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April 17th, 2007


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10:35 am - A few more Doctor Who thoughts about Gridlock
I have nothing else in the world to write about at this point, so I'm gonna write more about that dandy Doctor Who episode.



1. Martha Jones keeps getting cooler and cooler. And cooler! Let's face it, Rose wouldn't have come up with a plan when being chased by giant snapping crab claws. She would have shrieked a lot and waited for the Doctor to save her. Martha comes up with an idea, admits there's no proof it'll work but it's worth a shot, and hey presto, it buys them enough time for the Doctor to save them.

Martha, however, then expresses the same faith in the Doctor that Rose had, the same belief that viewers for over 40 years have come to hold as well: that the Doctor's always gonna come through in the end and fix it.

(So if and when he admits failure...)

2. Another point for Martha: She gets the Doctor to reveal the most closely-guarded parts of his past. Both Nine and Ten have dropped small, bitter hints about family and friends (isn't this the first mention of such since Susan, who was admittedly written as Hartnell's granddaughter to avoid any hint of innuendo?) but Martha got him to really start talking. Even moreso than Rose could. Okay, Rose could get him to open up a bit and discuss the Time War because she'd look all cute and concerned, and sure, you can get a bit ahead with that kind of attitude. But Martha sees through his verbal sidestepping, calls him on his evasiveness, pulls up a chair and says "Okay. You're going to give me the straight scoop, NOW." And, realizing he's been lying to himself as well as Martha (also still feeling guilty about lying to her and then almost getting her stranded on New New New New New New New Earth because of it) the Doctor starts to tell the truth. Very nice, and it didn't involve Martha using one of those "Honesty" patches as I had begun to fear once she started calling his bluffs. So hey, bonus cookies for avoiding that horrible device.

3. I replied to zhym with some of this, but I think one of the reasons RTD did a great job with Gridlock was because he didn't have to write an actual, specific, talking villain. The bad forces in this story involved the Bliss virus, an automated city support system, and de-evolved giant crabs. Thus, there was no opportunity for the typical strut-around-acting-all-evil-and-camp scene that RTD is quite fond of writing. One of his real weaknesses is his inability to write decent, original villains who do more than just strut around, acting all evil and camp.

Revisiting established villians, such as the Daleks and Cybermen, is one thing. But with the exception of the series ending two-parters, those characters have been left to other writers. I'll give RTD props for the Dalek-Cybermen trash talking, though.

But he seems to believe his own villain creations need to strut, they need to cackle, they need to roll their eyes and muahahaha, and they need to give themselves away with cutesy lines (Here, let me try: "Why hello, Doctor, so nice to eat -- er, I mean, MEET you. Heh, heh, heh.") Now the Love & Monsters villain was, granted, created through a children's write-in contest, but the concept was real good. RTD couldn't write him worth beans. And speaking of beans, the less said about the Slitheen, the better.

Here's a case in point: Anthony Head's character in School Reunion (written by Toby Whithouse) was able to bring more real menace, malice, and character to a single scene (the swimming pool confrontation) than the Slitheen were able to do in all their episodes. Why? Because his character didn't just act evil, he was evil. Compare that to Granny Plasmavore, who by all rights could have been written as a truly evil bloodsucker in benign disguise, rather than the old lady who cackles "Oooh, thank goodness I brought my straaaaaaw..."

Maybe RTD is intentionally lightening up his villains to avoid making them too Behind-The-Couch scary. Even so, other writers in the series have been able to write serious villains without going overboard on the fear -- but when fear is called for, they do a damn good job of it.

4. Loved the dystopia, loved the automated shutdown with no explanation to the drivers, loved the sudden drug dealers, loved the elderly couple (especially the carspotter!), loved the incredible scope of the stacked network of cars, loved the Face of Boe, loved hearing what we'd been hoping to hear all along. The bureaucratic stonewalling of the no-longer-existent motorway authorities was also very much something Douglas Adams would have loved. Loved to write about or contemplate, at least. He probably wouldn't have loved to have experienced it.

