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David Sanders
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That Christmas special was so good it's only just now I've realised the whacking great plot hole in it. Abigail's voice resonates with the ice crystals and disrupts the charge in the clouds which enables the fish to fly. They later beam this through the broken halves of the sonic screwdriver, thus parting the clouds and allowing the ship to land. But since the other half is inside the shark and that's at the epicentre, wouldn't it just make the shark fall out of the sky? You might distract everyone on board from imminent death with an amusing splat, but not much else.
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'And Colonel Thingummy of UNIT gets the delicious: "I've never met anyone so insufferably pious."' She wasn't around for Pertwee.
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I would have assumed they meant 'greatest number of episodes' or 'longest amount of screentime' - in both cases, David Tennant wins. I mean, nobody counts Dimensions In Time, right? Right???
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Tachyon TV is on 'extended hiatus'? It's the end of an Erato.
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Also, in narrative continuity, the Alliance couldn't have existed before Victory Of The Daleks because the Mighty Morphin' Skaro Rangers didn't either. So where do we *start*?
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I thought Stephen Fry fucked off and left us with Fear Her, which is where so much of the trouble began?
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Ten got guff for self-aggrandizing whoops in the face of non-existent security.
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It suddendly occured to me too, shortly before reading this review, that there was no way auton-Rory should remember being dead. No matter where you place the point at which the Pandorica trap is formed from Amy's memories, it's simply not possible. But then I began to suspect that Moffat is even more clever a writer than we think he is, and I might have stumbled across the simgular point - the fallacy of memory - upon which the crux of the entire finale will hang. We shall we...
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What I learned from this episode: the sonic screwderiver has every useful setting the Doctor could possibly want, except 'detect alien facsimile'. Which is a bit odd, given his line of work. Twelve minutes into the episode, I was shouting, 'why don't they go back in time to when the signal starts, and then STOP it?'; which is a pertinent type of question in most time-travel stories, but seemed especially so in this one. Moff of course, deftly smashed it into smithereens long before he did with the TARDIS. RTD's idea of 'epic' is to get a big bunch of aliens together for a wham-socko finale in which the plot throws the whole planet/galaxy/universe in danger by their very presence - so much so that it jars when it skimps a bit on the financial side, like a dozen John Simms on a council estate. Moff, while ostensibly doing the same thing, has a much better handle on the whole 'epic' concept, because his is all about how the aliens conduct themselves once they appear, making them a more interesting center of attention instead of the world around them in peril. It also means he can do it on the cheap without compromising the sense of scale one jot. No more than four new sets must have been made for this episode, and two of those are fairly simple ones that are onscreen for no more than a minute or so. Everything else is location footage or redressed sets from other episodes; even the space bar is probably borrowed from the end of The End Of Time. The practical and impressive consequence of this is that Moff and crew are able to invoke a palpable sense of universal doom from what is basically a great big empty space with a box in it; a technique also emplyed to great effect in the Weeping Angles two-parter. This, way more than any namedropping of the Drahvins or Zygons, is what properly establishes the production team's old-Who credentials.
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The biggest question of all is yet to be answered; namely, what is the critical event that causes the TARDIS to explode in the first place, thus causing the cracks in the universe? Unless, as hinted by the monitor screen, it's the cracks in the universe that do it. "Ah shit, it's not another fucking Time Crash, is it?"
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Genesis Of The Daleks is a morality parable driven by grand sweeping metaphors, so the comparisons don't really stand. But The Lodger beats Relaunch Of The Daleks hands-down anyway; if those stupid Duplo things don't show up again for the finale, it's going to make Victory look even more pointless as an episode than it already does.
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Much as I grinned like a lunatic all the way through The Lodger, Neil has a point. You know what I think is a major problem here? This is a Utopia episode, but it's not *treated* as such. Given what 99% of all household germs have by now surmised about the patently obvious season 'twist', The Lodger should be part one of a three-part story, after which suddenly all bizarre safeguards and other contrition that Neil doesn't like in this episode will make perfect sense, because only the daft sod responsible is that messed up (even if he steadfastly refuses to admit or accept it). Imagine if Utopia really was nothing more than the thirty minutes of non-event twatting about in a supposed turning-point of human history, after which The Master turns up out of nowhere, says ta-ta, and the story abruptly ends there. Wait, didn't we get that formula this year? Yes, it was Victory Of The Daleks and everyone hated it.
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Quite simply, the perception filter encouraged them all to go upstairs, like flies to a Sundew.
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Cheer up Neil, I thought Blink was vastly overrated and ever so pleased with itself at the time. We all have our off days.
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Matt Smith's eccentric footballing was far more believable than Davison's cricket ever was. In fact unlike Tennant or Eccleston, Smith is at his most Doctorish when he's placed in a 'normal' environment for contrast. We haven't truly seen the like since the latter Sylvester McCoy days, and there it really was down to budgetary constraints. Wonderful gags in this episode. "I have that kind of face, people can't help spouting their plans around me."
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I've just realised what all this is reminding me of. There was a Comic Relief a number of years back that featured a song video by a disabled person in a wheelchair, which was a call for dignity - "don't want your charity, don't want you to be good to me, I want choices and rights in our lives." But what Lenny Henry, Jonathan Ross and crew did in announcing it was firstly to disagree vehemently with the sentiments on offer, without acknowledging in any way that charity should be a stepping stone to the goal of an independent life. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's a dignified way of tackling the subject matter, but this week's Who wasn't it.
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May I just ask everyone a couple of quick - and entirely neutral - questions? First: what would you have thought if they'd unceremoniously put a schizophrenia helpline number at the end of The Face Of Evil? Second: if as expected, your answer if 'that's not a valid question since they're two completely different examples', then what does that say about how the (ostensibly) same populist mainstream drama is intended to affect the viewer now, as opposed to back then? Just a thought.
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Ultimately, on some fundamental level there is no ethical difference in the use of the TARDIS between the end of this episode, at which we're supposed to go 'awwwww', and at the end of The Waters Of Mars, at which we all went JESUS CHRIST NO instead with our mouths open. Irreconcilabilty aside, is it any wonder why some fans might have expected an equally grand disaster to have followed from both?
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I'm guessing that for Neil it's not the helpline per se that's contentious, but the sheer crassness of slapping it on at the end. Either that or having sat through one too many Comic Reliefs - a cause dreamed up by, er, Richard Curtis.
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I enjoyed it for the most part as a bit of lightweight fluff - fortunately I was watching on iPayer so I was spared being forced to read more into the mental illness side than the plot actually warranted. And me a card-carrying Aspie, so I wouldn't have taken it well. And Neil wasn't the only wrong shouting at the gogglebox about just how WRONG that Quantum Cheap epilogue felt while bracing for the other shoe to drop with the huge clattering THUD. It was only the fact that they appeared to have changed almost nothing in the end that stopped the whole episode from committing drastic suicide. But Jesus, even Murray seemed to have been told they were doing Fear Her again. Oh wait, that's next week isn't it?
