Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Water always wins.

A brief return of our occasional feature "Gee watches a Science Fiction television programme and give his opinion on it." By the way this is a spoiler heavy post about the recent Doctor Who special The Waters Of Mars. So if you don't want to know the score look away now.

It turns out that I’m not fashionable.

Now as far as clothes go I guess that’s always been the case. Recently one of my friends posted an old school photo on Facebook, taken when I was probably about five. It was one of those deals where they get everyone to pose in a group, and then sell a print of it to their parents for about five times as much as it costs to reproduce. Anyway there they all are, my school chums with their cherub faces and cute smiles. Each and every one of them wearing a checked shirt of some sort. And there’s me, wearing a navy jumper with the giant face of Goofy emblazoned across the front. It’s stands out so much I might as well have had a neon sign over my head saying “Really this kid has no idea”.

It’s something that’s continued to this very day. For example in this weeks Jennifer Anniston Weekly National Enquirer, they have one of those “Let’s compare people on the Red Carpet” things. Basically they take eight celebrities who have recently walked the line and post pictures of their dresses, inviting us to gasp with wonder or laugh with glee at the fashion successes and disasters. Now to me they pretty much all look ghastly. Each of them are covered with frills and bows from head to toe, as if Liberace’s ghost had thrown up over Hollywood's finest. However some of the celebrities have got it bang on the money, and some of them have got it terribly wrong. I know this because some pervert with unsmiling eyes and impossibly white teeth has had the good sense to score each dress out of ten. Otherwise, I’ll be honest with you, I’d be lost.

But in the geek community, ah dear reader, in the geek community I am very fashionable indeed. In fact when it comes to movies, TV, and comic books I’m almost a god. I know the new things to look out for, the old things that are respected, and the stuff that’s just plain great. I am like a nerd version of Victoria Beckham.

Or at least I used to be.

Over the past couple of days my fashonista status has been tested to it’s limit. The reason? Well on Sunday just gone the BBC aired the newest episode of the world’s longest running Sci-Fi series Doctor Who. It’s been a whole seven months since we last saw everyone’s favourite time travelling alien, where he faced a bunch of flying sting rays with endo skeletons and a pissed off attitude. Obviously having learned nothing from Steve Irwin, the Doctor stood up to these wee beasties and heroically saved the day, leading to much rejoicing.

And so having left a gaping hole in all our lives for far too long the Doctor was at last back on our screens with what was sure to be a triumphant return. Grateful for what I was about to receive I settled in to my default position (Gee Note: In bed with a tub of ice cream if you're curious), turned the volume up and put the lights down low, and prepared to have my socks blown off. This was going to be an hour of pure awesome.

Except it wasn’t.

By the end of that hour I was so deflated that I had to leave the bed (Gee Note: ! ) and go for a walk. Really that’s how low I felt. It wasn’t that I was disappointed. It was more than that. Like I’d been given a pot of gold by a leprechaun only to find out after he’s left that the gold is actually that chocolate money stuff and it’s two years out of date.

(Gee Note: By the way I love chocolate money. I just wanted to mention that knowing that members of my family read this and Christmas is coming up. Also, speedboats)

So the next day after a restless nights sleep I awoke early and immediately went online to watch the dust settle. First stop, the Guardian Newspaper online and a review from Sam Wollaston.

It's a belter, a watery nightmare – scary, moving, relevant, believable, sometimes even funny.

Huh? He actually liked it? Oh well, who the hell is Sam Wollaston anyway? I need some of my real geek brethrin around me. They’ll feel my pain. So over to SFX.co.uk I go.

This was a bold and exciting episode of Doctor Who.

Oh… what the hell? You too? Mind SFX makes a living out of favourably reporting on Sci-Fi shows and books as that’s what their readers love. I mean nobody really reads it for tips on how to get Roses to bloom all year around. Because if you are doing that, you may want to skip it one week and pick up Gardeners News instead. Trust me it will blow your mind.

No. What I need are some hardcore, hairy, live in their mothers basement, speak Klingon fluently, know the difference between a Dark Jedi and a Sith, geeks. I need me some Aint It Cool News.

They have knocked one out the park, just brilliant.

Loved it!

An excellent episode… absolutely breathtaking

This episode was fantastic! I'll be picking up the DVD!!!!

You guys?!!?!? YOU GUYS?!!!?!?!?! You guys hate everything! Everything! Jesus I remember the uproar when Heath Ledger was announced for the Joker in The Dark Knight. You guys went almost biblical in your curses of damnation. It wasn’t until the poor bastard died that you let up on him a bit. And you liked this? You. Liked. This.

So I started to think “Is it me? Am I wrong? Did I miss something?” I was about to write it off as just one of those things when I mentioned it to a friend of mine. It turns out that they had missed the initial broadcast and were planning on watching it that night. In an attempt to understand this phenomenon I decided to do the same, and then compare notes. Because truth be told I haven’t known this person very long but they make me laugh, and so therefore I respect their opinion on very important matters. It’s strange how that works.

So thanks to the wonder that is the BBC’s iPlayer (Gee Note: Rejected slogan ideas for the iPlayer part 1- “For shows you couldn’t be bothered watching the first time around and are only doing so now because there‘s nothing else on.”), I cranked up my PC and watched this new episode again, armed with my trusty notepad and pen.

And I really really hated it the second time around.

