Probic Vent Ood For Thought


Caves and Twins: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

It's Christmas, it's BBC1, it's that time between the afternoon snooze and the turkey sandwich. It can only be another Doctor Who special.

Not one of the Christmas specials has been much good by my reckoning, the first one and the one with Gambon in were OK; most have been utterly awful.

I did not really look forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special this year; mainly because I never think they're up to much but partly because I found myself tiring of Who over the year. All of a sudden fatigue set in and I wasn't really bothered any more. But, because it's Doctor Who and I'll never truly dislike it, I tuned it.

So did I find a succulent turkey - or was it overcooked sprouts all the way.


It was nice to see Matt Smith again

The reproducing, sentient trees were a nice idea.

The sets and all the period detail were impeccable.

Like most fans I appreciate the nods to the past – something that seems increasingly nice when faced with the possibility of a reboot film series.

Nice to see Amy and Rory again.

Like the tree monsters.


I know it's Christmas and I know expectations are low and I know these specials are kind of duty bound to be stupidly Christmassy, but for fuck's sake.

I just didn't care and I didn't believe it and I didn't like it. About half an hour before it actually happened I'd guessed, no, feared, that the Power of Motherhood was going to save the day. Just like a kiss saved the day and love saved day and hope saved the day again and again and again over the last couple of years.

RTD shrugged, made Tennant cry and just fell back on some MacGuffin when he'd written himself into a corner; Moffat just relies on schmaltz. It's usually done in a clever way – and in a way that's possible to overlook for a while.

But it happens so frequently that it's impossible to ignore - and deeply tiresome. And predictable. And rather cheap and cynical.

Because at Christmas Moffat gets a bit of a bye. Perhaps he should be allowed his indulgence once a year, like we are when we stuff our face for a day. God knows the man is busy enough, what with his 15 series that he showruns.

But what I'm left with is a story that almost feels like a waste of my time. I'm sure lots of people enjoy it and would shout humbug at me. But judging these Xmas specials on the same basis we judge the usual episodes show them up badly.

Something else that creeps into these recent Xmas episodes is a Moffat-patented wackiness; last year a shark-drawn sleigh, this year a forest-possesed Edwardian mother piloting a golf ball through the time vortex.

What can we expect next year, I wonder? A TARDIS disguised as a polar bear running trough Albert Square? A Timelord that's regenerated into a reindeer with a nose made of strange matter? A flying penguin powered by faith and ridden by John Masefield?

I suppose I should mention Bill Bailey and Claire Skinner and Alexander Armstrong and Arabella Weir. I didn't care. Neither did I care for the emotional manipulation that struck a rather dubious tone, in my opinion. Once again, death has no sting. What does this say to kids about their nature of life and death? Either way it's damn lazy and cynical.

It's incredible how quickly Moffat's take on Doctor Who seems staid, overfamiliar and out of ideas. And I don't take ay pleasure from saying it. Just as I don't take any pleasure from watching it, much as it pains me to admit.


Doctor Who sweeps board in SFX sci-fi poll

The Doctor has been voted 'Best Hero' in an SFX poll of its readers; with the Daleks voted Best Monster; and The Master voted Best Villain; with various other Whoniverse characters peppered around various other polls.

I'm biased, but it's tough to see how any other genre character can really compete with the Doctor – eleven faces and personalities; bigger-on-the-inside time machine; anywhere in time and space; mysterious background and abilities. Who could compare?

Blake's 7, Babylon 5 and Farscape, three other series I have big soft-spots for, get a few mentions in the poll too, which is mainly dominated by the Trek franchise and various tedious vampire stuff.

Elsewhere The Master was voted best villain. A right and just result considering the brilliance of Roger Delgado and the sheer evilness of Anthony Ainley. Simm had his moments too. In his less interesting stories, including some of the recent ones, The Master is just a generic pantomime villain.

But gven something more interesting to do, all the actors who played the part have brought something new to the role in the way that every Doctor does. Seven shades of evil. Again, who could compete?

As it goes, I don't really have much interest in the Daleks. Every new appearance since Remembrance of the Daleks - barring Dalek - has been an exercise in diminishing returns and I'm frankly rather bored of them now.

The Daleks, yesterday

Daleks have arguably been rebooted three or four times now, but beyond that original concept there's not a huge amount to them. Most of the best Dalek stories since the 60s have concerned how people react to their presence and existence as much as anything - Genesis, Revelation and Remembrance specifically - although Day of the Daleks is brilliant sci-fi fun.

RTD and Helen Raynor failed completely in doing anything of interest with them in my opinion, and while Victory of the Daleks had some nice moment, it was pretty incoherent stuff.

Nevertheless, Daleks are slightly beyond that now. They're such a massive icon it doesn't really matter any more.

And now, in an SFX poll, they've trumped something called Lorne from Angel, the Aliens, Gollum from Lord Of The Rings, Gizmo from Gremlins, and the thing from, er, The Thing.

I wonder what Ray Cusick, designer of the Daleks, makes of it all. Legend has it he got an ex gratia payment from the BBC that amounted to £50, while Terry Nation bought a massive house in the country and a fleet of sports cars.

Cusick may not be rich, but designing the best monster ever isn't a bad legacy.

Other Doctor Who-related results in the SFX poll include:

• K9 named fifth-best robot
• Cybermen named 13th-best monsters
• Davros voted fifth-best villain
• Captain Jack Harkness voted 11th-best hero
• Donna Noble, Rose Tyler and Sarah-Jane Smith are voted fourth, eighth and tenth as Best Heroine respectively


Hush child stop addlepating me!

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