Sunday, 27 December 2009

DW: The End of Time

Slow... slow... slow... incrediablyfastending!

The hells was that about? From the introduction of the Master in a sequence more reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter, to him with superpowers, to the exciting sequence of hearing about Donna's tedious life, to finding out that a cyborg had cousins... frankly, none of that made any real sense, nor impact worth noting. In fact, nothing here really needed to be said, from the recapping sequence of the Ood to the thrilling moment of the Master eating chicken... take away pretty much all of that and see how much the story is impacted.

Because it's all set-up, and not just for the ending five minutes where there is a lot of running around in a pretense of excitement (which is still not present, see the scene where we have the Master basically exposit what's going on) before the big reveal of everyone is the Master, which I'm sure John Simm was enthused about filming (what happened to all the kids and babies? Did they suddenly grow bigger?).

No, it's really set-up for the next episode, which has the return of the Time Lords. With spittle problems it seems. I guess the Time War was an exceptionally important moment then, considering how it's been completely undercut now by the return of the Daleks and now the Time Lords. Seriously, what was the point of the past five years then? Oh, he's the Last of the Time Lords... until RTD gets to the end of his series, and then never mind that. The least we can hope for is that RTD clears it all away so Moffat can start with a clean slate.

Still, lovely as ever to see the lovely Bernard Cribbens. So important he gets into the title credits, yay! John Simm is still serving his Master with whole sty fills of pork, and David Tennant is ramping up his manic depressive disorder.

While this partnership of Tennant and RTD could continue on, it seems that RTD is trying to shoot it down as hard as he can.

Next Time: It doesn't look like it's getting any better...



Anonymous said...
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Saxon Brenton said...

I agree that the pacing doesn't hold up well in retropect. However, even while watching it there were parts that seemed overly melodramatic, as if trying to wring excitement out of plot development that just didn't have any. The worst was the Doctor's desperate rush from the Oodsphere to Earth, with sparks flying from the TARDIS console, only for him to arrive too late. And if, as he explained later, he can't loop back over his own timeline... well, at that point in proceedings he han't arived 'yet' and had no personal timeline to muck around with. A bit of care and forethought may or may not have helped him with his arrival point, but all that rushing around was never going to be useful. Lucy Saxon's speech to the Master was a bit on the overwrought side as well.

As for the Harry Potter-esque nature of the Master's return... Eh. I'll confess that ever during my first viewing of _Last Of The Time Lords_ I had half expected the Master to have sequested himself in his wife (all those past attempts, many of the successful, at stealing other people's bodies, doncha know) and was pleasantly surprised at the story taking a different tack.

But back to the pacing. I dunno. It occurs to me that in the 20c series if a story was overlong it would frequently be padded with the leading characters being captured, then escaping, and possiblty being captured again. Oh, and lots of running around in corridors. What happened here was a variation on that, with the lead character chasing a target and repeatedly failing to capture him, and lots of running around deserted industrial areas. It's a variation that fits the persona of the crusading, proactive 'Time Lord Victorious', but that doesn't change the fact that the running around, finding the Master then losing the Master then losing the Master again is padding. It could be argued the break in the middle allows Wilf to make contact with the Doctor and then get some down time with, but on the other hand if there is some mysterious pattern of coincidence drawing Wilf and the Doctor together then it could have been done in such a way that it didn't need to act as an interruption to the 'chase the Master' sequences. That may have made the first half seem even slower, however.

And that, when you get down to it, seems to be the overwhelming nature of the way part 1 is paced: some sort of dramatic incident (or seemingly dramatic incident, as the rush from the Oodsphere demonstrates), followed by a quiet moment with an info dump, followed by another dramatic indicent, etc. (This pattern is rather glaring to me, because that's the way I tend to plot issues of _Limp-Asparagus Lad_. Yes, it really is that obvious.)

An alternative point of view is, if this is the tenth Doctor's swan song, then for the first half of the story should focus on character and nostaglia and giving the fans one final walk about with Tennent before Smith takes over. This may get in the way of storytelling. The best comparison that I can make is to the scene in _Star Trek: The Motion Picture_ where Kirk is reinduced to the Enterprise after her refurbishment with a long pan along the starship. From various reviews that I've seen it was a nostaglic moment for hard core ST fans (an attempt at what would now be labelled a Crowning Moment of Awesome, thank you TV Tropes wiki), but for mainstream cinema goers it just didn't work. So: does establishing the emotional resonance get in the way of the storytelling?

The remaining question is: will part 2 have enough plot development to stand on it own? Or even too much, some of which should have been shuffled forward except for the pesky cliffhanger getting in the way. Or whould the two half have been better combined into one?

Jamas Enright said...

Why don't you have your own blog? ;)

There is mention of the time component in the commentary (I think), in which RTD says that the Doctor's timeline is fixed relative to the Master, and so when the Master is resurrected is linkable to a point in the Doctor's timeline, so the Doctor can't go back as that would be going back in his own timeline, yadda yadda yadda.

Ie, he shouldn't have prevaricated, or he would be ahead of the game. (But then there wouldn't be an episode.)

Saxon Brenton said...

Okay, that makes sense, of sorts. It sounds like a variation on the Gallifrey Meantime Theory theory, and as storytelling conceits go that one is at least useful for a long-running TV series. Further, to be fair it is referred to obliquely in-story with Ood Sigma's comments about the Doctor delaying.

OTOH, it does smack of picking and choosing about the 'current' mechanics of time travel. As in, the Time Lords were said to have performed a number of activities when they were around. Like: preventing time paradoxes without recourse to the Reapers, allowing easy access to parallel universes, possibly others that I'm blanking on. To me regulating GMT looks like something that the Time Lords would have done, and therefore be something the 9th and 10th Doctors wouldn't have been bound by.

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