S5(31)E09 – Cold Blood – Broadcast Discussion

29th May 2010 • Blog Post by Seb Patrick •

Lots to talk about here, I expect, even if most of it isn’t to do with the slightly plodding and predictable script (sorry, I’ve been chastised for constant Chibnall-bashing, but I just… can’t get on with his writing). Anyway, lovely prosthetics, Stephen Moore, and… yeah, some big Season Arc stuff, eh? Feel free to talk about the events in spoilerific fashion all you want.

Seb Patrick once met Paul McGann, who immediately pretended to be Mark McGann. He writes for Den of Geek, BBC America, Film4 and the official Red Dwarf website, among others. He owns over thirty toy Daleks and wishes the Dapol factory tour was still open.

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26 Responses

  1. Michael Warren

    Quite liked it. Liked that they didn’t draw out the ‘who will kill Alaya’ thing too much. The narration by Stephen Moore was nicely ambiguous. Rory’s death was quite a shock, even though I did kind of see it coming. Also, I pretty much expected the ‘shrapnel’ to be a piece of the TARDIS.

    Crucial arc plot point – someone contacted by the time energy cannot be forgotten if a person concentrates. The other Doctor in “Flesh and Stone” comes to mind – “remember what I said when you were eight”. If the TARDIS, with the Doctor in it, is at the centre of the explosion that cracks the universe, then maybe he could be being erased from history…

  2. Andy M

    Mortally wounded villain reappears to kill an important character with their last breath. This is an appalling cliche, even for Who.

    And the sonic screwdriver disarms soldiers now does it? If only he’d realised that before. Well done Chibnall, a new low in lazy Doctor Who escape devices.

  3. Well now my “they’ve ignored the crack” criticism of “The Hungry Earth” seems pretty bloody stupid, eh?

  4. ChrisM

    I liked it. A lot.

    The only thing that didn’t make a whole lot of sense is the Doctor sticking his hand into an EXISTENCE DEVOURING CRACK. The reveal of the shrapnel was great though (although it’s arguable whether or not the shrapnel would be there in an EXISTENCE DEVOURING CRACK, but…. oh never mind. Maybe it just ceases to exist in real time outside the crack. Or the time radiation stuff protects the Tardis shrapnel, or whatever. And the Doctor’s hand for that matter.)

    I thought that ‘stiff lock’ moment might have been a bit of foreshadowing too…

    I would have liked the Silurians to have sounded less human too, although maybe putting on creature sounds and voices might have come across too silly. So fair enough. The three dimensional nature of the Silurians was very welcome. Although I thought ‘disecting scientist’ changed character a bit to quickly but that’s a small quibble.

    I’m really liking this latest series.

  5. muzzy

    To be fair it was quite a bit better than last week. Stuff happened. It wasn’t great but it was OK. And the last 5 minutes were exciting. So y’know. That’s good at least. Was quite surprised when Rory died but I’m guessing if time can now be re-written he’ll be back at some point.

  6. Seb Patrick

    Basically, as far as I can see, everything good about it came from:

    – Malcolm Hulke (for the original idea, barely changed here in terms of social construct)
    – Stephen Moore (for the performance)
    – The arc stuff (which I suspect is Moffat’s, though I could be wrong)

    I just don’t think Chibnall has very much to offer in terms of original, clever writing. Nothing about this screamed “awful” (apart from the actress playing Ambrose) but everything was oh so very predictable (down to the manner of Rory’s demise) and at times outright cliche. It just felt like a script anyone could have put together from the basic idea. No character or uniqueness to it.

  7. A fun fan project would be editing the two-parter down into a single 42-minute episode. I reckon you could trim a lot of the first part and some of the second. You might even end up with a superior end result, albeit one still marred by Chibface’s brand of bad writering.

  8. Ridley

    >>And the sonic screwdriver disarms soldiers now does it?

    Well not the one needed to shoot Rory, obviously.

    >>the Doctor sticking his hand into an EXISTENCE DEVOURING CRACK.

