Best Doctor Who this year!!1!!! Which means, you know, better than Planet of the Dead. HA. But I did actually like this one. It was solidly OK for 40 minutes or so, and then spiralled off into Made Of Awesome for a bit, though sadly thunked back down to earth in the end. (SPOILER!)
The plot and the acting was serviceable verging on good, the directing was good and it looked gorgeous except for some dodgy CGI, the music didn't annoy me. The main thing that stuck out to me was Russell - and possibly the entire team - leading up to the finale by doing a Greatest Hits set, pretty much. Let's see what I've written down, after I started noticing:
- Maggie saying "stop mucking about" was a direct quote from Rose
- Shots of Doctor/ Adelaide through the windows of the airlock were reminiscent of the Doctor/Donna window conversation shots from 4.01 (the name of which I've repressed), and I think Martha in 42
- "Gay Agenda" check
- Shot of the Doctor from the robot's POV, in blue tones, was very similar to the Doctor from the Dalek's POV in Dalek. (Oddly, the later shot of YoungAdelaide from the Dalek's POV wasn't blue.) Plus the Dalek being there, of course.
- Riding on the robot down the tunnel was like riding the Segways in...Doomsday?
- The zombies' head movements in unison were like at least one other monster - the Family?
- I'm not sure if his hedgehog hair was a deliberate callback or not, heh
- The last-minute rescue from heroic suicide was like Rose & Nine's last-minute rescue of Jack in The Doctor Dances
- Aaand the Ood again.
I've decided these were callbacks and not lazy writing, yes.
There was a definite Lonely God theme going on in this one. The first shots of the Doctor arriving on Mars reminded me of Watchmen and Dr Manhattan, actually, so I had that whole train of thought going from the start. There's probably an essay in comparing the two of them. And yeah, at the end it went from subtext to text, really. Master of Time and Space!
But oh, I really thought we were going to get InsanePsychoDoctor for the Christmas specials, that would have been fabulous. And having to be killed for the good of the universe, or something. We might still, but he seemed to have come down again at the end, even though he did leave the dead body of someone who couldn't possibly have been there lying around. And a robot. And really, he was bloody lucky he didn't rip time apart; your gran shooting herself in her own house is likely to give you slightly different ambitions to her being killed on the first colonist mission to Mars, I'd have thought. I can't decide whether the "Daleks are indirectly responsible for humanity expanding to the stars" is cool or overly smart-arsed.
The Doctor - or Ten, at any rate - just can't function without a companion. That's why he ended up telling Adelaide all about everything - he kept telling her bits, and she didn't ask for more, so he kept having to just blurt out more and more truths in an accelerating series of non-sequiteurs. Angsty speeches about how lonely he is and how he's so sorry that he can't save everyone because the universe needs to go on, they're the companion's job to listen to. Giving them to the people he's currently failing to save is entirely unhelpful and counterproductive. And the episode was compared to The Fires of Pompeii, which was the same situation - and he couldn't find the will do do what had to be done without Donna. So without an outsider companion this time, he ended up telling someone to kill themselves for the good of humanity. And they did. Lonely god, indeed.
It was all a bit vague - we didn't find out why the Doctor had gone to Mars, unless the Tardis took him there again, but why would the Tardis take him places he wasn't allowed to save people? We didn't find out what Adelaide hadn't forgiven Shane From Neighbours for, either. And we didn't find out what the monsters actually were. They did resemble zombies an awful lot, though, which now means we've had the vampire-werewolf-zombie triumvirate during RTD's tenure.
Three final things:
I'm assuming this episode was originally scheduled to run next Saturday, yeah?
I know it's hard to do communicators that don't just look like mobile phones these days, but I'm not sure that using Dymo LabelWriters is actually an improvement.
And I'm pretty sure there was a HORRENDOUS AND APPALLING MISTAKE in one of the Brainipedia pages that they showed briefly - something about an "unexplicable death". Aaargh.
Overall, as I said on Twitter, 7/10 from me, distributed unequally throughout.