The inevitable round-up of my Timelash II stuff on Series 4 and the ‘specials’. It’s a bumpy ride.
Voyage of the Damned
In this story, fat people or little people are there to sacrifice themselves when the plot needs them to, having shown some fatuous mechanical bravery and/or expressed some mawkish emotion-by-numbers. Sexy, pretty people are inherently of more value, whatever their intellectual vapidity and hollowness as characters, as evidenced by the Doctor’s laughably protracted and exaggerated heartbreak over the death of anonymous, mechanised dummy Astrid (seriously, I was waiting for her to be revealed as an Auton). The episode itself mourns her too, with its frankly revolting music and hilarious over-emphasis on her passing (one last kiss with the radiant ghost, a shooting star, etc…)
We’re supposed to gasp with awe at the way RTD Subverts Expectations by letting Unpleasant Posh Bloke survive while ‘good’ people die (oooh, have a little pat on the head you good little people – you have done your master’s bidding and died on cue like the plot fodder you always were)… but so what? Bad people don’t always get their comeuppance? Wow, thanks for that.
And, in any case, this ‘message’ is undercut by the way we’re obviously supposed to consider the death of Astrid more important than all the other deaths in the episode. Why is this? Well, RTD makes the Minogue character into a lowly waitress… but this only suggests that he’s desperately trying to deny the patently obvious: she’s more important in the story because she’s played by a star.
Remember that bit in ‘The Stolen Earth’ when Davros taunts the Doctor about how he turns ordinary people into killers and the Doctor then has a maudlin (and irrelevant) series of flashbacks of all the people he’s known who’ve died? We get a flash of Astrid. Do we get flashes of Morvin, Foon and Banakafalatta? In a pig’s arse. Little people. Not important. That’s why it’s so unintentionally revealing when, in ‘Waters of Mars’, we’re supposed to be shocked by the Doctor using the actual phrase “little people”. Thing is, the show itself has been thinking like that for ages. Even in ‘Waters of Mars’, the death of the Lindsy Duncan character is more earthshattering because she’s played by Lindsy Duncan.
As Lawrence Miles said, RTD is now so thoroughly trapped in the self-celebrating Meedja echo chamber that he now has the Doctor being chased by BAFTAs.
Yes, the villain turns out to be a ruthless capitalist (who – as in Bond films – is bad because he’s a criminal, not because he’s a capitalist) but this hardly says anything at all… not in an episode in which we’re also supposed to think that Wilf’s patriotic bibble is cute and lovable, in which the Doctor is implied to be a friend of the Queen, in which his big achievement is to save Buckingham Palace. The implications are thoroughly and mindlessly reactionary. Right-wing, Little Englander, flag-waving, royalty-saluters are Lovable British Eccentrics. The British state and aristocracy are Lovable British Eccentrics.…