Doctor Who Write-Ups

Doctor Who – The Savages (1966)

This time the Doctor and his companions found themselves on a planet that appears uninhabited by intelligent life except for a single city. The Doctor sets out to explore, leaving behind Steven and Dodo, and finds himself taken to meet the Elders, who run the technologically advanced society within the city. Both the Doctor and the Elders are complimentary toward each other; the Elders claim they’ve observed some of the Doctor’s adventures and greet him as the Traveler, while the Doctor also recognizes the Elders’ planet and notes that they’ve achieved a great deal of scientific and cultural progress in a short span. However, the Elders, especially one named Jano, are elusive when the Doctor asks how their civilization evolved so quickly in the first place. Meanwhile an impatient Steven and Dodo set out on their own and find themselves stalked by people using Stone Age weapons. Before they can investigate further, they are also taken by the Elders’ soldiers to the city as honored guests and given a tour. It isn’t long, though, before Dodo stumbles across the answer to the Doctor’s questions: the Elders have been abducting people from the surrounding landscape and literally siphoning off their mental energy.

Finding his suspicions confirmed by Dodo, the Doctor rages against the Elders. Seeing a golden opportunity, Jano decides to subject the Doctor to the siphoning process, in spite of the objections of the scientists who have never subjected a strong intellect to the process before, and receive the Doctor’s intelligence himself. Unfortunately for Jano, he absorbs some of the Doctor’s personality as well. As for Dodo and Stephen, they escape from the city and are hidden in a cave system from the Elders’ troops by the “savages.” The companions learn that the “savages” used to be an advanced race with a sophisticated culture, but generations of being exposed to the process en masse has caused their civilization to regress. With their help, Dodo and Steven rescue a very weakened but still conscious and slowly recovering Doctor.

After being thoroughly exposed to the Doctor’s personality, Jano sabotages the technology that makes the process possible while Dodo and Steven help the “savages” revolt against the Elders’ army. The leaders of both societies agree to establish a new society together, but the Doctor worries that the process won’t run smoothly and asks Steven to stay behind as a mediator. Steven (who doesn’t seem to have much of a choice) “volunteers”, leaving behind the TARDIS.

Comments

As much as I’ve enjoyed doing write-ups of past “Who” episodes and while I genuinely have been extremely busy and stressed the past several weeks, this one took some time and effort just to get through. It’s not because it’s a bad serial, at least relatively, but it is depressingly typical of the show’s third series: a plot derivative of what’s come before (in fact, the whole story feels like a retread of most of “The Space Museum”) and there’s little depth to the alien worlds the Doctor encounters. That’s not to say that the first two seasons should be known for having elaborate settings and backstories, but there’s just something missing from the worlds that we’ve seen so far. Especially compared to “The Sensorites” or “The Web Planet”, even the window dressing that at least gives the alien settings the illusion of depth seems to be missing. There are good points – the actor playing Jano actually does a decent job of imitating Hartnell’s mannerisms and the like – and it’s certainly not nearly as much of a chore to sit through as “The Gunfighters” or “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve”, but it is bland enough that it is actually harder to formulate an opinion on it.

Ah, and Steven…we hardly knew ye. For the First Doctor era, companions with little or no background are par for the course, but the character of Steven seemed to have quite a bit of potential. Like the departures of Susan and Vicki, this one is clearly a showrunner mandate, and it’s sort of a shame it had to come now since having Steven depart from the TARDIS the way he did at the end of “The Massacre” would have been a much more suitable bookmark to the character’s career as a companion. Ah well, at least series three is almost over…

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Adventures in Revisionism

Die Matters, or Family Hard?

Die Hard and Family Matters take place in the same universe.  After all, Carl Winslow appears in both.

I know some of you naysayers will point out tiny details like “Family Matters takes place in Chicago, Die Hard takes place in Los Angeles” or “Reginald VelJohnson’s characters have completely different names; the only thing they have in common is that they’re cops, you idiot!”  All I have to say is that it’s because of skeptics and cynics like you we didn’t get that X-Files/Picket Fences crossover.  Shame on you.

