Abusing the Deus Ex Machina
- From: Elvis Gump <elvisgump.NO@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 02 Jul 2007 02:23:29 -0500
Having broadband, I've been able to see DW in the states and several other
friends with dial-up see it here because of me. When I told them they needed
to see "Blink" the response after seeing earlier stuff in this season was
that they barely cared. "This is the one mostly without the Doctor? Like
that one last year that sucked?" And wasn't that what we all were braced
I reminded them I had been right that "Human Nature" had been good and I got
a reluctant okay. Everyone I personally know was totally discouraged by this
year of Doctor Who. Until "Blink".
Isn't everyone still buzzing a little bit from "Blink"?
At the core of the series more so than most sci-fi/fantasy is the ultimate
deus ex machina of them all, The Doctor and his TARDIS, not to mention his
magically sonic screwdriver. Like all sci-fi and fantasy, these elements
come in handy for telling a gamut of fun, engaging or scary stories.
Witness the best story of this year - "Blink".
Why is it good? It takes something you see all the time, statues, and scares
you shitless with the IDEA they are more than they are.
Why is there a guy named the Doctor? Why would Sally Sparrow trust him? Who
takes advice from a guy who says "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey"?
Doesn't matter, because the troubling bits ARE glossed over marvelously with
humor that makes you chuckle like when the Doctor needs to meet up with
Billy the policeman in 1969, it's all a rush, it's all witty and doesn't
make a lick of sense. But you know it's going to.
"Trust me. Just nod when he stops for a breath."
The writing and execution of "Blink" was perfect, it never let's you catch
your breath, it rushes forward RELENTLESSLY toward a satisfying story with
puzzling pieces that all fall into place perfectly at the end.
And the more you turn it over and over, noticing the gothic horror movie
details of the musical stings when the angels are shown to have moved and
such are terrific. The plot is a potboiler, the reasons for what the angels
want is simple and easily understood, nothing grand, just them living at our
And expense might be another word to think about. This was a cheapie
episode, it's greatest special effect was getting you to go along with what
was happening. This show could have been done in 1963 with the special
effects available then and it would have been the same.
Contrast that with the expensive and lackluster effect the over the top and
EXPENSIVE cgi in the last three shows had. It was all razzle and no dazzle.
The arcs like what ended in "The Last of the Time Lords" was overcomplicated
and silly in the worst ways. The Master was simply annoying, the story in
trying to be epic gave into the worst thing of all in deus ex machina, it
all had to reset. And you knew it was going to suck. And it did.
Compare the stories that you like where the writer has 'killed his darlings'
as Stephen King used to advise. We barely meet Kathy Nightingale or Billy
Shipton, but especially when we see Billy about to die, it's very moving.
No one that we meet in TLotTL we can hope to care about like we can for
Billy, Sally, Larry and Kathy. They are just set pieces, cardboard cutouts.
We've had tons of Martha's family but could you really care if they lived or
died? Even Martha, could you care if The Master dropped a house on her?
When old Billy is dying in the hospital it's a real stab, we just met this
guy and I'm mad that he's slipping out of the story so fast. Other crap
character strut in the other episodes but here is a character that makes me
sad to see him go. Can't we violate some directive and rescue him? At least
VISIT him again?
Simple moments in "Blink" like when they put the laptop in the chair to
finally watch the Doctor all the way through in Wester Drumlins it's quite
creepy. It gave me a chill, and it's just David bloody Tenant! The simplest
on camera effect of the angels never seen moving but advancing relentlessly
and menacingly is better than every over the top special effect in "The Last
of the Time Lords".
There is nothing written in anything all season that anyone wants to put on
a t-shirt like "The angels have the phone box"... I don't have it on a
shirt, but I almost wish I did.
The damage the angels can do, like the barely sensical phrase about the
angels switching off the sun seems far more menacing than the drab, banal
things the Master can think up.
Eh? What's the Master up to? Picking a fight with the rest of the Universe?
With rockets made of all the metal on Earth? Is he DAFT?
Even casting someone like Jacobi who like other actors of his generation
such as say Anthony Hopkins understood the menace of a villain who could
exude evil with pure stillness, the few minutes Jacobi inhabits the part of
the Master totally overshadow all of Simm's prancing performance. If they
were going to 'kill-off' the Master, why not KEEP Jacobi until the end of
the arc? Scrap the crap cgi and give Jacobi the money you dolts! He could
have hissed at the camera for two more shows and it would have been more
There's oh so much that's wrong with TLotTLs, but the worst is characters we
can't really care about. We know there's no jeopardy for the Doctor, though
maybe there was a twinge of maybe Tennant would regenerate and exit the
series, but that was about it. We know the Master can't die, and now not
even Jack can die.
When I think back on the season I wonder how great it would be to see Sally
and Larry and either young or old Billy again more than any characters we
saw all season. Other than maybe the almost wife the Doctor left in "Human
It was as if RTD unplugged from the series while he plotted his insanely
dull ending stories and the rest of the production team kicked in and did
three great shows in a row.
If I have one word of advice for Carey Mulligan coming back to Doctor Who
while RTD is still in charge it would be this: "Hey gorgeous girl, RUN! RUN
FOR YOU LIFE!"
"Because life is short and you are hot."
-- Detective Inspector Billy Shipton
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