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Apr 22, 2006

Cat - astrophe

At last, I return from the wilderness - months of stress from moving house, a 7 year old with apendicitis and no internet finally behind me (and I have missed being part of this blog) - only to find that the joy of new Doctor Who on the telly has been replaced with a pervading sense of...is that it?

So, I know I am nearly a week late, but here we go with my thoughts on:

New Earth

By the way - I'm not going to review the story as such, for fear of repeating the wise words of others. So instead, let's begin with...endings.


Now I happen to like Russell T's writing. A lot. The original Queer As Folk was a masterclass. Casanova was a great romp, and Mine All Mine was...okay well everyone has an off day. But he IS a good writer. With great ideas. However, sometimes I think that his ideas are typed onto the keyboard faster than his brain can think, and we end up with nonsense instead of finely tuned drama. And nowhere is this more obvious than in his endings. Take Queer As Folk 2: another cracking script, brilliantly acted, but, oops I can't think of a way to end this in the time available so I'll completely cock up the internal realistic consistency of my world and tack on a SF lite ending to get me out of a corner. And let's be honest, who was happy with the end of The Second Coming after the build up of the previous two hours? I know I wasn't.

And this flaw in RTD's writing skills is soooooo evident in "New Earth". It's the concepts where Russell's at - dozens of them flying at the screen in mad profusion. Weird cat-like nuns? Check. Zippy alien visuals? Check. Bit of vague social commentary? You betcha. Chuck in a "old" villain and a dose of high camp and stir briskly before simmering for 45 minutes. One can almost imagine Russell musing in his office "Hmmm what diseases shall I give the lab rats? I know! ALL of them!" before Bwa-ha-ha-ing manicly in that booming laugh of his. Voila, the perfect Doctor Who souffle. Not. Because when it comes down to it, Russ has a mental block with endings. Sometimes he can do it (QAF1) but often, he just can't make the grade.

Oh, it all sounds so good on paper - and some of it even comes off on screen. I actually liked the decontamination shower scene. I liked the chavtastic Cassandra / Rose. Some of the dialogue is sparkily crisp, and even the "samba" moment raised a grin. But it's that ending that is the dog turd on the pavement.

Hug Back in his office, Russell the T is sweating... "Bugger I've got three plot strands, eight main characters, a zombie army and only five minutes of time left. I know! With one bound he was free... no...no that's Spider-man. Got it! The Doctor saves the zombies with some coloured sugar water and a hug. Phew that was close, and no one will notice a thing. Bwa-ha-ha-ha".

On the plus side, Russell does write some of the best one-liners,quotable dialogue and stand out scenes in the business - stuff which you KNOW the kids will be repeating in the playground on Monday's  - and, although I don't quite think the stem cell research / hospital zombies analogy stands up to scrutiny, I CAN see what he was aiming for. Billie Piper looked fantastic throughout and yer man David IS the Doctor, lever pulling an' all.

As a side note, I thought it was clever how the main BBC trailers made it look like the clips were from lots of different episodes when actually most of them were from New Earth. Sneaky. But someone please tell me what the Tardisode had to do with the main plot? The screaming woman at the end of the clip wasn't really a lead in to the episode was it? I guess it was more about setting the tone.

Final scores on the doors then... A C+ for effort but must try harder at not letting the big ideas overwhelm the plot. And I want a proper ending dammit !


Great to have you back Kevin. All we need now is Andy Davison and Les to come back and the whole gang are here!

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