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Doctor Who "Bigger on the inside..."

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Old February 1 2010, 03:06 PM   #406
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Classic Who has had it's share of "Comedy" episodes. This is the show that had Douglas Adams as a writer and script editor at one point. In fact, almost the entirety of the Graham Williams era during the Tom Baker era (Seasons 15-17) was largely comedy-oriented.


Even Hartnell and Pertwee, the more 'playing it straight' Doctors, had plenty of comedy moments, especially in stories like THE ROMANS.


Of course, there are the ocassional serious episodes, such as PYRAMID OF MARS, CURSE OF FENRIC & LOGOPOLIS, but even they had their silly moments.
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Old February 6 2010, 07:31 AM   #407
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Right, it's been a while, but here we are again.



Tooth and Claw (**½)

So, we start with shots of a field, then to some stone building where a bald monk insists to a Scotsman that he wants his house. After he refuses and some silly dialogue, there's some laughably bad editing (attempting to look snappy) as the monk beats up the Scotsman with a stick. Then the monks behind him remove their habits to reveal orange pyjamas, and they beat up all the other Scotsmen hanging around. With sticks. Better camerawork though. They then overrun the house and lock the people in it in a barn, then bring in a cage and when the people see what's inside, they scream. As pre-title teasers go, this was alright. We get the idea that these pyjama monks must be fairly hard, because you need guts to beat up a Scotsman.

So, after this Crouching Thistle Hidden Bagpipe and the titles, we come to the Doctor and Rose in the Tardis. They're on course to the 1970s, so the Doctor puts on Hit Me With Your Rhythmsticks. After bashing up the Tardis and going outside, it turns out they're in Scotland 1879 and have landed right in front of Queen Victoria's coach. What a coincidence. There's some fun Scottishness with one of the guards and some dull dialogue with the Queen herself during which the bloody psychic paper (should maybe start a list for that as well as the screwdriver) tells the queen that the Doctor's been assigned to protect her. This seems to surprise the Doctor, which makes me wonder how this psychic paper really does work. I mean, surely it just gives the impression of an official looking document of the nature the user wants it to convey. But in this case, it instead seems to just magic up a convenient explanation for their being there. But whatever.

So they arrive at the stone building we saw earlier, and the house owner and main monk (now in suits) are watching out of the window, the monk saying the man's wife will be killed if he doesn't do something which is implied to be harming the queen somehow. There's a scene where the whole queen entourage meet Sir Robert (the guy who owns it), and we learn some things including that it's called the Torchwood estate and that there's a box with some sort of secret in belonging to the queen. And Rose tries to make her say she's not amused. Which, ironically enough, isn't that amusing. We then cut to seeing the house staff locked in the barn, and see that in the cage from earlier there's a man. Which makes me wonder why the staff screamed earlier when they first saw him. I mean, at the moment it's just a man.

Meanwhile, the queen, the Doctor, and Rose are shown around a bit and see a telescope. Rose again tries to make the queen say she's not amused (which is already old), but also goes about it in a way so almost disrespectful that you wouldn't expect the queen to put up with it. There's also talk of there being a wolf story and there being a full moon that night. See where this is going? After this, the guards are shown to pass out after drinking some dodgy soup (I think it's soup) made by the disguised monks (I'll keep calling them monks until we get a better explanation of who they are; also, it's a good thing for them all the guards had the soup), and while Rose is looking in the wardrobe for more appropriate clothing, she finds a maid hiding in it. She explains to Rose that the house has been taken over. Rose explains there are people about who can help, but when they leave the room they see a drugged guard on the floor and then get captured themselves.

So the queen, the Doctor, Sir Robert, and some Captain Guardsman are having dinner, and Sir Robert begins to tell the story of the wolf. At the same time, we see that Flora (the maid from earlier) and Rose have been locked in a barn with the other staff and the man who isn't a wolf yet. He's got funny eyes, and Rose knowing more than most (about aliens at least) asks him what planet he's from. We gather from his chat that he was taken as a boy, and he's planning on biting the queen so she'll be a werewolf and rule the British Empire as such. Helpful of him to reveal. He also says there's something of the wolf about Rose. Which I suppose is a Bad Wolf reference. Or maybe he's just talking nonsense, which is most of what he seems to be doing. Sir Robert, meanwhile, carries on telling his story and reveals that there's a monastery nearby of monks who worship the wolfiness. It's a full moon by now, so the main monk has started standing by the window and chanting, and cageboy's started to turn into a wolf. Rather than hang around and die, Rose suggests to all the captured staff that they try pulling on the chain that's got them trapped, and I'm quite sure she says "all of you, and that means you, you lazy shit". It's only after checking several times that I work out she actually says "your ladyship", but there's one to look out for all the same.

