I’m an old school Whovian. “My” Doctor was Pertwee, closely followed by Baker (even though they were both active before my TV-viewing had begun). Don’t get me wrong – I love the NuDoctor. Eccleston, Tennant, even Smith, are all great. But there is a handicap that being a long-time Whovian gives you, and that is that you care for the overall continuity and quality of the plot.
That’s why I found it hard to enjoy yesterday’s episode. Oh, I appreciate the script quality, the much improved pacing, the overall epicness, and the acting prowess of everyone involved. But the first ten minutes of exposition threw me so far off my suspension of disbelief that I couldn’t watch the rest of the episode in peace, without expecting at least some explanation of what was going on. It never came – in fact, things got progressively worse.
And don’t give me that ‘there’s no continuity in Doctor Who’ crap. Of course there is; loads of it. The writers acknowledge it – there were even nods to a very long established continuity in this very episode (see below). My only hope is that Moffat knows what he’s doing, and that everything gets explained away eventually. As it is, I’m mostly perturbed.
So here are my five questions regarding this episode.
(my God, it’s full of spoilers!)
Where the hell did the Daleks get a Parliament from? On that note, where did they get so many Daleks from? When did they manage to build an Empire again – and why did the Doctor do nothing to stop them? That’s very sloppy. And it looks to me like the Timelords had lost the war in the end, considering there’s only the Doctor left while the Daleks managed to rebuild their entire Empire from scratch pretty much unhindered…
2 Asylum Planet?
So the Daleks have a planet-wide asylum for their crazies. Are these all just the New Paradigm Daleks – if so, see above? Or did the Last Great Time War wipe out all the Daleks – except a planet full of the crazy ones?
“These are the ones that survived me,” says the Doctor, and the names flash on screen. Names of battles from the old Doctor era, before the Last Great Time War, before the Time Lock. So this at least answers a little of the previous questions: the Asylum houses Daleks from all timelines and pasts, not just the New Paradigm ones. So yes, it looks like the Time War DID go past the Asylum, leaving it unharmed. Did the Timelords adhere to some kind of Cosmic Geneva Convention that forbids attacking psychiatric hospitals – even if they are Dalek psychiatric hospitals?
Umm… what about River Song? Admittedly, you never got to experience much of the whole parenting thing, but at least you had a child of your own – which is more than many couples can say – and got to see it grow (into a Doctor-killing machine, admittedly, but still). Or are we going to just conveniently forget about her?
So the Doctor does a little happy dance when he learns the Daleks no longer remember who he is.
HOW IS THAT A GOOD THING?
Without the fear of the Doctor, nothing stops the Daleks from further expansion. Without the fear of the Doctor, nothing stops them from vanquishing the Earth. Sure, they may have less reason for it now that they don’t connect it with the last of the Timelords, but they will eventually clash with the humans – they always do.
And it’s not like the Doctor won’t meet the Daleks ever again. Or will he? Is the Eleventh Doctor selfish enough to let them go on with their Empire building as long as they don’t bother him? Is that what happened here? Is that why they have this huge new Empire in the first place?
So, we got a lamp-shaded explanation of why the Daleks didn’t just kill the Doctor all these times they could. But, there are fates worse than death – like being turned into the Dalek slave. It turns out that all the Daleks have to do to coerce the Doctor to do their bidding is to set up the least elaborate of all traps (seriously… that was really lame) and then send him away somewhere where he has to do what he’s told, or else (the companion gets it/you die/the Earth dies/etc).
No wonder the Doctor is so happy they forgot about him. They must have been driving him to death with all the constant requests.
So, now that we have all those behind us, here’s the final observation:
I’ve decided I don’t like Matt Smith’s Doctor. He hadn’t grown on me, like all the others – on the contrary. My main gripe with this version is that he’s too… human. There’s just nothing alien about him. Yes, they give him various visual quirks – the Fez, the bow-tie – but those do nothing to enhance his personality.
Eccleston was brilliantly inhuman. Tennant had his magnificently weird moments, especially in his Destroyer of Worlds persona. Pertwee, The Bakers, McCoy – you could easily tell just by one look they did not belong to Earth, or anywhere else. Matt’s Doctor is too much of an everyman. To be honest, Amy Pond looks more alien than the Doctor these days. The Doctor scared of death? The Doctor crying for help? No, this just will not do!
So yeah. Good episode overall, spoiled by me being a grumpy old sod who shouldn’t really be watching kids shows anymore.