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I hereby claim ownership of 'The Day Gogh Went Mad', and anyone who uses it as a review title next week will have to pay me dividends. :)
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Lots of problems again, mainly because important things in the plot weren't as cut and dried as they should be - it might be due to the cuts, or it might be Chibnall's script at fault. Rory's death was so heavily signposted that there should have been a clock in the corner of the screen counting down the whole time. And considering how much he hates JNT-Who, Chris Chibnall is still writing it insofar that as soon as some other major character is about to killed, an suthority figure comes along and yells 'STOP!', and it happens so often you could set Rory's illusory countdown clock by it. But it's telling that for all the fifteen minutes that were hacked out of part one, the entire padding left in about the blue grass and the disappearing corpses went nowhere in part two. Wasn't even brought up again. Was it all there solely for the none-too-subtle symbolism of Rory standing in an empty grave? Sapphire & Steel are tutting at the folly of stupid humans as I type this. And if you're going to signpost a death that heavily, then it's got to be a game-changer, like Olag Gan's was in Blake's 7. The important thing shouldn't be the death itself, but in how it forces us to re-evaluate where the show is going, and how it redefines the purpose of the characters within it, and their relation to each other. But in wiping Rory from history, it means that for the one person to whom it should be most important and life-changing, Rory's death suddenly doesn't matter. It's still effective since the concept of having all your significance to everyone and everything you've ever known totally negated is bloody scary. But the one thing I don't want them to do is to try to bring Rory or his memory back in episode 12; then the whole conceit is almost bound to unpleasantly fall apart, like bog roll in a pissed-in toilet. Emphasis was continually placed on the wrong things in the episode, but wasn't there in places where it would have made the plot a lot less nebulous. All this gleeful talk around the conference table about 'history being made'. Well no it wasn't, that was partly the point. Diplomatic conferences become 'history' when their importance is made aware on a global stage, and outcomes are made to happen. Auderly House in Day Of The Daleks was 'history being made'. This was a few people talking round a table, with no other watching eyes who either knew, nor cared. The 'history', were it to happen, would be a thousand years from now. And that's why it all semmed so dull, because up until five minutes from the end, it never seemed like I was witnessing anything of real significance. This nebulosity was also present in the Silurians themselves despite being such simplistic characters. The 1970 serial may have been three episodes too long, but allowed time for the antagonism and grey areas between differing Silurian factions to properly develop and intertwine. Here it's not so much painted with broad strokes as smeared on with a paint roller. There's a council leader who is tolerant and 'good', and two hotheaded young women who are grumpy and 'bad' - you'd be forgiven for thinking, bloody hell, Silurian PMT is a bit rough isn't it? Must be down to that egg-laying. And could somebody explain to me exactly who was supposed to working with whom on which part of the Silurian plan? A plan that seems to rely on somebody up top being aware of what they're dealing with and how to get back to them, and since Alaya is resolutely obtuse and tight-lipped, without the Doctor present it would probably all have gone to pieces. Was Alaya a free agent or not, and how much did anyone else know about her action? Not a peep about *any* of this. If the unseen Silurian council were in charge of operations, then why bother with hostages at all instead of stealthily sabotaging the drill and making it look like mechanical failure? And even if the military were calling the shots, why does Marvin The Parasaur Android seem so totally unaware of any of consequences? He certainly wasn't outraged or tried to lift a finger to stop a possible war before the Doctor came down. Likewise, the scientist is just happy giddy before that to have some human beings in his charge. Where did he think they came from? That they fell from the sky? But the single biggest carbunkle in the episode, and it has to be laid directly at Chris Chibnall's door, is this: The ploy for Alaya to start the war with her own death, is so APALLINGLY transparent, yet not even the plot thinks it's worth the effort of ever bringing up again after Alaya has as much as baldly confirmed it so, in front of witnesses, out of her own mouth. The fact that Alaya and her military sister were both so psychotically jihadist meant that either the two had to have planned the whole thing together, or Alaya was just taking advantage of the other's natural barminess. Either way it's completely ludicrous that a civilization led by cuddly old Stephen Moore would have willingly kept somebody that batshit in charge of its military wing. But still less ludicrous than that despite these machinations being so blindingly obvious, nobody on the opposing human team ever spots them, and as a direct result the humans end up copping all the blame for the resulting breakdown from the Doctor. We used to repeatedly roast Chibnall on a spit for this kind of thing even when Torchwood was supposed to be defeatist and depressingly negative, so he's got NO chance of ever getting away with it here.
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I could swear I saw three Oods. But which one was John?
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I thought the one thing it absolutely wasn't was a remake of the 1970 story, since Silurian attitudes then culture clashes then were painted as grey as human ones; they had already made contact with homo sapiens to a limited degree and it's only once the Doctor and UNIT show up that things start to go seriously wrong. It's a bit premature to judge on the basis of only having seen and heard one new-breed Siluraian, but even in Warriors Of The Deep - a good script with bad production values - they weren't as much of the naked, unreasoning aggressors that we're seeing here.
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'Who by Numbers'? Not a bit of it, despite all the Pertwee trappings, stylistically it feels far more like a G-rated Torchwood episode to me than it does an edgy slice of Nu-Who. Not necessarily a bad thing in itself, I hasten to add.
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