Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Traditionally, trailers have always come before the movie.

I prefer to watch them afterwards, to avoid having the plot given away. I want to experience being told the story as the writer/director originally intended.

To that end, today, courtesy of TV-Ark, I sat down and watched the BBC-1 trailers for the season of Doctor Who that I have just finished watching.

Surprisingly, this actually included “new” footage that had not been in the show. (a bit like on Blue Peter but that's another story)

There was an oft-repeated generic shot of Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor being chased down a corridor by an explosion.

There were ITV-esque shots of the Doctor and Rose standing like statues in the TARDIS, posing at the camera and saying nothing.

We also had other shots of them both talking to camera, in character, inviting the potential audience to come with them on “the ride of a lifetime.”

It all gave me a curious sense of optimism. I remembered this feeling from before I had watched the episodes – when everyone and his dog had told me how great the new series was. Written by the same authors as the BBC Books series – it had all seemed so promising.

Alas, I think I have already catalogued here my subsequent disillusionment. Just once or twice. But just to sum up the series as a whole…

I can forgive the cold redesign of the TARDIS' interior and exterior, the needless recasting, and the 90s-looking CGI. I can grumble about but live with the absense of outgoing Doctor Paul McGann from the opening scene in the exploding warehouse, which would surely have improved the opening episode as a whole, not least for new viewers. (what a great moment it could have been, when Rose realised that this strange hero was actually the same guy whose death she had earlier grieved for)

Despite a great fresh take on the role, Ecclestone only offered one series in which to prove himself, so it hardly seems fair to compare him with the earlier actors. Piper, despite faced with playing such an unlikable character, (messing with 4 different guys' feelings) still won me over when it came to her acting.

The characterisation has been extremely strong - the strongest in the show's history - so I can't knock the scripts themselves. What I mean is that guest characters have established themselves ever so quickly, which is a tough thing to do with just a few lines. I really didn't like Mickey at the start, but again I've been turned around on that one.

Doctor Who has always been a tangle of good and bad things, and generally it hasn't mattered too much because four weeks later there's been a fresh roll of the dice, and a new tangle of good/bad.

But for me the bottom line is this:

My only real problem is with the consistently drowsy storylines. And by drowsy I mean that they generally work fine, so long as you can’t clearly remember what happened a moment earlier.

The Unquiet Dead was a fine story, Dalek had a rather careless central gist that rendered the entire Dalek race easily defeatable, but was at least possible in Dr-Who-Land, and Steven Moffatt's 2-part Empty Child, if you cut out Jack, would have been a great classic 45-minute story too.

But all the other stories, without exception, consistently did not work. They didn't just contradict each other, they contradicted themselves.

Impossible things would happen without any explanation. (that gloop coming out of Adam's home telephone in The Long Game, Rose's unexplained survival of the TARDIS vortex in The Parting Of The Ways, Margaret leaving MI5 to become a Mayor in Boom Town)

Unlikely coincidences. (the Britney Spears track in The End Of The World, Mickey's proximity to the TARDIS in the final episode, Margaret's presence in Cardiff in Boom Town)

Characters taking action without a motive to. (Mickey running into a fence instead of the closed dematerialising TARDIS doors in The Aliens Of London, Margaret continuing to run after teleporting to safety in Boom Town, Margaret running in the first place when she has a teleporter in Boom Town, Rose's faith in the 12-months-out TARDIS to return her to Jackie in 10 seconds' time at the end of World War Three, robots impersonating a race that doesn't really exist in The End Of The World)

Characters acting on information that they could only know by being a TV viewer. (The Doctor: Adam's responsibility for his predicament in The Long Game, Adam's answerphone message in The Long Game, Rose: her contradictory childhood memories in The Parting Of The Ways)

Conversely, characters' amnesia. (the Autons apparently forgetting their invasion plan until after the viewers have been told it in Rose, our heroes forgetting they have a hypnopass in The Aliens Of London, the soldiers forgetting they were surrounding the TARDIS in World War Three, Harriett Jones forgetting Margaret's a Slitheen by Boom Town, Jackie and Mickey forgetting the Auton invasion on the night of Rose’s disappearance in The Aliens Of London, everyone forgetting the Daleks' new super-weakness in The Parting Of The Ways, everyone forgetting the nuclear power station that's still going to be completed and blow-up the Earth in Boom Town, and, yes, everyone forgetting Rose’s phone-call home in The Aliens Of London)

(I have omitted making any direct reference to the episode Father’s Day in order to save on page-loading time)

Strangely, a few people have said to me that I shouldn’t expect the new episodes to tie-into the original series.

That is simply not the protest I've made.

My conviction is that the new episodes must tie-into themselves.

A playground in Father’s Day, as it swarms with huge bat-like reapers the size of double-decker buses, eating screaming children and their parents, it was claimed a few scenes later.

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