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Monday, 10 November 2014

Doctor Who S34E12: Death in Heaven.


Doctor Who
S34E12: Death in Heaven.



Before we start, remember how I briefly talked about how the emphasis on 'when you cremate people, they feel it all' in the last episode was kind of going too far? Well, looks like I'm not the only one, as the BBC received enough complaints about it being inappropriate to put out a response. 

A large part of this - because let's not get confused here, the BBC doesn't often get large amounts of complaints, unless it's about things like old women stealing ice cream - is probably because of a concern over the effect on the bereaved, but a large part is probably also that in the run-up to Armistice Day, such a theme ('the dead are aware of everything') was seen as rather offensive. 

The BBC's statement was along the lines of 'it was just a ruse by wrong'uns!', which isn't a very compelling response.

So, with that out of the way, let's look at last week's bingo: 



We're not likely to ever see the dinosaur space filled in, guys. Sorry. 

But let's talk about this episode now. When the last episode left off, an army of Cybermen were on the loose and Missy had been revealed to be the Master regenerated into a female body. A solid basis on which to build a finale. 

A solid basis, which Moffat totally screws up. The episode starts poorly, continues poorly, and ends poorly, at no point poking its head up over the murky clouds of awful writing. 

For starters, the Cybermen. Why are they there? They do pretty much nothing, it should be noted - in fact, the first Cybermen we see explode almost immediately, creating clouds that create rain that turn dead bodies into Cybermen. Apart from this pretty much killing the tension of 'oh my god, there are Cybermen in London', because now there aren't Cybermen in London, this also takes ten minutes and could have been done much more simply in about two. Have Missy activate a machine that causes it to rain the Cyberman-making rain. Simple, and no more out of the blue and deus ex machina-y than 'exploding rain-creating Cybermen'. 

They're there, of course, because Cybermen are the perfect soldiers, and they fulfil a thematic purpose in a series that has, in a rather tortured way, been about soldiers and war (we'll ... get to that). But if this was the first time you had ever watched Doctor Who, or even if this was the first series of Doctor Who you'd watched, you would have no idea the Cybermen were meant to be a kind of perfect army, because they pretty much never show it. Instead, the Cybermen spend most of their time wandering around and doing almost nothing - the only time they have any action is when they take down a plane. 

N'aw, Cybermen.

But then, this episode is filled with useless fluff thrown in there because Moffat thinks it's cool. Why has the Doctor been made president of Earth? Does it serve any story purpose? He doesn't make any decisions, he doesn't do any leading of Earth, he sits in a plane, and then he stands in a plane, and then he falls out of a plane. That is the sum total of his presidential role in this episode. 

Why does Missy kill off Woman With Glasses? It's obvious that she's not going to survive from fairly early on, because she's not a supermodel and she has asthma and somehow I imagine that every time Moffat encounters someone who is not his physical ideal his throat closes up, and he starts sweating, and a red haze descends over him before he eventually just starts crying (and that's no state to write a series in), but did it really serve any plot purpose? 

Why does Moffat think OCD gives you superpowers? 

Also, our old friend Unfortunate Implications is back. Yet again. This time, the Doctor, while on a plane full of white people with only one non-white person - played by Sanjeev Bhaskar - immediately insults the only non-white dude there. This would have completely passed me by as being an unremarkable quirk of coincidence, if it wasn't for all of those episodes in which the Doctor repeatedly and consistently insulted every black person he encountered. 

He's pretty much just insulted, and then killed. Why.

The episode winds its way on in confusing and broken up ways, as if it had been started with about four set pieces in mind but no actual plot, before it eventually reached its ending, at which point it all became clear why this series has had its whole bizarre soldier plotline. 

Because this episode aired the day before Remembrance Sunday and just a few days before Armistice Day, on the one-hundredth anniversary year of the beginning of World War One. 

Realising this left a really sour taste in my mouth, because there is nothing of respect of remembrance about this plotline. It has, from its beginning, reeked of a confusing agenda, and having seen that confusing agenda run its course I can only describe it as 'cashing in on the world's remembrance of a tragic war in the most hand-rubbing, gasping, look-at-me-look-at-what-I-did fashion possible'. 

It was gaudy. It was unsubtle. It begged to be noticed and praised. It was everything that Armistice Day tries not to be. 

My expression. I was situated quite a ways down from my television.

I was feeling a little ill by the time the episode ended, and the last few minutes, in which it attempted to tug on the audience's heartstrings with all the grace of an angry rhino, didn't help with that. Oh, no, the Doctor and Clara are separated. Oh, no, we know she's in the Christmas Special, this will literally only last until December. Oh, no. 

Just, here's the bingo:




Ugh. That's a wrap for this series, which has been possibly the worst series of Doctor Who I've seen in a while, even by Moffat's standards. Our good episodes have been good but not great, our bad episodes have been awful, and the entire thing has been bogged down not only with poorly executed and ill-conceived subplots, but also by a string of unfortunate implications that occurred so frequently that I'm starting to wonder if they're unfortunate or planned

Ugh. 

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