Tuesday, 17 November 2009

DW: The Waters of Mars

I really hope the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a take on this... Excessive spoilers below.

So, did the Doctor win? Have to say, getting the TARDIS to save them was an obvious move, so long as people thought that they all died on Mars. But then he had to be nice...

As a base under siege, there's a lot of time not being under siege, even while under siege. The threat of the water creatures is really low key, and it isn't until they get on top of the base there's really a credible risk at all. In many ways, the water creatures aren't the point of the story, just something set up to look scary for "good television". Instead, it's about how this is a fixed point in time, and about the Doctor becoming the Time Lord Victorious. Any danger would have met that criteria. And I do wonder how comfortable that prosthetic was to wear, will have to see what the Confidential reveals.

In that regard, Adelaide Brooke isn't so much a companion as a cipher for the Doctor's need to rescue someone. While she's a typical Rusty "strong woman" figure, there isn't much else she's there for than to inspire others. And that bit with the Dalek was silly, in that the Daleks were there to wipe out all creation, what's that going to do with preserving a future fixed time point? And as for her ending... that was stupid, really undercut the character. So she's mad at the Doctor, but what's done is done, and her killing herself is going to fix anything? Lindsay Duncan may be a good actress, and gets a good "humanity is great" speech near the beginning, but that was a terrible part.

Tennant shifts into a different gear as he tries to stick to preserving the time line, and ultimately gives it the finger. I might have been reading too many comics recently, but the whole Time Lord Victorious thing does smack of a "big event" to help sell issues... I mean get in viewers. The regeneration doesn't have to be epic, but Rusty's clearly decided to go out in a big issue celebration.

Any power The Waters of Mars has a scary story is destroyed by the sudden looming plot thread that takes over at the end. Had that aspect been toned down, this would have been better, but instead it is reduced to serving as a prologue to the coming two-parter.

Next time: really bad hair!


1 comment:

Saxon Brenton said...

I finally saw 'Waters Of Mars' last night on ABC1. It occurs to me that while the *threat* is old school 'base under seige', the *story* is 'Doctor Who does Shakespearean tragedy'. The Doctor has a character trait that acts as a 'fatal flaw' and brings about doom despite his best effort (literally, universe altering effort) to bring about some sort of happy ending. At first glance that is his obsession to save people (and man, is it weird to think of comparing 'saving people' to the type of character flaws that brings down Macbeth or Hamlet) but closer examination shows that when he goes into Time Lord Victorius mode he's clearly suffering hubris.

The scene with Adelaide fingering her gun on her front doorstep made me briefly wonder if she was going to try to assassinate the Doctor. However the actual event makes me wonder: is her suicide suspicious? As in, was it an idea that was forced on her and an impulse that she was impelled to carry out by history refusing to be baulked? The Doctor had already said that they had been fighting against history itself, but there are subtler ways for history to assert itself than physical force or even an all-out attack by the reapers (aka the killer flying time monkeys of doom).

I suspect that the Doctor should have learnt a double-barrelled lesson from old mad-as-a-cut-snake Dalek Caan: that to someone with the knowledge and skill and willpower there is no historical event - including fixed time events or even time locked events - that cannot be altered. But there are almost certainly going to be consequences, and you have to ready to deal with with them as they occur or they will blow up in your face. So when the Doctor arrogantly thought he had everything under control, it blew up in his face.

If the above interpretation is correct then I don't think the theme of dealing with the responsibility and consequences of saving people has been built up properly. The series touches on it, sort of, in 'Fires Of Pompeii'. But one or two more stories of the Doctor (increasingly crankily) going about trying to arrange history to his taste and having it blow up in his face in a variety of ways would be in order. I'll await the meta-text of the next story with interest.