Sunday, 26 May 2013

Doctor Who?

"Tell me your name!"

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Traitor

This story is called The Traitor, which is very similar to the name of a Blakes 7 episode. Maybe this story will also waste the talents of Christopher Neame?

"Gosh, Doctor - it's beautiful," says Sarah, just before her face melts.

The story gets off to a strange start with it not being entirely clear who says "I don't know. But if it doesn't change course it will crash on that planet." If it is Sarah that says that then she is answering her own question, but if it is the Doctor that says that then in the next panel he is answering himself when he says "You're right! It is going to crash!" Confused cat is confused.

"Oh! How awful!" Sarah, here being played by someone who was maybe once within earshot of Elisabeth Sladen, reacts to the sight of a crashed spaceship with characteristic understatement. Characteristic of a writer who had never seen Doctor Who before, I mean.

I don't have much to say about this page except: what's wrong with the Doctor's face? In the last panel it looks like he has wrapped his scarf around his face and is then wearing a mask of his own face on top of that.

Well I think we can now tell who is playing Zemos:

Here is where this story goes completely round the twist.
"YOU WHAT?! You fool! Those men are no scientists! They are liars and psychotic killers! They are totally and permanently insane."
Apparently, on their own planet the mannys who turn ugly have to become "savage murderers whose evil is apparent in their appearance," which sounds like the Evil Makes You Ugly trope played as straight as it possibly could be...

...except that this story is so silly that it reads like an over-the-top parody. For instance the overly dramatic narration: "...FOR IT IS ALREADY TOO LATE!"
"kaarrr..." and "kreeee..." say the mannys, which is supposed to show that they have become "liars and psychotic killers" again.

This story is really not helped by the fact that every character looks completely different in every picture. Even the Doctor is only identifiable by his his scarf most of the time, though the last picture of him makes a real effort to look like Tom Baker.

The pathos of the Doctor crying at the end, unsure if he has done the right thing, is completely undermined by the silliness of the concept that the mannys are "permanently insane" and "savage murderers" except on this one planet where they become scientists, and there is nothing that can be done to change that.

The Traitor is fatally flawed from the very beginning.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

New Book Needs A New Cover

Duncan has a new book. It is called The Time Traveller's Companion and that means it is for taking with you when you go travelling through time.

Not really, lol. It is a Doctor Who book.

Unfortunately it has a big picture of River Sue, holding an even bigger gun, on the cover. This is not a good thing, and does not belong on the cover of a Doctor Who book because it gives the mistaken impression that River Sues and bigger guns are good things to have in Doctor Who stories.

On the internets I have found a better picture to be the cover of this book:

Although it is only subtly different because it still has Captain Jack, the Doctor and River Sue on it, it is an improvement because River Sue is wielding a sonic screwdriver as a weapon instead of a bigger gun.

For the cover to be better still, it would have to not have River Sue on it at all, maybe replacing her with a character that actually feels like they properly belong in the Doctor Who universe. Here is Duncan's suggestion:

While there is no doubt that TV's David Jason is a more appropriate character to feature on the cover of the book than River SmugnessSweetieSpoilersSpoilersSweetieSmugness Sue, I can't help but feel that a character that was actually in Doctor Who might be even more appropriate.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Eurovision 2013

Click the picture to see my score card full size.

My favourite song was from Romania. Here's why:

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Euro Visiooooon

On Saturday it is the Eurovision Singing Contest, and we cats are already excited about it.

Here is what I think should be the theme song for the Eurovision Singing Contest, but it isn't really.

Euro Visiooooon!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Theory on The Empire Strikes Back by A Cat (Star)

My friend Starcat has a theory about the film The Empire Strikes Back. Here he is to tell us about it.

Hello. I'm Starcat. I am a cat. I have stars on me. I like stars. I like Star Wars. I like The Empire Strikes Back. I have a theory about The Empire Strikes Back. My theory that I have is mine and this is how it goes.

In the lightsabre fight between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, the winner was not Darth Vader.

Thank you Big Gay Longcat, it has been a lot of fun saying what my theory is. And whose it is. And who I am. And what I look like. And what I like. I have another think that I like. It is sleeps. Zzzzz.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Clockface, Woo-oo

This is my new friend Clockface. He is a cat who has a clock for a face. Instead of "mew" he says "tick tock." Of all the cats I know he is the best at telling what time it is.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Promise vs the Reality 6

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks

This isn't a "Next Time" Trailer, strictly speaking. As the first episode of season 33, it wasn't yet made by the time it's preceding episode (The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe) was shown. So the next best thing is the trailer that the BBC showed to remind viewers that Doctor Who would be coming back soon, and to encourage them to stay tuned so that they could see it.

Here's the trailer in question:

It starts with the Doctor, Rory and Amy in a room with two Daleks.
"Where are we?" asks Amy. "Spaceship, right?" Then they're in a room with lots and lots* of Daleks.
"Not just any spaceship - the Parliament of the Daleks," says the Doctor. I bet Dalek elections are more exciting than manny elections.

"THE ASYLUM MUST BE CLEANSED. THE PREDATOR OF THE DALEKS WILL BE DEPLOYED" says a Dalek (maybe the leader of the Daleks?) and I wonder what the "Predator of the Daleks" is, given that the Daleks don't acknowledge any species as being superior to them. Like cats.

In the next clip, Rory gets shot at by some Daleks. The Doctor says "I'm not a predator, just a man with a plan," so it sounds as if he is ruling himself out of being the "Predator of the Daleks." This is probably for the best as the Dalek mythologising of the Doctor has been taken far too far, with the result of diminishing the Daleks as a credible threat in the series. This is not a good thing.

Two Daleks are about to tell a joke, but the trailer is rightly saving the rest of the joke for the episode. I expect it's going to be a really funny joke.

There are explosions and shots of more Daleks, typical fare for a trailer to give an impression of exciting things happening. Something explodes in space - maybe a spaceship, maybe a planet, we don't know.

It cuts back to Rory. "Who killed all the Daleks?" he asks.
The Doctor is carrying Amy, who is having sleeps despite all the explosions. The Doctor, seemingly in reply to Rory's question, says:
"Who do you think?"

So, what did Asylum of the Daleks end up being like after all that?

Well, while the episode is shit because of its endless mythologising of the Doctor and diminution of the Daleks as a credible threat (yes, that is exactly what the "Predator of the Daleks" referred to), and while the episode keeps a bit more up its sleeve than the trailer reveals (the whole subplot with Oswin isn't featured in the trailer at all), the trailer is a pretty good indication of what to expect from the episode it is trailing.

Here's Duncan's review of the episode, if you're interested. Meanwhile, I have thought of a much better "Predator of the Daleks" than the Doctor. It's my friend Scary Cat.

* It is worth pointing out that most of the Daleks are the proper-looking Daleks, and not the shit new Daleks from Victory of the Daleks. Whatever happened to the claim made there that the new Daleks were the only 'true' Daleks? It's almost as though they realised what a terrible mistake they had made...

The Promise vs the Reality 5

Doctor Who: Day of the Moon

Day of the Moon is the second part of a two-part story that began with The Impossible Astronaut, and together they make up the first story of season 32. Previously when I have looked at two-part stories in 'Promise vs Reality' they have come from the end of their seasons, usually having been built up towards throughout a season-long story arc. So Day of the Moon is different in that it only has one preceding episode for this build up to happen in.

Immediately prior to the trailer, The Impossible Astronaut ended on a cliffhanger of Amy shooting a little manny in a spacesuit. This was an odd cliffhanger to say the least, relying on intriguing the audience with a "WTF?" moment rather than the usual having characters in peril. Still, this was hardly the first time that this had happened in Doctor Who, with even the great Terry Nation making use of this technique sometimes.

So, with the audience left puzzling over what could possibly happen next, here's the trailer:

It starts with it looking as though the little manny is going to be alright. Amy says "I didn't mean to shoot you," so that's that cleared up. Wait, no it isn't.

A rocket is about to take off into space. Space travel is intrinsically interesting and exciting (and scary) to cats, so its presence here in the trailer seems designed to distract us from the plight of the little manny and onwards to other things that will be coming up next time.

"Do not approach the prisoner," says a sign. Mannys are approaching a prisoner.
No, it's not Number 6, it's the Doctor in a beard - suggesting that he will get captured by some baddys.

The trailer cuts to River Sue being menaced by some aliens while Rory gives some exposition:
"They are everywhere. It's like they edit themselves out of your memory as soon as you look away."
This power evidently doesn't work on cats, because I can still remember River Sue when I look away from her.

A manny with a gun (Canton Everett Delaware III, whose name sounds like it belongs to a Shakespeare king) and Amy are in a scary blue house, then Rory and Amy are running through some countryside. It looks as though they are being chased by mannys with guns. Maybe this is supposed to be exciting, but what does it have to do with space rockets?

A manny's voice counts down the last 5 seconds of the trailer, and we see Amy is back in the scary blue house with writing on her face. She screams, which has the effect of making the end of the trailer seem more like a cliffhanger than the cliffhanger itself.

While it is a bit confusing and hard to make sense of, the trailer does give the overall impression of the next episode being exciting, what with the Doctor being captured and his Companions being alternately chased and in a scary house (which is very blue). But perhaps the most puzzling aspect to the trailer is how little it seems to relate to the situation that The Impossible Astronaut left us in.

In The Sound of Drums the complete lack of reference to the cliffhanger of Utopia was clever, with no hint as to how that would resolve. Here, the trailer picks up where the cliffhanger left off for its first few seconds, and then moves on without anything to bridge one scenario (little manny being shot at by Amy) to the other (chases and captures and scary blueness). The trailer not giving us an explanation is fine - that's not what trailers are for - but it makes us want to demand an answer when we reach the episode itself.

So, what did Day of the Moon end up being like after all that?

This caption, saying "3 MONTHS LATER," is one of the biggest cheats in Doctor Who. With it, we skip forward 3 months into a completely different scenario than the one we left the characters in. Because this is virtually the first thing that happens in the episode, coming right after a recap of The Impossible Astronaut's key points.

And, while there is a flashback later in the episode, there is never a point at which the join is properly made. To that extent, Day of the Moon may as well be a separate story from The Impossible Astronaut, one that starts in media res. Even the "ONE YEAR LATER" of Last of the Time Lords doesn't feel as much of a cheat as this (though that is at least in part because that story was already broken). To illustrate...


When the Monkeys With Badges finish making their spaceship, I will be able to go into space. I imagine it will look a bit like this:

Sadly, they have not been making much progress with the spaceship recently, even though they now have Chu Chu to help them. Now that I think about it, maybe Chu Chu's help is counterproductive, since he is a cheeky monkey.

Given how much emphasis the trailer puts on showing the Doctor being captured and his Companions being chased, it is disappointing to find out that this is an overly-elaborate ruse to make the aliens think the Doctor has been captured.

While the Doctor pulling off such a plan is exactly the sort of thing that you would expect to see in Doctor Who, when taken in combination with the time-skip cheat it feels like yet another cheat for the episode when compared with the trailer: the trailer shows the Doctor is a prisoner, so it asks the questions "how does he get captured?" (since he was certainly not a prisoner at the end of the preceding part, we have an expectation that we will see him go from one state to the other) and "how does he escape?" The eventual answers to both of these can only let us down.

If you can take the episode in isolation, Day of the Moon is not a bad story, with some clever moments such as the way the Doctor defeats the aliens, but when compared to its own trailer or taking it - as we ought to - as being the second half of a two-part story, it is just a horrible cheat.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Promise vs the Reality 4

Doctor Who: Victory of the Daleks

Journey's End was the last Dalekcentric episode of the David Tennant era of Doctor Who. At the conclusion of the story the Daleks were all killed off. Again. By the time they came back (and who would have ever doubted that they would?) the Doctor had regenerated into Matt Smith, and behind the scenes Russell T Davies - writer of Bad Wolf, Doomsday, and The Stolen Earth Dalek stories, among many others of that era - had regenerated into Steven Moffat, the acclaimed writer of The Empty Child and Blink.

