Sunday, March 27, 2005

We have no time to stand and scare

Prefect SlogI remember when I used to read the Target novelisations of 'classic' Doctor Who, the TARDIS always used to arrive with a wheeze and a groan. Now it arrives with a whiz and a bang. And before you even know there's an invasion on, it's over. Which is a nice feeling for the ordinary member of the public who wants to feel safe, but when you're sitting down to Doctor Who, you kind of want a bit more time to get into the story. Let me qualify this by saying that I liked it, and there was much to like - and it improved on a second watch, which is something I couldn't say about the TVM. But I don't think it's too much of a gripe to say that I wish we could have had more of it. (My Mum today thought the whole thing had been half an hour long.) A two-parter might have served better and could still have been nice and pacey, given a fuller story. After all, we're introducing a new Doctor (nicely done, by the way, and the mirror check was an exquisite little touch - although the scariest moment was hearing Graham Norton filter through over the soundtrack in the early minutes - had they been lying to us about who was playing the Ninth Doctor?!) and there's an alien invasion on. Paradoxically, against the show's seemingly relentless pace, you have apparent padding, with - for instance - cuts back to the Doctor on the platform above the Nestene creature, with zero progression to the action. How about a choreographed fight sequence - or something, guys? But the principal down side for me was basically that it wasn't long enough: the aliens could have used a bit more build-up to get their menace quotient up, the plot could have used a bit more, well, plot, and the characters could have used a bit more screen time for more of an emotional connection. Because if you want your monsters to be scary you've got to give them a chance, and it also helps if you care about the people they're threatening. Although on that side, I did feel sorry for poor Clive. Overall, it was fun, entertaining, a bit daft in places and very easy to pick holes in. So, pretty much like a lot of Doctor Who. Which, I suppose, is the main thing. Worst moment: (apart from Graham Norton) the replica Mickey proving that Rose, the modern independent girl companion is very possibly the densest woman on the planet. Fair play, it was a gag, but Billie Piper was good in the role and I can't help thinking her character deserved better. Most magic moment: Rose enters the TARDIS for the first time. That was a real lump in the throat, tear in the eye, thrill in the heart moment. And call me a sad old sentimental fool, but that counted more than anything else. That was when it came alive for me. Doctor Who is back and it is about time. And luckily, for those of us who wish we had more of it, there are 12 more episodes on the way. Plenty of time for this one to grow.

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