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3.03 Gridlock

Longer Who review; really for doctorwho but I'm posting it here too so I can find it again.

I feel as if I should have hated this one. Huge plotholes. RTD script. More mentions of Rose. "Secret" everyone knew. Added bonus sentimentality. But I actually quite liked it. I think it was the weakest of the three so far, but still probably better than three quarters of last year's.

I always have the problem, with things set in the future, that they're just not futuristic enough. I know that it's easier with the past to make it seem real, because we know about it, or at least we all have the same misconceptions. Mostly, the "far future" episodes have seemed like maybe a few hundred years in the future, if you're lucky. This one felt to me like it was maybe 20 years in the future, not five million (give or take). I think it was partially because RTD was trying a bit hard to make it all relevant and political, and I can't see them having all the exact same issues we have - external issues, rather than human ones, which may well stay constant. I can't believe they'd have fuel that polluted the air that much. I can't believe that X million years after leaving Earth, people would still have the same regional accents, and they were shoehorned in like RTD had a list. I can't really believe the cars would look so much like a VW campervan...

Kitties, yay! Cute! Ardal O'Hanlon! Being kind of Dougal-ish, but with a few more brains. I really liked the guy in the bowler hat and pinstripe suit, though again, same clothes in five million years? I thought the "friendslist" thing was an LJ shout-out until someone pointed out you have friendslists on myspace too. Normally I would probably have complained at the hymn-singing, but The Old Rugged Cross reminds me of the Spike Lee film about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans, so always affects me. That's an interesting parallel, now I think of it.

I didn't really like the scenes in Pharmacy Town. They seemed derivative of a lot of different SF books and TV shows, and the people in the booths were just annoying and sort of theatrical somehow - it felt like it would have worked better on stage. I didn't think the Doctor would be that vehemently against recreational drugs/ emotions, though the theory he was transferring his anger about Martha being kidnapped is quite nice.

I appreciated all the continuity references and the plot arc stuff - the Face of Boe, Nurse Hanes, the Gallifrey bits, the Macra. Actually, I thought the Macra were great, and I didn't know they were old-school villains until the Doctor said. I'm confused, though, by the "We're the same - both the last of our kind" sort of contradicting the "You are not alone". Subtle hint that the Face of Boe isn't the last of his kind either, or just slightly badly written?

The little old ladies were great, but I didn't like the fact that someone (can't remember who now) didn't like "these modern relationships" or whatever he said. Because, again, the thought that in five million years time still only "modern" people accept lesbians is kind of depressing. I liked the spread of relationships we got, in terms of gender, species and so on. And even a few people on their own - hurrah for remembering singletons.

Plotholes: If the virus killed in seven minutes, why did people keep taking it after the first few died? How had people only got on the motorway two months ago, and 7 years ago, if everyone in overtown had been dead for 24 years? Why couldn't the Face of Boe and Nurse Hanes have opened the motorway years ago - were they just waiting for the Sonic Screwdriver? Kitten babies, cute but idiotic. Why did the cars get so bright inside from a slit of light hundreds of feet up, when they didn't even have transparent roofs?

I'm still loving Martha. She's still smart and independent and willing to call the Doctor out even though she's got a crush on him. I noticed, though, that though he was worried about lying to her and she got him to tell her more of the truth about Gallifrey, he continued to leave some fairly major parts of the story out, like the fact that he was the one that exploded it.

So, by no means perfect, but still a lot of fun. Enough different things in there for everyone to like something, I think.

Hurray, I kept the reaction post under 1,000 words. I think that's healthy.



( 24 comments — Comment )
Apr. 14th, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
the fact that he was the one that exploded it.

