Monday, December 3, 2018

I missed Doctor Who last night, and that doesn't bother me

But that fact does bother me. I should be excited about a new season of Doctor Who and my wife can tell you I started it out ready to roll. I was in with the first episode. I found the Stenza villain to be weird and awkward, but over all I was in! I loved it. I looked forward to seeing where the series would go from there. Oh, SPOILER WARNING. If you haven't watched any of this season of Doctor Who with Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor (and you avoid spoilers) this is where to stop reading.

Unfortunately, the following episodes that I have seen so far, have been disjointed, awkward, and flogged with PC culture to the point of brow beating. But I will say, if it were only one of those issues, it would be forgivable.

Let's start with the Stenza. This looked to be the new big bad of the show and I hated them for their evil deeds right from the start. When tooth-face (I know that wasn't his name) told the Doctor that his people kept abducted humans as trophies in suspended animation, I thought, "Oh you just screwed the pooch, buddy. The Doctor will be coming for you and yours." When the Stenza were behind the destruction of the next planet they went to (to find the TARDIS in episode 2); it seemed this would indeed be the case.

Mentions of the Stenza in any way or form since then... ZERO. Not a nod, not a hint, not a mention. Nothing at all. Story line possibility left dangling out in the aether somewhere.

Come episode 3, to stop random bad guy from altering history (to keep "people" in their place as he was directly quoted saying). Random bad guy is not human and is from the same prison planet that barely managed to hold River Song. Random bad guy wanted to stop Rosa Parks from triggering history for black people. Why that would have any beneficial effect on random alien bad guy is never explained. Only the flimsy teaser of "little things affect bigger things" was given as his excuse. This gave me the false hope that he would one of the things revisited later on to tie everything together at the end of the season. Alas. It gets worse. One of the companions takes random bad guy's time weapon and throws random bad guy to some unchecked point in human pre-history. Because what damage could he do back there, right?

When the Doctor is told about this, she doesn't bat an a eye. It doesn't bother her in the slightest that one of her companions just did something that could irrevocably destroy history by way more than keeping Rosa Parks off a bus. And that's the last you see of any effect of random bad guy. Apparently that really did the trick because there is no change of anything at all when they get back home. Nope. Not the slightest effect tied to him unless they want to say that the giant spiders were his fault. But the whole episode turned into a history lesson of bash you over the head with American black history while going "cough cough" England didn't do segregation (actual quote of a companion). And that was it. Yes, they had to protect history, but the rest was a sham.

But wait, giant spiders! Giant spiders are cool right? When I sat down to watch this episode, I was ready. I thought, "All right! Here we go! Now we're getting on track!"   Alas again.  I'll just briefly mention the Trump mocking with the uptight billionaire business man who planned to run for American President soon and get on with it. This was not a revisit to Planet of the Spiders but felt a little like The Green Death. The giant spiders were made by some lab doing experiments on the lifespan of spiders. The failed specimens were sent to a disposal sight under Trump guy's new hotel along with chemical waste. Enter giant spider that has babies and they wind up in exactly just two people's homes. One of the companions and a woman from the lab. The rest of the spiders, for reasons unknown, never venture out of the hotel. They discovered the chemical dumping zone as a massive cavern you could fit a city in under the hotel. No one does anything about that by the way. No UNIT troops, nothing of any other intervention. There's a cavern of biological altering chemicals under London... oh well. They trick all the small spiders into a "panic room" and close them off "forever". Then they hunt down Mommy spider to find she's dying anyway because she grew too big. A fate that would have befallen all the spiders anyway. The Doctor was literally not even a necessary part of the story. And then billionaire guy shoots the spider and kills it anyway while remarking how great guns are and how everyone (like Americans) should be shooting things with them.

Next we have the Demons of Punjab. We delve into the early history of one companion's family during the time that Pakistan was created in the divide of India. This story was a total sham. The first half gives you the promise of ooooh alien assassins messing with history (like random bad guy?) but ends with, oh they weren't assassins after all, just watchers of history and there was no reason for the Doctor to be there. That's right, the only plausible threat was keeping Yaz from messing up her own family tree. The rest was a flat history lesson an nothing else. Rosa Parks was better aside from the 'bash Americans for segregation stunt'. I don't know what I was tricked into watching, but it wasn't Dr Who. Oh there was the point of the first woman to be married in Pakistan.

The Pting thing was the next episode (not the actual title). It was about the Doctor and friends getting hit by a sonic mine while searching through a planet of junk for who knows what. They are on a medical ship that takes off and leaves the TARDIS on said junk planet, causing the Dr to have panic attacks. Then comes the Pting. A tiny creature that can eat through anything and is indestructible to boot. It was the only awesome thing about the story because the entire other half was about a whiny pregnant man who didn't know if he could be a father. The Doctor did need to save the ship from the Pting, which she did in true Doctor fashion. But that was the only save. I just found whiny preggers man to be way overplayed. I started to hope that maybe this was the turning point and it would get better from here.

Bring on KERBLAM. While obviously a massive joking jab at Amazon and automated jobs, the show was better. There was still some seriously thoughtless writing however. In the beginning, one of the companions mentions how creepy the robots look (because robots!). The Doctor takes some offense and says some of her best friends were robots and uses the word 'robophobic'.  Now this line of thinking doesn't stop the Doc from having every single robot on Kerblam world commit suicide at the end, but oh well right? All because some guy re-engineered bubble wrap to kill anyone who popped it after opening a Kerblam package. So, title and all, the whole thing felt more like a parody of a Doctor Who story than an actual story.  And no, at the end, she actually did not have to have them all destroy themselves. Wasn't necessary at all. If you watch it to prove anything, make it that.

The Witchfinders again started with some promise but fell short. The show spent entirely too much time lamenting how unfair it was to be a woman during those times (being the time of the witch trials, but in England rather than the colonies). But it is historically accurate as you can see HERE.
It is only towards the end that we discover an alien race behind it all, reanimating the dead or taking over the living to be free of a prison some other alien race made out of a freaking tree. But again, it's more history lesson than story because if you read the link I give you, you get everything except two things. King James never put himself in the middle of the hunts and there were no aliens. It is absolutely about how women were the sole targets of those hunts. This episode has caused critics of the pc culturing to lose their minds. I just found it shallow and the alien thing felt like an afterthought.

I missed the current episode last night. I will be watching it out of morbid curiosity more than hoping to see a true Doctor Who storyline. I am in agreement with the critics on the points of how few shows we are getting with even less next year. None of it feels promising. Shows are not tied together enough or at all. It all feels like a mish mash of randomly sought historical examples thrown together. I've heard them say that they wanted this to be a kids show again (again?) and I can say it is reminding me of a very similar kids show. Magic Schoolbus.

Thanks for reading! I don't know where Doctor Who is headed, but if they want the TARDIS to be the next magic schoolbus, I'm afraid their going to wind up off the road and in a ditch.

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