visited this planet a lot of times and I've
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is under threat as a alien space-craft crashes in the River Thames next to the
Houses of Parliament.
Slitheen (from the planet Raxacoricofallapatrius) are here.
the Doctor is too.
EPISODE FOUR REVIEW Spoilers
Making a loaf of bread from scratch
is an art.
I don’t mean baking a gelatinous,
chemical-enhanced, Playdo-style sliced white from WAL-MART but a bread that is
flavoursome, textured, not too sweet or salty, crispy and one that has just the
right amount of yeast in it for a gradual rise. Too much yeast and the carbon
dioxide make for a false economy during baking; rising high and then, in one
burst, drops back to create a heavy block of starch.
OF LONDON (AOL), Russell T Davies should have checked the recipe
No yeast, out-of-date flour, cold water
and gas mark 1. It didn’t have
a chance of rising, and match his previously flawless THE
END OF THE WORLD.
Even the COMIC RELIEF-style ’gas exchange’ comedy-skit couldn’t
help make this fourth episode of the NEW SERIES rise above mediocre banality.
Complete with asinine dialogue that makes Davies’ BOB
AND ROSE look like
TROILUS AND CRISEYDE.
Davies’ has reportedly said that AOL
(and this current series of DOCTOR WHO) is for children (ideally, 11 years olds)
and has to match (or exceed) their expectations purveyed by video games, American
sci-fi fantasy TV shows and big budget movies. Does broad comedy and actors-in-rubber-suits
(with balls of human footwear giveaway) sate their appetite?
Admittedly, I’m not 11 so how could
give AOL an honest critique? To view it as BBC Drama production is the only objective
Throughout, it seems that everyone has purposefully
used Super Glue to fix their tongue firmly to their cheek. The acting takes a
cue from the alien-augmented porcine visitor - ham-fisted (Perhaps due to the
fact that this was the first episode to be recorded in June 2004) and nervous.
And the script does the actors no justice. Superficial and unimaginative. And
Davies, again, cathartically rams more gay references down the viewer’s
throat. Enough, already!
Whilst the script is shoddy (“Its gotta be Ken Livingstone, ain‘t
it?” or “Joseph Green, MP for Hartley Dale. Chairman of the Parliamentary
Commission on the monitoring of Sugar Standards in Exported Confectionery.”),
the visual production is simply stunning - but had to be. Plastic washing-up
bottle with bits glued to it, as spaceships have no place in the 21st century.
From the CGI spacecraft buzzing across the
London skyline, to the slicing through the Palace of Westminster clocktower,
to the alien hot-trotting tottered pig, to the transformation (A zip. Why?) of
the Slitheen, to the military missile - professionally precise and creative in
part due to the talent combination of Mike Tucker’s BBC team and Will Cohen’s
Complimentary to the (very) special effects
is the expertise of cinematographer Ernie Vincze BSC. Whilst the CLASSIC SERIES
was frequently drenched with primary colours with the cameras struggling to measure
and retain contrast, Vince is the unsung hero, as plain & unassuming views are manipulated into rich tones,
succulent and atmospheric vistas. As Director of Photography, Vincze is charged
with the ‘final look’ of each episode (working alongside Set Designers & Decorators,
and Director); designating the depth of field, choosing the best camera lens
and the adoption of camera lens colour filters.
Clearly delineating settings assists the
storytelling process. Cooled, chilled blues for scenes within Albion Hospital
are suitably saying to the audience, “don’t
be too comfortable here”. Soft and warmed Downing Street Cabinet Office
affirms that whilst there’s danger outside, inside (with the Doctor in
control) it’s reassuringly safe.
A precise art that should been employed more effectively in 1980s CLASSIC
SERIES of DOCTOR WHO. Re-view an episode and focus on the work of the cinematographer.
This is Eccleston’s first recorded performance as Doctor Who (yes, read
the credits) or, as we know the character, the Doctor. He’s very Troughtonesque.
Vehemently anger mixed with clownish humour that diffuses a life-threatening
situation (such as squad of armed British soldiers). An acclaimed actor that
has grasped the nettle, qualified the role and added a contemporary twist. Since
his (real) debut in quintessential nineties ‘Brit-flick’, SHALLOW
GRAVE, Eccleston has been hypnotically watchable, and for the first time, since
Troughton, DOCTOR WHO has a talent that can equate and handle the iconic TV character
of the Doctor.
And for those anal DOCTOR
WHO fans, in this episode the Doctor wears a blue
The Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee always remarked
(and not specifically to Davies, as he recounts) that finding a Yeti on your
toilet is more frightening than a visiting an alien planet with lots of hideous
monsters. The familiar being invaded by the extraordinary. And so, the only gem
(cut be not so polished) of the episode is the real ‘kitchen sink drama’ at the episode’s climax as ‘PC
Plod’ unzips in Jackie Tyler’s flat (simultaneously the same happening
in the Cabinet Room - after the brutal murder of a Downing Street official -
and Briefing Room). A stroke of brilliance (not on the part of the writer but
Overall, the bizarre spin of humour and
fatuous flatulence detracts from the potential of a credible plotline and impressive
visual treatment. Humour should come from situations, not gags. Respect an audience’s
integrity to read beneath situations and character dialogue.
One final comment: BBC Political Correspondent, Andrew Marr. A sublimely perfect
self-pastiche. If there is such a thing. More please.