I haven't seen tonight's episode yet, as I was out at a dinner, so I could certainly be missing something from that. But other than tonight, how do we know the Doctor himself exploded Gallifrey? I can well believe it's been mentioned, but I can't remember where.
Apr. 14th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
In the first series, the Ninth Doctor said so...I think. Can't remember the exact words he used. It was in Dalek, I think.
Apr. 15th, 2007 08:44 am (UTC)
If I remember correctly a Dalek accused the Doctor of destroying Gallifrey...it might have been in the last episode (or in Dalek, like you said). I just remember Nine getting very defensive and insisting it was the only way.
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:41 am (UTC)
Ah, right, thanks. Yes, that rings a bell now.
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC)
I had a slightly trying time watching this, as a friend decided to have a barbeque. and we all piled into her living room to watch Dr Who. Edy's tv reception wasn't that good, some people made jokes or commented, when I just wanted to watch and enjoy the atmosphere, and a fractious, toothing toddler kept wailing and drowned out a lot of the exposition at the end.

Overlooking the plot holes, I liked the look and setting of the episode. I wish though that they would sometimes return to the longer storylines of the old Dr Who. As I remember, stories were often told over 4x30 min episodes, giving roughly two hours of storytelling time. Now, most stories are done in a single, 40 min episode, and they often feel a little underdeveloped and rushed. So often, the climax seems to be some quick fix, and then it's off to dabble in another new world. They could have done so much more with a setting like New New York.
Apr. 15th, 2007 11:45 am (UTC)
Oh, God, I hate watching stuff I really like with other people who aren't as into it!

I'd quite like if they went back to the four 30-min episodes, though it would be nice if they were twice a week :) But I suspect the 40-minute episode is the sort of global standard now, and makes it easier to sell to America and so on. I'd have liked to see more of New New York too, though.
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)
I didn't like the "modern relationships" part of the episode at all. It seemed that the cat man's attitude to lesbians, were it exemplary of that of other people or not, was backward and old-fashioned. I know we have people like him still alive and kicking just now...but it is very hard for me to imagine it ever lasting 5 million or so years. Maybe that's just a vain hope on my part that people will eventually catch up with the times and stop being prejudiced. Bugger, I think I went off on one there.

Also, the references to "Happy", "Forget", "Honesty" and so on reminded me a lot of soma, the drug used by the ordinary people in Huxley's Brave New World. When things got too much, they had a little soma holiday - you can see that possibly being the case in the Pharmacy bit of the town.

Apr. 15th, 2007 11:46 am (UTC)
I *still* haven't read Brave New World. But I really must.

Yay, someone agrees with me about the lesbians thing! Everyone on doctorwho is just going "But it was just a joke! He didn't mean it!" and I'm getting tied up in knots trying to explain that the very fact it was usable as a joke means those attitudes still exist...
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:16 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid that as a historian, I have to point out that the assumption that the future will be a continuous process of moving closer and closer to values which some (but not all) of us cherish in the present is erroneous. It's a very pervasive notion in Western society that the world is somehow getting 'better and better' as we go along - technologically, socially, etc. But homosexuality (of certain types and in certain contexts, anyway) was perfectly acceptable in ancient Greek society, and yet thought abhorrent in Victorian Britain - and still is thought so in e.g. many African and Asian countries. So we are not involved in a continuous process of moving away from homophobia and towards acceptance. It's just that people have different values in different times (and places). Therefore, although I still haven't seen this particular episode, it doesn't in principle to me seem implausible that lesbian relationships should have been considered by some to be taboo in the recent past, even in the year five billion-and-whatever-it-is.
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC)
This is a very good point, and something I knew and should have thought of, really.
Apr. 15th, 2007 04:43 pm (UTC)
Possibly. But I am of the opinion that we as a race should have evolved a bit by then, if not physically, then at least mentally. The fact that the whole under-city in that episode (and the whole city at the end) were singing hymns like the Old Rugged Cross and Abide With Me suggests that, in 5 million or so years, man will not have fully embraced a society in which everyone's religious, sexual or racial background are given equal merit. I just find it sad. I certainly think it depends on what culture you are part of NOW that dictates what you believe is acceptable, but I can't genuinely see, after the passing of goodness knows how many generations of humans, how we can all fail to accept this eventually.

