Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Around here the graves eat people

For the new parter, 'The Hungry Earth' and 'Cold Blood', Doctor Who is back in the countryside. Most people are probably bored of it by now, but I don't care, I love it. Sleepy villages and empty fields can be surreal, fantastical and creepy. Cities are usually too loud for this. Unfortunately though, there's not much to like here. There's a city of reptile-people underneath a Welsh village. The humans are drilling down and the reptiles don't like it. Sounds fine, but barely anything happens for an hour and a half. I have no idea why this is a two-parter. The first half is a long set-up for something that never really happens. They're apparently on the edge of war, but there's no tension anywhere near these episodes. It starts to ask questions about whether humanity is ready to share the planet with aliens, but doesn't seem committed to answering it. It shows us vast armies of reptile-men before moving away and going back into small rooms. I was always waiting for it to get interesting and it never really did, which is a shame. The events that do occur are in the last five minutes and completely unrelated to the episode. This could have trimmed down.

More worrying than any of this was that, for the first time this series, I found the whole thing unconvincing. The subterranean alien world never felt real. You could see the joins in the effects. You could tell they'd just dressed up a stage with some plants. The Doctor wanders around tunnels that seem plastic, talking to aliens that aren't original. It's a shame, because up till now the series has been full of imagination and creativity. I didn't believe in this one at all. Even the characters it introduced didn't seem to work. These aren't the 'best of humanity' at all. An irritating mother and a small boy who was just there to get in the way. A grandfather who gets poisoned by the reptiles but is so manly he hardly complains. The most offensive one is Nasreen, the head of the mining operation, who wanders around the alien world like it's a supermarket. In fact, none of them seem phased by this peculiar turn of events. They meet an entire alien civilisation that's been living beneath their feet. The little boy says 'wow'. That's as surprised as they get. Why aren't their mind breaking? In one scene Nasreen casually discusses the fate of the planet with the reptile elder like she does it every day. Nothing gels here. It's all very pretend. You're not meant to notice it's fiction. The only redeeming feature is the Doctor, whose enthusiastic bounding around is always entertaining. Hopefully normal service will be resumed next week.

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Who has always been uneven, hasn't it? It does sound as if it could have been good, I like that unknown companions theme frequently.