October 27, 2014, OTTAWA — Here we go again: interrupted for a couple of weeks by an influx of competence, Steven Moffat's Doctor Who is once more circling the black hole of creative bankruptcy. Moffat's name isn't on "In the Forest of the Night" — the official blame goes to one Frank Cottrell-Boyce — but his fingerprints are all over it.
Child in peril? Yup. Magic child in peril? Yes and yes.
Lots of expository dialogue? Oh, yes.
Completely implausible reactions to extraordinary events? You know it.
Magic Reverso-Babble TM to ensure story has no lasting consequences? Why not? We're in Moffat-land!
Truth is, there is so much wrong with "In the Forest of the Night" it's hard to know where to start — or where to stop. I made every effort to be parsimonious in my critique, to prune away the dying limbs the better to reach the rotten heart of the tale, but did I succeed?
You can judge for yourself by reading In the Forest of the Blight. Snark, spoilers and baffled vitriol behind the link, as usual.
October 24, 2014, OTTAWA — I did it again. Made the mistake of watching a recent episode of Doctor Who a second time.
I really enjoyed "Flatline" the first time around. I barked delighted laughter and might even have gasped in surprise a time or two. I found Rigsy charming and Clara on her own a small revelation.
But when I queued up the story for a second go-through, things were not so good. Not terrible, but too obvious by half and derivative without improving on the inspiration.
My full review, as always, includes spoilers along with my keen analysis (or so I like to believe) and charming nervous exhaustion. This time, there's also a poll! Click here for the full story.
Re-thinking the letter-grade
October 20, 2014, OTTAWA — Well, never let it be said I'm inflexible.
Having now watched this week's follow-up to last week's Doctor Who episode, I fear I waxed a little over-enthusiastic in giving it an A-plus in the header, below.
On first look, "Flatline" was even more entertaining. Possible more well-written and definitely much better-directed. If "Mummy" warranted an A-plus, then "Flatline" deserves top possible marks.
And it's not quite that good. So changing the grade to a straight B. Subject-line modified accordingly.
October 19, 2014, OTTAWA — I know, I know. This series' ninth episode aired yesterday and here I am, posting about the 8th. I have no excuses, except that of "Life got in the way."
To those who'd wondered where I'd gone (and missed me) I say, "Mea culpa and that I'll try to do better with 'Flatline'." To those who'd wondered where I'd gone (and hoped I'd stay away), I say only, "You can't get rid of me that easily! But if it's any consolation, my reappearance comes with a surprise: I quite liked 'Mummy on the Orient Express'!"
What a difference a good script makes.
I was all-too-ready to dislike "Mummy On the Orient Express" as much as I did last week's "Kill the Moon".
MOOE's title suggested only another tired homage to, or rip-off of, someone else's creation. But what do you know! MOOE was funny and intriguing (if poorly-directed), with a believable interpersonal drama and Peter Capaldi's best performance yet.
In just 45 minutes, Jamie Mathieson managed what Steven Moffat and his previous collaborators could not in seven episodes: to make Clara's doubts about the Doctor believable.
Was "Mummy on the Orient Express" a perfect episode? Not quite. But it was better than most and a lot better than we have become accustomed to in recent years.
As usual, my full review is spoilery. Not so usual, it is hardly angry at all (which might help to explain why I am so late in its delivery). Also not so usual, this might be the first time I find myself in fundamental disagreement with Patches365. Which kind of makes me wonder if I'm wrong.
October 8, 2014, OTTAWA — If Steven Moffat isn't trying to abort the program he has had under his control since 2010, at the very least it's clear that he doesn't care what happens to it once it grows up and moves out of his house.
"Kill the Moon" could be watched as a personal drama about the Doctor and Clara Oswald; it might be viewed as a girls' own adventure, with trouble-maker Courtney Woods finally given her chance to shine; or seen as a feminist fable, with three women — maiden, teacher, crone — deciding the fate of all humankind. Could. Might.
Other interpretations will no doubt be constructed; there are among Doctor Who's fandom those as creative as they are forgiving.
Transcripts R Us!
For those interested in the program's thematic debate, I confess I went to the trouble of transcribing the key minutes.
I am not part of that wing. I don't want to "fix" the program with fanfic nor weave intricately-constructed academic analyses to fill in plot-holes and justify self-contradictions of character and story. All I want are stories that don't insult my intelligence.
Is that really so much to ask?
Apparently so. "Kill the Moon" offers as the basis of its plot a "physics" whose idiocy would have appalled Newton — or even Douglas Adams. To add insult to insult, "Kill the Moon" is an unsubtle morality tale pushing a political agenda that adds a kiloton of fuel to the idea that Steven Moffat is not exactly, shall we say, a feminist-friendly thinker.