the likes of the Bakers, Davison and McCoy were old; they needed to be in this.

And I stick by that.

Even though they look a lot older, they are still an important part of the show, so a cameo was needed.

Could they all appear in cameo form? Well probably not. I know that they all did to an extent because they appeared together to save Gallifrey and were standing side by side at the end, but those weren’t new appearances and thus don’t count.

So Tom Baker’s showing up – which he spoiled by openly talking about it earlier in the week, even though you couldn’t be sure he was telling the truth – made the difference to me.

While it wasn’t all the Doctors, it was enough to make The Day of the Doctor seem that little bit more special; it made it feel like a celebration of the show’s 50 years.

And it was a very good cameo too.

Had he appeared dressed in his 4th Doctor outfit, pretending to be the 4th Doctor, it would have been slightly difficult to take seriously. After all, Baker is an old man now. So having him appear as a version of himself far into the future, retired and working as a Curator, it seemed reasonable and so it worked.

And what’s so difficult to understand about his appearance anyway? I’ve read comments from people who weren’t sure if it was meant to be the 4th Doctor or even a completely different bloke. I thought it was very clear who he was.

Baker’s performance was superb as well. Not to be condescending, but for a man of his advanced years who has only had one single acting gig on TV since 2005 to nearly steal the show is impressive.

It was a rather touching and delicate moment and provided a most likely fitting and final send-off to the show’s longest running leading man.

Issues

As much as possible, I like to provide a balanced take on things when I do these reviews.

Matt Smith appears to have metal poles instead of arms! He's a robot!!

Matt Smith appears to have metal poles instead of arms! He’s a robot!!

Though I’m still caught in a wave of 50th Anniversary Euphoria, and have been deservedly complementary to the episode, there are still issues with it.

For example, the storyline with the Zygons just seemed to fizzle out. Yes, there were more important matters to deal with in the time remaining, but what happened with it? Did they agree to live peacefully on Earth?

Meanwhile, as much as it’s reasonable for Queen Elizabeth to have bluffed her way into the Zygon camp, are we to assume that for her to have become to aware of their plans, they were just lazing about speaking in pure exposition?

And what about the Sonic Screwdrivers? They have been built up as scientific tools rather than weapons and yet all of a sudden when it was convenient, they were able to kill a Dalek.

The big one for me though is the resolution to The War Doctor’s story.

Ok, so they’ve rewritten the Doctor’s own personal history by freezing Gallifrey in a point in time, and they’ve tried to explain it away by saying that he won’t remember it until he’s Matt Smith at that point, but that doesn’t hold water for me.

What about The End of Time? Hmmm? That involved Gallifrey escaping from being Time Locked. But if it wasn’t Time Locked, then it couldn’t have reappeared, and if it couldn’t have reappeared then the events that led to the 1oth Doctor’s regeneration wouldn’t have happened.

So it all just unravels itself there.

Poor old William Russell; his last appearance in the show could have been a triumphant cameo as Ian Chesterton. Instead, he's picking his nose on live TV while John Hurt is being interviewed

Poor old William Russell; his last appearance in the show could have been a triumphant cameo as Ian Chesterton. Instead, he’s picking his nose on live TV while John Hurt is being interviewed

Can I forgive it? Yes.

Can I explain it? No.

Oh, and actually, here’s another thing. While I appreciate that you can’t have a marquee story like Day of the Doctor start with the resolution of a cliffhanger, when last we saw The Doctor and Clara, they were inside the Doctor’s own personal time stream trying to get out.

What happened there?

I’m not going to get bogged down in stuff like that though; on the whole this was a brilliant piece of television and a fitting anniversary celebration for my favourite TV show.

Random Observations

  • I loved that it started with the original opening credits. My hopes of seeing those credits turn into the 1980-85 one were sadly dashed though.
  • They could – and should – have included either William Russell or Carole Ann Ford in it at some stage. While they got their cameos in An Adventure in Space and Time, the fact that Clara worked in the school where he was the Chairman of the Governors was an opportunity missed.
  • Indeed, instead of William Russell’s last Doctor Who hurrah being a triumphant appearance in Day of the Doctor, instead we got to see him awkwardly picking his nose in the background during one of the interviews on that BBC3 Afterparty. Oh well.
  • And did you notice that while Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Mark Strickson were sitting together quite the thing, poor old Adric was exiled to a table with Louise Jamieson, who was sitting on her lonesome because most of the companions from her time are sadly no longer with us.
  • Also, what about that bit where he declared his availability to work on the show again? Desperate and pathetic. You’re dead Adric, get over it.

    'Mon then!!

    ‘Mon then!!

  • But what about Jackie Lane showing up? The ultimate turn-up for the books, that one.
  • I can understand the need to have Billie Piper involved in this, but I’m very pleased that it wasn’t as Rose Tyler. Having her humph about and bitch about Clara while wondering why she was no longer with the 11th Doctor would have been depressing.
  • As much as Doctor Who’s budget has increased over the years, those Zygon costumes are actually less impressive than the ones from the 1970s. Fancy that.
  • Speaking of budgets, the stuff set on Arcadia looked great. Still, that sort of thing seems so characterless to me. Give me a Doctor Who episode set on Earth any day.
  • I enjoyed Joanna Page’s performance. I can’t be the only one who initially thought that she’d developed a penchant for pies since Gavin & Stacey. As it turns out though, she’d just given birth six weeks earlier. #Chauvanist.
  • Here’s something that’s a bit weird for people who’ve watched I, Claudius; John Hurt has now played the Doctor and Derek Jacobi was the Master. You’d have thought it’d be the other way around. I demand a flashback from the Time War between the two of them!
  • Since when was Clara a school teacher?
  • To give Jenna Louise Coleman credit, she held her own amongst so many big characters.
  • Actually, here’s an issue I forgot to mention earlier…how did the earlier versions of the Doctor know to help save Gallifrey?
  • What about the Capaldi cameo though? Scary eyes or what?! Looking forward to him taking over.
  • Paul McGann should have filmed new stuff though. His newer look is far, far superior to his naff 1996 one.
  • As much as it would have been great to see more old Doctors involved, I would consider The Five-ish Doctors reboot to be a part of the celebrations. And it was bloody brilliant. Really funny stuff. What’s more, it gave them all more screen time than they could possibly have hoped for. If you haven’t seen it, sort that out!
  • Christopher Eccleston is a right miserable sod isn’t he? Just take part ya dick.
  • I mean, could he not have come in for one scene to fulfil that regeneration scene?
  • And speaking of that, it felt a little bit contrived to me. Like it had to be in for the sake of completing every Doctor’s timeline.
  • Hey, the old TARDIS sort of made a comeback. We all love the round things guys, bring them back.
  • When did UNIT vet Kamelion?
  • You get the feeling that Tom Baker was completely in charge of his scene with Matt Smith and that the younger actor was simply carried along for the ride. There’s no way the “Shhhh” and the handshake were scripted I don’t think. I could be wrong though. Brilliant.
  • If you look at the overly grand beginning to the episode, where the Doctor is lowered down to the ground while hanging on to the TARDIS, it appears as though his arms are those of a robot. Spooky. Or just a little bit dodgy maybe.
  • While you might think I have OCD to even bring this up, the order that the Doctors were standing in at the end was wrong. Assuming we insert Hurt as the 9th Doctor and push the subsequent ones up a notch, it went 2,4,6,8,9,12,11,10,7,5,3, whereas it should have been 2,4,6,8,10,12,11,9,7,5,3. Surely I’m not the only one who spotted this. Bloody Eccleston ruins everything.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – The Day of the Doctor Review: Final Thoughts

Going back to the very start of the review, I can’t get my head around some people disliking this.

