Doctor Who – New Earth

Reinstated from Scary Rob’s Doctor Who Blog

I really didn’t want to have to write a review like this for the first episode of the season. Had I not caused myself to feel obliged to write a review by failing to post my review of The Christmas Invasion in time for the start of the series, I would have just pretended to let this review slip my mind. Okay, so I didn’t outright hate New Earth but I still felt it was a damp way to start the season. For one thing, it bored me. I had absolutely no interest in the plot at all. Cassandra’s reappearance was humdrum, the zombies in the hospital were a bit unthreatening and the resolution was way too easy and an insult to the intelligence of anyone with even a basic grasp of chemistry and biology. What the hell does Russell T Davies think he’s playing at?

The episode seems to a mere vehicle. First and foremost, it acted as a way to give a proper send-off to a character that Mr Davies has a lot of affection for. The final scene, I admit, was brilliantly done but it was not worth sitting through the misconceived mess of the rest of the episode for. Secondly, what with the conception of Torchwood as a series, it looks like the word has been abandoned as this season’s ‘Bad Wolf’. Instead it appears we now have a well-executed mystery in the form of the Face of Boe’s great secret. I love the idea – and the reference to ‘the lonely god’ tickles the New Adventures side of my fannishness. Yet, again, I say that this doesn’t excuse the rest of the episode. I know that Davies’ scripts are usually a bit thin on plot but New Earth wasn’t even held up by a string of good ideas. The episode felt a bit like it was just meandering directionless, trying to impart a couple of ideas and fill a gap at the start of the season. Doctor Who has always been prone to the occasional weak episode but starting a season with a complete duff ’un strikes me as a rather silly mistake to make.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe everyone else thought that the mystery of the hospital held the episode up atmospherically and that Cassandra’s sub-plot was an exceptional (or at least adequate) way to reintroduce a popular and fascinating villain. Maybe the mind swap isn’t the children’s fantasy cliché I think it is. Maybe the Duke of Manhattan’s lawyer was actually funny. Maybe if you mix a shed-load of chemicals designed to be administered intra-venously the resulting solution does work by skin-contact alone, have all the effects of the individual solutions and behave like a contagious virus. Or maybe the production team should take a leaf out of Christopher H Bimead’s book and start using something that at least resembles real science in the new series’ plots. I bet Kit Pedler’s turning in his grave…

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~ by Scary Rob on 19 April, 2006.

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