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26 September 2015 @ 02:45 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Power of Three  
I was, and remain, pleasantly surprised by both Chris Chibnall's episodes for this season. At the time I recall this was generally more highly acclaimed than Dinosaurs on a Spaceship though I actually think it is the weaker of the two stories. It is trying to be a little (though frankly only a little) more serious than Dinosaurs on a Spaceship but it doesn't actually manage to tie its ideas together so well.

It is supposed to be the year of the quiet invasion, where the Doctor comes to live with the Ponds. Only he doesn't, he pops in and out, not quite business as usual, but pretty close. The threat from the cubes never really manages to make much sense either. Viewed as a outline the underlying plot seems choppy and rather thin.

Where the story works well, it is as a The Lodger-like light-hearted look at the Doctor intersecting with the every day lives of his companions, with a couple of opportunities for reflection and introspection. Brian Williams, for instance, works really well here, as he did in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship allowing him to provide a sympathetic but external viewpoint on the Doctor's lifestyle. And there is a neat inversion of expectation at the end. The Ponds have grown up and are seriously considering moving on and yet the ending seems to assert that you do not need to grow out of Doctor Who, even if you have redefined your relationship with it. But the moments of domesticity and reflection don't manage to gel particularly well with the more traditional Who story that is ostensibly driving the plot.

All that said, I think both Chibnall's stories from this season mark a genuine leap in quality from things like The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood and (*shudder*) Countryside. [personal profile] londonkds has noted that one of his weaknesses is a desire to insert grimdark elements (e.g., the more jarring parts of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) and Countryside, in particular, was definitely pushing grimdark. One wonders if this is one of those situations where a writer's strengths (which seem in Chibnall's case to be light-hearted froth) don't well reflect what he actually wants to write. Both his stories this season seem to want to entertain first and foremost, and are, I think, the stronger for it.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/171829.html.