So to a large extent I could repeat last week’s post about the show as my review of this week’s.
After two weeks, it now looks like MoffWho will be, more or less, a series of remakes of the Welsh Series as if they’d been written by a competent writer. Not, necessarily, a *good* writer, but a competent one, which is, to be frank, more than we had for most of the Welsh Series so far. In this case, what we had was What If… The Long Game Had Been Better Than It Was And Had Those Creepy Puppets In Coin-Operated Booths From Old Fairgrounds In It?
Along with that, of course, we *also* had the second trip for the Doctor with his new companion being to a future spaceship with people from Earth who’ve escaped its destruction and a woman who, thanks to rejuvenating treatments, had lived a long, long time. (And next week we’re getting the Celebrity Historical By Mark Gattis. It seems we’re following the template of Davies’ first series exactly).
And it’s all seeming a little… calculated. We’ve got Moffatisms (cute little girl scared of common childhood fear) coupled with Davies’ series structure, mixed in with some of the more annoying Welsh Series aspects (we did *NOT* need another monologue about how special the Doctor is, especially in a story where the companion solved the problem).
And I’m still not convinced, *AT ALL*, by Moffat’s characterisation. He writes the Doctor as if he’s been given a description of what the character’s like, but without having ever seen an episode. Which is still an improvement over the previous series, which last I saw had no consistent idea of what the Doctor’s character was meant to be (unless, ‘unpleasant, annoying and prone to Kenneth Williams impersonations’ counts as characterisation). And in much the same way, Smith’s performance seems off. It’s definitely the same *kind* of character as the Doctor, but it’s not the Doctor I know. I’ve heard him compared to Michael Palin and Jim Carrey, and both of those seem apt at different points (he makes me think of Emo Philips myself, the way he gangles and folds himself up), and while I can see *some* people casting either of those as the Doctor, I wouldn’t cast either (though Palin might be interesting, thinking about it…)
And the worst thing of all is the fact that the dialogue is so reliant on cliche. Almost all the ‘witty’ lines were ones I could see coming from three lines earlier (“OK, the Doctor’s doing something ‘wacky’. That means the companion will say *this* confused line, which will allow the Doctor to make *this* reply. Oh I was right. Again.”) and some of the other stuff was frankly painful. I don’t care if “Help us, Doctor, you’re our only hope!” was meant as a post-modern ironic pop-culture reference or whatever, it’s still a terrible line.
The plot only had the normal number of plot holes, the Doctor was shown as an actually decent person trying to do good, the dialogue was only not-very-good, rather than terrible, again the turning point was someone actually using their brain, and most importantly, *the story was based around an actual moral dilemma, and both the Doctor and his companion acted properly*. That dilemma was somewhat cheapened by the everybody-lives ending, but even that ending was set up from the very beginning, as a proper actual consequence of things that happened in the show – and brought about by an independent action of the companion, rather than just being Davies ex machina.
It’s still far from what I’d hope for in a series of Doctor Who, and it’s still problematic (and WHAT THE FUCK was Moffat thinking with the menacing black man in a hood? That’s NOT the kind of imagery you should be playing around with) but it’s better than anything from the five previous years, by some considerable margin, and I’m always willing to forgive the occasional lapses of a sinner that repents. I’m definitely going to watch at least the next few episodes, and I’ll see how it goes from there. I don’t love this – I’m not even sure yet if I like it – but on balance I don’t *dislike* it, and that’s a start.