?

Log in

parrot_knight [userpic]

Doctor Who 4.14: The Next Doctor

December 25th, 2008 (07:08 pm)
current music: Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special

The scheduling of this episode confirmed, at least to me, that we are in Doctor Who's go-slow period. Publicity for Who has seemed more low-key than the previous couple of years, though one doesn't necessarily have to be being snobbish to be glad that the Doctor has been cut free this Christmas from Kylie Minogue's PR machine, which seemed to have hijacked the Doctor Who one last year.

The smaller scale of the larger part of this scenario was welcome, despite the story opening out at the end to reveal The Mill's attempt at an early nineteenth-century London cityscape which didn't quite convince - but then, we were meant to be looking at the Cyber-King. A theme which I expect to see carried forward across the specials is the examination of the Doctor's identity, what he wants from his existence and whether he has anything at all to live for.

Once we left the establishing pre-credits scene the photography became claustrophobic and shadowy, appropriate for a journey across a character's mind. David Morrissey's Doctor/Jackson was convincing and it seemed structurally right to resolve the mystery of who he was rapidly. RTD seemed to intend Miss Hartigan as a woman wronged by society, but I don't know whether he will be winning any feminist garlands. Dervla Kirwan seemed to be enjoying the part though. Veilele Tshabalala was less convincing, unfortunately.

As expected, now, there were a lot of beats repeated from earlier RTD-era Cyber-adventures. The Cyberleader had an exposed brain presumably because the Cybercontroller suit from The Age of Steel was in store and it had to be used. The exploding heads were a little gratuitous, but one supposes it's no worse than the kids will have come across on computer games. The integrity of the Cybermen has been badly damaged - did they sit down to tea with the Daleks in the Void and swap technology? I didn't think that conditions would exist there to be able to master anything. How did these Cybermen develop a 'Dreadnought class' warship? Have they absorbed the culture of our universe's Cybermen from the Daleks' notes? That's how they know about the different Doctors after all...

Comments

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:38 am (UTC)

I was expecting the BF plot to be used as well - I think one of BF's producers was, too - but this idea was more interesting, even if it was sidelined to allow for the Cybermen Giant Robot plan to take over.

I think RTD is a fan of Warner Brothers cartoons so might even have had that Bugs Bunny story in mind...

Posted by: calliope85 (calliope85)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:41 am (UTC)
8th doctor - wanderer in the fourth dime

I was half expecting a 'The One Doctor'-style explanation, which I guess is the BF plot you mean? But the explanation we ended up with *did* have a certain similarity to the plot of 'Minuet In Hell'; so I can still find a BF link if I want :D

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:44 am (UTC)
Argue mainly

Both 'The One Doctor' and 'Minuet in Hell' are stories I have to catch up with, alas, though until the last round of RTD interviews I did think that 'The Next Doctor' would be a development of 'The One Doctor'.

Posted by: calliope85 (calliope85)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
8th doctor - wanderer in the fourth dime

'The One Doctor' was, as far as I recall, pretty good, and is also Sixth and thus automatically awesome. 'Minuet In Hell' - well, it's got Eighth and the Brigadier, so I have a great deal of affection for it; and it's also got Eighth monologuing madly in padded cells, which is definitely a plus from my perspective. But it's sadly obvious that the plot is a stretched-out version of the Audio Visuals original, the subplots are somewhat nonsensical, the villain is pretty appalling and the American accents are *dire*. I wouldn't put it top of your list, let's put it like that...

Posted by: http://elevatormusic.space (sebastienne)
Posted at: December 25th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)

With regards to feminism and Miss Hartigan, for some reason I was very strongly reminded of Baron-Cohen's idea of the "male brain" and the "female brain" - you can read Cybermen as an extreme version of the "male brain", calculating, analysing, controlling; and while it's less clear that Miss Hartigan is strong in "empathy" she is certainly portrayed as being high in emotion.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but that's what I thought of..

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:43 am (UTC)

RTD was definitely emphasising that the Cybermen are male - even with Miss Hartigan as the central processing unit the Cyber-king is the Cyber-king - so I think that you definitely have something there.

Posted by: calliope85 (calliope85)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 09:57 am (UTC)
8th doctor - wanderer in the fourth dime

A theme which I expect to see carried forward across the specials is the examination of the Doctor's identity, what he wants from his existence and whether he has anything at all to live for.

Oh yay, more Tenth navel-gazing. Just what I wanted... </heavy sarcasm.>

This is entirely my wishful thinking speaking, but I'm beginning to dream that we might be heading for a multiple Doctors special. The heavy emphasis on regeneration and what it means to be the Doctor, who he is and where he's come from, and most obviously the first on-screen acknowledgement of all his previous selves since - well, really rather a long time ago - all makes me wonder if RTD wants to have a go at a multiple Doctor story before he leaves. (It also gives me some hope that they're going to do something really different with Eleventh - Tenth and Ninth were not, after all, exactly poles apart, and the emphasis on how different the Doctor has been in his lives before could be seen as preparing the new audience for a more ground-breaking regeneration. (Because - Hartnell footage! Actual Hartnell! Look, children, look at the grumpy old man Tenth used to be! ♥))

Okay, okay, so the logistics would be nightmarish, they'd have to come up with some Time Crash-esque explanation for why Sixth doesn't *quite* look as we might have expected, and multiple Doctor stories are the kind of poisoned chalice RTD might be wise to avoid. But I can still dream of a Seven Doctors :D

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 10:49 am (UTC)
Hartnell words

I don't know whether a multiple Doctors special is on the cards (though those McGann rumours refuse to go away...); I thought the flashback sequence probably was the first foreshadowing of the forthcoming regeneration, cutting Doctor Who loose from David Tennant by reminding the audience that there were other Doctors before his.

The tenth Doctor does come across sometimes as the ninth with an added layer of superficial jollity - it seems that RTD is leaving the Doctor where he found him, having nothing to live for and throwing himself into adventure as a way of avoiding the bleakness in his hearts, but in the end being forced to look into it, again and again and again. Then again, the Doctor did accept Christmas dinner this year, for the first time since he lost the Tylers, so perhaps that's a sign that he's becoming reconciled to himself. On the other hand, it is going round in circles, and confirms the impression that RTD ran out of new things to say about the Doctor some time ago.

The eleventh Doctor will reflect Steven Moffat's concerns rather than RTD's, of course, and I suspect we will lose a lot of that misanthropy which lurks at the programme's core at the moment, though I could be wrong...

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: December 26th, 2008 12:22 pm (UTC)

The tenth Doctor does come across sometimes as the ninth with an added layer of superficial jollity

One of the interesting things about watching the whole of the Davies era (so far) in order in a short period of time was realizing just how similar the ninth and tenth Doctors are, especially as written. It often seems to be the actors' performances that create the differences between them.