Random Observations about Doctor Who and Downton Abbey

Great. I’m out of the loop for a few days and the world goes crazy. Now Osama Bin Laden has been killed by US Navy Seals. Very unexpected news which will hopefully provide a boost for Barack Obama.

Back to things of less worldshattering relevance, like I mentioned my roommate and I ended up watching the second episode of the current series of Doctor Who at the hotel on Saturday. And since I had gotten the start time mixed up, we also ended up watching approx. forty minutes of a repeat of Downton Abbey.

I blogged about my utter lack of interest in Downton Abbey here and here. Still, considering that everybody else in the world seemed to think the series the bee’s knees and my interest in whatever stupid gameshow was on before Doctor Who was even less, my roommate and I decided to watch a bit.

Me: “This is the show I told you about. The one that has the Americans all excited.”

We watch a bit. After several minutes of watching people talk about nothing but inheritances and entails, we look at each other and say, “God, this shit is dull, isn’t it?”

Me: “Can you imagine that this show got a BAFTA nomination as one of the four best British shows?”

Roommate: “Well, it was the 1970s, so competition may have been slim.”

Me: “The four best shows of last year. This is a brand-new show.”

Roommate: “Honestly? I thought it was some kind Upstairs Downstairs wannabe from the 1970s. It certainly looks like seventies TV.”

At around that time, Doctor Who finally started. Now my roommate has watched some original series as well as the Christopher Eccleston and early David Tennant episodes with me, but since I no longer watch regularly, she hasn’t seen Doctor Who in years either.

Roommate: “That’s the new Doctor? I thought you said he was young.”

Me: “He’s 28 or so.”

Roommate: “Really? He looks a lot older. Not attractive, too. Tennant and Eccleston were much better.”

We watch a bit and debate whether the actress playing Amy might be pregnant in real life. My roommate decides that the Rory character is all right, while I realize that I still can’t stand Alex Kingston.

Roommate: “This makes no sense whatsoever. I have no idea what the hell is going on.”

Me: “Well, it’s the second part of a two-parter. Though I’m not sure if it would have made more sense otherwise.”

Honestly, the plot of this episode made no bloody sense, neither to my roommate who has some vague idea of who the Doctor is and what he does, nor to me who used to be a regular watcher. The whole men-in-black, Silence, Moon landing, influencing mankind plot might have made a modicum of sense, though I don’t think it needed two episodes to be told. But the little girl in the spacesuit – what the hell was that all about? Okay, I get that it’s apparently a season arc and that she’s probably Amy’s unborn kid (I blogged about what I think of that idea here), but it still distracted from the episode as whole. And why did the little girl explode in the timelord regeneration effect at the end?

After Doctor Who, we watched a bit of Doctor Who Confidential hoping that maybe the behind the scenes show would explain what the hell was going on. It turned out that Doctor Who Confidential was a lot more interesting than the episode itself, which has to be a first, that the director of the episode was really likable and that we’d much rather watch Amy and Rory in their real world personalities touring Monument Valley than fighting aliens. And honestly, they have the chance to shoot at Monument Valley and all they come up with is filming people running through the desert?

I wasn’t wild on the American setting and plot at all, because I don’t watch Doctor Who to see American settings – I can get that on CSI. Never mind that the huge BBC America logo, twice as big as the BBC Cymru logo, showed who’s calling the shots now. And the show is certainly worse for it. No joy, no fun, no wit (one line made me smile and that was it) and a confusing plot. I have never understood all the fuzz about Steve Moffat’s Doctor Who episodes – the only one I really liked was Blink. Which is odd, because I love Moffat’s other work, I just don’t like what he does for Doctor Who.

Anyway, looks like Doctor Who is deteriorating a lot faster the second time around than the first. Last Saturday’s episode was en par with the Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy episodes, generally considered the nadir of the original series. Okay, so the budget and effects were better, which helps a lot. But on the other hand, I have seen Sylvester McCoy and Colin Baker episodes that made more sense than this shit.

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8 Responses to Random Observations about Doctor Who and Downton Abbey

  1. Marianne McA says:

    I’m interested that you think it’s Amy’s child. We were sort of assuming it had to be River Song’s – in that the child seems to be a Time Lord, and she’s the one seemingly in a relationship with the Doctor.
    I’ve a huge amount of faith in Steven Moffat, so I’m trusting that it all makes sense in the end. We quite enjoyed speculating about all the loose ends – why the Alien-types wanted Amy to tell the Doctor anything, and why the dream-like bit where the hatch in the door disappeared…
    And I’m really looking forward to Neil Gaiman’s episode – can’t be as good as I hope it will be, but that’s not stopping me hoping.

    • Cora says:

      We assumed it was Amy’s child, because the photo showed Amy holding the baby. Besides, Amy is experiencing Schrödinger’s pregnancy at the moment. But you’re right that it could be River Song’s as well. I would probably prefer that scenario, if only because Amy is very young to become a mother and River Song is a stronger character, though I have had issues with the actress since long before she appeared in Doctor Who.

      I stopped watching Doctor Who, when certain issues became overwhelming towards the end of the Davies era. As for Steven Moffat, I think he is a very good writer and I love Coupling, Jekyll and Sherlock. But for some reason, I have always been lukewarm about his contributions to Doctor Who. Blink is the only episode of his I really love, Girl in the Fireplace and Curse of Fatal Death are all right, but The Empty Child two-parter is my least favourite episode in the entire new series. What is it with Moffat and creepy kids anyway?

      I’m pretty much over Doctor Who, which is a pity, because I became a fan before the new series. But I will probably still watch at least the Neil Gaiman episode, because hey, it’s Neil Gaiman and even his lesser stuff is usually still very well worth watching/reading.

  2. Marianne McA says:

    Even Press Gang holds up: I don’t know if you ever saw it, but it was a children’s TV programme in the UK in the… 80s? that Moffat wrote, and I was telling my teenagers about it one day and they YouTubed it, and ended up buying the DVDs. Which is a feat, because every other programme from that era which I remember fondly turns out, on revisitation, to have been completely terrible.
    I’ll be interested in reading what you think of the Gaiman episode when you’ve watched it. Fingers crossed.

    • Cora says:

      I’ve heard good things about Press Gang, but I have never seen it, since it was never broadcast in Germany and my access to British TV programs was spotty at best in the 1980s. Probably a bit vintage for my students who love the occasional episodes of Doctor Who and Sarah Jane (for the younger ones) I sometimes show them in class.

      I’ll definitely be watching the Neil Gaiman episode, because I’m curious what he comes up with.

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