Doctor Who: The End of Time Pt. 1

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Well, I seem to have come away from the whole thing a bit more positive than some others. Although I agree with much of Jennie and lizbee and various others’ reactions I’ve seen, I did still come away from it feeling quite positive.

One of the main things which bothers me about RTD-era Who is the relentlessly breathless pace, to the extent that the occasional moment when characters stop to have a chat feels like beautifully scripted drama just because the running around has stopped and people are actually looking at each other properly while they speak. The cafe scene in this episode could have been such a thing, except in this case, the episode had been slow burning for most of what lead up to it.

It’s not that there’s not been episodes with a slightly more sedate pace (Midnight, Human Nature, etc.), and of course it being a two-parter does help, but even so, this felt more like what Doctor Who is in my head than many episodes of the new series, even if the actual plot was a bit of a mess of strands being drawn together.

At this point, I think I’ll break into the seemingly traditional bullet-pointy list of things I liked or didn’t.

  • Liked that the Master was less of a loveable sexy rogue type and more of a genuinely psychotic evil weirdo, it seemed to correct the balance that was a bit off in the previous Simm master. Quite liked that he was wearing a lead around his neck.
  • Liked that it was largely Wilf driven, and that Donna stayed in the background being amusing in small doses.
  • Liked the attempt to build mystery around various things, from the woman in the church at the beginning and on the telly talking to Wilf, to the Doctor’s questioning Wilf’s importance. Of course, this being RTD the answers are likely to be crashingly dull, but hey.
  • Excellent cameo for June Whitfield.
  • Like the implication that each incarnation of the Doctor kinda resents that they have to go and the new man has to replace them.
  • The voodoo-y resurrection of the Master. I imagine Lawrence Miles is seething, though.
  • Didn’t like the force-lightning Master, not because it was done as such, but because it’s not explained in the slightest, and seems daft.
  • Didn’t like that the episode seems likely to have alienated a lot of the casual audience which it has always been so careful to address at Christmas more than in the series proper. If the mystery woman is indeed Romana, then of course that would be interesting to me, but I have a feeling that about 3 million of the audience might well switch off under the weight of continuity on New Year’s Day if RTD isn’t careful. The production team seem to have slightly taken their eye off this particular ball, on the excuse that it’s their last story and they can let themselves off the leash a bit. Which is true, but should that be the Chrismas special? I mean, Christmas is always just background, but usually the tone of the episode seems roughly in tune with Christmassyness. This was rather darker than that, which I personally enjoyed but which might have been a bit alienating for some of the audience. Just wondering…
  • Corny Obama-double stuff, and the shoe-horning of some set-up for it into the dialogue between the two guys at the burger van and the lady serving them in possibly the least convincing dialogue yet seen in the new series.
  • The continuation of the Master’s drums thing. I mean, how much can you really do with that? I hope something interesting is made of it in this story, and that it’s then left alone in future and the Master is allowed to just be a mad evil genius.
  • Lack of female characters driving anything much forward. Lucy Saxon killed off early, and that’s about it. Even the evil rich person’s daughter was largely passive throughout. Couldn’t his daughter just have done it herself or something, without daddy’s help? NB. This is not a request for more Donna, just for more people who are women but not Donna.

Anyhoo, think that’s about it, can’t think of anything else right now. I haven’t discussed the return of the Time Lords, because I’m not sure there’s any worthwhile evaluation of that to be done before Part 2 goes out. We’ll have to wait and see…

An End of Season Dr Who / LM / LDB Meme. (Yes we must.)

Well, RTD has just rather publicly gotten himself over his Doctor/Rose dyad with a massive, turgid two-parter. Thank goodness for that.

Meanwhile, Loz Miles is positively inviting us to pile in on his agenda for discussion on the future of the programme:

The following 25-point programme may not be a way of guaranteeing that Doctor Who is great – only a competent scriptwriting team could ensure that, and in the Age of Chibnall, even competence is a precious commodity – but it would at least give the series a chance to escape its current rut of showbiz fan-fic and computer-generated slurry. Tick the ones you agree with, and if you tick all 25, then I’m available for a September wedding.

