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17 November 2009 @ 10:24 pm
The Waters of Mars  
Paper thin A plot, non-existent B plot: check

Obvious Sci-Fi cliches "He's stronger than us, I know, let's split up!" served up apparently without awareness or irony: check

Big emotional moments powered by story and character logic that doesn't bear close examination: check

Science sufficiently nonsensical that a bright 12 year-old would probably notice: check

but... but... but...

That was great, wasn't it?

Worth it simply for the scene where the Doctor walks away from the base.

I'm beginning to think RTD writes his best Doctor Who when he's actively trying to question or subvert our assumptions about the show.
 
 
 
philmophlegm: cyberleaderphilmophlegm on November 17th, 2009 10:44 pm (UTC)
Paper thin A plot, non-existent B plot: check WELL, YEAH, BUT...

Obvious Sci-Fi cliches "He's stronger than us, I know, let's split up!" served up apparently without awareness or irony: check EVEN MORE OBVIOUS SCI-FI CLICHES: BASE ON MARS, SCARY ALIEN STUFF, 'CUTE' ROBOT

Big emotional moments powered by story and character logic that doesn't bear close examination: check I'LL LET HIM OFF SINCE THOSE ARE THE SORT OF THINGS THAT GET CUT TO GET THE EPISODE DOWN TO LENGTH

Science sufficiently nonsensical that a bright 12 year-old would probably notice: check THIS BRIGHT 37-YEAR-OLD DIDN'T (EXCEPT FOR THE TOP FUEL ROBOT DRAGSTER), BUT I'LL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT

but... but... but...

That was great, wasn't it? YES. EXCEPT FOR THE ROBOT.




(Actually I thought the best scene was the one where the Doctor doesn't take the f*****g robot with him at the end. I was very relieved by that.)
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
THIS BRIGHT 37-YEAR-OLD DIDN'T (EXCEPT FOR THE TOP FUEL ROBOT DRAGSTER), BUT I'LL TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT

I was really thinking of all the jets-of-water-as-ultimate-breaking-and-entry-tool-stuff because even with the handwave of "water will find a way"... yes but err... actually no.
(Deleted comment)
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 09:56 am (UTC)
I meant to add something about poor sound stuff (not clear on technical term) to my list. Mostly incidental music doesn't bother me much so I don't have the problems with Murray Gold that many people have. But in several NuWho stories I've found either the dialogue is gabbled and unclear or it is drowned out by sound effects/music. It happened several times in Water of Mars: I had to rewind and relisten to Tennant's "banging four times" thing, I didn't catch the 2iC's dying speech, nor Tennant's speech on seeing the Ood.

One thing that was an unusual flaw in this story was the light-weightness of the characters, with the exception of the Captain. Time was tight but RTD usually puts more into fleshing out bit parts and has shown he can do a good job of it in limited words but here we had a character whose defining feature seemed to be being 27.

And it was still great.

Edited at 2009-11-18 09:57 am (UTC)
reggietate: john_tolinreggietate on November 17th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
You're probably right about the plot, but... yes, it was frackin' AWESOME. I'm definitely going to miss Ten.
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 10:01 am (UTC)
I'm almost afraid to rewatch it. I didn't write a long review because it would have been a page of nit-picks. There is so much you can criticize and yet, for me, it worked so well.

Definitely a case of the whole being significantly more than the sum of its parts.
fredbassettfredbassett on November 18th, 2009 09:57 am (UTC)
I have a very strong feeling that I've fallen out of love with Dr Who and RTD. Large scale, noisy climaxes are now just irritating me. (And before my Primeval friends point out the essential irony in that statement, I shall get my retaliation in first and state that that doesn't apply to my favourite fanfic!)

Just for once, I'd like to see an icy calm denouement.

I suspect I won't be watching for much longer, and that rather saddens me. I want to like it, I really do, but it just isn't doing anything for me any more. I also hate the fact that in the information over-load age, we know exactly when the Dr will be changing and into whom. I used to prefer the element of surprise. But I suspect my problem is that I haven't actually liked a Dr since Jon Pertwee until the news guys came along. I did like Ecclestone, and I think Tennant is OK, but I doubt I'll stick around for the next one.
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 10:07 am (UTC)
I was late watching this one because of a certain amount of child-wrangling but I was treating my general indifference to the fact as a sign I too was leaving it behind.

But this one really won me over and part of the fact was the way it was criticising the large scale, noisy climax. The point of that scene (I think) is Adelaide's quiet disapproval while the Doctor stomps about ranting and raving - I think we were supposed to be put off by him (and by extension the whole climax).

That said, I think a lot of the directing of NuWho leaves something to be desired and one of its bad habits is scenes with so much sound and fury it can be hard to trace the actual narrative thread through them. There were a couple of instances in Waters of Mars - for instance I have no recollection what plot function the whole scene with the breaking glacier served...
bunnbunn on November 18th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)
I thought the breaking glacier implied imminent reinforcements for the water-monsters, either from Ice Warriors or a technology of theirs...?
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 11:24 am (UTC)
Errr... possibly but since they never showed up... and wasn't it before she turns up in the shuttle and splurges Shane from Neighbours?... as I said narrative thread not clear.

