The Trouble with T.Davies

Another Doctor Who themed rant, I'm afraid. Deal with it.

I thought The Next Doctor wasn't all that good. That was down mostly to RTD's writing, and it's often something I have problems with.

Having watched all his episodes, I've found that he generally writes two types of episode - one where the threat level remains constant throughout, and the other where there's a big reveal about two-thirds of the way through.

The episodes where the general tone of the episode and the overall threat remains roughly the same throughout work really well. Tooth and Claw, for example, or The Waters of Mars. Whether it's a constant feeling of doom or just a standard romp, they generally turn out pretty well.

The episodes where there's a big reveal about two-thirds or so into the story are not as good. Love and Monsters is a prime example of this, as was The Next Doctor. Up until that point, the story will be pretty good, but once you get to that reveal, RTD can't resist having some big earth-shattering event or an utterly ludicrous monster (or both) that just stops the episode dead in its tracks. Once you hit that moment, you're gone - you've lost whatever respect or enjoyment you previously had for the episode and you switch to mocking mode. 'That monster looks ridiculous!' or 'That makes no sense at all!'. And once the big reveal happens, you still need to have the Doctor beat this threat. But if you don't take this threat seriously, then it's hard to watch someone else do so.

Let's take Voyage of the Damned as an example. It wasn't the most fantastic episode in the world (way too much death for my liking), but it was enjoyable enough. Until we find out that the big bad is a head in a box. An annoying, smug, vain and just plain irritating head in a box. And it's an ugly head in a box as well - sparkling teeth and everything. Once we, the audience, discover this, we stop caring. It could be the head of Hitler for all we care, we're just not going to take it seriously. And if we won't take that seriously, then why should we take anything else seriously? And then Kylie takes a forklift to the ugly head in a box. I'll repeat that.

Kylie Minogue drives a forklift and forces an ugly, irritating head in a box to fall down a hole.

If anyone else had written a script with that in it then it would never have gotten through. It's just ridiculous. And RTD expects us to not only accept that, but feel sorry for Kylie as she then falls down the hole herself and dies. Which is absurd, because he's already lost us. He's crossed the line and lost the viewer's respect. And then he goes on and has Queen Elizabeth evacuate Buckingham Palace in case the ship crashes into it, and when it doesn't he has the Queen actually thank the Doctor. This isn't serious drama - it's a bad comedy sketch.

Several of his episodes play out like this. With Boom Town it was the Slitheen taking control of the TARDIS and causing somewhat unconvincing cracks to appear in Cardiff. With Love and Monsters it was the Abzorbalof (or, rather, Peter Kay). The Stolen Earth/Children of Time, the sheer cluster-f*ck of characters. The Next Doctor, the CyberKing. And so on.

I'm not saying this happens all the time. It's something I've only found in some of the episodes written by RTD. And even then, those episodes are fine, even great, until that 66% mark. It's the fact that RTD includes those OTT moments that means I am thrown out of the plot with little to no hope of getting back in. And when I say 'we/us', I mean me as a typical audience member. I admit not everyone shares my views, but if you visit the Gallifrey Base forums (formerly the Doctor Who Forums), for example, there are a fair few who do.

I very much enjoy Doctor Who. Even the old, not-as-good ones (well, except the early ones which just go on and on and on...). And when RTD is on form, he can write some of the best episodes. But, conversely, he can also write the worst. It's still better then a lot of other shows, but when compared to the brilliance of Who, he can really fall short.

I enjoyed Planet of the Dead - I thought it was an enjoyable romp, if not exactly jam-packed with tension. And as I already mentioned, The Waters of Mars was, with the exception of a few make-up issues, bloody marvellous. It seems that co-writing episodes with someone helps to temper RTD's bad habits.

Honestly, I don't really like to over-analyse stuff. When I do, all I find are more things to dislike. But I've had this view on RTD's writing for a while now and I felt like sharing. In doing so, I help myself to actually realize why I feel that way. I look forward to the Christmas two-parter.

- Ironically, RTD did exactly what I ranted about once again in The End of Time - Part I, with the Master turning everyone on Earth into himself. I mentioned in another thread that it was the sort of thing a six-year-old would come up with, which I think sums it up nicely. Part Two was brilliant though.

Lego Doctor Who - The Classic & New Blocks

Hey all. Happy 2010! At last, I can say two numbers instead of one and not seem weird! Huzzah.

Anyway. This particular piece (somehow) came about after I started a topic talking about the last episode(s) of David Tennant's stint as The Doctor. I'm not really sure how, but the conversation moved onto the possibility of a Lego Doctor Who game, which I naturally jumped upon like a starving wolf being presented with a nice shiny jugular covered in marshmallows and chocolate.

This is pieced together from a few different posts, but I think it makes sense once edited together. Now if we can just get this made, we'll be sorted.

