Monday, February 24, 2020

Ascension of the Doctor Product

For the first time in its 56 year history, Doctor Who finally went to Ireland on Sunday night. I wonder why it took so long. There were several Irish characters too, named characters, even, for the first time since one minor character in the Third Doctor era. I only wish it happened in a better episode.

We begin with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and with the companions referred to by the increasingly ironic appellation "Fam" showing up in a war zone--the aftermath of the Cybermen wiping out most of the human race on Earth. So is this an alternate future to the apocalypse that happens in "Orphan 55"? Spirit, "are these the shadows of the things that Will be or are they shadows of things that May be, only?" Funny, no-one asks the Doctor that question.

A lot of people call out Chris Chibnall personally for the bad writing of the Thirteenth Doctor era but I've generally refrained from doing so. Oh, I certainly don't think he's among the best showrunners ever and I'd say he's the weakest of the revived era but I'm not prepared to say for sure what's his fault and what isn't. Particularly since Neil Gaiman recently discussed publicly how scripts for the show have been meddled with without consent from the writers since at least Eleven's final season, I suspect many of the very worst elements of the past two seasons have come from the producers and not from Chibnall. That would explain the tacked on feel of "Orphan 55"'s epilogue and would also explain the Doctor's abrupt reversal of her nonsensical rule against explosives in the previous season. Sometimes Chibnall gets in a shot against the meddlers. That's what I think is going on but I can't be sure. If Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandip Gil), and Graham (Bradley Walsh) are creations of the producers, it might explain why Chibnall seems to have given them pretty rough and unflattering treatment this season.

Of course, things like Graham and Yaz's pep talks to each other last night have the kind of dopiness of something intended to be great, so it's hard to say. Gods, the arrogance of these two telling each other they're unstoppable. Their suggestions amount to little more than look out the window and divert power from life support. What this show needs is William Shatner.

There's a conflict set up in the episode between the Doctor's belief that she needs to work alone and the Fam's desire to contribute. So the companions being insubstantial and poorly developed undercuts everything, particularly when Graham all of a sudden knows a thing or two about spaceships. When did that happen? Maybe it'll be up to Big Finish to supply crucial character development fifteen or so years from now.

I did like the design of the ramshackle space ship and how you can see the hull spinning from the inside. This season certainly hasn't fallen down on production design, though the cinematography is still pretty lazy. The music hasn't irritated me as much as it did last season until last night's episode when the constant, sappy violin for every shot in Ireland accompanied director Jamie Magnus Stone's overuse of close-ups to achieve the effect of having my eyes and ears gouged with lumps of butter. It made Darby O'Gill and the Little People look like The Field.

So I guess next time we're going to get an answer to the Gallifrey mystery and Doctor Ruth and just how in blazes those flashbacks to Ireland add up to anything. Could be it's a really good explanation, who knows? Who knows.

Twitter Sonnet #1331

Controllers made the gamer move the sprite.
Detectives saw the pool behind cigars.
The heavy case was lighter sans the night.
Along the ridge there rode the smoke hussars.
The desert took a train of golden clocks.
The sand consumed the iron hands of time.
In feet we measured bags of sainted socks.
In metric lengths we took the longer climb.
In closets stuffed with cloth we quickly dress.
A normal suit displays the manic ken.
As plastic limbs decry the paper mess.
Recycled teeth could chew the metal bin.
As metal fate distorts the door-ish cloud
The window mist becomes increasing loud.

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