Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Doctor Who has always been a show of variable quality, you would often get years of brilliance followed by a whole eras of mediocre quality, usually a dry spell was broken by a change of Doctor or production team, however whatever season you were watching usually gave you a pretty good idea as to what the rest of that series would be like.

This new version of Doctor Who however is another thing entirely. I honestly believe we have had the best and worst of Doctor Who all in the space of one season.

The new Who has had great characterisation, extremely poor characterisation, terrible incidental music, great incidental music, brilliant stories, mediocre stories and downright awful stories, a great companion, a boring Doctor, I could go on. The truth is for every time I have been close to despairing, along has come a story that has restored my faith, only to be found a few weeks later feeling like writing off this revival of my favourite show as a failure.

On the basis of Boom Town and its trail for the following week, I must admit I am perilously close to the latter. Once again another script by Mr Russell T Davies has pushed Doctor Who to an all time low for the second time this season, and surprise surprise both stories happened to feature a flatulent green blob.

It is customary to start reviews by listing the good points and leaving the niggles to the end, so here we go.

Some pretty Cardiff location work, some impressive effects courtesy of the Mill, a fairly decent Murray Gold score, we got to see some more of the excellent Tardis interior and of course Billie Piper was as great as ever. That I’m afraid is the closest I can come to finding anything positive to say about this unmitigated mess of a story.

It might have helped if there was a story to speak of, what started off as another Slitheen destroy the world premise, quickly split up into a series of disjointed segments that seemed to be trying to do something profound but ended up failing miserably.

The Doctor taking an alien for a last meal prior to returning them home to await potential execution is a sound premise. Unfortunately whereas a villain such as the Master, Sharaz Jek or even Sil could have made this whole scenario work, the knowledge that the alien concerned is a flatulent green teletubby played by a reject from Fit Club, rather diluted any dramatic impact this scene could have had, you might as well have stuck the Candyman in.

I honestly hoped we had seen the last of the Slitheen after the awful Aliens of London story, but unfortunately the Doctor Who production team obviously thought otherwise. While admittedly they have great marketing potential as stuffed toys, inflatable punch bags etc, they still make an abysmal Doctor Who monster. At least failed monsters of the past Nimon, Myrka etc went wrong by accident rather than design, the Slitheen seem deliberately designed as a cute comedy creation, the sort of thing a skit on Doctor Who would come up with as a joke. Sitting in on a Saturday night watching a green baby faced monster, sat on a toilet looking looking forlorn, made me wonder if anyone who had ever called being into this stuff sad, actually had a point.

It is not a secret that Russell T Davies is a Buffy fan and in this episode his attempts to turn the Tardis crew into the equivalent of the Scooby gang were painfully apparent. All that fast talking buddy buddy stuff was painful to watch. I will give it a few more episodes, but I don’t quite get the whole Captain Jack character, at the moment he seems little more than a bland American cipher and I cant really see what the point of him being there at all is.

Christopher Eccleston although trying his damnest, was still as dull to watch as he has been for most of this season. I honestly would never have thought eighteen months ago that the dream team of Davies and one of Britains most respected actors would respectively turn out this middle of the road, flat and at times embarrassing effort.

Unfortunately much of the poor material he has had to work with, has highlighted Eccleston’s weaknesses as an actor, he is a great working class actor and can even posh it up convincingly on occasion. But Doctor Who has left him hopelessly out of his depth, he simply cannot get a handle on how to play this sort of material and I’d be surprised if his reputation is left untarnished by his stint as the Doctor.

I too had high hopes for Davies scripts, of all the fan writers who were announced as working on the new series, he was the one I had most faith in. Unfortunately Davies take on the whole ethos of Doctor Who seems to be skewered, the man is obviously of the belief that the series should be written down to Childrens BBC level and have all the artistic integrity of something like the Thunderbirds movie. This is personally how I see Russell T Davies take on Doctor Who, 10 years from now it will be as disposable as Batman Forever or Robocop the series is today. When he does employ some of his skills as a dramatist the results can be extraordinary, but there is so much chaff surrounding the wheat that the message is lost.

Apart from not liking the tone, his scripts are badly constructed. Everyone had a go at the end of the Paul Mcgann movie, but this week we saw it repeated as the Tardis mysteriously reversed time once again. Too many of his scripts have relied on these convenient quick anticlimatic fixes and if that is not a mark of bad writing I don’t know what is. The man obviously has a love for Doctor Who, but something has gone badly wrong, rather than being the new Robert Holmes as I had hoped, he seems to be more of a twenty first century equivalent of Pip & Jane Baker. And for me the day he leaves the mantle of executive producer on Who to someone a bit more respectful of the series as a whole cant come too soon.

So two more episodes to go and is there really any hope left, the Doctor in the big brother house, robots looking like gigantic legoman, is this really what Doctor Who is about. Forty two years ago William Hartnell starred in a magical fantasy series, that enthralled children and adults alike. In 2005 Doctor Who returned as a low brow Saturday night light entertainment show. Come back Graham Williams, John Nathan Turner, Philip Segal, anyone, all is forgiven.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television