I’m oddly ambivalent about Neil Gaiman’s second Doctor Who script. I quite liked his first: it had creepy moments and some excellent villainous and macabre characters. Of course, it also had the TARDIS getting mixed up about which door the “PULL TO OPEN” sign refers to, but I eventually came to terms with that.
But this time… there’s a peculiar half-finished feeling about this story that just leaves me wondering what’s going on. In that vein, most of my comments on this story are phrased in the form of questions.
- Let’s say that hypothetically you have a companion who could still do with a bunch of character definition, and this script has characters that really need you to care about them. Why then waste time including the two worst, brattiest kids in Doctor Who history?
- Why is a Cyber-consciousness inside the Doctor’s head so crazy, angry and not-particularly-logical?
- If you’re going to have a war between two Matt Smiths, why not make them… different? I’ve never felt this before, but for whatever reason, Smith felt out of his depth this week.
- Are we really not supposed to be angry at the Emperor for getting a bunch of people killed because he wasn’t quite ready to go home yet? I mean, seriously, this guy seems to be the most selfish, dickish person in history and at the end I feel like we’re supposed to like him. Did I miss something?
- Is the Doctor hot for Clara’s arse now? For a second I thought the Cyber-planner was still in his head. And then I just thought it was weird. In part because, well, Clara’s skirt isn’t even that tight.
- If the Doctor is going to get all lusty, couldn’t he do it in a way that doesn’t imply awkward sexual politics at least? “Too tight”? Really? Give me at least that.
- Jenna Louise-Coleman is still awesome. Oh, wait, I have to phrase these as questions. Sorry. Why is Jenna Louise-Coleman so awesome? I still don’t quite have a handle on Clara, but hey, if you just pretend she’s a classic-series companion, suddenly it doesn’t feel so odd.
- Why not actually give the Cybermen something meaningful to do? They looked cool, but lacked character. The Daleks have the market cornered on hate; the Cybermen have a pretty good opportunity to be the cold, ruthless bastards to the Doctor’s passionate morality. But with the Cyber-planner being generally loopy, the Cybermen just end up seeming like very fast generic robots… when they’re not doing their best Borg imitation. No, not Björn. The other ones.
A clue: it’s the small door with the phone inside that opens outwards. You know, the one with the sign on it that says “PULL TO OPEN”. ↩︎
It’s possible these children are believably awful, but if it’s possible for kids taken to other planets on a trip to be as ungrateful and horrible as this, then I don’t want to know. This is escapism, people! ↩︎