Outside the Government: Countrycide

(45 comments)


Did you know that the New York Times Crossword Puzzle
has something called the "breakfast test," which declares
that you can't use any words in a crossword that would be
upsetting to read over breakfast? This is one difference
between the New York Times Crossword Puzzle and TARDIS
Eruditorum.
It’s November 19th, 2006. Akon and Eminem are at number one with “Smack That,” a subtle and nuanced look at contemporary sexual relations in much the way Day One isn’t. Justin Timberlake, Take That, Robbie Williams, and Westlife also chart. In news, around 98% of the population of South Ossetia votes for independence from Georgia. Nobody cares. Java is released under the GPL. Mitch McConnell becomes Republican leader in Congress, succeeding Bill Frist. Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, becomes Speaker of the House. The Playstation 3 comes out, Tony Blair describes Iraq as “pretty much a disaster,” and, the day this story airs, the Nintendo Wii comes out.

The story, of course, is Countrycide, which is widely beloved and popular and which nobody has anything bad to say about. Ah, no, you’re not going to buy that? Fine. Countrycide is Torchwood’s second effort at a big spectacle of a story. Much like Chris Chibnall’s previous contribution, Cyberwoman, it’s a straight action story, designed primarily to be thrilling. It’s not what you’d call an enormously complex concept. That said, it’s still at least somewhat clever in its approach - this is the first televised Doctor Who thing to feature no alien or supernatural intervention since Black Orchid nearly a quarter-century earlier.

No, “it’s not aliens, it’s humans, who are far worse than any aliens” is not exactly the most innovative twist in the history of Doctor Who. But it’s a solid one worth dusting off every once in a while, and the fact that Torchwood can take the “rational explanation behind seemingly irrational events” motif from Scooby Doo and make it into a piece of sickening horror is a fair justification for doing it. The ingredients of this are all familiar, but that’s writing for you. There’s a perfectly serviceable nexus of ideas underlying this story.

The problem is that the execution is a bit… well, but even here there’s a defense to be mustered. The story amounts to doing The Wicker Man for the modern day. We should pause and contextualize that. For all that The Wicker Man is treated as being primarily about pagan rites, mostly by geeky pagan types who are understandably eager to lay cultural claim to one of the best movies ever made, it is in fact not about the supernatural at all, but rather about the fear of the rural. The closest cousin to The Wicker Man is probably Deliverance or The Hills Have Eyes, the latter remade in 2006 as part of a general and unfortunate trend in . It’s a story about the remote parts of the country and the bizarre things they get up to there.

So basically we have Torchwood trying to do horror in a particularly bad era of horror. In this regard we can just declare Countrycide a success due to it beating out the actual 2006 bad horror remake of The Wicker Man. Given this, Countrycide surely passes the bar of reasonably clever, managing to reanimate the flirtation with the supernatural that makes The Wicker Man so particularly compelling. For most of Countrycide we assume that, because we are watching Torchwood, we’re dealing with aliens. When we get to the bit about how every ten years they take people for “the harvest” it sounds like the most bog-standard Doctor Who plot ever. It is, in other words, the Scooby Doo narrative done in a show where all the standard narrative conventions say that it’s not going to just be a person. It’s almost as good as the twist that makes The Rescue absolutely brilliant, and, like The Rescue, is impossible to really experience once you know how it works.

Is there something wrong with the basic narrative tradition of “the country people are going to eat us?” Well… I don’t know, honestly. It’s not great, certainly - even in the mid-70s one can imagine that people who actually lived in the Scottish Isles might have been a bit miffed about the implication that they practice human sacrifice and have sex in the streets. But the underlying metaphor about the edge of civilization is so compelling that it’s hard to pass it up completely. The image of unseemly things going on where the pavement gives out and the Earth itself rises up is terribly powerful.

The larger problem is perhaps that horror in the era of Hostel is just a terribly blighted and unfortunate thing. It’s really not hard to make the case that we’re living in a sort of twisted anti-golden age of cinematic horror right now where most of the innovation consists of doing things in more spectacularly and viscerally upsetting ways and on smaller budgets. Yes, Countrycide is a basically functional piece of rural horror in 2006, but who cares? Your competition is Nicholas Cage and Hostel - if you can’t come out on top in that dogfight, you have bigger problems.

