You already know that TV often leaves me an emotional wreck, even adverts but when it comes to the Doctor Who finalé, I’m talking about an entirely different kind of emotional wreck.
THE SEASON TEN FINALÉ WAS EMOTIONAL AND IT WAS A WRECK
Showrunner Steven Moffat said during a Facebook Q&A session after last week’s episode that The Doctor Falls was not yet finished and it really showed. From both storytelling and editing points of view, it was a disastrous mess.
Every other review (except maybe IGN who gave it a 7.9 rating) seems to be hailing it as a masterpiece and this is the precise reason I write couchpotato.buzz.
While every other website out there seems to talk about what happened, I like to also look at how it happened, from a storytelling and craft point of view. It’s no good telling a story if all the pieces don’t slot perfecty together in the edit. Otherwise, at best, you have Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.
Even last weekend, the rough cut they had obviosuly wasn’t working and not even Cardiff Nando’s-on-tap and a week-long edit-suite scramble could fix such an incohesive mess.
From the moment an early important scene was rendered to black and white whip pans and downgraded to a flashback in the edit, it was obvious this episide was going to be in trouble.
Secondary characters appeared, uttered a line then disappeared never to be seen again, a love interest was shoe-horned into one line for Nardole. It was all over the place, just like those toy soldiers The Doctor bashed across the floor in that hugely embarrassingly “what the fuck was that?” misfit scene,
There were simply too many ideas at play, and the result was about as absorbing as gold to a Cyberman.
I’m not going to dwell on this but why the hell wasn’t an episode (especially one as big as a season finalé) picture locked a week before broadcast? I’ll go further by saying that not only did the edit seem cobbled together, but so did every aspect – the writing and the direction seemed as rushed as turning that farmhouse into the Wild West frontier outpost from Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo… near Swindon.
THE DOCTOR FALLS FLAT
The episode title, The Doctor Falls was spookily apt as almost every dramatic moment fell short. The Doctor’s empassioned speech to The Master and Missy was more Ken Livingston than Winston Churchill.
Missy’s quadruple-cross was confused and yawn-inducing, and instead of being The Doctor’s most feared nemesis, The Master and his “stupid round face” were about as scary as Puss in Boots at the Blackpool Palladium.
As such, Missy and The Master killing each other contained zero emotional impact. Luckily, there was some tradegy in Bill’s story…
BILL POTTS… THE MODERN PROMETHEUS
The reason I haven’t mentioned the hordes of attacking Cybermen is because they were completely ancilliary to the story. They could have been Daleks, Yetis or Coco the Monkey shooting flaming Coco-Pops out of his ass and Um Bongo out of his balls, it just didn’t impact the story in any way, save for Bill’s Cyberman upgrade.
When it emerged that Bill really may have been “Dead… and doomed to spend an eternal afterlife as a biomechanical psycho-zombie.” the stakes were upped, but there was so much going on that any tension was always immediately forgotten about.
Director Rachel Talalay’s technique of portraying her sometimes as Bill and sometimes as a Cyberman was quite effective, I’ll give you that.
The Doctor’s line before he died – “I hoped there would be stars” was a nice touch but I was still wishing him to regenerate into anyone but Peter Capaldi (or Kris Marshall)
It was really only after he was ‘dead’ that the episode had any emotional punch. After Clara died only for her soul to trot the universe, Moffat had the self-same death for Bill just as Bill was turned into a Cyberman in the self-same way as Danny Pink, two seasons ago. Steven Moffat has run out of ideas.
Heather aka The Pilot, from S10E01 arrived to turn Bill’s cyber-atoms back to human again and, after a wonderful tea-time girl -on-girl kiss on the lips, whisked her away, leaving a tear on The Doctor’s forehead to (unsurprisingly) rejuvinate him.
When the best element of an hour-long finalé is a five second kiss, and taht ‘ only so great because it pushes societal boundaries, it speak volumes about the quality of the other fifty nine minutes and fifty five seconds.
While touching, bringing The Pilot back, a character we haven’t even caught glimpse or mention of for eleven episodes to save Bill felt the ultimate in deus ex machina. The flashbacka and tear theme was nowhere near strong enough to be considered a series-long story arc.
GOODBYE, BILL POTTS
You were cool but not a patch on Clara or Amy.
The TARDIS flew The Doctor to the snowy wasteland we saw at the beginning of last week’s episode, whereupon he met with the First Doctor just in time for the Christmas Special.
Doing some research, it seems the First Doctor did disappear to a snowy wasteland and no pone knows what he got up to there, so cool points for some successful ret-conning. Now, all it needs to do is be more like A Christmas Carol and less like last year’s The Return of Dr Mysterio.
The 2017 Doctor Who Christmas Special will probably still be being edited as you tuck into your Christmas lunch, so could go one way or the other, but one plus is it will be Peter Capaldi’s last outing.