I will leave LM to explain himself on each of the points, there’s no point reproducing the whole lot here, but here are the 25 headings, along with my own thoughts (you can skip this if you’re pushed for time), and a score from 1 to “Yes! Yes! Just… YES.” (4, so that they will add up to a neat percentage).

I do hope I’m not getting married in September…

1. A companion who isn’t from the early twenty-first century.
Yeah, this would be nice. I’m not sure it’s a priority, though. Plus, if that moment in Planet of the Ood that pissed Larry off so much (you know; where the Doctor apologised for questioning sweat shops) had been with a companion who wasn’t from our times, there would have been no question of tieing the ethical issue back to our world in such a direct way in the first place, regardless of the apology.
2/4

2. A companion who’s played by a proper actress.
Yup. Not only on the basis of the quality of the acting, but if the show lets itself be judged on the star names it attracts, then it hands the press a stick to beat it with as soon as it doesn’t find a big name who wants to be a companion for a series.
4/4

3. We don’t necessarily need a single companion.
Not convinced. This seems to be based on Larry accepting that the programme needs UST, but wanting it not to involve the Doctor. The latter I can get on board with, but the former is not really a position I accept. You could have some occasional UST, where necessary, with a character specific to the story, or if you want something ongoing then a recurring character (maybe instead of the fretful-mother-and-accoutrements). A whole season of it between companions might get just as tedious as what we’ve had so far.
1/4

4. No more affairs for the Doctor.
Yup.
4/4

5. A less sexy, less athletic Doctor.
Yes, but not too worried about this. At the very least, a Doctor who stops making knowing little smuggeries like “I don’t want to regenerate; I mean.. look at me!”.
2/4

6. No spurious super-powers.
Yes.
4/4

7. The Doctor shouldn’t know everything.
Completely agree with what Larry says here about the spirit of the programme being discovery alongside the characters, not infodumping.
5/4

8. The Doctor shouldn’t be perfect.
I think, to be fair, RTD understands this point, and allowed Davros to make some relatively telling criticisms of the Doctor’s moral character in the finale. But I would agree that the idolising of the Doctor by Moff has been tedious.
3/4

9. The Doctor’s presence should never, ever be the solution.
Hmm. In many ways, it can be argued that the series has always presented the Doctor’s presence as being the crucial factor, but the difference was that he still had to do something, rather than simply be the Doctor. I think the point is that many scripts aren’t making much effort to make the solutions interesting, because they aren’t really interested in them.
4/4

10. No technobabble.
Meh. The show has always had technobabble, and Loz even admits that some stories (he cites The Pirate Planet) have done it in a dramatically satisfying way. I think perhaps technobabble is a straw man here. Although it has to be said that the fetishisation of technobabble we saw in Journey’s End with the DoctorDonna was silly.
0/4

11. Absolutely no “magic wand” technology.
Essentially the same point as the technobabble point, but better expressed.
3/4

12. Please, in the name of God, less stories set on modern-day Earth.
Yes.
4/4

13. No more alien invasions.
Certainly fewer, they lead to some pretty uninteresting runarounds.
3/4

14. Stop wasting money on “big”.
Sometimes. I think at the end of the season it’s fair enough wanting “big”, but if you’re going to do it, do it well. The exploding Daleks and saucers at the end of last night’s episode looked seriously budget, to my eye. I’d certainly apply this rule to the big empty first-two-parter-of-the-seasons, though; the best one so far was Daleks in Manhattan, and that wasn’t great. I’d rather have a couple more cheapo Midnight type things spread throughout the season.
2/4