We get some decent CGI of the werewolf, and the Doctor and Sir Robert rush in and rescue the staff. Helpfully the chain falls down just by the pulling (helpful in that I won't have to add to the screwdriver list anyway), but then the screwdriver's then used to lock the door behind them on the way out. Good thing mainmonk was chanting by the window and all the other monks are somehow busy in the meantime. Meanwhile the queen appears to shoot mainmonk, and the released staff try shooting the werewolf. One cocky old man thinks this has worked and killed it, but of course he gets eaten. What happens for a lot of the time now amounts to some chasing around with sadly little view of the wolf, but where the other monks are is explained when we see them standing outside and shooting at the window when they try and get out. It's nice to have that explained. During this time, Captain Guardsman (or Reynolds if you care about his actual name) buys them some time by shooting at the wolf but ultimately gets killed. Then, once they're (to clarify, they being the Doctor, Queen Victoria, Rose, and Sir Robert who owns the place) shut in another room, the wolf doesn't try to get in. Apparently that's down to something in the room. Also, I think there's a gay reference in there when after Sir Robert asks why they weren't suspicious when the only staff were the monks, the Doctor says something along the lines of "the wife's away and only bald athletic men are around; I thought you were happy." Reminds me of the entire Empty Child two-parter where almost none of the men we see in wartime London are straight.

Back with the maids who are in the kitchen (good to have a group of the same type of person in the same place; makes it easier to follow), they see the monks outside are wearing mistletoe. As there's some in the kitchen as well, this would seem to be why the monks don't get killed and why the maids weren't killed earlier. The Doctor also works out (because he's magic) that the wolf didn't attack them because the room was built with mistletoe in the wood and the monks have trained the wolf to not like mistletoe. Which is quite a big leap. And why just that room then? It's damn handy they found themselves in the one room the wolf won't like. Come to think of it, it's also damn handy there was some mistletoe left lying around in the kitchen. Also damn handy, they're in a room full of books, so the Doctor suggests they all have a read. After about 20 seconds of looking at books, the Doctor finds a drawing of a shooting star. The Doctor then deduces (because he's magic) that some alienness crashed there 300 years ago, and a cell from it passed itself on around the monks (or something like that) until now so Queen Victoria's come along and could get bitten. Then she pulls out the valuable thing from the box, and it's a big old diamond. They then talk about it for far too long, and then she says she going to go about getting it recut because Prince Albert (who's dead now) wasn't happy with the shine and considered it "unfinished". There's then that disappointingly clichéd thing you get in a lot of hack TV and film whereby one character says something seemingly simple and unspecial, and this makes another character get a sudden realisation of the solution. However, often the use of the word or phrase (in this case "unfinished") is quite unnatural and is only there to serve the plot, and then it's too big a leap from the thing said to what's worked out to be realistic. And this is no different. From just hearing the word "unfinished", the Doctor works out there may have been a trap for the wolf built into the house. That's a bit silly.

Still, not much time to dwell on that, as they then notice that wolfy is up on the glass ceiling of the room and is about to fall through. So there's more chasing, and they end up in the room with the big telescope from earlier. Sir Robert buys them time by waiting outside with a sword. And getting killed. Anyway, the solution is that the big diamond can catch the light drawn in by the big telescope (it was mentioned earlier by the Doctor that it had too many prisms and so wasn't great for simple astronomy), and by focusing the moonlight onto the werewolf, it makes it go away. Now, that's quite silly, and very contrived. Sir Robert's father who built the place had this in mind when he built the telescope the way he did. In reality, it would have to rely on such a number of coincidences to come together that it just wouldn't happen in a month of Sundays. And killing the wolf by drowning it in moonlight? Err, if you say so. And it needed a big diamond to be present to get it all working? Was Prince Albert in on all of this too? The thing is, there is potential in this idea, and maybe a few rewrites could have made it make more sense, but it's just too much to accept. And besides, if Sir Robert's father had worked out all this monk/wolf business, and planned for it accordingly in the building of the place, you'd have thought he'd have done more than just put mistletoe in the walls of one room and built a dodgy telescope. Perhaps told someone of the danger even. It's just too daft, which is sad because this episode could have been so much better.

