Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Walking Dead of The Doctor



STORY 255.2: DEATH IN HEAVEN
PART 2 (DEATH IN HEAVEN)

I like The Pet Shop Boys, and I think it is fitting to quote them in regards to Death in Heaven, the second part of the Series/Season Eight finale.

What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?

From its opening to its teaser scene featuring Santa Claus(!), Death in Heaven is just an absolute disaster, jumbled, chaotic, nonsensical. The praise it has been receiving makes me think that either reviewers have flat-out been bribed by either Steven Moffat/the BBC or genuinely thought it was all brilliant, proving Lenin's idea of 'the useful idiot' extends to television.

Well, let's pick up from Dark Water, where we learn that Missy (Michelle Gomez) is a new (female) version of The Master.  Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) is still in the Nethersphere, being threatened by a newly-created Cyberman.  Other Cybermen from Missy's Army have stormed out of St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) seems powerless to stop the Mistress/Cybermen unholy union.  Clara then gives us a 'shocking' revelation: Clara Oswald NEVER existed!  Who is she?

She's THE DOCTOR!

Well, we already had one transgendered Time Lord, so why not another? 

Of course this is all a rouse, a desperate gamble for Clara to bluff her way out of danger.  Fortunately, one of the Cybermen is able to see past the whole "Doctor Clara" bit.  It just so happens to be the late Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), who has his emotion inhibitor not working.

How convenient.


Catchphrases are stupid, and so are you.
Well, while Clara is dealing with Cyber-Danny, the Doctor is shocked to see that people, rather than be terrified of the Cybermen (because, you know, they've already invaded London in The Invasion, and more recently in Doomsday Parts 1 & 2), are thrilled to see them, going so far as to start taking selfies with them.  Missy herself is about to take a selfie with herself and the Doctor, when someone comes up to offer to take a picture for them.  It's Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), now sporting Converse and a bow tie (since, you know, "Bow ties are cool").  Up springs all of UNIT, and leading the charge is Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave).

You remember Kate Stewart...the woman who dropped the "Lethbridge" from her name so as to remove herself from being connected to her predecessor/father Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart but drops Daddy's name every chance she gets.

Well, UNIT was onto Missy all this time, but no worries...the Cybermen fly away because Cybermen can now fly (after all, why not...they haven't before but why not have them fly now, because, well, Moffat wanted them to fly, and fly they did).  To add a better touch, the dome of St. Paul's opens up to release more Cybermen, where they'll pollinate the Earth by blowing themselves up.  This is for more nefarious reasons...to bring on the black rain over the cemeteries, graveyards, and the Chaplet Funeral Home, where the corpse of one Danny Pink is there.

What for?  To be turned into that Cyberman who will come into all this, of course.


Well, I hate going on deeper into this dung-pile, but let's keep going.  The Doctor finds himself as President of Earth, having been elected by consensus by all the world leaders (think Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin ran for the post?).  Now, if the President of Earth were in danger from flying Cybermen(!), where would UNIT take the President?  Why, on a plane, of course!  Kate "I'm my own person but I have my father's portrait here to remind people of who I'm related to" Stewart is shocked, SHOCKED to find flying Cybermen can attack the plane. 

Maybe bringing Missy along in the cargo of the President's Flight in retrospect was not the best of ideas.  Missy's plans are going perfectly: the dead are coming back as Cybermen, ready to conquer the Earth.  Of course, back on the Nethersphere, things are a little jumbled...perhaps no surprise given Missy's right-hand man Seb (Chris Addison) is ostensibly in charge.  Seb tells Danny that the Nethersphere is basically a data cloud for the recently deceased (emphasis mine).  However, running around the Nethersphere is the Afghan boy Danny accidentally killed...at least well over a year ago.  Also, included in this Cyber-Army of the Dead is someone who died, according to their grave, in 1748.

I digress to say that while I may not measure time the same way Time Lords do, to me, 1748 doth not constitute "recently deceased".  Just a thought.

Well, Danny spirits Clara to a graveyard, where he begs her to end his feelings.  She can't without the Doctor's help, but he's busy at the moment.  He's trying to contain a mad Mistress, who has managed to kill Osgood (which to be fair, was about the only highlight for me in Death in Heaven, having found this character so atrocious I dubbed her "Osbad").  Missy blows the cargo doors open, sending both Kate "I'm Independent But Don't Forget Who My Father Was" Stewart and the Doctor flying out the plain while she slips back into the Nethersphere to see the end to his/her/its hated rival. 

Hands Up, PLEASE SHOOT!

However, in a stunt that made Jaws' leap from the plane in The Spy Who Loved Me look like a Maria Tallchief performance, the Doctor is able to fly into the falling TARDIS and use the key to get in.  Seb is so thrilled at this he asks for permission to squee...and gets promptly vaporized by Missy (which I think counts as another highlight). 

Well, the Doctor at first rejects Clara's plea to get Danny (whom he keeps referring to as "P.E.", because you know, soldiers are basically too stupid to understand math) to be a Cyberman, but now Missy's master (or Mistress) plans are finally exposed: this Cyber-Army isn't for her, but for the Doctor!  At long last, the Doctor realizes who he is.  He isn't a good man.  He isn't a bad man.  "I'm an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver, passing through, helping out, learning".  The Doctor throws the device that controls all Cybermen to Danny, who leads the Cyber-Army to blow themselves up.

All but one of them, who just happened to save Kate "I'm Not 'The Brigadier's Daughter', But I'm The Brigadier's Daughter" Stewart.  Who was this masked figure?  Why, it's the late Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart!  The Doctor here now gives the Brig what he's always wanted: a salute, and with that the Cyber-Brig is off, flying away to who knows where/why/what.

Two Weeks Later...the Doctor and Clara reunite and both lie to each other.  Missy had told the Doctor she/he/it knew where Gallifrey was, but we see that she lied.  Clara tells the Doctor she and Danny are fine, since Danny's device can allow him to leave the Nethersphere and return to life.  Rather than do that though, he gives that up to allow the Afghan boy to return, and he asks Clara to return the boy to his family, for he has promises to keep.

Oh, and Santa Claus bursts into the closing credits, asking the Doctor what he wants for Christmas.


Let me stop at this juncture to address a few points before I tear this piece of crap apart.  First, the Afghan boy.  Apart from being accidentally killed by Danny years ago he did nothing in this episode to merit feeling anything for him.  What we have is a situation where a foreign child, who may or may not speak English, and who has been declared dead and buried, suddenly pops up very much alive in a new country.  Add to that the fact that Clara now has the unenviable task of trying to get him back to Afghanistan.  Exactly how is she going to do this? 

Is she going to travel to Afghanistan with child in tow?  No need for passports, I figure.  No worries about a single woman travelling through a war-riddled country where in certain parts she would be shot on sight for not wearing a burka.   No worries about having to buy a plane ticket, or go to whatever town said Afghan boy (whom she'd have to communicate somehow) was from, and present a dead child to perhaps one or two parents (assuming they are still alive) who have accepted that their child is dead.

WOW!  And THIS NuWhovians call 'brilliant'.

Of course, Clara could do the sensible thing...and drop the kid off at the Afghan embassy and let THEM sort it all out.  Seriously, what can Clara DO in this situation? 

Let's now move on to another topic: the time frame of the dead.  Seb makes very clear: only the recently deceased, like Danny, are being harvested.  However, true to Moffat ineptitude, he can't keep even something as simple as 'recently' straight.  The Nethersphere has wi-fi, thanks to having Steve Jobs there.  Recently deceased Steve Jobs...as in 2011 dead Steve Jobs, three years ago.  Three years ago we can argue to be 'recent' (though I think that stretches things a bit).  HOWEVER, when we have this perverse resurrection going on, one of the graves notes the date of death as "1748".  That is nowhere near 'recent' no matter how generous the terms.

Delving further, if we accept that those who were cremated can also rise, we get some pretty grotesque ideas.  Will those murdered in Auschwitz whose ashes are there also serve in this Cyber-Army?  What do you think the Ganges would look like, with thousands of years of cremated people floating there? 

Oh, let's not worry about such horrifying images as that of a Cyber Anne Frank or Mahatma Gandhi. Didn't you cry during Death in Heaven?  That is more important than logic.

I digress to say that recently I've been involved in something of a Facebook fight with a Sherlockian who told us that she doesn't care if the resolution to how Sherlock faked his death is ever revealed.  This was a plus, like a magician's trick that need not be explained.   Well, Sherlockians and NuWhovians have that in common: they never care to think about whether any of what they see is 'logical' in the old-school meaning of the term, so long as it made them 'feel' something. 

I simply hated Death in Heaven.  Every soul-sucking, brain-draining, bombastic moment of Death in Heaven.  Well, there was ONE moment that had me cheering...


Say Goodnight, Osgood...
I've always hated Osgood (and by the way, is Osgood her FIRST name or her LAST name?  Riddle me that!).  Two episodes and she's looked on as some sort of Doctor Who ICON.  Screw Osbad and the Zygon she rode in on.   For Death in Heaven's sake, Sara Kingdom was on Doctor Who longer. 

I think KATARINA was on Doctor Who longer, and she was killed off in her second story!

Seriously, why is this...thing...so beloved?  What purpose did she have apart from being a cosplayer?  She didn't do anything either here or in The Day of The Doctor except express glowing admiration toward the Doctor and dress up like him.  Apart from the fact she uses an inhaler and has a prettier sister, can anyone tell me anything about her that makes her interesting? Important? Relevant?  Worth me caring one bit over her death?

Truth be told, I cheered when The Tranny vaporized her.  I delayed meeting a friend for coffee just to see Osbad wiped out.  I even gave Death in Heaven an extra point just for that (and might give it another for wiping out the idiotic Addison too). 

