Friday, July 06, 2007

What This Country Really Needs, Right Now, Is A Doctor

Doctor Who – 2007 Season

The last two seasons of Doctor Who have turned out far better than I had dared hope, so the latest one was immediately put on the 'must watch' list as soon as it began airing. The first episode delivered quite satisfactorily. While the story was not terribly original (the Doctor faces off against a couple of breeds of malevolent aliens in modern day London (OK, a section of modern day London that has been transported to the moon)) it was done with the wit and flair that the new series has become known for and does a nice job of introducing the Doctor to his new companion, who turns out to be an improvement on Billie Piper if only because every time she appears on screen I don't think “Why d'ya have to play that song so loud?” “Because we want to! Because we want to!”

However much to my dismay the season quickly deteriorated after that, most episodes were based around ideas that were largely derivative of others from earlier seasons. This would not necessarily be a disaster, and the actors playing the Doctor and his new friend Martha do their best to put a bit of pep into things, but the dialogue and the plots are simply uninspired, far below the standard set to date.

A pair of two part episodes are the worst of the bunch. The Daleks are reintroduced, to no one's great surprise, but the writers aren't able to think of anything interesting to do with them. It must be hard when the Daleks have come up with one mindblowingly evil scheme a year for forty something years to keep finding new and interesting works of evil. They must be getting a bit tired, I wouldn't mind if the writers gave them a break next year.

In a later two parter, The Doctor erases his memory and assumes a human identity in order to hide from a group of aliens. This storyline exists only to foreshadow a plot point to be introduced later and delved to nauseating depths of sentimentality. At this point I was almost ready to give up on the show, and I would have confidently declared it worse than Torchwood. However the writers managed to engineer a total reversal of my opinion in the last four episodes. The disappointing two parters were followed up by the fantastic 'Blink', which revisits a lighthearted theme explored in an episode from last season ('Love and Monsters'): obsessive fandom. It also features the second best bad guys of the season; a breed of aliens that appear as statues and can only move when they're not being observed. It's an original idea and it leads to some really great effects.

The season ends with a fantastic three part storyline, featuring another of the Doctor's old enemies who has not yet reappeared in the new series. I'll spoiler protect things here, but if you're familiar with the show then you probably won't find it hard to guess who it is:

WATCH OUT! SPOILERS! Highlight to view:

The Master returns and gets elected as Prime Minister of Britain. In this incarnation he's a jovial, fun loving psychopath and his carefree attitude makes him the perfect foil for The Doctor. The actor who plays him is fucking hilarious. I'll never think of this scene without laughing:


This final story arc is completely inspired, and redeems the entire shitty season. Here's hoping next year's will be of a higher overall standard.

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