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rabid1st

And so it begins...A Torchwood CoE Press Review

This article makes some valid points, in my opinion and, yet, it saddens me...because...it reads like the RTD lynching suggested by a responder to one of my previous posts. Also, I feel it clearly reflects that we have now lost some of the hard won respect New Who has built over the last four years. Rubber monsters, indeed! Under the cut we go...

Before the link...a few of the points that both resonate with me...and sting. As I said, when the suggestion of lynching came up...I really would much rather Russell had a wonderful surprise for us all and had worked his way to it via grim, narrow-spectrum storytelling. In other words, I would like nothing more than to have RTD turn the Titanic around and give us all a happy Christmas.

The New York Times supplies these gems.

America these days gets its televised science fiction in a narrow spectrum, from serious to grim. (Hello, “Battlestar Galactica.”)

Maybe we have a hankering for aliens who appear to be wearing our old Halloween costumes and for stories of such giggly impossibility that we’d be embarrassed to watch if we had a second to stop to think.

I am saddened by that assumption about Doctor Who and its writing staff. I wish I could say it was uninformed but this reviewer clearly watched CoE. And came away believing it was well below par. The monsters are called "dime store concoctions" at one point. SIGH!

Russell T Davies, the Welsh writer and producer who revived “Doctor Who” and created “Torchwood,” has thrived by taking the low-rent, knockabout style of the original “Doctor Who” and giving it a nighttime-soap-opera gloss.

Hello, melodrama! Hey, Cat? Soap opera being the very definition of melodrama.

Every week or two the Torchwood team sets out to identify and defeat a new alien, then returns home to lick its wounds and count its losses.

One problem with “Children of Earth” is that it has to stretch this process over five hours. This means, inevitably, less derring-do and more fretting over things.... Another way that Mr. Davies ekes out the story (major spoiler alert) is through one of his favorite devices: killing off significant characters. In the show’s first two seasons the Torchwood team lost three of six members.

The ranks will be thinned again before “Children of Earth” is over, a development that sent British fans into a tizzy when the mini-series was shown there two weeks ago. It’s as if Mr. Davies were playing a game of chicken with the BBC.


And I would add...RTD is, also, playing chicken with his loyal fans, daring them to keep coming back for more pain.

But despite these quibbles, “Children of Earth” is still good fun, if not good, exactly.

Which is what I've been saying. Though I don't think I would have used the word "fun."

“Torchwood” has always been about jokey repartee and Saturday-matinee save-the-world heroics, and those are here, along with other constants, like clumsily staged action and middling performances. Mr. Barrowman and Ms. Myles are funny, likable and great to look at, but that’s about as far as it goes.

And again...I say...if Torchwood and Doctor Who aren't fun anymore, people will not be watching them. You cannot sustain the Doctor as he is right now.

That lift of spirit that S1 and S2 left us with...was a valuable contribution to drama...and it is what brought the show international acclaim, too.

I am a New Who fan because I adored spending time with the Doctor and Rose. They stole my Old School heart and made me love them. I also liked Donna and Jack...and Jackie and Mickey and even Pete. If you ask me, New Who lucked out beyond the telling of it in the casting of Billie and David. Chris launched them, but the charm of Billie and David's competence is what kept the show alive after Chris left.

Catherine Tate, while lovely didn't bowl me over with her acting chops...rather it was her storyline and her growth as a character that I related to. I believed in her character and the help she gave the Doctor. All gone now, sadly.

Should RTD challenge the boundaries of other people's assumptions about what Doctor Who can or should be by delivering quality television? Well, absolutely he should. But he needs to pull it off, dot his i's and cross his t's. He can't let his rivets show...or he opens the show and fanbase up to the sort of ridicule we old schoolers are all too familiar with from snooty American critics. And there is something to be said for doing swashbuckling soap opera justice. Happy endings for everybody, yeah?

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/arts/television/18torchwood.html


I also came across this review at Amazon.com that I wish I knew how to link to...which sums up the plotting issues I've been having, very nicely. I would say we had a three hour story if we actually added in plausible attempts to defeat the aliens.

What we have here is a two hour story stretched to five hours. And, man, what a rough, brutal slog it is getting through this thing. The story itself (spoilers) concerns aliens who are so advanced they can travel between the stars at will yet are incapable of synthesizing whatever chemical it is they extract from prepubescent children in order to get themselves high. They also can't build environment suits for themselves and spend more time puking pea soup than Linda Blair. A few giggles for the kiddies the producers are clearly trying to entertain, I suppose.

The latter half of these five loooong hours are filled with much wringing of hands as characters make one ridiculous decision after another. Sadly, its all just so contrived. The folks in charge take the invaders at their word that they can destroy humanity without raising a sweat. But if the aliens are so tough, why don't they just take however many children they want and be done with it? No alternative methods are ever even considered when dealing with the aliens. "You want kids, you got 'em, just not mine" are essentially the politicians' attitudes.

I haven't seen so many people so boringly debate so many contrived moral questions and ambiguities since the last Star Trek series was canceled. Contrived really is the word of the day here. Every last thing that happens in the final couple episodes is completely contrived to arrive at the predetermined ending, which causes the whole darn thing to come off as oh-so-painfully fake and dishonest. Not to mention a waste of time.