While watching, I wrote "appalling" at least three times in my notes.  The final comment for this episode was "I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M WATCHING THIS!" (and yes, it was all in caps, and note that I am writing on paper while taking notes). 

We still have a lot of the things that Steven Moffat specializes in.  The dead coming back to life (from the Cybermen being the resurrected dead down to the Afghan kid).  Love basically saving the day.  "Love is a promise, not an emotion", the Doctor observes.  It's Danny's love for Clara that stops Missy's idiotic plan (even by the Simm bonkers Master standard).   The boyfriend being a pathetically wimpy figure.



Poor Anderson. I have never felt so badly for an actor as I did for Anderson, who while nowhere the best actor around simply deserved better.  Seeing him in that Cyber-suit, crying, well, you just wonder if either Moffat or NuWhovians are capable of coherent thinking.  As I observed, how convenient that Danny is one of only two Cybermen NOT to lose their human emotion (the other being whatever perversity was alleged to be the Brigadier).

Speaking of the Cyber-Brig, this many NuWhovians insist that this is some sort of loving tribute.  Really?  You think turning one of the best characters Doctor Who ever created into a Cyber-Zombie forever condemned to fly about is a TRIBUTE?  If I were Nicholas Courtney's family, I'd be enraged that his character has been reduced to a Cyberman.  Why not make Sarah Jane Smith into a Dalek?  I'm sure THAT would be an even greater tribute to both Sarah Jane and Elisabeth Sladen. 

GROTESQUE!  Simply GROTESQUE!  Given that most NuWhovians have very little knowledge of the Brigadier they probably do think it's all beautiful, but for those of us who know of the Brigadier's importance in Doctor Who, it's a sad and sorry end to a real Doctor Who icon (as opposed to the pathetic Osgood). 

Anderson at least has an excuse of a lousy script to explain his lousy performance.  Jenna Coleman doesn't.  She is nowhere near a good-enough actress to have convinced me for one second that she was the Doctor.  I knew it was all fake, and if anyone thought for a mini-second that Clara Oswald never really existed and that she was the Doctor, then your lobotomies went much better than expected. 

Death in Heaven was so appalling in terms of Coleman that she managed to go DOWN on my Worst Companions List, moving from Number 10 to Number 6.

"Danny's a Cyberman, and he's crying.  Doctor, he feels it.  He's crying".  That line, spouted badly by the always reliably-bad Coleman, should have sent people into howls of laughter, not tears. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, why is Steven Moffat determined to have us hate Clara?  "Either you help me or you leave me alone," Clara shouts at the Doctor when he refuses to help her fix Danny's emotion inhibitor.  First, YOU called HIM!  Second, that made her look like a be-atch and a self-centered prig. 

Poor Capaldi.  You have a good actor stuck in such a hideous nightmare of a story and struggling to make any of this slightly plausible.  He still has to be stuck doing Matt Smith: calling Danny "P.E." and referring to a general as 'Man Scout' because his uniform made the Doctor think of a scout troop.  However, no actor, no matter how good, could possibly have made the whole "Doctor leaping into the TARDIS as he is falling from the bowels of an exploding plane" work. 

Not since the Eleventh Doctor rode UP the side of a building on a motorbike in The Bells of Saint John have we seen something so patently appalling.   It was Doctor Who meets James Bond (and Murray Gold's Satanic score just makes this particular sequence even worse). 

I cringed seeing the Doctor fall to the TARDIS.  Just bad.

Gomez I figure was asked to be camp-crazy, and as such she was a success.  I'm at a total loss to figure why so many insist she's the best Master since Roger Delgado.  Delgado was never camp.  Delgado was never deliberately silly.  Delgado was never going to describe the Doctor as his 'boyfriend'.  Delgado never looked intentionally ridiculous. 



Flying Cybermen!
The Doctor as President of Earth!
Transgendered Time Lords!
Mistress Poppins!
The Brigadier turned into a Cyberman!

This isn't Doctor Who.  This is shit, plain and simple.  In that regard, it's perfect really for the target audience, and I'll leave it at that. 

Death in Heaven has done something I would have sworn on my life was simply impossible.

It has made Love & Monsters look like The Caves of Androzani by comparison.  I always thought Love & Monsters would or could never be challenged as simply the Worst Doctor Who Story of All Time. 

In that regard, I vastly underestimated the monster known as Emmy-winning writer Steven Moffat.  I have given a 0/10 to two stories (Love & Monsters and the recent In the Forest of the Night).  However, with Death in Heaven Parts 1 & 2 (Dark Water/Death in Heaven), I find myself doing something I have NEVER done or even considered doing.

I found a Doctor Who story that managed to earn a NEGATIVE score. 

It was so low that it scored less than zero.  That's right...LESS THAN ZERO.

It brings to mind what the late great Roger Ebert said about Freddy Got Fingered, which I have seen (against my will) and can vouch for it being perhaps the worst movie I've ever seen.  What he said about the Tom Green masterpiece, I say about Death in Heaven.

"This (episode) doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This (episode) isn't the bottom of the barrel. This (episode) isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This (episode) doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."  

The best way to describe Death in Heaven Parts 1 & 2 (Dark Water/Death in Heaven) is to quote a review for Two-Faced Woman, coincidentally or not Greta Garbo's final film.

"It was almost as shocking as
seeing your mother drunk".

I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry.


-2/10

Next Episode: Last Christmas

I've put this up already, but it's just so good. I figure why not a repeat...

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Mistress of The Doctor



STORY 255.1: DEATH IN HEAVEN PART 1 (DARK WATER)

*Author's Note: As per tradition two-part stories earn one grade.  In a break from tradition, each part will be reviewed separately, with the second review having the final score.

Well, the big reveal as to Missy's true identity was come upon us.  A Big Reveal that left the Moffia stunned.  In other words, only those who are generally dim-witted were shocked, SHOCKED by something that had been correctly predicted months ago.  Dark Water, the first part of a two-part season finale, has something going for it.  I'm not sure what exactly that is though: more bastardization of Canon, more "the dead really aren't dead" storylines that writer/showrunner Steven Moffat recycles, or just a set-up to an even greater fiasco than most of this season (barring one or two episodes) has already been.

It does have, however, a delightful puzzle, one that may never be answered if Doctor Who co-star Jenna Coleman really does end up leaving after either Death in Heaven or the upcoming Christmas Special Last Christmas, but that's for later.  If I'm honest, this is not a review I want to write.  I'm not Kyle Anderson at The Whorist...I mean, Nerdist.  I don't think Steven Moffat's farts smell like Chanel Number 5.  Dark Water was more than a disappointment, far more than an embarrassment to all that had come before.  It was a sad thing to see.  Simply sad.

Clara (Coleman) was happily chatting with her boyfriend, Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson, no relation to Kyle that I know of), about to really push the idea that she loves him, when the phone goes silent.  Danny was hit by a car and killed, leaving Clara devastated.  Fortunately for her, she has access to a time machine.  In a story thread NOT similar at all to the Ninth Doctor story Father's Day, Clara tries to get the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to go back and save Danny.  If it means virtually drugging him and throwing the TARDIS keys into a volcano (which destroys them), so be it.  It doesn't matter that the TARDIS can be opened by a snap of the fingers (which Clara herself has done) or that throwing all the keys leaves the Doctor AND Clara stranded on this volcano (wonder if she thought this plan out completely).  Why be bothered by such trivialities?

In any case, this was all a dream, so no worries.  The Doctor then whisks Clara to where Danny is, for their timelines are connected.  They end up in The Nethersphere, where they meet the Mobile Intelligence Systems Interface, or Missy (Michelle Gomez).  Missy plants a big kiss on the Doctor, part of the greetings.  They then meet Dr. Chang (Andrew Leung) who introduces them to the 3W Company, and the shock of what 3 W stands for...Don't Cremate Me.  The dead, apparently, remain conscious and are fully aware of what is happening to them. 

Well, while the Doctor and Clara are getting the full tour, Danny has to deal with Nethersphere bureaucracy thanks to Seb (Chris Addison), his post-mortem case worker.  Seb informs Danny that he is dead and that someone wants to see him.  It is the Afghan boy he killed in war, the boy who is visibly frightened by him.

At this juncture, how does the little Afghan boy, who I figure doesn't speak English and certainly doesn't know Danny's name, know whom to ask for?  Did he just say, "I want to talk to the man who killed me?"  Yet I digress.

Well, the Doctor won't accept the idea of Heaven, the Nethersphere, whatever this place is, but some things he can't deny, even if he senses he's missing something.  While Clara and Danny chat via cyber-phone (with Clara not accepting that it's the REAL Danny she's talking to), he feels Missy's heart(s) beat and sees she's in possession of Time Lord technology.  He also finds that those dead incased in 'dark water' are turning into Cybermen!  Rushing about, he finds himself running out of St. Paul's Cathedral, where the Cyber-Army is about to strike London...again.

He even discovers who Missy is.  He insists he doesn't know, but it is soon made clear.  Missy is short for Mistress.  After all, she couldn't keep calling herself...The Master, now could she?

Well, Missy turns out to be The Master.  This apparently made NuWhovians gasp in shock, despite widespread speculation that Missy would be short for Mistress and Mistress is the female term for Master.  A lot of people are either thrilled or outraged with the transgender Time Lord.  Those who are excited think this is 'progress', and that a female Doctor is soon on her way.  Those who are infuriated think this is obscene, and that a female Doctor is soon on her way.

Here is my reaction...



Frankly, I reject the idea that Time Lords are essential hermaphrodites.  I've said so repeatedly.  Now we are stuck with the idea that Time Lords can change sex, though for what purpose no one can answer.