Each to their own of course; everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I’m not sure what people were expecting?

On every level that you would enjoy Doctor Who on since the show came back in 2005, this was a success.

Well written, funny, mostly making sense, quality acting, well paced, it had it all. And moreover, it gave us the cameo from an old Doctor that everyone wanted.

Nope, I don’t get why anyone would see The Day of the Doctor as anything but a triumph.

I loved it.


Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review (or “If You’re Going To Do Nostalgia, Go All In”)

November 22, 2013

It’s Doctor Who Anniversary Week which means there’s plenty of Who related stuff on TV, Radio and in the press.

Other than the main event, the Day of the Doctor, what I’ve been looking forward to is An Adventure in Space and Time, the biopic of the origins of the show and William Hartnell’s tenure as the lead character.

The show has been broadcast, the reviews are in, and on the whole the thoughts are that it was a resounding success. One particular Superfan – you know who I’m on about, I’m sure – declared that it was the best piece of drama in television history, no less. Naturally, this is not a man who engages in hyperbole; oh no.

But what did I think about it?

Read on…

Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review: Thoughts

While the majority of reviews have given it five stars – indeed I haven’t seen any lower than that – I wouldn’t give it quite as much credit.

Yes, it was very enjoyable, and as a piece of TV drama – which I suppose it the point of it rather than a documentary – it hit the spot.

Most of the actors were very well cast, with the star of the show in my opinion being Jessica Raine as Verity Lambert.

Indeed, Raine’s portrayal of Lambert was the main strength of the show. Well…that and the nostalgic reconstruction of the sets and costumes.

And despite being around 90 minutes long, I felt it flew by. So I was happy with it mainly.

But I didn’t think it was as good as it could have been, and here’s why…

If You’re Going To Do Nostalgia, Do It Right

I suspect that I might get some flak in my direction for being as nit-picking as I’m going to be, but to me, if you’re going to do nostalgia, do it right.

As much as I'd love to let the error of having a 1965 Doctor Who annual on display during the filming of the Reign of Terror slide, I just can't.

As much as I’d love to let the error of having a 1965 Doctor Who annual on display during the filming of the Reign of Terror slide, I just can’t.

In many ways, An Adventure in Space and Time got it right. It was cool seeing actors dressed as Menoptera or original Cybermen, just like it was good to see some actors cast because of their resemblance to the people they were playing.

But I don’t think you could expect anything less when it’s been so lovingly brought together by a Doctor Who fan like Mark Gatiss.

The thing is though, you would expect Gatiss to get some basic parts right.

For example, you might say I’m being hyper-critical for pointing it out, but having David Bradley hold up the 1965 Doctor Who annual, complete with a picture of a Menoptera on the front, whilst filming the Reign of Terror is just sloppy as far as I’m concerned.

Similarly, why have Verity Lambert leave during the filming of the Web Planet when the truth was she left after Mission to the Unknown. Was it just to get the Menoptera costumes in? Surely it would have been more fun to try to recreate the costumes of the Delegates from MTTU?

If this was any other TV show, I wouldn’t notice, and I have no doubt that the average viewer neither noticed nor cared. But again, we’re talking about Doctor Who, one of the most written about shows of all time with some of the most passionate fans. You just know that people will notice, so why go out of your way to make things incorrect? I just don’t get it.

It’s actually making me feel autistic, because I know that it’s a small thing, but it just seems so willfully wrong. Mark Gatiss will have seen these issues himself after all.

Anyway, on a similar note, one thing that bugged me was David Bradley’s performance. Again, don’t get me wrong, he was mostly brilliant, and looked and acted like William Hartnell to a scary degree, but then on the other hand, he got things carelessly incorrect.

I’m not an actor, but if I was and I was doing an impression of William Hartnell, I’d look at the tapes and I’d make sure I got stuff spot on. So take his attempt at the “One day, I shall come back” speech. How difficult would it be to mimic the way Hartnell spoke those lines? They are, after all, some of the most iconic lines in Doctor Who history and were actually repeated at the end of the show. Yet Bradley almost seems to go out of his way to say the lines with different tones and inflections. I mean, why go to all the trouble of having William Russell and Jacqueline Hill standing there in their exact outfits and having everything dressed up the way it was and ruin it by having Bradley say the critical lines in a totally different way?!

None of the other issues, like dropping in lines about “This old body of mine…” and “I don’t want to go” bother me at all, despite some people getting up in arms about them. But that to me shows the double standards at work here. Why add stuff in specifically to get a cheap pop from the viewers and then do other stuff so clearly wrong? Very frustrating.

Anyway, beyond that, it was good, but those parts brought the whole thing down for me.

*sigh*

*sigh*

Random Observations

  • In terms of the main cast, the one major letdown was the guy playing William Russell. He was nothing like him, neither in looks nor acting style. When you compare him to the way the girl playing Carole Ann Ford went out of her way to sound like her, even though she came across a little bit over the top at times, he was desperately poor.
  • And indeed, the use of Russell and Hill in general were poor. You wouldn’t think they were important players in Doctor Who’s formative years at all based on this.
  • I did like that they tirelessly recreated the problems with the Pilot episode, like the TARDIS doors opening and shutting and the issues with the Doctor being too gruff.
  • But again, with one hand they give and with the other they take away. I seriously doubt the Doctor was originally conceived as being 600 years old, especially when the Pilot had then written as being from a specific point in Earth’s future.
  • Here’s something else that confused me…they went to the trouble to recreate the last scene of The Firemaker, but then had a discussion about potential future stories. Now, I could be wrong here, but surely The Dead Planet was written and all set to go by the time The Firemaker was filmed? The episodes directly link to each other.
  • Poor old Ray Cusick; overlooked again.
  • I liked the appearance of Matt Smith towards the end; I actually think that added to the show a lot.
  • Only when reading the cast list did I notice Mark Eden played the BBC Controller. That was a nice touch.
  • I’m aware Carole Ann Ford is in this, but I’ll have to watch it again to spot her.
  • While I applaud the casting department for finding someone who looked a lot like Maureen O’Brien, even though she only appeared for around 10 seconds, I suspect their enthusiasm for finding look-alikes had long since gone by the time they cast some random bloke as Michael Craze.
  • It would have been nice for the show to have included Hartnell’s return in the Three Doctors, although dramatically it probably had no merit.
  • Wouldn’t “An Adventure in Time and Space” have been a better title?

Doctor Who – An Adventure in Space and Time Review: Final Thoughts

There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to like about An Adventure in Space and Time. I enjoyed it a lot, and like I said earlier, the time just flew by.

But I just can’t get past the way they’ve been so meticulous in some respects and so willfully sloppy in others. The people in charge will have known the issues fine, and they’ll also have known that plenty of people out there would have spotted them too.

So that puts a dampener on it for me.

Only a little bit though.


Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review (or “Aaaaaaaah!!! Fanwanktastic!!!!!!!”)

November 14, 2013

What a lovely surprise it was today to see that the BBC had released the first of its 50th Anniversary Webisodes in the form of The Night of the Doctor.

Question is, am I the first Who reviewer to get my article out there?

Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review: What’s This One About?

It’s only the fucking regeneration of Paul McGann!!! Fanwanktastic!!!

Thoughts

Despite lasting just seven minutes in length and looking as though it’s been done on the cheap, this gives Doctor Who a certain sense of completion.

