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Apr 20, 2007

Future Shock

Gridlock

Russell T Davies has admitted freely that the influence of Judge Dredd's Mega City One is all over his script for this episode, and it shows - with a varied array of freaks, crazies and weirdos trapped on the Motorway, not to mention the lovely deliberate homage to informer Max Normal (though it would have been great to have The Businessman talk in Max's "hey daddio" patter rather than the predictable upper class). Though I think that Judge Dredd would have banished the cat people to the Cursed Earth as being mutants. There were links too in the concept of a never ending traffic jam, with people living in "mo-pad" mobile homes for all their lives, and the idea of "City bottom" being somewhere where bad things happen.

However, where as Dredd's world has a consistent internal logic, RTD's script  had more holes in it than a swiss cheese factory. To be honest it would be easy to find fault with loads of things (such as, if they had inter-car communication, why, in 24 years had no-one radioed back to say that the motorway didn't go anywhere?), but at the end of the day you know what? I actually really enjoyed the episode - and that's primarily because it had bags of heart, and dealt with the idea of faith through adversity in an interesting and entertaining way.

I am not a religious person at all. I have only been to church for the obvious christenings, marriages and funerals. And I have strangely never heard "The Old Rugged Cross" before - despite it apparently being one of the top ten hymns. Maybe that's why the whole scene with the travellers singing  together genuinely moved me. I have watched it several times since Saturday, and each time the same thing happens. Maybe it's sloppy writing to have a Christian hymn survive so long, and maybe the whole New Earth thing would fit better if it was a few hundred years in the future rather than five billion, but it worked for me. Apparently the more people change, the more they stay the same...

Maybe that's why the whole scene with the travellers singing  together genuinely moved me.

That's seemingly true of the Irish as well, at least on New Earth. Americans seem to have disappeared from New New York, but Brannigan is evident proof that the Irish still have their pioneering spirit in the far future. I found it easy to ignore thoughts of Thermoman and just enjoy Ardal's performance - the makeup being so excellent didn't hurt either. I can only assume that one of the reasons their journey took so long was because they pulled into the equivalent of a service station occasionally, bought a hit of "happy happy joy joy" from those dodgy street vendors and had a bit of inter-racial shagging in the lay-by. "Dogging" takes on a whole new meaning. Still, the kittens were dead cute.

...bought a hit of "happy happy joy joy" from those dodgy street vendors and had a bit of inter-racial shagging in the lay-by.

Both The Doctor and Martha were excellent once again, particularly Martha bonding with her kidnappers, and the Doctor rocking the status quo by asking those questions all the little Mo-Padders had forgotten to think about.

And then we have the return of the Macra, or the Tulips of Doom as they looked at first glance. No reason why they were there, no genuine reason for them to attack people and no resolution to their presence at the end of the episode - typical stuff from our Mr D then really! Still if you are going to have a pointless monster to create some menace, it might as well be one from 40 years ago.

Finally, the Face of Boe uses his life to let everyone out of the Undercity and  gives his last, predictable message to the Doctor. I was hoping for him to ask the Doc "Why are you always shouting?". Still, we knew what was coming, it was just the way David Tennant played it perfectly that made all the difference. Shock and denial all at once, but still keeping it all internalised. It's also good to see that Martha won't take no for an answer  or any of the old "I'll explain later" crap from the Doctor. More and more I prefer her to Rose.

Next Week: Daleks Take Manhattan. Who's for Dalek Sec in a huge Busby Berkeley number?

Comments

A fantastic new Doctor Who story on BBC1 this past week. Great futuristic design, a worthy villain, a fast-paced and imaginative story, and sparkling dialogue... so of course everyone here ignores The Infinite Quest and goes and reviews Gridlock instead! Seriously, i hope you're waiting to see all 13 bite-sized chunks and then unloading your reviews. After all, you reviewed those BBC7 Paul Mcgann plays. 'I've died and gone to Bill Oddie heaven....', 'A skeleton crew.....literally!'

I've never had a problem with the preponderance of current pop culture references popping up in the far future. Since the electronic revolution we've essentially been storing human history and in the end everything will be accessible and there'll be hundreds of thousands of copies. It seems inconceivable that some of those won't survive for some future civilisation to discover and re or misinterpret it in some way. Look at the way that Roman columns turned up in architecture thousands of years after that civilisation disappeared.

Plus what's to say some hitherto unknown force hasn't inadvertently brought this stuff forwards through human history? Perhaps it's all seeding for some future story. What if it's Brax?

Give me strength, Mister Querry, I'll have reviews ready and waiting soon.

Are there categories for InfQu on Typepad's interface yet, then?

I'm not sitting through the rest of that shite on TDW just to get to that.

Seriously though, I'm expecting all the parts to be posted Shalka-like to the BBC site eventually or given a possible DVD release. Since I've missed the first couple of episodes anyway, I'll wait for that.

How long is each individual part? Five minutes?

Russell Davies's appreciation of 'Judge Dredd' doesn't seem particualrly deep.

Max Normal looked like a civil servant but he spoke like a 70's Blaxploitation pimp.

It's as if Davies just looked at the pictures and thinks he knows how it all works.

That's what's wrong with this episode as a whole.

Cracking visuals but utterly empty.

I might be more willing to accept it as a satire on opur car obsessed culture if Davies hadn't fetishised 4x4s so much in 'Queer as Folk' and 'Torchwood'

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