I know many people now insist that Doctor Who has firmly established that Time Lords can go from male to female (even though this has never been seen in any story).  Technically speaking, it STILL hasn't been shown, for we didn't see the Master regenerate into a woman or into anything really.  I also would remind people of The Keeper of Traken.  Here, the Master, on his final regeneration, essentially steals the body of Tremas (yes, it's an anagram of 'Master', but I'm not going to get hung up on former producer John Nathan-Turner's idiocies, which now makes Moffat's merry adventures look like Hinchcliffe-level brilliance by comparison).  Who is to say the already bonkers Master, last seen fighting the Time Lords at The End of Time, didn't kill some poor Mary Poppins impersonator and steal HER body?   At least I have a way out of this most distressing circumstance, until the Doctor regenerates into a woman and I quit watching (assuming I don't quit sooner).

Dark Water really is a bad Doctor Who story.  We get cop-out after cop-out (oh, it was all a dream, oh, the Doctor doesn't realize Missy is real).  We get bad moments (all of Addison's scenes, which were not funny, and the question, 'Doctor Who?' popping up again...is Moffat so bereft of ideas?!).   We get moments that don't make sense.  And I quote, "That's rare.  That never happens."  This is what either Seb or Dr. Chang says when Clara calls Danny.  That is a contradiction in terms.  Something can either be rare (in that it happens SOMETIMES) or it can NEVER HAPPEN.  It can't be both.



We also get some of the same tropes we've seen from Moffat, in particular his pathological fear of death.  "You know how people are scared of dying?  Like, everyone?" Dr. Chang tells Clara and the Doctor.  This is peculiar, given that I thought Listen established that it was monsters under the bed that was the most fundamental fear.  One wonders what martyrs or the 300 Spartans thought, because they didn't look like they were afraid of death.  All those Christian martyrs at the Roman Coliseum, what fools they were not to realize they should have been afraid of death!

Moffat really goes all out to put his idea about death and how to overcome it, but with Dark Water he puts something else in: clear continuity error.  Now, it is all possible that Moffat may provide answers to how the following will be done, but the NuWhovians and Sherlockians I've talked to have flat-out told me they don't care how something is done.  One Sherlockian has told me she doesn't care if we never learn how Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock faked his death.  It's like a magic trick, she says, and doesn't need it explained.  I have long argued no explanation is possible, but fortunately the Moffia really don't care to have answers.

Listen had Danny and Clara's descendant, Orson Pink.  Dark Water has Danny dead.  NOW, while it is possible Clara may be pregnant by now, how exactly can she prove the child is Danny's?  He's dead and has no known living relatives (hence, his stay at the boys' home).  Furthermore, even if Clara does give birth to a child, regardless of sex, why would said child carry the surname Pink?  She isn't married to a Pink and has no legal proof that the father was a Pink.  Clara's love child would carry the name "Oswald", so how would Orson Pink, direct descendant of Danny (who is dead before his heir is possibly conceived) come about? 

Riddle me that, Steve.

Rajiv, DON'T CREMATE ME!
DON'T CREMATE ME!

What is really surprising is his take on cremation.  Moffat has us think the dead are conscious after death and that cremation is painful to them.  I wonder what the British Hindu community thought about that new turn.  Cremation is part of the Hindu faith, and here is this European telling them in essence they are torturing the souls of the Mahatma and Indira and Rajiv Gandhi, not to mention the billions of Hindus long past over four thousand years.  I know there were protests to the BBC, and I can imagine a child who just watched Grandmama roasted horrified that Doctor Who now tells him Mummy and Daddy tortured Granny, but I'm just curious both what people thought about this and why Moffat has a continuing obsession with death (and how to avoid it)?

So many  things don't make sense.  How did the 3W founder, Dr. Skarosa, who him/herself is encased in a vat of Dark Water, find Time Lord technology?  How did the Doctor know that Clara was going to try to use sleeping patches on him to get her way? (And by the way, am I the only one who thought Clara was a selfish b*tch and a dumb one too for pulling this stunt)?  Why is the Doctor bothered about bringing back Danny from the dead?  It's not like there is anything like a fixed point in time nowadays, given how timey-wimey things are on Doctor Who.

The performances are also nothing to write home about.  Leung, who appears briefly and I don't think was in any other episodes, not only looked like the British Edward Nygma from Gotham,  was simply not on screen long enough for me to care.  Same goes for Anderson, whose weepy Danny struck me more as annoying and pathetic than as worth my sympathy or tears.  Furthermore, why couldn't Danny give Clara information that would confirm who he was (you know, apart from plot contrivances)?  Coleman was nothing here.


I know a lot of people love Gomez's Missy, but I never thought she was any good.  She struck me as camp gone mad, another 'Crazy Master' and nowhere near the serious threat we're suppose to imagine.  I know Roger Delgado would never stoop so low as to be virtually pantomime and certainly never expressed any desires for his old rival.  I thought she was silly and over-the-top, a joke from start to finish.  Why do people serious think Gomez was any good, what with her Mary Poppins get-up and broad hysterics?  Maybe Gomez is a good actress, but this didn't show it.  Granted, she was working with garbage, but she's been this way for some time, so I'm the only one not impressed.

I feel for Capaldi.  I think again he did what he could with the role, but nothing could save this blunder. 

Another thing that I wasn't impressed with was Rachel Talalay's direction.  I detest visuals that call attention to themselves, and when Clara emerges from the smoke, that shot, rather than beautiful, was almost parody. 

In the end, I found it all not so much terrible (though it was that), but boring.  Boring it was.  Dark Water, particularly whenever we meet Seb, made me think of all things R.I.P.D. with Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges.  It's never a good sign when Doctor Who reminds you of one of the worst movies you've seen.

One thing we all did learn from Dark Water is just what an egoist Steven Moffat is (as if we didn't know already).  "Cybermen from Cyberspace.  Now why has no one ever thought of that before?" Missy tells the Doctor when revealing her plans.  I can hear Moffat thinking what a genius he is for coming up with that one.

I don't give two separate grades to two-parters, so the final score won't be announced until the review for the second part, Death in Heaven.  If I WERE to give Dark Water a score, I'm tempted to say...

0/10  

Next Episode: Dark Water/Death in Heaven

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ten Things I Hate About Who. Part Seven: Rewriting The Myth


I have made no effort to disguise my growing disdain for NuWho.  I was concerned I was speaking to an empty theater so to speak, but to quote the Face of Boe, "You are not alone".  On one of the Facebook pages I belong to (Classic Doctor Who Fans Who Dislike New Who), I have come across a series of thoughts by Mr. Paul Berry.  We in the group were so genuinely impressed by his series that I urged him to publish them. 

Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has requested permission to upload them on his YouTube page.  I don't know if Mr. Berry has but hope he does.  I for my part asked for permission to reprint them on this site. 

Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the seventh of a ten-essay series.  It is reprinted as written with the content exactly as it appears. The only alterations made are for any grammatical/spelling errors, spacing for paragraphs, and perhaps a few afterthoughts which will be noted after the photos.

I hope readers enjoy and share them.  I also hope readers will debate these matters, for I believe in a healthy debate.  However, I find Mr. Berry's comments and thoughts quite well-thought out and worthy of a greater audience. 

With that, I present Part Seven of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who
 
**********************************************************************************

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

7) REWRITING THE MYTH

Doctor Who as a series has been a constantly evolving thing. As Robert Holmes once said, it has created its own myth. It is difficult to imagine in hindsight how the Hartnell era seemed at the time, back when there was no regeneration, no Time Lords. Over the years bits and pieces were bolted onto the story and became part of the Who myth. We can't imagine the series now without them. That is not to say the myth shouldn't continue to evolve. Andrew Cartmel attempted to add his bit in the late eighties by suggesting all we thought we knew about the Doctor may not strictly be true.

The Russell T Davies era brought us the Time War and the destruction of Gallifrey, two elements which helped define the Doctor's character for the 21st century. The problem I have is where changes have been introduced into the mythology that do not embellish it, but in some way spoil or pervert it or create unnecessary baggage for future production teams to contend with.

One key element which has become seriously undermined in my mind is regeneration. Okay it has never been explained how exactly it works and that is a good thing, but there seemed to be an unwritten rule book of what could and couldn't be done.

One assumption would be that the Doctor can't regenerate into the same incarnation, else why not do this all the time, unless you're seriously fed up of your last incarnation. Yet for the sake of a cliffhanger Russell T Davies did this same thing bunging in some unconvincing explanation involving a hand in a jar.

Regeneration also seems to have become more and more of a pyrotechnics display. As if the Tennant regeneration wasn't bad enough with the TARDIS nearly blasted apart, we had the 11th taking out a whole Dalek fleet. If the previous Doctor's had regenerated in this fashion I dread to think of the collateral damage.

Series 6 brought forth the revelation that you don't have to be a Time Lord to regenerate. River Song apparently possessed the ability as she was conceived on the TARDIS, a rather slight and unconvincing explanation which cheapened the very idea of regeneration. It now seems to be the suggestion that anyone could have this ability if the circumstances are right. River then goes onto bestow her remaining regenerations on the Doctor by means of a kiss.

Under Moffat, regeneration has come to seem slight and inconsequential, not a mythical and momentous part of the show's mythology. Look at his complete disregard for the 12 regenerations rule. Okay before we start, I agree no one is going to stop a popular series because the Doctor has run out of his allotted regenerations, a plot point first introduced in 1976. It was written into the series at a time when such a proposition was so ridiculously far off as to be not worth worrying about. Robert Holmes however was still smart enough to provided a get out clause.

The 12 regenerations/13 bodies concept provided a new key piece of mythology that we didn't know before: that the Doctor is not immortal. It became so ingrained in the mythology that it has frequently been a talking point, hence people's concern over the brevity of McGann and Eccleston's tenures. We always knew they were going to find a way around it, but it deserved to be done with occasion and reverence. The Doctor surviving the end of his regeneration cycle should have been a pivotal moment in the history of the series, an iconic moment which contributed something new to the myth. What we did get was laughable, a bit of fairy dust. It made an idea which had been a key part of the Who myth for 30 odd years seem inconsequential.

