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New Who November special: Waters of Mars

Hmm, I guess that was OK, but not exceptional. It felt like a re-run of The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (which, OK, it was owning to a certain extent by putting the Doctor in the same space-suit), but just tweaked to bring out what RTD obviously wanted to be the main theme: the Doctor going too far and setting himself up as the ultimate authority over time.

That said, given my current interest in the way early Doctor Who dealt with history, I did find the way this story played around with the same theme very interesting. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time in Doctor Who that events in the future, rather than the past, have been treated as fixed and unchangeable - which, of course, turned out to be necessary at the end of the story when the Doctor did try to change them after all. It was particularly striking to see that the main device used to establish as fixed the events of a 'history' which the audience doesn't actually know was written text. This is a very common point of reference in early Who - as Steven asks in The Time Meddler when Vicki explains that the Monk is trying to change time, "What about the history books?" So it was fascinating to see the same appeal to written text as an unshakeable authority which cannot be changed, even when the story had no basis in 'real' history at all.

Other than that, it's painfully obvious that the original plan was for this story to be broadcast on Saturday November 21st. Nice try, there, but oops! Lindsay Duncan is still HOT at 59. And yay for references to the Ice Warriors, The Thing, the X-Files episode Ice, and I think also 28 Days Later when one crew member was infected by a drop of water in his eye, and tried to shout to the others to get away before he 'turned'.

Er, and that's it, really. Nothing much else of substance or depth that I could see. But can't wait for the Christmas / New Year's specials, all the same!

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 15th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Ouch - I hated those two eps, and I didn't feel like this was like them at all, except in a very superficial sense. I thought it was all about whether or not the Doctor should change a fixed event, and that made all the difference (not to mention the superior acting and characterisation for the other characters, and lack of what seemed to me to be an utterly contrived and superficial discussion as to whether that creature could *actually* be the Devil). I thought the scene where the Doctor was actually walking away from people as he heard them dying (as opposed to his now over-familiar super-human heroics) was particularly moving, and more than explained why he changed his mind. The idea that he would realise that he'd been holding to old rules he never entirely agreed with out of grief, and that he was now freed... and then the harsh trip down to ground when Adelaide's actions and words show him what he has done, and what he had become... I find that much more interesting. Her characterisation was ace, from taht point of view. How much she obviously cares for her family and their future, plus that rock hard will and determination to do the right thing, and enable the human race someday to reach the stars, even if she can't - I thought that was very well done.

Even the dead-in-5-mins dude had an interesting character. plus the whole thing seemed better paced, and with less deus ex machina... ah well. If it didn't grab you, fair enough, but I thought it was rather a few solid notches above The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit.

Edited at 2009-11-15 08:59 pm (UTC)
Nov. 15th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yep. I thought this was really good - the second RTD story in a row that I've liked. Fortunately, if the Master is back for the finale, I'm sure things will revert to their usual form ;)

- K
Nov. 15th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yep, pretty much my exact thoughts!!!
Nov. 17th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
Can't agree that Adelaide topping herself was good - why?
Nov. 16th, 2009 11:07 am (UTC)
I think it was blood in the 28 Days Later guy's eye, or other bodily fluids dripping from a corpse.

I really must buy some X-Files on DVD, as last night left me desperate to watch that episode again. I remember it as super-scary.
Nov. 16th, 2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I thought it was fine, but the doctorial self-questioning is beginning to get under my skin. I am FILLED with trepidation as to what may be in store for Christmas. I suspect I will enjoy it and hate myself for doing so.
Nov. 17th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
Me and Pete thought that:
a) An OK episode and much better than the film Knowing that we watched the night before (don't watch it, it's not worth it)
b) The Doctor gloated too much, an easy plot device, and one I don't like to see in modern SF
c) Why Adelaide topped herself. She had a loving daughter and grandaughter, whatever the Dr had (evilly???) told her about her future, she still had an obligation to them.

An interesting episode, but it left a nasty taste in my mouth, had to watch a Star Trek to get happy again. Will it be resolved at Christmas?
Nov. 17th, 2009 10:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, it is a bit extreme to kill yourself based on what some relative stranger who's clearly a bit round the bend has told you about your future. And didn't even make much sense (unless the gun she had would make her completely disintegrate into her component molecules), since the granddaughter she was supposed to inspire will now know her as a corpse rather than a heroine.

Anyway, yes, the going-too-far stuff is very definitely meant to be setting the scene for the Christmas and New Year specials, which will see Ten finally coming to a sticky end. I think that promises to be quite a satisfying and appropriate end to his story arc when it happens. But in this story it all felt somewhat awkwardly and unconvincingly bolted on to a fairly standard base-under-siege scenario to me.
Nov. 17th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, and they seemed to almost be going back to Pertwee era with the zombie special effects (Bad contact Lenses. Bad water squirts in mouths)! But maybe that was in a cosy nostalgic sort of way. I'm really going to miss David Tennant - he was "the Doctor" in a way I don't think anyone had been since Tom Baker.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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