Thursday, September 17, 2015


Welcome, my friend, to the show that never ends. Except for a lengthy absence from our screens from 1989 to 2005, with a less than satisfactory TV movie in between. And a break in 1985 when the BBC didn’t know if it wanted the series cluttering up its bland light entertainment schedules any more. And next year when it’ll only be half a season because the showrunner is just too darned busy.

Yes, folks, Doctor Who returns to our screens.

My own enthusiasm for the show has been dampened, it’s true, as though it’s spent a year with Bear Grylls in the Delta Magna swamps. But while the relationship may be tired, I still love the dear old thing, damnit. (Luckily I’m restoring my love of the show with revisits of old stories and, hopefully, a couple of projects that have come my way. Hurrah!) And I will doubtless be watching every week.

After all, Peter Capaldi is the best Doctor since Tom Baker and that, right there, is something to enthuse about even before the season’s kicked off.

What I won’t be doing is posting episode reviews. Like Mr Moffat, I'm just too darned busy. And I’m just not sure it’s worth investing more time and energy in dashing off a review than the writers put into plotting their stories. When there’s more holes than cheese, there’s little left to comment on. More crucially, I would probably end up repeating the same things. Because the show repeats the same things like it’s trapped in its own creative chronic hysteresis.

Last year I cited my ‘Top 10’ of those repeat offences under the title Ten Things I Hate About Who. Hate, as I stated at the time, was too strong a word but these are things that, for me, every time they recur, provoke despairing sighs to rival those of Hong Kong Phooey’s very own Spot the Cat. They’re things that would need correcting (and/or eliminating altogether from the format) to restore my passion for the series.

It wouldn’t take very much work at all for a decent script doctor to remedy all ten, but in the absence of any apparent will or desire to change the formula, allow me to introduce the THAW Scale.

Ten Hates About Who.

That’s right, in place of any full review I will be awarding each episode a score out of 10, based on the THAW Scale. One point for each of the chronic-fatigue-syndrome-inducing elements that rears its head like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day.
The higher the score, the less the episode impressed. Simple.

As a guide/reminder, the 10 elements on the THAW Scale are:

1.        THE MUSIC – too busy, too loud
2.        SOLDIERPHOBIA – Doctor hates soldiers
3.        TARDIS – use of the TARDIS to solve situations
4.        SONIC – use of the magic wand to solve situations
6.        SOAP - Whollyoaks
7.        GENIUS – pretending to be clever and failing
8.        MAGIC – moon-eggs, tree-fairies and the like
9.        NOT-MONSTERS – they’re not scary, they’re just misunderstood
10.      CLARA – girlfriend, just become a character, or leave (again) already

Episodes might not include all the above (gawd save us if they do), but might score more if they’re really heavy on one element. E.g. Forest Of The Night, very very heavy on tree fairies, might easily win itself 4 points just for its special blend of Disney Tinkerbell poo, growfast-and-vanish-overnight fire-resistant trees and miraculously reappearing missing children. Factor in Murray Gold’s din, not-monsters and Clara with all that homework to mark and the Doctor might only have to whip out his screwdriver and wave it around a bit in front of all those schoolkids to drive it up to a decidedly dodgy 10/10. And almost all episodes from last season score highly (ie. badly) for Clara and Soap, because the girl has an aversion to time-space travel and adventure, feeling the need to break up the monotony of it all with holding down a teaching job and crappy carbolic soap style romance with Danny Dull Pink.

A friend of mine pointed out that, on this scale, most old Who would score pretty darned well (i.e. very low), despite perhaps being a poor story. Well, true, but that’s because these are largely modern phenomena – at least as far as their excessive use goes – and there are other reasons a DW story can be poor, of which you will find multiple examples in the show’s 50+ year history. Still, as I watch through some of my old DW DVDs, if I post a review here I’ll include a THAW Scale rating for fun.

NOTE: No other viewers’ enjoyment was harmed during the making of this blog. Your mileage may vary and vive la difference.

SAF 2015

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