What convinced me is a special revelation. When I watched Die Hard again but with my cultural analyst skills well honed and fully deployed, I realized that Hans Gruber was merely a pawn.  Yes, he represented the ultimate American villain – cold, calculating, elitist, and foreign –  but he represented it too well.  Does an obviously sophisticated man who brags about his classical education and is able to deliver devastating critiques about American culture, someone who could no doubt bluff his way into almost any well-paying job (especially in the United States), seem like one who’d stoop to associating with a bunch of violent thugs for nothing but money?  Hell, even Holly McClain realizes this when she points out that Hans Gruber for all his posturing is just “a common thief.”  He’s so obviously a caricature of a master criminal rather than an actual criminal it must be deliberate, and a clue toward some larger and far more sinister scheme.

Could he be a classical actor forced into a role that goes out of hand very quickly but he clings to it anyway because his family was being held hostage or something along those lines?  Or was something more bizarre happening?  Was Hans Gruber in actuality a poor Russian history professor or New York literary agent mind-controlled through some improbable technological means?  But, especially in a “realistic” universe like that of the Die Hard franchise, who would have the means?

My God…Steve Urkel!!!

He created his own alternate personality, his own clones, a teleportation device, and even a time machine.  Brainwashing someone into becoming a ruthless criminal would be the equivalent of a third grader’s volcano model.

Sadly, the Die Hard franchise never addresses what is done with the true mastermind behind the first film (and, perhaps, all the films?).  However, I would dare to venture a hypothetical.

Carl Winslow:  You damn kid!  I always knew it was you!  I took your skinny nerdy ass in and this is how you repay me?!

Urkel:  But Caaaaaaaarl…I thought I could finally get Laura to like me if I entered the world of international criminal intrigue!  

Carl:  Now you better pray that Laura likes Swiss cheese.

*BANG**BANG**BANG**BANG**BANG**

Incidentally, this is also the real conclusion to Family Matters.  

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Doctor Who Write-Ups

Doctor Who – The Gunfighters (1966)

Looking around their next surroundings for a dentist to help with the Doctor’s toothache, Steven and Dido find out that they’re in the town of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. Dido and Steven are equally excited, which only irritates the Doctor, still complaining about his tooth. Right away, Steven and Dido get a little too involved with their settings and Steven’s outlandish gunslinger clothing gets everyone arrested by Wyatt Earp, who is trying to keep any potential violence at a minimum since the Clanton brothers are in town and looking for revenge against Doc Holliday.

The Doctor tells Earp and Sheriff Behan that he and the companions are a traveling theater trope, but adds (truthfully) that they are just stopping by to see a dentist. The Doctor reluctantly lets Doc Holliday (who actually was a trained dentist) treat his toothache while Steven and Dido check into the local salon, where the Clantons overhear them talking about “the Doctor” and assume they’re working with Doc Holliday. When one of the Clantons, who have no idea what Doc Holliday “invites” the Doctor for a drink, Doc Holliday overhears and tricks the Doctor into dressing up like him and taking his gun. As the Clantons force Dodo and Steven to perform, the oblivious Doctor walks in, but quickly realizes what’s going on when he recognizes the name “Clanton.” The Doctor tries to talk his way out of it but Holliday’s lover Big Nose Kate is there to protect the ruse – but also to help the Doctor hold the Clantons at gunpoint. Breaking up the fight, Earp arrests the Doctor again to protect him, but later the Clantons whip up a riot in the town against Earp, with Steven as a scapegoat in case they can’t get Holliday. In the meantime Holliday plans to escape from town with Dodo as a hostage.

Earp rescues Steven from the mob just as he’s about to be lynched. The Doctor and Steven are prepared to leave when they found out that Holliday had taken Dodo. Away from the town, Holliday promises to take Dodo back to Tombstone, but is impressed enough when Dodo tries to force him to leave at gunpoint that he decides to take her back right away. However, Steven has already left to track down Holliday with Johnny Ringo. Over the passionate objections of the Doctor, Earp deputizes him, as events escalate toward the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. After the gunfight’s over, the Doctor and Dodo say farewell to Doc Holliday, arriving at somewhen the Doctor claims is “on the brink of an age of peace and prosperity.”

Choice Quotes

“And lastly, sir, your humble servant…Doctor Caligari.”
“Doctor who?”
“Yes, quite right.”

Comments

Rumor has it (or maybe it’s an actual fact, I don’t get paid for these so don’t expect me to do more than Google-level research) that “The Gunfighters” is the reason why the showrunners stopped doing historicals altogether. I don’t quite believe it; after all, it can’t be a coincidence that the historicals started to fizzle out around the same time the showrunner regime changed for the first time. But it is true that this serial does have a really bad reputation among not only fans, but apparently the audiences who first watch this serial reacted by, to quote Thor, bellowing, “I say thee NAY!”

