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Apr 16, 2006

Yawn of the Dead

Newearth01_1Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles are currently releasing some wonderfully comprehensive reference works on Doctor Who called About Time. In these books there's always a section for each story called 'Things That Don't Make Sense' and, depending on the extent of the logical atrocities committed, you generally get 2-3 pages where the authors will poke plenty of holes in the plot.

If Wood and Miles ever get around to tackling the new series they'll need to release an entire volume exclusively dedicated to things that don't make sense in New Earth.

I just don't get what the cats are playing at. If they've cured all known diseases then why do they still need thousands of clones infected with thousands of curable diseases? Are these lab-rats for pure research into diseases they don't already have a cure for? If so, why infect them with *everything*? That's just silly, isn't it? Why not just infect them with just the stuff they can't cure?

Is there supposed to be a symbiotic link between the cure and the diseased? A nun says something about a "blood wash" at one point but the connection (if any) is never put into any form of context. It just seems pointless.

Newearthcat_1It is supposed to be a treatise on stem cell research? If so, I'm sure George W. Bush would have fully endorsed the Doctor's stance on this issue - but we're not allowed to have any kind of debate on the subject: we've just got to accept that the Doctor is right and the cats are wrong. Besides, why waste time when you can wallow in some camp nonsense instead?

The main reason we're supposed to feel sorry for these "clones" because they just happen to speak "zombie". For no apparent reason. The script desperately attempts to explain this little anomaly but it just points at a gaping whole in the initial set-up. Echo of life? Load of bollocks.

But it doesn't matter because they are just there to be lumbering zombies and to pose a bit of a threat. I did enjoy the homage to Dawn of the Dead, though, especially the zombies spilling out of the lift and rubbing themselves up against the glass. Quite scary for BBC1 at 7:30pm.

And the Doctor's cure? While perfectly sound in this ridiculous context (which surely means the zombies can't be infected with stuff they can't cure, so I'll ask again - why bother???) the way they "pass it on" was banal beyond belief. A clever hospital-wide sprinkler system solution I could just about buy, but the dreaded lurgy in reverse? Come on!

Newearthcss_1And then there's Cassandra. How? Why? What???? What's she been doing sitting up there in the roof of a hospital when she could have escaped into a body *any time she liked*???? I say again - WHAT? And why does she suddenly accept her mortality as soon as she jumps into her lackey? Her worships her so he wouldn't want her to die, would he? And she's evil. So WHY?????

The ending was utterly ridiculous too. Was I supposed to be moved by the fact that Cassandra got the opportunity to go back in time to give herself a compliment - conveniently holding back a massive heart attack in the process? This appears to be a pivotal moment that she remembers in the future - and yet she still turns out to be a bitch. So what's the point, beyond giving Zoe some screen time?

Newearthboe_1Paul Hayes mentioned that RTD moved a line from the first episode into season 3, and I agree with his supposition that it must be the Face of Boe's decision to not bother to impart his GREAT WORDS OF WISDOM at the very last minute. So why bother with Boe in the first place? He just clogs up an episode full of disparate stuff all fighting for attention. Textbook enigmatic? Pointless nonsense! Telepathy? Inability to sync up the lips, more like. Sorry, but when the plot is this bad that's all I'm thinking about...

Am I nit-picking? Am I watching this with the wrong eyes? Am I just a grumpy old sod?

Well, it's not all bad news. It looked nice. Tennant and Piper were both excellent given the limitations of the script, and the 10th Doctor still pulls levers like no one on earth. In fact, best opening shot of a season - ever!

But the "samba" moment? Good lord.

I believe the working title for this story was Plague Farm. I'm surprised they didn't kill two birds with one stone and call it Plague Camp.

Still, next week looks good...

4/10

The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about New Earth: during the transmission of this episode the BBC switchboard was jammed with people (mistakenly) complaining about Graham Norton's voice mysteriously appearing over the Doctor's dialogue again.  

Comments

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Er, what?

I'll hazard a guess he didn't like it either...

LOOK OUT THE SPIRIT OF ROGER DELGADO HAS A COMPUTER =X

On the principle of if you don't have anything good to say, then say nothing, I'll refrain from reviewing New Earth and just say Neil has summed it up very well, although more charitably than I would. But on a positive note I ordered all the published volumes of "About Time" last week, and they arrived last Thursday so I've had a fantastic Easter weekend trawling through them and doing very little else. Wonderful books - highly recommended.

I enjoyed the UK Gold repeat of "Frontier in Space" more than "New Earth"! Gulp.

Well sorry chaps but I enjoyed it, seriously thought it was just good fun. Not the best by far but much better then World War III

Having your tongue nailed to the floor with a croquet hoop is better than World War III. But yeah, I rewatched New Earth yesterday and I enjoyed it a bit more. It's not fantastic or anything but it's a light bit of fun and what I expected for the season opener. The big hitters are still to come...

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