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December 25, 2007

Fuck Me, Who Let Eric Saward Into The Building?

Irwin Allen lives.
Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis are
Pointing and laughing.

Voyage Of The Damned

Votd2Honest? I didn't know what the hell to make of that one on the day. Imagine watching Land Of The Giant Earthshock Robots Of Death next Christmas - how silly and twee yet relentlessly grim was that? If like me you were playing 'spot the victim' ten minutes in, then you probably didn't expect (a) so many people to end up killing themselves for the sake of the plot, and (b) the moral to be 'remember kids, fate is a complete c**t'. And has the Doctor ever been so helpless? That's about as Saward as it gets.

Land Of The Giant Earthshock Robots Of Death

The gay subtext 'cyborgs have marriage rights too' was subtle this year wasn't it? And nobody seems to have noticed the junior officer still has a bullet in his gut either.

Tat Wood's 'Things That Don't Make Sense' starts here...

Buckingham Palace is still standing.

I was certain from the trailers, right up to where the physics went straight out the window, that those were missiles instead of meteors and the ship was being shot at. Obviously nobody's going to watch sn episode like this for its scientific integrity, but I feel nerdily compelled to point out: meteors are big chunks of rocks and ice. So how can they (a) burn, (b) leave stupid vapour trails in space, and (c) be 'magnetised' towards the hull of a ship and away from the whacking great planet in close proximity, without dragging the ship itself straight out of orbit (big planet, remember)? No, they don't say 'tractor beam'. And aren't meteorites comparatively rare, so where did these handy ones come from at exactly the right time? Did the Cybermen happen to ionise a nearby star, 'cos it's as daft as anything in The Wheel In Space. You're not going to convince me that a bankrupt travel agency can accurately pinpoint a cruise liner's time-jump to be in the right place and time for a meteor strike either, when just blowing the fucker up or sabotaging the engines and letting it drop would have been so much damn easier, since there's not going to be any 'witnesses' anyway after life on Earth gets wiped out by the impact, thus making the whole subplot with the Heavenly Hosts magnificently irrelevant. As if the mad rampaging robots announcing their intentions by going 'INFORMATION: KILL' the whole time wouldn't be suspicious enough, particularly to the important bloke on board with a mobile phone talking to his investor, who never thinks of phoning back home and letting them know what the FUCK'S GOING ON. Does NOBODY remember 9/11 anymore? And talking of which, how lax is basic security on board this vessel, that Bannakaffalatta can sneak his metal body capable of generating a massive EMP pulse on board without setting off any sensors or security alarms?

(Dr Science is also frothing at the mouth comparing the structural integrity of the ship after the meteor impact with, say, the structural integrity of the formerly flat piece of desert that's now the Grand Canyon, but we'll let that pass.)

By the way, even if you had some kind of magic magnet that attracts rock instead of metal, (NO, they DON'T call it a 'tractor beam'), and couldn't sell the patent for untold billions and save the company that way, then what's the point of installing the device into a crappy old ship that, like the Enterprise and the Liberator, is never intended to take off and land on a planet and would have been built in space, if not for the needlessly overcomplicated Columbo-style murder plot? And since it has all the aerodynamic properties of a giant brick, then how in the name of God can the Titanic possibly pull out of an atmospheric crash dive, the shockwave from which would utterly obliterate everything underneath? Because Buckingham Palace is still standing, and the Royals go 'hurrah' at an unexpected near-miss from an alien spacecraft instead of telling the Doctor to nyaff orrrrff.

Buckingham Palace is still standing, and the Royals go 'hurrah' at an unexpected near-miss from an alien spacecraft instead of telling the Doctor to nyaff orrrrff

Is Max Capricorn's presence on the ship supposed to be a secret or not? The script doesn't seem to be able to make its mind up. Max's whole plan depends on being pronounced dead at the scene of the disaster, but since the dramatic yet blatantly obvious plot twist is that he's responsible for all of this, none of the crew ever acknowledges that he's on board (surely, as loyal corporate staff, somebody's first thought after the impact should have been for the safety of the chief executive?), and he's purposely killing off survivors to remain undetected. And as a cyborg he's kept himself hidden away for years, so nobody would have seen him enter or leave the ship. He must be VERY clever too to have squirreled all his assets away without the rest of the board ever noticing, particularly if he wanted to surreptitiously spend them later after faking his own death without arousing suspicion. Not even Trau Morgus managed that one. But then the board also apparently didn't know or find it odd until recently that the CEO was a 170 year old head in a box, so maybe they're just inept. Incidentally, who else guessed the real twist that didn't happen was that Max's true identity was going to be Taren Capell and not Delegate Arcturus?