I wish I could be a contrarian with this like I was with “The Web Planet”, but I have to admit watching this was a bit of a slog. For one thing, there’s this bizarre, awful, and bizzare-ly awful faux-Western ballad that overtakes the action of the serial every three minutes (you only wish I was exaggerating), sometimes repeating the very same lyrics that were sung just three minutes ago. For another, well, the Doctor and his companions are completely useless here. It was fun seeing Steven and Dodo react like thrilled tourists for once, especially since the show’s start the Doctor’s companions have seemed relatively nonplussed about the prospects of time travel, but the thrill of seeing the Old West must have also caused their minds to shut down. Worse, the Doctor seems completely passive and inept, almost as if this isn’t a series about someone who gets out of sticky situations with his wits alone. By the time we do get to the O.K. Corral shoot-out, our main crew really are little more than observers who occasionally step in only to move the plot along.

I should admit there are bright spots. Anthony Jacobs plays a good Doc Holliday, conveying him as a character that’s mischievous and reckless but dangerous all the same. And the first half of the serial, where Holliday sets up the Doctor to take the fall (even if it does involve the Doctor acting more clueless than we’re used to), is kind of fun, before the writers decide that they want to do something halfway approaching a serious take on the legend of the Wild West instead of a Western pastiche. At the very, absolute least, if you can get past the horrors of the infinite ballad it’s rarely boring, which is more than can be said for the last historical the new regime attempted.

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Spiritual Warfare, Video Games

Spiritual Warfare Part 4: Our Darkest Hour

In my first installment of this seemingly neverending series I joked about how easy Spiritual Warfare was.  Of course, that didn’t last, and almost immediately the game cranked up the challenge dial to near “Screw You” levels.   This being a Wisdom Tree game, naturally, the challenge mostly comes out of built-in unfairness, like a Math exam where almost half of a word problem has been cut off by sloppy use of the copier but the teacher is sadistic enough to deny you automatic credit for it anyway.

No, it’s not about love. It’s about a pretty obvious allegory for the Roman Empire that deranged morons interpret as being about the UN and nuclear war, which someone in the second century AD would have totally been able to understand.  But I don’t think this is what they had in mind by making the answer “false.”

At least I have been able to totally kick-ass with the biblical questions, which is important, since I’ve been needing the health points and the odds of an enemy dropping a heart is about one million to one.   It also gave me an unintentional ego boost.  See, one of the questions asked…

…the “correct” answer is false.  However, Jesus does say that divorce is acceptable in cases of “sexual immorality” (Matthew 19:9).  I know more about Scripture than the people at Wisdom Tree!  That’s…not much of a victory, honestly.

Anyway, once you get to the tougher areas of the Slum, and more so when you start out in the Warehouse region of the map, you start to see what the programmers had in mind when they were told to increase the difficulty for the kids.  For one thing, instead of mazes in Labyrinths, the game presents mazes that involve going through buildings and passing through insultingly easy “puzzles” that consist of nothing more than pushing obstacles out of your way.  The kicker, which only a truly bad video game publisher like Wisdom Tree can deliver, is that sometimes you go through all that trouble, fighting and pushing obstacles through two or three whole buildings in a row, only to find that you just end up at a point in the overworld that you could have accessed just by walking a few screens over anyway.  Sure, you might pick up a cache of bombs on the way, but that’s it.

The game had been building up to this style of “challenge” and “fun” for a while, but it really comes to a head in the Warehouse area, which is at least 90% wandering around buildings and underground tunnels that mostly lead nowhere. It would be nice if the game gave you any indication of whether or not you’ve cleared an area, or if you had a separate map for each of the special regions, but they don’t, so the game becomes less of a “game” and more of an “infinite abyss of existential despair.”  There are even points in the Warehouse region where you seemingly have no choice but to take damage.

See that tunnel where the thug is shooting bullets (as big as he is but whatever)?  And that he happens to be shooting from the other end of where I’m climbing down?   The thug does fire in a very predictable pattern, but NotLink definitely does not move fast enough to get to the other ladder before a bullet gets to him.  Nor is any of NotLink’s weapons capable of reaching the thug from that distance.  You could try to run over, get in firing distance, and run back to your original position before a bullet catches you, but that doesn’t work either since the bullets are faster than NotLink.  Really the only option is to take the damage, count on the one-second invincibility that you get from being damaged, and use that to get to the ladder.  The game just doesn’t leave you with any other option.

