Jun.27, 2010, filed under Reviews

avatarI haven’t spoken much about Dr Who this series. There’s a reason for that.

I was unimpressed, generally, with the last series. It felt too contrived, with a soap opera plot squeezed in there sans lubrication. It felt the way the X-Files did after the series stopped being about Fortean events and became Fox Mulder IS Whitley Streiber’s lovechild!

There were a couple of episodes written by Steven Moffat I really enjoyed, notably Blink. I was therefore as happy as the next person to see Mr Davies hand over the reins. I was less happy to see David Tennant depart, as I’d particularly appreciated his depiction of one of British television’s most iconic characters.

That said, Matt Smith has been brilliant and I’ve come to like him even more, which makes it inutterably sad that the writing this series hasn’t lived up to his talent.

I wish I knew why. It reminds me, in a way, of Stephen King: limit him to a short story or a novella and he’s a fantastic writer. Give him the leeway of a full-length epic and he becomes overblown and loses focus about halfway through. Or Sam Raimi, who shouldn’t be given lots of money because he works best when constrained and forced to use his talent rather than his budget.

The first episode of the current series was promising. It sort of went downhill after that, most notably because they spent so little time doing anything other than running around Earth meeting historical characters, reinventing history without so much as a by-your-leave, and then hand-waving it all away with the oft-repeated refrain “time can be rewritten”. So, you know, don’t worry about the non-existent Van Gogh paintings, or all that stuff about Amy’s childhood being responsible for the appearance of the soldiers when the Romans invaded Britain. The Pandorica (um, surely?) is honestly a real thing, and its resemblance to Amy’s history book is, well, never mind. That was a recursive plotline that we couldn’t be bothered finishing.

I watched, entertaining myself wondering where all the little loops and tricks were going to lead, building a mental cat’s cradle of knots and switchbacks and finding solutions that would tie them into one beautiful whole that would have had me jumping up and down crying “All is forgiven!”

And, briefly, I thought we were going to get it.

But no. Moffat gave us a paradox loop in order to provide a recursive plot-thread that might as well have had Amy waking up saying it was all a dream and all the loose ends were destroyed in Big Bang 2 so none of them matters any more.

How did the Doctor escape? The same way Bill and Ted got the keys to rescue their history project from gaol. Why was Amelia Pond so important? For the same reason that Zaphod Beeblebrox survived the Total Perspective Vortex.

I’ve tuned in each week so far because I love Matt’s Smith’s Doctor so much. I’ll continue to tune in for the next series for the same reason, and hope that River Song gets more time on screen. Maybe the resemblance to the original Romanadvoratrelundar is not entirely coincidental.

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