15. Less CGI monsters.
Maybe. I don’t really mind them, they’re a standard these days, and people, rightly or wrongly, think other forms of effect work look silly. I do think it would be nice to have more of a concept behind the monsters. Doctor Who monsters are always supposed to have some sort of “point”, to my mind – this is what has generally set it apart from stuff like Star Trek, with its ersatz alien “cultures”. Doesn’t really matter if the “point” is an aesthetic one or a more ideological one, or if the point is their environment more than the monster itself (Daleks = Nazis, The Master = Polar Opposite to The Doctor, Monsters of Greatest Show in the Galaxy = things that are creepy about a Circus, etc.). The worst thing, then, to do to a monster is to completely divorce them from their “point”, so that they might as well be any old thing. The example this series was the Sontarans, a physical monster, not a CG one, so… I think Loz may have let his dislike of the ubiquity of CGI cloud his diagnosis of a cause for the symptoms he has correctly identified.
1/4

16. Stop making straight-to-video horror movies with all the horror taken out.
Loz hasn’t really completely explained what he means by this, since he admits that Hammer Horror -> Talons of Weng Chiang worked, but what I gather from what he’s written is the following guiding principle: If you’re going to lift a movie trope, lift one which survives the transition. Talons works because the BBC could do most of what made Hammer good, but Lazarus Experiment doesn’t, because what makes the films which influenced it good cannot be transmitted at 7pm on a Saturday. I suspect I may be making my own point out of Loz’s components, but… it’s the only one I can find in there (unless he just means that the films they are copying nowadays are rubbish ones, which isn’t a very interesting point).
2/4

17. We need writers who can write, not just directors who can direct.
Yes, but I would add to this that there are some writers who can write: RTD when he stears clear of the finales, Moff when he’s not celebrating himself / just winding up fans who don’t like the idea of the Doctor “dancing”, Matt Jones to some extent, Paul Cornell, Rob Shearman.
3/4

18. I should obviously be hired as a writer.
I’d like to see it, but suspect it would be vetted heavily by Moff, and I doubt Loz could cope.
3/4

19. Make sure you hire the right “cult” comic-book author.
Agree with the comments recommending Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, though I don’t share LM’s complete aversion to Gaiman.
2/4

20. We need one – just one – proper historical story.
Yeah, might be nice.
3/4

21. Historical stories that are actually about the era in question.
Certainly, though more than this I would have pushed Loz’s other objection to the current historicals: the slavishly followed dogma that each and every famous historical figure was “a genius”, “brilliant”, “the best X ever”, etc., and furthermore that the episode needs to spend 20% of its running time impressing this upon us. In this sense, at least, Girl in the Fireplace was preferable – as an “Oddball Historical”, rather than as a “Doctor Weepie”.
2/4

22. Monsters that fit the story.
I made the jump to this point a bit early, under the point about CGI, so I will agree with it here.
3/4

23. Enough of the Daleks.
I dunno. A finale every two seasons, say, would be tolerable, but only if they have something fresh to do with them. I would certainly like to see the crash-bang-wallop Dalek Epics rested for a while.
3/4

24. Say no to story arcs.
Hmm. I appreciate what Loz says about the finale enslaving the rest of the season to some extent, but I still think it’s nice to have a payoff for following the whole series, something a bit more than the first couple of seasons’ code words. I couldn’t say this season’s arc bothered me, if you ignore the fervent fan speculation about it (which you will never stop) and just look at the actual episodes.
1/4

25. Less Confidential, more Totally.
Not bothered, suspect this is only on Loz’s list out of Moff-aversion.
0/4

So my total agreement with Loz here is… 64%.

Now, people who are to be made tediously to do this: anyone who wants to, really, but I’m guessing Daddies Richard and Alex, Jennie and Matt, Will, and anyone who I’ve forgotten.

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Reasons to be Cheerful #4: Moffus!

Tonight’s Doctor Who is the first part of Steven Moffat’s two-parter. Moffat has recently been announced as the new “showrunner”, an announcement very much to be welcomed, if you ask me. (Also an announcement that readers of Lib Dem Blogs cannot fail to have been aware of!)