So, after dealing with things like that, I think I’ve finally worked out which buildings just lead to other easily accessible buildings (which is apparently most of them) and which ones actually lead somewhere.  While again Spiritual Warfare doesn’t deign to inform you of your goals in any given area, the Warehouse region, while hard and annoying and frustrating and despair-inducing, is one of the few spots where you are mercifully given a clue as to what you’re supposed to do:  find the Boots that let you walk on lava (yes, there’s lava just bursting through the streets in this game;  I think this city has many more problems than just homicidal atheists).  I get excited as I start to reach rooms and spots in the region I don’t recognize.  Unfortunately, another sign is that the game ups its dickishness even more.

Case in point:  a tunnel where apparently a squad of thugs have just been waiting around, just for a chance to see NotLink dead.  The picture doesn’t quite convey the hopelessness of this scenario.  The bullets are all but impossible to dodge, especially because the enemies fire them almost simultaneously, and you have to climb up and down three ladders until you’re anywhere close to the right distance needed to retaliate.  It’s at this point that I no longer believe this is a game made for a Christian audience.  No, it was a nefarious plot by Richard Dawkins to make Christian kids so disgusted with Christian video games they’d give up their religion, if not faith in any divine being entirely.  “How could Jesus give his name to anything this unholy?” they’d say.

With such theories buzzing in my mind, I still made it, even though my almost full life bar has been reduced to a heart and a half.  However, as I go through the exit my heart skipped a beat.  I wouldn’t have put it past the programmers of this game, out of sheer sadism or incompetence, to create such an unforgiving area and have it result in the player just looping back to the main Warehouse region.  As soon as I make it to the other side, I breathed a sigh of relief.  It’s a new area!  And given how hard it was just to get this far, the Boots must be just a couple of screens away.  With the Boots, I can finally say I finished one more “level”, putting me one step closer to finishing this Old Testament-style plague on the human race.  So I walk a couple of screens over and…

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Administrative

Change? Ya Got Change?

Without going into detail about my day job, let me just say that summers are usually tough for me financially, because I literally don’t get paid from May until August.  Now I’ll admit that I’m still able to pay rent with just my savings and I can pick up a few odd jobs to help make sure I don’t starve, but nonetheless money is always really tight this time of year and every little bit of income I can piece together until the end of summer helps tremendously.  I don’t like asking for charity, so instead let me just say if you enjoyed my posts at all and you happen to have some money to burn, feel free to throw in a few bucks by clicking on that PayPal icon to the right.

Another thing too is that I really would like to get cracking on things so obscure that you can’t even find it on the Internet.  Case in point:  Oops!, the crappy sitcom about a post-apocalyptic Earth, only has a couple of episodes up on YouTube.  Also I don’t think you can even torrent it.  Instead you have to pick up an unofficial DVD made by collectors.  So, not to blackmail my five or six readers, but the more donations I get throughout the year obviously the easier it would be for me to justify getting and writing up the obscurest crap imaginable.

Thanks in advance, and expect another installment in the my adventures with a certain horrible Christian Zelda rip-off later this week.

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"New" Who

Thoughts on the ‘New’ Who Series: The Next Doctor

So to be honest I feel like I’m competing against the writer and presenter of “Twatty Who Reviews,” Diamanda Hagan, which is unwise considering that Hagan has nuked at least a couple of cities.  She and I tend to have the same opinions on the RTD era of the “new” Doctor Who series, so much so I feel like it’s down to whoever gets to share those opinions first.  I guess I’ll just have to try to get to “End of Time” first, if I’m allowed to live that long.

Actually, I give “The Next Doctor” more credit than Hagan does.  As a Cybermen story, it’s okay, in no small part because placing the Cybermen in the context of the Industrial Revolution is inherently a good step, although in the episode itself not nearly enough is done with it.  The notion that the Cybermen are more or less acting like evil industrialists, even employing child laborers, is too clever for this episode’s own good, and if it had been the real center of the story I suspect this story might have been improved leaps and bounds.  I say all this as someone who prefers the original recipe Cybermen over the “new series” ones, just because their origin as the creation of a crippled mad scientist trying to create a master race feels way too much like someone is plagiarizing “Genesis of the Daleks.”  For the “new series” why didn’t they just cook up a version of the Big Finish audioplay “Spare Parts”?   That was awesome.

