Sunday, April 12, 2009
Planet of the Average
So how was it for you?
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead started with a collective groan in our household. Michelle Ryan's art thief Lady Christina (to a suitably James Bond-ish soundtrack from Murray Gold) simultaneously did Mission Impossible and Raiders of the Lost Ark in an uninspired pre-credits sequence and my heart sank. These are David Tennant's final four shows as The Doctor and I really, really want these specials to be really special. So the omens were not good ...
One wormhole and a dodgy bus-driver later, we found ourselves on an alien planet. Apparently, they flew the entire Doctor Who cast and team out to Dubai to film the desert sequences. Money well spent? I thought it looked like a CGI landscape. But maybe my eyes have become so accustomed to FX now that I can no longer tell the pixels from reality. And anyway, it's probably cheaper to fly abroad these days than to employ an FX company and to Hell with the carbon footprint. Whatever the reason, the landscape did look pretty awesome; an appearance they probably wouldn't have got filming in Rhyl. Almost immediately, however (especially having seen the trailer), I was thinking ... isn't this Pitch Black?
Russell T writes some of the best dialogue I've ever heard but, good grief, he's not a man who's famed for his originality and as one cliche piled upon another, I found myself yearning for Steven Moffat's creative hand. Fly humanoids? Fly humanoids that feed on crap? And the logical inconsistencies ... Fly humanoids that have wireless ear pieces perfectly suited for human ears despite the fact they don't have ears? Technology that couldn't possibly be operated by those claws. The anti-gravity components being perfectly designed to fit like London bus wheel clamps. And since when could The Doctor speak every language? Wasn't that all to do with the TARDIS telepathic circuits or something? The alien beasties themselves were a tired and unoriginal manta-ray type design that's been done a million times before and the science around them creating wormholes was neatly glossed over with some technobabble about going fast enough around the planet in their billions. Didn't Superman do something similar with time? Come on Russell ... you can do so much better and I sincerely hope that you will. Time is running out for Mr Tennant. Use it wisely.
It may seem like I'm being overly-critical here but, sadly, I have been spoiled and I expect better. I've had Silence in the Library and The Empty Child. I've had Father's Day and Family of Blood. I've seen the very best that Doctor Who can offer ... and Planet of the Dead didn't even come close. Saying that, there were some genuinely excellent moments. Lee Evans' was a great laugh despite his variable Welsh accent (is it contractual that at least one person must be Welsh every show?). His moment with the fire extinguisher was pure unalloyed joy and I hope that Malcolm returns one day. Michelle Ryan wasn't too bad either. She did, however, lack that aristocratic air that worked so well for Lisa Goddard's identical Lady jewel thief back in the heady days of Bergerac. But, as I said earlier, if there's one thing RTD does well it's dialogue and the script sparkled with wit and invention at times. So, overall, an uninspired special. Not too shabby but definitely under par.
The teaser was interesting ... he is coming back through the darkness and will knock four times eh? The Master? Davros? Or something new? Tenterhooks engaged.
And the trailer for Waters of Mars looked intriguing and much more my kind of Who. I wonder if they've plundered the long and venerable history of Doctor Who martians and resurrected some of them? The Egyptian-themed hordes of Sutekh, last seen in Pyramids of Mars (Tom Baker) might be fun although that whole Egypt thing has been done to death a bit by Stargate. So how about the Ice Warriors? I bloody loved the Ice Warriors. Bring them back and I'll be a happy Easter bunny.