Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

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Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

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Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

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Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

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Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

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Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
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Love Exposure
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Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
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Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
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Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
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Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
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Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Stardust


I was really hoping for good things from “Voyage of the Damned”, the third successive “Doctor Who” Christmas Special. It couldn’t be any worse than last year’s “The Runaway Bride”, if only for the sole reason that Catherine Tate isn’t in the new episode! I tried to convince myself that, despite it being written by Russell T. Davies, the compensation would come from no less than four quality guest actors. Three of them, Geoffrey Palmer, George Costigan and Bernard Cribbins, I felt were sadly underused while, although good, Clive Swift was better as Mister Jobel in “Revelation of the Daleks”. This wasn’t the actor’s fault but the writer’s. Eric Saward, although heavily lambasted at the time, wrote much better “Doctor Who” stories than does the current head writer. And, producer Phil Collinson set himself up for a fall in a recent online interview with SFX magazine. The interviewer suggested the plot outline of “Voyage of the Damned” was not dissimilar to that of “Delta and the Bannermen” to which Phil replied that his latest production was better. It wasn’t. Interestingly, both stories are the same length but the twenty-year-old “Delta and the Bannermen” is both faster and funnier, more entertaining and even more exciting! The Heavenly Hosts featured in the current story, for example, were highly derivative; Angel masks replacing Santa ones from the two previous Christmas Specials!! They aped the mannerisms of the Ood and it felt, at times, as though we were either back on board the space liner Hyperion III, from the “Terror of the Vervoids” segment of “The Trial of a Time Lord”, or the massive sandminer vehicle which features in “The Robots of Death”. And, seafaring ships in space is, of course, an idea pinched from “Enlightenment”!


I find both Russell T. Davies and Phil Collinson to be more than a little immature and it comes across through the writing and production but, if you need further proof, rewatch the “Doctor Who Confidential” episode that accompanies “Time Crash”. In that same programme you’ll find Steven Moffat and Graeme Harper acquit themselves with far more credibility. Russell recently claimed that the production team can’t afford to make a poor episode, with over eight million viewers watching their every move, and yet the last two years have produced the worst four episodes (“Love & Monsters”, “Fear Her”, “The Runaway Bride”, “Last of the Time Lords”) in the entire history of the series. Even David Tennant seemed shocked by Russell’s recent offensive and insensitive remark that Hitler would’ve made a good Doctor! Huh?!! Davies isn’t even particularly good at bullshitting it seems!!! As was the case with the guest actors, I didn’t think there was enough of guest-companion Kylie Minogue, as Astrid Peth, in the story either. Kylie’s waitress never got to see inside the TARDIS. She was sacrificially-abandoned, along with other characters before her, well before the end; which only served to highlight the inadequacies of the script’s structure. Ironic that there’s an Aussie actress in the show, now the programme is based in Cardiff, when “Delta and the Bannermen” had a real Welsh guest-companion in Ray played by Sara Griffiths (pictured on the back of a Vincent motorcycle with seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy)! The moments of self-sacrifice in “Voyage of the Damned”, together with Mister Copper’s closing contemplations, were good, however, in what, otherwise, left me with that sinking feeling!!

8 comments:

Steve said...

I agree. I found the episode frustrating and it's plotting seemed childish and lazy. There were too many inconsistencies and plot holes too. They couldn't bring Astrid back as they had no power yet were able to beam the Doctor and one other (I forget his name) down to earth. Also when the Hosts were knocked out by an EMP the humans were still able to use the computers... I found the use of the "Angels" themselves horribly obvious too. Shame. Kylie was good and I loved Costigan's character. What let the show down was RTD's writing yet again...

Old Cheeser said...

In agreement with both of you. Superficially the thing looked great with some lovely visuals and effects but story wise there was little real depth. Definitely the worst of the Xmas specials so far. I agree with you Tim, many of the guest stars were wasted. Banakaflatta (I don't care if I've spelt it wrong) was a silly alien gimmick for the kiddies and the blue fatties who liked to eat a lot, were...well, just fatties who liked to eat. Big deal.

As for Kylie, she was competent enough but "Astrid" (and no, she wasn't the TARDIS personified - phew!) didn't have a very memorable character aside from being someone who "gazed at the stars" and dreamed of travelling...wow! SO original! Blame the script, not Ms Minogue, who can usually do tongue-in-cheek pretty well so for her this was one massively wasted opportunity...

Overall "Voyage" for me just felt like a bit of a shambling mess, drifting aimlessly without direction (rather like the Titanic at the end of the special then...?!)

RTD, your time to depart is NOW!

Sadly this is not the case as we all know he's staying on for at least one more season. The Season 4 trailer (the bit I was really looking forward to) did at least look promising (although I hated Donna's line to the Ood: "Miss? Do you think I look single?" Urk!)

Moan over! But we're just highly exacting Who fans, eh Tim? Happy Xmas by the way!!

Andrew Glazebrook said...

I think it's all been said, I found this episode to be one of the poorest that I've seen !! It just seemed a bit naff that time wise this just happened to be set at Christmas but chronologically from the last 2 Christmases !
They should have had Bernard Cribbins as the character he played in the Dr Who movies, even though they're not seen as canon I suppose !!

TimeWarden said...

You're right, Steve, the writing was what let the episode down, and you would think, as a writer, RTD would be only too aware of this! He probably is as I read somewhere of his envy of Steven Moffat's creative mind so maybe next year Rusty will do the honourable thing and let his fellow scribe script the Christmas beast!

True, Simon, we are highly exacting over what constitutes good "Doctor Who". I'm open to many variables but the show feels bloated, at the moment, like Mister Creosote in "The Meaning of Life" about to consume the wafer thin mint, then... "Voila"! Devastating consequences for the series, at least as we all seem to see it!!

As for the "Next Time" trailer, Catherine Tate made me squirm twice in the space of a minute; which doesn't exactly bode well for 13 x 45 minutes! Once was the line you mention, Simon, and before that with, "Well, you're not mating with me, sunshine"! Nice of her to offer, but... It's a shame Donna is in the Ood episode because I like them! Until RTD moves over, I don't think we're ever going to be over the moan!!

Might've been interesting to see Bernard Cribbins revisit policeman Tom Campbell again, Andrew, after over forty years. I love the Dalek film he's in save for the part where he's pretending to be a Roboman about to have lunch!

Stuart Douglas said...

Nice review Tim, with which I largely agree - if Rusty is going to use 'it's a mindlessly entertaining popcorn disaster movie' as an excuse for the poverty of his writing, he really does need to include more peril than 'squeezing through a gap in the wall' and 'crossing a short bridge'.

Palmer and Swift were excellent though, I thought.

And Merry Christmas to you and your family.

TimeWarden said...

Thanks, Stuart. The "perils", to which you refer, didn't need to be set onboard a vast liner or even in space for that matter. They only serve to reinforce the notion that "Voyage of the Damned" was, ultimately, nothing more than unengaging spectacle.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, also.

Rol Hirst said...

The Davies episodes are always pretty rubbish, but I guess as he's the boss, nobody's going to tell him that.

TimeWarden said...

And, as the greater number of "Doctor Who" episodes are written by RTD, Rol, it doesn't say much about the current state of the programme!