Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Voyage of the Damned"

Wow. This episode's really bad. You know how "Last of the Time Lords" was so bad it made me a bit angry? This episode's bad but in a different way. It's bad in the sense that all the usual RTD hallmarks are there but instead of the insulting badness of the finale just gone this one is simply insipid and bland. Now before I go any further I'd like to make remarks to the effect that I don't have anything personal against RTD. I'm sure Queer as Folk or whatever is perfectly good if you're into that kind of thing. It's obvious that RTD can write people in domestic situations. Just watch Jackie and Mickey in "Rose" to see that. The problem I have with RTD is that he can't write science fiction to save his life, he degraded the artistic integrity and unique imaginitive landscape of Doctor Who by pandering to hype and sentimentality, and in spite of how much he purports to be a fan of the Classic Series he seems to have no grasp of conceptual or character consistency, nor any understanding of what genuinely made the old show special.
All these problems are neatly packaged in "Voyage of the Damned". It's astoundingly unimaginative. Why on earth did he think that a spaceship which looked like the Titanic was in any way interesting? He's finally given us humanoid aliens instead of normal humans but due to the 'Titanic' gimmick they're all dressing and behaving to a significant extent like humans and the difference is virtually negligible. The enemies are blatantly stolen from the infinitely superior, and really quite magnificent, Fourth Doctor serial "The Robots of Death".
Suicidal spaceship captain du jour is Geoffrey Palmer, who gets the Titanic hit by some meteoroids and kills almost everyone, so naturally it's up to the Doctor, his new friend Kylie Minogue, the funeral director from "Revelation of the Daleks", some jerk, two fat people and Meglos' small red cousin to save the day. Small red cactus is used for RTD to make a gay rights statement with all the subtletly of a brick to the face because he's a cyborg and "they can get married now", the fat guy dies and his fat wife kills herself for essentially no reason, and then Kylie Minogue drives off a cliff to kill the random head-in-a-jar bad guy who is the man behind the arbitrarily complicated scheme to ruin his former company. Presumably they don't have insurance companies or investigations on Sto. Really I think RTD doesn't plan these narratives through at all, and just hopes that if the Doctor talks fast enough no one will care how absolutely bunk the plot is. Fortunately I'm a good deal more intelligent than RTD or indeed the Tenth Doctor and it so happens that I notice these things and I must say it really spoils the illusion that I might be watching something anywhere approaching more than awful. Verity Lambert deserved something much better as a memorial; why couldn't they have just shown a favourite Classic Series story of her involvement instead?
There's all this incredibly unnecessary flirting between Doctor Number Ten and Kylie Minogue, and he manages to even cram in two kisses with her. By this point I do believe RTD is taking the piss by an extreme margin because the Doctor shouldn't be spontaneously hooking up with anyone, let alone someone he just met. It's a bit unsettling when the Eighth Doctor does it and in this it just comes across as weird; it's way more sexual/romantic here than it is in the TV Movie.
Also, Kylie acts like she's in an episode of Play School or something; I never knew a side character could be this hammy but she's all wide-eyed and gasping and asking questions in the most textbook curious voice imaginable. It's not helped by the fact that the dialogue is incredibly bland and by-the-numbers 'plucky woman' stuff. She dies and the Doctor's all torn up inside, but fortunately he is able to transform into Tuxedo Jesus and in one of the most needlessly sacriligeous and just plain weird images ever to be seen in the show he 'ascends to heaven' (the bridge of the ship) borne aloft by two Angels. As I keep saying, I'm not in any way religious, but what kind of weird message is openly atheistic RTD displaying by depicting the Doctor as God? Are we supposed to all be kneeling in front of our David Tennant shrines and hoping that a mighty Time Lord from Gallifrey will come and solve all our problems for us? And how are we meant to take this character seriously or consider any threat or problem he may face to be in the slightest bit challenging if we're continuously presented with this image of the Doctor as a divinity?
There are two pieces of redemption. Our two main survivors, besides the Doctor and Alonso "For the sake of a joke" Frame, are Mr. Copper aka Mrs. Bucket's husband from Keeping Up Appearances, and the jerk businessman dude Rickston Slade, who ends up profiting from the destruction. This for a start is nicely dark, and it's a relief for RTD to not let all the good people live, even if the deaths are generally quite stupid. It's also good that Mr. Copper, played by Clive Swift as reliably as ever, tells the Doctor that if he could choose who lived and who died then he would be a monster, not a god. But the Doctor's just used some bollocksy method to grant Kylie Minogue eternal life in the starry sky or something, and you feel like Mr. Copper's meant to represent the kind of critical-thinking people RTD hates because they aren't the braying morons who praise episodes like this piece of trash to the high heavens in spite of how utterly plagiaristic, unsubtle and hyper-sentimental it is. I believe this is because most people these days are too stupid to understand that just because the Doctor has a big cry at the end of every episode and Tennant strides around the TARDIS with a look of constipated anxiety on his face about Rose and the Daleks and the Master and the End of the World and so on doesn't make it artistic or valuable in the slightest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.