Doctor Who 2.0

Or is 9.0?

Anyway… another computer link saves the day? Another exploding villain? And will we really have lids and straws in the year 200,000?

The old show danced around its conundrums by placing them on other worlds.

The strong characters are what’s saving this show for me. But the stories are pretty thin.

If the Doctor was serious about the timeline he would have killed off Adric 2.0, because you can’t just count on him or anyone else around him not snapping their fingers, that’s stupid. The end scene is supposed to be funny but truthfully it’s horrific, and for some reason the Doctor has to be reminded of this again next week as well apparently. He should have been left in the future or kicked out of the airlock.

Yay, more modern satire, this time on the media culture - how wonderful.

— Alan

I believe that Executive Producer Russell T Davies would rather you call it Doctor Who 2005 rather than 2.0, because he’s quoted often in the Doctor Who Confidential episodes following each showing as saying this series was expressly written for the 21st century.

This wasn’t a particularly strong episode by any means, but it’s also not as out of place in Doctor Who as one new to the series might imagine.

Like many of the other episodes this season, it harkens back to one or more definite previous episodes. In this case, the 4th Doctor episode The Sun Makers and the 2nd Doctor episode The Krotons.

On one hand, I certainly agree that the 2nd season will be a welcome relief in that we’re promised the regular assortment of alien worlds long-time fans of the series are used to, but I also understand why Davies has stuck with Earth for the first season.

Long-time fans sometimes forget just how poor the ratings for the series had gotten during the last four years of its previous run and the 1996 Fox movie certainly didn’t help. Like it or not, the BBC is counting on large numbers of new fans to keep the series going. Remember that it’s been 16 full years since the last BBC produced episode of the previous series.

The plan Davies has of keeping the 1st season of the series tied closely to the human experience seems to be working in terms of getting new viewers and keeping them. The ratings have been pretty consistent through most of the run and have been dominating the time slot. A 40-45% share is pretty impressive for what’s still a family scifi show.

There are some things I did like in this episode. There’s a nice symmetry between this episode and The End of the World, with the space station and view port. One showing a beautiful world that’s about to die and another showing a rather ugly planet that’s at the height of it’s expansion. There’s also a link here in this episode to the last two episodes, because there are very strong hints given that the ceiling thingie was also working for someone or something else and that someone is involved with the big bad wolf of the end of this season.

There were a number of things I didn’t like. This was an episode that could actually have benefited from the “filler” episodes of the old series, to give us time to physically see how the humans are being help back psychologically by the media manipulation. Sure, there’s the one journalist that the Doctor goads into action, but the fact that the human race is acting rather insular and unquestioning isn’t really brought across clearly. And the obvious modern political nods are starting to wear a bit thin, even if they are timely.

It’s becoming clear to me that the Doctor feels old and tired and in many ways feels like his time as the universe’s champion is over. The little moment with the Cyberman head in van Statton’s museum, the comments he has to Rose about why he let Cassandra die, the odd hint of a death wish hidden within his joy for adventure.

I also believe that he hasn’t just brought Rose along as a normal companion. I believe he sees her as a possible replacement for himself in the way he’s training her at the beginning. Sure it’s to impress the boy, but from clues given about the remaining episodes, he seems to be making sure that she’ll be able to handle the universe without him by the last episode.

I believe that by the time season two starts showing up on our screens and we’re introduced to David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, we’re going to realize that the entire 27th season is one big regeneration sequence, not just for the Doctor, but for the show itself. I think that the short length of this Doctor’s run will actually work to the series advantage in that it will allow the grief and angst that comes with the rather heavy consequences and universal changes of the Time War and the destruction of the TimeLords to run it’s course through Eccleston and allow Tennant to renew himself without them.

So, “meh” this week. It’ll be interesting to see how they explore temporal physics in the next episode, but I’m looking forward to the two parter with WW2 zombies in gas masks afterwards.

That episode had some of THE worst scripting I have seen in a long, long time. I’ve really been enjoying the series, but that one was unbelievably horrible. Hurry on next week’s.