A show like Doctor Who needs a turnover of new thinking every so often in the production team, no matter how good the previous incumbents are/were. I think it’s very laudable that RTD has set up this prototype cycle of four seasons, then a year off with a few specials to allow the new production team the time to stop and think about any changes they want to make, away from the treadmill of making the show. Lets hope it leaves the show in a strong position to keep going as long as it did the first time.

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Dr Who Misguidedly Endorsed by Templeton Foundation

I was intrigued to read on DoctorWhoNews.com that an episode of Doctor Who has been shortlisted for the Epiphany Prize, an award which is presented at the Movieguide Awards, a “faith and values awards gala”, and which, according to its website,

“endeavor[s] to encourage the production of feature films and television programs which are wholesome, uplifting and inspirational and which result in a great increase in either man’s love of God or man’s understanding of God. These Prizes are intended to encourage spiritual wisdom, knowledge and growth.”

Now, Who has always seemed to me a pretty staunchly rationalist, humanist programme. What could they have possibly found in it to support this set of criteria?

The episode in question is Gridlock. The one with the people in little boxy hover cars, who’ve all been stuck in traffic for years, feeding gas-dependent crabs (Macra) off their fumes. What, I asked myself, was going to “result in a great increase in either man’s love of God or man’s understanding of God” in that?

Unfortunately, the website doesn’t give any explanation of their decision. But I’m pretty sure that the Templeton Prize people must have nominated this episode on the grounds that there’s a couple of quite moving hymn scenes in it (“The Old Rugged Cross“, and “Abide With Me“, according to Wikipedia).

So are they right to see a religious message in this? Not if the writer has anything to do with it. After all, this is the man who wrote The Second Coming. If you listen to the podcast commentary for the episode on the BBC website, then you will hear the following exchange:

Russell T Davies: It’s a very Doctor Who thing, this. It’s easy to write dystopia, and I remember when I first thought of this, thinking ‘oh, there’ll be cannibals, and pirates, and they’ll all be eating each other’, and you think those things only in order to get rid of them, and come out the other end at what is a very Doctor Who story, and what I absolutely love about this is that they’re not all killing each other in these cars. And they live like this, and they survive, and they have hope, and they have optimism, and that’s why they end up singing a hymn: because.. um.. I think it’s very human. I think in the most appalling circumstances, people will.. well, they’re [Ardal O’Hanlon’s cat character and his wife] breeding, in a funny way they’re happy, they’re.. um.. like.. you could also argue that’s their greatest downfall, that they don’t try to get out of their world.

David Tennant: And that’s what’s complicated about that moment, which I think is why it works, because on one hand there’s a wonderful kind of sense of community going on –

RTD: Yes.

DT: – Which gives you.. belief in the human spirit and warms the cockles of your heart. At the other side, it’s an opiate of the masses –

RTD: Yes.

DT: – And I remember we talked about… cuz I think originally.. the original stage direction was that the Doctor was moved by this, along with everybody else –

RTD: Towards Valerie

DT: Right.

RTD: – because he was so rude to her.

DT: Yes.

RTD: You know, he’d actually upset her.

DT: Yes. And I remember we talked about whether that was right or not, and actually –

RTD: No, you were right, because there was a stage direction just saying ‘he puts his hand on her shoulder during the hymn’. And you brilliantly didn’t want to –

DT: Right.

RTD: – I absolutely agree now I watch it, because actually you’re right, this faith that they all have is brilliant, and stops them all murdering each other, and is fantastic. Equally it stops anyone saying ‘What the hell is going on here?’, and that’s.. the… next.. er.. the hymn does change everyone; it makes Martha part of the world, and she joins in singing, it makes you – the Doctor – break the world, and start jumping from.. and defying the laws of physics, and all the laws of gravity of the world, by going from car to car to car. Which noone’s ever thought of doing –

DT: Mmm.

