Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

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Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Ninth Doctor

Who, that is.

HBF and I finally caught an episode over the weekend. One with Daleks and everything. Heck, that was what stopped the channel-surfing: a shiny new Dalek filmed in glossy "nighttime TV" mode instead of matte "daytime TV" mode. And fancy backgrounds.

"Oh this must be the new Dr Who series" thought I. Having been fans from way back, we were both interested. I was also curious because before my newsgroup became unmanageably large one of the off-topic threads was about this very series: I knew the Ninth Doctor was played by someone named Christopher Eccleston, the sonic screwdriver had been resurrected and that there was at least one openly bisexual character. All very good stuff, in theory.

Not in practice. I wanted it to work and kept trying to like it but the show was just too slick.

Part of the charm of the "original" series (the one which ended at Sylvester McCoy's Seventh Doctor) was its low budget for which the show compensated with excellent writing and character acting. Ferpitysake Douglas Adams wrote for the show; what's not to like? HBF was always a big Jon Pertwee fan and we both liked Tom Baker but I was also very fond of Peter Davidson's Doctor. So it's not as if we didn't have a basis for comparison...which was part of the problem.

The Ninth Doctor was okay--a little on the bland side but certainly better than Colin Baker. I rather liked his striking appearance; it suited my whole "The Doctor" concept. It was the rest of the show which got to me, for the very reason I'm certain twelve-year-old Eldest would've liked it: the damned thing looked just like every other "supernatural" show on TV from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to that wretched Van Helsing movie to Charmed. Lots of special effects which I tried to like ("Look! The show finally got a budget!") but which ended up being distracting especially given the film noir setting in most of the episode. The X-ray-green shootings were detracting horribly from the plot point that the Emperor of the Daleks was making, namely that The Doctor was going to have to kill most of Humanity to also kill off the Daleks (again.)

The "openly bisexual" character turned out to be one of the better bits. Body language and hairstyle led me to think that the studly swashbuckling man-pretty Companion was a likely candidate and I turned out to have been correct. Just before the final battle, he kissed a female lead firmly on the mouth (with words so wooden I thought "yeah right") then turned and (with interesting intensity) kissed the Doctor firmly on the mouth. Although I've always been very much in the "Companions don't KISS*!" camp it was scripted well: the Doctor stood there with a bemused expression, which is what someone from an alien species ought to do in such a situation. Not repulsed, not aroused, just...curious. The Boy-Companion (surprisingly) died fighting the Daleks but did so very well in a classic action-hero gunfire way complete with witty exit line.

The other Companion was one of the not-so-great bits. If you clicked on that link you'll see she's one of those blondes with the jet-black furry eyebrows which I found horribly distracting. Not only that but she was the catalyst for the entire very-bad last half of the episode back on Earth. That was when I really lost patience with the script. Why? I'll tell you why.

The Doctor sent the Girl-Companion back to Earth on the TARDIS with one of those classic "if you're listening to this broadcast I'm likely already dead" videos. Of course we never expected her to stay on Earth but what I didn't expect was to have quite so much air-time of her whining about how much she was going to miss him before getting started on the Doing Something...and I definitely didn't expect the Something to be "breaking the TARDIS" least of all with brute force.

Let me backtrack a minute. Longtime Dr Who fans will know all about the TARDIS, her cloister-bell and how huge she really is. So I was fine with the Girl-Companion saying that the TARDIS was a sentient being with whom they could communicate and even liked that plan. I thought "okay, so she'll talk the TARDIS into going back." Notice I say "talk into." Wanna know why? Because Dr. Who has a longstanding tradition of using brains rather than brawn to solve problems. Wit too, for that matter. Never in a million years did I think that the Girl-Companion would attempt to "communicate" with the TARDIS by using an iron chain to pry bits of it open.

It got better too: the chain went out the open TARDIS door to a freaking truck where the wanna-be-boyfriend gunned the engine. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee must all have been rolling in their graves over that one. I sat there thinking "well of course that's never gonna work; the TARDIS isn't going to allow petty vandalism...heck I'm surprised the door is being allowed to stay open so long. Any second now the door is gonna slam shut and break that chain leaving Rose (yeah I knew her name all along but floral and dewy she ain't) to negotiate on her own. Any second now..."

I threw a ball of yarn at the television when they came back with a bigger truck.

It was a sad day for scriptwriting but no real surprise when the huge yellow truck worked, the bit of TARDIS snapped, light flashed and Girl-Companion started communicating telepathically with the TARDIS. Ditto for the special-effects yellow magical flamelike stuff pouring out of her eyes to indicate she'd Become One with the good old blue police-box. I wasn't even particularly surprised when she resurrected ONLY the Boy-Companion from the dead; by then I'd seen sixteen or eighteen commercials ("since when does Dr. Who have commercials?!") for his spin-off show and knew he had to stick around one way or another. More special-effects magic caused all the Daleks to be dissolved into gold glitter while I got good and sick of the possessed voice giving us an "all dust" refrain.

It was definitely high-tech television entertainment and my kids would probably think it was swell but I felt horribly bereft. Went to the website to see if maybe there were an explanation and found that not only had it gone all high-tech as well but I was still a Doctor behind.

The Tenth Doctor looks like he ought to be a Wiggle. Yes I know how much I'm showing my age. I don't care; I'm off to watch my VHS tape of Full Circle.

*They don't kiss the Doctor, that is. Kissing each other is perfectly acceptable.


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