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07 October 2012 @ 07:35 pm
The Power of Three  
I seem to be alone in preferring Dinosaurs on a Spaceship to The Power of Three. I think I've always liked having a good underlying plot to any characterisation, which is one of the things I often found frustrating about the Davies era. Not that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship had much of a plot, but what it did have did, at least made sense.

I said when I reviewed Dinosaurs on a Spaceship that Chibnall scripts have a tendency to sacrifice characterisation in order to move the plot on to its next beat. This story seemed to suffer from almost the opposite problem, in that the plot was constructed entirely in order to move to the next characterisation beat.

That said I enjoyed the characters a lot. Kate Stewart was great, and surely this, together with the revamped UNIT, is a set up for a return performance. Brian Williams was wonderful - almost the perfect not-companion for the Doctor: dependable, conscientious, but also full of understanding and appreciation. I really like the way you could see the similarities between Brian and Rory and, of course, the way Brian ultimately sent the Ponds off with his blessing.

I'm unsure about the double-bluff over the reasons for the Ponds' departure. Throughout its length this episode (and, to be honest, those preceding it) is hinting that Amy and Rory will grow out of travelling with the Doctor, only to over-turn this at the very end. I'm not hundred percent sure that playing with audience expectations in this kind of way is wise. Like the introduction of Oswin in Asylum of the Daleks, it's an explict acknowledgement that most of those watching know more about the show than the story on the screen. It's not quite breaking the fourth wall but I suspect it is a device that should be used equally sparingly.

As for all the stuff with the cubes, the tally and the Shakri. I'm not sure its worth dignifying with much commentary. Very little of it made any sense. The Shakri and the Tally (is the tally a race, organisation or thing or just a count? - the episode could be read either way, I think?) were presented with a pomposity and significance which they could not sustain. I think the only thing that might redeem their appearance is if The Power of Three is set up for some repeat appearance later in the season. Otherwise the slightness of the plot really did not need and could not sustain an ancient enemy from Time Lord myth.

So ultimately most of this was really nice. But the underlying structure that was supporting the character interactions was tissue-paper thin which meant that I was left, at the end of the episode, thinking little more than "is that it?".

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/78631.html.
telperion_15: Tardistelperion_15 on October 7th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
I found the Cubes to be really interesting right up until the moment it was revealed what they were for. Then my reaction was pretty much along the lines of "Is that it?" as well. Total anti-climax.

Also, if you could explain to me the purpose of the two creepy orderlies abducting people, I would be forever grateful! Because even after a second viewing, that made absolutely no sense to me, and seemed to have no plot relevance whatsoever except to fabricate a way to get Rory on to the spaceship. And even that wasn't really necessary, given that the Doctor identified the location of the portal through his scans, and he and Amy could have just picked up Rory on their way through the hospital...
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 7th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
No idea what the orderlies were there for, nor the creepy little girl with a cube, nor why you need such a convoluted long-running plan to decide to zap the human race with heart-stopping super-powers that you've handily had around all the time. But I shall start ranting if I try to discuss the actual cube-invasion bit of the plot any further.
athene: doctor elevendeinonychus_1 on October 7th, 2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
Oh! I'd forgotten about the creepy girl. Yes, she was another non-event plot-wise.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 7th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
Why count down from 10 to handily alert people that you are about to zap them with heart-stopping super-powers? *grinds teeth*
athene: doctor elevendeinonychus_1 on October 7th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I didn't get what was going on with the orderlis either. Presumably they were taking people to study in order to identify weaknesses, but why? It was stated (or possibly heavily implied) that the cubes themselves were gathering information about humans, and in a far more unobtrusive way, so why the orderlies? Apart from to create slightly more tension/jepordy with Brian and Rory being taken?

*iz confuzzled*
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 7th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
I'm fairly sure that, just as in other Chibnall stories characters have behaved in bizarre ways because the plot needed to get from point A to point B, the plot was here behaving in bizarre ways because the characters needed to get from point A to point B. I'm not enamoured of either approach to story telling.
telperion_15: Tardistelperion_15 on October 8th, 2012 06:40 am (UTC)
Oh good, I'm so glad it wasn't just me getting completely confused! I was beginning to think I was missing something blindingly obvious and being incredibly stupid about it!
Megs: Doctor/River: Hellodqbunny on October 7th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
This was really a case of an episode needing to be longer and the Shakiri needing to be more developed. I had shades of the Shadow War from Babylon 5 when he was talking with the Doctor, but it wasn't developed enough. This really needed to be two episodes. I'm with you in preferring "Dinosaurs" overall.

Chibnall also tends to sacrifice continuity where I think he doesn't care for it. You'd think with centering around a year in the Ponds' life that they would make a single mention of their daughter? The anniversary party was especially glaring. No mention of her absence or even Amy's parents not being there.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 7th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
If we get a pay off for the Shakri in the second half of the season, I may forgive this episode some of the invasion-plot idiocies because they were presented as something much larger than a one-episode bad guy... though it's not like the Time Lords don't have a fair few ancient enemies lying around already that could have been used instead.

You're right the episode need River in some way, shape or form as well. If only as a reference.
Megsdqbunny on October 7th, 2012 08:34 pm (UTC)
That's why I vastly prefer Whithouse. He tied in Amy being in a mother in a way that was organic to the storyline, not overwhelming. Just a sentence really.
philmophlegm: I'vegotasportscarphilmophlegm on October 7th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
I preferred Dinosaurs too. It was a fun romp. Power of Three was just a little dull and aimless, with a baddie who appeared to be an afterthought.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 8th, 2012 09:06 am (UTC)
"Aimless" sums it up well. A lot of the stuff with Brian and Kate would have been good if it had actually been going somewhere!
daniel_saunders: Eleventh Doctordaniel_saunders on October 9th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
It's a long established trick of fan writers (including New Adventures authors and RTD) to make their baddie "an ancient enemy of the Time Lords" in the hope that this will build tension. To be fair, it started in the original series with stories like Image of the Fendahl and State of Decay, but got out of hand. I wouldn't be surprised if the Shakri return, but I won't be surprised if they don't either.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 11th, 2012 10:03 am (UTC)
"Ancient enemies of the Time Lords" normally get invoked in order to allow the writer to get away with using magic in a Doctor Who story. That wasn't the case here, the Shakri appeared a rather pathetic bad guy who could be fairly easily defeated by what counts as time lord engineering. If they return later then it makes more sense introducing them in a such a portentious way here, but otherwise I couldn't see the point of the ancient enemy business at all.