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: 2013-01-05 06:37 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
> In the second and third Doctor era, the story would have been partly a fable about the dangers of capitalism

That's not strictly accurate. In the third Doctor era, the story would have had yet another obstructive bureaucrat cut-and-pasted into it, with a name like Fotheringay-Smythe and a brief from the Ministry, so the Doctor could sneer at him and the whole argument would hold up progression of the plot for twenty-five minutes or so. (Of course drilling is going to continue until the monsters get out, no matter what the civil servants are doing.)

I'm not sure Chibnall knew what he was doing with this one (^W^W^W). He likes to write flawed characters, cos that is like more human innit, so everyone runs around for an hour pursuing their own agendas whether or not it has anything to do with the plot, such as it is. And then at the end: everyone goes back to sleep. Fascinating.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-05 06:39 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (MattKaren)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
As you may just about recall I kept unconsciously referring to the second episode of this story as 'Bad Blood'. I still think that it is rather too pleased with itself for retreading Doctor Who and the Cave-Monsters.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-06 01:24 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
There's also the problem of the rather immense genderfail. I've not watched this since first broadcast, but as I remember, pretty much all the problems in the story are caused by actions taken by women, while the head Silurian geneticist who experiments on live specimens is shown as a rather cuddly type of fellow.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-05 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daniel-saunders.livejournal.com
The Fury connection is interesting; on broadcast, I thought more of Doctor Who and the Silurians' season-mate, Inferno, but I can see the Fury parallels.

I find this distinctly inferior to the Pertwee original, despite, or perhaps because of the reduced time. Fan wisdom has long stated that anything over 100 minutes is too long, and some new fans seem to dislike anything over 45m, unless it's a loose 'arc', but I don't think this is true (then again, I'm a bitter, reactionary old fan). The Silurians, although it has its flaws, especially in the final episode, uses its length to create a detailed set of characters and to let the political side of the crisis unfold in a realistic way, or as realistic as Doctor Who ever gets, as well as producing some deeply unsettling scenes in the early episodes. The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood inevitably has to lose things to fit the shorter running time, but doesn't even manage to do anything particularly interesting with what it does have. I thought The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People the next year did a similar idea much better, but I may be in a minority of one on that.

I think I've mentioned before that it's interesting that the Pertwee original focussed on politics, whereas the Chibnall script is about family, but I haven't been able to make much of this, beyond the obvious that almost the whole of the Pertwee era was about politics, whereas new Who has consistently been about family and sexual/romantic relationships since 2005. The wider socio-cultural significance of this shift eludes me, though.

In retrospect, I wonder if Moffat had thought up Vastra and then needed to introduce the Silurians properly to a new audience before he could subvert them. That he gave it Chibnall rather than doing it himself might be seen as indicative of his interest in Silurians-as-Silurians.

(no subject)

Date: 2013-01-05 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] reggietate.livejournal.com
Though I think I liked it well enough, I seem to remember being vaguely disappointed by this story> I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe it would have worked better as an updating of the Sea Devils, rather than the Silurians themselves? I dunno.

The Silurian prosthetics were really good, though.

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