Monday, 9 May 2011

Doctor Who is a British cultural icon and deserves better

Belatedly I picked up that the new series of BBC’s long-running Doctor Who phenomena had created a media stir. Better late than never I made sure I watched the third episode The Curse of the Black Spot last Saturday to see what the fuss was about.
I still don’t know; but no longer care. If the poor excuse for family entertainment I witnessed was typical, the programme has come so far from the days when I was a fan to have only its title and the Tardis in common.
Save for guest appearances by supermodel Lily Cole wafting around as The Siren in her nightie and the ubiquitous Hugh Bonneville flashing his cutlass as a pirate captain, the show had nothing to recommend it.
The fault is in the writing and the direction. A poor cousin of Pirates of the Caribbean with some literary larceny thrown in for good measure, the plot had more holes than a super-injunction. Apparently there were some running story lines but these only took up seconds of the 50 minutes episode.
Matt Smith is a capable actor but he is given nothing to work with in the title role of the Doctor. The Tardis materialises on a pirate ship and, for example, even about to walk the plank, he is wisecracking thereby neutralising the later attempt at building dramatic tension.
Pointless silliness ruled. The Doctor’s assistant Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, has not only great legs but reveals an unexpected ability with a sword.
But this expertise is nothing compared to Bonneville’s in mastering the controls of an alien space ship faster than you can say “anchors aweigh.”.
Amy’s husband Rory, played by Arthur Darvill as though Rodney had wandered in from Only Fools And Horses, has a near-death scene so corny, Kellogg’s should sue.
Doctor Who, the show, can go a long way towards achieving the willing suspension of disbelief by style or wit. The combination of the two together as exemplified in the reigns of Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and David Tennant gave the show, yes, an added dimension.
As a comedy thriller last Saturday’s effort had neither laughs nor chills – not even monsters to send youngsters scuttling behind the sofa.
Doctor Who is a British cultural icon and deserves better.


  1. You based an opinion on the whole of a series based on ONE EPISODE? Doctor Who is written by a number of different writers, has different directors and most of the cast is new. Different episodes also serve different purposes, and after the previous dark and complicated one this was a bit of light relief - not the best episode, perhaps the weakest of the series, but there you go. Put to one side your pre-existing thoughts of nu-who, watch the tow proceeding episodes, and Neil Gaimans episode 4, *then* come to a more informed opinion.... i think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. I bow to your greater knowledge. Let's agree some quality control is called for. GC


What do you think? GC