Friday, April 08, 2005

The End of the World... and I feel fine

Prefect SlogYou could be forgiven, if you're an ordinary paid-up member of the public, for not knowing there was a war on last week. Doctor Who fans - or rather, some sectors of the fan community - were behaving like it was The End of the World. Which it was, of course, on Saturday, in the form of Episode Two of the New Series. And wasn't it fantastic? Well, before I answer that, let's just mention the war. "Rose" had already generated a few divisions in the fan world, and then, as fans welcomed the news that there would be a second series only to learn shortly afterwards that Christopher Eccleston would be quitting after only this one season, those divisions magnified into something of a bitter North-South divide. There's nothing quite like Doctor Who to divide Doctor Who fans. So where do I stand in this divide? Well, somewhere in the middle. Mr Eccleston has put in a good bit of actin' so far, but he's yet to really convince (me) as the Doctor. He needn't feel bad - and I doubt he does on that score - the fact is the only Doctors who've convinced me from the first moment I encountered them were the first four plus McGann. The others took time. And naturally, I'm greatly disappointed to discover that Mr Eccleston isn't going to give me - or himself - that same sort of time. But he's an actor and it's an actin' job, so he has his reasons for moving on. So much for that. But it seemed to me, among fandom, that people were polarised to extremes where at the hot end they were too parched to voice coherent arguments and at the cold end they'd lost all feeling in their fingertips. It's been the same, as far as I can see, with the new series so far: people have either lost all sense of appreciation or all criitical faculty. Things are, broadly speaking, either "Stupid!" or "Fantastic!" - and I can't help feeling there should be room for some more balanced perspective. But, in this particular spirit of fandom, I'll air a few of my thoughts on Episode Two. So, blue alien woman being hauled into a duct by a few teeny metal spiders: stupid. Diversity and colour of the whole episode: fantastic. The Moxx of Balhoon's voice: stupid. Jabe: fantastic. Rose not hearing the spider scuttling around right behind her: stupid. Rose being overwhelmed by the plethora of aliens around her: fantastic. The Doctor bopping inanely to Tainted Love: stupid. Britney Spears' Toxic playing at the end of the world: fantastic. (Although I'd have gone the whole nine yards and actually had Britney in Doctor Who - and now, Britney S from Terra Alpha!) The lowering of the Steward's sun filter at the stab of a button and the Steward not running for the door: stupid. The emotional depth to the Doctor when Jabe lays a hand on his arm: fantastic. The vital switch at the other side of a batch of whirling propellor blades, so reminiscent of Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver's experience with pounding hammers Galaxy Quest: stupid. (And is the poorly paced 'climactic action' sequence the replacement for the cliffhanger? I do hope not.) The emotion at the moment of Jabe's death: fantastic. (Well, I mean, obviously it wasn't fantastic that such a fantastic character died, but you know, that moment did get to me.) Leaving the modern independent companion nothing to do for the entirety of the climactic action sequence: stupid. The going to get chips scene at the end, so brilliantly and emotionally touching on the Doctor's past as well as rooting Rose's experiences in that everyday context: fantastic. And, of course, there are more where those came from, just in the space of those 45 minutes. But you know, with all the fantastics and the stupids, the overall feeling I had at the end of it - apart from that bloody trailer coming up slap bang before the closing credits - was a good one. So I can only say - on balance - that The End of the World - that is, the one on the telly, not the one in certain sectors of the online Who fan community - was a darn good show.

No comments: