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Posted August 27, 2014 into Telly by John Birmingham

Sometimes a comment is worth pulling out and running as a standalone entry even if I disagree with it. Or sometimes, especially if I disagree with it.

Simon Garlic's rant about the first Capaldi episode is so drenched with ranty spit balls it seemed a shame few would see it at the end of comment thread half a week old.

So, here's Simon's take on the first ep of the new Doctor:

This episode existed for one reason – to reassure younger fans of New Who that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old. Clara gets upgraded from being a piece of the set to being an audience surrogate. Still not a character though.
The dinosaur out of its time, lost, all alone. “The world is grey, everything I knew is gone.” We get it.
The robot out of its time, repairing itself for millennia, all alone. Come on Moffat, we get it.
The broom speech. “There’s nothing of you left”. The face in the tray bit showing 12 his own face. Fuck Moff, give it a rest.
Vastra’s veil speech. “He’s old. The young face was just an act. If you can’t accept that he’s older, you are a shallow person.” Jenny to Clara. “I don’t just like her, I love her, even though she’s different.” If you are just “liking” him for his looks, you don’t really love him. MOFFAAATTTTTT
Clara: fucking everything in the whole episode. Oh, she’s only 27? Gee, thanks for that Strax, that line didn’t half stand out like dog’s bollocks. “Hey Doc, that’s not the only grey hair”, and just in case you haven’t been slapped in the face with it enough, here comes a call from Clara’s boyfriend so that Matt Smith can explain to the audience – I mean, Clara – that it’s OK for the Doctor to be old and grey.
The “Clara doesn’t understand regeneration and wants her young Doctor back” plot was inexplicable shit. She has more understanding of Time Lord regen than anyone! She spent time with three different Doctors of different ages simultaneously in the 50th, and thanks to the crap Impossible Girl crap story arc crap she’s the only companion to have personally encountered every different incarnation of the Doctor across 2,000 years. Shit. Fuck you Moffat, lazy writing.
Episode highpoints: Capaldi, “times like these I miss Amy”, eyebrows.
Episode lowpoints: everything else.

At a higher level this episode embodies something even more annoying – Moffatt’s twin tendencies to
a) regurgitate his own previous plots and storylines - S08E01 is basically S02E04 “The Girl In The Fireplace” (writer: Steven Moffatt) re-done to emphasis the Doctor's age. Clockwork robots in a broken time-traveling spaceship trying to harvest human bodyparts to perform repairs, the Doctor struck with the reality that he's ancient and immortal and personal relationships with humans just don't work; and
b) make the Doctor a timetraveling Sherlock Holmes. Moffatt is lead writer and showrunner of “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” at the same time, and it shows. Not in a good way.

14 Responses to ‘Dr WTF’

BigWillieStyle asserts...

Posted August 27, 2014
Just to backtrack about 5 posts - got me a copy of Andrew McMillen's "Talking Smack" book. Very good read, recommend to all Burgers. Particularly liked Lindy Morrison's tale about stealing Nick Cave's heroin accidentally on purpose.

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Spanner reckons...

Posted August 27, 2014
As much as I enjoyed that ep. I found something vaguely irritating about it. Then I realised that I find all new Dr's irritating.

(I found all the Matt Smith eps hugely irritating and couldn't wait for him to regenerate but that's a separate topic )

I'm not sure it was bad writing bashing us over the head as Simon says rather it was a regenerated Dr ep. Many of them have been ham fisted, such as the the Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker ep in Robot or the somewhat more eloquently done in the Tom Baker to Peter Davidson ep Castrolova but all leave us with a sense of dislocation from a beloved character. The dislocation makes our immersion in the world that little bit less deep and we can start to see the flaws in the writing that we would otherwise forgive.

@simongarlick mumbles...

Posted August 28, 2014
Hey, I didn't say it was BAD writing, I said it was LAZY writing. It was a script with a Message that reused plot elements from one script and ignored discontinuity with others.

Take your point on the dislocation; I remember watching Doc 5 having a moment lying under that bit of the Zero Room and thinking "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT BRING MY DOCTOR BACK". And I luuuuuuurved Tennant and I wanted to hate Smith. But man S05E01 The Eleventh Hour was pretty damn good. (You couldn't not love Matt Smith after his very first episode. Somehow the youngest actor managed to play the most elderly-FEELING Doctor.) I don't think a regen episode by its very nature HAS to feel like a flawed script.

Having Karen Gillan in a sexy police outfit helps, of course.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted August 28, 2014

Summary - Dr Who is overblown twaddle. Yep.

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@simongarlick mumbles...

Posted August 28, 2014
"Ranty spit balls"? :)

Hey don't get me wrong, Doctor Who fanboy since forever, Moff is in the pantheon of heroes just for being part of the team that brought DW back, love his writing in just about everything. But I think he's overreaching himself being writer and producer on two demanding, intelligent, high-profile shows at once. Every time I see something Sherlocky in Doctor Who I start foaming at the mouth, because the DW fanboy in me wants Moff to eat sleep and breathe making DW as awesome as possible, not be swanning around the world doing distracting trivial shit like winning Emmy awards for Sherlock. (I'M LOOKING AT YOU TOO, GATISS)

The fact that Deep Breath felt so preachy to the audience while so self-evidently recycling the "Fireplace" story with Sherlocky stuff thrown in just felt lazy. All it lacked was a timey-wimey bootstrap-paradox resolution to be a satire of a Moffat script.

I also want Moff to lift his game because Season 7, from the Snowmen to regeneration into 12, was IMHO the weakest season since the reboot. The character of Clara in S7 was a fembot with three settings - running, puzzled, or smirking. Like I said in the first rant, that inane Impossible Girl story arc made her a plot device, not a character. And the central character of the Doctor suffered for it, much love for Matt Smith but Lord knows he didn't have much to work with given S7's scripts.

And if I see the goddamn Weeping Angels anywhere in S8 I swear I will make a critical post to the Internet, BY THE GODS I SWEAR IT.

PS: Garlick

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted August 28, 2014
Best episode of Dr. Who I have seen since the series went out of production in the 1990s.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted August 28, 2014
ha! After Mr Garlick's posts that tickled my ribs. I kinda agree with Garlick though - a friend pointed out: what's with the slapstick gobshite?

I think Capaldi will carry it on well. I have a personal theory one of the reasons they upgraded the age of the actor playing the doc is that they want to bring in a bit of love action with River Song again and social conventions can't have a protracted (more involved) love story arc with a young male and an older female.

Feel free to shoot me down in flames - my attention span during the last doctor who series was waning a bit so may have missed some crucial plot points.

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MickH asserts...

Posted August 28, 2014

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Aaron mutters...

Posted August 28, 2014
I agree that Moffat is over stretched but to be fair a regen episode is always going to be hamstrung by the need to accommodate any new viewers starting with that series. At the end of the day it's a family friendly show. And yes yes yes to no no no of reoccurring Cyber men daleks and angels etc. it's done

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NBlob would have you know...

Posted August 29, 2014
Sorry Chaps & Chapette, I lost interest in the Dr in 1978.

However * Off Topic Warning* I would be most pleased for a discussion stimulated by the rather excellent Mz Razors latest piece. Wherein she flogs the left like only one who knows us intimately can.

As per usual it is stuffed to the gills with potty talk, adult themes and the quite excellent "The Congress is a vat of infinite Stupid kept simmering to a salmonella heat by the fuel of thrice-digested bullshit."

damian reckons...

Posted August 29, 2014
On the internet somewhere is a photo of me at a Dr Who fan convention in 1983.

I always find Ms Razer's floggings entertaining when directed at others, and perhaps even when captured in the spotlight glare. A little like being whipped with a used condom, it might sting a little but doesn't bruise, smells funny and there's the risk of some unpleasantness involving bio-hazards.

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robW ducks in to say...

Posted August 30, 2014
I didn't like Dr. Who when I moved to Scotland in 1978 and was too stupid to figure out that the Scots had fuses in their electric plugs. I watched Dr. Who because the light from the "Telly" was the only light available in the corporate flat besides that from the refrigerator. It wasn't Star Trek and William Shatner enough for me, or maybe I was just freaked out having arrived myself, not in a phone booth but in a TWA 747 and a weird BA flight where they only served tea and spoke funny.

I didn't care for Dr. Who when I moved to England in 1982. I was sophisticated then and understood the concept of fuses in electrical outlets. I even understood drinking tea by that time and could perfectly understand a highlands accent, and I could drive on the left side of the road with practiced ease and I knew the streets of London like the lines on the back of my hand and I knew all the best (or worst) pubs in Earls Court. Still, Dr. Who sucked.

I didn't like Dr. Who when it was on PBS in LA in 1985. Didn't like it when it was on Denver Rocky Mountain PBS in 1990. Saw it in Mexico City in 1995 or so. In Spanish. Lasted about 2 minutes. Couldn't keep awake watching it on KQED in San Francisco in 2000. Could care less about it in 2005 when I saw it in a hotel room in New York City. Hated it in another hotel room in Phoenix in 2008. Didn't like it in yet another hotel room in Florence, Italy, in 2010 when the Doctor was speaking in dubbed Italian. In 2012 (or was it 2013) it was supposed to be "All New!" and I watched 3/4ths of an episode on BBC America. Can't remember where I saw it. Denver. Perhaps Oklahoma City. Maybe Houston, or possibly that steamy evening in New Orleans where the air conditioning was going full blast and the condensation was dripping down the hotel window.

While channel surfing the other night I momentarily landed yet again on BBC America. Some show about cops in 1880s New York who speak with a Cork, Ireland accent. I can tell a Cork accent from a mile away. The announcer said that Dr. Who was up next. I couldn't contemplate it.

I turned it off.

I must be yet another Yankee barbarian who doesn't know fine SF when he sees it. Still, JB, would like to spend a few hours with one of your new novels soon. Much better than the Doctor, I'm sure...

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Mark would have you know...

Posted August 30, 2014
Mofatt is great. It's all about flow. Even when the plots are blatantly utilitarian what makes a great writer is their flow. Like Gaiman, Falkner, Twain (insert great writer whose plots you don't like), when their plots fail/bore, their writing voice still comes through like a sack of literary bricks on your grown-men-complaining-about-a-children's-show heads. With Moffat it comes through in his dialogue.

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Halwes asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014

I thought that last night's Dr Who was <A href="mailto:cr@p">cr@p</A>. Since Simongarlick so kindly intellectualised it for me I've been looking for flaws. The worst thing is that he is right about lazy plots and stupid Daleks. I still like the new doctor and I think that he has potential but I'd like more substance to the deduction of problems in the plot. It's no fun if it's predictable. I mean who didn't know that that Dalek was going to turn nasty again after he was repaired? I suspect that the "good" Dalek is going to be a recurring theme and what about all that heaven stuff?

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