Saturday, May 21, 2005

A Tissue! A Tissue! We All Fall Down

Prefect SlogThe day "Father's Day" was due to air, my sisters happened to air one complaint about the new series of "Doctor Who" which, when I thought about it, unfortunately felt entirely valid. Contrary to their habit of knocking the old series when I used to enjoy it, they'd been watching the new one pretty avidly, but they'd started to get a bit ticked off with the fact that the TARDIS hadn't really gone anywhere other than dear old Earth. And they're right. Even "The End Of The World", with its procession of colourful aliens, occurs in orbit around our blue-green planet. So, if anyone's paying attention, guys, please, let's see some alien worlds. I haven't asked my sisters yet what they thought of "Father's Day" but I can only imagine that there was some disappointment on that score at least as they sat down to watch that night's episode. Still, none of that is Paul Cornell's fault, and in the context of the new series, he produces a strong piece of emotional human drama. More of a tear-jerker than a thought-provoker, mainly because if I'd allowed myself to think too hard about the temporal aspects of the story, I was afraid the whole thing would fall apart. E.g. why do the first Doctor and Rose wink out of existence once Rose Two saves her dear old pa? At that point, I knew I was going to enjoy the episode more if I didn't ask too many questions like that, and luckily a few tears, for the most part, adequately obscure the vision. Setting aside the time travel theory, the supporting cast do a grand job - most notably Rose's Dad, and since he's fairly crucial to the whole thing, that scores high points - and the Reapers are effective, not only in the way they look, but also in the way they see - through a filter of blood red - as they stalk their victims even before we get to see them. There are certain less than satisfying aspects that are difficult to ignore. One related to the episode in question, in that its resolution is all too inevitable and therefore predictable from the outset. While the others are more symptomatic of the series as a whole, and include the Doctor's lack of involvement in the resolution (in the context of an individual episode, and this one, it could be argued, in particular, not a fault, but in the context of the series, again dissatisfying); as well as the fact that, once the Reapers make their appearance, the action effectively stops and the episode goes largely nowhere for too long, as the creatures circle the church and everyone holes up inside (again, not necessarily a fault when the episode is taken individually, but when we've been treated to sequences in other episodes in which the plot fails to advance, you can't help thinking something needs to be done). And on a more minor note, I'm still utterly mystified as to the significance of the voice of Alexander Graham Bell coming through on the various phones in the episode, but it's possible I'm being thick - or it's possible the explanation got lost in the edits. Ultimately, it's the human story and not some of the more traditional elements of Doctor Who (temporal science in this case) that are the most successful in this one and given that shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer proved more popular for the teen-soap aspects than for the weekly monster, I guess that's no bad thing. So, on the whole, with my subject heading, I'm just being clever and the story is an emotionally involving one that does hold together - although I'm still refusing to examine the time travel theory too closely. Just in case. :)

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