Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Dr Who

So Russel T Davies has finally gone. Thank goodness for that. He brought a series alive, certainly, and made Doctor Who a lot of fun, but was holding it back towards the end. So, issues?

Russel T Davies was a big fun of plot threads. This was a necessary thing for the new doctor- stand alone episodes tend to be less fun than continual plot, and Bad Wolf was intriguing. Sadly, he was frequently quite poor at not tying these together particularly well- the denoument was kind of lame (yeah, I left bad wolf across time as a message for me to.. open the tardis? Because I wouldn't have done that anyway?). The worst conclusion was Davros, and that ridiculous planet conjunction plot, where various references to the medusa cascade fizzled to nothing, and, once again, a character was only special because in the future they would be special.

At its best was the Master plot, which was just terrific. I know the whole "Doctor is a goblin" plot was lame, but the notion of the planet getting together and helping the Doctor was quite cool, then with the Doctor forgiving the Master, it was quite neat. Although the Doctor's tendency to completely forgive homicidal maniacs who have shown no inclination of reform is beginning to get a tad irritating.

One of Davies biggest flaws was to fail to earn victories for his characters. There was a certain Batmanesque nature to some of the cliffhangers he set up, where the character would face complete peril, and then Davies would pull some flim flam from nowhere to save them. I mark that down to an inexperience with writing science fiction- we know the character has lots of powers, but creating new ones whenever you need something to happen is lame. An example of a cleverly introduced technical device-

In the Family of Blood we discover a device in the Tardis which can allow a time lord to hide by becoming human. This beautifully sets up the Master in Utopia, a few episodes later.

Heres an example of a poorly introduced technical device-

Donna and the other doctors talking nonsense while destroying the daleks by twiddling knobs. It was quite funny, but dramatically was stupid.

Generally speaking with science fiction solutions to problems one needs to use a chekov's gun approach- the element is introduced earlier in the plot, and then used by the characters, potentially in an unexpected manner. This rewards the alert viewer, who might predict it, and will feel more earned. Sadly Davies never seemed to realise this, although occasionally he did succesfully use the trope.

Still, we have Moffat to look forward to now, who has proven adept at crafting Dr Who episodes in the past. We shall see what he does when handed an entire series.

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