RTD: – so.. yes, it has both things happening in opposite directions at the same time.

DT: It’s very moving though, as well.

RTD: Look at them.

DT: I do think it’s a brilliant bit of writing, though, to put him.. Doctor Who, seven o’clock on a Saturday night, and to use it in this way.

RTD: I hope so. Good.

DT: I can’t imagine anyone else would think of that, and I think it’s a stroke of genius, I really do.

RTD: Oh thank you. You should have been my neighbours, cuz I bought this CD of Welsh Male Voice Choir, and when I’m writing it, when there’s a piece of music that goes with a scene, I have to keep repeating it and repeating it; I must have had The Old Ragged Cross coming out of my house about a thousand times, and they’re going ‘I knew he’d turn! Knew they’d get him in the end!’

Laughter

RTD: But there it is: The Doctor’s inspiration goes the opposite way.

Now, note a couple of things.

1. The series typically encourages us to identify with the companion as a representation of what we might do in that situation. It encourages us to view the Doctor as correct, except on very rare occasions. In The Unquiet Dead, it is the Doctor who takes the pro-asylum seeker stance in the face of Rose’s cultural objections. In The Silurians (just out on DVD, and a treat it is too, folks), the Doctor holds the moral high ground in holding out for peace in the face of increasing hostility from both the “monsters” and from UNIT. One could go on. The point is, the Doctor’s judgment is the one we are almost always supposed to accept.

2. The reasons that Davies and Tennant give here for why the hymn might signify a good thing as well as a bad one are the kind of arguments which atheist apologetics for religion employ. Neither the good thing nor the bad thing about the hymn, in their eyes, is based on the actual existence of God.

Still, hymns, eh?

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Ooh! Ooh!

Lawrence Miles has updated his blog, finally. This has inspired me to do the same to mine (Google Account? What?), if only to point out to anyone interested what a brilliantly creative writer Loz Miles is. I don’t know him from Adam, but never has he written anything that drove me to feel afterwards that I wanted the time it had taken to read it returned to me. And that is a statement that applies to very few writers indeed (as well as being a pretty unwieldy one).

This is even more remarkable when you consider his tendencies to write, for instance, some of the longest Doctor Who fiction published, and these extended burblings about popular culture. For anyone who has no idea who he is, I think one of the best places to acquaint yourself with his world view is probably still his OG interview, which is exceedingly entertaining. Don’t be put off by the Doctor Who content to it, that’s really pretty incidental, and if you’re not a fan of Who you’ll be pleased to hear that since then he has only become more and more distant from it.

Personally, I think that’s pretty regrettable. I know he would never be trusted to actually write episodes of the new series, but I think he’d have some great story ideas. I mean, the ideas in his fiction have been second to none, and since Doctor Who is (at least as far as Charlie Brooker is concerned) ideas driven TV, I’m betting he could knock some of the pretty half-baked plots we’ve seen in the recent series into a cocked hat. NB. I’m not saying all the things I just linked to were absolutely dreadful, purely that the ideas driving the plots were pretty unimaginative. You can still hang an entertaining and interesting emotional drama on them, but why not put interesting ideas in there too?

Well, here’s hoping that the new year brings plenty of creative success for Loz, not least some more FP audios. It’s a real shame that the novel range has ended (for now, at least). Of course, if Loz has some brilliant new plans up his sleeve, I might find it in myself to forgive him for letting them go. Eventually.

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Late Doctor Who Thoughts

Crikey. I’ve just got back from Italy (where I had the privaledge of watching the World Cup final and, more importantly, the celebrations that followed), and hence just caught up on the finale to series 2.

So, since I’ve been looking at themes of the series, lets deal with that.