Aaaaah!!! It's The Eighth Doctor!!!!!!!

Aaaaah!!! It’s The Eighth Doctor!!!!!!!

I say certain sense because we’ve yet to see how John Hurt turned into Christopher Eccleston, but hey, you never know, that might still come in the next week or so.

Anyway, in terms of plot, this is light. We’re not entirely sure who the girl is or why the Doctor is so intent on saving her, but that’ll largely be the point. This isn’t a story, but rather just offering a snippet of the state of play around this point.

The Doctor doesn’t want anything to do with the Time War, but ultimately has to make the decision to fight or die.

That’s quite interesting in itself, because The Name of the Doctor suggested that the John Hurt version was just a bastard. He wasn’t; he appeared to have been created by the Doctor’s own volition. So hopefully that’ll be explained and touched upon further in the Day of the Doctor.

Random Observations

  • Hey, it’s the Sisterhood of Karn. It’s another one of these Cheap Pop moments, sure, but it actually made sense in terms of keeping the Doctor alive.
  • Paul McGann was good, and I’d like to see him make another guest appearance in the future.
  • Speaking of Big Finish, I bet old Briggsy is licking his lips at dozens upon dozens of “Adventures of Cass” audios. That particular well will be run dry by next May.
  • Oh yeah, and it appears as though Big Finish just got officially made canon!
  • I see the John Hurt Doctor is actually quite young. Now that’s very interesting, considering he’s old now. Could that hint to appearances from more old Doctors who have also aged within the Doctor’s timestream? We live in hope.
  • On the other hand, that would possibly preclude McGann himself appearing? Maybe we’re just to believe that the Hurt Doctor – or The War Doctor as he’s referred to now – lived for ages.
  • The regeneration effect obviously wasn’t in the budget. Ach well.

Doctor Who – The Night of the Doctor Review: Final Thoughts

This serves two purposes…

It sets up John Hurt’s Doctor and it gives fans a bit of closure on how the Eighth Doctor perished.

So it works for me.

Fanwankery? Cheap pops? Sure, but this is the 50th Anniversary, so it’s fine by me.

Can’t wait for the main event now!


Doctor Who – The Web of Fear and Enemy of the World Rediscovered Review (or “Do Opinions Change?”)

October 13, 2013

A couple of weeks ago on September 30th, I finally reached the end of my marathon Doctor Who review project. From An Unearthly Child through to The Name of the Doctor, I’d seen and written about them all. Sure, I knew I’d be writing about the two episodes still to come this year, but if you’d told me that less than two weeks later, I’d be writing about The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear having had a chance to watch them both in an almost entirely complete manner, I’d have declared you bonkers.

Of course, I’d heard the rumours of the massive haul of recovered material that was due to start with the staggered release of those two stories plus Marco Polo, so although I was thrilled to see them return, I wasn’t shocked about that. But lets put this into perspective; The Underwater Menace Episode 2 was announced to have been returned to the archives almost two years ago and we still haven’t seen it officially released (which is not to say I haven’t seen it *nudge nudge wink wink*) so the idea that these two stories would be announced and released in such short order seemed like fantasy.

But here we are.

Apart from Web of Fear part 3, the most valuable episode of the lot, which has…erm…”mysteriously” not come back with the rest of the episodes (make of that what you will), these two stories are now complete and we’ve all had a chance to see them.

Incredible.

Well done to Philip Morris for finding them and well done to the BBC for their iTunes strategy. Seeing as the episodes are charting world-wide, they must have made a ton of money on them, which shows that there’s an appetite for missing material from fans.

Anyway, having watched the two stories, has my opinion of them changed?

I’m not going to do full reviews of either here, because when I watched them, I wasn’t in the mindset to pick up minute detail; I just wanted to enjoy them as a viewer rather than a reviewer.

But here are my initial impressions.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear Recovery Review: What Did I Say About It In My Initial Review?

In my original review of The Web of Fear, which you can read here, I finished off by saying

Unlike some stories which I truly believe would not be considered as good if they survived (The Celestial Toymaker being the most obvious example, but I would perhaps controversially suggest Evil of the Daleks too), I don’t think that about the Web of Fear.

It is a classic story that works in the form of the reconstruction, but it would be even better if it survived. If it did, it would be held up as the ultimate Base Under Siege story, considered the real birth of the 70s Unit story and probably thought of as one of the top 10 stories of all time.

Without question, this is one to check out, reconstruction and all.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear Recovery Review: What Do I Think About It Now?

The most startling thing about my viewing of The Web of Fear was that it didn’t seem to get massively better by watching it in almost its full glory.

While there wasn't much new from a visual standpoint in Web of Fear, seeing the Web (or the Foam Machine) in action was cool

While there wasn’t much new from a visual standpoint in Web of Fear, seeing the Web (or the Foam Machine) in action was cool

Now before you accuse me of being underwhelmed by it, I absolutely wasn’t. I thought it was as good and I rate it as highly as I did before.

But what was interesting was that when you put it against the other recoveries of the last 20 years, this is probably the one find that doesn’t feel “New”.

Why is that?

Well think of it like this…

Whether it’s Tomb of the Cybermen, The Lion, The Day of Armageddon, Airlock or Episode Two of the Underwater Menace, they’ve all seemed completely fresh. We were getting to experience new sets, new performances and a completely new visual experience.

With the Web of Fear, apart from a handful of additions, the recovered episodes mainly take place in the same sets as the previously existing first episode and mostly have the same actors.  Really, the majority of the story involves people in dark rooms standing around talking to each other.

So if you’ve seen the reconstruction as many times as I have – and to be absolutely fair to it, the reconstruction was very, very good and managed to capture most of the key facial expressions throughout – the recovery feels like being reacquainted with an old friend rather than seeing something completely new.

There are some exciting bits that turn the fanboy-o-meter up to maximum geekery though, like the brilliant fight scene in Covent Garden. Now that’s something that the reconstruction just couldn’t do justice. It was exciting, and I think it is truly an iconic moment in Doctor Who that had been pretty much forgotten about. I certainly had no idea about just how cool it was. People talk about the Daleks in Trafalgar Square or The Cybermen walking down the steps in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, but this is right up there with it. Beautiful.

Incidentally, did you notice the guy who played Charlie Slater in Eastenders looking exactly the same then as he does now?

Seeing the episodes properly also allowed us to see the Web itself, which wasn’t in Episode One in the tunnels at least. In some respects it looked a bit ropey (such as when Jamie and Lethbridge Stewart opened that door to find giant bubble wrap on the other side) but the sight of the web flooding into the base at the end of Episode Five was very well done for the time.

The last notable bit that the recovered episodes managed to bring to life better was the final confrontation scene. Sure, it has exposed the Yeti as being blokes wearing outfits with massive visible zips on them, but it was still cool.

Perhaps the only thing that I was disappointed about was that there weren’t any visible cues that had been lost to reconstruction to suggest Staff Sgt. Arnold was the Great Intelligence’s body all along.

To me, it’s never made 100% clear whether he was always under the control of the GI or if it happened after he disappeared into the web. I know there was a scene early on where he implies that he knows The Doctor isn’t with the Yeti, but I’d have preferred more.

In the end though, I thought it was very good, but I don’t think my overall opinion of the story has changed any as a result of its rediscovery. It’s exactly as good as I thought it would be,

Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World Recovery Review: What Did I Say About It In My Initial Review?

In my summing up of my review of Enemy of the World, which you can read here, I said…

Although the story slows down a bit towards the end, and starts off with an episode that simply cannot be appreciated in reconstructed form, I would urge you to track this one down.

