Friday, January 28, 2011


Would anyone be at all surprised if I described this episode as stock and boring? Everything from the 'limited time to save the ship' to the 'possessed mask-wearing crewmember stalking the corridors' to the 'spacewalk to press a button which is ludicrously situated on the outside of the ship' to the 'living star' is stolen shamelessly from other science fiction franchises. What I can't believe, but is apparently true, is that they were planning to bring back the Ood as possession victims in this episode as well, just to make it all seem tiresomely similar to "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit". Fortunately they avoid that and so "42" doesn't seem too close but it is very evocative of it and you can't help but feel like this one was thought up when they'd more or less run out of ideas and decided to mash a few existing ones together. Even the title/time-limit feels as if it was meant to make us think of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as well as American TV series 24 which reinforces how derivative the whole thing is.
I don't mind the idea of a living star but the notion of it possessing people makes me think too much of Jason X or possibly (although I'm sure the show makers were not aware of it, and you should play it) Yahtzee Croshaw's 7 Days a Skeptic. What I'm trying to say is that it's trope-tastic. The characters on the ship are pretty lifeless and the idea that trivia questions are passwords for the doors is ridiculous. What happens when they get into a crisis like this one and can't remember all the answers? I do enjoy it when the Doctor is possessed but his whole shouting-in-pain bit would have been infinitely more effective if this Tenth Incarnation didn't shout so much anyway. Then there's the fact that he gets all angry at the humans for scooping fuel from the sun. Does this Doctor love humans or does he hate them? The Tenth Doctor certainly doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind.
The notion that everything is happening in the space of 42 minutes is completely implausible considering how much running around happens, as well as how much time is allocated to the 'standing around like a bunch of lemons' quota of the episode, and too much simply happens with too many big scene changes for it to seem like things are happening in real time. The freeze unit thing is obviously just a repainting of the MRI device from "Sniff and Jones" and I will never believe that futuristic spaceships are full of pipe-riddled service corridors. The simplistic designs which were an inevitable consequence of the budgetary and technological limitations of the Classic Series almost always look more plausible for spaceship design.
Almost everything happens for the sake of drama instead of scientific realism and as much as I love the series I am about to compare this to the notion of releasing the 'sun particles' to appease the malignant living star sounds just like something from one of those really bad episodes of Star Trek where Geordi and Data would probably concoct a plan to spontaneously save the day involving 'redirecting a charged graviton beam through the main deflector dish' or something, and it apparently does ape rather closely a plot point in an episode of Voyager. It's not that it's bad per se and there are some good concepts here but it's incredibly unoriginal and it drags terribly. As I mentioned regarding the Devil episodes it's nice to see a bit of space suit and vacuum action happening but as usual with this era all the good stuff ends up being just as inconsequential as everything else due to issues of plotting and character.

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