Still, within Torchwood’s developing schema all of this makes sense. The countryside becomes another wondrous space, this time filled with horror, but horror that comes from within. This, in particular, is a key development in Torchwood, because it establishes in a new way that the line between mundane and wondrous spaces is not, in fact, a line based on humans and aliens. This isn’t exactly a new development - Ghost Machine was all humans too, for instance, just with some alien tech, as was, in the end, Everything Changes. But here the claim is absolute - human depravity is more stark and shocking than any aliens could possibly be, and doesn’t need anything “magical” to exist. This fact fundamentally changes what Torchwood as a show is about.

This is mirrored in a large shift in the season’s metaplot, with the beginning of a proper affair between Owen and Gwen. This is awkward - the revelation at the end is not entirely sound, not least because the dialogue around it is pure cheese. Nevertheless, it works, and marks an important change in how we understand Gwen as a character. Prior to this Gwen is the moral center of Torchwood - the character who provides the authorial viewpoint and could be relied upon to express the themes in clear “tell-don’t-show” fashion. But in one stroke she becomes profoundly unsympathetic, even though she remains perfectly understandable. This is a tough switch to do - it’s genuinely very hard to take a sympathetic character and have them start doing things the audience doesn’t want them to do while still having the audience completely understand why they’re doing it and see it as coming logically from what we’ve previously seen.

And Countrycide mostly manages, albeit on the strength of exactly one line - the deliciously upsetting “because it made me happy.” But this line exposes the larger problems with the resolution - ultimately, the horror Gwen responds to by deciding to shag Owen and the horror we’re shown are two different horrors. Countrycide is mostly about this entire large and twisted family that periodically murders everyone in the village. (How, exactly, the village manages to refresh its population every ten years and not notice the cannibalistic family is not made entirely clear, although as plot holes in Doctor Who-related stuff go, it’s pretty mild stuff) Its central horror is collective - it’s not “what made this man do these twisted things,” but “how did this society break down to where it was run by crazed cannibals?” Except that its resolution is the opposite - Gwen interrogates exactly one person, and while she gets a fantastic answer to “why are you a crazy cannibalistic fucker” she doesn’t get anything like an answer to the horror we’ve just spent an hour watching.

On top of that, it’s ever so slightly possible that the horror is too over the top. I mean, the flayed and dismembered bodies are properly gross and all, and the scene of Gwen vomiting in horror as she tries to maintain a defensive posture with Jack is a lovely bit of “oh yes, this is a person, not a CSI cardboard cutout” in amidst the plotting, but there’s a weird sense that Chibnall misunderstood his own ending. The extent to which it works is that the actual horror is so much smaller and more intimate than what the audience had been expecting, but the decision to have a huge cannibal family feels like Chibnall is trying to go large in a context where he should be going small. (This is, incidentally, the single most common error in the new series era - a misjudging of which way to go for dramatic impact.)

There’s a hint that this was a particularly big problem on Countrycide, however. The Declassified episode for this details two separate conflicts in production over the direction of the episode - first, Chibnall, Davies, and Gardner imploring the set designers to get some of the severed limbs out of the kitchen because it was all just a bit too much, and second Davies and Gardner having to oversee some desperate editing of the final action scene because Barrowman and director Andy Goddard had gone too over the top with it.

Still, it is perhaps more worthwhile to look at the big picture instead of the small one. At this point, five weeks and six episodes in, Torchwood has stitched together a sizable tapestry of wondrous and hidden spaces in contemporary life - in our romantic lives, our work lives, in our mythologies, and in our geographies. This is an impressive task in the course of six episodes, all of which are at least vaguely watchable and competent in the same way that a random episode of Spooks is. Even when the show has a misstep - as it kind of does here - it’s usefully and productively developing its overall mythology and approach. The shape of the show is at this point clear. It knows the sorts of things it wants to do, and its errors can all be reasonably chalked up to growing pains.

So let’s go ahead and talk about Chris Chibnall, the primary writer, and the one who’s written half the episodes to date. Because the thing is, by almost any reasonable standard the three best episodes are the ones he didn’t write. And he is a terribly hated writer in fandom. Admittedly this is because nothing he’s written is anybody’s favorite episode. In neither Doctor Who nor Torchwood has he written an episode that’s widely considered one of the best of the season. For this he has an odd reputation - a despised writer where everyone seems to quibble on which one they hated, usually saying things like “Oh, I thought The Power of Three was kind of fun, but Cyberwoman was the worst thing ever.” For my part, I find myself unable to muster anything hate-sized about any of his episodes - he’s more or less the Bob Baker and David Martin (excluding the Graham Williams era) of the new series, producing consistent more-or-less-watchability.

