Young Geoffrey (ed_rex) wrote,
Young Geoffrey

Review: Doctor Who, The Rebel Flesh/Almost People

This is the way my fandom ends ...

There comes a point when intentions don't matter, but only results. Now six 45-minute episodes into his second series in charge of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat has this year given us precisely one (count it, one!) episode that was entertaining in and of itself and that didn't insult our intelligence.

I'm not an uberfan — I don't read novelizations or write fanfic — but I've watched a lot of episodes, in black and white and in colour, some of a lot more than once. And I can't recall seeing as consistent a stretch of bad writing, slip-shod plotting and ludicrous mis-characterizations as that which Moffat's run has so far provided us.

The fault this time out isn't Moffat's missing moral compass (see my reviews of the recent Christmas special or this series' two-part opener for my thoughts on that score) but just the remarkable shoddiness of the product.

After being teased into hoping for something better by Neil Gaiman's expert workshop in the fine art of story-telling a couple of weeks ago, "The Rebel Flesh" and "Almost People" (hereafter referred to as "Almost Rebels"), returns us to the inconsistent characterizations and nonsensical plots that have been the Mark of Moffat.

Now I can't bring myself to believe that Steven Moffat actually hates Doctor Who, but the on-screen results of his stewardship make that hypothesis as evidentially plausible as that which posits that he just doesn't understand the fundamentals of story-telling. (It shouldn't need saying, but for the record, I do know Moffat didn't write these episodes — direct responsibility rests with Matthew Graham, from whose keyboard came what was arguably the weakest episode of Series 2, "Fear Her". But Moffat is the show-runner and so ultimately responsible for what appears on our screens.

And what we do see once again leaves us — the viewers, the fans — with two choices. We can ignore the idiot plot in favour of speculations about the none-too-subtle clues About! Future! Episodes! or we can do the hard, unhappy work of picking apart the lousy construct.

(Yes, we could also turn off the set and go for a walk, or catch up as-yet unwatched episodes of Treme, but we are fans; walking away is not something we're willing to do, not yet.

So let's talk a bit about the basics of story-telling (again). Let's talk about such niceties as consistent characterization and internal logic as if they matter — even when slumming in the bastard field of children's science fiction.

(Why yes, I am kind of pissed off. There's cussing and spoilers both behind the link.)

This entry was originally posted at Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.
Tags: almost people, doctor who, idiot plot, review, science fiction, steven moffat, story-telling, television, the rebel flesh

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