Saturday, May 21, 2005


Prefect SlogIn the Doctor Who Confidential following "The Long Game", Russell T Davies says something to the effect that if it didn't have Simon Pegg in it, the whole thing might have been rather dull. Not the most inspiring thing a writer could say about his own episode and while I think he might have been a little unfair on the whole thing, he might also have a point. The overall impression I was left with at the end was that it had been reasonably fun, reasonably entertaining, with a reasonable central premise (based on manipulation of human society by an alien-controlled media) and considerably livened by the likes of Simon Pegg and Tamsin Greig. As in "Dalek" I wasn't that impressed with the character of Adam, although it was faintly amusing to see him as a TV version of Hex (the audio companion), as he looked like he was on loan from Hollyoaks (Brookside's younger cousin) and went about saying "Oh my god" just often enough for the comparison to stick. But I couldn't quite put my finger on why it felt, well, a bit ordinary and not very satisfying. Someone pointed out that it was very 80s Doctor Who, and that *might* be the only explanation needed. But I didn't need to think too hard to realise I also had problems with some aspects of the story that went a little further than that. For one, there really wasn't much of a story at all. The episode seemed a curious combination of being too simple to be very involving for us grown-ups, and based on what was probably too high-brow a concept for the kids. Worse - and perhaps out of a need to explain it to the kids - that concept, of social manipulation by the media (surely inspired by Fox), was delivered almost entirely according to a policy of tell-don't-show, something that went completely against the grain of the storyteller in me. On the plus side, it did have some memorable imagery (people's heads opening up to download data), some colourful moments and a degree of atmosphere (characters having a nose around the chilly regions of the top floor). But very much on the down side, it also suffered from what is probably the most disappointing trend of the new series overall: the persistent return of Doctor DoLittle. In this one, he and Rose are rendered inactive, helpless and shackled together, and while he does goad a guest character into action, it's a) an action we saw coming a long time ago (i.e. turn up the heat) and b) a resolution that we'd rather, after too many episodes of seeing the Doctor do not very much, see our 'hero' being a little more actively involved in. On aggregate then, the various pluses and minuses left this one, for me, somewhere very much in the middle of the road. A bit like the alien behind it all (I'm not even going to attempt writing out it's full name), it could have done with a little more creative thought put into it, so it didn't end up being quite so much a shapeless blob (too much like the Nestene in the first episode, for my liking) with a few teeth.

No comments: