Sunday, December 26, 2010
JARED REVIEWS DOCTOR WHO THE BOXING DAY SPECIAL
To make sure I actually get a review done, I ought to write it immediately after watching it... I've already buggered that one up, haven't I since it's 2 hours after the fact. But I'm not slowing myself down with the sort of pointless research that would see me actually know what the name of the episode is or any such extraneous details. So...
DOCTOR WHO AND THE KILLER SONG SHARKS OF GING SENG
Steven Moffat in an odd way is now the off-spring of RTD in the world of television, in spite of the fact that they're roughly the same age and RTD is also a homosexual. Succeeding as he has, growing under his wing and Oedipally toppling his predecessor by destroying him with the critics as his knife and going on to seduce Julie Gardner, his mother he is now uncontested in his adulthood and mastery of the House Doctor. To paraphrase Laurence Fishburne in Predators THIS IS HIS FUCKING HOUSE!
Moff has stamped himself all over his opening season as we thought, and some of us were surprised by the amount of suckage (nil after episode 2 more or less) in the undercurrent of the tide of self indulgence. He has been a proud and majestic feline, dedicated to his craft to the point of making sure every inch is covered in his own distinctively fragrant urine. More to the point, he has set out to out-do RTD in every turn of event bigness, which everyone thought was impossible. But he did a bigger finale. Now he sets out to do a more Christmas-y Christmas special.
I was concerned by this idea. After all, even RTD was giving up on the idea of making Christmas actually relevant - frankly it just got in the way of The End of Time and was introduced by a sneering Timothy Dalton referring to it as a 'pagan ritual' (Hang on... side note.... who the fuck was Timothy Dalton telling the story to when he was narrating? Have people stopped thinking about the logic of these narrations? Was he telling the High Council what had happened as though it was a bedtime story or something?) Centering on the idea of Christmas seems a backwards step to the progenitor of this dubious sudden tradition, The Christmas Invasion...
Moffat outdoes that, though as you would have suspected from the trailer which basically was "HEEEY, we're doing A Christmas Carol.... AGAIN!" and left me with no real enthusiasm, by making Christmas spirit a central theme... kind of the whole point of the story. The entire moral is a little.... esoteric in the way it's handled. In this case The Christmas Spirit takes the form of being arsed to flick a switch and save 4300 people from certain death, which I think we can agree sets the bar fairly low BUT I guess that was necessary. The Doctor spends 60 minutes convincing Ebenezer Scrooge to give Tiny Tim a ham roll you'd start to wonder why he has nothing better to do, and why the sanctimonious git doesn't give him one of his Tim Tams.
Moff's promise was also "it's every Christmas movie you've ever seen". This could well be true, if you watch the movies edited down to five seconds then spliced together on a television set submerged in a fish tank filled with fluorescent paint and glitter whilst upside down on peyote. The last ingredient being the most important. In terms of "How could this not have been written on drugs?" this story scores very highly - the random combination of elements makes me wonder if Moff is starting to nick ideas of primary school children. So... to try and describe the baffling plot....
The Doctor is on the planet Steampunkville, which for reasons unknown is the destination of the liner Rory and Amy have stowed away on to have kinky cosplay sex during their honeymoon and is now about to crash. Unfortunately, Michael Gambon in a Fake Beard rigged up all the clouds in the planet under his control in order to become King of the Flying Fish when he was done freezing people for protection money. His son, Michael Gambon Without a Fake Beard, has inherited the apparently lucrative business and is thus the only person who can save Rory, Amy and the other unnamed characters' lives.... if you ignore the fact that the TARDIS should be able to either land onboard and shuttle everyone out or at least tow the bloody thing to safety.
See, that's the trouble with elaborating on the TARDIS' powers. This thing was already fucking powerful BEFORE 2005, now it's God on wheels. BUT not in this particular story. Well... not in THAT particular part of this particular story...
Because the Doctor reacts to Gambon being a prick by reenacting Christmas Carol (although the scene where he decides to do so suggests it is as much a laugh as anything else) deducing that what Mickey really needs is to get laid when he's younger by a cute blonde who charms avian-marine life with her freaky opera singing. But, wouldn't you know it, the stupid git picks the girl who's got 8 days left to live, so we're back to square one as it leaves Gambon as bitter as I was in the immediate aftermath of Kaylagate.
So.... you know stuff happens whatever. Eventually the day is saved when cute blonde does some Murray Gold karaoke boosted through the Gambon family antenna, using a scientific-ish explanation that was far more confusing than the end of The Pirate Planet to me, but by this stage I'd kind of given up working what was going on. Following this story was starting to seem like a bad trip, and really a bit too sweet for me. Okay, somebody is definitely dying in the form of Abigail (whoa, just remembered a character's name) so it avoids the ultra cheery disposition of that awful Cybermen story... but I think the problem may well be that I just don't like A Christmas Carol that much.
I mean, really, why is it so celebrated? Isn't it a bit... basic? The moral of the story is "Don't be an arsehole!" Everyone knows the plot, not everyone believes in the message.... do we need another version? Even one about flying fish that was written on cheap smack by a sweater-wearing Scotsman?
To not lose perspective... special effects are good and solid. The dialogue was possibly too good, as every line that wasn't a snappy line seemed to be a set up for one or a call back to another snappy line, and the cast were excellent. We were spared any of the like of Jackson Lake's horrifically cute and androgynous.... son? in favour of young Gambon's that looked human, continuing the trend of excellent young actor casting in Moffat's era that began with the very first guest cast to appear on screen. Design is also good enough... I mean they asked for a Victorian London world were every second person wears cool glasses to make it Steampunk, I imagine it's difficult to fuck up.
One of the problems is that this is one of the stories where, in his own way, the Doctor (and the TARDIS) is overpowered. Remember when the TARDIS could barely land anywhere so there'd be no question of "Why doesn't the Doctor just hop back 20 minutes and press the other button", whereas Moffat's vision seems to have that option as a centrepoint. How long can this stay fresh? Don't get me wrong, I laughed girlishly when the Doctor travelled forward 50 years to hear what numbers Gambon was yelling at the screen (though it beggars the question of how he reached the TARDIS..) but I do believe so far Moffat's tenure has averaged five onthological paradoxes per minute and the rate looks set to rise...
In practical terms, where would we be if the Doctor was always this fluent? If he just travelled into Davros' past to save him from his disfiguring injury? If he popped back with tea and scones to smooth over the Osirians split with Sutekh? And if he'd called Child Services before Tekker's father had molested him? Ohhhh the possibilities for dully resolved stories is limitless, but it's one of those things where the Doctor's done it now and the question will hang over every episode - why doesn't he just go back in time?
Maybe he finds it a little confusing, as he seems to create three different versions of Michael Gambon Without a Fake Beard's life and he remembers all of them, but doesn't make a big deal about it for some reason.
I guess another problem is the absence of a companion character. Sure, we have Amy and Rory but they may as well be locked in a room for the whole story as they only speak to the Doctor in passing once during the action... and Gambon? When the Doctor travels back in time, as he does for most of it, he gets reduced to being a viewer rather than a companion in a way reminiscent slightly of the Trial scenes and Cal in Silence of the Library. Something else in Moff's bag of tricks, eh? A character becomes a viewer, making sure it's a metaphor of sweet FA when he happens? The closest companion roles are the young actors, but Child Gambon is a fleeting presence and Teen Gambon is, understandably, only interested in getting his end away.
Anyway, it all lumbers towards a happy ending with a magical sprinkling of snow predictably and then we get to see that Moffat is quite serious in his dedication to trailers it's difficult to get excited over crammed with guns. Obviously nothing could have excited me less than the promise of River Song in PG13 nudity. I WANT NIPPLES OR YOU CAN PISS OFF, WHORE!
The real question this episode leaves us all with is... why doesn't the Doctor get US laid?
Oh, yeah, in the cold hard light of the next day I realise I didn't elaborate much on the fact that with its relentless sitcom-y humour and the Where's Wally-esque struggle to follow the writhing pants-snake of a storyline gave this a definite wadge of entertainment value. Hence a positive score.
ALTHOUGH some people take issue with this. Such as my housemate, when she pressed me to give the cousin she wanted to set me up with a score out of 10 I gave her exactly the same as this episode, and was further angered when I gave her OTHER cousin (who incidentally I would quite like to engage in intercourse with) an 8. Well, SORRY, but I'm a literal person! A 10 is a fucking 10 - that's 100%! Perfection! That is Scarlett Johansson carved out of... something... and covered in honey and or crackling.
So... how bad was the Force Unleashed? That's like 2/10. YOU GOT ANY PROBLEMS WITH THAT, NAOMI???
I don't know WHAT THOSE OTHER LOSERS SAID.... post something in the comment section if you want me to write one...