It’s different from any other Dr Who story and offers you a chance to see Patrick Troughton play a completely different role.

Thankfully Episode 3 survives, and I would say that it’s the best one, so at the very least, give that one  a shot…if only to see Griff the Chef.

Meanwhile, in my Patrick Troughton Era Rankings article, I also said

I’d dearly love this story to exist because of how different it is to the rest of stories throughout the Troughton Era and the series as a whole. Who knows, maybe I’d think less of it if it survived. Maybe the best episode is the one that we have. But I like this story a lot and think it’s a sleeper hit.

Doctor Who – The Enemy of the World Recovery Review: What Do I Think About It Now?

I was right about some things and wrong about others.

  • It is the sleeper hit
  • Episode 1 is massively visual
  • Episode 3 isn’t the best one
  • It doesn’t slow up towards the end
  • It is totally different

Basically, The Enemy of the World is absolutely brilliant.

And here’s the thing….

This is the exact opposite of the Web of Fear. The reconstruction of Enemy of the World did it no justice at all. We’re not seeing the same actors in the same sets, we’re seeing completely new Doctor Who here.

And while Web may have focussed a lot on conversations, Enemy of the World is a visual feast from beginning to end.

Seeing the story come alive rather than in the form of stills, you get to see stuff you never would have known about otherwise.

Look at the opening scene as an example. The reconstruction basically describes a scene where Patrick Troughton takes off his clothes and goes into the sea in his longjohns as “The Doctor goes into the water”. They also get the bit wrong about him

The reconstruction of Enemy of the World failed to pick up on a number of brilliant visuals, including this one of Salamander having a crafty smoke

The reconstruction of Enemy of the World failed to pick up on a number of brilliant visuals, including this one of Salamander having a crafty smoke

stubbing his toe and Jamie laughing. What actually happens is he falls into the sea.

But it’s more than that. There are so many interesting bits of direction throughout that the reconstruction misses.

What about the scene where the helicopter takes off with the cameraman in it and the shot pans out and out and out? That’s absolutely superb.

Or the scenes on the park bench and under the jetty?

Or all the location filming?

Or especially the scene where Salamander goes down into the underground base?

Every single part of that was lost to the appreciative eye for 45 years,

Then of course there are the performances of the actors. The looks that Patrick Troughton gives as both the Doctor and Salamander are brilliant, and that scene where Salamander is smoking a cigar in the underground base while he’s supposed to be checking equipment adds so much to the character and to the mood.

Perhaps my favourite performance though is that of Milton Johns as Benik. He’s just so much better in this than in any of his other appearances, and again, the strength of his performance only truly comes to life here. To be fair, in my original review I said he was the stand-out, but scenes like the one where Fariah dies or when he interrogates Jamie and Victoria just seem so much better now.

As I stated above, I said that I felt it slowed down a bit too much when watching the reconstruction, but I’m reviewing my stance on that. Maybe it was the two-minute scene with no dialogue that put me off a bit at the time or maybe the reconstruction just couldn’t realise the dialogue in the bunker properly, but I had no problems with it watching it here.

Finally, the confrontation between Salamander and the Doctor looks better than I think anyone had given it credit for.

Do I have any problems with it? Not really. The only bits that stands out a little are the cliffhangers. Episode 3 ends on a dramatic one, but the rest don’t. I quite like ones that are just pauses in the action rather than  putting The Doctor or one of his companions in “mortal peril” that you know they’ll get out of, but at times, these ones just seemed too abrupt and undramatic.

Doctor Who – The Web of Fear and The Enemy of the World Rediscovered: Final Thoughts

These are just my initial thoughts of course and I’m sure more will come to my attention when I watch them again, but my initial final thoughts (if that makes sense) are that The Web of Fear is as good a story as I thought it was in reconstructed format. I did think it would be better if it was recovered, but I don’t feel moved enough to say that is is. It was very good and it still is, but it’s nowhere near being a Top 10 of All Time.

The Enemy of the World though has gone up massively in my estimations.

I liked it before, but I absolutely love it now.

The visuals make such a difference to the acting performances, the feel and the direction.

It truly is an underrated gem and for me, I would go as far as to say it’s in my Top 3 Patrick Troughton stories now.

Of course, the rumourmill states we’ll be seeing many more missing stories returning to the BBC in the months and years ahead, so maybe that’ll change when we get to see the likes of Power of the Daleks in their glory.


Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor Review (or “The Cheap Pop Bonanza”)

September 30, 2013

In many of my recent reviews, I’ve discussed the concept of The Cheap Pop.

Like I said before, it’s the idea that long-term fans will be satisfied by any reference to the Classic Series, as if we’re performing seals who will get unnaturally excited over a screenshot of Paul McGann or the indirect mention of Tegan Jovanka.

Some might be, but I’m not.

I find it – as you might expect – to be cheap most of the time. It usually has nothing to do with the plot and is just in there for the sake of it.

But that’s not to say nostalgia doesn’t have its moments when used correctly; you’ve only got to read my review of The Five Doctors to see that.

And in The Name of the Doctor, the Cheap Pop plays a major part.

Does it work? Or is it unsatisfying?

Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor Review: What’s This One About?

A suitable resolution for the Impossible Girl storyline, the potential end for River Song (huzzah) and perhaps the end of any hope of a Yeti comeback (Boo!!!)

And plenty of Cheap Pops

Thoughts – Cheap Pop Madness

Yup, the opening scene is nothing more than a massive attempt at a cheap pop.

Oh Em Gee!!! It's William Hartnell!!! In Colour!!!

Oh Em Gee!!! It’s William Hartnell!!! In Washed Out Colour!!!

But this time I was suckered in.

I love that bit; I love that it manages to piece together what looks like a new First Doctor scene, and I love that we get to see cameos from old Doctors, even though they aren’t necessarily the ones I’d have chosen

It’s fine though, because it actually worked within the confines of the story. Well…almost.

I love the idea that Clara has been splintered through time to save the Doctor at points when he’s in danger, but I just cannot help but ask a few questions about it.

For example…

  • Why is The Second Doctor running around a beach with a thick fur coat on?
  • Why is the Eighth Doctor with him?
  • What danger are they in?
  • Is Clara saving the Third Doctor from a grizzly end in a car accident?
  • Why does she need to save him in The Invasion of Time at that particular point?
  • Are we to assume the Great Intelligence has told the Seventh Doctor “Here mate, why not climb over that railing?” and her job is to say “Don’t do it”? (actually, that’s the most feasible explanation for that scene. It’s the Cartmel Masterplan after all this time)
  • Does she fail in her attempt to say to the Sixth Doctor “Don’t hit your head on the TARDIS console”?
  • Why does she have no meeting with the Ninth or Tenth Doctor?
  • And how exactly does she stop the Great Intelligence anyway?

Sure, it’s silly and it doesn’t stand to reason, but it’s fun, and even for someone as anti-Cheap Pop as me, I liked it.

Plus, it makes sense of The Impossible Girl storyline.

Back in The Impossible Astronaut (hold on…Impossible Astronaut? Impossible Girl? Steven Moffat really does have a ‘type’ when it comes to story-arcs, doesn’t he?) it was so bloody obvious how that story-arc would end that it made the whole thing a colossal waste of time.

Here, if you’d asked me to guess the resolution to the Clara arc in The Snowmen, I’d never have guessed this.

That’s not to say that a good story arc only has to be unpredictable though; this made sense of it all too.

So I liked it.

