Saturday, 29 May 2010

Dr Who - first dull episode of the series

It started at a good pace. The first episode, The Hungry Earth was fun, had a good set-up and many nice character moments. It delivered efficiently, was not the best Dr Who but was enjoyable.

And then Cold Blood, well, people were captured, escaped, captured, escape, sit and talk for a while, are captured and escape. It just felt like a lot of running around for no real purpose. There is twenty minutes of running around at the start of the episode, everyone is where they would be if they hadn't done anything. Then there are lots of dull talky scenes where the direction of every conversation was obvious and telegraphed by the situation, without any real character work. Ultimately, there was not enough story here for two parts. The writer and producers never found a way for the narrative to kick up a gear for the second half. Victory of The Daleks needed that kind of space as it had too much story for one part. For capture and escape you need dread, surprise, ingenuity to get out of peril. Here people got out of trouble because the other side wasn't very good, or backed away, for no solid reason. Repeatedly. As this is something that hasn't happened this year under Steven Moffat's command then it felt like a cheat, as the show has been intelligent in the get-out-of-peril situation. So putting all the lazy escapes into one episode is angering.

Worse was the dialogue, which felt in style like the Russell T Dvaies era, as if the story was written for Tennant. But not done very well. It felt like first draft, we'll write vague cover dialogue and then work out the real talk later. But then the filler was shot. As the first episode was good yet the second so dull, the reason for the extreme quality drop is confusing.

The direction in this second story was pedestrian. The script never gave the director much room but all the camera moves and set-ups seemed samey, and the actors never were directed towards sharpness of intent. Everyone seemed to wander through the episode.

So this was the duff one. There was some interesting moment about the over-all arc at the end and a companion died but the death should have had impact but didn't (odd, as the character was good). Next week looks moody and odd, so hopefully this is a one episode blip.

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