I'm interested to read in parrot_knight's journal that Maggie had additional speeches that were cut, I suspect they may have made the actions of the water monsters in the final climax a bit clearer. It's also a shame because I thought the actress was very good and made much more of an impression as a distinct character both pre- and post- transformation than most of the rest of the base crew.
bunn: No whiningbunn on November 18th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC)
It was definitely after the whole 'we would like that world' bit and after the question of contamination via the shuttle had been raised though. I was happy with that bit: aliens want to steal planet via shuttle, mobilise resources to secure it : for me that was OK without elaborating.

The suicide was the bit where I was grasping for more plot: she doesn't like him rewriting the future even to save her skin (bit of a turnaround there, but OK) but surely, he has already done that, suicide at home not same as heroic death in unknown circumstances? Although I can see that the suicide was needed to develop the Doctor's character arc, it didn't quite work for me in terms of Adelaide's, I would have liked that developed more.

Hey ho. Good telly though, not complaining.
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on November 18th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)
I understood the water monster's general game plan - it was just some of the stuff they were doing towards the end didn't make sense to me (at a detail level).

The whole reasoning behind the suicide, not to mention the Doctor taking them all back to Earth rather than somewhen else so there was still a mystery, all sits under "story and character logic doesn't bear close examination". I thought the idea, the acting, and the dialogue was breath-taking. In a perfect world I would wish a little more attention had been paid to the set up so that there wasn't a simple way for the Doctor to save their lives and leave the official history intact and that it was clear what Adelaide thought she would achieve by committing suicide after she'd been brought back to Earth. You can come up with explanations which make sense (and indeed fans are) but I don't think they are really there in the text.
Pollyjane_somebody on December 1st, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
(pardon belated comment) Yes, completely agree re the suicide, that was the thing that bugged me most about the whole story. Louise, I'd be vaguely interested to know how fans are retconning that to make sense, if you can summarise easily or have handy links (don't bother if it's too much work though!)
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on December 3rd, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
Well there are lots of theories which fall, I guess, into several groups.

Those which try to explain what Adelaide thought she was doing, irrespective of any temporal physics. This includes hand-wavy psychological stuff about how she'd worked herself into a point where she had taken a decision to die and couldn't actually back out of it (the best supported of all the theories on the screen, I think), and theories that she had been infected and realised the fact. Some think she was very unstable and killing herself to teach the Doctor a lesson out of pique. Also theories that she'd interpreted the Doctor's words to mean any or all of the below and hoped or somehow believed that as long as she died, it didn't matter where.

Those which try to explain what the Doctor thought was going on, irrespective of whether he was right. A lot of these hinge around him saying "it's just a theory" so it doesn't matter that ultimately rescuing Adelaide and the other two didn't bring around the collapse of the universe, just that he thought it would. There's a suggestion that the Doctor can perceive "fixed points" through some extra Time Lord sense. So he doesn't need to read the history books to think they all have to die, he can "see" that its vital to history that the all die on the base. He then choses to take the risk of ignoring that perception. In the "extra perception" theory, its also possible that its only Adelaide who's death is apparently critical (not the base is destroyed, everyone dies bit), but he misinterprets that to think it is all the people on the base. An alternative to the whole perception thing is that the Time Lords or the TARDIS have some kind of map of immutable points in history with big DO NOT INTERFERE signs over them. In that case he may also just decide that he doesn't believe them.

Those which try to explain why its so important Adelaide dies but apparently doesn't matter where she does so. I guess the "she's infected" theory fits into that. Also if you freeze frame and read all the web entries in the episode it's apparently clear that it's still Adelaide's death that motivates her grand-daughters actions - it just turns out the precise nature of that death wasn't as important as the Doctor thought.

Those which acknowledge that the suicide was unnecessary and try to reconcile the Doctor's rescue of the survivors with the idea that something bad should happen if he does. So some reckon the Doctor's actions will be shown to have repercussions in the two specials being shown over Christmas. Some say its probably not that bad things always happen in these situations but that if you mess about with known history (or special fixed points) then bad things often happen (e.g. when Rose tried to save her father), the Doctor may have got away with it on this occasion, but might not in future.

I'm sure there are probably lots more out there than I've listed, since I tend to switch off a bit when reading them on the grounds that RTD clearly just hadn't thought it through properly.
Pollyjane_somebody on December 3rd, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! I think I'll mull those over a bit - I do quite like the exercise of justifying-after-the-fact (see also, J.K.Rowling) but definitely agree that that's all it is: as you say RTD clearly just hadn't thought it through properly.
Gabbygabcd86 on January 13th, 2010 09:43 pm (UTC)
Yeah, where were those brilliant bat-monsters from the church with Rose and Eccleston?
louisedennis: doctor wholouisedennis on January 14th, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
Hey! even bat-monsters are subject to the working time directive!