Monday, 16 November 2009

Doctor Who treading The Waters of Mars



Last night's Doctor Who special epitomised the good and bad of the current series, and is proof positive that Russell T Davies' tenure has plunged into self-referential parody!

There's been an awful lot of running in Doctor Who - metaphorically and literally - this decade. I have no qualms with metaphor and the dramatic impetus therein! However, literal running reached its zenith in The Waters of Mars last night.

The plot and set design, cynically, lent itself to the ideology of running... Clearly, Davies' ran out of creative ideas several seasons ago. Too often I found myself clock watching. It was only in the quieter, character moments, where the episode excelled and the actors were allowed, dare I suggest, to act. Even Murray Gold's orchestral compositions, of which I am a fan, were often jarring and disjointed.

The alien entity was no match for the once-monstrous Martian Ice Warriors (The Curse of Peladon notwithstanding), a species curiously referenced by the Doctor as "a fine and noble race who built an empire out of snow." I'd have much preferred a base under siege story with Ice Warriors as per Patrick Troughton's era!

The Doctor's transformation from misfit to an unbound, arrogant and dangerous, alien force was genius and evoked William Hartnell and Tom Baker! The hubris that follows sets things up for the last two-part special scheduled for Christmas and the New Year.

Robots are often mined for comedic relief in sci-fi. Star Wars' R2-D2 and C3-PO and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy's Marvin are prime examples - funny and endearing. However, the robot, which appeared in The Waters of Mars, was risible and wouldn't have garnered a single G rating in The Gadget Show (my Tomy Omnibot Mk II was more convincing!). Mat Irvine, who built K9 in the original series, would've blushed with embarrassment!

The Waters of Mars was 'better' than Planet of the Dead. But, that's little consolation. The Cloister Bell chimes were most welcome by journey's end.