Doctor Who - Voyage Of The Damned
And so to the annual Doctor Who Christmas special, which this year stars Kylie Minogue as a waitress aboard the doomed blah blah blah. If you've seen any kind of magazine at all since November, you're probably familiar with the basic premise. The recently completed third series had it's highs and all-new barrel-scraping lows, meaning less that there was a great burden of expectation on this episode, more that a bunch of desperate people were willing it to be any good at all, something which it duly fails at, no matter how valiant or spectacular the attempt.
Voyage Of The Damned is a dizzy, furious mess of an episode. There are some wonderful moments, but in it's chaotic attempt to please as many people as possible, they're lost in the frantic pacing. At 70-odd minutes, it still feels too short, as if a lot of the emotional impact of the episode would have benefitted from a little more breathing room. What is more or less the point of the episode, the Christmas lesson being learnt, the moral of the tale, is that The Doctor cannot play God - faced with a fairly standard band of disaster movie archetypes to guide to safety, he manages to only save a stock-trader cunt and Richard from Keeping Up Appearances. But picking that out while the episode is exploding and flashing a torch in your eyes every four seconds, particularly through the food sweats and boozy haze of 7pm on a Christmas day, is difficult indeed. Which leads us to the other major problem with the episode - for all it's CG bluster, it all feels disappointingly small scale. If you're going to use a device as ambitious as The Starship Titanic, you can't really film it in a town hall and the same rickety metal staircase you use every other week. A few establishing shots of the Titanic in space at night are good, but for fucks sake, it doesn't even look like the Titanic, let alone a spaceship. It looks *shit*. It is an unimaginative design team indeed who manage to make the interior of the STARSHIP TITANIC look like somewhere I wouldn't even want to attend a friends wedding. What about a stroll on the deck? I would really prefer the Who team to write things that they can afford to film well, than respond to the mantra oft-quoted on Doctor Who Confidential that "it's such a great show because you can do anything at all!" by dreaming up a series of increasingly bizarre situations ("flying angel robots on the titanic in space!", "a twenty foot tall mark gatiss scorpion monster mashing up a church!", "an entire planet made out of bellends and crocodile robots live there" etc). If you can do ANYTHING, how about doing some of the following - scenes intended to develop character which last more than approximately one second, not confusing your own "Doctor Who is not God" message by having him flown about by angels no matter how cool it might look, less purple and yellow lights designed to make the boiler room of a primary school look like a FUTURISTICK SPACESHIPP (they just make it look like the worlds most depressing disco) etc etc. This episode, despite it's presumably larger budget, felt a lot smaller than The Christmas Invasion, which mostly took place in a fucking council flat. FUCKING. FUCK FUCK FUCK.
At the moment with Doctor Who, I feel like I'm at that point in a relationship where you're really starting to get fucking bored with your girlfriend, and she's trying really hard to impress you by doing all the things that you like, but somehow messing them up completely each time (like when Doctor Who says what ought to be a wonderful I'M FROM GALLIFREY I'M A TIME LORD I'M A BAZILLION YEARS OLD I'M AMAZING speech but just... makes it sound awful and queer). Doesn't that love feel more like a memory than love now? Has the fire not gone out, and are we not left staring at some smouldering embers? I'm cheating on Doctor Who already. I can't stop watching Battlestar Galactica, and I secretly prefer it, loads and loads. It's reminded me that it's possible to have a healthy relationship (THIS IS HOW I THINK ABOUT TV WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME) which doesn't throw you from dizzying Moffattian highs to the kind of lows where you just want to be take a long shower and scrub yourself until you notice blood on the exfoliating glove, and then you cry for hours and hours.
The thing about that stage in a relationship though is that the sex is usually still OK, and to continue this strained metaphor a little further, I had a few "orgasms" in this episode at the sight of George Costigan (I already regret typing that) as a head in a robotic wheelchair, even though "kill himself AND me using a FORKLIFT truck" didn't really seem like the most appropriate way to deal with that situation, and a flimsy, lopsided fulcrum on which to balance the emotional impact of the finale. Despite some great acting from Tennant, the script just didn't really flesh Astrid out enough for those final scenes to feel anything other than rushed and a little silly. Having earned the first proper Doctor Who kisses with Eccleston and Barrowman and Piper with some genuine character development leading up to them, Rusty now seems content to litter his script with kissing and it's not that I care about this "Doctor Who Must Never Kiss Girls" fan army but I do think it's like, a bit much. Sack it off for a bit. He even kisses Tate in the unbelievably dull-looking "Next Series..." trailer at the end. Look, a giant bee! Raquel off Coronation Street! Kissing! Oh God, and didn't the robot angels look cheap? Why did they all have desperate dan jaws? Why would a robot need a jaw anyway? Who suggested giving the robots jaws? At what stage in any society human or alien would a robot need a jaw? A chewing robot? Any function I can imagine a robot jaw serving would probably be served better by something other than a jaw. Rotating blades, or something. I've only just started thinking about this really and it's making me furious. Why can't they just stop filling up Doctor Who with completely stupid things? It's bad enough liking Doctor Who without it actually being rubbish half the time.
It should be noted for the record that despite the episode being literally balls and smelling like semen burning slowly on a lightbulb, no blame should be laid at the feet of the following brave men.
1. Richard from Keeping Up Appearances. He's just effortlessly brilliant.
2. That guy who played Ricardo Slick, or whatever the unmitigated bastard stock-trader character was called. I liked him.
3. Midshipman Frame, who bravely ignored his seemingly fairly serious gunshot wound for the entire second half of the episode without any medical attention whatsoever. Good work, Midshipman!
4. Kylie Minogue, oddly enough. She did well enough, and the fact that she's clearly much older than her character was supposed to be made her desperation to be whisked away by David Tennant a little bit sadder.
5. Debbie Chazen. Dear Debbie Chazen - I enjoyed watching you die. BE IN MORE THINGS WHERE YOU DIE. Perhaps you could end every episode of TittyBangBang with you DYING and then I would watch it and say "watch TittyBangBang she ALWAYS DIES OVER AND OVER AGAIN" to my friends. NB I am not insane, I only want you to DIE on TV. You don't have to DIE in real life. Yours Sincerely, Michael Patrick Louis Arthur Lacey.
6. That is ALL I CAN THINK OF. Even Bernard Cribbins seemed like an idiot in this.
Also, Doctor Who DOES NOT GO "You got a problem with that?" or "Didn't you get the message? SHUT UP!". He's not Kevin The Teenager. Fuck off with that, too, and then maybe we'll talk.