Anyway, for the most part I didn’t mind the way the Cybermen were handled in this story.  Even that Cybershade with the body of the ape and the brain of a cat (really) didn’t bother me.  At least they were trying to do something different with the Cybermen concept, even though the end result wasn’t as fantastic as the Cybermat.

 Instead the focus is on what drags this episode down, the titular “next Doctor”…

Don’t get me wrong; Paul Morrissey is great, capturing the vibe of several past Doctors (especially, I think, Peter Davidson) while bringing in his own interpretation, and I thought the idea of someone acting like the Doctor but using very, very low-tech equipment was cute and had some potential.  That said, the whole thing felt like a cheat, or more precisely a little media joke being played on fans rather than the basis for a worthwhile episode.  Instead of standing on its own, the episode relies on the knowledge that David Tennant is soon leaving the show.  At the least, it means that the episode was dated one hour after it aired.  Also I agree with Diamanda that there is a real lost opportunity here.  The titular “next Doctor” could very well have been Matt Smith, which would have made for a more interesting – and more daring – episode.  Instead the reveal that Paul Morrissey’s “Doctor” is just a very confused man from 1851 Britain, his brain fried by Cybermen technology with facts about the real Doctor, feels like a justification for a very lame fake teaser for fans or another gag on those of us hoping to see more Time Lords return, rather than a natural plot twist.

And of course it turns out that the “imposter” Doctor had his wife killed and his son abducted by Cybermen, because we always must have tragedy on top of our goofy side character.

The real disappointment, however, is with the villain of the piece, the Cybermen’s human collaborator, Miss Hartigan.

She’s a strange case, because she’s a villain where her motive is up front and center, and yet we never really find out what that motive is.  Hartigan is a woman in Victorian London, so the reader is just supposed to assume that she wants to overthrow nineteenth century society because she’s furious about misogyny.  Was she trapped in an abusive marriage or lost her inheritance because of Victorian social attitudes and marital laws?  Or was she just a very intelligent woman whose attempts to make a name for herself got frustrated at every turn simply due to sexism?  Who the hell knows;  she’s a woman, and it’s the nineteenth century!  That’s all you need to know!  It’s especially distracting because Doctor Who, even the “new” series, has been impoverished of female villains.  Making a villain whose motive is only her gender – and literally only her gender – does not help fill that void.

Miss Hartigan’s confusing and poorly motivated plans end in her being made against her will into a Cyberking (I do kind of like the irony there).  Then Hartigan and the Cybermen unleash their little project upon the world:  a kaiju Cyberman!

In theory it’s a nifty idea, but it really does blow holes into any attempt to make the Doctor Who universe logically fit together. How the hell could a giant cyborg monster tear apart half of nineteenth century London without making the twentieth century completely unrecognizable?  And, more to the point, why did even the Cybermen think they can take over Earth with one really big robot, especially one built mostly using the technology of that era?  When you watch the scene now, you can almost actually hear the gears in  Steven Moffat’s mind turning toward using his plans for a “cracks in time” story arc as an excuse to (at least sort of) reboot the continuity and explain away little inconsistencies like why no one ever mentions that big-ass robot that tore the hell out of Victorian London and then mysteriously vanished.

What are my feelings overall?  To put it in a sophisticated yet succinct way, I don’t not like this episode.  It just strikes me as featuring two really good ideas for episodes – an impostor, low-tech Doctor, and the Cybermen in the Industrial Revolution – that are thrown together with the result that neither has room to grow into anything memorable.  With nothing else to offer but a half-hearted attempt to toy with publicity surrounding the show itself and the mere outline of a possibly interesting villain, you just end up with…well, an okay Cybermen episode.

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"New" Who

Thoughts on the ‘New’ Who Series: The Next Doctor

So to be honest I feel like I’m competing against the writer and presenter of “Twatty Who Reviews,” Diamanda Hagan, which is unwise considering that Hagan has nuked at least a couple of cities.  She and I tend to have the same opinions on the RTD era of the “new” Doctor Who series, so much so I feel like it’s down to whoever gets to share those opinions first.  I guess I’ll just have to try to get to “End of Time” first, if I’m allowed to live that long.