One thing I kinda liked about the show so far (the first 6) is that the Doctor didn’t go for that tired cliche of not changing the past. Sure he doesn’t want somebody to wipe out the humans, but he doesn’t particularly care about preserving some ideal ‘pure’ timeline. In fact, I distinctly remember a comment in one of the first 6 where Rose said something like, “But won’t that change everything?” and the Doctor had a flippant reponse. I’ll see if I can find it if I can dig up the older episodes somewhere. I don’t remember enough of the details of the older Doctor who to know if this is at all consistent.

It also seemed like it was an unwritten of rule that he didn’t crossover into his own past travels. He was all concerned about losing Rose in many places – but but he never considered going back and fixing his mistake.

This works well. It keeps the writers of show away from sounding completely daft when trying to integrate time paradoxes and other wackiness. And no horrific moralizing about people alive who shouldn’t be alive, etc. etc.

But the preview seems to indicate this is all changing. The Doctor makes all kinds of changes, constantly. Jeezus, Rose herself shouldn’t be alive but she’s stiil dropping in on her parents a year later.

The episode seemed particularly dated because ‘600 broadast channels’ feels like an obsolete idea even in 2005. There were something like 6000 podcasts created in less than a year. If they had described the service in more Internet-like terms and how people access all the information from the chip in their head but never go find out for themselves… well it still would have cheesy, but more buyable anyway.

Nevermind the problem of heat dissapation in space… yeah, hard to get rid of with all that vacuum everywhere.

But the preview seems to indicate this is all changing. The Doctor makes all kinds of changes, constantly. Jeezus, Rose herself shouldn’t be alive but she’s stiil dropping in on her parents a year later.

Indeed. Surely if the Jarakawhatever was changing things, it was meant to be doing it - killing it hardly reverses the last ninety years worth of outright corruption, making the timeline wrong even if the Doctor was meant to ultimately destroy it.

Unlike, for instance, leaving a guy who previously specialised in researching alien technology in the present day, with an ultra-powered chip in his brain to research, patent, and potentially bring to market some 200,000 years prematurely.

From what I saw, the preview was about just how bad an idea it is to make a significant change in the time-stream.

Minor changes are “okay” as long as the general flow of the time-line is unaltered, something that’s always been a part of Doctor Who. Despite the first Doctor’s rant to Barbara that she could not “rewrite history. Not one line!” in the story “The Aztecs”, we see the Doctor make very minor changes to history throughout the series, yet keep the general time-line mostly the same.

There have been some episodes that have dealt with the effects of changing the time-line in the classic series. In the 4th Doctor story “The Pyramids of Mars”, the Doctor takes the Tardis 73 years into a future destroyed by Sutekh during the story to illustrate what he means by “every point in time has an alternative. What you saw was alternative time.”

The 3d Doctor story “Day of the Daleks” involves rebels from a future time-line where the Daleks invade Earth earlier due to a war caused by those very rebels, a time-line that’s removed by the Doctor’s action in the story.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of some alien force of time itself trying to “heal the wounds” of any major change that the preview of next week’s episode seems to have. They remind me too much of “paradox spiders” from WhiteWolf’s Mage PnP RPG. I prefer the idea presented in “The Unquiet Dead” that you can make massive changes to the time-line and that most of the so-called laws of time are rules of the TimeLords rather than hard physical laws of the universe. I think it presents a more interesting danger and keeps the show interesting when you know that the Doctor can actually fail.

Still, I’ll have to wait and see exactly how the episode plays out to comment on how they’ve changed the current set of laws of time in the post-Gallifrey universe.

Derek, I have to say that I like your attitude to the series, in that you’re giving it a chance on its own terms…

S’funny but I ended up going back to Doctor Who about 3 years ago because the license had been so quiet and I wanted to see what it had been up to while I hadn’t been paying attention for the last decade or so. What I discovered was a series that been quietly but effectively staying alive through the ability of the BBC to license it to people who were determined to push things forward and make it better. Watching the series there’s no doubt that this show is the child of that effort, and it manages to take in a lot of what has been improved. I think that there’s a good effort to add some post-modern spin without having to go all “Ultimate” on things.