Unfortunately for Torchwood he’s the primary writer in the first two seasons. And he got front-loaded on the series because, again, primary writer, so he has to take the bullets on the “the series is still finding its feet” scripts, just like Davies had to write five of the first seven episodes of the new series. Chibnall being largely good because he can write fast and with baseline competence, this does not lead to an inspiring start.

This does not, however, mean that it's a disaster; it just means that it's particularly likely to piss off the sorts of people who like to spend two thousand words talking about television. Which is perhaps to say that someone who generally churns out middle-of-the-road television scripts is going to piss people like us off more than the general public. And by us I don't just mean writerly critics; I mean fans.

Which is to say that because its initial audience had a large number of Doctor Who fans, who are often vocal on the Internet, and because its first six episodes had three episodes that were not, to the general public, intolerably bad but were, perhaps, not all that great, the start of the series has a particularly rough reputation. But actually, by AI rankings the first six episodes, from best to worst, go Small Worlds, a tie between Ghost Machine and Cyberwoman, a tie between Day One and Countrycide, and then in last Everything Changes. The AIs, from 82-85, encompass the same spread in appreciation as Boom Town and New Earth, which is to say, a range of quality that Doctor Who reliably fell within.

As for popularity. The total viewers between the BBC Three and BBC Two airings dipped after the premiere, but leveled off into the mid-3m range, and only went below that for Combat. The narrative of a rough start wasn’t really born out in its popular success - it got underway much like most television shows do, and delivered what were absolutely stellar ratings for BBC Three. Whatever problems this show may have, and we can pick all manner of technical nits with great accuracy, it was clearly and demonstrably passing the bar for "successful television."

Which is to say that while Countrycide is not very good, and while that is perhaps the most interesting thing about it, this fact does not, strictly speaking, matter at all.

Comments

SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

I seem to remember you saying you're not a fan of horror, Phil, and with respect, I think it's showing here. The mid noughties weren't by any means a bad period for horror. They were, just perhaps, a bad period for popular horror, by which I mean the films high-profile enough to have gotten on your radar. Even if we accept arguendo that Hills... and Hostel are terrible films, using them to defend "Countrycide" would be like saying the 1930s were a bad time for artwork because that's when children had widespread access to fingerpaints.

Not that I do accept those views of either film, in fact. I'd not be particularly inclined to mount a defence of Hostel - though it'd be easy to do so on horror grounds at least than "Countrycide" is, in that it both managed some effective horror and was entertaining - but Hills... is actually pretty good. It's certainly not worth casually dismissing because it's a remake. Especially since the "God, why are the Americans constantly remaking horror films which were better in their original time/original language" strikes me as one of the most commonly applied and poorly justified criticisms one can make about horror cinema.

How, exactly, the village manages to refresh its population every ten years and not notice the cannibalistic family is not made entirely clear

"Hello! I see you've just moved in! Well, so have we. Very new to the area. We're not a cannibalistic family who ate everyone in the village last month, if that's what you're thinking!"

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elvwood 3 years, 10 months ago

Watching this again (and knowing what to expect this time), it struck me as an adequate production from a genre I dislike. I like some forms of horror, but not the blood 'n' guts 'n' gore ones. Like Philip I was struck by the scene of Gwen trying to function while wanting to puke, to which I'll add various moments of the city folks' reactions to the countryside early on; but the only specific bits I remembered from first viewing were the ending - the "it made me happy" bit and the Gwen and Owen coda.

I disliked this turn of events because it meant there was now nobody in Torchwood (except Tosh, who we hardly know so far) that hasn't done something stupidly, relationship-endangeringly bad, on screen. [Spoiler for next time: I've now watched Greeks Bearing Gifts in my rewatch marathon, and Tosh fares better than the rest. Despite the plot setting her up for a similar fall.] This, in turn, means that until they turn some characters around, I am reliant on "Torchwood viewed from the outside" episodes such as Small Worlds to be able to appreciate the program.

It's not that I want a cast of perfect heroes/heroines. It's that some of them should be at less than epic levels of screwed-upness. The current message seems to be "you do have to be a dick to work here", and it doesn't help.

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Julian 3 years, 10 months ago

Disclaimer: I haven't watched this episode since broadcast. But I do remember some feelings quite distinctly.

