But Doctor, what about the Aussies?

ausiiewhoI don’t like to nitpick, but I was watching the first episode of the new Dr Who series last night and… well, it was awful, yes, but that’s not my issue, I mean I rather expected it to be lousy, the last series was such a disaster that I only managed to get through four or five episodes before giving up (and I can tell it’ll be just two or three eps this time around before I bail)… but anyway, the bit that really annoyed me…

To be frank, a lot of it annoyed me. But the bit that annoyed me the most, more than the homicidal car or Jodie Whittaker’s astonishingly ham-fisted impression of David Tennant that continues to annoy, and yes even more than the endlessly lazy script-writing that keeps putting the Doctor into increasingly convoluted emergencies and then writing itself out of it by her switching on her bloody sonic screwdriver (one size fits all emergencies, apparently), yes more than that and more than the increasingly inept companions, it was the Aussies.

What about the Aussies!?  The Doctor tracks down an ex-MI6 colleague of hers, ‘O’ (Sacha Dhawan), who MI6 sacked and who went into hiding and even MI6 have no idea where he is… but of course the Doctor knows how to find him in just a jiffy, and when she gets there, the guy is waiting with two Aussie Secret Agents guarding him. But hang on, if nobody including MI6 know where this guy ‘O’ is then how come the Aussie Secret Service know where he is? But that’s not what bugged me about the Aussies, even if it did irritate me that the script’s internal logic was broken again and we’re expected to be too stupid/distracted (hello 100 star destroyer planet killers! oh wait wrong franchise) to notice.

No, what bugged me was that during an attack on the isolated hideout somewhere in the Australian desert, and yeah, how convenient it happened to be just after the good Doctor showed up, but anyway, whilst the Doctors frowning her most serious-looking frown, the two Aussie agents are killed during the alien attack and after it has been repelled by our good heroes, NO-ONE ASKS ABOUT THE AUSSIE AGENTS, NOBODY LOOKS FOR THE BODIES, NOBODY THINKS TO INFORM THE AUSSIE SECRET SERVICE… maybe I blinked and missed it, but it was like they were never there, never existed. Whats the point of writing two secret service agents into a plot if you drop them into what approximates a really tense sequence for New Who and then kill them (to demonstrate how relentless and evil the bad guys are) if you immediately afterwards ignore/forget them?

I hate scripts like that. Its a little thing I know. But its the kind of thing that gets under my skin. I don’t mind all the other stupid stuff (explaining why the companions never seem to be doing their real jobs or are never around, or all the daft Bond references/homages/send-ups, or the daft bike chase or the MIB (sorry, MI6) agents picking up all the companions in seperate cars and then putting them all in one car with just a single MIB (sorry MI6) agent for protection and then someone turning the car into a Homicidal SUV); the quality ship has sailed as far as New Who is concerned but its the little things that wind me up.

But of course its only Dr Who and its only sci-fi entertainment… which is rather like people saying ‘its only Star Wars and its only fantasy entertainment’… I’ll stop now. Its clearly going to be a very long year.

Welcome to 2020, eh?

6 thoughts on “But Doctor, what about the Aussies?

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    When did you stop liking Dr Who?

    I watched a couple of the first Eccleston episodes and thought ‘this is not for me’, so stopped watching immediately. Bits and pieces I’ve seen since (ten minutes here, five minutes there) have confirmed that that was a wise decision.

    It’s like being a SW fan and seeing TPM and, perhaps wisely, steering clear from that point on. Sticking with something beyond that is just masochism. If things change beyond recognition over decades and the new creators are finding a completely different audience, it doesn’t make sense to treat it as though it were the show we grew up with, because it isn’t really meant to be.

  2. I think I struggled through it when I should have known better. I suppose the heyday of New Who was the David Tennant era, but even then the writing was decidedly flaky. As it has progressed I became aware that, as the writing got worse, the show somehow became more popular, and the worst trends of popular blockbuster cinema became increasingly evident. The strengths of the original Who were its writing, always under pressure from limited budgets, and its characters. New Who has a big budget and often impressive production values, but that spectacle has become at the expense of decent stories. The show-runners just blindside viewers with twists/surprises/spectacle and has become both idiotically complex and nonsensical and idiotically simplistic and stupid. Every moment of jeopardy is solved by that magic sonic screwdriver. It can can scan anything, fix anything, take control of anything. There is nothing it cannot do.

    I don’t consider myself a liberal but I have an open mind and am tolerant of ideas old (religion) and new (science) and welcome progress (social and political) but the last few seasons from the Capaldi era through to the Whittaker debacle have just thrown social agendas and historical revisionism through an agenda-driven lens into the viewers face like the worst McCarthy-era Hollywood machine or the Cold-War propoganda of the Communist State. Well, that’s all just the times we live in, not even Star Wars is immune or most Hollywood blockbusters. I just try to filter out all that bullshit. But the bad storytelling. Its unforgivable.

    I watched the late-50s Quatermass & The Pit serial last year on iplayer, and it was wonderful. Low budget,limited production values but dripping with fantastic ideas, high-concepts and pretty fine acting. It was everything British sci-fi used to be good at, but the new glossy stuff is just too rich, too shiny, too stupid. And its perfectly summed up by the New Who. It really is horrible. Watch just this first episode to see the horror in all its terrifying glory, I dare you.

    1. Matthew McKinnon

      I was going to pull you up about equating positive social agendas with ‘propaganda’ (because one is clearly positive and the other clearly negative, however bluntly they’re put across), but then I remembered recently watching the first shockingly bad episode of the new BBC War Of The Worlds, which does everything you’ve just described to the enormous detriment of the story..

      I accept your challenge to watch an episode of Dr Who if you watch that. And if your head doesn’t explode, come back and tell us about it.

  3. Well, I enjoyed it. Not perfect (what happened to the Aussies, the over reliance on the sonic screwdriver, etc, all valid complaints), but it was more entertaining than the last series (which I didn’t hate but also didn’t think worked like it should’ve). I do still feel like Chibnall is playing at being RTD or Moffat — trying to emulate their blockbuster-but-quirky style, but without their effortless-seeming slickness.

    Part 2, mind you, was virtually nonsensical. Totally didn’t know what to do with everything it had put in play, so just added “more” until the Doctor basically said “time for the story to end now”.

    1. Whoops, you have me worried, I still have to watch that second episode. Silly me thought they might have had a master plan and figured out the story and where it was going, but as usual they seem to be winging it all the time.

  4. Pingback: The Past Christmas on TV | 100 Films in a Year

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