purplecat: The Tardis (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] purplecat
The randomizer seems to have abandoned Tom Baker in favour of Moffat's first season (though B. has just vetoed Victory of the Daleks on the grounds we're rewatching too much nuWho at once and he's more interested in the older stuff).

One thing that struck me particularly forcefully on rewatching was the way The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood ruthlessly recycle classic Who ideas and tropes. In particular, coming straight from Fury from the Deep, the drill rig leaped out as deliberately nostalgic in a way it hadn't originally. This story probably benefited from a lack of Fury's discussion of impellers. The drill also underlined the way in which the story, having pulled in these elements of classic Who, really fails to understand them. The issue is never whether the drill will continue digging. It's a given from almost the moment the Doctor raises the subject that the drilling will stop. In the second and third Doctor era, the story would have been partly a fable about the dangers of capitalism, and a key part of the drama would have been whether or not drilling should continue.

The same thing is happening throughout the story where the images, and surface detail are being borrowed without their underlying meaning. Particularly striking, I thought, was the way the story attempts to be about how human and silurian failings and fears snatch defeat from the arms of victory (or at least a peaceful resolution). This was the driving story behind The Silurians which The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood most closely apes. However it is clear on rewatching not only that Ambrose actually had no intention of killing Alaya but also that Alaya's death actually made no difference; Restac was already intent upon her coup and her retaliation and Eldane is understanding. Moreover it is Tony and Ambrose's decision to set up a fail safe, where the drill will destroy the silurians if Tony does not return, that provides the key distraction allowing the humans to escape. This story is not conveying the message it thinks it is.

I was also less enamoured of the pacing this time through. In my (surprisingly lengthy) original review I described myself as entertained and interested. This time I found myself getting restive about halfway through Hungry Earth where a lot of running about seemed to be happening to little actual purpose. Things did pick up in the second episode.

Lastly, I was struck by the way Rory's death was so arbitrarily tacked on at the end. When first watching, of course, we were in the middle of a story about the cracks in time and the join was less visible. This time, coming out of nowhere, the way the story essentially stops ten minutes before the end in order to switch into a completely different story was distinctly jarring. The arc plot seemed less like a seamless whole driving the season and more like an awkward addition rather gracelessly mashed into another story.


Overall, I liked this less second time through. Its slavery to the icons of 1970s Who without appearing to understand their underlying meaning or themes looks gaudy and trivial. The arc plot is jarring and out of place. And its po-faced attempts at moralising are at odds with the actual drama that has unfolded. I still think it is better than Chibnall's Torchwood scripts, but that isn't saying a lot.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-06 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] louisedennis.livejournal.com
I think one of its problems is that it promises more than it delivers. It frames itself as a tragic morality play and it really isn't anything of the kind.

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