This is mirrored in a large shift in the season’s metaplot, with the beginning of a proper affair between Owen and Gwen. This is awkward - the revelation at the end is not entirely sound, not least because the dialogue around it is pure cheese. Nevertheless, it works.
See, I would argue it doesn't work, and it ties into a larger issue I have with the show, namely consistency. With a show like Torchwood, where you want to have an engaged fanbase, you need to really make sure the characters are not only interesting enough to invest in, but also have enough consistency throughout their arc to follow.

And this, for me, is where Torchwood fails - the Gwen/Owen thing just doesn't ring true, and also doesn't really lead forward to Gwen's actions later in the season. But even more telling is Ianto - you'd imagine after Cyberwoman he'd harbor some resentment towards Jack and the team, but in Small Worlds he seems fine... and then all of a sudden in this episode he's scowling away. I remember feeling like the episodes had aired out of order it was that incongruous, and it really does grate when you want to engage with the show.

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Arkadin 3 years, 10 months ago

"It’s really not hard to make the case that we’re living in a sort of twisted anti-golden age of horror right now where most of the innovation consists of doing things in more spectacularly and viscerally upsetting ways and on smaller budgets."

That's really only true if you look at mainstream cinema. The last decade and change has given us some pretty dreadful horror movies but also House of Leaves, the ongoing Hellboy/BPRD saga, Welcome to Night Vale... And I'm sure there are more interesting independent horror movies that I'm not aware of. As far as short films go a friend linked me to this one

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

Indeed. I think it would be much easier to put together an argument that says the late '90s resurgence of horror has simply led to more bad horror showing up on the public radar. Horror didn't get worse, it remained constant and became more visible.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 10 months ago

I was talking about cinematic horror, yes - that being the genre that's meaningfully influential on Countrycide. I'll clarify in the post.

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

That still leaves us with the problem that either we're talking about horror cinema in general, in which case I don't believe your position holds much water, or we're talking about the kind of horror cinema that has bled out into popular culture. In the latter case it's harder (though far from impossible) to refute that there was plenty of crap out there in the period under consideration, but the idea that it was particularly bad doesn't strike me as correct either.

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peeeeeeet 3 years, 10 months ago

I agree, but I find the consequences of Ianto's inconsistency fascinating. It led to a nascent fandom dedicating a lot of effort to trying to pluck out the heart of his mystery (it probably helps that he looks nice in a suit), and since they were all reading each other's work, led to a broad agreement on who he was that was consistent from story to story and matched up reasonably well with what we saw on screen. Until RtD came back, reinstated his own version of Ianto which was significantly different from theirs (but not necessarily from what had gone before on screen), and then to cap it all, killed the poor sod off. The reaction from the fandom (and, brilliantly, they're still at it, with some people decrying PC's casting because they haven't forgiven him for being in Children of Earth) was something close to genuine grief; unlike when any old fictional character is killed off, they felt that something that was theirs had been taken away from them and killed. Someone they knew intimately, and whose killer didn't. It seemed to me like (one take on) post-structuralism in its purest form: the reader becomes the co-author by being creatively inspired by the very contradictions inherent in the text. But it also makes me think of the "moral hazard" that comes with this; that such consequences, fascinating as they might be from a social perspective, encourage the creators to be slapdash. Or it might just be that I lost my mother around the same time they lost Ianto, so the constant cry of "leave us alone to mourn" really got on my tits...

(And yes, I am aware of the irony of criticising post-structuralism and then getting three captchas wrong in a row, thank you universe)

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peeeeeeet 3 years, 10 months ago

... and should anyone be curious as to what I'm talking about, this particular period of "the anon meme" as we used to call it (OH GOD I'M SO OLD) makes for hysterical - in every sense of the word - reading:

http://who-anon.livejournal.com/6299.html

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Ununnilium 3 years, 10 months ago

Also, I'd note that the shape of "Hollywood horror" has changed not once but twice since this came out; the gorn era hit its most extreme with The Human Centipede and faded away, moving into the Paranormal Activity-inspired found footage era, and now that seems to have faded, leaving us in the vague time where people grope around for the Next Big Thing. (Which, whatever it turns out to be? Isn't The Purge. Yeesh.)

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Callum Leemkuil 3 years, 10 months ago

If I'm not mistaken, the episodes were originally supposed to air with Small Worlds coming before Cyberwoman.

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David Anderson 3 years, 10 months ago

Hadn't The Descent just come out? I don't know much about horror, but I remember it had got favourable reviews? (Sufficiently that although I haven't seen it I can say what it's about.)

