critic watch: DR- WHO WROTE THIS, ANYWAY?

06/04/2010 at 10:59 am 2 comments

First of all, as any true nerd can tell you; it’s TARDIS, not Tardis. As the uninformed hordes of pop-culture critics swarm around the new episodes of Doctor Who, determining wot whether this new bloke is as good as the wonderful David Tennant. (WHO CARES – you’re living in the past!) He’s different, not better or worse… This anonymous AAP summary turns up on the SMH website; SPOILER ALERT. Do not read this article if you intend to watch the opener for the new season next week. (That’s the AAP article, my blog post is blessedly spoiler-free)

*First Act turning point revealed? check
*Opening sequence and sight gags blown? check
*Summary of climactic closing? check
*Total f***up for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet? check and check

The Herald editors seem to have published this straight from the AAP press release, as there’s no byline. That’s bad enough, but whomever is responsible for writing this has committed some of the more grievous sins of criticism known to humankind.

Spoilers are f***ed. Don’t do it! It’s giving away the gags. Some of which are actually quite funny, assuming some git hasn’t ruined the surprise already. For those who know absolutely nothing about comedy writing: surprise is a crucial element. Okay? So when you give away something that is meant to be surprising, it isn’t as funny anymore. Also, these gags, while overall quite silly, serve an important narrative function of getting us to establish empathy with the characters. We laugh, thus we feel good about this new person’s body inhabiting an old friend. Diminish the laughter, and diminish the empathy. So don’t give away the jokes, or you will risk appearing as somebody who knows nothing about their chosen field of writing.

Same goes for the dramatic twists, eh? don’t f***’n spoil them! Talking about the plot is akin to making conversation about the weather. It may be relevant, but it’s really obvious to all that you have nothing to say.

Worse is the obsession with comparing this new actor with the old. There’s a lot of room to wiggle with interpreting this role but what fascinates me is the journey of the character. The previous incarnation brought such a moving arc, in his relationships, his moods, The Doctor really grew in recent seasons. After one episode, it’s hardly fair on Tennant or Smith to start making absurd claims about who’s “better”. I’m far more interested in how the character handles the slow, creeping madness of his immortal condition that our last favourite Time Lord was starting to show. That’s something we can only find out in episodes to come – so comparisons, if they are really necessary at all, are only valid by journey’s end.

It’s true that the new guy owns the role (as if there were any other way)- he’s also incorporated some Tennantisms into his interpretation, for the first episode at least. This may well be a directorial decision to highlight the transition between bodies. If so, I’m hoping that Smith will keep introducing his own quirks as the season progresses; in particular with regard to what seems like could be a spicy relationship with his new assistant. Curiously, although she’s a redhead, you don’t get any ridiculous comparisons with the marvellous Catherine Tate.

What’s interesting to me is the motif of rebirth and resurrection, and how that plays out in this character’s self assurance. Where we left him before there was a definite moody edge of finality, which the catharsis of transformation seems to have washed clean. Coincidence that the new season debuts on the Easter Weekend? I think not.

Anyway, there’s so much to talk about with this iconic character; I really can’t find the value in regurgitating plot and making oblique comparisons between acting technique. Tonnes of great stuff to take in, like the new stylings of the TARDIS (it’s an acronym, right); refitted in a sort of retro fifties kick. I guess we can’t blame the anonymous AAP writer (although take it from me, it’s a pretty appalling bit of journalism) – what really bugs me is that the work is pretty much lifted wholesale and published in an actual newspaper. Editorial Fail.

Bad writing? EXTERMINATE!

Entry filed under: CRITIC WATCH, Criticism FAIL. Tags: , , , , , , , , .


2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alex  |  22/04/2010 at 11:18 am

    I’ve always know it was TARDIS but aesthetically I like Tardis better. It’s more like a name, and I think the Tardis has been well and truly personified by now. What annoys me more is Dr Who (GARRR!!!!). Also he isn’t “The Doctor Who” people. It’s just THE DOCTOR!

    That is all.

    • 2. anvildrops  |  22/04/2010 at 11:22 am

      yeah i know i had to compromise with ‘DR’ instead of ‘Doctor’ in the headline so it would fit, and look nicer… sorry đŸ™‚

      thanks for stopping by!


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