My two cents worth on the idea, and I appreciate this is pure fan fiction, is that Time Lords of the past could regenerate infinitely, however due to problems with immortality in Gallifrey's past a lock was engineered into Time Lord biology limiting an individual to 13 lives. My idea would be for the Doctor somehow to get into some epic situation where his DNA has to be unlocked to save the universe or something. This is horrifying to the Doctor as he knows it will make him immortal, something he wants to avoid at all costs. He makes the sacrifice however and in the process of his regeneration the 13 limitation is removed, he is now the Time Lord Immortal.

I am not saying they should use this idea. I am sure some people may have better ones, but it treats the idea of regeneration with reverence while introducing an element of tragedy. It also means the issue is resolved once and for all and doesn't have to be addressed again. All Moffat has done is create the same issue Robert Holmes did, which will eventually have to be dealt with again if the show is still around in another 12 Doctor's time.

Moffat has also lumbered Doctor Who as a brand with an unnecessary problem, basically he has screwed the numbering of the Doctors up to such an extent that it will now always be a point of debate as to which is which. Almost everyone can agree that it used to be simple Hartnell through Smith were Doctor's 1-11 (okay lets forget Morbius Doctors and the Shalka Doctor).

Now all the Doctor's from Eccleston onwards are in contention and depending on how pedantic you want to be, can be up to 2 incarnations ahead of their official numbering. Peter Capaldi is in the unenviable position where he is simultaneously the 12th, 13th, 14th and 1st Doctors. All this was of caused by the introduction of the War Doctor and the sudden decision to make Matt Smith's Doctor the final incarnation. The question is, was it worth it for the sake of 2 episodes to completely screw up what used to be a simple system?

I know the official line is that the War Doctor isn't considered to be the Doctor and Peter Capaldi is the 12th proper Doctor. They can say it all they like, but any talk of the subject will now bound to have an annoying interjection of 'Well, actually he isn't Doctor Number X at all. He's actually the Doctor number so and so'. It's now hopelessly muddied for no readily good reason other than to get a good guest star and to rather unsuccessfully make Matt Smith's regeneration outbig all the others.

This latest season also brought the first transgender regeneration. This albatross has hung over the series since Tom Baker first joked about it at the presscall announcing his departure. The rights and wrongs of the idea have sparked many a debate. Theoretically, Doctor Who's mythology could adjust to incorporate the idea; my idea would be that transgender regenerations could be flaws in the process hence explaining why Time Lord's mainly retain the same sex. The question should be if the series needs the idea of transgender regeneration, does it bring anything useful to the myth or the franchise.

Personally I think it is a divisive idea which opens a whole can of worms. Firstly the Doctor is and always has been a man. Changing the character's gender would change the whole dynamic of the show. It also introduces a lot of awkward questions and possible innuendo. Its dramatic potential seems undermined by the comedic overtones of the idea.

Heaven forbid if Moffat did do it, he'd probably end up with the Doctor fancying one of his previous incarnations.

I would say in all honesty it is an idea that would have been best stayed away from. There are some interesting aspects to it, but I would say has more negatives than positives. I think it would divide the audience possibly fatally. This isn't sexism. I just dont think a majority of the audience would accept a character who has been a male for 30 years suddenly becoming female. As a male for instance I wouldn't want to see The Rani or Romana suddenly become men. It would be nice to think Moffat thought all this through when deciding to change the Master's gender, but I doubt he did. He decided to make the Master a woman just because he could. Even despite the fact that it was possibly the worst character to do it with, since he had such a gender specific name. Missy sounds weak and silly, The Mistress again raises innuendo.

All this tampering is typical of the new show. It's fan fiction gone mad: Daleks v. Cybermen, origin stories, Doctor getting a daughter, Doctor getting married, TARDIS becoming a person. There's probably a very good reason none of this was attempted in 26 years of the original show: because it didnt need to be. The stories were strong enough not to need these attention grabbing gimmicks.

Since the 50th anniversary Moffat has become obsessed with putting his stamp not just on the present and future of the show but also on the past. Deciding to show the Doctor's flight from Gallifrey, again just because he could and having the gall to suggest that Clara was responsible for the Doctor choosing the TARDIS is just one example. A key and mysterious piece of the Doctor Who mythology rendered banal and with the inclusion of the two badly acted technicians, making ancient Gallifrey seem as otherworldly as an episode of Eastenders.

Not content with doing it once, Moffat was at it again this year, showing the Doctor as a child and having the audacity to imply that Clara was in effect responsible for the entire history of the series. It seems like pure arrogance on Moffat's part to think his own creation is worthy of such a role in the series pantheon, as well as undermining the character of the Doctor by almost making him of secondary importance in his own show. The past of Who has now irrevocably been tainted by this meddling. The only way I personally cope with this state of affairs is to pretend none of it ever happened. The damage is such that to restore the show and its mythology to any kind of credibility, a major retcon may be needed that somehow erases much of this unnecessary baggage Moffat has foisted on the show. Horror of horrors: a complete reboot may be needed that gets rid of all 50 years of Who history, Classic series and all just so Doctor Who is not lumbered with all these horrible encumbrances.

NEXT TIME: 8) UNLIKEABLE COMPANIONS & CLICHED CHARACTERS WITH SILLY NAMES

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

7) REWRITING THE MYTH

Doctor Who as a series has been a constantly evolving thing, as Robert Holmes once said it has created its own myth. it is difficult to imagine in hindsight how the Hartnell era seemed at the time, back when there was no regeneration, no timelords. Over the years bits and pieces were bolted onto the story and became part of the Who myth, we cant imagine the series now without them. That is not to say the myth shouldnt continue to evolve, Andrew Cartmel attempted to add his bit in the late eighties by suggesting all we thought we knew about the Doctor may not strictly be true. The Russell T Davies era brought us the time war and the destruction of Gallifrey, two elements which helped define the Doctor's character for the 21st century. The problem I have is where changes have been introduced into the mythology do not embellish it but in some way spoil or pervert eit or create unecessary baggage for future production teams to contend with.
One key element which has become seriously undermined in my mind is regeneration. Okay it has never been explained how exactly it works and that is a good thing, but there seemed to be an unwritten rule book of what could and couldnt be done. One assumption would be that the Doctor cant regenerate into the same incarnation, else why not do this all the time, unless you're seriously fed up of your last incarnation. Yet for the sake of a cliffhanger Russell T Davies did this same thing bunging in some unconvincing explanation involving a hand in a jar. Regeneration also seems to have become more and more of a pyrotechnics display. As if the Tennant regeneration wasnt bad enough with the Tardis nearly blasted apart, we had the 11th taking out a whole Dalek fleet. If the previous Doctor's had regenerated in this fashion I dread to think of the collateral damage.
Series 6 brought forth the revelation that you dont have to be a time lord to regenerate. River Song apparently possessed the ability as she was conceived on the Tardis. A rather slight and unconvincing explanation which cheapened the very idea of regeneration. It now seems to be the suggestion that anyone could have this ability if the circumstances are right. River then goes onto bestow her remaining regenerations on the Doctor by means of a kiss. 
Under Moffat regeneration has come to seem slight and inconsequential, not a mythical and momentous part of the show's mythology. Look at his complete disregard for the 12 regenerations rule. Okay before we start, I agree no one is going to stop a popular series because the Doctor has run out of his allotted regenerations, a plot point first introduced in 1976. It was written into the series at a time when such a proposition was so ridiculously far off as to be not worth worrying about.  Robert Holmes however will still smart enough to provided a get out clause. The 12 regenerations/13 bodies concept provided a new key piece of mythology that we didnt know before, that the Doctor is not immortal. It became so ingrained in the mythology that it has frequently been a talking point, hence people's concern over the brevity of McGann and Eccleston's tenures. We always knew they were going to find a way around it, but it deserved to be done with occasion and reverence. The Doctor surviving the end of his regeneration cycle should have been a pivotal moment in the history of the series, an iconic moment which contributed something new to the myth. What did we get was laughable, a bit of fairy dust. It made an idea which had been a key part of the Who myth for 30 odd years seem inconsequential.
My two cents worth on the idea and I appreciate this is pure fan fiction is that time lords of the past could regenerate infinitely, however due to problems with immortality in Gallifrey's past a lock was engineered into timelord biology limiting an individual to 13 lives. My idea would be for the Doctor somehow to get into some epic situation where his DNA has to be unlocked to save the universe or something. This is horrifying to the Doctor as he knows it will make him immortal, something he wants to avoid at all costs. He makes the sacrifice however and in the process of his regeneration the 13 limitation is removed, he is now the Timelord immortal. I am not saying they should use this idea, I am sure some people may have better ones, but it treats the idea of regeneration with reverence while introducing an element of tragedy. It also means the issue is resolved once and for all and doesnt have to be addressed again. All Moffat has done is create the same issue Robert Holmes did, which  will eventually have to be dealt with again if the show is still around in another 12 Doctor's time.
Moffat has also lumbered Doctor Who as a brand with an unnecessary problem, basically he has screwed the numbering of the Doctor's up to such an extent that it will now always be a point of debate as to which is which. Almost everyone can agree that it used to be simple Hartnell through Smith were Doctor's 1-11 (okay lets forget Morbius Doctor's and the Shalka Doctor)
Now all the Doctor's from Eccleston onwards are in contention and depending on how pedantic you want to be, can be upto 2 incarnations ahead of there official numbering. Peter Capaldi is in the unenviable position where he is simultaneously the 12th, 13th, 14th and 1st Doctors. All this was of caused by the introduction of the War Doctor and the sudden decision to make Matt Smith's Doctor the final incarnation. The question is, was it worth it for the sake of 2 episodes to completely screw up what used to be a simple system. I know the official line is that the War Doctor isnt considered to be the Doctor and Peter Capaldi is the 12th proper Doctor. They can say it all they like, but any talk of the subject will now bound to have an annoying interjection of  'well actually he isnt Doctor number X at all he's actually the Doctor number so and so'. Its now hopelessly muddied for no readily good reason other than to get a good guest star and to rather unsuccessfully make Matt Smith's regeneration outbig all the others.
This latest season also brought the first transgender regeneration. This albatross has hung over the series since Tom Baker first joked about it at the presscall announcing his departure. The rights and wrongs of the idea have sparked many a debate. Theoretically Doctor Who's mythology could adjust to incorporate the idea, my idea would be that transgender regenerations could be flaws in the process hence explaining why timelord's mainly retain the same sex. The question should be if the series needs the idea of transgender regeneration, does it bring anything useful to the myth or the franchise. Personally I think it is a divisive idea which opens a whole can of worms. Firstly the Doctor is and always has been a man, changing the character's gender would change the whole dynamic of the show. It also introduces a lot of awkward questions and possible innuendo. It's dramatic potential seems undermined by the comedic overtones of the idea. Heaven forbid if Moffat did do it, he'd probably end up with the Doctor fancying one of his previous incarnations. I would say in all honesty it is an idea that would have been best stayed away from, there are some interesting aspects to it, but I would say has more negatives than positives. I think it would divide the audience possibly fatally, this isnt sexism I just dont think a majority of the audience would accept a character who has been a male for 30 years suddenly becoming female. As a male for instance I wouldnt want to see The Rani or Romana suddenly become men. It would be nice to think Moffat thought all this through when deciding to change the Master's gender, but I doubt he did, he decided to make the Master a woman just because he could. Even despite the fact that it was possibly the worst character to do it with, since he had such a gender specific name, Missy sounds weak and silly, The Mistress again raises innuendo.
All this tampering is typical of the new show, its fan fiction gone mad, Daleks v Cybermen, origin stories, Doctor getting a daughter, Doctor getting married, Tardis becoming a person. Theres probably a very good reason none of this was attempted in 26 years of the original show, because it didnt need to be, the stories were strong enough not to need these attention grabbing gimmicks.
Since the 50th anniversary Moffat has become obsessed with putting his stamp not just on the present and future of the show but also on the past. Deciding to show the Doctor's flight from Gallifrey, again just because he could and having the gall to suggest that Clara was responsible for the Doctor choosing the Tardis is just one example. A key and mysterious piece of the Doctor Who mythlogy rendered banal and with the inclusion of the two badly acted technicians, making ancient Gallifrey seem as otherworldly as an episode of Eastenders. Not content with doing it once, Moffat was at it again this year, showing the Doctor as a child and having the audacity to imply that Clara was in effect responsible for the entire history of the series. It seems like pure arrogance on Moffat's part to think his own creation is worthy of such a role in the series pantheon, as well as undermining the character of the Doctor by almost making him of secondary importance in his own show. The past of Who has now irrevocably been tainted by this meddling. The only way I personally cope with this state of affairs is to pretend none of it ever happened. The damage is such that to restore the show and its mythology to any kind of credibility, a major retcon may be needed that somehow erases much of this unnecessary baggage Moffat has foisted on the show. Horror of horrors a complete reboot may be needed that gets rid of all 50 years of Who history, classic series and all just so Doctor Who is not lumbered with all these horrible encumbrances.

