Thursday, July 12, 2007

"WHO" HASH

Yesterday I caught the last three episodes of this season's 'Doctor Who'. (Don't give me a headache with all of that third season vs. twenty-ninth season bullbleep!) Along with "Utopia", "The Sound Of Drums", and "The Last Of The Time Lords", I also had the chance to watch the online cartoon adventure of the Tenth Doctor and Martha, "The Infinite Quest".

It's all a bit of a mish-m*a*s*h still in my noggin, but let's see if I can sort out my thoughts here as I go along.

One thing to remember: I'm not a reviewer. I'm looking at this from the televisiologist's point of view; trying to reconcile the show with the overall Toobworld mythos.

So, on with the show.....

In the weeks leading up to their appearances on 'Doctor Who', there was a lot of speculation as to who Sir Derek Jacobi and John Simm would be playing. For Jacobi, my pal Michael clued me in to what would become my favorite suggestion - that he would be the latest incarnation of the Meddling Monk, a character not seen since the Hartnell years.

Perhaps this rumor was fueled by memories of Jacobi as Brother Cadfael. Also, the name of Harold Saxon kept cropping up in both 'Doctor Who' and in 'Torchwood', and the Meddling Monk tried to change the history of the Battle of Hastings. That occurred in 1066, when Harold Godwinson of the Saxons lost the crown (and his life) to William the Conqueror.

As for Simm, Rob Buckley's "The Medium Is Not Enough" (link to the left, dear reader) teased with the notion that he would be the Doctor himself, a younger version of Hartnell's First Doctor, and perhaps from a parallel dimension to boot.

That theory really grabbed hold of me; I've always thought the earlier life of the First Doctor was ripe for many seasons of adventures, with the possibility of casting several actors in the role to cover various ages (a la 'The Indiana Jones Chronicles'). But to take that idea and then add the current incarnation of the Doctor to the mix... that would be a real time and mind bender. One can only imagine what Stephen Moffatt would make of such a ripping yarn.

Earlier this season I saw a suggested chronology for this year's adventures which proposed that on a linear timeline, the Doctor met Martha Jones (in "Smith And Jones") before he met Donna Noble ("The Runaway Bride") even though in his personal timeline he met Donna first. The chronology put "The Runaway Bride" during the Christmas period for 2007, while "Smith And Jones" would have been earlier in the year, probably in May or June based on the clothing people wore outdoors.

Here's the reasoning from the website, "History of the Whoniverse":

[The date (of "Smith And Jones") is never stated. Martha mentions the events of "Doomsday", but not those of "The Runaway Bride" when talking about recent alien invasions, so presumably this story is set between these other stories. In "The Shakespeare Code", the Doctor believes Martha hasn't read the final Harry Potter novel, which is due for release on the 21st of July 2007, so this is likely to be set before then.]

Click here for The History of the Whoniverse.

That reference to the Harry Potter novel does seem to confirm the placement of "Smith And Jones" in the first half of 2007.

Personally, I think the "invasion" of the Spider race would not be known to the general public, unlike "The Christmas Invasion" of the Sycorax and the Canary Wharf battle between the Cybermen and the Daleks. (The public was earlier gulled into believing that the invasion by the Slitheen family was some kind of hoax.)

Still, they must have wondered why the Thames suddenly was drained at Christmastime....

This idea of the Doctor appearing in a timeline before a later insertion or interaction with a character came up several times in this season: in "The Shakespeare Code" he encountered Queen Elizabeth I for the first time, but she had already met him. (And she was not quite pleased with the last meeting.) And in "Blink", Sally Sparrow helped the Doctor and Martha to escape a tricky situation a year before she even met them.

And Martha's first encounter with the Doctor in "Smith And Jones" was later in the day (for him) after their first adventure together.

It happens again in the three-part finale. When the Master regenerates, Martha recognizes his voice as she's heard it hundreds of times before as that of Harold Saxon.

I've resigned myself to the fact that as long as RTD was at the 'Who' helm, this Doctor was off in some other TV dimension, not on Earth Prime-Time. I had some hope that with no sighting nor even a mention of Prime Minister Harriet Jones throughout this season, perhaps the perspective had switched back to the main Toobworld. I don't know when this might have happened, but it could have transpired last season just before the Doctor, Rose, and Mickey landed in the alternate dimension where John Lumic created the Cybermen.