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

I miss the gorn area. Watching fleshy mammals get terrorised isn't nearly as interesting.

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

The Descent was out at that time, and is a spectacularly good film. It's also British, which increases its likely influence upon UK writers hoping to come up with some interesting horror (anecdotal evidence, I know, but I rushed to see Neil Marshall's latest the weekend it was out, and caught neither Hostel nor Hills... until they arrived on DVD). I just don't see any way to work in "shitty horror films influenced 'Countrycide'" without some kind of idea of where Chibnall himself was drawing his influence.

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

This week I will be making spelling mistakes in comments gently mocking spelling mistakes. Yay.

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James V 3 years, 10 months ago

Anyone see "The Conjuring"? I think I'd be just fine if that turns out to be the benchmark for the next wave of horror movies.

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Nyq Only 3 years, 10 months ago

"For this he has an odd reputation - a despised writer where everyone seems to quibble on which one they hated, usually saying things like “Oh, I thought The Power of Three was kind of fun, but Cyberwoman was the worst thing ever.” For my part, I find myself unable to muster anything hate-sized about any of his episodes - he’s more or less the Bob Baker and David Martin (excluding the Graham Williams era) of the new series, producing consistent more-or-less-watchability."

Interesting given the (justified) acclaim for Broadchurch. Perhaps Chinball's problem was he needed more time in which to tell a story.

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landru 3 years, 10 months ago

I recall this being one of the episodes I actually thought was very solid. Mainly the lack of silliness helped. That being said, Torchwood just doesn't do a thing for me.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 10 months ago

A "general and unfortunate trend in" what?

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BerserkRL 3 years, 10 months ago

even in the mid-70s one can imagine that people who actually lived in the Scottish Isles might have been a bit miffed

Well, I've read Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory and Ken MacLeod's Intrusion. I'm a believer!

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BerserkRL 3 years, 10 months ago

It's not that I want a cast of perfect heroes/heroines. It's that some of them should be at less than epic levels of screwed-upness

So, not a big fan of Battlestar Galactica then?

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jsd 3 years, 10 months ago

I thought the message was "working here makes you a dick."

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

So, not a big fan of Battlestar Galactica then?

The difference being that in BSG one understands why the characters aren't being fired and replaced with less difficult people.

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David Thiel 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm thinking that "gorn" was, in this case, an intentional portmanteau of "gore" and "porn." (As an alternative to the phrase more widely-used to describe "Hostel" and its ilk, "torture porn.")

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Froborr 3 years, 10 months ago

I don't think "gorn" was a spelling mistake. It's a portmanteau of "gore" and "porn."

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

Oh, OK. Never seen that before. Or maybe I subconsciously refused to compute it in favour of imagining innocent teenagers terrorised by bipedal murder-lizards.

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David Thiel 3 years, 10 months ago

Absolutely hated the Gwen/Owen thing. It wasn't just that she was cheating on what seemed to be a decent enough fellow, but that she was doing so with someone as repugnant as Owen. After this point, the only thing that kept me watching was an OCD-like need for completion.

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David Thiel 3 years, 10 months ago

I'd never seen it before either; just assumed it from context. And I'm totally onboard with the murder-lizard thing.

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SpaceSquid 3 years, 10 months ago

There's your next best thing, right there.

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elvwood 3 years, 10 months ago

jsd: You're right - it's definitely that way round.

BerserkRL: I've never seen BSG. Given your comment, perhaps I shouldn't! It's the same with Eastenders, though there is a second category in the soap: the few people who don't do monumentally stupid things to screw up their relationships with each other are the ones that get dumped on from a great height, repeatedly. All in the name of "drama".

David Thiel: I'd still have been bothered if she'd started sleeping repeatedly with a nice guy. Like, say...oh, hang on, there's got to be one in the show other than Rhys...PC Andy? One stress-related slip, maybe - even with prime douchebag Owen - that's just about supportable (and the sort of thing Eastenders could milk for months); but the new ongoing affair feels like it's only there to be edgy and post-watershed.

SpaceSquid: Let me guess - Torchwood staff have better union representation than BSGers. I'm right, aren't I?

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 10 months ago

"... and the fact that Torchwood can take the 'rational explanation behind seemingly irrational events' motif from Scooby Doo..."