NEXT TIME: 8) UNLIKEABLE COMPANIONS & CLICHED CHARACTERS WITH SILLY NAMES

I have heard from NuWhovians that "The War Doctor" does not count because he doesn't call himself, "The Doctor".  Hence we go from Eighth to War to Ninth.  Already, this is flat-out rubbish.  How do we basically 'skip' a number?

We also get into the thorny issue of whether The Tenth Doctor regenerated...into himself.  How was THIS possible?  Was there anything in Canon that allowed for such a possibility?  I'm at a disadvantage because I didn't see Journey's End Parts 1 & 2 (The Stolen Earth/Journey's End), but one doesn't regenerate into oneself. 

I know Steven Moffat has this antagonism towards the numbering system, feeling that it isn't necessary because the Doctor never referred to himself as "The X Doctor" but this is splitting hairs.  HE didn't need to refer to himself as anything because HE knew who HE was.  Moffat's stubbornness on the issue though is what caused all this commotion to begin with.

If Eccleston refused to do The Day of the Doctor, fine, his choice.  What was really so wrong with using McGann?  Whatever has been said about the television movie, most agree he was one of the best parts of the episode and have been complimentary about his Doctor.  He's established a long connection thanks to the audiobooks (which I don't count as Canon, but that's irrelevant at the moment).  It would also be a nice way to tie Classic to NuWho.

Moffat, however, simply could not abide any real connection to anything pre-Moffat.  Therefore, he used McGann in The Night of The Doctor minisode just to bring in the interloper John Hurt's "War" Doctor and give a rationale to how Hurt was introduced as "The Doctor" in The Name of The Doctor.

I have long argued that The "War" Doctor has no guarantees that he regenerated into Eccleston's Doctor.  Maybe he regenerated into other things.  Who is to know?

Not content with making a bad situation worse, Steven Moffat decided to make things beyond repairable in The Time of The Doctor by making the formerly Eleventh Doctor the Thirteenth and Final Doctor.   Now we have the bizarre situation where with a stroke of his pen Steven Moffat invalidated all of The Trial of a Time Lord by making the Valeyard a non-entity.  Some NuWhovians have attempted to paper over this by saying that the Master said the Valeyard would appear between his Twelfth and FINAL regeneration, and because he didn't give a specific number the Valeyard may still come.

This is playing with semantics, plain and simple.  When The Trial of a Time Lord aired, it was established that Time Lords had twelve regenerations.  Therefore, when the Valeyard appeared, it would be natural to think he would appear between his twelfth and thirteenth regeneration, putting him between Tennant and Smith (though where exactly is a subject of needless debate thanks to one man's raging ego).  IF we go by how The Time of The Doctor put it, the Valeyard should have appeared already (since the "War" Doctor was the Ninth and Tennant regenerated twice, making Smith the Thirteenth and Final regeneration).  If one looks at things dispassionately, if it weren't for magical Time Lord fairy-dust coming to save the day, the Doctor would have been kaput, and therefore we would have had no Valeyard.

Moffat I think knew even he couldn't get away with leaving out the Valeyard without SOMEONE commenting on it, so he had the fairy dust to bail him out and say, "Well, with all these shiny new regenerations to play with, the Valeyard can come later".  I reject all this because this is playing with Canon needlessly...or rewriting the myth.

All this could have been avoided as I said.  This problem was of Moffat's own creation, and he is responsible for taking something simple and making a hopeless jumble out of it.    

Fortunately, he's got useful idiots like Kyle Anderson, Chris Hardwick, and all those at The Whorist to bail him out.  From Anderson's review for The Time of The Doctor, "It was classy, exactly as classy as the Eleventh Doctor (but the Thirteenth Form) always was."  That sentence doesn't make any sense...the Eleventh Doctor but the Thirteenth Form?

What kind of idiot believes this? 
 
Doctor Who is now not even a shell of its former self.  It's a piece of garbage, brought down by one man long feted as some giant of television.  Blink, regardless of how good it is, is no excuse for what Steven Moffat has done to Doctor Who

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ten Things I Hate About Who. Part Six: Trying to Be Clever


I have made no effort to disguise my growing disdain for NuWho.  I was concerned I was speaking to an empty theater so to speak, but to quote the Face of Boe, "You are not alone".  On one of the Facebook pages I belong to (Classic Doctor Who Fans Who Dislike New Who), I have come across a series of thoughts by Mr. Paul Berry.  We in the group were so genuinely impressed by his series that I urged him to publish them. 

Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has requested permission to upload them on his YouTube page.  I don't know if Mr. Berry has but hope he does.  I for my part asked for permission to reprint them on this site. 

Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the sixth of a ten-essay series.  It is reprinted as written with the content exactly as it appears. The only alterations made are for any grammatical/spelling errors, spacing for paragraphs, and perhaps a few afterthoughts which will be noted after the photos. 

For this essay, I also added all the photos save for the last one, which was part of the original essay.

I hope readers enjoy and share them.  I also hope readers will debate these matters, for I believe in a healthy debate.  However, I find Mr. Berry's comments and thoughts quite well-thought out and worthy of a greater audience. 

With that, I present Part Six of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who
 
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10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

6) TRYING TO BE CLEVER

I'm going to let Russell T Davies off the hook this time as this complaint is primarily to do with the Moffat era of the show. I have never met Steven Moffat, nor do I have any desire to do but I would venture to suggest he has an ego problem. I really believe he thinks he is a genius, sci fi's answer to Dennis Potter or something like that. Probably a cumulative effect of all those awards, fan adulation and being surrounded by yes men. I have to say that I think he is deluded. In fact at times I have had cause to worry for his sanity.

Initially he seemed to be a competent writer who liked to push the boundaries of the show; this has now crossed the line into a writer whose episodes frequently come across as insane, defying all laws of drama, logic and narrative.

His four outings for the show under Russell T Davies, while not entirely successful, were something a bit different. Three of them played around a bit with the notion of time. Fans went gaga over these stories because they were a bit cerebral and seemed closer to the notion of real Doctor Who than some of the more superficial stuff around them. Blink was undoubtedly the best of the three and the plot was pretty clever and hung together fairly well.

Classic Who probably never fully exploited the possibilities of time travel. Characters meeting out of sequence and the Doctor's future effecting his present were aspects barely touched upon. The success of Blink I think well and truly went to Moffat's head, and when he took over as show runner he used the series as a vehicle to show off with this style of storytelling. Instead of stretching himself as a writer and trying different things he became a one trick pony, interweaving and linking every little detail for no readily good reason other than to say 'Look how clever I am'.