Anyway, there's a bit of a worry that Queen Victoria may have been bitten (but she says she wasn't), she then knights the Doctor and Rose (she can just do that?) and then banishes them from her Empire. Hang on, she makes them Knights(/Dame) of the British Empire and then banishes them from the Empire? During the banishment, the queen also states she isn't amused (saying it in an unnatural way that wouldn't happen in real life). Anyway, the reason for the banishment is that the queen doesn't trust all the stars and magic that the Doctor and Rose would seem to be about. They get dropped off at the Tardis (not exactly banished from the shores then, unless Victoria believes the Tardis is a means of travel, which now I think of it could make sense as it must have materialised in the first place right in front of her carriage), and the Doctor and Rose laugh about the unfunny notion that our current Royal Family may be werewolves. The queen then founds the Torchwood Institute (so she's to blame for that show) because she's witnessed all these funny goings on.

As with The Christmas Invasion, it was nearly there. Nearly three stars. But the resolution is so contrived, much of the humour unfunny (hahaha, I wasn't amused, ahaha), and ultimately just silly. I almost thought there was no zany screwdriver usage, but then I remembered it locked a door. Still, never mind. Keep trying, eh Russell?


That zany screwdriver:
1. Blows up a spinning Christmas tree. Ho ho ho.

2. Scares off some Robot Santas. It's got itself a reputation now then.
3. Opens a great big secret door. Opens doors, closes plot holes.
4. Is used to threaten Cassandra's consciousness in Rose's body. A densely layered stupid thing is still a stupid thing.
5. Only the Doctor knows how to hold down the on button. Then it opens a smaller, unsecret door.
6. Makes a convenient ring thingy fall down.
7. It locks an old door. An old, Scottish door. Didn't have enough time to put porridge in the lock.
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Old February 6 2010, 07:33 AM   #408
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Face it: you're just jealous none of YOUR screwdrivers do all that stuff!
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Old February 6 2010, 10:16 AM   #409
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

That's a bit unfair - isn't locking/unlocking doors the point of the screwdriver to begin with?

Your reviews do entertain me Bones I must say. One thing though - please try and find a synonym for 'silly' to use every now and again. I know there's a lot of things in these shows you find silly and everything but using a different word to describe them would add some variety to the reading experience.

Also a little surprised you didn't mention the Jamie McCrimmon reference in this one, though I know it's been talked about in other threads recently. I'd have thought old series references would be the kind of thing you'd like to highlight.
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Old February 6 2010, 01:40 PM   #410
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

HappyDayRiot wrote: View Post
That's a bit unfair - isn't locking/unlocking doors the point of the screwdriver to begin with?
Well, in "The War Games" (which was an early, perhaps the very first, appearance), it was actually used to manipulate screws.....both to disassemble a weapon and to remove a wall panel.

Then again, the Doctor breaks it out specifically to prove to a soldier that he's from the future, so perhaps the "Hydrate Level 4" setting would have been too confusing......
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Old February 6 2010, 02:17 PM   #411
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Lindley wrote: View Post
HappyDayRiot wrote: View Post
That's a bit unfair - isn't locking/unlocking doors the point of the screwdriver to begin with?
Well, in "The War Games" (which was an early, perhaps the very first, appearance), it was actually used to manipulate screws.....both to disassemble a weapon and to remove a wall panel.
Close. The War Games is the second appearance but the sonic screwdriver made it's first appearance in Fury from the Deep. I think he used it on screws there, too, although it might have been a valve because he was working on a large outdoor pipe.
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Old February 6 2010, 06:39 PM   #412
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

HappyDayRiot wrote: View Post
That's a bit unfair - isn't locking/unlocking doors the point of the screwdriver to begin with?
Yeah, but it's its first door lock use of the series, so it goes on the list. I don't make the rules. Well, obviously I actually do, but...
Your reviews do entertain me Bones I must say. One thing though - please try and find a synonym for 'silly' to use every now and again. I know there's a lot of things in these shows you find silly and everything but using a different word to describe them would add some variety to the reading experience.
Yeah, you're probably right. On the one hand, I felt using silly mostly emphasises just how many ridiculous things you have to put up with. On the other hand, I suppose we all get the idea with that now. I'll bear it in mind.
Also a little surprised you didn't mention the Jamie McCrimmon reference in this one, though I know it's been talked about in other threads recently. I'd have thought old series references would be the kind of thing you'd like to highlight.
Yeah, that was alright. Wasn't a huge deal, but nice all the same.
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Old February 7 2010, 12:22 AM   #413
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

I'm enjoying your reviews, Bones, in spite of your negativity. Nothing you've said is especially wrong, and you point out flaws that bug me too. I'm just a bit more willing to give in to the silliness of the program and enjoy it as something quite a bit less than hard science fiction that every now and then delivers surprises. It's silly, but it's usually upbeat.

