Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Doctor as U.N. President


Doctor Who Extremis Photo Gallery 
The Doctor as 
(Possibly Unsuccessful) 
U.N. President
(Attn: Spoiler Alert) 
When does a television show "jump the shark" and become a sad parody of itself? Is it possible "to unjump the shark" and redeem itself ever? That's the question playing through my mind after watching the second part of a two-parter storyline, beginning with Extremis and ending with The Pyramid at the End of the World
Perhaps the question is more along the lines of "Has Doctor Who finally given up on being original, fresh or even half-way intelligent and instead gone for the bleeding obvious?" The wonderful special effects, sets, costumes and mood lighting notwithstanding, it's hard press to tell you of anything of the actual plots of these two episodes, simply because there's not much of any actual plot. It seems to be a series of well-photographed scenes with little true emotional connection between them. One if left scratching his/her head and saying, "What was all the fuss about then?"

The stakes are high since Missy is back--or is she? The stakes are high because the Doctor is still blind after saving Bill--or is he, since he has those groovy sunglasses? Sometimes he seems able to see just about everything he needs to in a scene, and then in the dramatic moment in The Pyramid he can't seem to see the combo lock on the door. Even those with just the basics in fiction writing can understand why such contradictory plot points make for an unsatisfying resolution.

Doctor Who wallpaper titled Doctor Who - Episode 10.07 - The Pyramid at the End of the World - Promo Pics
The "monks" (which seems to be a common term for most DW alien/baddies in recent years) are predictably ugly, evil and controlling with their Matrix-like program of optical wires that is running a simulation of all life on earth. (Where have we heard something like that before? Oh, yeah, in the Matrix movie trilogy!) The Doctor and others find out about the program by reading a dark magic book called the "Veritas", eerily similar to this season's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "Darkhold" book of evil spells and power. So, the world is all fake and we're being watched by aliens--what's new about that even in the Whovian universe?
After the build up of Extremis, we were really looking for a satisfying ending and a tying up of strings, but The Pyramid didn't deliver on any promises. It sticks us back in "reality" (out of the Matrix) and sticks a pyramid in the middle of Central Asia where three great military powers are standing off, but no warfare ensues. Cool SFX of landing a B-52-like a Harrier jet, but that's about it. The end of the world is coming we're told, but not by falling nukes or the tiny hands of Donald Trump it seems.
A separate story line gradually develops, and we're told the great disaster  to end all life in the world is because of a Monsanto-clone and its evil GMO and biochemical meddling. (That made me smile actually since it's more than likely will be the case.) Generals die because their "consent is not sincere" enough for the evil monk-aliens to stop this from happening somehow. Only the true-hearted Bill can give consent because of her love of the Doctor and concern for his safety. Earth is or isn't safe at the end, but who really cares? The Doctor can see again.

I guess it helps if one is blind to the possibilities of science fiction and to the great acting abilities of Peter Capaldi and company to think these two stories were anything more than mediocre. Peter and the entire cast and crew deserved better scripts. After trying so hard to keep an open mind about Steven Moffat's scriptwriting ability this season, he's done it again in my opinion--butted into the show mid-season and put in the two weakest episodes so far. If I were the showrunner, I'd fire him. 
Oh, yeah, he's not about to do that, is he? On to next week and hopefully a much stronger story. It wouldn't take much to top this last pair.

What do you think? Too harsh or not harsh enough on Moffat's latest escapade? Leave your comments below.

P.S. I have a tentative release date of August for my novel of fan-filmaking gone wild, Loving Who. Yeah! Something to look forward to in the Who universe!



Unknown said...

Couldn't agree more. It feels as if Moffat has given up any pretence of even caring. Plot holes and inconsistencies abound.

Cindy A. Matthews said...

Agreed. Moffat doesn't seem to even possess a tiny bit of respect for the rich source material of Doctor Who--or the sensibilities of the fans. This lack of empathy really is unnerving, but is it surprising? It seems to be the "status quo of 2017" where not only is narcissism and sociopathic behaviors allowed, they're publicly encouraged.

Here's to a more caring and wise showrunner/producer in the coming years. I'd hate to see the show go off the air again, but we survived the last cancellation, I suppose we could survive another one--but why?

A J said...

From the sublime to the ridiculous! Jamie Mathieson is a great scriptwriter. Extremis showed promise of an interesting storyline - only for everything to deflate with a wet farting sound when Moffatt appears on the scene.

As you say, great cast, scenery and production values. I'm sorry for the cast, who have to put up with such turgid rubbish. The end of the Moffatt era can't come soon enough for me.

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