Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Warts and all

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2009-11-21 Spectator.jpg


By way of consolation, I sat down with Girl to watch Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (BBC1, Sunday) - tantalisingly billed as one of the scariest episodes ever, and also one of the last featuring David Tennant. It was about the crew of a Mars space colony being possessed by the spirits of the Red Planet's evil, indigenous creatures - and going postal.

As you would expect of a script co-written by Russell T. Davies there was some spry dialogue, with lots of knowing jokes. (Such as the fact that the base was called Bowie Base One. ) As we have also come to expect, unfortunately, there was rather too much cod-depth, speechifying, straining-for-wider-resonance and mawkishness. This confuses the kids; and makes intelligent adult viewers cringe.

The bit at the end, for example, where the space-base commander - Lindsay Duncan - commits suicide with her phaser gun. 'Why did she kill herself, Daddy?' Well, you see, as the Doctor knew all too well - being cognisant of The Future - Duncan's character (and her entire Mars colony crew) were fated to die a tragic death when their colony mysteriously exploded. Visiting the base on the day of the disaster, the Doctor discovered it was an act of sacrificial suicide to stop the creatures reaching Earth.

Fair enough, but then - purely for the purposes of twist-in-the-tail plotting, I fear - the Doctor was required to have a completely out-of-character personality flip. Instead of allowing Duncan to die - as fate and the space-time continuum decreed - the Doctor decided to whizz her safely back home to her attractive stucco villa somewhere in London. 'It has taken me all these years to realise the laws of time are mine and they will obey me, ' he yelled, as if suddenly possessed by Davros. 'We're fighting time itself and I'm going to win!'

No! You can't do that with a popular, well-established character. It's plain wrong: like having Kojak suddenly discover hair-restorer or Ironside getting up from his wheelchair and walking or Starsky and Hutch acting out a scene from Brokeback Mountain. Sure, it will jar the viewer out of their comfort zone, but not in a good way, nor one which earns any respect for the scriptwriter, because it's cheating.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Delingpole, James (2009-11-21). Warts and all. The Spectator p. 63.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Delingpole, James. "Warts and all." The Spectator [add city] 2009-11-21, 63. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Delingpole, James. "Warts and all." The Spectator, edition, sec., 2009-11-21
  • Turabian: Delingpole, James. "Warts and all." The Spectator, 2009-11-21, section, 63 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Warts and all | url= | work=The Spectator | pages=63 | date=2009-11-21 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Warts and all | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=21 July 2024}}</ref>