I’m not entirely sure how it pans out that she has managed to survive, but I guess we might find out in The Day of the Doctor. (Writer’s Note: 2014 – We Didn’t)

Is This The End of River Song

If I was in charge of Doctor Who, this would be the end for River song.

Of the many questions this photo raises, I'll ask the most obvious one. Isn't the Doctor going to be too hot in that coat?

Of the many questions this photo raises, I’ll ask the most obvious one. Isn’t the Doctor going to be too hot in that coat?

And I know, you probably think I’m saying this because I don’t like her as a character, but it’s not that.

This to me seems like the ideal end point for her.

This is her after she’s dead, and this is a scene where she gets to have a proper goodbye with The Doctor.

In the next two episodes – Matt Smith’s last two episodes – it shouldn’t be about her at all. It should be about saying goodbye to him.

So hopefully that’ll be that.

Although she did say “Spoilers” again and I don’t think we know how she knows the Doctor’s name, so you never know.

The Great Intelligence

I’m assuming that this is The Great Intelligence at a point in its life after the Yeti stuff.

And in its downtime it appears as though is has become some kind of evil Doctor Seuss, making everything rhyme.

But what I’m not 100% on is whether or not this is the end for it after it was consumed within the Doctor’s timeline?

And if it is – and it does seem as though it might be – does this mean it’s the end of the line for the Yeti too?

If it is, talk about a waste.

Name me one Doctor Who fan who wouldn’t have preferred to see the Yeti back up Richard E. Grant rather than those blokes with socks over their faces?

The Twist At The End

In a sense, it’s difficult for me to write this review as it was left on a cliffhanger. I don’t know yet how it’s going to pan out, and I suppose I’ll have to rewrite this in the future once I have hindsight working in my favour, but I must say I enjoyed the

As much as a man in a top hat with a white sock over his face looks creepy, I'd sooner have had a Yeti

As much as a man in a top hat with a white sock over his face looks creepy, I’d sooner have had a Yeti

Cliffhanger.

The idea that John Hurt plays a version of The Doctor who has done something terrible (and at this point we can assume it involves the Time War) is pretty cool.

And they’ve gone and got a great actor to play the part.

The resolution to this should be good, but you never can tell.

Random Observations

  • You might ask “Why doesn’t Strax just ask the Glaswegian bloke to knock him out by hitting him on the probic vent”, but I would counter that by suggesting if he does, he’ll never be in a fair fight again.
  • I see Clara is wearing yet another awful dress here.
  • When we see all the Doctors walking through wherever it is they are at the end, is that guy deliberately made up to look like Richard Hurndall?
  • The colourisation of the Hartnell scene is quite impressive
  • But the Invasion of Time scene looks really cheap.
  • Oh, and on the subject of cheap, there is another cheap pop in amongst it all, and that is the name dropping of The Valeyard.
  • You’d think they wouldn’t bring up the Valeyard again seeing as it’s now been established that John Hurt was the Doctor’s 9th regeneration, meaning Matt Smith is the 12th and Peter Capaldi is the 13th.
  • You never know though, he might make an appearance in the 50th Anniversary Special. #Doubtful
  • The bit where Jenny realises she’s been murdered is brilliant in its own quiet way.
  • But it was ruined by her immediately coming back to life.
  • Are we to assume that The Doctor never redecorates his TARDIS ever again?
  • So it was The Great Intelligence that the Silence wanted to…erm…silence? But why go after The Doctor? Why not have The Silence go after The Great Intelligence instead? Or alternatively, why not go after River if she’s the one who opens the tomb?
  • This observation is written in 2014, but it would appear that it isn’t the Great Intelligence that the Silence wanted to silence. It’s all very confusing. Or mixed up.
  • The Whisper Men look far too much like The Silence.
  • Again, this is too gloomy from a visual standpoint. I really hope the next season has brighter sets to work alongside a darker tone set by having The Malcolm Tucker Doctor, with his teary eyes and air of genuine menace.
  • I’m glad they never actually named The Doctor though. I don’t think it’s the right of any show runner to mess with the format that much. Doctor Who is an institution that transcends the ego of a writer. Some things should never be revealed, and that’s at the top of the list.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – The Name of the Doctor Review: Final Thoughts

In a sense, it doesn’t seem right to do this review yet.

Oh Em Gee Again!!! It's a new Doctor. And ut's John Hurt!! And he's an evil tramp!!!!!!

Oh Em Gee Again!!! It’s a new Doctor. And it’s John Hurt!! And he’s an evil tramp!!!!!!

Sure, the episode has been and gone, but the story did not end.

Unlike every other review I’ve done, this one has no conclusion yet.

I don’t know how it will pan out, and I don’t even know where exactly they are at the end of the episode.

So I’m guessing this review might be revisited in the future.

For now though, I’ll be optimistic.

I like where this is going, I thought the twist was great, and as the first part of a continuing adventure, I thought it had fun moments, that it tied up some unresolved elements of the show like River Song, The Great Intelligence and the mystery of Clara and that it ended on a hook that would make anyone want to come back and see its resolution.

And I was a sucker for most of the Cheap Pop stuff too, even though some of it didn’t make a lick of sense.

It’s Far From Being All Over

And for now, dear reader. that is that.

Between February 24th 2011 and September 30th 2013 I have watched and reviewed every single Doctor Who story ever broadcast.

It amounts to 265 articles and a word count of roughly 500,000 words. That feels epic, even if I do say so myself.

I’m fortunate enough to work in a job where my efforts are immortalised. I can go back and load up any edition of Football Manager (and formerly Championship Manager) going back to 2001 and say “I was responsible for that work”. It won’t be lost to time.

But I’m more proud of this, I have to say. At times it’s been a hassle having to commit the time and energy into writing these reviews, searching out screen caps, maintaining a standard and (hopefully) a level of freshness with each one, but it’s been worth it.

My thoughts on Doctor Who will always be there for people to read.

I’ve tried not to let received wisdom cloud my judgement and to present original thinking into each one.

Obviously it’s not over yet. As long as Doctor Who is on TV, I’ll continue to write my reviews, and this year I have the 50th Anniversary Special and Matt Smith’s final appearance to do, and hopefully – if the rumour mill is to be believed – I’ll soon have to re-review a lot of old missing Hartnell & Troughton episodes that have been found.

And then naturally, I’ll have to do my own Mighty 250 or whatever it’ll be, along with a full list of Companions from worst to best, and a variety of other opinionated lists.

That should be fun, but you’ll have to wait for the e-book that I inevitably come out with and hope that you buy, even if you’ve read all of these here ;-)

For now though, thanks for reading; I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

I’m off to watch An Unearthly Child.


Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver Review (or “Rehabilitation of the Cybermen”)

September 30, 2013

Let’s be honest; after The Crimson Horror, anything would seem like an improvement.

So in some respects, Nightmare in Silver is in a very fortunate position to be up next.

I might even write a positive review; that hasn’t happened in a while.

Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver Review: What’s This One About?

The Doctor takes Clara and the children she nannies to a theme park that has long since shut down. What a guy.

And…*sigh*….the Cybermen are there.

Thoughts – Rehabilitation of the Cybermen

It’s time for another one of my wrestling analogies.

This Cyberman looks like he's coming home from a very rough night. He's seen some things, man...

This Cyberman looks like he’s coming home from a very rough night. He’s seen some things, man…

There was a wrestler called Michael McGillicutty. He’d regularly lose matches and he was never presented as anything more than an insignificant also-ran.