This new special, entitled “The Waters of Mars” takes place in the year 2059 (Gee Note: Although by the looks of the “home videos” watched by some of the characters everyone furnishes their houses using an Argos catalogue circa 2009) where the Doctor drops in on the first Earth colonists of Mars. Forearmed with the knowledge that this base is set to explode killing everyone in it’s boundaries that very day, he decides not to act upon it. You see these people’s deaths will inspire the human race to even greater future accomplishments and is therefore a fixed moment in time that simply cannot be tampered with. Despite the fact that he does this kind of thing all the time and it’s never seemed to bother him before, on this particular occasion the last of the Timelords is pretty much set on not lifting a finger to help these folks when all Hell breaks loose.

The Hell in question is a virus in the water on Mars, found in a frozen glacier under the planets surface. Drinking this turns everyone in to, um, well water spewing zombie things. Think if a bunch of fire hydrants got together and decided to put on an am-dram production of “Dawn of the Dead”. What it is and where this virus came form are questions that are left unresolved. I mean why bother explaining that when there’s a funny robot to be had.

Ah the funny robot called Gadget, a seriously irritating and completely unneeded addition to what otherwise would have been a rather dark and foreboding setting. Gadget is a major annoyance, dumbing down an already fantastically unintelligent product. Also it just looks cheap (Gee Note: Like as if Jar Jar Binks had tried to rebuild a broken down Johnny 5 but cocked it up, got bored, and walked away), making it painfully obvious to the viewer that despite trying to be a fabulously epic tale, Doctor Who is still far away from matching any American TV show when it comes to production values.

But Gadget is really a minor irritation. So too is the surprise appearance of a Dalek during the episode. The captain of the base, played with steely determination by Lindsay Duncan, was apparently inspired to head to the stars after her life was spared by a Dalek during the events of “The Stolen Earth”. Hmmm, goes the Doctor, that must be because the Dalek knew your death was a fixed point in time.

Now think about this for a second. Dalek’s are great big homicidal metallic pepper pots with zero empathy. They wouldn’t spare a small child anymore than Jessica Simpson would leave you her last Rolo. Also if a Dalek knows what is going to happen in the future, why the hell is it fighting a war that it knows it won’t win? I mean if I’m that Dalek I’m going to have something else to do when the call comes in to round up the troops. “Hmmm. What? Oh, it’s fighting time? Awww, and I just put the scones in to bake. Well, I can’t just leave them in there. They’ll be ruined. Tell you what, I’ll catch up with you guys when they’re done. Yeah yeah EXTERMINATE and all that. You have fun now you hear?”

But all this is completely forgiveable. No really it is. Because as ludicrous as it sounds it pales in to comparison to the insanely ridiculous finale.

Here’s the deal. Captain Dalek Love begs, and I mean begs, The Doctor to save her and her people. The Doctor does a perfect impression of me when it comes time to do the washing up by shrugging his shoulders and saying “Sorry love. Can’t help you”. So he starts to walk away and she’s all like “Damn you!” before she goes back to trying to fight the zombie fire hydrants. However as the Doctor walks away he somehow has an audio feed from the base transmitted in to his helmet and with every scream and exclamation of hopelessness he takes a heavy step forward. That is until he can take it no more and with tons of manic energy rushes back to save everyone left. Hooray right?

Well no, because upon dropping the survivors back down to Earth, and having a well deserved “Yes I am that awesome!” moment to himself, the Captain now thinks the Doctor is a dick for saving her. Even though she BEGGED him to do it (Gee Note: Tsk. Women huh?). Why? Well don’t ask me, I have no idea. It doesn’t make a blind bit of sense. “Hi. Can you save my life please?” “Yeah sure. There you go. Anything else I can help you with?” “What the hell did you do that for? Thanks a lot pal. You prick!”. Anyway to atone for all this the Captain shoots herself, despite not being able to put a bullet in the head of one of the monsters and thereby putting a stop to this entire thing before it began, and the Doctor breaks down and questions if he has gone too far by screwing with time in such a fashion.

And the best bit? Right then out of nowhere an Ood, a creature we haven’t seen since 2008, turns up. And then disappears again. Why? Why not? They’ve done everything else badly up until this point, why not this?

Actually the real best bit in all of this is how long the above mentioned finale takes to unfold. From the moment The Doctor starts to walk away from the base to Ood Sigma doing his best David Copperfield impersonation, the whole sorry mess is played out in just five minutes. Five minutes where characters motivations are flipped like pancakes for no good reason, everything is rushed to a massively lame climax involving the stupid robot, and a vision of a very boring alien turns up.

You see I actually like the concept of The Doctor being driven to the edge of sanity, drunk on his own power as he tries to make the Universe do what he wants rather than serving it all the time. Before finally, finally, his own World collapses around him and leaves him even emptier then when he started. But a concept is only as good as it’s execution. And when something is executed as poorly as that, it makes Willie Francis look like a cow in a slaughter house (Gee Note: Go on. Google ‘Willie Francis‘. You know you want to).

By the way remember the friend I was talking about? The one who hadn’t seen the show until last night? Well I asked them their opinion on it this morning. Guess what they said?

Oh, I really enjoyed it actually.

Screw it I give up. This geek culture thing is way over my head. I’m going to find myself something else to do. Where’s that copy of the National Enquirer gone?

Oh Drew Barrymore. What WERE you thinking!

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