Sunday, 15 November 2009

Dr Who and the Waters of Mars

Thankfully, Dr Who and the Waters of Mars was not a disappointment. I mean, not even David Tennant's irritating overacting wrecked the episode.

Of course, the story's total poppycock. Set in a red tinted quarry in deepest darkest Wales, the first Mars colony (Bowie Base) taps into alien water that takes over people's bodies and turns them into zombies. Albeit zombies with a case of badly chapped lips. After a bit of chasing, a lot of water (who'd have thunk water could be sinister?) and some hairy moments, we are forced to ponder the fatalism of history. It turns out the base leader, Captain Adelaide Brooke (Lindsay Duncan), has a granddaughter who will invent light speed and open the galaxy for human colonisation. But here's the catch. In the timeline, Brooke and her crew die in a nuclear explosion that also destroys 'The Flood', and it is her death that inspires her granddaughter to pursue her career.

Aware of this the Doctor avoids intervening and is all set to leave them to die. But in a change of heart he brings back the TARDIS and whisks the survivors back to Earth just before the auto-destruct erm, destructs.

Then we're hit with the philosophy. The Doctor, with a glimmer of megalomania in his eye more or less proclaims himself God, realising that he can control the laws of time rather than being shaped by them. The "you die today" declarations he made earlier to Brooke are now blithely dismissed. He feels exhilarated that he's snatched a historical figure from her fate, after saying he'd only chosen "little people" of no consequence before. But he soon comes to his senses after Brooke returns to her house and shoots herself, ensuring only the details of the timeline and not their consequences are changed.

And that's it really. If you fancy a spot of ideology critique you could say that despite itself
The Waters of Mars reconfirms the 'great man' theory of history. Brooke herself may attack the Doctor at the end for arbitrarily deciding who is important and who is of little consequence, but still her suicide ensures the timeline plays out as it should (of course, you could say the Doctor himself is the very exemplar of such a great man, outside of history and yet possessing a greater knowledge of it than those who inhabit it, but I digress).

Wanky cultural readings aside, this episode was actually good and made up for the abomination that was
Dr Who and the Planet of the Dead. But whether the Christmas Special delivers the jollies remains to be seen. But whatever the case, no doubt this blog will cast an eye in its direction.

10 comments:

splinteredsunrise said...

If they were going to go to Mars, I wish they would have brought back the Ice Warriors. They were great, and would at least make a change from more bloody Daleks.

All the usual tics there - plenty of shouting and eye-rolling from Crazy Dave, and the obligatory corridor chase. Not the worst, no, but I can't wait to see what the new regime comes up with.

Derek Wall said...

good stuff, liked the green bits, Barry Letts was good on eco scripts, although the nuclear explosion was a bit new green/Mark Lynas for me.

Liked the sinster flawed meglo Dr, after all the self congratualation of the last special.

hope its cheered you up and mail me some details of how people can canvass for Dave Nellist and I am sure some green lefties will listen to the call.

Madam Miaow said...

But why so hysterical? Again. Does every episode have to be so shouty? It's no substitute for genuine excitement and high emotion.

TGR Worzel said...

It was much better than the usual rubbish that's screened on a Sunday night.

It seemed to me that when filmed, they were planning to show it next Saturday, 21st November. And so much for the theory about global warming. The episode showed it snowing in London on 21st November 2059...

The only thing I would say about Dr Who is that the script-writers have taken a few liberties with the genre over the last couple of years. The Doctor never becomes a hate figure, but he did for a while this evening...

The second thing I would say is that I'm still irritated whenever I see Daleks flying. They were designed to trundle menacingly around corridors, tunnels and other confined spaces where there is no means of escape...

The third thing I would say is...

...Oh bugger, we're back to Monty Python again!

HarpyMarx said...

"Of course, the story's total poppycock".

Dammit Phil, you ruined it for me, rather like saying Father Xmas doesn't exist... on the phone to the therapist now. Trauma too great..

I went to the cinema instead. But am sure I will be able to catch up.

Tea Drinker said...

I enjoyed it and it made me cry so the shoutiness wasn't too distancing for me, although I do wish it wasn't as shouty. I liked the touch of megolmania at the end too.

I'm getting very tired of David T's one-note Dr though and will not be sorry to see him regenerate.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

A bit of Vaseline would sort those lips out...

CharlieMcMenamin said...

Shouty? Oh yes. Though I thought the corridor running was a sly homage to the grand old days of bacofoil sets in the 1960s - especially when the Doctor very knowingly mentioned the need for a bicycle as he and Lindsay Duncan passed the same bit of corridor for the fifteenth time.

But it was in essence a set up episode. This was the temptation of Christ - the daring of a God to fully use his powers. We await the entry into Jerusalem and the crucifixion metaphor at Xmas I suspect. The forward trailer suggests John Simm will return as the Master to once again show the subtle understatement of Tennant's acting skills. No doubt his part will be written as one part Judas Iscariot to two parts Satan, though I'm not ruling out a denying of the doctor three times before the cock crows.....

Phil BC said...

Is this irritating shouty thing Tennant does part of his interpretation of the character, or does he bring it to other roles too?

scott redding said...

For some reason, he's only shouty in this role (or at least he was not shouty in Blackpool and Casanova). What's with the backlighting whenever he decides to intervene and save people (reaching out his hand in the Pompeii episode) ... Why didn't the reapers appear and gobble up the three survivors who shouldn't have survived? Wouldn't Gadget have had water residues ... well, maybe his jet engine trip across the Mars surface purified him, but still. Is the Ood some sort of Peter Davison-esque Watcher? When the guy bit the carrot and started a shakin', I thought he was going to turn into a bunny.