Monday, 13 April 2009

Thumbnail Review: "Planet of the Dead"

Hahahahahah. Hahahah.

No, but seriously. Where's the real Easter Special?

God, how do you describe the awfulness of that last hour...? Let's start with basic scriptwriting principles. The whole point of transporting a London bus to the middle of the desert is that it puts the everyday inside the impossible. Yet we begin this story with an aristocratic cat-burglar doing the full Pink Panther schtick, as if to demonstrate that nothing about this story exists in the real world. Within ten minutes, everything here has been established as a fantasy-telly standard with no grounding in anything we might recognise, so we're basically watching Spice World II: The Scorpion Nebula. Worse, the people on the bus who aren't shameless works of self-indulgent pap-fiction turn out to be the same jokey working-class fodder we saw in "Father's Day", which means that their only function is to (a) die or (b) cry until the Good, Wonderful, All-Powerful Doctor reassures them with thoughts of chops. Except for the one who is, bizarrely and uselessly, psychic. This is followed by ten minutes of arseing-around in the desert which seem to exist only to prove how great David Tennant is, and to prove that nothing matters in storytelling terms except the need to invent new forms of faux-science to push the plot along. After that, there's twenty minutes of the Doctor explaining alien things to Michelle Ryan, whose complete lack of charisma beats the programme to death like a Medieval child who's been born with the wrong number of heads.

And then, Lee Evans.

After half an hour, nothing interesting has happened. Then there's some sub-Star Trek bollocks about wormhole-making things destroying Earth, which makes the same mistake as the very worst pulp SF of the '50s: saying that Earth is going to be destroyed doesn't make things seem dramatic, unless you can make it palpable. We're told that this is important because we see some CGI skeleton-fish on a hologram, and we're told it's a major crisis. We don't care. We've got no stake in it. It's not a major crisis, it's just Tennant running around and twiddling with improbable technology, while his sidekick makes some smug comments which are supposed to establish her as a strong, independent woman but actually make her seem like an over-talkative action figure. Finally, the manta-ray monsters turn up, and they're as trite and as tedious as everything else. Oh, what a surprise! They're defeated by a spurious piece of machinery. We've been brought on this journey just so we can look at a flying bus. Yeah, thanks. If we wanted that, then we'd watch Harry Potter, like everyone else.

Never have I felt more justified in my decision to f*** off and be somewhere else when this series - the series I've followed since I was two years old - finally dies. This isn't Doctor Who. It isn't even sophisticated enough to qualify as fan-fic.

(For the version that was written before broadcast, see this week's Randomness Times. Which is probably funnier, because I was less annoyed.)