Monday, August 22, 2011

TV Series REview: Doctor Who (Earthshock)

Wow, sorry for forgetting to post yesterday guys, was moving back into my dorm so I completely forgot to get this up. Hopefully once I get used to the new schedule that won't happen again (but then again, not sure when tomorrow's review will be up, hmmmmm).

Since Doctor Who is starting up again next Saturday it's only appropriate that I review yet another classic serial now. This one is from the Fifth Doctor's era, Peter Davidson who is actually an actor my mom was familiar with since he also did Tristan in All Creatures Great and Small (she was unhappy to see how he's aged over the years when I showed her a screenshot from Time Crash clip though). This serial is well-known in the Who fandom for doing something which has happened surprisingly infrequently (I won't say what for the few who don't know it) but I was sadly spoiled in advance thanks to tvtropes, oh well.

Doctor Who: Earthshock

Summary: The Doctor continues his travels through time and space with the various companions he has picked up along the way, this time with Adric, Nyssa and Tegan (the lone human of the group, definitely an oddity for NuWho fans). They become involved with a military group of people inthe 26th century who are investigating why a bunch of paleontologists have gone missing and uncover a sinister plot by some of the Doctor's old enemies. 

The Good: Once again it's nice to see a serial where the Doctor has more than one companion (especially since it's a mixed gender group) and, despite the fact that the serial was only four episodes, Nyssa and Teagan both got enough screentime to show off what they were like (with Adric getting more since this episode was meant to focus on him). Also nice is how there is a good mix of male and female secondary characters, both in the military group the Doctor and co run into but on the spaceship as well. I'm so used to seeing large male casts with a couple of token female characters that I'm always pleasantly surprised when a series bucks the trend and Doctor Who seems to do it rather consistently. David Tennant, the actor who played the tenth Doctor, says that Peter Davidson was his Doctor growing up and it's very easy to see why in this episode. Early on Adric and the Doctor are talking and the way he reacts, even the way he moves his head are very reminiscent of how the tenth Doctor acted, a neat little detail (on Tennants part). 

The Bad: As mentioned earlier, the two good twists in this serial have already been completely spoiled for the modern viewer which is rather unfortunate since neither of them were leaked before the original broadcast. Another problem for a viewer like myself, who isn't very familiar with the classic Doctors and their companions/reoccurring characters is that sometimes you just don't connect to them the way you're meant to which was a little bit of a problem as well. As for the episode itself, the ending feels a bit forced, as if the writers knew what they wanted to end the serial on but didn't exactly figure out how to make things progress to that point. It works but it's not as good as it could be which seems to sum up this whole serial.

The Audio: Once again the theme song has slightly changed (although sadly not the slightly creepy opening credits that go along with it) and the cybermen's voices also sound a bit different from their NuWho counterparts. Nothing else caught my ear when I was watching so onto the visuals.

The Visuals: It's not a Doctor Who episode without aliens and this time around it's the cybermen. Their designs here are certainly better than their earlier incarnations but compared to the NuWho designs it's hard not to wince. The costume department really needed to make the outfits out of thicker/less form-fitting material (it's hard to take them seriously when all the contours look like the shape of a regular human) and someone needed to coach the actors into walking more like robots (again, it's hard to take them seriously when they move the way a human does instead of the way a less mobile robot would). Other than that, the settings seemed fine (not perfect but certainly passable) and not overly ambitious.

While I would recommend this serial over all, it's got pretty good writing and pacing, I don't think I would recommend it if you're completely unfamiliar with the Fifth Doctor like I was. I just feel like this serial would have worked better if I was a bit more emotionally connected to the characters, although considering how shrill Tegan was in these four episodes alone I'm not sure how much more of her I want to see.....  

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