Thursday, January 27, 2011


There's a good episode lying somewhere behind the RTD smuggery and Tennant shoutiness of this story. Very far behind. It tries to say something about blind faith but it fails spectacularly and the rest of it is just dross. So little of the story makes sense. How does a virus wipe out a planet in seven minutes? Since when were 'forget' and 'honesty' moods? How is the Face of Boe powering anything and how come no one ever had an issue with the tediousness of the motorway before? None of it really makes sense and you can tell that RTD initially just thought "Ooh I have an idea, let's revisit New Earth again for some reason and have a traffic jam which lasts for decades! That would be clever, wouldn't it! Now let's ram a plot in there somewhere!"
Of course the principle is interesting, of these people simply believing that they're going to reach their destination, but as much as it is a nice allegory how are we supposed to be expected to believe that these enlightened year five billion and something people would just sit around in their cars like lemons letting the world pass by? Speaking of which, if they had all those flying cars in "New Earth" the episode zooming all above the city, how come they're nowhere to be seen? And if the Upper City has been wiped out by a virus, how come there are still Mood Vendors working in the Lower City? If the virus could kill the entire Senate while it was in session and completely depopulate New Manhattan why didn't it kill the people in the slums? And why, oh why, oh why did RTD think it was relevant or necessary to resurrect the Macra, who haven't been seen onscreen since the now-lost "The Macra Terror" of 1967, and worse still bring them back as mindless simpletons so that there could be some nice CGI of them snapping at cars in the Fast Lane? It all reeks of needlessness and plot convenience, sort of like how Hame only has enough teleport energy for one trip or how the last act of the Senate was to place New Earth under one-hundred-year quarantine even though the virus itself was dying out and there were still people alive.
A lot of the smuggery includes some tedious references, like the pre-titles sequence where the two passengers look like the people in the famous painting American Gothic for absolutely no reason apart from the fact that RTD clearly thought it would be clever and funny. I've also often thought that the chap in the pinstripe suit and bowler hat was some kind of reference to Magritte's The Son of Man (or possibly the Pet Shop Boys) but either way there is ridiculous nonsense aplenty, like the brick buildings in the Lower City, the fact that people are still wearing t-shirts, the notion of cars still producing smoke, the concept of a human woman giving birth to a litter of kittens or an old woman being a 'car spotter' even though they can barely see out their own windows and are only aware of people on a 'friends list'. And if the Face of Boe is able to give the Doctor enough power to open the Motorway, how come he didn't do it ages ago? Was it really that important that he wait for the Doctor's return just so that he could say "You are not alone"? That in itself is so deliberately obscure and enigmatic that it seems virtually worthless to say.
Then there's the Doctor, who is a jerk to Martha and then realises what a jerk he's been but then has a big shout at people and so on and is generally extremely unlikeable. At least Martha forces him to sit down and talk but when she brings up the idea that she's his "rebound" after Rose you can't help but agree with her and you feel astonished at what kind of man the Doctor has become. Since when was the Doctor the kind of guy who would use someone as a "rebound"? But now he is. Why did they have to change his character so much? One day it will recover, you'll see. As I say, there's something here about faith, but it really makes very little difference; it's lost behind so much manic Tenth Doctor anger and RTD self-congratulatory pretension that any meaning is lost, which is a shame because it would probably be one of the closest steps he ever makes towards writing genuine science fiction if it weren't for its gaping inadequacies.

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