Thursday, 23 October 2014

Flat in Bristol

Bristol you say?....... street art?...... hmmmmm.... anyone who  knows me of old will know that this sort of thing was bound to appeal..... and, on top of that, we got another one of those lovely hi-concept episodes that they keep doing at the moment: A bank security  system that knows you are guilty before you rob it? The moon is a giant egg? Anyone who grew up with Hitchhiker's Guide or Tharg's Future Shocks is bound to feel very at home in Who these days....

Why oh why then did it go so wrong?

The bad guy was a genuine brush stroke of genius: A villain that could lurk anywhere flat... a leaf, a page, a circuit board, a tattoo... a villain that could be delivered by post or a death that could literally lurk on the back of fag packet.... As little Chrissy Boy Ecclestone would say: FANTASTIC!.... Imagine: assault by diagram, a threat that could leap from any page and suck a whole dimension out of you and leave you (whilst you were maybe still 'alive') smeared across a wall like Holbein's anamorphic skull.

The visual possibilities alone are endless:  Every mark, scribble, sketch, strain or blemish could hide a threat. A villain you could post on instagram. I can see trapped office drones, sitting in terror of the whirrr of an old-skool fax machine or the tread of the fellow who  delivers the internal mail. Death by memo. A horrific fate for each victim as they are inserted as a living jpeg into a powerpoint slide....y'see I am on a roll, and I tell you something: I AM A TIRED MAN..... so y'know....c'mon.....

So, what happened? I loved that we had an  interesting baddie. One from a different dimension (or set of dimensions). A baddie of cold indifference. One that maybe didn't even realise that the Doctor or anyone else was there. But then unfortunately it went and  'learnt'......but learnt to do what exactly?

It learnt to adapt to three dimensions and therefore, in effect, learnt not to be very interesting any more. In a bizarre parallel with the student university application process, by 'fleshing itself' out' and adding more depth and detail to its profile, it actually became far less engaging. It became a  cliched CGI zombie, shambling about in the dark with arms upraised.* All it needed was for someone to move the action  to an environment entirely devoid of 2D imagery and the whole idea was then well and truly squandered...

.. and cue the railway tunnel....

They moved it to a tunnel

Why? ... really, in Cardiff they are like what forty-five minutes over the bridge from Bristol. Couldn't they send one outside broadcast unit over to Stokes Croft for a day? Imagine, a two dimensional horror,stalking the Doctor through the signs and sigils of the urban hipster streetart environment. Every dark subway contains a lurking horror of stickers and tags and flyers and scrawlings.

Graffiti is about territory and provocation, ownership and alienation. People are already scared of graffiti. It lowers property prices in an area far more effectively than a boutique of Autons or a rash of short-term Sontaran sublettings..... This isn't hard.... we've DONE tunnels... we did trains THE WEEK BEFORE...... they already had on table all the ingredients that they needed for a great episode....

Anyway, I don't like the idea of villains learning...... Learning implies insight. Insight implies reason. Reason is half way to rationality. Rationality... well, we're well on our way out of evil and into common or garden cunningly wicked. The Master? He's not changing his ways is he? And as for the Daleks, well they never learn do they?....sigh.......


*as a family, we all puzzled for ages as to why it was called 'The Bonus' by the Doctor - I'm all for this regional accent malarky on the telly, but I wish that Capaldi fellow would stop mumbling and speak up clearly

1 comment:

  1. The Bonus? I thought it was The Boneless. Or am I missing a joke because I'm tired?

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