July 15, 2006

The Only Adventure He Can Never Have

My world has completely been rocked...and it's all thanks to Doctor Who.

The final four episodes of Series Two show a much more tightly-written, more confident show than Series One. So far, out of the past thirteen episodes, only three have been relatively weak - "New Earth", and the "Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel" two-parter. The rest have ranged from fairly good to excellent.

"Love and Monsters" has taken a lot of smack because it...well...seems to make fun of Doctor Who fans. I mean, Elton - a guy who likes ELO? Meets a fellow group of misfits? Has very brief encounters with the Doctor? This episode...isn't all that bad. Much like those who post on comic message boards, some fans do deserve to be made fun of...and this episode has some really heartbreaking moments, especially around Elton's involvement with Jackie, Rose's mom. The ending is also portentious, dealing with the "price" of encountering the Doctor...but more on that later.

Personally, I think "Fear Her" is going to be the "Boom Town" of Series Two - a very well-written episode that will get lost in the shuffle. (Especially since "Fear Her" is a last-minute replacement for a Stephen Fry-written episode). With a minimum of special effects, this tells the story of Chloe, who is able to make other children disappear through drawing them. It takes an interesting turn because we learn that there is an alien presence...but it's a clever twist. This has been compared to Sapphire and Steel, but I don't see it. (Plus, I don't get it - S&S just seems kind of slow and meandering to me. Please e-mail/leave a comment if you think I'm not being fair). But all-in-all, one of the creepiest Doctor Who episodes ever made.

And then, it's the "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" two-part series finale, and friends - it was worth it. I have to admit that, with "Army of Ghosts", I got a little tired of David Tennant's Doctor being a little too pop culture obsessed - the Lion King reference in "The Christmas Invasion" is one thing; but the "who ya gonna call" is a little excessive.

Let's just review all the cool stuff in this two-episode in bullet points, just so that it's easy to read:
  • The slightly subtle hints - a newscaster reading about these ghosts in "military formation" as well as the creepy use of bluetooth;
  • Jackie's concern about Rose's becoming less "human" as a result of her travels with the Doctor;
  • The revelations of Torchwood;
  • Nods to three Cyber-classics, one to be restored and released on DVD
  • The return of Mickey, who's nobody's tin dog
  • The inhabitants of the "mysterious sphere"
  • Like pal Brian, the Dalek/Cyberman verbal smackdown (and you better agree with us)
  • Favorite line from above: "This is not war, this is pest control"
  • Clever nods to Series One (including an explanation from a key scene in "Dalek")
  • Flying Daleks
  • The reunion of Pete and Jackie (which explains the subplot in "Age of Steel/Rise of the Cybermen"
  • And so much more..
But in the end, the real revelation is Rose's evolution from "shop girl" to "Defender of the Earth". Throughout this series, we see her becoming more assertive, more empowered, and increasingly less like typical companions. If Sarah Jane Smith sat around for years because she had a "hard act to follow", we know Rose Tyler will avoid that trap - in fact, she seems ready to become her own person, because she has had adventures and experiences with the Doctor. In fact, can you imagine a Doctor Who companion saying the following:

In fact, at the very end, Rose is reconnected with her family - if the Doctor truly is the "lonely god", he cannot have the kind of experiences Rose can - or, at the very least, he can only be a visitor (witness the scenes in "The Christmas Invasion"). If the Ninth Doctor was too shell-shocked to connect, the Tenth Doctor seems all too willing to cut off those connections, to avoid the hurt, and for him, living day to day - with all of its smaller scale battles and victories - truly is "the adventure (he) can never have".

It would have made an excellent coda for the series...had RTD not camped it up slightly in the last ten seconds. I mean, really, did we need a preview of the Christmas special?

But that's just me complaining...yes, this is probably the longest post I have written on this blog. But it's worth it.

The Doctor's back. Hopefully, for good.

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