The Matt Smith era is just a mess of complicated story arcs and connecting dots which comes across as just plain silly most of the time. You will have to bear with me, as I have only seen half of Matt Smith's stories and even those I have only viewed once so my memories now are a bit vague; if I've missed any major detail that makes the whole thing gel then please forgive me but the general impression I had at the time was a confusing hodgepodge.

The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang story I remember being hugely convoluted. If I remember rightly the Doctor's future self let himself out the Pandorica with the sonic screwdriver, there was then all that nonsense of Rory being a Roman Auton (a bit odd considering the lack of plastic in Roman times) and something about an exploding TARDIS rebooting the universe. This may all have made perfect sense in Moffat's mind, but it made poor drama. I am not saying there is anything wrong with making an audience think a bit, but Moffat's brand of cerebral writing ventures into that area I touched on in my earlier post, it is too far fetched to be credible.

In the episode Lets Kill Hitler I believe we had a girl going to school with Amy and Rory who later ended up regenerating into River Song, who was in turn the same girl we had seen regenerating at the end of Day of the Moon. Again its just interlink overkill. Why does everything have to be connected in some way? It makes the universe a very small place.

Recently the Clara character has been at the epicentre of all this overcomplication, I've never known a Companion with such a convoluted introduction. It took three attempts before she was even introduced properly. First we had Dalek souffle Clara, then I think we had a governess or something before she finally appeared properly. Then there was then all that going into the Doctor's personal history not once but twice. It just bogged the character down from the word go.

I think the epitome of all this clever, clever showing off business was in the recent series finale when Moffat tried to convince us for all of a few minutes that Clara was now the Doctor, even putting her face in the titles.

Moffat also loves his tangents. He's frequently pulled the trick of just when you think the episode's going in one direction, switching and going in another. He may think that he is surprising the audience and eschewing predictability, but the effect is frequently jarring and takes you out of the story. The second part of his Library story felt like he had switched to another tale entirely, when you still wanted to be watching the previous one. This season the atmosphere he had built up over the first half of Listen was killed stone dead when we had the silly interlude of bubble-permed Pink Junior taking a wander around a restaurant in a spacesuit.

The truth is Moffat's plotting is not clever anymore. It is now just loopy. I am not adverse to the idea of a good story arc if it pays off, but ones in New Who never have and have most likely been made up as they went along. Can we believe for instance that River Song's introduction in Silence in the Library was ever intended to lead to the ridiculous saga that followed? I liked the idea of River Song at the time, the idea that the Doctor had met a Companion from his own future. Now I can't even bring myself to think of the character, it epitomised everything that was wrong with Moffat's Who.

Basically put, this showing off needs to stop and the series needs to go back to good straightforward stories. I am not saying they shouldn't show intelligence, but they shouldn't be a vehicle for the writer to try and prove to everyone that he's the genius he thinks he is.

NEXT TIME: 7) REWRITING THE MYTH

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

6) TRYING TO BE CLEVER

I'm going to let Russell T Davies off the hook this time as this complaint is primarily to do with the Moffat era of the show. I have never met Steven Moffat, nor do I have any desire to do but I would venture to suggest he has an ego problem. I really believe he thinks he is a genius, sci fi's answer to Dennis Potter or something like that. Probably a cumulative effect of all those awards and being surrounded by yes men. I have to say that I think he is deluded, in fact at times I have cause to worry for his sanity. Initially he seemed to be a competent writer who liked to push the boundaries of the show, this has now crossed the line into a writer whose episodes frequently come across as insane, defying all laws of logic and narrative.
His four outings for the show under Russell T Davies while not entirely successful were something a bit different, three of them played around a bit with the notion of time. Fans went a bit mad over these stories because they were a bit cereberal and seemed closer to the notion of real Doctor Who than some of the superficial stuff around them. Blink was undoubtedly the best of the three and the plot  was pretty clever and hung together fairly well. Classic Who probably never fully exploited the possibilities of time travel, characters meeting out of sequence and the Doctor's future effecting his present were aspects barely touched upon. The success of Blink I think well and truly went to Moffat's head, and when he took over as show runner he used the series as a vehicle to show off with this style of storytelling. Instead of stretching himself as a writer and trying different things he became a one thrick pony, interweaving and linking every little detail for no readily good reason other than to say look how clever I am.
The Matt Smith era is just a mess of complicated story arcs and connecting dots which comes across as  just plain silly most of the time. You will have to bear with me, as I have only seen half of Matt Smith's stories and even those I have only viewed once so my memories now are a bit vague, if I've missed any major detail that makes the whole thing gel then please forgive me but the general impression I had at the time was a mess.
The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang story I remember being hugely convoluted. If I remember rightly the Doctor's future self let himself out the Pandorica with the sonic screwdriver, there was then all that nonsense of Rory being a roman auton (a bit odd considering the lack of plastic in Roman times) and something about an exploding Tardis rebooting the universe. This may all have made perfect sense in Moffat's mind, but it made poor drama, I am not saying there is anything wrong with making an audience think a bit, but Moffat's brand of cerebral writing ventures into that area I touched on in my earlier post, its is too far fetched to be credible. 
In the episode Lets Kill Hitler I believe we had a girl going to school with Amy and Rory who later ended up regenerating into River Song, who was in turn the same girl we had seen regenerating at the end of Day of the Moon. Again its just interlink overkill why does everything have to be connected in some way, it makes the universe a very small place.
Recently the Clara character has been at the epicentre of all this overcomplication, I've never known a companion with such a convoluted introduction, it took three attempts before she was even introduced properly. First we had Dalek souffle Clara, then I think we had a governess or something before she finally appeared properly. Then there was then all that going into the Doctor' time stream not once but twice. It just bogged the character down from the word go. I think the eptiomy of all this clever, clever showing off business was when Moffat tried to convince us for all of a few minutes that Clara was now the Doctor even putting her face in the titles. The truth is Moffat's plotting is not clever anymore it is now just plain loopy. I am not adverse to the idea of a good story arc if it pays off, but ones in new Who never have and have most likely been made up as they went along. Can we believe for instance that River Song's introduction in Silence in the Library was ever intended to lead to the ridiculous saga that followed. I liked the idea of River Song at the time, the idea that the Doctor had met a companion from his own future, now I cant even bring myself to think of the character it epitomised everything that was wrong with Moffat's Who.
Basically put, this showing off needs to stop and the series needs to go back to good straight forward stories, I am not saying they shouldnt show intelligence, but they shouldnt be a vehicle for the writer to try and prove to everyone that he's the genius he thinks he is.

NEXT TIME: 7) REWRITING THE MYTH

Steven Moffat confuses 'convoluted' for 'complex', plain and simple.  There is no reason why all these stories need to tie in together because when one thinks on them, they don't. 

Now, I know that television series today have to have some long story arc versus Classic Who's heyday when you had four to six-episode stories, then moved on to the next without really referencing what had come before.  However, NuWho refuses to admit that when one looks at the sum total, it clearly doesn't hold together.

As Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has pointed out, the "Heaven" storyline that plagued Series Eight is illogical because the Clockwork Robots in Deep Breath and the robots from Robot of Sherwood were also looking for 'The Promised Land'.  Ethan points out that robots don't have a concept of the afterlife, and even if they did, how would they be harvested into the Nethersphere of Missy's?  That plotline was dropped pretty quickly or conveniently forgotten.   Add to that the idea that with his big dramatic, tear-inducing Death in Heaven Part 2 (Death in Heaven), Steven Moffat, Emmy-winning writer, has invalidated his own writing.  If Danny truly is dead, then all of Listen, the episode hailed as one of the Greatest Doctor Who Stories of All Time, now no longer happened (or couldn't happen).

Listen is predicated on the idea that Danny and Clara have children, one of whom has a descendant named Orson Pink.  With Danny dead (apparently, since Moffat LOVES to bring back the dead, making Death in Heaven a masturbatory exercise gone mad for him), who then can knock Clara up to give her the future Pink?  How can Orson Pink be both Clara and Danny's descendant?  Granted, Clara can find someone else to be the Mama Drama, but what are the chances it will be another Pink?

Oh, we could argue that Clara's child or grandchild could have married or had a child by another person named Pink, but again we are relying on an extremely large number of coincidences that stretch the bounds of believability to make these disparate parts fit. 

IF we accept Death in Heaven, then Danny is dead, and if Danny is dead, then Orson Pink no longer exists, and if Orson Pink no longer exists, then Clara and the Doctor couldn't have gone to the edge of the universe to meet Orson, and Clara could not have gone to Gallifrey to comfort/scare the Doctor as a child.  Listen and Death in Heaven cannot exist in the same universe.  In order to have one, the other must be eliminated.

Riddle me that!

As for The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, well, maybe I felt generous that day or I didn't pay attention to all the craziness going on.  However, the entire River Song storyline, if one thinks about it, is similarly plagued with nonsense.  I kept arguing that it was impossible for the little girl who regenerated in Day of the Egg Part 2 (Day of the Egg) could have been Mels in River's Secret Part 2 (Let's Kill Hitler) because the little girl regenerated in 1969/1970, and Mels was the same age and had grown up with her 'parents' since childhood when Rory and Amy would have to have been born at least ten years after the events of Day of the Egg

Complex story arcs are those that are intricate but that eventually tie in together and where the casual viewer could see that it holds together.  Convoluted story arcs are those that when you put them together make no sense and collapse thoroughly. 

Of course, Steven Moffat does the same with Sherlock, where if one examines them, they don't make sense. 

Eventually, Steven Moffat will have to be called on how his stories, when brought together under one long story per season, don't make any sense and sometimes don't make sense within an episode itself, let alone for the season.  Forget about tying Death in Heaven to anything pre-Rose.

