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Nice cinema trailer for new Doctor Who, Season 4 here. It still has Catherine Tate in it, sadly. There's only so long I can remain in denial about her. It also has some significant returning faces, and various nice shots of Rome, Ood and Sontarans. Oh, and Bernard Cribbins. Quite well done, all told.

We've been continuing to watch various old Doctor Who stories recently, with mixed success. I mentioned last time how much I enjoyed Tom Baker's debut story 'Robot'. Sadly 'Planet of Evil' from the following year is less impressive.1 The setting is atmospheric, especially the weird alien jungle, but it just lacks the necessary character banter from the Doctor to lift the so-so plot. Likewise Pertwee's debut story 'Spearhead from Space' manages to be simultaneously snappily edited and draggingly slow, which is disappointing. Even the Autons can't really lift it from tedium.

We then progressed to the 'Beneath the Surface' box set. 'The Silurians', despite being very long, is consistently entertaining with good characterisation, decent location filming, Fulton Mackay, Geoffrey Palmer and a vague attempt at moral complexity. Okay the Silurians themselves look crap and the young, headstrong one has a hilarious voice but otherwise it works very well. The sequel tale 'The Sea Devils' is less good but still quite enjoyable. You can't go too far wrong with Roger Delgado and Sea Devils, and in true Pertwee fashion the story is stuffed to the gills (geddit?) with location filming and speedboat chases. The end of the -ahem- "trilogy", Davison's 'Warriors of the Deep' is both better and worse than I remembered. Better in that it was a tiny bit less polystyrene than I recalled, but worse in that the Silurian and Sea Devil dialogue is nothing but undiluted exposition and cliche of the worst kind, delivered at about four words per minute. "Soon.. we.. will.. have... our... revenge..." kind of stuff. (Also, why are the Silurians calling themselves Silurians when we know from 'The Sea Devils' that it was a misnomer? And why do they talk about "Our Sea Devil brothers"? Don't they have a name other than a pejorative nickname some sailors slapped on them in the 1970s?)

I'm enjoying old Who overall but it's a very hit and miss experience. My boss's 6 year old boy was apparently sat down in front of an old Tom Baker episode recently and immediately started complaining that the monster looked fake. Sign of the times.

1 Although a few moments gave me powerful deja vu from watching the show in the 1970s, and from reading the novelisation -- it's surprising how often that happens. Those novelisations were a big part of my childhood.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:19 pm (UTC)
I take it then that it is completely impossible for the Doctor/companion relationship not to have a strong romantic undertone? I'm more downcast about this than I am about Donna's return. In fact, I had hoped that the choice of her as the new companion would mean that the romantic subtext would be cut down to a minimum, or perhaps even (dare I hope) done away with entirely.
Mar. 22nd, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
It's not possible to be conclusive from the trailer - Donna may be speaking metaphorically about the "right man" - but sadly it does appear that she's going to be besotted with the Doctor. I honestly can't imagine him reciprocating - more like charging full pelt in the opposite direction. But maybe I'm projecting.

Certainly in the old Who there were many companions without a trace of romance, but in the new 'sexier' Who it seems to be designed-in. It's as if it worked once with Rose and now they daren't get rid of it in case the audience rebels.

Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:01 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how that ties in with the trailer that was shown after the Christmas special ('I just want a mate!'/'You're not mating with me mister!'). I suspect that Donna is regretting her initial decision - there's a wider world out there and she turned down the opportunity to see it... The bits and pieces I've seen suggest that Donna/Tate will be fine. TBH I'm more dismayed at Piper's return than I am at Tate's...
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:06 pm (UTC)
I was initially fairly neutral to Billie Piper's return - I did like Rose (mainly in Season 1 it's true). But the more I think about it the more it seems like a retrograde move, raking up a lot of UST that still hangs like a cloud over the series. If it's just another twist of the knife then I'm not feeling positive: I'd prefer that they move on. If however it's used to allow the Doctor to move on then I'll feel better predisposed towards it.
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:16 pm (UTC)
If there has been a lot of time between Doomsday and now (as time seems to run differently in Pete's world) and Rose has moved on (married Mickey?) and they have a grown-up friendship (in S2 Rose was getting annoyingly Buffy-ish at her worst) then fine. I'm really not sure what the point of Rose's return is though? The only thing that does cross my mine is that they are going to regenerate Tennant at the end of S4 and the three specials thing in 2009 is all an elaborate smokescreen...
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
As for the "you're not mating with me mister" I do wonder if they're going to try to keep up the bickering screwball comedy vibe from the Christmas Special.
Mar. 23rd, 2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
The main problems with 'Warriors of the Deep' are the Silurians/Sea Devils are reduced rather to monster-of-the-week - without the moral centre that made them interesting in 'The Cave Monsters' and that everything is so brightly lit. There's a lot of interesting stuff going on in 'Warriors of the Deep' that chimed well with the early 80s - but things like the Myrca and the generally unatmospheric direction detract from the ideas in the script.

My boss's 6 year old boy was apparently sat down in front of an old Tom Baker episode recently and immediately started complaining that the monster looked fake.

Depends on the story really - some worked better than others - which still is the case today. Personally speaking I don't think the Slitheen, for example, are a particularly good prosthetic and in Aliens of London where it switches between prosthetic and CGI it looks especially naff. I reckon that a young fan of today would like most colour Dalek stories (though probably not Genesis or Ressurection - way too dark for a 6 year old) and wouldn't have a problem with the effects, I would say the problem with a lot of classic Who for a young viewer would be the pacing...
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )