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An Episode of Doctor Who, Wasted

Just caught up with "The Girl Who Waited" last night -- complete weaksauce. Wow. Such a waste. It might as well have been one of Russel T. Davies' interminable "redemptive suicide of the week" episodes, or a wangsty teenage fanfic. There might be spoilers below, I guess, if such a poor episode can be "spoiled."

First, there was the incredibly contrived situation. The Doctor randomly takes them to a planet that's quarantined with a plague but he doesn't know that. Amy pushes the wrong elevator button without asking which button to push first. The medical computers of a planet that specializes in studying other worlds can't recognize aliens. Idiot balling much?

Second, there was Self-Pitying Screwed Up Future Amy. As somebody on my Twitter feed put it: "Rory waited a thousand years for you to finish sitting in a box and never even grumbled. Suck it up, Amy!" And honestly, given what we've seen of Amy, it just didn't ring true. Who knows, maybe being put into an incredibly unlikely torture scenario for 30 years might have made her go squirrely, but given all the other crap she's put up with in the past two years, it doesn't seem likely.

Finally, there was the ending. Did anyone ever think the "two Amy Ponds" thing was going to happen? Of course not. Did anyone ever think Self-Pitying Screwed Up Future Amy would be the one who stayed? Of course not. The only question was whether she was going to be killed in battle covering Young Amy's escape, or get a tearful sacrifice death instead. So why did the episode waste so much time pretending it was important?

Finally, what did this episode achieve? Development of plot? Nope -- nothing has changed. Revelation of character? Nope -- the episode didn't tell us anything we didn't know about Amy, Rory, or the Doctor. (Remember him? He's that not-companion guy.) Rollicking adventure? Not particularly. At the end of the day, it was 45 minutes of manufactured wangst. In the words of Monty Python, "It's all been a complete waste of time."

-The Gneech

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
huskyteer
Sep. 16th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad somebody shares my opinion! I think what ensured I was bored stiff was the lack of a secondary plot strand - no shady goings-on in the quarantine world. All that character stuff (and fairly lame character stuff at that) just isn't strong enough to stand without some added peril.
the_gneech
Sep. 16th, 2011 03:22 pm (UTC)
Given how much in agreement you and I are about Rose Tyler, I'm not surprised that we agree on this episode as well. ;)

-TG
huskyteer
Sep. 16th, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
Basically, I want my monsters!
canisrufus_uk
Sep. 16th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, in the classic series the whole Amy plot would have been a secondary plot point, and the real plot would have been some secret conspiracy behind the quarantine world, using it for nefarious purposes.
I think part of the problem is the fact they want to fit each plot into a single episode, in the old series the end of the first episode is just about where the monster would come around the corner.
the_mcp
Sep. 16th, 2011 09:38 pm (UTC)
"This", as the kids say these days. :)

As much as I like Doctor Who in general, this is something that has always kind of bugged me about the "new" series.

The need to shoehorn everything into a 45-minute episode -- and the apparent desire to maintain a breakneck pace throughout so as not to lose the mayfly-like attention span of the MTV-addled generation -- means that all too often, too much of the back-story behind whatever world and situation the Doctor finds himself in this time is inadequately explained or developed, because there's no room for any decent "B" plots to unfold concurrently with the main story.

Now, if you have a strong story with an easily-established scenario, a clearly-defined goal for the characters, and an equally clearly-defined antagonist for them to overcome -- such as "Dalek", "42", or "Blink" -- then you probably don't need those "B" plots to help carry the main story along, or fill in the gaps in the viewer's knowledge of what's going on.

Unfortunately, more than a few "New Who" stories, IMO, are not so strongly-focused or straightforward... and frankly, without those "B" plots to flesh out the scenarios, a lot of what the Doctor ends up doing in these single-episode stories comes off as deus ex machina because there's not enough development of the underlying scenario to explain how the Doctor actually knows any of this stuff or figured out what was going on.

The two-part stories are somewhat better in this regard; frankly, I wish they'd do away with the whole one-episode format entirely and only do two-parters. (I also wouldn't mind if they'd drop the whole "season-long-arc-building-up-to-the-DESTRUCTION-OF-THE-UNIVERSE!!" schtick, but season-long arcs seem to be pretty much a permanent fixture of the TV universe nowadays.)
hollyannvix
Sep. 16th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't care much for that episode either...or the one before that, with the kid that was scared of everything (that one, they tried to make it look like it was spooky and maybe I'm just so used to horror movies and stuff, I didn't find it spooky at all).

Looking forward to tomorrow's episode, which will be DVR'd just in case I'm not home in time, just to see how they do on the minotaur :)
the_gneech
Sep. 16th, 2011 03:27 pm (UTC)
Alas, they can't all be winners!

-TG
hollyannvix
Sep. 16th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this is true :)
the_gneech
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
Totally unrelated to Doctor Who, I love that icon. :)

-The Gneech
hollyannvix
Sep. 16th, 2011 09:09 pm (UTC)
Thanks! =D
jadedfox
Sep. 16th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
Holy carp, I'm glad to see others agree, man, this was the biggest Doctor Who disappointment episode in a while, and I thought last week wasn't good either. I agree, Rory waited a THOUSAND years, when old whiny Amy complained about 30 years of waiting... if I'd been Rory, I'd have SLAPPED her and reminded her that hello, a thousand years of waiting thank you?

Meh... I hope we get more River episodes soon, I really like them.
the_gneech
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:23 pm (UTC)
Well, a slap might be a bit of an overreaction. Plus, she had a katana.

But I agree: more River Song!

And more Donna Noble! (Dangit.)

-The Gneech
jadedfox
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
*This* might be a disagreement, I preferred Martha over Rose and Donna. Rory is now my favorite modern companion, but Amy is below Martha. (Jack wasn't regular enough to be in my list, but he'd be above Amy too.) Ooh, actually Jack needs to come back. He was FUN.
mouser
Sep. 16th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
Martha had potential, but but she became too worldly traveled too quickly. Donna never seemed to loose the "I want to see EVERYTHING! From multiple angles! Repeatedly!" aspect.

Don't get me started on Rose.

thesameoldsame
Sep. 17th, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Rory is far and away my favorite companion of the new series, and certainly one of the top five of all companions. Its nice to see a companion act as a foil to the Doctor again, rather than just frustrated, fawning wank material. Not to mention the fact that I think that just about every guy who watches Doctor Who can relate to Rory on many levels.

Rose and her ugly horse face needed to go away the moment they appeared on screen. I despised her. Jack was fun, but the kind of fun that is best used sparingly. Martha fell into the "wants to bone the Doctor" camp of companions that writers just cant seem to get away from. Also, she was just uninteresting. Donna was fun and I think shes my favorite female companion of the new series. I wasnt thrilled with the sort of Mary Sue-ish ending for her, and even more unhappy about the memory wipe basically meaning everything she gained and all of her character development meant nothing.
(Deleted comment)
the_gneech
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
Heh. :) Well thanks! That English degree's good for SOMETHING, at least! ;)

-TG
d_l_leonine
Sep. 16th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
I agree it was somewhat predictable and a waste of time, but watching the 2 Amys and Rory interact was hysterical. At least for me, this one was a hell of a lot more entertaining than Night Terrors from the previous week.

...and hey, for the last 2 weeks, they've 'killed' Amy instead of Rory. I think they are trying to even it out...
rhanlav
Sep. 16th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Can I be truthful?

I... haven't watched any Dr. Who since Season 3. I'd gotten as far as Rhinos in Space kidnapping a hospital, and I just lost it. Interest that is.

I don't know if it's just I was burned out of Dr Who or what, but, I just feel so... blah about it. Oh, that doesn't mean I haven't kept up with what's been going on, but yeah just felt like mentioning that.
rayechu
Sep. 17th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
Lol, and I came in to post that I wasn't really interested in anything after Rose left. Looks like I might be in the minority in that line of thinking....
oceansedge
Sep. 17th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
my theory is is was supposed to be a waster.... kinda like Shakespeare's 'comic relief' characters but less well done - it's purpose was to give our poor aching noggins a moment's break from trying to figure out exactly where all these weird twisted plotlines of Moffat's are going...

of course we'd already had months of that so ... completely NOT needed.. but *shrug* even Dr Who is entitled to a clanker now and again... lets just not make a habit of it
paradisacorbasi
Sep. 17th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC)
I am so glad to see this.

Amy waiting 36 years and hating the Doctor for it all the time is ridiculous.

She refused to stop believing in the Doctor in all those years she grew up insisting there was really a raggetryindy Doctor, despite the therapy and the derision and embarrasment of her friends and family, but thirty six years of robots trying to tell her "this is a kindess" when Rory -- beautiful, sweet, damn Rory -- waited two thousand years is too much for her?

It devalued her character and made her look like a whiner.
(Deleted comment)
the_mcp
Sep. 18th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
I think your second paragraph highlights nicely one of the major problems with constantly doing the "season-long-arc-building-up-to-THE-APOCALYPSE!!" schtick I mentioned above. Each season, they've upped the ante:

Series 1: the thought-to-be-extinct Daleks reappear to destroy the Earth.

Series 2: the Daleks and the Cybermen come back to destroy the Earth.

Series 3: the Master reappears to wreak destruction (on the Earth, of course).

Series 4: Davros and the Daleks threaten to destroy the galaxy with an ultra-superweapon made up of stolen planets, no less.

Then Time Lords try to use the Master to escape the time-lock and end the Last Great Time War -- by destroying the universe. (OK, this wasn't technically a season-long arc, but it's still an escalation in THE APOCALYPSE!! level, and it did come at the end of "series four-and-a-half".)

Then finally, in series 5, the entire universe throughout all of time and space (except Earth) is destroyed -- and then brought back again!

So... how are you supposed to top that in series 6? No matter what you come up with, it can't help but be anticlimactic when you've already had your main characters singlehandedly be responsible for the destruction and resurrection of the entirety of time and space.

Hey, I know -- kill the Doctor in the first episode! (Well, except that he's not really dead, only "going to be killed in his own future", and in any case we know he's not really going to stay dead since the BBC has already announced there will be a series 7, so... yeah.)

Don't get me wrong, I still have an affection for Doctor Who and look forward to seeing the new episodes when they come out... I just wish they'd dial back THE APOCALYPSE!! levels a bit and just do some good, solid, self-contained two- or three-part stories where the situation unfolds on several levels with interesting "B" plots alongside the main action.
hossblacksilver
Sep. 18th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
I just wonder if with the resolution of "Let's Kill Hitler" that they may have gotten ride of the limit 13 regenerations guillotine.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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