It’s interesting that the finale of Doctor Who series six dealt with alternative realities. I imagine that somewhere out there, in some far-off universe, series six ended with a truly satisfying story that appealed to both fans and casual viewers.
It’s interesting that the finale of series six dealt with alternative realities. I imagine that somewhere out there, in some far-off universe that’s like, but at the same time unlike, our own, a distant, magical land where they still bother with narrative and plot, series six ended with a truly satisfying story that appealed to both fans and casual viewers.
Sadly, those of us who managed to stick with the version offered in this reality had to make do with one of the worst, most self-indulgent, illogical, incoherent, annoying and – let’s face it, kids - badly-written 45-minutes of television ever put together. And I’ve seen Steven Seagal’s True Justice.
In fact, about 15 minutes in – and the fact my eye was wandering from the screen to the clock gives you an idea of how bored I was – I started mentally drafting a letter to Russell T. Davies.
“Russ,” I wrote. “Matey, you know how sometimes during your tenure as the Grande Fromage of the Whoniverse, some people – me among them – accused you of, you know, being a bit self-indulgent, and of letting the programme get a bit, you know, silly. You know how we said that when you included moments such as the Tardis towing the earth back into place, or turning the entire population of the earth into The Master, you weren’t so much making the programme jump the shark as pirouette camply over a whole sequinned chorus line of them, probably while dancing to the Scissor Sisters. You know I said all that?
“Well, all’s forgiven, sunshine. Please come back. Please. Please come back. Please...”
Now, all right, before you accuse me of sitting on the fence, I’ll set out my stall: The Wedding of River Song was dreadful. Utterly dreadful.
Once again Steven Moffat and chums threw everything but the kitchen sink at the screen, and once again the result made no sense whatsoever. Yes, I understand that time was stuck because the Doctor wasn’t dead, and I quite liked the idea of different timelines meshing, but I hated the way it was presented. The whole narrative thread of the series, as set out in the equally disappointing series opener, was quickly jettisoned in the usual mix of running around a lot and speaking really quickly. It was as if you were watching a heavily edited version of a much longer film.
Instead of dialogue we got exposition, lots and lots of exposition. Things happened and characters had to keep explaining why they were happening as they were happening. And there was a lot happening, although quite why it was happening, and whether or not it should have been happening, and who it was happening to, and how they were stopping what was happening from happening, happened not to be properly explained, as it happened.
So Amy had become some sort of time agenty thing, Rory was – oh, who cares?
Of course, it all looked rather marvellous, but it was a bit like being presented with an expensive box of chocolates with no actual chocolates in it.
Somewhere along the line Doctor Who has lost his soul. The producers have got the money to do what they like – they can conjour up anything they choose, they can go anywhere they want, and that’s all they’re doing: they’re showing us things but when it comes to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, the sense of wonder, they haven’t got a clue. Apart from The Doctor’s Wife and a few other episodes, the writing in this series, the lifeblood of the show, the thing that everything else depends upon, has been completely ignored.
Meanwhile, last night our friends at Channel Four showed the rebooted Star Trek film. Like Doctor Who it dealt with time travel, alien worlds and huge, universe-changing events, but unlike Doctor Who it did it with heart and soul. It was a fantastically entertaining experience, and Moffat and co could learn a lot from it.
Still, the Doctor will be back at Christmas.
Although I’m really not sure any longer if that’s such a good thing.
By Andrew Owen