In times prior and places elsewhere on the internet I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the TV series that has been attempting to pass itself off as "Doctor Who" sixteen years after the real series ended. I’ll post my little hyper-opinionated rant here for no better reason than to fill in space in my journal.
In fairness, I do believe that David Tennant is an excellent choice for the role. A superb actor in his own right, with the appropriate quickness needed for the Doctor’s persona. His portrayal of Doctor Who I very much prefer over Christopher Eccleson (I only wish he wouldn’t wear those dorky glasses).
Another improvement to the series is the overdue departure of Rose Tyler leaving silence in the wake of her voice that could bore through hardwood, and effectively reinstating meaning to the series title as opposed to "The Rose Tyler Show" (description borrowed from The Gneech).
Tennant I very much pity, having to carry the burden of livening up scriptwriting that appears to have come from the monkeys-and-typewritter’s approach once described by the fifth Doctor. Star Trek has occasionally been criticised for having a "guest particle" per week and now it appears that the Doctor who scriptwriters are now engaged in the same pastime. Still recovering from the "void stuff" nonsense of the previous season’s "climax," we are now subjected to the legend of the Huon particles (no idea how this should be spelled – does it matter?).
Normally one expects particles to behave in a very simplistic manner, given that they are nature’s most fundamental components. These Huon particles however possess the ability to disassemble an intact human being, convey her lightyears across space within a few seconds, penetrate the impenetrable TARDIS and reassemble her unharmed biological form in a convenient spot near the console. To me the Doctor’s explanation of a "magnetic" attraction to the TARDIS falls short of comprehensive, because magnetic attraction increases in direct relation to proximity (a span of lightyears is a bit much) and one would also expect that she’d have been attracted directly inside the TARDIS engines. Lucky for her, unlucky for the rest of us who then needed to endure her prattling for the next forty minutes.
To Earth, To Earth, and a confrontation with the Santa robots (recycled from the previous season’s start) who zero in on the Doctor despite their controller not yet knowing his identity and his importance. Nice trick with the cash point, I’ll concede.
Then follows a car chase which while exciting doesn’t really add anything to the overall plot, and immediately poses the question "how does the Doctor steer the TARDIS at speed on a motor way using only a length of twine?" I figured he might have programmed the TARDIS to track the black cab, but then the twine trick would be unnecessary.
Meanwhile there’s a wedding going nowhere (funny, I seem to recall a wedding that went nowhere in season one – ideas being recycled again) into which the Doctor emerges with his noisy white stowaway. Long boring social scene follows, ending with another attack from the Santa robots who are destroyed by the Doctor literally amplifying his sonic screwdriver. A shattering effect is inflicted on the robots, apparently without bursting the eardrums of any innocent bystanders (or maybe it does, that point isn’t made clear).
By aiming his medical tricorder... sorry, the Sonic Screwdriver mark II, at a phone the culprits are revealed as the Torchwood Institute (funny that the Doctor spent 1970-1974 on Earth and never bumped into Torchwood previously) along with a secured basement that nobody else thought to investigate? Then in a tunnel goodness knows how many kilometres long finds a laboratory developing Huon particles "in liquid form" (presumably that’s a figure of speech – since when did particles have their own material state?).
The story’s villain finally revealed: a computer graphics generated spider woman who can’t talk without ludicrous facial expressions and hissing noises that you’d expect from a four-year old’s game of pretend monster. The Doctor is then confronted at gunpoint by the remaining robots, and threatened with... ...a hole in the ground (didn’t we already have a hole in the ground for the "Satan in a pit" story?).
This inanimate hole is presumably the most scary thing the scriptwriters and visual effects crew could manage. With good reason too, as the monster explains how this hole reaches all the way to the centre of the Earth. This is indeed scary because the third Doctor’s story "Inferno" showed in a parallel universe that breaching the Earth’s crust would incinerate the entire planet with lava.
So then our lesser villain is revealed as the groom himself. Could there really be anyone in the entire world’s population stupid enough to betray all humanity to a self-confessed species of hyper-carnivores just on the mere promise of seeing outer space? Could there be anyone stupid enough to do so, all the while never expecting to finish up with the rest of the human race as an entry in the extra terrestrial’s food chain?
Escaping by "reversing the magnetism" (see paragraph 5 for earlier criticism) the Doctor and woman in white flee in the conveniently arriving TARDIS, then fly billions of years back in time to arrive at the precise seconds that the alien spaceship begins to shape the Earth. Now let me see... just how many different aliens have shaped the destiny of the human race? The Jaggeroth in "City of Death" triggered the start of life on Earth when their spaceship exploded near a pool of amino acids, then their lone survivor Scaroth accelerated humanity’s technological development to meet his needs, as did the Time Lord monk in "The Time Meddler." The Fendahl were apparently responsible for manipulating humanity’s biological development from an early age in "Image of the Fendahl" and the alien creature Azal from "The Daemons" who also played some part in controlling human development, and lastly the Cybermen accidentally destroyed the dinosaurs in "Earthshock." Doesn’t this idea ever wear thin? In this latest revelation from the past it is shown that the aliens chose to shroud themselves with a trillion tonnes of rock in the hope that billions of years later there would be organic life to feast on. It works! Aren’t they lucky that they chose the right parking spot when none of the other rocks in the solar system produced any life?
The TARDIS is then dragged forward through time (is there no end to what these particles can do?) yet the Doctor somehow manages to perform a last-second detour. In a rushed dialogue (slightly obscured by the bride’s shriek) the Doctor finally explains that the "living huon particles" are necessary as a power source for the alien’s own ship. At long last the "living" particles are removed from the Bride (again with no harm to her physiology) and sent thousands of kilometres down the ‘ole. Despite moving relatively slowly (a lot slower than when they crossed a gap of lightyears) they produce illumination and sound at the centre of the Earth, yet are seen and heard at surface level. Mingled with the groom’s screams as he is dropped into the hole, reaches the Earth’s centre in a matter of seconds without asphyxiating and is then presumed devoured by the aliens (maybe that’s why the special effects crew didn’t want to show any of the ‘ole’s destination).
I must have gratefully fallen asleep at this point because the remainder of the episode is somewhat of a blur. It involves the Doctor returning to the scene and releasing the Thames river into the secret lab, effectively flushing the ‘ole (I seem to recall the Daleks and Cybermen being flushed similarly in the previous episode), with the spider woman and Bride in a shouting contest.
I would cheerfully watch the lowest-budget episode of the classic Doctor Who series than subject my eyes and ears to another dose of this high-budget special effects / low-budget scriptwriting. I might pull out "Creature in the Pit" or "Underworld." For some reason I find both the titles AND the synopsis of these stories especially apt!