Votd3And what the hell's that about with the light-up gold tooth ? Seriously, what on Earth's the point?  Try eating dinner with a pen-torch in your mouth and see how quickly the family gets up and leaves.

Exactly how much money was the Captain promised to commit planetary genocide for the sake of his family's financial future, and wouldn't it also occur to him that a boss that ruthless in securing his own wealth could welch on the deal and the Captain would be too dead to stop it? As has been pointed out already, the pound/credit excange rate means it takes about twenty years to pay off a hundred pound phone bill, so it couldn't have been that much anyway.

But perhaps the biggest logical whopper of all is this: Max intends to ride out the disaster in a survival chamber that can withstand a supernova. Not a nuclear holocaust, an exploding sun. The Doctor knows all about it and how it works, suggesting that such things are in common usage, especially if a bankrupt cruise company in a fucked-up economy has got one. So, er.... WHY IS GALLIFREY DESTROYED?? Why couldn't the oldest, most technically supreme civilization in the universe with an Eye Of Harmony at their disposal knock up a larger-scale model to protect their own planet, or at the very least use for a backup to ensure the survival of the race once the Time War started? Come to that, why didn't the Daleks explore the military potential of this technology in the scope of galactic conquest? If you can make a survival chamber out of this principle, couldn't you also make an utterly indestructible battle cruiser or two? Build an armed survival ship, blow up a few stars, and ride out the ensuing holocaust while everything around you burns. Madness.

PS: Buckingham Palace is still standing. Did I mention this already?

And since the TARDIS was in orbit and the shields were down when the Titanic pranged it, why wasn't the Doctor sucked out into space as well?

I could go on. I no doubt would, very vocally, if not for the opportunity to express myself in the upcoming podcast. Thanks lads.

I don't suppose Voyage Of The Damned was ever intended to be more than a bit of superficial seasonal fluff, but therein lies the problem. I'm not sure if I'll ever watch it again (at least not with a straight face); it's over padded, and the tone was just off, even leaving out the monumental silliness of the last fifteen minutes which is just gagging for that podcast (I'd also say "it never decends to Last Of The Time Lords' level" if it wasn't damning with such faint praise which this special doesn't deserve to be tarred with). Surely at any other time of year, we'd all cheer like idiots at its "I CAN DO ANYTHING" gut-punch about the futility of existence, when it looked like it was going to bring Kylie back from the dead as a typically Christmas cop-out, only to snatch her away again in the cruelest fashion possible (I wonder what the Fear Factor kids made of that). But so many people died pointlessly without adding to the plot; Simon Dominguez is likening it with the space bus from Delta & The Bannermen, which is as ironic a comparison as one could ever get. He also doesn't like the new theme remix. I told hm he should be glad it's not Keff's.

Simon also doesn't like the new theme remix. I told hm he should be glad it's not Keff's

Votd1Dedicating a disaster movie to the memory of Verity Lambert is just one more example of how intrinsically wrong it all feels, though it's not actually inappropriate in the way that immediately springs to the fan-mind. After all, Verity did give us the equally grim, chaotic and cruel Dalek Invasion Of Earth. But that one was about conflict and hope; the Daleks were a palpable on-screen force for the Doctor to proactively oppose and overcome, almost as his duty, while no matter how bleak things got after episode one, the serial continued to exude a self-belief that human endeavour could eventually carry the day. Neither of those are true for Voyage Of The Damned, which for the most part views more like the untransmitted invasion and razing of the planet before the Doctor and party arrived.

Yet at the end of the day all comparisons with the old series are irrelevant. Despite its source influences, this is a thoroughly modern piece of television for a thoroughly modern Doctor. The Poseidon Adventure was made in 1973. Can you really see Jon Pertwee doing his own stunts for this and bellowing NOW LISTEN TO ME at the whimpering ragtags? He'd be rubbing a damn sight more than the back of his neck, I can tell you.


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