Friday, May 21, 2010

Why the new Dr Who sucks

Posted By on May 21, 2010, 7:03 AM

I gave it my best try but seriously, the new Dr Who on BBC America just doesn't cut it. And it's not just the fault of the 11th incarnation of the do-gooding British timelord, Matt Smith.---

What was so remarkable about the best of Russell Davies' four season run as rejuvenator and writer of 31 episodes of the reborn Brit TV show that so haunted my childhood was how dark some of his nightmarish visions could be. My favorite was an episode involving the ghost of a child in London during the Blitz of World War Two who had a gas mask welded to his face. It was an extraordinary image that evoked the best TV equivalent of those glorious literary moments in Bram Stoker or other great horror writers when you feel as if the words are creeping up the back of your neck.

With Davies gone and his second in command, Steven Moffat, in charge, along with a new doctor played by the youngest actor ever to take the role, Matt Smith, what's left me irritated and frustrated has been the twee, sci-fi drift of the stories. Even an appearance by the death-masters themselves, the Daleks, lacked spice or conviction. Davies had the balls to actually make a Dalek compassionate - in Moffat's hands they become almost irrelevant.

Smith has a certain manic charm and may reveal darker sides further on, but all I could see was a lot of unfocussed energy with unfortunate echoes of David Tennant's gloriously manic, if it at times tedious, turn for three seasons. He's like a defanged and sedated Crispin Glover.

I hope Smith and Moffat can find an approach that works. I'd like my girls to experience some of the ghoulish terrors that kept so many kids of my generation hiding behind the sofa when the new Dr Who monster debuted in the show's original 25 minute 6 episode story lines. Thus far, though, I have my doubts.


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