Saturday, 24 September 2011

That Doctor Who Thing (Week 5)

Sort of a redux version tonight folks - only the thousand and a half words, Review Lite if you prefer - as I am feeling utterly ghastly with the bug which is picking off most folk in Glasgow currently.

But the show must go on, so here it is:

This is the bit where I ramble on about spoilers without spoiling things so people who accidentally click on this link expecting the football results and not the results of Doctor Who.

Here are the results of the football. Skaro 1, Gallifrey 1 in the early Kick Off, Mars 9 (NINE) Dulkus 0.

So..consider that done.

There has been a lot of ranting about episode ratings just now though. Don't worry, the sky hasn't fallen down. Keith Topping once had a great FAQ guide to Doctor Who ratings, which I am unsure if he still uses, the jist of which can be described as "You could panic in the 80s, but these right here are good ratings."

So why are the newspapers full of falling ratings. 5million for the simply wonderful God Complex! That's like a McCoy rating. Well, it's impossible to compare classic and new Who ratings. For one thing, there is more channels. Lots more. There's also Sky Plus, Iplayer, DVDrs and, dare I say it, illegal downloads. Yes, I know some of you watch the show illegaly, your knowledge of it can be quite suspicious for folk outwith the UK (and before the US showing). None of these other methods are accounted for in the overnights. That's just the people who watched on a TV, who are counted by the BARB lot.

Final results, which come in a week later, and you may not, tend to be much higher - nearly 2 million higher in some instances - count all these other people, and repeats.

They don't count Iplayer viewings or downloads though. So me and Mandy's weekly Doctor Who isn't counted at all in the ratings, though, I should add, it IS counted by the BBC internally. And how many of those TVs are family ones? When you get a rating, you really ought to double it internally to get a rough low estimate of how many people are watching the episode.

And this isn't favouritism. It's the same of X-Factor, and all those other wildly popular shows.

The BBC loves Doctor Who just now, and loves the money and media it brings in, no doubt. The show is in good form, it may not be as popular as it was when Tennant was the Doctor, but it's not anywhere near danger. The Girl Who Waited after all, in this series which is meant to have seen a lull in support for the show, actually got the 2nd highest overnight of any Episode 10 in the new series, except for The Doctor Dances. Yeah, that's right, it beat all of the Tennant episodes.

Crisis? Nah.

Closing Time

Cybermen! I love Cybermen. Recently I wrote a 7000 word article about Cybermen for Whotopia, with contributions from Arnold T Blumberg and Toby Hadoke, which should be worth a read when the issue is released, I'd assume. The jist was, that I love Cybermen stories. Proper Cyber stories, none of this Cybusmen baloney we have had in recent years. This would also go to see if Tim Collins was talking sense on the Earthshock DVD, or bollocks, when he said that there was only good Cybermen stories under a Tory government. An argument which seems to ignore Moonbase, Tomb, Invasion, and, more pertinently for him, Attack of the Cybermen.

The Cybermen here were definitely Cybermen of the old guard. No more "upgrading", tonight we nearly saw a full blown conversion for one of the few times in Doctor Who. Even as a rag tag bunch of survivors - which to be fair, the Cybermen always were, this is just taken to the extreme in this episode - they are a formidable foe. I like how the Cybermen have had 1 episode and 2 cameos in the Moffat era of Who, and have been built up as a formidable race of might, out there. Restoration of the Cybermen almost complete. We just need a creepy Cyberman 2 parter next Series which can be immediately lauded as an all time classic to seal the deal.

And...centuries forgotten crashed Cybership underneath a department store? I laughed.

Toy shops. A place where toy snakes, and dolls, and murderous clowns are sold. A place as unlikely to feature in a horror story as Maine is in a Stephen King. Gareth Roberts has a good record in Who, though his stories tend to be Marmite ones in fandom. First there was The Shakespeare Code, which drew ire for showing the popularist playwright as a popular playwright. Then came the Agatha Christie episode Unicorn and the Wasp, which was a harmless romp including every Christie motif you could think of. And then last year came The Lodger, well received enough to have this sequel.

I wasn't that fond of James Corden in The Lodger, because it was hard to avoid thinking of him as James Corden, a comedian I am not fond of. This must be the same trouble people had with Ken Dodd, though since I have no problems with Ken Dodd he has not irked me in Delta and the Bannermen. Here he was in far better form, but then he had a role which immediately makes one sympathetic to an audience: panicky new dad!

Daisy Haggard is wonderful in Man Stroke Woman, a genuinely hilarious BBC4 comedy sketch show from several years ago, which I strongly advise people to look up. Me and Louise - yes, the same Louise responsible for the creation of The Watcher - once sat up and watched the entire series on a Christmas repeat marathon. Brilliant show. Sadly, Daisy is blink and you miss it in this episode, appearing at the start and finish ala the mum from Night Terrors.

Lynda Barron has a Doctor Who connection already. She sings The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon, in that wonderful Hartnell comedy The Gunfighters. No, seriously, it is brilliant, go give a watch if you are relying on fan perceived wisdom. Later, she would appear in the less successful but more loved - fun how these things work out - Enlightenment, as the alien pirate Captain Wrack, a role which demanded and got a rather OTT performance. Here she had the role of a friendly cashier, who thought The Doctor and Craig were a gay couple. She was the light relief in a comic episode with Cybermen in it.

Cybermats were first seen in Tomb of the Cybermen. They then returned in The Wheel in Space, and later in the rather forgettable Revenge of the Cybermen. They didn't have teeth before, but were far better here than in bloody Revenge, where they look like CSO squiggly waves. Cybermats in the toy shop is a self fufilling prophecy, I'd guess.

This was set up as an interlude. We all know the Doctor is going to die, we saw it in Episode 1. We also all know he is going to get out of somehow. The most common fan idea doing the rounds just now is that Gangers are involved, which makes sense, sadly. The Minotaur last week didn't half give away a lot of foreshadowing about the ancient creature "dripping in blood, for whom death would be welcome". And in the Girl Who Waited, The Doctor does mention, in practically large neon letters, that if someone knows their future they can change it, if they are stubborn enough. Is the Doctor stubborn enough? Well, of course he is. Though, when River Song says that the Doctor will fall further than he ever has, remember, it doesn't need to be a big set piece fall. Metaphorical falling can happen, and seems to be happening in recent weeks, as The Doctor went in guns blazing in A Good Man Goes to War, failed, and now he sees the consequences: broken trust with his companionship, losing faith in himself, the talk of his God Complex, which leads other innocents to their death. It's been happening already.

Which is when I look really dumb next week when he falls off a building.

We finished with our set up of River Song going off to kill the Doctor. The Silence are back, as is Madame Kevorian. The whole thing is set up so obviously, that one would be foolish not to expect a Moffat trick, probably of the timey wimey experience, next week. The trailer certainly looked very strange, with pterodactyls, Ancient Egypt, Silurians, a Dalek (?), Churchill and Victorian steam trains. I wonder what type of story would incorporate all of those.

Oh, and Amy Pond showed up. She's "The Girl Who Is Tired of Waiting". That fall continues.

So...Closing Time.

Not top of the range Who.

Not rubbish either.

So it's either a Pete or a McRani.

McRani then. It was ok for what it was, and I appreciate the increased threat of the Cybermen after the lull of the Cybus. Still felt a bit light though, which is weird for a story with The Doctor's greatest (Dalek who?) enemies.

Till next time, that was the Who that was.