My reasoning? Mickey cited Tony Blair's name as though he was still alive and still the PM. (In "Aliens Of London", apparently Blair was killed by the Slitheen.)

Even the shadowy presence of Mr. Saxon in the background as well as the upcoming election could have fit into Earth Prime-Time, so long as it was a temporary stay in power once he was elected (with Gordon Brown eventually assuming his rightful place in Toobworld, as in the real world). And with RTD's "magic reset button" as the deus ex machina, everything that occurred in that year of Master-dominated Earth was magically erased anyway.

It all could have worked out just fine, had it not been for the presence of President Winters.

"OUR DISCONTENT OF WINTERS"
Everybody who visits this site on a regular basis must know the drill by know: the POTUS of the main Toobworld should always reflect that of the real world. Too many shows are going to mention him (someday, "her"), so to do otherwise - as is the case with 'The West Wing', '24', 'Prison Break', and 'Hail To The Chief' - means a one-way ticket to some other dimension.

The presence of President Winters not only meant that 'Doctor Who' is still in another TV dimension, but also that this journey with Martha Jones as his companion lasted for well over a year. That's because Winters identified himself as the President-Elect when meeting with Prime Minister Harold Saxon.

If he had been elected the President of the United States based on a timeline similar to that of the real world and Toobworld, then the election took place in November of 2008. But he would only be the "President-Elect" until January when he would be sworn into office.

Here's the hitch: as President-Elect, he would have had no authority to be meeting with Saxon as the representative of the American people - on that 'Captain Scarlet'-influenced, space age Air Force One of a "cloudbase". I doubt UNIT would have loaned it out to anyone but the actual sitting President.

It did sound as though Winters was acting on the authority of the United Nations rather than that of the United States, but I can't see any politician here in America risking political suicide by allying himself first with the UN over his own country. Even if he was a lame duck, the sitting President should have been the one to represent Earth in that first contact encounter with the Toclafane.

My theory? Winters mis-spoke. He was still used to calling himself "President-Elect" instead of "President", and nobody dared to call him on the error. (Why would Saxon bother? He knew he was going to kill the President anyway.)

So I'm thinking that the events of "The Sound Of Drums" had to be soon after the January 2009 inauguration.

Since RTD was planning to go all in with his story and make the situation look as bleak and despairing as possible before wiping it all away, why didn't he have the balls to have George W. Bush meeting with the Toclafane? (Better yet, to have Bush as the figurehead, but Dick Cheney as the real power on board the Valiant!)

He could have killed Dubya off, only to make sure that the reset would bring the timeline back to just before he was killed. No harm done. (Warning! Editorial content ahead: The real harm was already done twice over by the American voters anyway.)

Let's get back to the Valiant. It's a good thing that the "cloudbase" belonged to UNIT, because if it had been part of America's military fleet, it would have also damned the show to a different dimension just as much as the presence of President Winters.

It's one thing to have a moon-based colony from the late 1950s through 'Get Smart' of the early 1970s until its destruction in 1999 - that was a secret government installation unknown to the general public. But the Valiant had to have received scrutiny by the press and just about anybody looking up as it flew overhead. (They couldn't have used a cloaking device as Earth wouldn't be getting their hands on one until the year 2268, as seen in the 'Star Trek' episode "The Enterprise Incident".)

So it never could have been hidden away from public notice in other TV shows in a unified TV dimension had it belonged to the US military. But as a secret weapon of UNIT, especially one that may have been on its maiden voyage, we can give it a pass.

Toobworld can absorb such sci-fi locations as 'The Time Tunnel', the 'Quantum Leap' facility, and the DHARMA Initiative operations on the 'Lost' island. Like the moonbase, they were top-secret and so characters from other shows shouldn't have known about them.

Devices like "The Lazarus Experiment" in 'Doctor Who' and the weather machine used by Mikos Cassidine to attack 'General Hospital' in Port Charles, New York, were ultimately destroyed and quickly enough not to have too great an impact on other TV shows. Wonder Woman's invisible plane was common knowledge and is mentioned in other TV series. (Charlie Pace told his abductors in "Through The Looking Glass", the 'Lost' season finale, that he had an invisible submarine. I wonder if Wonder Woman had one of those as well.....?)