Be warned: foul language abounds, and is very long but the thinking is brilliant.     


 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

10 Things I Hate About Who. Part Five: Bringing Stuff Back And Cocking It Up


I have made no effort to disguise my growing disdain for NuWho.  I was concerned I was speaking to an empty theater so to speak, but to quote the Face of Boe, "You are not alone".  On one of the Facebook pages I belong to (Classic Doctor Who Fans Who Dislike New Who), I have come across a series of thoughts by Mr. Paul Berry.  We in the group were so genuinely impressed by his series that I urged him to publish them. 

Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has requested permission to upload them on his YouTube page.  I don't know if Mr. Berry has but hope he does.  I for my part asked for permission to reprint them on this site. 

Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the fifth of a ten-essay series.  It is reprinted as written with the content exactly as it appears. The only alterations made are for any grammatical/spelling errors, spacing for paragraphs, and perhaps a few afterthoughts which will be noted after the photos. 

For this essay, I also added all the photos save for the last one, which was part of the original essay.

I hope readers enjoy and share them.  I also hope readers will debate these matters, for I believe in a healthy debate.  However, I find Mr. Berry's comments and thoughts quite well-thought out and worthy of a greater audience. 

With that, I present Part Five of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who
 
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10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

5) BRINGING STUFF BACK AND COCKING IT UP


When Doctor Who returned in 2005 I was glad it wasn't a reboot. I didn't want the whole of the classic series to be confined to some parallel universe or have 26 years of adventure written off as never having happened. The reboot route could easily have been taken. Indeed it was very nearly taken with the 96 TV movie and a pitch document from none other than Mark Gatiss in the early noughties proposed the series start from Day One.

The fact that new Doctor Who was a continuation of the original meant that old stuff from the original series could be brought back. Obviously it could still have been brought back in a reboot but the fact that this was a continuation created a clear line of succession which linked these new adventures inextricably to the glory days of the past.

Unfortunately my feelings have now changed on the matter. I now wish Doctor Who had been rebooted so it no longer formed part of the same narrative continuity as the original series. One of the reasons for this is that I believe each time they have brought something back from the past they have messed it up in some way.



Okay first the Daleks. I'll take my hats off to them, the BBC design team did a great job on the bronze new series Dalek. It was a masterful update of the Dalek design, close enough to the original as to still be recognisable, but at the same time make the creatures a credible threat for the 21st century. It would have been very easy to pervert the Dalek image and do something like spider Daleks as was mooted for the US revival. Thankfully Russell T Davies knew there was something iconic about the whole Dalek shape and it shouldn't be tampered with.

The area where the Daleks have now lost credibility is not in the design, but in the constant and repetitive idea of Daleks gaining emotions. Once, in the episode Dalek I can forgive, but they have now used this idea five times . We have had Rose infected Dalek, Dalek Sec hybrid, Dalek Caan, Clara Dalek and more recently Rusty. I am really now fed up of having Daleks who see the error of their ways or we are supposed to feel sorry for. We have also had human Daleks and zombie Daleks; the image of the Dalek eyestalk projecting from a human forehead in Asylum of the Daleks was terrible beyond belief.

I must admit to not hating Moffat's technicolour redesign but not quite seeing the point in it either. It should really have been a case of if it ain't broke don't fix it; the RTD design didn't need changing that soon.


Questionable from the word "Go" was the redesign of the Cybermen. The initial Pete's World Cybermen was horribly clunky looking and moved badly on screen. The new stomping Cybermen really took away from what had previously been sleek creatures with an element of stealth. The voice never worked for me either. I could see what they were trying to achieve but the tone always reminded me of the Kandyman. The idea to have the new Cybermen come from a parallel Earth, thus not having to explain a rather convoluted back story to a new audience wasn't a bad one, but it very quickly seemed to be forgotten about with the creatures becoming space faring and using advanced technology with no explanation.



It eventually seemed that we had gone back to having Mondasian Cybermen but still using the Pete's World design. The team never seemed to be able to decide what a Cyberman was either, flitting between being simply brains in a Cyber casing then to entire bodies and then inexplicably being able to convert dead bodies.  I must confess to missing two of the Cybermen's Matt Smith Era adventures as I was boycotting the series at this point, so I could make little judgment on the new design other than to say it was an improvement and much closer to the sleek sophisticated look one associates with the Cybermen. Having now seen them in action in the recent series finale, I must admit to not really being convinced there seems a definite Iron Man thing going on and the stomping and voice still aren't doing it for me.



The third big bad to make a comeback was of course The Master, and probably the biggest screw up so far. Ironically they showed how it could be done properly for all of about 10 minutes when Derek Jacobi briefly got a shot at the part before he regenerated into John Simm. At the time of course Simm was big news due to Life on Mars, but it has to be said it was another example of miscasting. He was just too baby faced and lacking in gravitas to carry the part; furthermore the Russell T Davies take on the character was not to make him a suave scheming criminal genius, but rather more of an evil Jack Sparrow with silly one liners and a lot of mugging.

We were then invited to try and sympathise with the character, and at one point he confesses to the Doctor he is scared. His return for The End of Time was even worse as he suddenly gained Superman-like powers and was attired initially in the manner of someone who had walked off Benefits Street. The awful Master race idea and the character suddenly having an about face and turning to good would be about the worst you think it would get.


Unfortunately The Master has recently surfaced again now as a woman. I will address the logic and rights and wrongs of this move in a future article. The question really is, 'Does Michelle Gomez convince as a female Master?', and sadly the answer is no. It's not that she doesn't look the part; it's just that we now have another silly zany Master, except now we can't even call the character that. Missy just doesn't have the same ring to it and The Mistress just opens up a whole world of innuendo which I am sure Moffat will revel in.

What else have they cocked up? Well, we had the jerky Autons from the first episode Rose, which were played a bit for comic relief and didn't have any of the sinister edge of their 70's forebears. Then there were the Sontarans, not a bad redesign but the stories they have been in have stunk and we are now saddled with the comic relief Sontaran Strax. The Silurians took a well designed and memorable 70's race and reduced it to the level of a Babylon 5 or Star Trek alien, while also lumbering us with the pointless Madame Vastra character.

The new Ice Warrior design wasn't bad, but the creatures were ruined by having their appearance revealed not as being a mixture of their own reptillian skin and armoured plates as I had always assumed, but a Cyberman like mechanical suit. We were then treated to a blatant rip of from Alien as we saw a warrior out its suit and rather underwhelming it turned out to be too. Finally we had the Zygons, again not a terrible redesign but having little impact compared to their original appearance and once again used for light hearted relief in some scenes.



We also have a handful of original cast members who have returned and been forced to adapt to the series modern style. Elisabeth Sladen's return in School Reunion worked pretty well but it should have been left at that. I must admit I try to pretend the Sarah Jane Adventures never happened because although Sladen did her best, it was a cheap kids show which unsurprisingly suffered from many of the same problems as the parent show but without the grand vision.

It is unfortunate Nicholas Courtney's last appearance was in this same series, the episode of which was so unmemorable I can't remember a thing about it. Maybe we should be glad the Brig never made in into New Who proper. Oh sorry, he did: the Cyberbrig was crass and beyond tasteless. I can't imagine what Moffat was thinking to believe this was in anyway a tribute to the character. Are we to take it the poor Brig is stuck in this state?

We should also not forget that three Classic Doctors have also returned to the fold. The first was of course Peter Davison in Time Crash with a total reinvention that bore next to no resemblance to the character played by Davison between 82 and 84. Why would the 5th Doctor suddenly be grumpy? Would he really come out with talk of desktop themes and rubbish beards? Tom Baker's cameo was better, brief and a bit more poignant if a little overdone, although I suspect they were indulging Baker to a certain extent. Lastly Paul McGann starred in what I can only describe as the best thing that has come out of BBC Wales in 5 years, namely Night of the Doctor: epic and dramatic and a tantalising glimpse of what Doctor Who should be like more often, but they don't have the balls to do.

For the most part however old returns have been a disaster, nearly everything that has come back has ended up worse than the original. It also often makes the new version the definitive one as it will then generally appear on all the merchandising and in guides etc. over the original. For that reason I now pray they don't bring anything else back but I'm sure they will.

I live in dread at what the next icon will be that gets The Moffat Makeover.

