Monday, 10 February 2020

Doctor Who - Can You Hear Me?

Prison Break

Doctor Who - Can You Hear Me?
UK BBC1 Airdate: 9th February 2020

Warning: Spoilers but, you’ll get there way before the characters in the episode do anyway.

Okay so... many apologies but once again I suspect this is going to be a very short Doctor Who review. I’ll try and make it up to regular readers by updating the blog twice more this week. Sorry but, I’m afraid this current series isn’t giving me very much to work with and last night’s episode, Can You Hear Me?, was a good indication of why.

The thing is.. there wasn’t much really going on and it was a set of ideas we’ve seen done again and again in many things, including this show. And not all that long ago in slightly different clothing if memory serves. But possibly I think my standards are slipping because I was much more forgiving of this episode compared to what I’ve seen of some other people’s reactions (people I know in real life, not just people on Twitter).

My first reaction, you see, is that it wasn’t terrible. And nor was it very special. You still have some great turns by Jodie Whitaker, Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole and a story that, just about, holds itself together without ripping apart at the seams (okay, so maybe it kinda did but I’m trying to be nice here). The point is, if this thing had been shown as part of one of the David Tennant era stories, for example, I would have singled it out as being one of the worst episodes in a very long time. As it is though, with the era it’s currently in, my initial thoughts are... yeah, that wasn’t too terrible.

We had a good, sinister looking villain in the form of Ian Gelder playing an immortal called Zelin. He even made a few fan pleasing references too, including mentions for the Celestial Toymaker from the 1960s and the Guardians from the 1980s. It’s just that it’s an episode full of old ideas and not a very tight presentation, it seemed to me. And as such, there were absolutely no surprises here...

For instance, it was pretty obvious the monsters at the start were leaking from the head of the character who is alerting everyone that they are coming. And, yeah, there was a genuinely nice monster moment where a big, clawed hand slowly closes around the head of one of the characters but... alas... the director wasn’t smart enough to keep the monsters to the shadows because, when you see the monsters in full CGI mode, they looked a bit shoddy, to be honest. Also, it’s pretty obvious The Doctor has been manipulated/tricked to get open a lock that needs picking so another immortal can escape confinement. I don’t know why she’s supposed to be so smart when she didn’t even see that one coming a mile off. So that was kinda... bleah.

And, by the end of the show, the resolution seemed really rushed and unimportant... just whisking out a bit of machinery and suddenly conjuring immortals to where you want them seems particularly old now and it’s not exactly the first time the writers have done this, is it? So much ‘deux ex machina’ going on in the show these days. Also, when The Doctor is tied up, she manages to somehow magic up her sonic screwdriver from her pocket into her hand above her head as though she’s suddenly got Jedi skills. What the heck? Where did that come from? That was so implausible.

There were a couple of nice things I liked about the character of The Doctor though and one of these things she’s done a few times this series...

The first thing is... she’d not noticed at all when all her companions wander off and got themselves into trouble. Of course, it’s also lazy writing because it means you can put them into any threat situation you like to be the next thing The Doctor has to solve but... I do like this aspect to her character.

Secondly, when Graham (Bradley Walsh) took her aside for a conversation about the fears his cancer will return, she didn’t say anything particularly reassuring (or even bother to check him out with one of the instruments in the TARDIS)... which was a nice reminder that The Doctor isn’t actually human and so doesn’t completely know what to say in candid moments. Which is fine and I’m sure this was introduced as a running sub-plot thing anyway so I’m sure she’ll either come through or fail Graham spectacularly when the time comes. I’m more and more getting the feeling that Graham is not a character who is meant to survive his tenure on the TARDIS. So that’s the first rumblings of that plot thread, I reckon.

Okay so, yeah, that’s it... I said this one would turn out short. Sorry about that but I’m hoping to have two more cinema reviews up by the end of the week so, you know, keep checking back here. The next episode of Doctor Who looks like it will be all based on the events that prompted Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein so, you know, that does have the potential to be fun, at least.

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