Sunday, June 01, 2008

Grand Moff Steven

See, now this is why we're all chuffed that Steven Moffat is set to take the helm of Doctor Who (can I get a premature yay!). Well, last night's episode is one reason, along with all the others he's written. As it was only the first of a two-parter, overall impressions of the story will have to wait until next week but right from the get-go, Silence In The Library was just more immediately interesting.
Of course it gets marks for Steven Moffat's trademark blend of wit, creepiness and intriguing premise - and for featuring Alex Kingston in such an engaging role. So clearly, I'm biased. So, just for the sake of balance, until the final results are in, here are what I felt were the principal negatives:
Another over-egged cliffhanger. Used to be a time when just the sight of a companion's face stuck on a sculpted android would have made for an effective cliffhanger in and of itself. Combine that with a stomping skeleton in a spacesuit and you should be onto a winner. Spin it out for lord knows how many minutes and your suspense souffle sadly collapses.
Could have used an earlier death, I think. For quite some time, we - and the archaeological expedition - were just faced with the Doctor telling us all how dangerous it was, when an early kill would have done the trick much more effectively. That's what expedition members are for in Doctor Who.
The Doctor and Donna being utterly dense. The Doctor especially. He's time-travelled for, ooh, a few years now, I'd think he'd be quicker on the uptake with the idea of running into someone from his future. After all, not to blow my own trumpet or anything, but in Emotional Chemistry, he actually prefers to consider that possibility rather than confront the idea that he might have met all these people from his past but not remember them. Fair enough, we might put the Doctor's 'slowness' here down to denial, but like the cliffhanger, it's spun out a little too much for credibility.
However, there were numerous pluses to weigh against all that, not least of which was the look Alex Kingston (sigh) gave Donna, which - perhaps optimistically - I took as a good sign that Donna snuffs it. Of course, I also have this insane theory that the Doctor 'dies', but now that's been modified to the Doctor appears to die, gets buried, to be later unearthed by a certain archaeologist, and so begins a blossoming relationship in which, if we can't have Sally Sparrow as a companion when Moffat takes charge, we can at least have River Song.
But now I'm just having fun. I blame Steven Moffat for that.
Meanwhile, take a look at a short story I wrote envisaging what Doctor Who might be like if re-imagined for our screens (shortly before it was re-imagined for our screens). (My website's due for a major overhaul, but the story should still be there for a little while yet.) It features a Doctor and TARDIS unearthed in an archaeological dig, so you can see why I wouldn't be against the idea :)


Stuart Douglas said...

I think that's a pretty fair summation, though I thought this one was a little more obviously contrived than is usual even for Moffat - not so much introducing the viewer to weird future concepts like faces in information boards and ghosting as hitting him over the head with them so that they remember them for the cliffhanger.

Still better than any RTD script, though...

SAF said...

Yeah, as you'll see when you get to my second-episode/overall review, I don't think that 'hitting over the head' approach helped. A subtler approach in the opening episode might have paid dividends in the second, I think. But, as you - and I :) - say, still head and shoulders above the rest.

Stuart Douglas said...

SAF: "But, as you - and I :) - say"

As all right thinking people say, surely (actually even those who generally are less than right thinking are saying it)?

SAF said...

Stuart: "(actually even those who generally are less than right thinking are saying it)"

Probably, but since they're not as frequently right thinking as us, clearly they deserve less credit :)