Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Mild Spoilers for the new Doctor Who, the series four premiere of Enterprise and the last couple of episodes of series eight of SG-1 and series one of Stargate: Atlantis.

I've just finished watching the first episode of the new Doctor Who series that's been floating around BitTorrent sites all week to the annoyance of the BBC. I thought it was really pretty good, Christopher Eccleston is good as the Doctor (one of the best lines of the show, Rose: "If you're an alien, why do you sound like you're from the North?", Doctor: "Lots of planets have a North!"), but I'm not yet sure if he's going to be great. The first episode is introducing us to the Doctor Who world via Rose, his new companion, for the benefit of those that weren't even born the last time the show was on TV so his performance is one of touching all the various bases of his character (occasional grimness, sense of wonder, manic humour). I'm holding final judgement until I've seen another few episodes, I'm very disappointed that he's wearing jeans and a leather jacket, very dull. Billie Piper as Rose is much better than I (and I suspect most other people) thought she was going to be, think Bonnie Langford as Mel, only not shit. And the seemingly ubiquitous Mark Benton puts in an appearence too. The new TARDIS set is amazing.

It's not perfect. Some of the CGI is a bit dodgy, the finale is also clumsy but if you have any interest in the sci-fi genre or Doctor Who then you should enjoy this, when the BBC finally get round to airing it at the end of the month.

The moral of an enforced rest for the franchise is one that the Star Trek producers and the CRETINs trying to reverse Enterprise's cancelation should take note of. There was no creative reason that Doctor Who couldn't have continued after the last series but the decade break has given new heads a chance to try a new direction. Compare this to the Enterprise series four opener where, yet again, Star Trek strokes it's fascination with World War Two. A tiresome plot device means that aliens from the future have travelled back to WW2 and joined up with the Nazis (of course) who now are poised to beat the last resistance in Russia and, as we find, the good brave U.S. Why do 'creatives' still need to masterbate over their twin fantasies of absolute control and domination (i.e: the Nazis and their kinky uniforms) and the last time the United States could be said to be fighting a good fight (i.e: WW2)? Three or four years ago Voyager did a story with aliens in Nazi uniforms and although the window dressing is different that's what this plot reminds me of the most. The franchise is creatively bankrupt and a break can only do it good.

The last few episodes of the first series of Stargate: Atlantis have been interesting. It's biggest handicap is that Stargate: SG-1 is still going and, in it's last season has been guilty of some incredibly bad plotting (Anubis again?!, bringing O'Neill/Carter slash on to the screen, Jacob's sudden death, Teal'c's hair) and the running plot of the two different teams trying to contact one another, which nicely dovetail into the last episode of the first season of Atlantis. The mediocrity of it's older sibling sours what would have been an outstanding first season for Atlantis if it was going out on it's own.

The battle scenes in the last episode must rate as some of the most impressive CGI on telly ever, someone watched the 'Invasion of Zion' scenes from The Matrix Revolutions and worked out how to do them on the much lower budget of television shows. It went to the best tradition in SG-1 (which have been absent in the parent show recently) of intelligent scripting, rewarding fans for watching the whole series with numerous reference to earlier episodes. The cliffhanger is a bit stupid though, do we seriously think most of the cast are dead (what would be interesting is if they are)? And I must have missed the meeting about the Earth warships being something to celebrate, bad enough that a second spaceship has been built without anyone mentioning it but these ships are crap compared to those of the Go'uld, so as the Wraith are supposed to be more bad-ass (I initially typed bad-arse but that really does imply something different in this context) than them I'm not sure how this new ship turning up is going to tip the battle in the humans favour. I suppose we'll have to wait for the Autumn to find out.


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