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Tony Grist

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Closing Time [Sep. 25th, 2011|11:10 am]
Tony Grist
It's the perennial problem. Dr Who (the show) conjures up these vastly powerful foes and then has to devise ways for the usually unarmed heroes to defeat them. Sometimes there's a lever or a button and sometimes there's the power of love.

Has there ever been a reversement that was truly convincing? 

We've seen people converted into cybermen before and there's never been any way out. But last night there was. Paternal love trumps alien technology. Yeah, right, OK....

No, actually, not OK. Far too easy. Insulting even. When in human history has paternal love ever stopped the jackboot descending? 

Apart from that ridiculously sentimental get-out, Closing Time was excellent. A comedy episode, with James Corden playing straight man to Matt Smith, but with a thread of poignancy running through it. That's the third episode in a row  I'll remember fondly. 

I have been dismissive of Matt Smith. He's not a leading man. He doesn't have that indefinable something that allows an actor to take command of stage or screen. He doesn't have authority. On the other hand he's an accomplished farceur and there's something spooky about the way- every so often- a very tired, lonely,old man peeks out from behind the Woosterishness. He is, I think, the most convincingly alien Doctor there's ever been. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: rosamicula
2011-09-25 10:29 am (UTC)
The 'love conquers all' balderdash is why I can't be bothered to watch it anymore. It is insulting to the intelligence and reveals the poverty of imagination of the writers.

I still think of it, primarily, as a children's programme, but versions I watched in my own childhood had something of the quality of Roald Dahl's writing, a quirkiness and intelligence and willingness to confront the ugly darkness hovering at the edges of life. There was always the sense that the Doctor only just got away with it, because of his wits. It's lost that, and replaced it with the banal sentimentality and predictability of Britain's Got Talent.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 11:15 am (UTC)
I suppose I'm a hard-core fan. I don't like being a hard-core fan of anything, but there it is; Dr Who keeps pulling me back in, even though I know it's not very good. I watched it as a kid, then watched it again with my kids in the McCoy era and now I feel it's like I've taken an oath or something.

It's odd how sentimental a culture we are. I thought- growing up in the fifties and sixties (in the shadow of the war, when people couldn't afford sentimentality)- that Little Nell had been knocked on the head and shovelled away- never to return. But here she is, back from the dead- zombie Nell- dripping goo.
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[User Picture]From: setsuled
2011-09-26 12:31 am (UTC)
You know, I keep thinking back to how the Doctor makes fun of Little Nell in the third Christopher Eccleston episode and how it became increasingly ironic.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-26 08:39 am (UTC)
I'd forgotten that.

Simon Callow was good as Dickens. He's apparently returning in the season finale, but we haven't yet been told whether he's playing Dickens again.
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[User Picture]From: setsuled
2011-09-26 09:12 am (UTC)
He's apparently returning in the season finale, but we haven't yet been told whether he's playing Dickens again.

He is. Charles Dickens is appearing along with Winston Churchill and a lot of other people. I do hope it's not going to be Character Catalogue: The Movie like "The Stolen Earth"/"Journey's End".
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2011-09-25 11:19 am (UTC)
I must admit last night's episode was quite comedic and a bit tongue-in-cheek. Apart from the soft get of clause of love conquering all , it made me smile. Not many TV drama series can do that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 12:58 pm (UTC)
Sometimes (in fact quite often) the monsters feel like an add-on. Last night's show was essentially a buddy-buddy comedy- and very good it was too.

If only the Doctor didn't have to save the world every week!
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[User Picture]From: jenny_evergreen
2011-09-25 12:56 pm (UTC)
"He is, I think, the most convincingly alien Doctor there's ever been."

Called it! This is exactly why I've liked him from the first.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 01:09 pm (UTC)
He's growing on me. I don't think he'll ever engage me as much as David Tennant did, but I enjoy watching him.
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[User Picture]From: kinderheldin
2011-09-25 01:10 pm (UTC)
I keep meaning to send you the link of this blog (which I thought you may enjoy):
http://chrisbaer.net/mp/category/science-fiction/
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 02:45 pm (UTC)
Mmm, that's nice. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2011-09-25 01:10 pm (UTC)
oops i missed it again
i've not seen much of the new doctor
they keep putting other things in his time slot
or the forget to list it

some thing to look forward to i guess

maybe some other time...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 02:48 pm (UTC)
Obviously I love the show- but that's because I've been watching it for nearly 50 years. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to the casual viewer.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2011-09-25 03:15 pm (UTC)
wonder what the new folks would do...
they've not seen the incarnations the changes
would it seem flat with out the history
for the previous episodes. would it seem flat?

I date from the time of tom baker
when pbs in my area started to show it.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 08:38 pm (UTC)
My son came to the show in the McCoy era. He loved it then without knowing or caring about the back story. I've tried to interest him in the reboot but he can't be bothered.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 02:48 pm (UTC)
If he only had a little more gravitas...
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2011-09-25 03:16 pm (UTC)
there's something spooky about the way- every so often- a very tired, lonely,old man peeks out from behind the Woosterishness.

My father identified this trait in the Doctor yesterday: he thought of it as a negative. ("At first, I thought he was too young for the part. Now I'm beginning to think he's too old.") I agree on the convincingly alien; I care about that sort of thing very much.
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[User Picture]From: steepholm
2011-09-25 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, this is to my mind exactly what Smith has, and Tennant (for all his qualities) lacked. Eccleston had it, and Tom Baker, and maybe Patrick Troughton, but none in such spades as the eldritch Matt Smith. That doesn't make him perfect, but it's an important ingredient.

I quite agree (poliphilo) that the sentimental get-out clause of yesterday was too icky for words - even if the word was Stormaggedon. But the episode was very entertaining for 85% of the time.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 08:22 pm (UTC)
Yes, it was fun. It seems ickiness is ingrained in the show now. You have to allow for it- much as you have to do with Dickens.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 08:20 pm (UTC)
Smith has one of those ageless faces. He'll probably look much the same when he's 70.
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[User Picture]From: all_unnecessary
2011-09-25 06:28 pm (UTC)
Great comments on this post. Totally agree @ the alienness of Matt Smith, and yes, why does he have to save the world every week? I would love a "day in the life" ep.

I was saying to a friend that sometimes Moffatt gets the DW "behind the sofa" formula, but not all that often! There has to be the right balance of initial terror, revelation of the more complicated, less immediately terrifying circumstances that created the monster (which are usually shown to be something like injustice meeting happenstance), and then resolution/understanding and that exhilarating kind of justice the Doctor dispenses ("I'll show you MOVES!").
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2011-09-25 08:30 pm (UTC)
In general terms, the smaller the stories are, the more I like them.

Since he took over as show runner I've found Moffat's writing much less impressive than it was under RTD. I suspect he's seriously overworked.
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