5. One more slight point of snark: My, it was interesting how people in this alternate future Earth were so kind and polite and forthcoming. "Hello, stranger we just kidnapped! My name is Milo, and this is my lovely wife Cheen. Let us tell you our whole life story!" -- then, no less than five minutes later -- "Hello, stranger we just rescued! My name is Thomas Kincaid Brannigan, and this is my lovely wife Valerie. Let us tell you our whole life story!"

It's a good thing the Doctor didn't have to endure introductions every time he dropped into another car ("Hello, stranger we just encountered! My name is Naked Guy, and this is my lovely Naked Wife...") or he'd never have made it as far as he got. Then again, Cat Nurse would've caught up with him much sooner if that had been the case...

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:jossish
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Ok I am purposefully not spoiler-reading cos I missed it, but er, your cut line? "The packy" is a teeny bit racist (I am assuming packy=Paki=lots of people from Pakistan own corner shops=not a massively acceptable term). If it's not, I'm sorry for being the politically correct police, I just couldn't work out what else it could be.
[User Picture]
From:gilana
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
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In Boston, liquor stores are referred to as "package" stores, hence "packy". Yes, that's weird. No, I have no idea why.
[User Picture]
From:jossish
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:25 pm (UTC)
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Hooray! That makes far more sense than Mr Spatch suddenly developing racism. The "fiver" in the cut threw me off and I assumed it was all English-like. Sorry, Spatch!
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)
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No problem! I've gone and changed the wording slightly to reflect a more Bostonian tone. I just wanted to make sure the spoiler-avoiding folk were out of the room for this discussion.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
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What gilana said. It's a New England -- and, from what I've heard, part of the Midwest -- thing.

It's good to know that such an expression, homonym it may be, would not be well-received elsewhere. I will be adding "Don't call the corner shop a 'packy' in England" to my list, along with "Don't kiss a Bollywood star on the cheek in public."
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
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DOUBLE PSOT I AM ALL OVER THIS THREAD LIKE A DONKEY EATING A WAFFLE

"Packy" is weird enough, but parts of Cambridge and Somerville go even weirder and call their convenience stores "Spas." I have yet to find an actual reason for this name, but yeah, there was a Spa up near Rindge Street when I lived in Cambridge.
From:tansu
Date:April 17th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
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There is a convenience store franchise in Europe called "Spar". Wonder if that's the source of the Massachussetts "Spa" name. Probably not.
[User Picture]
From:jossish
Date:April 17th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
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"Convenient shopping is so near...so SPAR" as the carrier bags from the one up the road from me would have it.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 17th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
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This is great due to the New England accent's habit of adding Rs to the end of words that don't have them.

You can't drive yer cah to Bermuder, for instance.
[User Picture]
From:ticket_monkey
Date:April 19th, 2007 01:39 am (UTC)
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Speaking of accents, is it unrealistic of me to expect, even in New New New etc. etc. York, to hear at least one New York accent? Or at least one that doesn't originate in the British Isles?
[User Picture]
From:giantfightbot
Date:April 17th, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
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So could you make out where they were going with the occupants of the cars being paintings? The opening family straight out of American Gothic, the cat being Thomas Kinkade, I swear the overly-polite guy in a bowler was going to eat an apple and have it take up his entire face at any second...

I did like Martha's line about "Rebound much?"
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 17th, 2007 10:16 pm (UTC)
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Very nice catch.
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From:joenotcharles
Date:April 18th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
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It seemed like a lot of the inhabitants of New Earth were on a serious retro kick, which explains both anything that happens to look Just Like Earth and the fact that it seemed to be fashionable to emulate famous paintings.
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From:joenotcharles
Date:April 18th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
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I meant to add that I really liked that - it was much more interesting than just emulating styles of dress (ok, this car has a guy in a leisure suit, this car has a guy dressed like a gladiator), but I could seriously see it as a legitimate fad.
[User Picture]
From:giantfightbot
Date:April 18th, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
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I suspect the budget didn't allow for an M.C. Escher fan, but I like to think one of the cars on the Motorway had that going on.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:April 18th, 2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
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They could have had a transforming tesselation or something going on. Cars turning into OMG CRABS back into cars.

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