Sunday, July 25, 2010

Doctor Who

"Doctor Who", like so many other science fiction television series (and movies for that matter) is more entertaining than "good" if you follow my meaning. Series that try to deliver airtight plots working towards a greater storyline and routinely have quality scripts and solid acting such as "Babylon 5" and "Firefly" are cancelled despite critical reviews and sometimes, such as was the case for "Farscape", despite high ratings.

However, even the weakest written series, say "Star Trek" for example, have a line that can't be crossed lest the very plot device the series relies on falls apart, effectively punching the viewer in the face as a reward for years of faithful viewing because the writers didn't care enough to restrict themselves to the canon either they or their predecessors created.

The finale of the thirty-first season of "Doctor Who" which aired last night crossed that line when they pulled a "Bill and Ted" by giving their past selves the keys to solving the problems from which their future selves could not otherwise have escaped. Although the Doctor has created time paradoxes in the past (proclaiming nonchalantly that he is immune to them), never in the previous 769 episodes was such a direct cause and effect used to make up for a lack of imagination on the part of the writers, because, I presume, previous writers realized that to do so makes every death and sacrifice that's ever occurred or ever will occur in the series completely pointless as now the audience will always have to ask why the Doctor doesn't simply travel back in time to prevent each and every personal tragedy from occurring in the first place.

Both his sonic screwdriver becoming a do-anything device and the pan-dimensional TARDIS being carried off several times a season despite having once been described as requiring something that can lift 50,000 tons to move since the series came back from it's 16 year hiatus in 2005 can be forgiven (though they are really over-relying on the sonic screwdriver issue lately), and the middle-finger salute inducing ending of this season's finale is a self-contained bit of nonsense that we'll never have the misfortune of being subjected to again, but using a causality paradox is a plot crutch which causes lameness that affects the entire franchise and for that they should be ashamed.


1 comment:

  1. It was difficult to decide whether to link to IMDB for quick access to reviews, awards, and cast lists or to their Wikipedia entries for more detailed information in case anyone other than myself was actually interested in these programs.

    The entries for "Doctor Who" and "Star Trek" on IMDB don't cover each series in their entirety so I chose Wikipedia for them, and I hope that anyone seeing the better than 90% average reviews for the other series on IMDB will be inspired to look into them further because these were brief, shining moments in televised science fiction that are far and few between.