I hated the ending of CoE and continue to have huge issues with its themes, messages, and what happens to the main cast... but I also disagree with almost every single thing quoted here. To me it reads like a case of an inability to look past the puppet-aliens and Barrowman's image, since the storyline, character, and especially the acting were excellent.

IMO, anyway. :)

Sadly, I am no longer impressed with the storyline of CoE...but I didn't have huge problems with the acting...and I felt the character development was excellent. It kept me on the edge of my seat despite my brain kicking in from time to time to ask questions.

Questions like...Why Jack and Ianto stormed into Thames House in the first place...and what they intended to do other than get Ianto killed? Why didn't anyone examine Clem more closely? And why anyone would think frequency had anything to do with killing the 456? Let alone be willing to sacrifice their own grandchild to test such a wild assumption?

But...still...it was gripping television, in my opinion. My worry is...it looks like RTD overreached himself. And if people aren't already fans of the show...they might find it below par, as this writer obviously does. Alternatively, if people ARE fans...will they hate the ending and have huge issues with themes, messages and what happens to the main cast.

Who, I ask myself, is RTD hoping will enjoy this enough to want more?

Rae


Only the NYT would consider character development to be filler, lol. And it's been my opinion that Uncle Rusty's excellent characters always helped me gloss over wonky plotting. That's why when his characters are acting counterintuitively to everything that's come before, I get pissy.

RTD can easily fix this by handing over the damned pony already. Yup, he can. So there.


Yes...but now...in my opinion...he has no leeway on pony delivery. If he just gives us some regeneration story...something slapped together with all the guest stars he can cram into a trailer park...well...maybe he deserves to be given this sort of review.

Rae
who still wants him to surprise everyone...but we few...and just walk off with an enigmatic smile, not fitting into anyone's shoebox. HA!

And I would add...RTD is, also, playing chicken with his loyal fans, daring them to keep coming back for more pain.

I have already promised myself that I will never watch a RTD drama again. I will of course watch the final DW eps because of the lovely Mr. Tennant but RTD has broken me one to many times now. I know him. I know his style. I know his world view. And I just can no longer cope with his seeming delight in constantly trying to devastate his fans.

I will always love him for bringing back, and in my case, introducing me to the world of Doctor Who but that's it. We have officially broken up for the last time.

Originally I wasn't to keen on Mr. Moffat taking over, but now I'm actually excited to see what he'll do with the show. As far as I'm concerned anything is better that what RTD has given us, particularly with the last season of DW and TW COE.

And speaking from this point in time...

rabid1st

2009-07-19 02:10 am (UTC)

...I must agree with your assessment. I, too, will watch until David leaves...though I have a feeling this will just mean another holiday spent weeping. Yes, I readily admit the level of betrayal I felt after JE...made me weep for days. And so, I can completely sympathize over the TW people and their losses just now.

However, I did not really care that Ianto dies. I didn't weep over any of this...because I never really invested in Torchwood. To me, it seemed like Jack would always be heading to the stars someday...and I always felt Ianto would die or betray the team...I wanted him to betray the team...since it would have made him more interesting. And imagine the levels of pain THAT would have added to this miniseries...though it would still have devastated the fans.

And, honestly, I don't see the big thrill in devastating your fans. If they haven't showed themselves to be bored by your happy-go-lucky show...then why would you drive them away?

Anyway...no really faith in RTD at this point...but still some hope for a pony.

Rae

I actually found myself agreeing with Moffat on TV Tropes yesterday : "RTD likes to give us characters we care about...and then melt them."

Well, for a start I think RTD will be chuffed that the NYT are even bothering to watch. And I think it's inevitable they'll be a bit dismissive. It could have been a much worse review. I hope it has the salutary effect of making him realise he needs to up his game if he wants to be taken seriously by mainstream America. The Beeb have an awful lot riding on this and I think they'll listen.

My Internet is playing up at the moment, and my neighbour came around to poke it. Inevitably we talked about Doctor Who, because he's a huge Old School fan.

He said he liked CoE when it was first broadcast, but since he's had time to think about it he's noticed the inconsistencies and depressing nature, and has decided not to buy the DVD. (He has pretty much every episode, audio book and commentary ever of Doctor Who, for comparison.)

I happened to mention the Humperdinck. I explained Brown is unhappy, that we move on with what comes out of the regeneration i.e. Blue, and we already had the mechanism of the fob watch to achieve it. I told him I'd handed those ideas to RTD last October. His reaction: "Wow. I hope that happens, and if it does I'll know where it came from." Also: "You've thought about that a lot."

Three minutes of explaining gained instant understanding of the way forward in Doctor Who. On the offchance you were too wrapped up in your ideas here to wonder if there was hope, it still makes sense talking to Old School fans in person.

Lisa
If only it was as easy to fix my Internet problems

I have, as you know...

rabid1st

2009-07-19 10:31 am (UTC)

...had the same experience with two Old School fans...and also a few people who just don't care. There is nothing that resets all of this mess better than switching Doctors. It even gives us some hope for Jack...because it shows that there IS a way out of the hopeless cycle RTD has established.

As for CoE...the plot holes and darkness spoke to me immediately. I have no doubt that some people will embrace the bitter pill of it as "reality" or "the best we could hope for" or whatever. And I did find it compelling...as in I kept wanting to watch the next one...all the way to the end. But the end left me never wanting to watch anything else by this author. So...I'm not sure it is sustainable.

Hope your computer gets better...mine has been acting up too.

Rae