Then, one day, WWE decided to rename him Curtis Axel and had him beat some big name wrestlers in successive weeks. It was their attempt to rehabilitate him and make him a star.

But the problem is that even in the scripted world of WWE, perception is reality. If a wrestler is perceived as being inferior, then changing his name, giving him a new manager and having him beat established stars is not going to change that perception. Just because you can make someone a threat in the script, it doesn’t mean that the audience will believe it.

This can be related to the Cybermen.

Ever since Doomsday, the Cybermen have been treated like jokes.

They were defeated so easily by the Daleks that their threat was neutered to the point where they were backups to the humans, then they were Dervla Kerwan’s underlings in the grotty Christmas Special and most recently they were defeated by love.

And I know I’ve made this point before, but bear with me.

The thing is that all of a sudden, we’re supposed to believe in them again in Nightmare in Silver.

Incredibly, a line of dialogue used here was something to the effect of “If you see a Cyberman then you have to implode the planet they are on; they are that dangerous”.

What?

We’re supposed to believe that these tin-pot muppets are all of a sudden the most threatening force in the Universe?

It’s difficult to take seriously.

So ultimately I didn’t, and I can’t imagine many other viewers did either.

Sure, the idea that they adapt to change is neat, but it’s too sudden to be accepted.

It also didn’t help that the slightly redesigned “silver giants” now have stupidly long necks, gawping expressions and a need to convert children.

Of course, what’s even stupider was that in the end, despite them being built up as these terrifying monsters, they were still defeated very easily by the Doctor (although it was by blowing up the planet to be fair). The only person of note that they got to kill was Tamzin Outhwaite.

So what was the point?

Nobody Likes Bratty or Smart-Arse Children

Perhaps the most bizarre part of Nightmare in Silver was the children.

Tamzin Outhwaite: Growing old gracefully isn't her thing

Tamzin Outhwaite: Growing old gracefully isn’t her thing

Why were they in it? Did the plot really depend on Cybermen saying they needed to convert children, despite them converting Webley and trying to convert The Doctor?

The thing is, nobody likes children on TV shows, not even fellow children.

Most of the time, they come across as either brats or smart-arses. We’re “lucky” enough to have one of each.

And so, as they displayed the sort of behavior that all adults cannot abide, they became central to the plot.

Urgh.

The stupidest (and I’m using that word a lot here) thing about it was that The Doctor didn’t take them home.

Well actually, that’s not true at all. That’s the second stupidest part. The most stupid part was him taking them to a theme park that had already shut down.

“Hey kids; do you want to visit the best theme park in the universe”

“Yeah!!!”

“Ok, but we’ll go at a point when the universe is at war and the park is no longer even open anymore”

“Yeah!!!!!!!”

Why didn’t he just take them to Universal Islands of Adventure a week into their own future? Wouldn’t that have proved the point?

But no, they went there.

And so after seeing that there are Cybermen in the vicinity, the Doctor decides that he won’t take the kids home and then come back again to investigate his suspicions without them, but rather he’ll leave them unattended in a room somewhere.

Smart cookie.

Then, on top of that, the girl – a right moody cow – decides she doesn’t want to hang around there and instead wanders off on her own.

Let’s get that into perspective…

She’s on an alien planet in the future. She’s seen the military are involved and she’s also seen a Cyberman. And yet not only does she decide to wander off, but in doing so she also leaves her younger sibling unattended.

How are we supposed to feel anything other than contempt for her in this situation.

Its daft, it’s – and here’s that word again- stupid.

If they want to do something involving kids for Doctor Who, create another spin-off. Otherwise, leave them out of it.

Beyond That

Other than that, the story is ok.

It's Clara's Barmy Army. Where's Wally, A Poor Man's James Corden and Willow

It’s Clara’s Barmy Army. Where’s Wally, A Poor Man’s James Corden and Willow

It feels very Peter Davison Era, with the Doctor fighting off the Cyber Planner in his own head.

Mainly, the two leads are perfectly acceptable with their performances, while Warwick Davies is also a standout.

It looks great as well, with the designers doing an accomplished job of creating parts of the theme park.

And really, seeing as it comes on the heels of three poor stories on the trot, it’s a welcome relief.

Random Observations

  • Someone should have had a quiet word with Tamzin Outhwaite before she was allowed in front of camera. Put simply, she looks awful. She’s trying to maintain the same image as she had when she first sprung onto the scene in Eastenders, but she’s just too old to pull it off. Her hair looks blatantly dyed, her lipstick is just horrific and really, she just looks much older than she is (41 at that point).
  • Her band of followers were pitiful. I know that was kinda the point, but when your army consists of Where’s Wally and a poor man’s James Corden, you’ve got problems.
  • If this was made in America, you just know that extra would have been part of their crew. You know the guy I’m on about; the geek for hire from stuff like Chuck and the Big Bang Theory.
  • How does the Doctor know the exact coordinates of his TARDIS on the planet’s surface? Oh I know…so he can get it back within the confines of the plot.
  • The boy had the face of a man in his 40s.
  • Also, both the boy and the girl show what’s wrong with society today. Their real life names are Kassius Carey Johnson and Eve de Leon Allen respectively. Why not “Dave Johnston” and maybe just “Eve Allen”?
  • Like almost every episode since Moffat took over, this is dimly lit. Oh how I yearn for something colourful.
  • The cheap pop in this one comes in the form of pictures of all the Doctor’s regenerations. Hold on…where’s John Hurt?
  • The Doctor must be gutted; this is the first time nobody asks him “What are they?” before he answers with “Cybermen”
  • I liked the way Clara knew it wasn’t The Doctor because he was complimentary about her appearance. He’s very “Sheldon Cooper” sometimes.
  • If I were her, I’d have stayed with the midget and ruled the Universe.
  • Talk about hyperbole…they destroyed an entire Universe to keep the Cybermen out?
  • I see this story is back to the old “There were Cybermen; every child knows that” attitude
  • I love the idea that the survivors from that Cyber War were the ones from Revenge of the Cybermen
  • The funniest part of the episode was when that Cyberman punched the James Corden wannabee. It seemed very out of character.
  • But seeing as the Cybermen are incredibly strong, surely that punch should have seriously injured him?
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – Nightmare in Silver: Final Thoughts

As I said above, Nightmare in Silver probably looks better than it is, coming straight after such a poor run of episodes.

But there are still issues with it.

Mainly that comes in the form of the word “Stupid”. There’s just so much of it that doesn’t stand up to common sense.

You can’t just expect The Cybermen to be taken seriously as a threat again just because you say so, and the idea of having smart-arse, bratty children – who no adults like – as a central part of the story just seemed wrong.


Doctor Who – The Crimson Horror Review (or “Arguably Saving The Worst For Last”)

September 30, 2013

“Prepare for a Victorian Horror Show”, said the BBC continuity announcer before the initial broadcast of The Crimson Horror.

She couldn’t have been more correct.

On first viewing, The Crimson Horror was – without question – the worst received Doctor Who story by me in the entire history of the show.

When I was four years old, Time & The Rani probably didn’t seem as bad as it does now, and as a child and a teenager, I’m sure I approached every classic story I watched – even the shit ones – with some degree of enthusiasm the first time around on UK Gold or BBC Video.

I didn’t think The Doctor’s Daughter was good when I saw it for the first time either. In fact, I declared it a “load of absolute shite” after it was first broadcast?

But The Crimson Horror?

This was a story that I declared utter contempt for while watching it.

I thought it was diabolical.

I thought it made The Doctor’s Daughter seem good.

