K. (infinitemonkeys) wrote,

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The Waters of Mars; Edward Woodward

I thought The Waters of Mars was really good. Fantastic, in fact, if you're happy to do some Olympic-level handwaving about science and suchlike. And what's more, good and dark, in the more interesting sense of the word. It wasn't dark for the sake of it and it almost entirely escaped from the "woe is me, I am so emo" vortex. I can't believe they went there, on a kid's show, at five to eight. A genuine 'holy shit' moment.

I'm glad they did, because it suggests the production people are more aware of the criticisms than I had thought. I just hope that it doesn't end up being the gloriously tasty hors d-oeuvres to a shit sandwich, as Utopia was.

I see that in the future the amateurisation of the news media has had the deleterious effects that we all feared -- those bio pages were littered with grammatical and factual errors. You do not put ampersands in news stories! Not even in the third paragraph! Not even in 2059, FFS! See, this is what happens when they sack the subs -- writerly horseshit gets a free pass and the English language squeals in pain and goes out in its ugliest frock. Bah.

They could have just got a sub/news designer to do it. The commentary tells me that a trainee script editor wrote it. Yes. I can tell.

The moral to take from this episode: under no circumstances freeze-frame text on your computer screen from TV shows so you can read it.

Waters of Mars is an anagram of Masters of War -- or Master of Wars. This probably means absolutely nothing.

And so to the episode... this might have been sold as a scary monsters episode but for all that the chapstick-deficient zombies probably scared the pants off the young 'uns, the scariest monster of all was the Doctor, finally cracking and deciding that, bugger the laws of time, he will do what he wants.

It's one of the most controversial parts of the Tennant/Davies characterisation of the Doctor that he seems to be aware of the power he has and truly feel the temptation to use it. Previous incarnations, right up to Eccleston's Doctor, have decided against wielding the power, opting for running away. Tennant's Doctor seems more high-handed, and arrogant. Since the very beginning, he has been willing to go further, to nudge history. You see it first when he unseats Harriet Jones, despite telling Rose that she would preside over a three-term golden age. And then, the Master took advantage. In this characterisation the punishments at the end of Human Nature/Family of Blood are not some out-of-character aberration, but rather what happens when the Tenth Doctor is hurt and decides to lash out.

It's not one of the characterisation tics of Davies' Doctor that I enjoy, mostly because I usually see RTD's misanthropy peeking out from behind the plot like some kind of evil sentient fruit chutney in the delicious cheese sandwich of my beautiful silly/profound space show.

But if they're going somewhere with it, as it would appear from the last five minutes of WoM, if they're saying that this is what happens when the Doctor turns irresponsible and power-mad and saves people just to make himself feel better, or condemns people just because they defy him, I am so there.

Mind you, let us recall that Utopia and The Stolen Earth were not followed by anything remotely as good.

Let me summarise further what was fantastic about WoM: the people on the base. They made most of them interesting, with lives we could imagine. (I really liked that the bio that they gave Maggie Cain was almost exactly the same as Helen Sharman, the first British cosmonaut, down to where she grew up and went to university). That they gave Yuri a brother, and Steffi children, because when Steffi became the monster, as selenak pointed out, it was symbolised by her turning away from her children as if they had suddenly become strangers, and them continuing to talk behind her.

Above all what was fantastic about WoM can be summed up in two words: Lindsay Duncan as Adelaide Brooke, space pioneer, resolute leader, idealist and survivor. If you want to do a female mission commander, that's how you do it. If you want to do a heroic mission commander full stop, that's how you do it. No speechifying, no posturing, just integrity.

I loved her. I loved her strength, I loved her sardonic sense of humour, I loved everything about her and even her end, because she wrested back control of history because she believed it was the right thing to do and that's what made her continue to be the inspiration for her grand daughter. I loved the time travel aspect of the Dalek seeing that Adelaide was a key part of the timeline and not killing her. I thought her suicide was the best holy shit moment of the new series.

The Tennant also raised his game, as indeed he always seems to do when confronted with any female actor over the age of 35. I am looking forward to a new Doctor -- and very much looking forward to Moffat taking over -- but I will miss David Tennant a lot. He's a smart actor and I find his fannishness very lovable.

In general though, with regard to the finale, bring it on. Woot. I am cautiously optimistic, while terrified of the pile of shite it could be.

Random observations:

Some stuff that made me eyeroll or laugh
• Apparently Gardener Andy is from the part of Iowa located somewhere around Bootle and Birkenhead. And I suspect that geologist Mia is from the suburb of Houston known as Surbiton.

• Dagestan isn't a city in Russia, it's a republic. It has a capital, Makhachkala, which is a bugger to spell. I happen to know where it is because in a weird coincidence, I have to draw a map of Ingushetia for work by next week, but most people don't. But they can use Wikipedia, and find out just how ridiculous it is to say someone's brother lives "just outside Dagestan" If you live "just outside Dagestan" you live in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Georgia or similar, don't you?

• Fire on the surface of Mars. Ka-boom.

They announced that Edward Woodward has died. There's a really interesting and lovely obituary by the director Edgar Wright, who worked with him on Hot Fuzz, here. It covers working with Woodward on Hot Fuzz and also the rest of Woodward's career, with some interesting observations about the best horror film Britain has ever produced, The Wicker Man. I think that tonight I shall put Hot Fuzz on and listen to the commentary track.

Finally, this is just a really sad interview. I've never had much time for Boyzone or Ronan Keating, but I really feel for him here

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