Wednesday, 20 November 2013

From the Archives: Doctor Who Series 7: Massive Disappointment

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who, we re-publish Melissa Smith's critique of  Series 7:

I’d like to start off with a disclaimer: I have been an avid fan of Doctor Who since its revival in 2005. I’ve watched Christopher Eccleston prance about in a leather jacket, David Tennant repeat the words ‘Oh yes!’ in almost every episode he could, and finally Matt Smith – the boy wonder with an affinity for a nice fez. I have watched countless Daleks fail yet again to exterminate the Doctor, Cybermen looking ominous in large numbers, and Oods doing whatever it is that Oods do (seriously, does anyone know?). I have seen the show at its best and at its most terrible. Unfortunately, the new series so far has fallen dangerously on the latter side.

It started off with yet another round of the Daleks. I mean, I understand that they’re a recurring theme throughout Doctor Who, but who doesn’t get, by now, that they’re just a few men-turned-robots inside tin cans getting a bit angry and blasting everything in their sight? I’ll admit, having them asking the Doctor for help was an interesting plot twist, however not interesting enough to save this episode from being inexcusably dire.

The next episode, though a novel idea, failed to live up to expectations. ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ sounds like the writer has run out of ideas and turned to his five-year-old son for inspiration, however I was willing to give it a chance. I can’t say I’m glad I did. Apart from the cast of Harry Potter turning up (Filch and Arthur Weasley), there was little to say in favour of the whole debacle. The characters were two-dimensional and awkward, and the plot seemed throughout like it was desperately trying to grab hold of anything that might give a small child a sugar high.
‘A Town called Mercy’ was a slight, (only slight), improvement on the last week, offering the Doctor a chance to wear a new hat and a shiny yellow badge. The scenery was beautiful, the period was original for the show, yet something was still lacking. The exploration of the Doctor’s darker side was an interesting character development, however there’s character development and there’s outright contradiction of all that the character stands for. The Doctor has always been the voice of reason (concerning morality if nothing else), so for him to turn around and advocate the murder of a fellow being, whatever bad deeds they have committed, seems bizarre.

The latest episode did restore some hope in me, however small. The cameos from Brian Cox and Lord Alan Sugar made me laugh, as did the character of Brian, Rory’s dad (although this may be because I was expecting him to whip out a wand at any moment). Some questions were brought to mind throughout, such as why is it a big problem for them to have full-time jobs and also go adventuring with the Doctor? It’s time travel; they can be back in a minute if they want! Also, a lot of strange things have happened to Earth over the various series, from deadly mannequins to walking fat blobs. Surely they’ve learned that these things happen, and not to worry as it all sorts itself out in the end. Overall, this episode has been my favourite so far (though not a massive achievement considering my opinions of the rest of them). I think this is because I tend to enjoy it more when it’s set in modern day, or real life. This may be because I can relate to it to some extent, or just because the juxtaposition of alien life forms and BBC News is funny… On a side note, the Shakri at the end bears an uncanny resemblance to a de-masked Darth Vader.
All in all, I am not a fan of Series 7 so far. If it wasn’t for Matt Smith’s coif and Karen Gillan’s beautiful face I might have already given up. The thing is, I know the show is capable of better things. Head writer Steven Moffat has written some of the best episodes in its history, such as my favourite, Blink, one of the most terrifying things to ever pass as family television. On the subject of the Weeping Angels, it appears they are back this Saturday in New York of all places. It has all the makings of a brilliant episode; here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint!

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