    Myes…

  9. The Flatmate of the Site

    >>the Doctor sticking his hand into an EXISTENCE DEVOURING CRACK.

    Yeah, that was a bit odd. You can rationalise it as the dangerous element being the time energy (the crack was still inert when the Doctor went messing about with it), and The Eleventh Hour showed that there’s nothing particulary dangerous about the cracks in their dormant state, but it looked a bit strange given what followed.

    I’d put the whole thing about on a part with the Venice story. The two big problems were the jokes having gone AWOL (Amy’s Choice showed that you can be dark without loosing the comedy) and the budget limitations. Chibnal did a good job in making the doubling-up of guest stars a part of the plot, but it was obviously driven by the desire to minimise the number of prosthetics made. He talked in the latest issue of the magazine about how the Myrka got the chop due to cost, to be replaced by the rather less dramatic “ground eating people” stuff.

  10. ChrisM

    Yeah, that was a bit odd. You can rationalise it as the dangerous element being the time energy (the crack was still inert when the Doctor went messing about with it), and The Eleventh Hour showed that there’s nothing particulary dangerous about the cracks in their dormant state, but it looked a bit strange given what followed.

    That makes sense actually. I wondered how an alien could conveniently use the crack to escape without essentially ‘de-existencing*’ itself, but it follows that the time energy had yet to catch up. Which it did later judging by the vanishing of the ducks and nobodies memory of them. “It’s always been called ‘the duck pond’. (Wasn’t that particular crack in the wall closed then though? An how ome Ms Pond sleeping in the same room for years was safe? I guess that would be explained by the fact the crack moves around.)

    Interesting stuff though isn’t it? I just hope the apparent contradictions are simply due to not having all the facts rather than writing inconsistencies. Or I’m over-thinking it.

    Judging by the latest Doctor Who Confidential, I’m wondering if the crew are aiming the programme solely at the kiddies. Every stop the tour bus, er, stopped at, crowds of 90% kids. (Although to be fair they did seem to be aiming largely at schools, but why?) If that’s they’re belief, I disagree though. Or I’m a big kid. Which is fine by me.

    *New invented word, copyright MardCorp.

  11. ChrisM

    “nobodies memory of them” = “nobody remembered them”.

    Note to self- check grammar before posting. And stop talking to yourself.

  12. > Nothing about this screamed “awful” but everything was oh so very predictable (down to the manner of Rory’s demise) and at times outright cliche. It just felt like a script anyone could have put together from the basic idea.

    I think this pretty much summarises it exactly.

    (My thoughts, as seem to appear unstoppably each week, available on Twitter: @ellardent.)

  13. >I thought that ’stiff lock’ moment might have been a bit of foreshadowing too…

    The Doctor and Amy seem to forget Rory, so maybe saying the lock sticks was his memory adapting to the moment a minute earlier when he’d locked the TARDIS from the inside to stop Amy running out?

    > (My thoughts, as seem to appear unstoppably each week, available on Twitter: @ellardent.)

    I’ve really liked reading the ones you’ve posted so far. Even if you don’t expand them into full-length reviews, I think you should preserve those tweets somewhere else online with an archive a bit easier to navigate than Twitter!

  14. I wasn’t too impressed with this story. The lizard-people make-up was technically very good but the overall effect was far too human and I really, really think they should have added some “lizard eye” contact lenses and distorted the voices a little to make them less Homo sapien.

    As for the story, it reminded me of a sub-par Star Trek episode: boring, a bit predictable and moralistic. I’m guessing it was a “lead in” to a later episode or episodes (possibly the finale) since it felt like the story was left hanging a bit.

  15. ChrisM

    The Doctor and Amy seem to forget Rory, so maybe saying the lock sticks was his memory adapting to the moment a minute earlier when he’d locked the TARDIS from the inside to stop Amy running out?

    Interesting point. I don’t think The Doctor was affected the same way as Amy though. I’m sure he remembers Rory very well.