Actually, I give “The Next Doctor” more credit than Hagan does.  As a Cybermen story, it’s okay, in no small part because placing the Cybermen in the context of the Industrial Revolution is inherently a good step, although in the episode itself not nearly enough is done with it.  The notion that the Cybermen are more or less acting like evil industrialists, even employing child laborers, is too clever for this episode’s own good, and if it had been the real center of the story I suspect this story might have been improved leaps and bounds.  I say all this as someone who prefers the original recipe Cybermen over the “new series” ones, just because their origin as the creation of a crippled mad scientist trying to create a master race feels way too much like someone is plagiarizing “Genesis of the Daleks.”  For the “new series” why didn’t they just cook up a version of the Big Finish audioplay “Spare Parts”?   That was awesome.

Anyway, for the most part I didn’t mind the way the Cybermen were handled in this story.  Even that Cybershade with the body of the ape and the brain of a cat (really) didn’t bother me.  At least they were trying to do something different with the Cybermen concept, even though the end result wasn’t as fantastic as the Cybermat.

 Instead the focus is on what drags this episode down, the titular “next Doctor”…

Don’t get me wrong; Paul Morrissey is great, capturing the vibe of several past Doctors (especially, I think, Peter Davidson) while bringing in his own interpretation, and I thought the idea of someone acting like the Doctor but using very, very low-tech equipment was cute and had some potential.  That said, the whole thing felt like a cheat, or more precisely a little media joke being played on fans rather than the basis for a worthwhile episode.  Instead of standing on its own, the episode relies on the knowledge that David Tennant is soon leaving the show.  At the least, it means that the episode was dated one hour after it aired.  Also I agree with Diamanda that there is a real lost opportunity here.  The titular “next Doctor” could very well have been Matt Smith, which would have made for a more interesting – and more daring – episode.  Instead the reveal that Paul Morrissey’s “Doctor” is just a very confused man from 1851 Britain, his brain fried by Cybermen technology with facts about the real Doctor, feels like a justification for a very lame fake teaser for fans or another gag on those of us hoping to see more Time Lords return, rather than a natural plot twist.

And of course it turns out that the “imposter” Doctor had his wife killed and his son abducted by Cybermen, because we always must have tragedy on top of our goofy side character.

The real disappointment, however, is with the villain of the piece, the Cybermen’s human collaborator, Miss Hartigan.

She’s a strange case, because she’s a villain where her motive is up front and center, and yet we never really find out what that motive is.  Hartigan is a woman in Victorian London, so the reader is just supposed to assume that she wants to overthrow nineteenth century society because she’s furious about misogyny.  Was she trapped in an abusive marriage or lost her inheritance because of Victorian social attitudes and marital laws?  Or was she just a very intelligent woman whose attempts to make a name for herself got frustrated at every turn simply due to sexism?  Who the hell knows;  she’s a woman, and it’s the nineteenth century!  That’s all you need to know!  It’s especially distracting because Doctor Who, even the “new” series, has been impoverished of female villains.  Making a villain whose motive is only her gender – and literally only her gender – does not help fill that void.

Miss Hartigan’s confusing and poorly motivated plans end in her being made against her will into a Cyberking (I do kind of like the irony there).  Then Hartigan and the Cybermen unleash their little project upon the world:  a kaiju Cyberman!

In theory it’s a nifty idea, but it really does blow holes into any attempt to make the Doctor Who universe logically fit together. How the hell could a giant cyborg monster tear apart half of nineteenth century London without making the twentieth century completely unrecognizable?  And, more to the point, why did even the Cybermen think they can take over Earth with one really big robot, especially one built mostly using the technology of that era?  When you watch the scene now, you can almost actually hear the gears in  Steven Moffat’s mind turning toward using his plans for a “cracks in time” story arc as an excuse to (at least sort of) reboot the continuity and explain away little inconsistencies like why no one ever mentions that big-ass robot that tore the hell out of Victorian London and then mysteriously vanished.

What are my feelings overall?  To put it in a sophisticated yet succinct way, I don’t not like this episode.  It just strikes me as featuring two really good ideas for episodes – an impostor, low-tech Doctor, and the Cybermen in the Industrial Revolution – that are thrown together with the result that neither has room to grow into anything memorable.  With nothing else to offer but a half-hearted attempt to toy with publicity surrounding the show itself and the mere outline of a possibly interesting villain, you just end up with…well, an okay Cybermen episode.

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