An Epic Whinge
A review of ‘The Stolen Earth’ / ‘Journey’s End’. This is from the old site; heavily edited and partly rewritten. Not much politics in this. It’s mostly about what I see as shortcomings in dramatic values.
So, it’s the end of the season again and it’s time for the Earth to be invaded again, by semi-mechanical aliens again, some of them flying down from the sky to shoot the people who are conveniently milling about in the streets like targets. Again.
Meanwhile, the obligatory soldiers are dying as they fight their obligatory pointless last stand while General Dempsey (or is it Makepeace? I never could remember which was which) gets to say things like “Ladies and Gentlemen… we are at war!” (how original) and hand Martha the obligatory Ominous Bit of Unexplained Technology, which this week has a name that sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel.
But all that stuff is happening in the background, ceding the foreground to the Meeting of the Spin-Offs.
The fact that we are watching the linkage of bits of a franchise (rather than, say, characters meeting each other) is underlined by the fact that they meet on a screen, as though Rose (who’s been off doing all the stuff that would’ve constituted Rose Tyler: Earth Defence if it’d got made) is watching four different Doctor Who programmes at once.
But what is the point of all this multi-show and multicontinuity convergence? ‘The Stolen Earth’ is behaving like it is trying to “sum up an era” (i.e. the last four years) in order to provide a fittingly epic swansong for David Tennant. In fact, it seems almost as if this vast fanwank panorama has been created in order to gull the unwary (all those people who hadn’t seen the pics from the filming of the Christmas special) into thinking that a proper regeneration really is on the cards.
The approach taken by ‘The Stolen Earth’ might be the kind of thing that the general public would expect from a Tennant bow-out. A ‘Greatest Hits’ medley before the curtains come down. How strange that ‘Rose’ insisted on behaving as though the fans didn’t exist and now ‘The Stolen Earth’ treats the entire nation like fans, expecting them to put up with acres of technobabble and to be thrilled by the reappearances of Harriet Jones, Captain Jack, Sarah-Jane, the Judoon, etc., etc., etc. They are even expected to be thrilled by the return of Davros. Even the continuity announcer talked about “the return of an old enemy”. Hearing that, those millions of non-fan viewers watching probably expected to see the Master turn up, or Margaret Slitheen, or the Dalek Emperor.
The only explanation seems to be that RTD & Co. are actually thinking of their viewership as all being fans. That’s why they can pitch ‘The Stolen Earth’ as David Tennant’s Epic Last Story (Or Is It?), Featuring All Your Old Favourites.
Thing is… from amidst this vast collision of back-references, something bigger does emerge. A feeling of unity.…