Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Lost Canon of (New) Doctor Who

"Sonic specs" beat out the "sonic screwdriver"?
The Lost Cannon of (New) Doctor Who

***Spoiler Alert! If you haven't seen this episode, you might want to wait to read this.***

We're almost out the door to attend two sci-fi conventions in a row--Archon and ConClave--where we'll be discussing Doctor Who (as well as writing/editing topics) with our fellow fans. I felt I should post my opinions before we left town, so here is my short (but not overly sweet) review of episode two, The Witch's Familiar.

Overall, it's an okay episode for Moffat's writing, but it's nowhere near the quality of his writing in Blink. (Honestly, I don't expect much better from him anymore.) There's nothing very original in the storyline, and there's a lot of padding once again, and the annoying Mary Poppins-clone called Missy is still about, but there's less of her lewd behavior this week and for that I'm grateful. Instead, we see maniacal Missy act sadistically by dangling Clara upside down in the desert of Scaro and sharpening a stick and threatening to eat the school teacher, but no sexual moves were made toward the Daleks that I could detect. (I had a hard time hearing the dialogue this week.) Nasty threats of violence and silly faces... What else is new? (Ho-hum.) 

Did Missy really need to be included in this look into the Doctor's relationship with the Daleks and their creator, Davros? Not really. The two-part story probably would have been much stronger without her childish and nasty/lewd antics and about ten minutes in length total. The story's focus should have leaned more to the Doctor's ongoing dilemma in regard to the Daleks--"Do I commit genocide and rid the universe of them or not?"--and away from the puerile gimmicks of  Michelle Gomez making her now trademark silly faces.

The strongest aspects of the script were the Doctor's confession that he did have compassion and could show mercy to an enemy. Jenna Coleman's character was given a chance to act this out when Clara finds herself imprisoned in a Dalek's casing and mistaken for being one of the ruthless killers. Quite telling is that when you say "I love you" through a Dalek's voicebox the word "Exterminate" comes out instead. That nice touch aside, Moffat throws out the long history of Dalek canon and informs us now that "Daleks never die" but they do turn into melting fudge or what could pass for the inside of a particularly nasty baby diaper whenever they cease to be active and go down to Scaro's "sewers/graveyards". Ugh... yuck! 

For some reason, Moffat can't seem to follow canon with either of the Doctor's most notorious villains, the Cybermen and the Daleks. For fans of the classic series, it can be disconcerting to say the least. The gross bits of oozing "poop-colored" buried Daleks sliming all over the shining metal Dalek casings didn't do much for me personally, and I rather wish the episode had stayed more with the "human" storyline of the Doctor caring for the ailing Davros.

But Peter Capaldi got a chance to shine this week as the Doctor and I sincerely appreciate that. But "sonic Ray Bans"? Really? Not making enough money on the Sonic Screwdriver toys because fans are building their own models? What a not-so-cheap shot at product promotion, BBC!

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