September 23rd, 2006


Is That a Sonic Screwdriver In Your Pocket...

Thanks to the joy of Netflix, laurie_robey and I have now seen the first three episodes of the Eccleston Doctor Who series.

The Good:

  • Scripts so far very good and very classical Doctor-ish adventures. Certainly better than the muddled and largely incomprehensible Fox movie (although even that I thought was better than a lot of other people did). I've been ticking off the "creepy invasion of Earth" and "murder mystery in space" and "weird events in history" models as we go. I'm still waiting on the "besieged base" and "caught between warring factions" models, but I'm sure they'll be along.

  • Yay, production values! There's still the occasional "Hey, this is CGI!" moment, such as the boyfriend-eating dustbin in "Rose" but on the Doctor Who scale of set wobbliness, all very high standards.

  • A meta-story, and a backstory. Since we can't really do the mystery of "Who is the Doctor?" any more ("He's a timelord from Gallifrey, duh!"), we have the new mystery of "What happened to the timelords, and why did it make the Doctor so grouchy?" That's cool. This "bad wolf" popping up motif seems interesting too, if a little forced.

  • Rose seems a good companion so far. Not as good as Romana or Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, but better than a lot of the very forgettable "pretty screaming faces" over the years.

  • Charles Dickens! Played by Mister Beebe! That's cool.

  • Conspiracy theorists have noticed the Doctor. That's very cool.

The Not As Good:

  • No face in the opening credits! How can you have an opening sequence without the Doctor looking mysterious?

  • The Doctor in a leather jacket and jeans? No, entirely too ordinary. Give that man a costume!

  • The Doctor just stood there and let Cassandra die, rather than go to trial? Even when Rose explicitly told him to help her? Um, no. This is a guy who was wracked with guilt about obliterating the Daleks before they were created in Genesis of the Daleks -- I can't see him being that cold no matter how shell-shocked he is. Cassandra is a helpless prisoner at that stage.

  • Eccleston is all right, I don't want to seem like I'm knocking him, but it should be Paul McGann here. Seriously. At least for the first season. He deserves a regeneration.

  • We need some multi-parters here. The first three episodes have been so set-'em-up-knock-'em-down that it feels like I'm watching the series on fast forward. Classic 'Who' would just be finished with the first story arc at this point, which I can easily agree would be too long -- but with each episode being a single 45-minute story arc, I'm just getting interested and suddenly there's a denouement out of the blue. But I gather some are coming, so that's okay.

So, all in all, quite good but with a few niggly points. Definitely a worthy successor and I'm eagerly awaiting the next disc! I particularly want to see "Dalek" -- I've heard a lot of good things about it.

-The Gneech
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