Monday, 6 October 2014

Someone Needs to Call the Doctor

When the news broke that Peter Capaldi was to be the next Doctor Who I was thrilled; he's a great actor, he has the crazy eyed look and he's Scottish. All of these things made me really look forward to seeing him in full Who mode; confusing silly humans while saving them and just generally being incredibly cool. Sadly this is not what I have got so far from the eighth season of the Doctor. So far I've found the stories to be largely dull and predictable; Doctor Who by numbers. There hasn't really been any cool new creatures for the Doctor to face off against. And worst of all the companion, Clara Oswald, has continued to annoy me; seriously, what does she actually do now that her "puzzle" was solved by the last Doctor?

I should say at this point that if you haven't seen any of Season 8 that there are spoilers ahead. Read on at your own risk.

The latest episode I watched has been the straw that crushed the camel's back, stamped all over it and then kicked it for good measure. "Kill the Moon", sees The Doctor, Clara and Courtney, a random kid introduced in the previous episode, travelling in the Tardis to the moon of the future. And as always happens, they have arrived at a very convenient/inconvenient moment. For the moon is gaining mass, affecting the tides on Earth with disastrous results. A group of astronauts have also just arrived, to potentially blow the moon up, in an effort to save Earth (I am still a bit unclear on how that was going to work but it's the least of the episode's problems so I'll let it slide).

Of course things are not as they seem, and between running from giant spider-like germs "the size of a badger" - best line of the series so far - Doctor Who works out what's going on; the moon is an egg and there's a giant thing growing inside it, about to be born. The moon/egg shell pieces may rip into the Earth's atmosphere and destroy the planet, as asteroids had done to the dinosaurs. Or it might not. The creature may be dangerous. Or might not. What to do? In this case The Doctor buggers off and leaves it to Lundvik, the last surviving astronaut of the original mission, Clara and the irritating kid to decide whether to destroy the creature or not.

Apart from being one of the most sanctimonious episodes of Doctor Who I have ever seen (more on that in a moment), the writers also thought it would be a good idea to bring in a third wheel in the form of Courtney. I'm really hoping this will be the last we see of her (even though I know it won't be). This episode opens with Courtney complaining that the Doctor told her she "wasn't special". Clara is appalled by this and tells a bewildered Doctor off. I don't know about you but I'm pretty sick and tired of the amount of entitlement everyone seems to have now, so this whole scene made me furious. I wanted the Doctor to turn around and say "No, you're not special. No one is automatically special. You have to do something impressive, extraordinary, to be special. Get over yourself." Alas, right on BBC let me down and yet another message is planted into kids' heads that they're all special snowflakes and deserve to be seen as such.

Now onto my biggest complaint; the rather obvious and clumsy metaphor for abortion. I love when Science Fiction tackles difficult subjects and uses it as an opportunity to explore it and maybe put across a different point of view. But "Kill the Moon" didn't manage it. I think they were trying to get across what a difficult decision it is, how you can never know the outcome of your choice. But in the end what we have is a situation where the three women left to make the decision (see what they did there?) ask the Earth (or, at least the half of it currently in night time) to turn their lights off if they want to kill the unborn creature. They all proceed to do so unquestioningly, clearly indicating what their choice is. But Clara, in the last second, overrules their decision and stops the explosion. And it turns out it was the right choice all along, as the 'baby' is born and not only flies away but helpfully lays another egg, replacing the moon and ensuring all ends perfectly. Pass the sick bag.

We also get the Doctor spouting on about how this moment is when the "whole planet" looks up and sees the possibilities in space, spreading themselves far and wide, ensuring humanity's survival to the end of time. What a load of codswallop. You're telling me that humans hadn't thought of that already? And we'll just ignore the whole Clara deciding for the whole of humanity what's best and then criticising the Doctor for doing exactly that. The whole ending felt rushed, as though they knew they'd written themselves into a corner and needed to find a quick exit. I can only hope that Clara's whiny rant in the final minutes is precursor to her own exit so we can either have a more compelling companion (please not Courtney, please not Courtney) or for the Doctor to go it alone for a while.

What Doctor Who really needs right now is a script Doctor, or at least someone who understands how to write compelling science fiction. Until then I will likely continue watching, but only because of Peter Capaldi and the hope he ends up throwing all the humans out of the Tardis and into the cold depths of space. Now that would be an episode I'd enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Yes indeed ... this was poor. Only the Robin Hood one in this series (and bit of the 2D one) have been anything - such a shame for Capaldi. For various reasons I've recently purchased, and mostly re-watched all of the Pertwee and Baker stories. And that's what (by and large) they were - stories. Not just a character vehicle targeted at as wide an audience as possible. Genuine stories, with a theme, an angle, a point to them. It's true that the later Baker episodes drifted off somewhat, but it's a shame - given the bigger budgets available - that we're lacking any of the narrative wit that used to be the essence of Dr Who.