Monday, January 31, 2011

"Turn Left"

Doesn't that Asiatic planet at the beginning look interesting? I think so, so it's a shame that it's used purely for the sake of bookends featuring the Doctor while Donna regresses through a clip show of Doctor Who stories where the Doctor isn't present to save the day. Astoundingly self-indulgent and almost completely pointless, the only purpose it serves speculatively is to show what we'd not have too much trouble guessing on our own - which is to say that if the Doctor wasn't around things would probably not be very good. I think this is the point at which RTD started to completely lose it. Probably the biggest indicator of this is the totally unnecessary return of Rose, who runs around being deliberately mysterious and fulfilling tonnes of reverse dramatic irony. Donna has no idea what's going on, but we know full well who this blonde girl is and if 'the darkness' is coming, by the precedent of a couple of previous series it's not exactly difficult to imagine that the danger is going to be in the form of a certain group of people who like to say 'exterminate' a lot.
It's noteworthy that all these horrible things are meant to have happened in the Doctor's absence but there are a lot of creative omissions. For instance, we can appreciate that with the Doctor dead in "The Runaway Bride" there would have been no way for the Master to escape the end of the universe and the Family of Blood would never have come to Earth. But what about the Daleks in 1930s New York? Wouldn't Dalek Sec, or even Dalek Caan and his cronies, been able to build a new race of human Daleks which would have wiped out the planet? What about the Carrionites with Shakespeare? Or the Pyroviles in Pompeii? Wouldn't there have been several opportunites for history to have been erased as well? And why would the Adipose Matron have bothered killing people if there was no one to threaten her into going into full scale production? But RTD doesn't even consider these possibilities because he wants to ram home a message about how if a catastrophe occurred in London then the United Kingdom would apparently degrade into a Dystopian Nightmare World with concentration camps, racial discrimination, rampant unemployment and so on. If the whole of London was wiped out, wouldn't that account for a lot of the space? Wouldn't so many people be killed that there wouldn't actually be many people to relocate? And why on earth would this cause Britain to become like the Third Reich, as Wilf so needlessly points out when the Italians are trucked off? It's obviously just RTD trying to be clever and make thickies who have never had to contemplate these concepts before go "ooh imagine if that happened" because in this era Doctor Who is pandering to morons who've never so much as picked up a book or watched a more intellectual programme which deals with these issues in much greater depth and with significantly improved subtlety and detail.
So Rose shows up and Billie Piper has obviously forgotten how to do a cockney accent in the intervening time between Series 2 and Series 4 because she speaks as if her teeth are too big for her mouth. Apparently she'd forgotten how to play Rose and had to go back and watch some old episodes to jog her memory but she must have just watched "Love & Monsters" or something because the performance isn't exactly very reminiscent. There's a lot of wank where we're supposed to see that she talks and acts like the Doctor now, and a technobabble-tastic UNIT time machine which also shows Donna how she's got some huge scarab on her back that somehow feeds off the life you didn't not not have or something sort of like the Weeping Angels but even more ridiculous and nonsensical. Sylvia Noble has no character development as usual, Wilf aka Bernard Cribbins stands around having a bit of a cry in what feels like a waste of his presence, and the fortune teller aka Chantho without the makeup is incredibly hammy.
So Donna has to die to save the world by forcing herself to Turn Left in the past. How come the Trickster Beetle or whatever it is couldn't just compensate again? The whole 'something on your back' part is more unscientific deliberate-mystery nonsense and all the drama about Donna dying is wasted because we know RTD's too scared to kill her off. She gets hit by a truck, wakes up, and we're burdened with the tiresome phrase 'Bad Wolf' again which apparently means the end of the universe for some reason even though the Doctor doesn't care to elaborate. It's a very cheap examination of a world without the Doctor and the presence of Rose is entirely needless. You can tell RTD thought he was incredibly clever while he was writing this but it comes across as smug and self-congratulatory with all the re-hashed plots and the hammer-blow satire and I can't help but feel that episodes like this, with their forced mystery and engimatic weirdness, were purely designed to drum up hype and provide cheap thrills rather than doing something intelligent. By all means show us a world without the Doctor, but if you turn right please take a more intelligent route than this.

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