NEXT TIME: 6) TRYING TO BE CLEVER

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO

5) BRINGING STUFF BACK AND COCKING IT UP

When Doctor Who returned in 2005 I was glad it wasnt a reboot, I didnt want the whole of the classic series to be confined to some parallel universe or have 26 years of adventure written off as never having happened. The reboot root could easily have been taken, indeed it was very nearly taken with the 96 tv movie and a pitch document from none other than Mark Gatiss in the early noughties proposed the series start from day one.
The fact that new Doctor Who was a continuation of the original meant that old stuff from the original series could be brought back, obviously it could still have been brought back in a reboot but the fact that this was a continuation created a clear line of succession which linked these new adventures inextricably to the glory days of the past. 
Unfortunately my feelings have now changed on the matter, I now wish Doctor Who had been rebooted  so it no longer formed part of the same narrative continuity as the original series. One of the reasons for this is that I believe each time they have brought something back from the past they have messed it up in some way.
Okay first the Daleks, I'll take my hats off to them, the BBC design team did a great job on the bronze new series Dalek, it was a masterful update of the Dalek design, close enough to the original as to still be recognisable, but at the same time make the creatures a credible threat for the 21st century. It would have been very easy to pervert the Dalek image and do something like spider daleks as was mooted for the US revival. Thankfully Russell T Davies knew there was something iconic about the whole Dalek shape and it shouldnt be tampered with. The area where the Daleks have now lost credibility is not in the design, but in the constant and repetitive idea of Daleks gaining emotions. Once, in the episode Dalek I can forgive, but they have now used this idea five times . We have had Rose infected Dalek, Dalek Sec hybrid, Dalek Caan, Clara Dalek and more recently Rusty. I am really now fed up of having Daleks who see the error of their ways or we are supposed to feel sorry for. We have also had human Daleks and zombie Daleks, the image of the Dalek eyestalk projecting from a human forehead in Asylum of the Daleks was terrible beyond belief.
I must admit to not hating Moffat's technicolour redesign but not quite seeing the point in it either. It should really have been a case of if it aint broke dont fix it, the RTD design didnt need changing that soon.
Questionable from the word go  was the redesign of the Cyberman, the initial Pete's world Cyberman was horribly clunky looking and moved badly on screen. The new stomping Cyberman really took away from what had previously been sleek creatures with an element of stealth. The voice never worked for me either, I could see what they were trying to achieve but the tone always reminded me of the Kandyman. The idea to have the new Cybermen come from a parallel Earth, thus not having to explain  a rather convoluted back story to a new audience wasnt a bad one, but it very quickly seemed to be forgotten about with the creatures becoming space faring and using advanced technology with no explanation. It eventually seemed that we had gone back to having Mondasian Cybermen but still using the Pete's world design. The team never seemed to be able to decide what a Cyberman was either, flitting between being simply brains in a Cyber casing then to entire bodies and then inexblicably being able to convert dead bodies . I must confess to missing two of the Cybermen's Matt Smith era adventures as I was boycotting the series at this point, so I could make little judgement on the new design other than to say it was an improvement and much closer to the sleek sophisticated look one associates with the Cybermen. Having now seen them in action in the recent series finale, I must admit to not really being convinced there seems a definite iron man thing going on and the stomping and voice still arent doing it for me. 
The third big bad to make a comeback was of course the Master,  and probably the biggest screw up so far. Ironically they showed how it could be done properly for all of about 10 minutes when Derek Jacobi briefly got a shot at the part before he regenerated into John Simm. At the time of course Simm was big news due to Life on Mars, but it has to be said it was another example of miscasting. He was just too baby faced and lacking in gravitas to carry the part, furthermore the Russell T Davies take on the character was not to make him a suave scheming criminal genius, but rather more of an evil Jack Sparrow with silly one liners and a lot of mugging. We were then  invited to try and sympathise with the character, and at one point he confesses to the Doctor he is scared. His return for the End of Time was even worse as he suddenly gained superman like powers and was attired initially in the manner of someone who had walked off Benefits Street. The awful Master race idea and the character suddenly having an about face and turning to good would be about the worst you think it would get. Unfortunately the Master has recently surfaced again now as a woman, I will address the logic and rights and wrongs of this move in a future article, the question really is does Michelle Gomez convince as a female master, and sadly the answer is no, its not that she doesnt look the part, it's just  that we now have another silly zany Master, except now we cant even call the character that, Missy just doesnt have the same ring to it and The Mistress just opens up a whole world of innuendo which I am sure Moffat will revel in.
What else have they cocked up, well we had the jerky Autons from the first episode Rose, which were played a bit for comic relief and didnt have any of the sinister edge of their 70's forebears. Then there were the Sontarans, not a bad redesign but the stories they have been in have stunk and we are now saddled with the comic relief Sontaran Strax. The Silurians took a well designed and memorable 70's race and reduced it to the level of a Babylon 5 or Star trek alien, while also lumbering us with the pointless Madame Vastra character. Finally we had the Zygons, again not a bad redesign but having little impact compared to their original appearance and once again used  for light hearted relief in some scenes.
We also have a handful of original cast members who have returned and been forced to adapt to the series modern style. Elisabeth Sladen's return in School Reunion worked pretty well but it should have been left at that, I must admit I try to pretend the Sarah jane Adventures never happened because although Sladen did her best, it was a cheap kids show which unsurprisingly suffered from many of the same problems as the parent show but without the grand vision. It is unfortunate Nicholas Courtney's last appearance was in this same series, the episode of which was so unmemorable I cant remember a thing about it. Maybe we should be glad the Brig never made in into new Who proper, oh sorry he did, the Cyberbrig was crass and beyond tasteless I cant imagine what Moffat was thinking to believe this was in anyway a tribute to the character. Are we to take it the poor Brig is stuck in this state?
We should also not forget that three classic Doctors have also returned to the fold. The first was of course Peter Davison in Time Crash with a total reinvention that bore next to no resemblance to the character played by Davison between 82 and 84. Why would the 5th Doctor suddenly be grumpy, would he really come out with talk of desktop themes and rubbish beards, Tom Baker's cameo was better, brief and a bit more poignant if a little overdone, although I suspect they were indulging Baker to a certain extent. Lastly Paul McGann starred in what I can only decribe as the best thing that has come out of BBC Wales in 5 years namely Night of the Doctor, epic and dramatic and a tantalising glimpse of what Doctor Who should be like more often, but they dont have the balls to do.
For the most part however old returns have been a disaster, nearly everything that has come back has ended up worse than the original. It also often makes the new version the definitive one as it will then generally appear on all the merchandising and in guides etc over the original. For that reason I now pray they dont bring anything else back but I'm sure they will, I live in dread at what the next icon will be that gets the Moffat makeover.

NEXT TIME: 6) TRYING TO BE CLEVER

There is a lot of ground to cover here.

I find that the redesign of the Daleks, the Cybermen, the Master, and others (the once-proud Sontarans now reduced to idiotic comic relief, the Brigadier turned into a Zombie Cyberman who, like Danny Pink, conveniently didn't let the lack of emotion the Cybermen have get in the way of a 'touching moment) to be now painful.

I don't mean in terms of actual design (though, unlike Mr. Berry, I did dislike the Skittles Daleks...multi-colored for what purpose), though Flying Cybermen may be the nadir of the series.  I mean in terms of characters.  I hadn't thought much on the idea that we've had Daleks 'feel' so much in the revived series.  I did note that there was a certain repetitiveness between the Ninth Doctor story Dalek and the Twelfth Doctor story Into the Dalek (surprise, surprise...the Doctor would have made a good Dalek).

What Classic Doctor Who managed remarkably well was pretty consistent continuity in the 26 years it ran.  I'm sure it didn't get everything right, but on the whole we didn't have something so wildly different that fans would be puzzled by it.  With NuWho, the production team can't even keep continuity within its eight seasons, let alone the first 26. 

Don't worry.  It's only an egg...

Take a look at the Sontarans.   They started out as fierce warriors (in fact, their debut was in the story The Time Warrior, one of the few Doctor Who stories that escaped the curse of "Time", where a DW story with "Time" in the title ends up a disaster).  Throughout all their appearances in Classic Who they were always about war: there was glory in war, and they even managed to invade Gallifrey itself at one point.

Now, who can seriously believe Strax could invade Walmart, let alone Gallifrey?  The Sontarans are now reduced to a joke in the form of this witless servant who, apparently despite having lived with humans and others for all these years, still doesn't understand the concept of clothes (which he himself wears).  Not having seen The Sontaran Stratagem Parts 1 & 2 I cannot render an opinion as to whether NuWho Sontarans are always this dimwitted and inept, but I can't help think they and their creator (Robert Holmes, the best Doctor Who writer of all time) clearly deserved better. 

The same with the Silurians.  Unlike others I thought well of Cold Blood Parts 1 & 2 and wasn't too up in arms about their redesign, but now they too are now basically there to be one thing: a lesbian.  I dislike the Madam Vastra character not because she favors sex with women but because she's something deadly to any show...smarter and more important than the main character.  She is the Silurian River Song: the person who knows more than The Doctor about almost everything and who whenever she steps in becomes the de facto star of the show.

That in itself is bad enough: the show is not called Vastra & Company (or to use my own name, The Lizard & The Lady), but Doctor Who.  However, what purpose do they really serve?  I know that in The Snowmen, Vastra referred to herself & her crew as "the Doctor's friends".  Far be it for me to make pronouncements on what makes friendships, but they don't have the history with the Doctor that say, the Brigadier or Sarah Jane have.  Just a thought.

I know many NuWho fans want a Paternoster Gang spinoff, but they, unthinking as always, don't think on just how limited the idea is.  First, does one really want to see a sex scene between a lizard and a human?  Are Blue Peter fans ready for same-sex bestiality to invade their screens?

Well, perhaps given that nowadays we have five-year-olds fully aware that they are transgender versus my youth when such concepts were not even within the realm of fantasy, let alone reality...

In any case, The Lizard & The Lady face other problems.  They are stuck in a particular time frame and have to deal with that in a more real manner (I can't say realistic since that ship sailed long ago).  Could you introduce Who villains to Victorian London?  How would Vastra's appearance, if unveiled, be received?  Sorry, no civil servant or religious organization (church, synagogue, mosque, temple, what have you) would ever consent to "marry" Vastra & Jenny.  Even the Quakers might be aghast at marrying a reptile to a human.

What stories could you really get, and how to get Strax into this?  He isn't a warrior.  He's a buffoon. 

I won't even get into the Master/Missy business save to say...it serves no purpose. 

Doctor Who, I've long argued, is schizophrenic.  On the one hand, it celebrates its long history (The Day of The Doctor, need one remember, was touted as the 50th Anniversary Special).  On the other, it constantly ignores or dismisses said history (for all intents and purpose, The Day of The Doctor was an Eighth Anniversary Special given that the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors were the show, and their Companions were the show.  No mention of Susan Foreman, the Doctor's granddaughter, or of any pre-Rose Companion, and very little to suggest that anything came before the Ninth Doctor).

I think we need to carefully look at the fact that perhaps, despite what we've been told, the Doctor Who of 1963-1989 and the Doctor Who from 2005 onwards are really two different shows altogether, sharing a name and some connections but really not being part of the other in a cohesive whole.