Sunday, July 16, 2006

EVill TV: Doctor Who: Series 2--Sophomore Slump

Well, it took all season, but I've finally gotten used to this goofy bastard, and stopped grieving the loss of Christopher Eccleston. (I'm sure the... pain... will always be with me. Somehow, I'll just have to learn to go on, one foot in front of the other, never be hungry again, & so forth. *sigh*.)

It helps that Tennant is ridiculously talented. (I didn't know until recently that he originated "Katurian Katurian" in the original production of The Pillowman, the part played by Billy Crudup on Broadway).

Still, for whatever gut reason, I will probably always be more willing to buy Doctor Who when it's Eccleston doing the selling. Which is to say: looks like I'll be having a tough time buying what Doctor Who is selling from now on.

With Tennant, I am much more acutely aware of how... fucking... silly it all is, and how little the storytellers actually do to induce us to suspend disbelief.

Which is definitely one of my pet peeves about "the genre" as a whole. Extraordinary plots require extraordinary exposition. (With apologies to the late Carl Sagan.)

X-Files, in its early seasons, understood this. In fact, going the extra mile to get us to buy the most outlandish premises was XF's mission statement in those days. It was the announced mission statement for Lost, as well. They just haven't followed through.

With XF, you could sit there, incredulous, going, "but what about...? but what about...?" and the answers would come at you, almost as soon as you'd formed the questions. By Act 4, you were like, "Sure, there could be a half man-half flukeworm attacking people in their showers. It could happen!"

Those writers (chief among them Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Howard Gordon) covered all the bases. They grounded the show not just in a very "real" world, but in a very realistic format, the police procedural. In the best episodes, there was only ever one tiny little speck of science fiction, but the shadow it cast was massive.

This, to put it mildly, is not how they do it on Who, where it all just comes at you as a fait accomplis, take it or leave it. (Interestingly, we're told to expect a more skeptical POV on Torchwood, the forthcoming spinoff which is said to be targeted to an "older"--aka, "grown up"--audience. Yah--Chance would be a fine thing. Still, I see no reason why Who shouldn't work equally for both kids and adults, but oh, well.)

Anyway, here's a brief rundown of Who S2 eps that, knowing me, will be in no way brief.


Anonymous Glenn said...

Thanks for the breakdown of the show. I've watched a few episodes with Erik Robocub, and I really liked them. They're not on Netflix yet, so I'll have to wait some time. Curses!

7/16/06, 4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strange how you don't have much of an opinion on Doomsday, but 7.7m people watched it, which was over a million better than the finale of Series 1 (and in better weather too), and Audience Appreciation index was 89 (which basically means on average people rated the episode 9/10). Obviously the folks are loving it.

7/16/06, 7:47 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

I don't make the mistake of equating popularity with critical quality. Your mileage may vary. :)

7/16/06, 7:54 PM  

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