The sonic screwdriver used to be a problem for me. Why do you need a 'sonic' screwdriver to remove screws? Then, it started doing more and more things, becoming ridiculously multipurpose. Generally, I hate a gizmo or gadget in a TV show that doesn't make sense. I want to have at least a clue about how to make it. But the sonic screwdriver is to all intents and purpose a magic wand, a tool for a science fiction Harry Potter to wield in--

It was along these lines of thoughts quite a few years ago that an old quote surfaced in my mind, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And that's when I gave up and learned to love the sonic screwdriver. It's representative of a technology so advanced that it really does work the same way as a magic wand. I can't figure out how to make one or comprehend its full capabilities precisely because the culture that made it is farther ahead of me than I am a cave man.

It is a tool. It is an engineered instrument of science and thus can be used by anyone with training and thus isn't truly magic, but it is capable of almost anything.

And like the TARDIS, and language translation, and psychic paper, it is an artifact of super-science. And for that reason, as long as it is only used as a tool by the Doctor, its magical capabilities aren't a problem to me. The sonic screwdriver is the Doctor's WD-40 mixed with a little duct tape. It gets him out of tight spots, but doesn't actually solve his big problems.
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Old February 7 2010, 12:24 AM   #414
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

And really, who would rather he have separate gadgets for all of those functions?
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Old February 7 2010, 03:30 AM   #415
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Yes it's a tool. It's the tool of the lazy and/or incompetent writer. It's got one button that somehow does whatever the plot needs it to do. I'm just not going to give something that silly (woops, I mean stupid) a pass.
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Old February 7 2010, 04:37 AM   #416
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

USS Bones wrote: View Post
It's got one button that somehow does whatever the plot needs it to do. I'm just not going to give something that silly (woops, I mean stupid) a pass.
Oh rubbish! There have been several examples of characters who can't get the screwdriver to work properly ... it clearly has more than one button. I walk around with a multi-tool ... I can cut paper, open a bottle, open a can, cut and strip wires, turn philips or flathead screws, crimp, and even turn a bolt with it in a pinch. And when no one's around to see, it does a dandy job of plucking nose and ear hairs, though that sometimes makes me sneeze. It's purely mechanical, and doesn't make much noise except when I whip it open. If I were depicted in a TV show using my multi-tool to re-wire a wall outlet AND fix a computer AND work on a thermostat AND loosen the bolts on the cage the antagonist has trapped me in, is that bad writing?

Now ... what happens when a culture that can travel through time and build a box that's bigger on the inside decides to make their version of my multi-tool?

It damned-well better look like magic to you and me! Any writer who decides to explain its operation and specifications in any sort of depth will be engaged in nothing more than techno-babble. Gene Roddenberry quite correctly pointed out that Kirk should never take out his phaser and explain how it works, he simply draws and fires and lets the audience work out what he's doing. And the same applies to the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor takes it out and uses it, sometimes telling his companion what's going on and thus keeping the audience clued-in.
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Old February 7 2010, 05:27 AM   #417
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Maybe the sonic screwdriver actually *does* work similar to wands in Harry Potter (which basically serve as tools of focusing magic into a single strong beam), in that it sonically focuses the Doctor's psychic energy into a beam that will do whatever he mentally tells it he needs it to do.

And just as a wand in Harry Potter can be temperamental or a spell can work wrong or not work at all based on the concentration of the user, sometimes the screwdriver just won't work for the Doctor. Perhaps deadlocks are made with some kind of material that blocks any waves of psychic and sonic energy.

*shrugs*

I dunno. I don't get worked up about it. I think it's cool, personally.
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Old February 7 2010, 07:21 AM   #418
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

I'd have a problem with the Doctor's magic wand -- I mean, sonic screwdriver -- if it actually was used to solve the stories' major dilemmas as often as technobabble on Trek was.

It isn't. It's used for minor problems, not big ones. Given that, I'm perfectly happy to accept that the Doctor is a wizard and the sonic screwdriver is his magic wand.
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Old February 7 2010, 07:26 AM   #419
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Absolutely. The solutions to big problems always involve at least a huge lever to be pulled.
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Old February 7 2010, 07:59 AM   #420
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Re: A Hater Revisits nuWho

Lindley wrote: View Post
Absolutely. The solutions to big problems always involve at least a huge lever to be pulled.


An entirely separate issue, that.
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