The scene between Martha and Chantho in "Utopia" should have been one between Chantho and Captain Jack.

In Bed.

I realize this is supposed to be a "kid's show", but if we keep hearing about how Jack Harkness is supposed to be this omnisexual Lothario of the Universe, we should see him sooner or later shagging an alien rather than just other humans, male or female.

Besides, it would have given John Barrowman at least a little more to do in order to justify his three episode appearance as a credited co-star. (That was a classy touch on the part of the producer.)

It would have been nice to have more of Derek Jacobi. In a way, we were treated to two performances from him - a sly, inventive turn as Professor Yana, and five minutes of malevolent delight as the Master. Yet 43 minutes wasn't enough.

It was my dream that one day Jacobi could appear on 'Doctor Who' as his most famous character, that of the Roman emperor Claudius from 'I, Claudius'. He's the right age now to play the role with little need for old-age makeup. But he's now played two different roles in the world of 'Doctor Who' so I can't be greedy. (He was also the metallic vesion of the Master in "Scream Of The Shallka".)

That vocal tic of "Chan... Tho" from the insectivorid Chantho was pretty irritating. Good thing the episode lasted less than an hour or I'd have put the cable to her as well!

Whatever did happen to Martha's brother Leo and his wife (girlfriend?) and child during that year under the Master's dominion? I'm guessing they were killed while trying to elude the Master's troops. But all would have been set right again by the end.

I don't want to sound too harsh on RTD, although I think he is way over the top with this show when he's writing the scripts. He had a lot of grand (as in grrrrrrreat!) ideas all throughout this tryptich of a finale. It just became overkill by the end, rendering the audience numb.

I'll give him props for two topics especially - most of all, for resisting the urge to make the Master a brother to the Doctor. That leaves the door open for the future so that one day we might meet a new character to fill that role.

Also, the revelation that the Toclafane were those poor "hyoooomans" at the end of the Universe/Time seeking Utopia. It almost seemed as though the Master had cannibalized technology from the Daleks in their creation.

I think we have a justification as to why Captain Jack seemed to have two different personae - the devil-may-care adventurer of 'Doctor Who' and the kind-of mopey leader of 'Torchwood'. It's because they were two different characters, in two different dimensions.

The proof can be found in a comparison between the first season finale of 'Torchwood', with the opening of "Utopia". In 'Torchwood', it's obvious that the TARDIS materialized within the Torchwood Institute complex, based on the swirling papers as it vanished. But in the episode "Utopia", the TARDIS is outside, perched on the temporal rift in that Cardiff plaza. And Jack is seen running towards it outside.

I've only had a once-through with each of the 'Torchwood' episodes, but I think it safe to say that nothing in the series violates the premise that it could be located in the main Toobworld. As I stated earlier, Harold Saxon could have been in the running for Prime Minister on Earth Prime-Time without need for a new TV dimension. So the "Vote Saxon" posters seen near the end of the 'Torchwood' season aren't a liability.

That Jack's adventures with the Doctor and Martha could have been almost identical - except that it would be Bush killed by the Toclafane and not Winters. And that Jack got to "dance" with Chantho.

(By the way, based on just the "Invasion Of The Bane" episode for 'The Sarah Jane Adventures', I'd say that show could also be based in Earth Prime-Time whenever it finally arrives.)

So there you have it, my scattered thoughts about the three-part season finale of 'Doctor Who'. Oh! As for 'The Infinite Quest', it's a fun little story to be set in the Tooniverse alongside the cartoon version of the Fourth Doctor found in episodes of 'The Simpsons'.

I still have another Toobworld idea generated by these episodes - a catalogue of the things (and people) Captain Jack Harkness did along the way, from 1869 onwards. It will utilize a lot of TV shows from both sides of the Atlantic.

But there's enough time for that another day. I've blathered on here long enough.

BCnU!
Toby OB

2 comments:

MediumRob said...

Incidentally, the reason the Jacobi as Hartnell rumour took off was that the script for Utopia called for Jacobi to wearing clothes like William Hartnell's.

Toby said...

The great thing about the suggestion is that even though Jacobi and Simm are no longer in the running for the role, the premise is still viable.

So here's hoping that one day we will see the past in the future with the adventures of the younger First Doctor!