I belive we’d got up to the two-part Cyberman story in the middle of the series. Following that came “The Idiot’s Lantern”. This was an episode that, if anything, wore its message rather excessively on its sleeve. I mean, effectively, it was delivered in a speech by the cipher for Mark Gatiss at the end of the story, as he dresses down his father. It’s about modern, permissive society, and pointing out how little we would benefit from going back to the repressive sorts of society that some of the tabloids (and even broadsheets) seem to yearn for. Fine, if a little bit sugary in its presentation. Of course, given that this is Mark Gatiss, we should probably count this as an improvement on last year (incidentally, Loz Miles, who caused such a stir last year in fandom with his review of The Unquiet Dead, has moved his website and posted a few new comments on it, which any of you still reading will likely find interesting. The link’s in my sidebar. Meanwhile fandom’s squabbling pit, Outpost Gallifrey’s forum, has, it would seem, begun to come round to LM’s argument).

Next up, we have the two part Impossible Planet/Satan Pit plotline. Probably the best standalone plot of the series, this picks up one of the classic themes of Doctor Who and Quatermass before it: that myths and religions are likely based on something that genuinely does exist, but has a valid scientific explanation. However, although it looks as though this is going to be a straightforward revival of this standpoint, we subsequently find the Doctor’s indignant claims that things are “impossible” become dogmatic in their own right. As much as this is a liberal message, this is a message for the scientific and generally intelligent world, that other constituency of Who fans. The end of the story presents us, again, with perhaps excessively spelt out conclusions to draw, but in this case I was less irritated, because it wasn’t quite so preachy. Nonetheless, another good message: Skepticism isn’t the same as cynicism, and scientists can become every bit as dogmatic as the religious.

Love and Monsters. Well now. Clearly, this is most readable as an allegory of Who fans. RTD is telling us to make ourselves a community in our own right, and not allow our anal fact chasing tendencies to enslave us to a monolithic “fandom” entity, entirely consumed by the persuit of the Doctor. Outside of this, I find it hard to see what message this might be said to have, though I’m sure messages exist.

Fear Her is openly a pretty lightweight episode in general. It shows the London Olympics, obviously, which is an obvious attempt by the BBC to get people turned on the exciting side to the Olympics. But beyond that: I suppose basically it’s about love and our need for companionship and emotional support. In that sense, and the sense of a community within the street in which it is set, one might almost call this more socialist, but then nowhere is it suggested that it has much to do with the state. Some have also pointed out that the monster, the abusive father, is in the closet. Whether or not this is reading too much of RTD’s “agenda” into the episode, especially in an episode that wasn’t directly written by him, is something I will leave to the reader.

From there, we move into the final two-parter. Messages are probably largely lost to the emotional fireworks that play out as the plot develops. Nonetheless, there is the standard Doctor Who warning to science not to blithely stumble into areas it doesn’t sufficiently understand – a theme particularly beloved of the Barry Letts era of the show. Torchwood and in particular Tracy Ann Obermann’s character represent exactly this arrogance.

So now the series is over, I’ll also give a quick review of the whole thing:

To be honest, I’ve not found this series as compulsive viewing as the last one. I don’t think that’s David Tennant’s fault, or especially anyone’s, though, obviously, as the man at the top, RTD has to be ultimately responsible for what goes out. For whatever reasons, several of the episodes this series have felt like they are merely treading water and providing us with a bit of mucking around, especially towards the end. The experimental episode, Love and Monsters, left a nasty taste in the mouth mainly, I felt, because of an ending that degenerated into rather lazy writing as RTD almost visibly flailed around for a way to resolve the plot. Steven Moffat, author of the highlight of last year’s series, was this year limited to one episode which, to me, was marred by Moffat’s by now tedious insistence on adding in the “dancing” subtext. RTD’s episodes were, I think, on average better but massively more variable. Tooth and Claw and the final two-parter were pretty good, whilst New Earth and Love and Monsters…. weren’t.

