Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Earth - "At last I can be revenged on that ... " " ... Bit rich, comin' from you."

New Earth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 2, Story 1 (Overall Series Story #168) | Previous - Next | Index

Not *as* problematic as "The Christmas Invasion," which it followed, but problematic nonetheless. That isn't to say it's not entertaining though. It's a bit of a mess story-wise, logical plots that made sense weren't exactly in RTD's wheelhouse. The chief joy here is in watching Tennant and Piper get to mess around playing Cassandra, the bitchy trampoline from "The End of the World". It's clear here, if it weren't already, that we were going to lose our collective shit over David Tennant.

As an ardent supporter of Eccleston's working-class, Northern-style Doctor, I was disappointed he didn't stick around. (Am still disappointed he, apparently, won't be back for the 50th.) Yet, Tennant won me over pretty much immediately. His first two stories, on the other hand, while I was delighted we were even getting a Series Two, weren't exactly encouraging. The good stuff, I mean the *real* good stuff was still just around the corner and the show was about to hit some it's greatest heights of it's new run, ones that rivaled even the best of the classic series. But before we get to those ... "New Earth."

There were some good ideas here that just didn't mesh together. With a different sort of mystery or peril, Cassandra's romp across bodies could have been fun. She needed to be the villain though, plotting to get a body back. If was the crime to be stopped was her ultimately about her plotting and scheming, this could have worked. Instead, the feline nurses were running a far more gruesome plot, one that only the Doctor seemed to take seriously. And when I say only the Doctor, I mean if the creators of this episode.

Tennant's "Life will out!" moment was well-played; it just belonged in a story where it could have dramatic weight. (And maybe one without the hokey hug-and-touch to spread the cure.) It belonged in an episode that wasn't tone deaf to suffering. It belonged in one where the victims of such a cynical, profiteering crime had some role in their own salvation, where they were more than just pawns to be pushed around the story, moaning and such as needed, then being suitably grateful when saved.

Cassandra checks out her new rear bumper
Cassandra trying out her new 'bouncy castle,' is enamored of the rear bumper.

Without getting bogged down in too many details, the hospital was basically run on blood of an enslaved "sub-species" of human plague-carriers. All infected with thousands of diseases and harvested for the treatment juice (not to get too technical) needed to treat the elite patients. This basically zombified mass of humanity needed a liberator and got one in the Doctor. Hooray. But, their suffering was basically used to put a zombie outbreak scene in the show. And, worse, Davies didn't just use them as a convenient way for the Doctor to swoop in and be the savior, he also used them as fodder for more Cassandra humor.

Ratcheting up the slow burn
He's being so very, very calm ... 
When the Doctor demands Cassandra leave Rose's body and initiates her series of body hops, one of Cassandra's stops is in a plague victim chasing them. (As an aside, they really had no motive to be chasing anyone but the hospital staff to begin with. Having them play the part of zombies made no sense given it had already been established they knew what had been done to them, and by whom.) Upon entering the infected body, Cassandra proceeds to crab about how disgusting she is, which is ... well, she's tasteless and a bit of a psychopath so OK; but ... then, after the show has used the victim to make a joke, then RTD turns around and let's Cassandra have her humanity restored and reflect on the suffering of the woman she had briefly inhabited. It was a jarringly have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment that just didn't sit right. I'm all for low-brow humor and cracking wise. Heck, I loved the Farrelly Bros. Three Stooges movie. And part of the reason I could love it was it knew what was fair game. This story had some genuinely funny comedic beats, it just didn't know when to stop.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...