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Who's got that sinking feeling?

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2007-12-26 Times p55.jpg

  • Publication: The Times
  • Date: 2007-12-26
  • Author: Tim Teeman
  • Page: Times2, p. 55
  • Language: English

Here's a bit of seasonal sacrilege: Doctor Who (BBC One) sucks. The Christmas special amounted to a delirious tribute to The Poseidon Adventure. It featured, in no particular order, Kylie Minogue, monsters, explosions, a threat to destroy Earth, references to Titanic (both the real-life disaster and the film) and The Apprentice and murderous angels. It was boring, despite the endless dashing about and CGI flim-flam. Doctor Who thinks it can do no wrong. Yesterday evening, it did.

The show began on what looked like the Titanic. It wasn't. It was a space liner whose passengers were paying for "primary cultural experiences" of Earth. The thing was, no one from the planet knew why the Titanic was embedded in cultural history, so while they dressed the part — flapper dresses, the best spats — they didn't 'know the ill-starred omen that the name conjured. A lunatic called Max Capricorn owned the ship and wanted to crash it into Earthy avenge himself on some former business colleagues. But the Doctor saved the Titanic and the Earth — of course he did — and in a weird sequence seemed to attain Christ-like status by being raised aloft by angels.

The Christmas special was geared, sensitively, to the mood of the 'audience. If you were beached after Christmas lunch, buried under Quality Street and swimming in Bailey's, watching through a fug of dismembered Transformers and children secretly necking vodka shots, then the writer Russell T. Davies provided a big bang roughly every three minutes. Kylie was fine, but rather like Doctor Who, this capped off a year for her where the nation's love and adulation has reached a kind of unmerited zenith — the truth is her new songs aren't that great and the ridiculous film, White Diamond, far from being a revealing portrait as advertised, was a delirious, uncritical bit of gush-ography.

Here, as the gutsy Titanic waitress Astrid, she looked older, and her breathy delivery reminded me of early Charlene-falls-for-Scott, so much so that I thought she might tell the Doctor to "rack off'. The Doctor led some survivors (fat couple, little alien, self-interested bastard and the best character here, a sweet man called Mr Copper, played by Clive Swift) through the bashed-up craft. David Tennant did his cheeky-chap-py thing, explaining complicated sci-fi stuff as if he was ordering a bag of chips — this. shtick is becoming charmless rather than charming.

In the end, Kylie-love got way out of control. Astrid sacrificed herself for the good of the world, the Doctor howled and Astrid was transformed into myriad pretty blue stars. "She's stardust," said the doctor breathily. Can he get over his non-violence thing, dump that sonic screwdriver, which he is way too over-reliant on, and just beat the crap out of the next villainous monster to cross his path? This would be quite out of character, but it may raise the show out of the torpor it has fallen into. Every week it seems to be a variation of: Doctor pitches up at planet or historical period. Bish, bash, monster, bosh, speech about love, thinly veiled gay references, kissy kissy, bish, bosh, more explosions, back to the Tardis, Doctor regrets woman he loves dying/leaving him, Doctor doubts himself, his mission, then gathers himself, bish, bash, bosh, Tardis zooms away. Doctor Who is now a national treasure of which no ill must be spoken, but for me the show and character has become lazy, predictable and indulgent; as evidenced in that ridiculous "I'm the Timelord, I'm 903 years old" rallying speech last night. The imminent arrival of Catherine Tate as the Doctor's new assistant will hopefully undercut the self-love sinking the Tardis.

Out of the box

•An interesting thought from a colleague: could the Doctor, in managing not to crash the Titanic into Buckingham Palace earning a "Thank you Doctor" from the Queen be an oblique attempt by the BBC to draw a line under its own troubled relationship with the Palace this year after the Annie Leibovitz/walkout row? It wouldn't have looked good to have Buck Pal b going up in smoke on Christmas Day.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Teeman, Tim (2007-12-26). Who's got that sinking feeling?. The Times p. Times2, p. 55.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Teeman, Tim. "Who's got that sinking feeling?." The Times [add city] 2007-12-26, Times2, p. 55. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Teeman, Tim. "Who's got that sinking feeling?." The Times, edition, sec., 2007-12-26
  • Turabian: Teeman, Tim. "Who's got that sinking feeling?." The Times, 2007-12-26, section, Times2, p. 55 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who's got that sinking feeling? | url= | work=The Times | pages=Times2, p. 55 | date=2007-12-26 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 April 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who's got that sinking feeling? | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=16 April 2024}}</ref>