Monday, September 03, 2012

Asylum of the Daleks

I didn't even want to watch it.

It wasn't that long ago when I couldn't contain my excitement for a couple of days leading up to a new episode. Now it's so far down the totem pole.

Honestly, I think a big part of my problem with the show is Steven Moffat.

Sorry to say it. I love some of the episodes he's written. I love the first three seasons of Coupling. But I don't really love his era of Doctor Who. It's taken a while for me to really put my finger on it and say it, but there it is. As much as I enjoyed the storybook atmosphere of season 5, that's how much season 6 wore me down. I like Matt Smith as the Doctor for the most part, and there's a good episode occasionally, but Moffat seems to be more interested in clever twists and charging momentum rather than plots and characters.

I've said it before, and I'll say it forever: I just do not like Amy Pond. She's a Bella Swan: a blank slate for little girls to write themselves onto, and not a character. She has personality traits, kind of: she's that cutely angry, insipidly sassy, cartoonishly proactive computer-age redhead that television just loves right now. Unfortunately, Moff already had one of those in River Song. And somehow, with less screen time, he's managed to be even more pandering with River Song than with Amy Pond.

Neither character really exists outside of the Doctor's circle. Where Rose Tyler, Martha Jones and Donna Noble actually had lives and identities and histories outside of the Doctor that actually affected the series and its various plotlines, Amy and River have nothing outside of the Doctor. They only exist because of him. I think Russell T. Davies made a great decision getting the companions' families involved in the plots; it made the companions stronger characters and deepened the world the show took place in. It felt like it was about something: the survival of humanity and the potential we all had for good. Moffat's version is about clever twists and being really cool and fast-paced. Smith's Doctor is much more interested in being perceived as a genius while being oh-so-cutely-awkward, as opposed to Eccleston's and Tenant's Doctors who were constantly impressed with the human capacity for caring.

Does anyone remember how in the fifth season finale the Doctor essentially re-ordered Amy's timeline? She has parents again; has that affected her at all? Does anyone care? Steven Moffat doesn't. No matter what, she's still going to worship the Doctor both as fantasy boyfriend and absentee father. Because, again, she doesn't exist without him.

On to the episode itself, which was a Dalek episode and so at least had my attention as long as there were Daleks because I love Daleks.

I didn't like the episode.

The whole thing about Amy and Rory getting divorced was cheap and only thrown in for the whole romantic suspense thing that seems to be the only way Moff can get us to relate to the characters as a couple. (What makes these two work, again? I only ask because we never really get to see them happy. Oh, right, it's that he's willing to let her completely subsume every aspect of his non-personality because she's afraid of not being in control or whatever.) Amy was especially insipid on this episode, with her direct-to-her-inexplicable-legions-of-fans "Who's afraid?" and "Is it wrong that I've completely missed this?" Rory was just there not affecting anything, as usual. And it had a clever twist at the end and a cute tag, which is the only real point of these stories, anyway. They also reset the Daleks yet again. (Seriously, do you need to keep doing this? It's a time travel show. The Doctor can go to any point in time where there were Daleks, you don't need to keep resetting them.)

Matt Smith seems especially bored of playing the Doctor. His energy is just gone. He makes the speeches and imprecations, he stands still, he waves the sonic screwdriver around, he seems not engaged for a second, and he holds his hand out for his paycheck.

Also, did I really just watch the Doctor gleefully murder a bunch of Dalek mental patients? What?

But, of course, for me, the single worst aspect was the introduction of Oswin, who is apparently going to become the next companion after we are mercifully rid of Amy Pond. She is terrible. Frankly, Tumblr made me sick of her before I even saw the episode, but watching the episode itself was just a nightmare. She's another Bella Swan. She's River Song, only somehow even more pandering. She's clever and flirty lines, she's a super-genius, and she has zero personality outside of somehow being smarter than the Doctor, because that's how Mary Sues work. The Mary Sue is always smarter than Spock. She's such a fantasy superhero character they might as well have just written in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I am so sick of the fan service on this show. It's boring. It creates characters who aren't characters, but manifestations of how cool we're supposed to think the show is. It's just a brand perpetuating itself to keep advertising money and licensing alive. It's the New 52. And until it starts just telling a goddamn story instead of being so preciously impressed with itself and its endless supply of Manic Pixie Dream Companions and Cutely Awkward Doctors, I'm just not engaged in anything happening. I'm watching Doctor Who not (500) Fucking Days of Summer.

It used to be a smart show. Now it's a show that just wants you to love how smart it thinks it is.


Sleestak said...

I was just thinking about how in the world will they ever get back to story telling? Seems gone forever barring a couple of years hiatus so they can start over or do such a sudden jarring change to the setting of Who that it will alienate everyone.

And yeah, Girl-Wesley has me worried.

Bob Rutledge said...

I didn't hate the episode, but...

And until it starts just telling a goddamn story instead of being so preciously impressed with itself and its endless supply of Manic Pixie Dream Companions and Cutely Awkward Doctors, I'm just not engaged in anything happening.


PS - I hate Moffat and don't particularly like Smith's Doctor (which is mostly down to Moffat's HUGE IDEAS, I'd say), and I hope he is gone after the 50th. I'd say "gone next week", but I know they're both there through the end of this series and the anniversary.

Drake said...

The Ponds were totally un needed in this episode,I wish their last episode had been last year's Xmas Special (quiet and they were gone, never mentioned again). Why they had new girl i don't it didn't bother but it was a Moff stunt ( he's doing too much of these) that said, the episode did nothing for me, felt like a Colin Baker story...nothing special. I hate today's fandom they make cringe...yes i'm old time Whovian and biased against fanfic and marysues (seen a lot of it and was bad then and now) oh i'm a grumpy dragon sorry babble on so.