Sunday, September 13, 2009

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (spoilers)

Finally got around to seeing Planet of the Dead. I enjoyed it more than the last Russell T Davies episode, perhaps because he wrote less of it (it was co-written with Gareth Roberts) and perhaps because it's been long enough I was starting to miss David Tennant (and when I get like this, I can watch him do anything). Now, the idea that a bunch of animals flying rings around a planet can generate a wormhole is new levels of dumb, though I have to admit to liking the creatures themselves and their planet-hoping ways, and it's not like you watch Doctor Who for the science. I thought Michelle Ryan was passable, which is good considering I found her utterly unwatchable in The Bionic Woman.  I liked Captain Erisa Magombo a lot, and wouldn't mind seeing her back. I also like the fact that UNIT actually looks like a force in this new series, as opposed to three guys in a room. So overall I enjoyed it. 

But I have a few quibbles:
1. Why is it always the non-white character who is psychic? I think this borders on a stereotype and as such borders on offensive.
2. Very convenient of the aliens to go and get themselves eaten like that. Now we don't have to worry about what to do with them. 
3.  Captain Magombo was absolutely correct to try to shut the wormhole down. Seven lives verses the whole of planet earth. I'm not sure the Doctor was right to keep hanging up on her.
4. I am tired of people clapping for him. It's not a feel good ending when it's telegraphed.
5. Speaking of stereotypes, what's with the dweeb scientist? One of my very good friends is a very well-regarded theoretical physicist, and he looks like Casper Van Dien and was a babe magnet when we hung out in school. Shouldn't science fiction buck the stereotype?
6. How many damn potential spin-offs is RTD going to set up before he finally leaves? We already have the Doctor's daughter galavanting around the galaxy; I do not need a show about Lady Chistina de Souza and her magic bus.
7. Does he have to kiss everyone?

Moffat, you can't get here fast enough for me.


Colin said...

Haha, my list is longer. I win!

I think the biggest plot hole, as pointed out by the, er, Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets ( is, why didn't the Doctor just get Magambo to bung the TARDIS through the wormhole? And then shut it down, as you say.


Lou Anders said...

You do win, and that Sock Puppet Theatre is priceless (and worth reposting).

Ted said...

1. Why is it always the non-white character who is psychic? I think this borders on a stereotype and as such borders on offensive.

See Magical negro.

Lou Anders said...

Oh, that is *exactly* what I was thinking of. Sadly by making Lucius Fox responsible for Batman's gadgets, they cast him in this role as well (though I do like Fox's character in the films better than his comics-counterpart in that it makes more use of him).

Ted said...

Lucius Fox is an interesting case. To the extent that he's an expert business manager, I think he's not a magical negro, but to the extent that he provides words of wisdom to Batman, he is. I think the Lucius Fox portrayed in the movies actually does more of the latter than earlier incarnations did, which may be why they cast Morgan Freeman in the role; he's become typecast in roles where he provides words of wisdom to a white protagonist.

Lou Anders said...

Fox in the comics traditionally did not know Wayne was Batman and ran the Wayne Foundation. Buy making him head of R&D, and thus a facilitator of Bat gadgetry, they make him more the magic negro character. However, it also makes him more central to the narrative, and a smarter man than the Fox of the comics, who somehow manages to be right next to the man and never work it out.

Ted said...

Well, I think it's the moral guidance he provides rather than the technological gadgetry that would make Fox a magical negro, but there is overlap among the various stereotypes seen among supporting characters. For example, in the animated series, the mechanic who rebuilt the Batmobile was also black.

Lou Anders said...

Which was still preferable to hunchback Harold Allnut.

John Meaney said...

Re the geeky nerd scientist... I saw a review of Beautiful Mind that said Russell Crowe was too muscular to play a mathematician; but the real John Nash was athletic.

Once, I taught a programming course to very geeky software engineers (they wrote stuff for research labs). One of the developers was number 2 ranked powerlifter in the UK.

Lou Anders said...

Exactly. I've met more than a few SF geeks who were black belts too, it seems to me. ;)