Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Tooth and Claw"

Yelling incoherently while repeatedly bashing the TARDIS console with a hammer, the Tenth Doctor manages to sum up this series and possibly his entire tenure just after the opening titles of "Tooth and Claw". It looks like RTD is going for the hat trick because this episode is utter bilge as well. For instance, it starts with monks who spontaneously disrobe to reveal lurid orange martial arts outfits, bald heads and ninja stick thingies. Yes, ninja monks. For absolutely no reason. They have a ridiculous martial arts fight sequence and even do the incredibly tired martial arts movie thing where they go into slow motion in the air. It's utterly ludicrous - who on Earth thought this kind of childish idiocy was of the right tone for Doctor Who? Doctor Who should avoid taking itself too seriously, it is a family programme after all, but it should take itself more seriously than this. It's complete nonsense of the most pointless and sensationalist kind designed to amuse idiots. It's pathetic, and it's incredibly obvious that this scene existed for the sake of dumb spectacle because the ninja monks barely appear again and never kung-fu fight again in the rest of the episode. Don't get me started about how the Doctor uses the name 'James McCrimmon' - if you don't know, the name of the Second Doctor's most faithful companion and one of the great classic series companions - because it's pretty horrendous that it gets defiled by appearing in this episode with its pointless Werewolf and ninja monks. If you're the kind of person who thinks the concept is awesome just because it's ninja monks, you're a twat. It's wrong for Doctor Who. Go back to watching Venture Bros. or something.
Oh and this episode repeats the two exact tropes of "The Unquiet Dead": an alien in the past seeking to conquer Earth which happens to look like a horror stereotype, and a virtually needless historical celebrity appearance by Queen Victoria. It's astonishingly unoriginal, even set in roughly the same era. Absolutely zero explanation is given for what the alien cellular presence is, how or why it is similar to a Werewolf in appearance and behaviour, how it is activated by the full moon or why excess moonlight kills it. No explanation. And you know why? Because there couldn't be one. The Werewolf is a supernatural creature, it works by magic without rational scientific explanation, and if you tried to come up with a scientific explanation it would have to be technobabble bollocks. So you know what that means, RTD? It means you don't have a Werewolf as the villain in Doctor Who! All the pointless corridor-running, noble sacrifices and screaming just go to show how boring and played out every Werewolf scenario is by now anyway. And is RTD unaware that the whole assassinating Victoria to take over the British Empire thing was one of the plots in "Ghost Light", a Seventh Doctor adventure from 1989? Ghost Light gets a lot of crap because of its heavily truncated and therefore difficult-to-follow storyline but I watched it the other day and it's great. It's a hell of a lot more original and intelligent than this braindead romp, and the Seventh Doctor kicks the Tenth Doctor's arse; he's a mysterious manipulative badass. The Tenth Doctor is just a dick.
This brings me to the characters. The Tenth Doctor and Rose are insufferably smug and I actually like it when Queen Victoria tells them off for being so brazen and flippant about all the horrible deaths and emotional trauma which are going on, Queen Victoria herself is just a tiresome combination of the 'stuffy monarch' and 'sorrowful yet hopeful widow' archetypes, Sir Robert and his wife are virtually characterless cyphers and the Wolf guy in the cage is just a cookie-cutter RTD purple-prose spouting weirdo. There are some horrible jokes by Tennant in his native Scottish accent about Rose's appearance, cringe-inducing efforts by Rose to make Victoria say "We are not amused", lots of needless hugging, and plenty of the Tenth Doctor shouting and being rude to people who are just struggling to survive in a desperately unfamiliar environment. People say the Sixth Doctor was rude and self-involved when he could also be the soul of kindness, generosity and forgiveness; the Tenth Doctor has none of his compassion or patience (a problem with the 45 minute format, perhaps?) and runs around like he's having a manic episode insulting everyone for not being as inhumanly intelligent and brave as he is and dodging criticism because the fangirls love him. Well maybe handsome looks are enough for some people but in my opinion this Doctor's personality has made him fairly unlikeable so far through this rewatch. It's odd considering that David Tennant is a self-confessed big fan of the show, and I know he is, so why is his performance as the Tenth Doctor so... un-Doctor-like? Eccly's Doctor was so much more consistent with the prior feel and he was a traumatised war survivor. The Tenth Doctor seems to think he can act like a tool because he looks young, wears a sharp suit and has a blonde girl hanging around the TARDIS with him. It feels like fangirl-baiting character assassination by RTD and it does not sit well with me one bit. It's not helped by all of Tennant's growling, jaw thrusting and boggling eyes, the last which really worked with Tom Baker and really doesn't now. I like to claim that the Tenth Doctor is only finally suffering from the post traumatic stress disorder his Ninth self was aoviding and thus his personality is out of control and totally inconsistent with himself at all other times. It helps.
Fricking ninja monks. Jesus.

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