That being said, it’s a little bit of a dsappointment to me that it’s about as good as those other media were, and not that much better. Underneath it all it’s still got a lot of “traditionalism” to it. In fact I’d say that it has yet to rise to the leve of some of the better audio dramas, although it’s way more consistent in terms of quality than they ever were. I’m waiting for a transcendent moment, and it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe that’s just not the British way…

I thought the series got progressively worse, starting with Colin Baker, and going downhill from there, though I think the current incarnation has been better. I did like some of the Sylvester McCoy episodes, however.

— Alan

It’s interesting to note that the point in the run you’re talking about was where Executive Producer John Nathan-Turner, who had been in charge since 1979, had decided to make the show more “fan-friendly”.

There’s a bunch of behind-the-scenes drama involving a few of the then-large fan organizations getting involved by first giving him “awards” and then attacking him later saying he wasn’t “giving the fans what they wanted” that probably prompted this.

Basically, JNT fell for the same mistakes that Dynamix did with Tribes 2, which was to listen to the overly vocal fan groups.

God the Colin Baker years were a disaster. It was easy to blame him, but when you hear him act now you realize that someone really dropped the ball, because he could have been stupendous.

I’ve always felt sorry for Colin because he’s usually the first to get attacked and the one least blameworthy for the more painful parts of his run.

The writers who introduced his Doctor by having him mentally unstable enough to try and choke Peri in his first episode helped set a slow pace for the role to be marched straight into the ground. The grotesque choice of his costume, which Baker absolutely hated from the moment he’d heard about the idea, was entirely too obvious in being “eccentric”.

I’m actually looking forward to July’s release of “Revelation of the Daleks” on DVD because I think it really shows Colin for what he could have been capable of, if you just give him a chance and ignore all the JNT inspired crap going on around him.

hey, at least we got simon pegg AND tamsin greig. i was waiting for other giants of channel4 humour to pop out of the woodwork. which was more interesting than the episode itself.

Wacky prediction time: Adam is the plot device which ends up recreating the Dalek race.

Adam? Why would a guy with a name like that EVEn be the father of anything?

From the “I had too much free time to think about this today” department:

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is to [/b][/size]

At least now we have an idea of origin of all that angst and anger that created the Valeyard.

Someone at the Straight Dope forums came up with a similar theory:

This episode has been a set up for important future events. Adam becomes a major recurring character.

As an 8 year old he was a computer hacker, using the pseudoname “Bad Wolf.”

As an older child he was a vandal, spraying “Bad Wolf” on various objects around his estate, such as a blue box that turned up one day. Rose has seen him around, but doesn’t know his name.

As a young adult, he designed a helicopter, which he named “Bad Wolf 1” (No evidence that he was the designer, right? He was just the new artifact guy I thought.)

He then manages to get a far future computer implanted in his brain. Using future knowledge he becomes immortal, rich and powerful. He is still alive in the far future, as a media baron, the owner of Bad Wolf TV.

And he becomes The Doctor’s deadliest enemy, after becoming the father of a new Dalek race.

Pretty far-fetched, but amusing anyway.

Side fact:

Rose’s boyfirend Mickey took over Clive’s Who is Doctor Who? conspiracy website and has been updating it every week. Last week they had a contest sponsored by van Statton’s company Geocomtex based around a “Who’d like to meet an alien” essay. The winner? 14 year old Adam Mitchell. Yeah, that Adam.

Just to be contrary, I liked the episode. Well, no…I actually did like the episode. I think the best part was Simon Pegg. Well, maybe it was that scene with Simon Pegg. Oh, wait, that bit with Simon Pegg was aces.

Simon Pegg.

Short thread hijack to another Brit sci-fi show:

Anybody seen this? Found it trolling around IMDB last night:

The characters should be familiar, if not the uniforms.

— Alan