Coming soon! Lego Doctor Who: The New Blocks! Chronicling the new series, from Rose to the End of Time! Thrill as you play through the very best of Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant's adventures through time and space! Tremble as you fight the Daleks, Cybermen, Juddoon, Sontarans and the diabolical Master! Laugh as the once treasured stories are rendered in lovable bricks and quirky cutscenes!

And let's not forget the classic adventures! Lego Doctor Who: The Classic Blocks, Volumes I, II and III! Marvel as William Hartnell swaps heads with Patrick Troughton! Shiver as the Master first appears! Puzzle over how Tom Baker manages to avoid tripping on his scarf! Laugh at Colin Baker's terrible dress sense! Gasp as Paul McGann gets more then one adventure!

In stores soon, provided the BBC has even a shred of sense and lets Traveller's Tales actually make it!


The specs:

Lego Doctor Who - The Classic Blocks - Volume I

Chapter One - William Hartnell

Levels - The Daleks (aka The Mutants and The Dead Planet), Marco Polo, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Romans, The Time Meddler, The Myth Makers, The Massacre (of St Bartholomew's Eve) and The Tenth Planet [Total - 9]

Chapter Two - Patrick Troughton

Levels - The Power of the Daleks, The Highlanders, The Macra Terror, The Tomb of the Cybermen, The Ice Warriors, The Web of Fear, The Invasion, The Space Pirates and The War Games [Total - 9]

Chapter Three - Jon Pertwee

Levels - Spearhead from Space, Inferno, The Claws of Axos, The Curse of Peladon, The Sea Devils, The Three Doctors, The Green Death, Invasion (of the Dinosaurs) and Planet of the Spiders [Total - 9]

Lego Doctor Who - The Classic Blocks - Volume II

Chapter One - Tom Baker (The Early Years)

Levels - The Sontaran Experiment, Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons, Pyramids of Mars, The Seeds of Doom, The Hand of Fear, The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-Chiang and The Invasion of Time [Total - 9]

Chapter Two - Tom Baker (The Later Years)

Levels - The Key to Time (Parts I, II and III), City of Death, The Creature From the Pit, The Leisure Hive, Meglos, The Keeper of Traken and Logopolis [Total - 9]

Chapter Three - Peter Davison

Levels - Four to Doomsday, Black Orchid, Earthshock, Mawdryn Undead, Enlightenment, The Five Doctors, The Awakening, Resurrection of the Daleks and The Caves of Androzani [Total - 9]

Lego Doctor Who - The Classic Blocks - Volume III

Chapter One - Colin Baker

Levels - The Twin Dilemma, Attack of the Cybermen, Vengeance on Varos, The Mark of the Rani, Revelation of the Daleks and The Trial of a Time Lord (all four parts) [Total - 9]

Chapter Two - Sylvester McCoy

Levels - Time and the Rani, Delta and the Bannermen, Dragonfire, Remembrance of the Daleks, The Happiness Patrol, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Battlefield, The Curse of Fenric and Survival [Levels - 9]

Chapter Three - Paul McGann

Levels - The Movie (aka The Enemy Within) - [Audio Adventures] - Storm Warning, The Sword of Orion, Invaders from Mars, The Girl Who Never Was, Blood of the Daleks, The Zygon Who Fell to Earth, Worldwide Web and Death in Blackpool [Total - 9]

Lego Doctor Who - The New Blocks

Chapter One - Christopher Eccleston

- Rose, The End of the World, Aliens in London, Dalek, The Empty Child, The Parting of the Ways and The Christmas Invasion (David Tennant in Eccleston's outfit) [Total - 7]

Chapter Two - David Tennant (Brown Suit)

Levels - New Earth, School Reunion, The Girl in the Fireplace, Rise of the Cybermen, The Satan Pit, Doomsday and The Runaway Bride [Total - 7]

Chapter Three - David Tennant (Blue Suit)

Levels - Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Evolution of the Daleks, Human Nature/The Family of Blood*, The Sounds of Drums and Last of the Time Lords (two levels**), along with Voyage of the Damned [Total - 8]
*I prefer the second title, to avoid confusion with the book called 'Human Nature' upon which the TV episodes were based.
**In the first level, you'd be David tennant trying to save Martha, and in the second, you'd be Freema Agyman trying to save the Doctor.

Chapter Four - David Tennant (Various Outfits)

Levels - Partners in Crime, Planet of the Ood, The Sontaran Strategem, The Doctor's Daughter, The Unicorn and the Wasp, Silence in the Library and Journey's End [Total - 7]

Chapter Four - David Tennant (Various Outfits)

Levels - The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, The Waters of Mars, The End of Time (Part One) and The End of Time (Part Two) [Total - 5, possibly 6 if Dreamland is included as well, though that's debatable]