Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Voyage of the Darned

Face it, despite the imagery of heaven and hell, gods, devils and messiahs, this years Christmas special lacked the real epic danger you feel with good story telling to warrant being compared to escaping damnation. No, the campy formulaic story was much more like a voyage of the darned. There is a great review of the Christmas special that I think captures what the episode was lacking at Behind the Sofa.

With that said, there were some good moments to the episode, but most of it was due to David Tennant’s solid performance as the Doctor that we have come to expect. This got me thinking, as someone who really wanted to see the Christmas episode and had to go out of my way to try and watch it in the US, I wonder how much this Christmas Special was just produced on automatic pilot? Knowing that after a few months without Doctor Who, as we anxiously await the next season/series, perhaps the Doctor Who production team believes that we are so starving for the Doctor that we will accept sub par stories during what would otherwise be down time.

I think RTD has done a good job over all and reviving the Doctor Who franchise, though I definitely don’t think that the 2007 Christmas special reflects the best of RTD’s vision for Doctor Who. I just think that it would be far too easy to lean on Tennant’s performance to try and pull off cardboard heroics of generic plots. You might be able to get away with this from time to time but it is not sustainable in the long run and not the same kind of story quality that drew us back to the Doctor a few years ago.

I can lived with a Voyage of the Darned on occasion, even just enjoy it as a cheesy popcorn adventure, but I do expect more from series four and hope that “specials” they will be producing in lieu of a hiatus from the show in 2009 will have a quality to them that will stand alone rather than just trying to tide us over to series five. I don’t think any of these specials (Christmas or otherwise) should just be stories that tied as over like a cheap appetizer- they should be made to stand alone as a quality feature that meets and maybe even occasionally exceeds what we have come to expect from the best of the TV series.


TheFalcon said...

I agree with your thoughts on the christmas special. It wasn't as good as the previous ones and was mostly saved by Tennant.

I don't think it was made on "auto-pilot" though. From what RTD has said they put much work into making the specials and first episodes of the seasons better and bigger to catch people. This years should've been "polished" a bit more, though. It would have benefited from being cut down in length IMO.

fantom_luv said...

I completely agree! I was watching, laughing as I should have and enjoying it, but I did notice that it just wasn't up to par with the first two Christmas specials. There were some points where I actually vocalized an 'Oh, please.' and I kept noticing similarities between it and The Poseidon Adventure, which was just plain odd.

TimeWarden said...

I don't like "Voyage of the Damned" for the simple reason that it is overblown and lacking in any real substance. Also, the script was appallingly structured.

I did prefer "Voyage of the Damned" to last year's "Special", though, mainly because I can't stand Catherine Tate's histrionics but also because of the ludicrous use of the TARDIS in the chase sequence of "The Runaway Bride".

James Diggs said...

Yea, the “auto pilot” comment probably isn’t accurate for when it comes to RTD intent- I am sure he is working hard to make them bigger and better as you say- but it can feel like it is on auto pilot when the plot is so cardboard. Maybe this is a case of trying too hard rather than not trying hard enough. I would rather they focus on character development and good story over trying to make everything such an epic. I like epic stories but it is hard to repeat them and sustain the height of that kind of tension over and over; after a while it can loose some of its believability and honesty. Trying so hard to make an epic may unintentionally put just writing a good story in the backseat.

TimeWarden said...

A very happy New Year to you, James!

Old Cheeser said...

I agree, I was very underwhelmed with the whole thing and it was definitely below par in comparison with "normal" season stories. Not that "Last of the Time Lords" was a particularly good story either...I'm so worried about DW going down the pan!