Will a second viewing be kind to it? Did I make a mistake? Was I just in a bad mood that day and judged it unfairly?

Let’s see…

Doctor Who – The Crimson Horror Review: What’s This One About?

A Yorkshire Woman in Victorian Times under the influence of a prehistoric leech wants to destroy humanity.

Thoughts – Any Better The Second Time?

So did I enjoy it more the second time around?

Mr Sweet: Looks like something out of an episode of The Young Ones

Mr Sweet: Looks like something out of an episode of The Young Ones

No.

I still thought it was crap.

Why though? What’s wrong with it?

Well there’s a number of things.

First and foremost, there’s just too much going on.

Time and time again I’ve criticised Doctor Who stories for having style over substance, but this is probably the worst example of the lot.

I can just imagine Mark Gatiss sitting there was that goofy grin on his face saying “Let’s do a story set in Victorian Times. And we’ll have it in Yorkshire. And we’ll have Strax, Vastra and Jenny in it. And we’ll have a pre-historic leech in it that will look silly. And we’ll have a blind girl who has been experimented on by her mother. And we’ll have The Doctor only appear 15 minutes in. And we’ll have the blind girl adore him as a monster because he’ll be bright red. And we’ll have a flashback in the style of a silent film. And we’ll have a rocket. And let’s get Diana Rigg to play the villain. And we’ll have humour”

It’s all just “there” and not one single part of it links, with a plot that barely makes sense.

Why is the Yorkshire woman insane?

Where did Mr. Sweet come from?

Why has he attached himself to her?

Why has she been experimenting on her daughter?

What’s the point of Sweetville?

Where did they get the technology for the rocket?

It just seemed so poorly explained and hollow. Events happened because they were written that way, not because they made sense.

Utter tripe.

No Good For The Casual Viewer

Diana Rigg: Definitely the worst guest star in Modern Doctor Who, but arguably the worst ever.

Diana Rigg: Definitely the worst guest star in Modern Doctor Who, but arguably the worst ever.

I’m a keen follower of Doctor Who – you all must have realised that by now – but even I struggled to identify Jenny at one point.

Sure, put alongside Vastra & Strax and put in an incongruous situation, she’s easily recognised. But if you place her in a crowd with other Victorian people, away from her alien friends, she’s not that identifiable.

When I watched it the first time, I think I must have blinked and missed the scene where it was explained that she was going into Sweetville because I had no idea who she was. But then when I watched it again, I still had to take a moment to think “Who’s that?”

Maybe it’s because she’s got an unremarkable face (which isn’t me being nasty, but rather me making the point that she doesn’t stand out from the crowd) or maybe it’s that she hasn’t been featured enough for her to be known automatically, but either way, I didn’t find her instantly recognisable.

So what must the casual viewer have thought?

And indeed, for the first part of the story, casual viewers were probably wondering what show they were watching. Was this Doctor Who or was it the Amazing Adventures of Madame Vastra?

Diana Rigg – The Worst Guest Artist In Modern Doctor Who?

All the way back in my review of The Moonbase, I passionately praised the work of guest star, Patrick Barr.

For me, he epitomised exactly what a guest star should do; he took it absolutely seriously and put his all into the part.

As a result, his enthusiasm became infectious and it raised the standard of the story as a whole.

Sometimes the guest stars don’t take it seriously, and this became more of an issue and the show became less popular and credible in the 1980s.

But most of the time in Modern Who, this has not been a big problem.

It is with Diana Rigg though.

Whether it’s just that she’s a lousy actress (just because she’s a well-known actress from a cult TV show, it doesn’t mean she’s any good) or whether she just isn’t taking it seriously, I thought she was beyond terrible.

A more over the top, playing it for laughs performance you will never see.

She took the piss from her first scene to her last and she did what thankfully so few of her counterparts over the years have done; she made the story embarrassing to watch.

People mock Beryl Reid’s doddery performance in Earthshock, but I’d far sooner have that than an old crow like Rigg going into business for herself like she does here.

Just awful.

It’s time she retired.

What Do We Know About Clara?

Something that struck me whilst watching the Crimson Horror is just how little we actually know about Clara.

Some fans accused the Doctor of sexually assaulting Jenny here. Oh get a fucking grip.

Some fans accused the Doctor of sexually assaulting Jenny here. Oh get a fucking grip.

As much as I criticised Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, at least we knew who she was, what her character was like as a person and what her back story was.

But Clara? Nothing.

Sure, some of her back story has been left purposefully vague as part of the Impossible Girl story-arc, but the result of that is she’s left with no identifiable character traits whatsoever.

I quite like Coleman as an actress – infuriating accent aside – but at this stage she’s an incredibly bland character.

The Humour

But going back to the story, the humour was also a major problem for me.

It just wasn’t funny, even though it tried so hard to be.

Doctor Who is Doctor Who; it’s a science fiction show, not a comedy. There have been great examples of it having comedic elements in it, but they only work in certain environments.

This wasn’t one of them.

Of course, humour is up to the individual; some people might have found Matt Smith doing a Yorkshire accent funny, or Strax going way over the top a delight, but I didn’t.

I also didn’t find Mr Sweet to be the “hilarious” character I was supposed to. The thing just looked pitiful, and the puerile way it got killed off was unbecoming of the show.

Worst of the lot though was the Thomas Thomas joke. Apart from it having no relevance to the script, it was just so out of left field that it made me despair. Why even come up with that?

Argh.

The Ending

Just when you thought it was over though, there was more.

Possibly the stupidest part of this whole tawdry affair is the idea that they posed for this photo and that it subsequently made its way onto the internet or into a school textbook

Possibly the stupidest part of this whole tawdry affair is the idea that they posed for this photo and that it subsequently made its way onto the internet or into a school textbook

The last scene, where Clara comes back to find the kids she nannies have found pictures of her from earlier stories is just breathtakingly stupid.

At what point did they have time to take pictures in these episodes? In the one from Hide, who actually took the photo? In the one from Cold War, why is she looking away from the camera when everyone else is posing?

And more to the point, why would they be available to download.

This idea that everything is available on the internet if you look hard enough is utter bullshit, especially for children.

Sure, it was written in to allow the two kids to take part in the next episode, but it’s still bullshit.

Random Observations

  • Today’s Cheap Pop moment, a Tegan reference. Oh, wonderful…
  • Maybe the Doctor always stops for group photos during every one of his adventures? There’s probably one with him and The Gravis somewhere.
  • When The Doctor has been afflicted with the Crimson Horror, his jaw is permanently open, and yet as he walks around he seems to forget that. No consistency.
  • Then, for no good reason other than to move the story along, he manages to be fine after going into a cupboard for a minute.
  • And not just that, he comes out with his proper clothes. What’s the story here? Are we supposed to just accept the plot is cack-handed and doesn’t make sense?
  • I heard that some Doctor Who fans claimed they felt The Doctor sexually assaulted Jenny when he emerged from that cupboard. These people need to give themselves a shake and then get a life.
  • What about all the women who have done exactly the same thing to him over the past few years?
  • What was the point of the people living in jars?
  • Mind you, what was the point of the whole bloody story?
  • Mr Sweet looked like something out of The Young Ones
  • Strax’s mask looks incredibly obvious here.
  • Why does Diana Rigg ask her daughter to forgive her, only to approve when she doesn’t?
  • One well-known Super Fan declared this episode a classic after it was first shown. I can only think he did that to suck up to the production team in the hope they might release missing episodes quicker.
  • But then this story seems to get good reviews from critics, with The Daily Telegraph and – unsurprisingly – Mr Positive at The Guardian loving it. I just don’t get it.
  • DWM Miighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – The Crimson Horror Review: Final Thoughts

Having gone through every story in Doctor Who’s history to re-view and review them, there are a very small handful that I just don’t think I’ll ever bother with again.