I, of course, think this take on what Scooby-Doo does to be something of a potentially misleading oversimplification. The thing is the supernatural world actually exists in Scooby-Doo and a lot of the key tension and structure of the show operates under the assumption you're familiar with this premise. The takeaway isn't "there's no such things as ghosts because they're always dudes in bedsheets", it's "evil people will use intimidation tactics to increase their lot in life at the expense of yours by playing off of your fears".

Of course, this reading primarily only holds for the original series. Once the franchise starts cycling through different creative teams and reboots/reimaginings, this theme becomes more fluid and less defined.

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David Anderson 3 years, 10 months ago

At least some of the characters in BSG are not entirely screwed up. More importantly the writers of BSG know how to present their screwed-up characters so that we care about them. Partly because it's a story about people under what we would consider extreme stress and so we can accept their relationships being sources of extreme stress as well. Partly because the writers take care to establish epically screwed-up as a character trait, rather than just assuming it as a normal state of being. Mostly because they work to make us care about the characters.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 10 months ago

Dinosaurs on a Spacship is my favourite episode of Doctor Who ever. I think it's the high point of the series. On that episode alone I would support Chibnall for show runner.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 10 months ago

I thought the premise was "no matter how many times they come to a haunted house, they're always surprised that it's haunted; and no matter how many times the haunting turns out to be fake, they're always surprised that it's fake; or, what if the guy from Memento were a ghostbuster."

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 10 months ago

I concur with David's reading of BSG. It's not total nihilism. As with all of Ron Moore's work, it deals a lot with ordinary people pushed to the breaking point and how they react to that.

There's also the mystical component, but that's a whole other thing unto itself.

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 10 months ago

This is the reason *why* they're always surprised it's a false haunting (well, that and borderline negative continuity): They have no reason to immediately suspect the haunting is fake because if the supernatural realm exists than the logical first impression would be that the place truly *is* haunted.

This is why the criminals are so reprehensible and irredeemable: They're exploiting people's justified fears of ancient and dangerous forces for profit and power.

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James V 3 years, 10 months ago

Someone should do an Eruditorum-style blog on Scooby Doo. I love Scooby Doo.

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Josh Marsfelder 3 years, 10 months ago

This was actually my plan before I was convinced, probably rightly, to do Vaka Rangi instead. I hope to still do that project someday: It would be a complete retrospective on the Scooby-Doo franchise from the premier of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! in 1969 (with skips back to 1968 to look at its origins as Mysteries Five) to the finale of What's New, Scooby-Doo? in 2005.

If anyone's terribly interested, I wrote sort of a sampler of what the project might look like last year for my Soda Pop Art blog, which is temporarily on hiatus:

http://soda-pop-art.blogspot.com/2012/07/wherefore-art-thou-scooby-doo_10.html

http://soda-pop-art.blogspot.com/2012/07/don-tell-me-you-scared-show-that-could_12.html

http://soda-pop-art.blogspot.com/2012/07/american-gothic-scooby-doo-where-are-you.html

http://soda-pop-art.blogspot.com/2012/07/im-creamof-great-utopia-dream-daphne.html

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Ross 3 years, 10 months ago

If negative continuity is why they're always surprised that the haunting turns out to be a guy in a mask, is that also why every few years, when a new Scooby-Doo revival happens, the marketing is always framed around "But this time, the monsters are REAL!" as if it's the first time that's ever been the case, when the monsters in scooby doo have been real in at least 50% of the adaptations of Scooby Doo since at least 1985 (1972 if you count the fact that the Addams Family guest starred)

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

Isn't the fundamental difference between the 'Countrycide' denoument and the generic 'Scooby Doo' reveal that there is no profit motive and the family are not actively trying to scare people away (quite the opposite in fact). The twist is not 'There are no monsters' it is surely 'there are monsters amongst us'.

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

You're being ironic, right? Serious question, if not please explain.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 10 months ago

No. Dinosaurs is a wonderful episode. It keeps moving, we have a mystery the segue ways into having an actual antagonist. We have Dinosaurs (always a plus) and some fun guest companions. We also have some very very human moments (Brian scolding Rory for not having a trowel) as well as a scene that sums up the series best (and brings on the tears: Brian eating his lunch over Earth. It's absolutely delightful. We need more episodes like this.

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Anton B 3 years, 10 months ago

Okay, none of those things begin to redeem it in my eyes. We should agree to differ.

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Theonlyspiral 3 years, 10 months ago

Sounds like you have a powerful disdain for it.

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Mark Hiebert 2 years, 5 months ago

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