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New Who 6.5: The Rebel Flesh

Obviously it's always hard to judge a two-parter from the first part alone, but this has seemed pretty good so far. It has the same kind of cabin-feverish, who-can-we-trust vibe that I enjoyed so much in Midnight - with the Doctor once again playing the role of trying to understand and reconcile both sides. The issues of identity which it explored also had a pleasingly meta-referential edge to them - even the 'real' people were played by actors, after all. Of course, Matthew Graham's previous Doctor Who story, Fear Her, also explored the blurred relationship between real beings and representations of them, with real people becoming drawings and a drawing of Chloe's father threatening to become real - but so far, this story seems much stronger on both plot and characters.

The location settings were obviously excellent - I'm just enjoying seeing how they were all put together on Confidential right now. And I loved the Frankenstein-ish atmosphere, and suitably Gothic music to match. People listening to Dusty Springfield records in a monastery reminded me of The Time Meddler, where the title character's pretence of being a monk touches lightly on the same identity issues which are more central here. It is distressing to learn the solar flares which will make the Earth uninhabitable by the 29th century (according to The Ark in Space and The Beast Below) will already have started causing problems in the 22nd century. And what fun to get an evil!replicant!Doctor for next week, too - just like The Chase, Meglos, and doubtless others which I can't remember right now (or haven't yet seen).

But that's about all I seem to have to say about it for this week.

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2011 05:31 am (UTC)
I liked it, but the absence of non-white characters is really starting to bug me.
May. 22nd, 2011 10:35 am (UTC)
Yeah, true - it was a bit faily on that front. I noticed that there was one black pirate character last week, but he didn't have a very prominent role, and I believe was the second to die. That's a slight improvement on first to die, I suppose, but still leaves vast room for improvement. Heck, even The Smugglers in 1966 managed to have one black pirate in it - we really should be doing rather better than that today.
May. 23rd, 2011 08:06 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed the episode once I got over the way the solar flares seemed to be working, especially with them opening a crater in the ground while leaving the pipe totally untouched. My suspension of disbelief failed a bit. fortunately once they'd used that to set up the episode's actual plot it went away and I could stop worrying. :)
May. 23rd, 2011 08:21 am (UTC)
I didn't really think about that with the solar flares and the pipe, but now that you mention it, it is a bit bobbinsy! I suppose we could rationalise it away by saying that the ground is soft and easily disturbed, whereas the pipe is presumably as physically strong as possible, since it has been designed for transporting incredibly corrosive acid. But it's not entirely convincing.
May. 23rd, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
With the solar flare I could understand how it would massively disrupt their power supply and I guess I can justify that it would be able to affect the pumping stuff and maybe overpressurize the pipes as safety valves failed to function. It was just the bits that made it look like mini meteorites impacts that seemed a bit odd. Though once I can justify how it created a hole in the first place I think I'm happy with your explanation that the pipe was much stronger than the rest of the ground. :)
May. 23rd, 2011 10:47 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this episode. Yes, the acid was spectacular nonsense, and the Solar Tsunami just seemed weird, but I can forgive such elements.

The arc-elements are beginning to really bug me. The Schrödinger's pregnancy and women behind the sliding panel are just being repeated with no movement forward and strangely little discussion between the characters about them.
May. 23rd, 2011 11:01 am (UTC)
I think they'll move to the centre of the focus pretty soon - we've got one more episode of the current story, and then it is the half-time season finale, which will apparently change the parameters of the Whoniverse, and leave us crying out to know what will happen in the second half of the season (to be broadcast in the autumn). I reckon that at the end of this story, both the Doctor and Amy will finally be ready to address the strange, unexplained things which they are seeing.

Meanwhile, parrot_knight has put forward some very interesting speculation about the yes/no pregnancy, the Eyepatch lady, and their particular relationship to this story, which you can find here, and which sounds very convincing to me.
May. 23rd, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
Well the Doctor does make a comment that its 'not mature technology' which implies that he's seen it before. Which make me think that we might be seeing the Nestenes here...
May. 24th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
It's certainly possible, although it's always been fairly heavily stressed that Autons are plastic, and can adopt any shape. The Flesh hasn't been described as plastic at all, and also seems to be designed specifically with the aim of adopting a human shape - so far, at least. Another possible parallel which some people have mentioned is the cloning technology which we saw the Sontarans using in The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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