I think the main issue, however, this year was the use of more “outside” writers. In producing the first series, RTD clearly took a decision to use the writers he knew would know what makes Doctor Who work. All the writers on series 1 had written either for the novel range or Big Finish, often both. This series, other writers were brought in. And astonishingly, if you rank the writers in order of how much connection to the series they’ve had, it’s pretty close to how I would rank their actual episodes:

Who Connection:

Mark Gatiss – The Idiot’s Lantern
Matt Jones – Impossible Planet/Satan Pit
Steven Moffat – The Girl in the Fireplace
Tom MacRae – Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel
Toby Whithouse – School Reunion
Matthew Graham – Fear Her

Episode Rating:

Matt Jones – Impossible Planet/Satan Pit
Tom MacRae – Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel
Mark Gatiss – The Idiot’s Lantern
Steven Moffat – The Girl in the Fireplace
Toby Whithouse – School Reunion
Matthew Graham – Fear Her

Obviously, there’s some movement there, and the correlation isn’t exact. But this isn’t really a conclusion I would have expected to reach quite so clearly, especially given that it didn’t especially hold for last year’s series (Steven Moffat has actually written the least Who of any of the writers last year, but almost unquestionably he wrote the best story). I guess there’s a certain threshold of time spent immersed in the series that gets the writers thinking in a way that leads to them writing things I like. NB. I have just said “things that I like”, not “things that are empirically better”. Others, obviously, wouldn’t have produced the same rankings as I have.

Anyway, I better stop now.

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More Doctor Who thoughts

Well, since my last post, we’ve had a few more episodes. It’s somewhat more difficult to read messages into these. Tooth and Claw, I suppose, advocates trying to understand the actions of a being whose actions are reprehensible, rather than simply killing it. School Reunion, meanwhile, pits the Doctor against a manipulative group who are taking over the curriculum of a school for their own agenda, and The Girl in the Fireplace warns of the dangers of excessively simplistic logic (although, to be honest, I’m not sure the plot’s up to much). The Rise of the Cybermen, it would seem, is the most packed with messages thus far this season, warning fairly straightforwardly of:

1. Lumic’s control of the media environment that so many people are using to get all their information about the world (News Corp. etc. again).
2. The dangers of the government getting into bed with big business too much.
3. Obviously, the violation of people’s freedom from coersion into the upgrade programme.

All pretty decent messages, if you ask me. But there is another undercurrent that I’m not so sure about in this series:

In the absence of his own people, and hence the lack of “any higher authority”, the Doctor is becoming increasingly something of a vigilante. I know he always was, to some extent, but usually, in the past, you could rely on some sort of face-off with the enemy of the month where the Doctor explained to the maniac in question what was wrong. This has lead, over the years, to some great scenes, not least the “virus scene” with Davros in Genesis of the Daleks, his talk with the Captain in The Pirate Planet (“but what’s it FOR? Hm? What could possibly be worth all this?”), his talk with the Cyber-Leader about emotions in Earthshock (nicely lifted by Mr. MacRae this week), or indeed, in the final episode of the old series, his attempt to convince the ever unconvinceable Master that “if we fight like animals, we die like animals”.

Now, I’m not suggesting that this has left the series altogether, and indeed, as I pointed out above, there was something very similar in last night’s episode. But, unfortunately, as often as not, what you get in the place of such explanations is a simple assertion by the Doctor that this is WRONG! and that IT ENDS TONIGHT! because I’M GOING TO STOP IT! This seems to me to be somewhat lazy. That’s all.

And, as Mr Wilcock has quite rightly pointed out in the comments section of a Millennium post that very few of you will actually know what it’s about (this one), the earPods concept in this story is pretty much a straight lift from the work of Lawrence Miles. Hopefully, at some point, they will run out of stuff from LM to approporiate and be forced to employ him as some sort of creative consultant (lets face it, I wouldn’t trust Loz to write an episode of the new series without much more experience than he currently has (ie. none) of TV writing, but he has more cool ideas in a day than most writers do in a year).

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