January 18, 2013
“Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey,” was meant to be a funny line, not a plot ethos.
Still don’t like the current Doctor. He’s whiney, clingy, and manic without depth. Like that guy who tries so hard to be aggressively different just to be different and everybody kind of cringes when he walks into a room. My favorite episode of the last couple of years was “A Town Called Mercy,” but I spent the whole thing wishing it was David Tennant’s Doctor.
And when was the last time I was really scared by an episode? I don’t actually remember. I just keep getting annoyed. Sure, the Weeping Angels were scary in “Blink,” but when you keep using the Weeping Angels and change the rules every time they show up (Now they possess statues? What? And you realize the last time the Statue of Liberty got possessed and walked around town was Ghostbusters 2, and we all know how well that turned out.) they’re not all that scary anymore, you know?
“Asylum of the Daleks” was pretty darned scary, I’ll confess. And it turns out everyone liked that one character so much that she’s coming back! There’s some big mystery about her! Or something! I don’t really care! Because, “Hey, everybody really liked this little bit, why don’t we now use that bit over and over again until the audience is entirely sick of it” is not a foundation for good storytelling. On a show like Doctor Who you’ve got the entire universe and all of time to draw stories from. Why not use it?
I will keep watching, because the show still pulls out gems like “Vincent and the Doctor.” I’m waiting. . .
Wait a minute, isn’t Rory still an immortal centurion or did that go away and I missed it?
I’m almost done with the second season, and it’s genius. I’ve decided the thing I like best about it is the worldbuilding. This story takes place in a decadent, decaying universe. The most admirable character on the show is a zombified assassin. We have stunted bureaucracies with the gravity of black holes, crumbling religious orders, poverty-stricken and ignorant communities on the verge of collapse — and absolutely no higher purpose available for anyone. There ends up being a lot of focus on food and sex. Often at the same time. (Hello, Lyekka!) It’s a space opera with very little metal. It’s a universe that’s full of inhabited worlds, and simultaneously empty of people, indicated by planets-full of deserted cities and dozens of abandoned space stations, and a clinging population of people who’ve edged into madness. The main characters want to save the universe, not to save the universe, but to save their own skins.
This is all what keeps me watching. Individual episodes are really weird and discomfiting. But taken as a whole, the show is cohesive, and compelling. This is a world that someone actually thought about. It may have started with “Let’s make a science fiction show that’s as pornographic as possible without ending up on Skinemax,” but they actually thought about the implications of the world that kind of show would have to take place in.
The show has earned my trust. Toward the end of the second season are two episodes, “The Net” and “The Web.” These are the same episode. Same footage, same story, the same. I almost flipped back to the menu to make sure I hadn’t accidentally set the previous episode going again. The second one includes some extra footage and details from the villain’s point of view, since after the first episode we know who the villain is. It’s a fascinating experiment — I’m not sure it’s entirely successful in illuminating the world or characters. But hell, not every experiment has to be a success to be worthwhile. I was totally willing to let them run with it.
And then came the musical episode “Brigadoom.” Big sparkly hearts, guys.
Next up is season 2 of Justified.