Besides, what can Cat Man say? He's a cat married to a human FFS!
Apr. 15th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
I guess I took the hymn-singing as sort of metaphorical - "they were singing this kind of communal vaguely spiritual thing, but we couldn't be arsed making one up".

I hope you're right about coming to accept things, but I'm worried strange_complex might be right and it'll continue to be cyclical - different things are accepted in different times and places.
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:20 pm (UTC)
I took it to be a sort of private joke between them all. It would be a very unsuitable joke in our time where those attitude do really still exist, but would it be unsuitable in the future where perhaps they don't still really exist?

Regardless, we all have our less than savoury facets -- their 'friends list', consisting of people closest to them in the jam, was all the family they had and Brannigan was obviously quite fond of them. He defended them when he felt the doctor was upsetting them.
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:28 pm (UTC)
And if we take it as an offensive joke, we get to be all shocked by the values and amused by the irony. Brannigan was, after all, enjoying an inter-species marriage ...

Furries, at least, are clearly mainstream in the future :oÞ
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:54 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think that was the joke, probably. But furries scare me :)
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:31 am (UTC)
I got the impression that there was an infected batch of 'bliss' and that the virus spread to everyone from that one batch, regardless of whether they used it or not, in seven minutes.

I don't think anyone we met had only been on the motor way for 2mths, but at the beginning the line 'everyone joins the motorway eventually' was used. I took that to mean that some people were still eking out livings in the buildings and at ground level. The motorway was an automated system and some people had been on it (the old women) almost since the beginning.
Apr. 15th, 2007 11:48 am (UTC)
Re Bliss, that could make sense, I suppose. Though now I can't figure out if Undertown, Overtown and the Motorway are all completely separate, or what.

I thought the couple that kidnapped Martha had only been on the motorway for two months? Not sure, though. But someone on doctorwho agrees with you that there were still people living in Undertown and occasionally joining the motorway, just no-one in Overtown.
Apr. 15th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC)
I thought the couple that kidnapped Martha had only been on the motorway for two months? Not sure, though.

Ohh, maybe so ...

Yeah, the last thing the powers that be did was declare quarantine. It locked off the lower elements (heh!) so contamination couldn't spread downwards and put the planet out of bounds for 100 years. When people got fed up of 'sitting tight' so to speak, they'd get into their shuttle cars and try to make it out of the city to a better life, but, of course, the system was all one huge closed, slow-going loop!

That's how I understood it, anyway.
Apr. 15th, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)

And I like Martha too, much more than I did Rose.

Apr. 15th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)
They should just put kittens in every episode :D They'd get much better reviews...
Apr. 15th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
I couldn't help but think the kidnapper chick looked just like a dusky skinned version of Rose :P

I liked it, much better than the last ep on New New York...I'm glad the whole "drugs bad" thing wasn't dominant; that it didn't get all moralistic. And there was a moment where I thought they were gonna directly copy Serenity Miranda planet story, but with happy drugs, and I'm really glad they didn't do that either :D

And kittens always good.
Apr. 15th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I didn't notice, I thought she was pretty, though! And I never particularly thought Rose was pretty.

Yeah, I was very reminded of Miranda for a while too. Which makes me sad we'll probably never find out more about the Firefly-verse. Oh, have you read the Buffy comics, by the way? (Can you even get comics in Cornwall? :p)
Apr. 25th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
yup they have finally discovered comics down here, we have a lot of them in the library in fact. I haven't read the Buffy comics yet, but we've just got Sky so I've been watching the occasional ep (they've just re-started season 3)

Martin gets a lot of comics through the library, he spotted something I don't think anyone else had looked at... the Battle Royale graphic novel, right in beside the kids fiction :S There's naked ladies in it playing with themselves and everything , hehehe it was funny watching the other staffs reaction tho....

I'm amazed no-one has complained before really, especially seeing as we had a Christian in complaining that the pagan/witch/druid stuff was right beside Christianity in the Dewey Decimal System.....
Apr. 25th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
Battle Royale? Hahahahaha :D Just as well nobody saw it, I guess, or you'd have ended up in the Daily Mail!
( 24 comments — Comment )


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