Advertisements
    Advertisements
  • Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

  • Advertisements

Doctor Who: Gridlock (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Gridlock originally aired in 2007.

The sky’s a burnt orange, with the Citadel enclosed in a mighty glass dome, shining under the twin suns. Beyond that, the mountains go on forever. Slopes of deep red grass, capped with snow.

– the Doctor takes us to Gallifrey, for the first time in ages

Gridlock is the final (and best) of Davies’ “New Earth” trilogy, encompassing The End of the World and New Earth. The decision to focus the opening futuristic stories of the first three seasons around the same strand of “future history” is a very clever move, and perhaps an indication of how acutely aware Davies is of the way the modern television differs from television when the classic show aired. In short, it creates a pleasing sense of continuity between episodes that are very disconnected from the show’s main continuity.

This is far from the Powell Estate as you can get, and yet – three years in – it also feels strangely familiar.

The skyline's the limit...

The skyline’s the limit…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Doctor Who: The Long Game (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Long Game originally aired in 2005.

No, no, you stick with the Doctor. You’d rather be with him. It’s going to take a better man than me to get between you two.

– Adam outlines another reason he had to get kicked out of the TARDIS

The Long Game is a breathtakingly ambitious piece of Doctor Who, for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is the fact that it’s basically Russell T. Davies pushing through a story idea that Andrew Cartmel rejected when he pitched it to the classic show in the eighties, but there are a whole bunch of other reasons. The Long Game is trying to do so many things at once that it ends up getting a little lost. However, it does serve as an example of what Davies was really trying to do with this first season of the revived Doctor Who.

On the surface, The Long Game a clever and daring piece of science-fiction television, a piece of social commentary hidden behind funny-looking aliens and scenery-chewing villains. It’s really a spiritual successor to the science-fiction stories of the Cartmel era. However, it’s also something else entirely. It’s a conscious embrace of the new realities of television, an acknowledgement that these trappings have be blended with character-based storytelling and more modern tea-time telly conventions.

After all, for a show about the manipulation of the media to corrupt the public consciousness, the teaser doesn’t end on a monster reveal or a shocking twist, but a pithy personal comment. “He’s your boyfriend.”

Body of work...

Body of work…

Continue reading

Doctor Who: Evolution of the Daleks (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Evolution of the Daleks originally aired in 2007.

Caan, let me help you. What do you say?

Emergency temporal shift!

– sadly the Doctor doesn’t follow this with a dramatic “CAAAAAAAN!!!”

Well, that went off the rails rather quickly. Okay, to be fair, the problems here were all hinted at in the first part, with those potential obstacles only turning into gaping flaws as this two-part adventure galloped toward the finish line. And, again, Evolution of the Daleks fails because it has too much ambition, rather than a complete lack of it. Still, the episode is a mess, full of mismatched ideas and crazy concepts that really don’t work especially well within the context of a Dalek episode. It’s not too hard to imagine a lot of these elements being recycled into a working story for the show, but the main problem seems to be that none of those elements work especially well with the Daleks.

I can see it in its eye-stalk...

I can see it in its eye-stalk…

Continue reading

Doctor Who: Bad Wolf (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Bad Wolf originally aired in 2005.

The Dalek stratagem nears completion. The fleet is almost ready. You will not intervene.

Oh, really? Why’s that, then?

We have your associate. You will obey or she will be exterminated.

No.

Explain yourself.

I said no.

What is the meaning of this negative?

It means no.

But she will be destroyed.

No! Because this is what I’m going to do. I’m going to rescue her. I’m going to save Rose Tyler from the middle of the Dalek fleet and then I’m going to save the Earth, and then, just to finish off, I’m going to wipe every last stinking Dalek out of the sky!

But you have no weapons, no defences, no plan.

Yeah. And doesn’t that scare you to death. Rose?

Yes, Doctor?

I’m coming to get you.

– the Daleks, the Doctor and Rose give the Ninth Doctor perhaps his best moment

Looking back at the first season, I’d argue that it’s the most cohesive run of episodes that Russell T. Davies produced on the dhow. Now because of the whole “bad wolf” thing, as that feels a bit like a clumsy link randomly inserted. Instead, as we watch the final episode, it becomes quite clear what Davies was trying to do with his first year on the show. The patterns, the themes, the subtext, the references – it all becomes quite clear. More than any other season of Davies’ tenure, the first season is really one gigantic story – and not just because the show never leaves Earth or the finalé returns to the setting of The Long Game.

The first season is a bridge. It’s a link between the last years of the classic series into the new and revived show as written by Davies. It’s a moment to gather up the dead, tidy away the loose ends and basically manage the stage so that the show can really come into its own. One of the things I loved about Davies’ Doctor Who was how accessible it all was, but it still had all this continuity ticking away in the background.

This first season finalé feels like it isn’t only a conclusion to Christopher Eccleston’s time in the lead role, it’s also closing the last of the dangling threads from the eras of Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy in the eighties. As soon as David Tennant steps into the lead role, it seems the show is entirely and utterly free of everything that came before. It’s a testament to Davies’ skill that we’re not even sure that he’s doing it.

Come with me if you want to live...

Come with me if you want to live…

Continue reading