    It is curious that in the Angel’s episode Amy actually questions the doctor as to why she remembers the soldiers who were ‘unhappened’ when everyone else doesn’t. “You’re a time traveller now.”*

    Yet she can’t remember her own Rory.

    That being said, it’s not really a contradiction. Maybe she forgot the soldiers later too, just not as quickly as the other soldiers companions. I.e. as a time traveller she isn’t immune to the effects of the Crack, but she has a bit of resistance.
    *That’s from memory, so probably wrong, but I’m sure you’ll know the bit I mean.

  16. Seb Patrick

    >That being said, it’s not really a contradiction.

    Not least because she actually questioned why this was the case, and the Doctor told her.

  17. Jonathan Capps

    > Not least because she actually questioned why this was the case, and the Doctor told her.

    With a pretty arbitrary explanation.

  18. Seb Patrick

    Yeah, but still an explanation!

  19. Re. the lock thing. It’s not anything that needs a theory attached, surely? It’s just another bit of clumsy writing. The Doctor says it as an excuse to stay outside the TARDIS while Amy goes in. The lock isn’t actually sticking, the man just wants to look at his shrapnel undisturbed.

    It’s a bit of cod writing, certainly – another in a long line of clumsy, first-draft excuse lines from this story (“I’m taking your ring back to the TARDIS”, “I’m going home for my headphones”) – aof it certainly makes the Doctor seem pretty dim (he can’t think of something clever, AND he aparently can’t ID part of his ship without direct comparison) but it’s nothing more than that.

  20. > aof

    That should have been ‘and’. Not sure how that happened!

    To clarify one thing I said there: lining the shrapnel up to the TARDIS is a totally reasonable conceit to tell the story. Good, in fact. It’s visual storytelling and totally valid. It’s only making an *excuse* to do it that makes it clunky.

    It’s the equivalent of a character reading a letter out loud when, in real life, you’d just hand it over. Just do it, it’s fine, we’ll accept it for the betterment of the storytelling – don’t give your characters a dialogue song-and-dance to justify it. “Read to aloud to me, would you? I’ve got oil on my hands and I left my glasses in the pub.” Who needs that?

    It’s no problem to write that Amy runs into the TARDIS, keen to be off on the next adventure, while the Doctor lingers behind. That’s a pretty standard bit of filmic grammar anyway. It’s shoving in unnatural dialogue at a time when it’s not needed for the conceit – dialogue that either makes the Doctor incapable of being especially inventive, and/Amy being pretty gullible and easy to lie to.

    Either undersells the character in question. It *sounds* like an excuse, and shoving Amy’s “you boys and your locksmithery” doesn’t somehow make it credible. If we want to make the point that the doctor is concealing his concerns, fine – but making her gullible and him a bad liar doesn’t help the drama of that.

    Gah, all this for a two lines of dialogue. I need to take a day off! (For the record, though, Mr Chibnall: I liked the jokes and thought the guest characters were quickly and clearly crafted. It’s not *all* diss, honest.)

  21. Mammalian Verisimilitude

    One minor point – I think the end is meant to be the very first time the Doctor’s looked at the shrapnel, not him hanging back specifically to compare it (he compares it, but it wasn’t his plan – he does so in shock after he’s seen it).

  22. Seb Patrick

    Er, yeah. That’s what I thought, too.

  23. Yes, you’re quite right. Dunno how I walked myself down that path…

  24. Surely he looked at it when he pulled it out of the crack.

  25. Mammalian Verisimilitude

    No, he grabbed it in the hankie, wrapped it around it as he pulled it out. After which the reptlia-woman fired and died and he said something unrelated as they headed back. He didn’t look until “the lock jammed”.

  26. Thing is, there IS a direct look at/into the hankie – Amy asks what it is and the Doctor, laid on the ground, stares at the hankie and says he doesn’t know. The moment lingers, and the angle suggests (I think wrongly) that while we can’t see what the object is, the Doctor can. (Or, more weirdly, that he’s not urgently interested in taking a proper look – which, again, is not great writing.)

    But I think that’s accidental. I agree, he’s supposed to be seeing it for the first time at the end.

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