Friday, August 29, 2014
"I probably blame the English..."
So, the season premier of Doctor Who is over, and there have been some strong criticisms of the episode as too talky. The villain didn't really do anything, the one fight scene was poorly choreographed and filmed on the cheap, and the action was light. Nor does Strax work as comic relief.
Light spoilers below, so.............
But let's turn that around, and see what people think of this hypothesis: People are approaching this episode of Doctor Who as a typical action-thriller episode, in which the Doctor meets a few guest-stars (one of whom will die at the 20-minute mark, one of whom will die at the 40-minute mark, and one of whom will die during the finale), there are some unexplained deaths, there are some clues, the Companion is captured and then gets free, the mystery is solved, and the Doctor leaves.
But what if "Deep Breath" wasn't designed that way? What if it was designed to be a 45-minute character study, an episode JUST about dialogue? An episode in which there is a cold open with a confused, recently-regenerated Doctor; there are more comedy scenes with the confused Doctor inside the Paternoster Gang's house; and then there is a five-minute, rapid-fire conversation between Madame Vastra and Clara about Clara's ageism and her refusal to see a person for who they are. This is followed by scenes of the confused Doctor scribbling on the floor and walls of his room, talking to the T. Rex, and then investigating the mystery of the 300-foot-high dinosaur's demise. Subsequently, we see the Doctor coming to terms with his own aged featrues, features he's seen before, and a personality that he doesn't like. Then we see the complicated relationship between Madame Vastra and Jenny.
At this point, a 20-minute mini-mystery about robots using human beings for body parts is inserted. There's no real mystery at all: The Doctor and Clara discover the culprit's lair almost immediately, and the real issue is how to get Clara out of there before the robots kill her. The Doctor pursues the main Big Bad, and manages to defeat him (in a way the show leaves unsettled).
After that, there's five to seven more minutes of Clara wondering if the Doctor abandoned her, the Doctor returning, and the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) basically telling Clara to "just do it" and stick with him.
Criticizing the episode for not having enough action is like criticizing "Waiting for Godot" for not having enough battle scenes. It entirely misses the point.
Now, assuming this hypothesis is correct, there is still a MASSIVE criticism to be made of it. To wit: Clara cannot come to terms with her ageism. It's blatant, outright ageism. She wants her "young Doctor" back, the one she (probably) once loved and for whom she sacrificed her life on Trenzalore. Clara doesn't even care if his face changes, she just wants a YOUNG Doctor. It's age-ist, and as Madame Vastra points out -- it's unethical, immoral, and not Clara is blind to this extreme bias in herself.
At the end of Clara's discussion with Madame Vastra, she realizes just what aesthetic blinders she has on, and changes. Her character grows!
So what happens later? The young boyfriend calls her up, tells her "stick with him for my sake", adn basically UNDERCUTS THE ENTIRE DRAMATIC ARC OF THE ENTIRE EPISODE. It's an appalling moment, one that makes Clara's personal growth earlier in the episode completely unnecessary and pointless. Worse, Clara is shown NOT to have grown as a person, but rather to stick with the 12th Doctor out of pity, love, and guilt imposed on her by the 11th. She's not actually lost her age-ism; she's just put it aside at the request of a handsome young man. UGH. UGH UGH UGH!!!
But, anyway, let's see what others think about this hypothesis.