May, 2007

Human Nature: Quick Thoughts

‘Human Nature’ proved a stunning first episode of the current two-parter, showcasing what Doctor Who can and should be. Not since ‘The Empty Child’ have we had story-telling like this – characters and settings that thrill and enthrall, interwoven with a plot that keeps you dangling off the edge of your seat.

Every put in an excellent turn, regulars and new comers alike – and the scarecrow shock troopers showed you don’t need CGI to create a creepy menace on your doorstep. Indeed, the whole episode came off with a minimum of special effects and I’m certain benefited for it. How better to engage your audience than getting them involved and not simply dazzling them with shiny things and bright lights.

I have read the book ‘Human Nature’ (and reread the ebook produced online by the BBC not long ago) and I can appreciate the effort involved in bringing a lengthy tale in compressed, but intellgible, form to the small screen. Bravo to Paul Cornell (and Russell T)!

42: Considered Thoughts

I had some severe reservations about Chris Chibnall from the outset… so, it came as something of a relief to watch this episode and not come away feeling I wasted my precious evening. While 42 came replete with cliches aplenty, it worked as a single-episode story. I found the acting a little stilted and lines like “He’s picking us off one by one…” a groaning pain to hear… but, in the end, I enjoyed the ride.

While I look forward to hearing more about Saxon, I did feel the phone-tapping added nothing to the story whatsoever… and the whole phone home business in general… well, shoe-horned in or what! Yes, Rose had a Universal Roaming mobile phone… so, give Martha one as well, just when she needs it. Hell, 20 minutes before she needed it. No… they could handled it so much better than that.

Science… anyone study it at all. Yes, I know that our modern view of science can’t even comprehend the breakthroughs of the future… but, push-button switches on the outside of a spaceship? Out-dated freighters with drives that can outrace the gravitational pull of a star? Magnetic hull plating that can attract an escape pod… and the pod only… and none of the other free-floating metals in space (i.e. meteors and space dust, for a start). Hmm… Must try harder.

Oh No, Not Him!

After what feels like forever (especially, I should think, anyone who actually sat through the entirety of ‘Eurovision‘), Dr Who Saturday rolls around with episode ‘42‘. While I have suffered Who depravation for the last fortnight, I approach this episode with caution. Chris Chibnall wrote this one.

You may know Chris from his dubious contributions to both Torchwood and Life on Mars – in the form of ‘Coutrycide’ (the promising, but flawed tale of cannibals in rural Wales), ‘End of Days’ (the never promising second part of the Torchwood end of season story), ‘Cyberwoman’ (the laughable ‘Ianto has a dangerous monster hidden in the basement’ episode), ‘Day One’ (that one where someone decided it would be a good idea to have an alien who drew energy from other people’s orgasms because it’s such an adult topic… giggle-giggle) and that ‘Life on Mars’ in the second series where Sam saves his future boss, a stereotypical black officer in a cliched plotline.

Considering someone (maybe the great Russell of T himself) though Chibnall had enough talent to run as head writer for Torchwood… you’ve got to wonder when he’ll pull the rabbit out of his hat and prove his credentials. One can but hope that ’42’ will do this…

The Lazarus Experiment: First Glance

In light of the disappointing Dalek two-parter – ‘Daleks in Manhattan‘ and ‘Evolution of the Daleks‘ – this turned out to be a fine return to form and a great ravenous beastie episode.

I appreciate the show-makers pushing the envelope and the budget to try and come up with something special, even though the scorpion-Lazarus-throwback did look a little unconvincing at times (it worked well enough to put the Scorpian King in The Mummy Returns to shame). It captured all the essential elements of the classic monster tale, filled with science gone wrong, awful deaths and a final showdown in a bizarre location.

Of course the episode almost got overshadowed by the trailer that following for the rest of the season, with explosions, monsters, Captain Jack, more explosions, running around, the Doctor shouting, and the ominous image of a gas-masked Saxon tapping out a sinister rhythm on a table. Creepy… can’t wait to find out what’s going on there… While I don’t appreciate the intervention of Eurovision (nor do I believe that it warrants a slot on BBC1 in this day and age), this almost compensated for the extra weeks wait for the next episode, ‘42‘.