Monday, 21 September 2015

The Worst 'Doctor Who' Episode Ever?

The internet is full of fans and haters of 'Doctor Who' so you might argue there is no need for another.  However, this blog has always been about getting the stuff stressing me, 'the tablets of lead' out of my system and into the 'waters' of the internet.  After a dormant period following some terrible days in my life, I seem to be re-engaging with blogging, so expect an erratic flow of new ideas.  The political scene is frightening at present with us beginning to see the shift to a more authoritarian state started by Blair but relished by Cameron.  We also see the return of the military threatening to overthrow the Labour leader if he was ever elected to power.  So far, so very mid-1970s.  So perhaps it is time to seek solace in a programme I started watching back then.

I was not massively excited to see the new series of 'Doctor Who' on Saturday, but I did take time out to see it live.  Ironically this was only for the woman who lives in my house, who has not watched it for eight years, to pause it because she was 'not ready'.  Unlike some, I have been quite content with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor.  I thought his first series was fine.  The first series with a new actor in the role is always a bit lumpy.  Perhaps only Christopher Eccleston came in without a hitch and then proved to have gone too quickly.  Thus, I was expecting even better for Capaldi's second series.  When I say an episode might be one of the worst ever, I have to say it has been a while since I saw those featuring Sylvester McCoy and so there might have been duller and/or more disjointed ones back then, that I have blotted out.  I am, however, still, traumatised by the liquorice allsort man even now.

Back to Saturday's episode. The opening scene with the mix of biplane and bow-and-arrow and the revelation of the 'hand mines' did not disappoint.  CGI has revolutionised television science fiction series.  The reveal of who the boy in the mine field was, was excellent, really triggering a potential moral dilemma.  I was happy. Then it was pushed aside.  We had someone looking like they had come from 'Hellraiser' in a bar from the seedier side of Tatooine and then the Shadow Proclamation and so on.  Yes, it might have reference Harry Potter a bit too much, but what was worse was how we got through so many good ideas very, very quickly, almost all of which could have been sufficient for an entire story.  I am sure many fans were watching thinking how they might develop any one of these into a story.  However, they were just tossed aside, not as a teaser but almost as if they were off-cuts from a script conference.

We got the frozen aeroplanes in the sky.  I could buy this too.  It felt a little Eccleston-era meets 'Torchwood' and 'Sarah Jane Adventures', but I was not averse to that.  Clara leaping on a motorbike in a skirt and powering off to UNIT, well I guessed that was to keep the younger viewers on board who might be lost in all the darkness that had proceeded.  Yet, again, another idea that could  have sustained an entire episode was burnt up far too quickly.

Missy appearing in the dreariest of Spanish squares was more wasted content.  From there it went down hill right to the bottom.  So many potential stories had been discarded.  The Doctor turning up with a guitar and a tank, trying to riff on 'Back to the Future' was an embarrassment.  He was supposed to be in 1138 CE (and no-one calls it AD these days!) but seemed to be at a medieval theme pub in the 1990s.  Look how well 'Time Crashers' did a joust to see what is easily available these days even without CGI for the actual event (only to get the participants in and out).

The return to Skaro was a good idea.  The 1960s version of the Dalek city was nice too.  However, these were yet more fragments.  All of the actors seemed lost in what was happening.  It had turned from something that hinted at so much into a pile of 'if only' strips of story that were tossed away.  There was the potential for an excellent opening episode and a number of middle-ranking ones.  Yet what was chosen was tired, confused and down right embarrassing.  I could almost feel the millions of people turning off.

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