I have no desire to watch Terminus again, for example, and I just don’t see me wanting to give something like The Arc of Infinity or episodes 2-4 of Underworld another watch.

But I then if I’m honest, I probably will.

I’m making a promise to myself though that I will never watch The Crimson Horror again.

A genuine contender for Worst Doctor Who Story of All Time, I think it fails on pretty much every conceivable level. Ok, it looks good, but the performances, the attempts at humour, the “Throw Everything At The Wall And See What Sticks” style plotting and just the general rot surrounding it makes me think “Why would I waste 45 minutes of my life on this shit ever again”.

It’s that bad.

I hate it.

I absolutely hate it.

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat should be ashamed of themselves.

 


Doctor Who – Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS Review (or “More Of The Same, And Not In A Good Way”)

September 29, 2013

Back in the 1980s, one of the problems that beset Doctor Who was a lack of quality writers.

Whether it was that distinguished scribes didn’t want to be seen to work for an “embarrassment” like Doctor Who, or whether it was JNT’s obsession with not wanting to go back to the old guard, even though they would often produce the best scripts, the result was that script quality took a nose dive and the series suffered as a result.

That shouldn’t be a problem in 2013. The World and his wife would jump at the chance to write for a show as highly regarded as Who is now.

And yet time and time again, the same blokes get brought back to write episodes, even if their previous efforts weren’t up to much.

Whether it’s Toby Whithouse, Mark Gatiss, or Stephen Greenhorn, they all seem to be brought back in spite of their episodes often being poor, while genuinely talented storyline developers like Paul Cornell and Rob Shearman are left in the cold.

Now maybe these guys don’t want to work for the show again, or maybe in spite of their talents, they come with baggage like the need for the Script Editor to do intensive rewrites, or they don’t hand stuff in on time.

But why these mediocre writers get to come back again and again is baffling.

Stephen Thompson is another one. As much as The Curse of the Black Spot was ok, it was only ok. I was being kind to it in my review.

But if I was making the decisions, I wouldn’t have rushed back to him for more.

That’s exactly what Steven Moffat did though, as Thompson was commissioned to write Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS.

And unsurprisingly, it wasn’t exactly a world-beater.

Doctor Who – Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS Review: What’s This One About?

It’s another story sold on the mystique of wandering around the TARDIS.

Oh joy.

Thoughts – Another Failed Attempt At Doing A TARDIS Story

In my review of The Doctor’s Wife, I discussed how I felt the gimmick of having an episode set inside the TARDIS was good on paper, but poor in execution.

And yet one season later, we have to endure the same thing again.

Let’s be honest; the exploration of the TARDIS is the selling point here, and just like the last time, it’s a crushing disappointment.

I'm no expert on women's fashion, but what the hell is she wearing?

I’m no expert on women’s fashion, but what the hell is she wearing?

Dimly lit, samey corridors, no attempt to make it seem retro, occasional glimpses of stuff like the swimming pool and scenes set in incongruous, non-TARDISy places like a library and the outside.

Just like last time, it fell flat.

This time there was an attempt to go for the cheap pop by having old lines of dialogue from the show’s past emerge from the TARDIS console when the boy tried to open it, but even then they were so quiet and rushed that it seemed pointless.

Maybe setting a story in the TARDIS is just destined not to work?

The Reset Switch

So with that said, what else was there to enjoy in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS?

Not much.

The storyline was pretty crap.

It consisted of…

  • We’ve got to help Clara or she’ll be poisoned and die!!! Only Clara never seemed in any danger of that and was very easily saved
  • You guys have to help me or the ship will self destruct in 30 minutes!!!! Only it turned out the Doctor was just kidding.
  • You can’t steal that thing from the TARDIS or everything will come tumbling down!!!! Only it didn’t.
  • Those burnt people are you in the future Clara!!!! Only she doesn’t burn, nor does she come anywhere close to it.
  • We’re trapped on this cliff and there’s no way out other than jumping to our deaths!!!!!! Only they weren’t really trapped, and jumping off the cliff was exactly what they needed to do.
  • The TARDIS console has exploded and there’s nothing we can do!!!! Only they could. All the Doctor needed to do was walk through a crack in time and reset everything.

So basically it was just a series of threats of danger that were resolved by the writer saying “Nah, not really”.

That’s pathetic.

Surely if you’re going to set something up as dangerous, there has to be a genuine threat, otherwise it’s just not believable.

It’s like the scene where The Doctor finally has it out with Clara and asks her who she is. Not only is that resolved by her saying “Dunno what you’re talking about, mate” and him saying “Oh. Ok then”, but they then decide to reset that as well by having the two of them forget about it.

Ultimately, the whole thing was a pointless waste of time; like a cartoon, but without the fun.

The Ludicrous Tale of the Robot

What the hell was all that about with those three brothers then?

Should he not be dead? Or at the very least bleeding?

Should he not be dead? Or at the very least bleeding?

For a start, one of them dies and nobody seems to care in the slightest. Even The Doctor is happy, smiley and jokey with the two remaining ones when he said “Ha, there wasn’t a self-destruction sequence, but it all worked out in the end”. Erm, no it didn’t; one of them died.

But you wouldn’t know it because the characterisation was so poor.

Worst of all was the jaw dropping revelation that Tricky wasn’t a robot but instead their brother, who they played a trick on (pardon the pun) for a laugh.

What?

So he doesn’t realise he’s human?

He never gets hungry? Never eats? Never goes to the toilet? His hair never grows? He never looks at the photo of him standing with his two brothers and their father and thinks that something might be up?

That’s just ludicrous.

And what about the scene where he gets that thick metal pole through his shoulder, dangerously close to his heart? Did that not hurt? It certainly didn’t look like it as he seemed absolutely fine moments later, not selling the effects of it at all.

In a story that disappointed on many counts, this was the worst part of all.

Random Observations

  • I must be out of touch with modern fashion, but what the hell is Clara wearing?
  • How come the entire universe didn’t blow up when the TARDIS exploded? Or, to put it another way, how come when the TARDIS exploded in The Big Bang, it didn’t save itself like it did here? Great consistency.
  • Why would The Doctor want a TARDIS “desktop theme” that is dank and gloomy when he had a nice, brightly lit one for all those years?
  • On what grounds is a Type 40 TARDIS old and crap – as it was often considered as being in older episodes – when it turns out its limitless in its power and scope. How do the new ones improve on that?
  • Too often now, Doctor Who stories are taking place in darkly lit rooms. It all gets a bit wearing. Let’s have some colour for a change!
  • Yet again, there’s a token monster for the sake of it. The “Time Zombies” – as they are referred to in the credits – are possibly the most pointless yet. So unimaginative.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS Review: Final Thoughts

Unsurprisingly, if you team up an average writer with a concept that time and time again has been shown not to deliver, you’re going to end up with a poor story.

And that’s what Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS is – a poor story.

So much of it was built up and then immediately brought down with an attitude of “Aye, that’s not really an issue” that it got to the stage where the whole thing felt utterly pointless.

And that robot storyline was the sort of thing that should have been nixed before the episode went into production. It was pathetic.

I would say that things improve, but I can tell you now that the next story is the one that I had the worst initial reaction to of any Doctor Who story ever.

So I don’t hold out much hope.

 


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