Would a new team, both in front of and behind the camera, do something different with the Daleks, or would it be more of the same sort of thing, to inevitably diminishing returns?

With that question in mind, here's the trailer:

It starts with the Doctor and Amy meeting Winston Churchill, and he has something to show the Doctor: "Our new secret weapon."
Before he even finishes the word "weapon" we see it is a Dalek.

"This is one of my Ironsides," says Bill Paterson. The Doctor looks more confused than scared, as though he was expecting a manny in a wheelchair and hasn't had time to adjust his expectations. Despite this, it does make it clear to the viewer that the mannys have no idea what a Dalek really is.

"I AM YOUR SOLDIER" says the Dalek, in such a way that can only possibly be a reference to the long-lost Doctor Who story Power of the Daleks. In that story a group of mannys find some dead Daleks and bring them back to life, but they don't know what the Daleks really are and try to use them for their own purposes. The Doctor can't convince them that the Daleks are baddys because they are pretending to be harmless. "I AM YOUR SERVANT" they say.

Back in the Victory of the Daleks trailer, Winston Churchill says "they will win me the war." It is now looking very much like this story will be taking the concept of Power of the Daleks, but transplanting it from the planet Vulcan in the future to the second world war. Given how good the plot of Power of the Daleks is, the added tension of similar events taking place at a crucial moment of history, this has the most amazing possibilities for drama. Especially when you consider that the Daleks were originally analogous to the Nazis; the actual baddys in world war 2.

The Doctor punches Bill Paterson in the face, which is a violent act that is quite out of character for the Doctor. It raises the question of what would cause him to punch a manny in the face. But let's face it, with the prospect of an updated remake of Power of the Daleks already on the cards, anything else in the trailer is just an added bonus.

Planes flying in space shooting pewpewpew guns at a Dalek flying saucer - that looks exciting.

"I am the Doctor, and you are the Daleks!" The Doctor sounds defiant here, as you would expect him to be when faced with the Daleks and contrasting with how confused he seemed earlier in the trailer.

"BEHOLD, THE RESTORATION OF THE DALEKS" says a Dalek (maybe the leader of the Daleks?) and then we see that something is about to come out of a Stars-in-Their-Eyes smoky doorway. We get a close up on the Doctor's face to see his reaction instead of seeing what comes out. The Doctor looks mildly concerned by what he sees, which is a bit of a disappointing way to conclude the trailer, but who cares when we are promised Power of the Daleks-style action next time?

So, what was Victory of the Daleks really like after all that?

If, like me, you think that a pretty much straight remake of Power of the Daleks (made with all the modern TV techniques that simply didn't exist back in the '60s) could make for one of the best Doctor Who stories of all time, then the addition of the second world war setting with all its inherent high stakes dramatic potential and relevance to Dalek/Nazi symbolism ought to make it even better.

And yet, the reality of Victory of the Daleks is that it squanders all of its potential in order to be little more than a toy advertisement for the range of new Daleks.

Shit new Daleks.

The plot with Daleks-pretending-to-be-Ironsides, Winston Churchill thinking they are a secret weapon that will win the war while the Doctor knows they are really Daleks and baddys, lasts for almost no time into the episode, without even the time spent on the scenes to build any suspense properly.

It seems as though the story is in a hurry to get past this bit and on to the scenes it wants to dwell on, the introduction of the new Daleks, which (to add insult to insult) are supposedly the 'real' Daleks, while the other Daleks, i.e. the ones that look more like proper Daleks, are not. This makes no sense.

But sense is not something we get from the rest of this episode, which has as its climax the Daleks activating a bomb inside Bill Paterson's chest, but he is able to defeat the bomb and stop it going off by remembering fake memories. This is completely stupid. The story is beyond redemption by this point.

Victory of the Daleks is one of the worst Doctor Who stories ever, when it could have been one of the best.

The Promise vs the Reality 3

Doctor Who: The Stolen Earth

Doctor Who's 30th season (or the fourth since it came back, if you want to count it that way like some mannys seem to do) was all about the return of Rose, who had been absent from the series for 13 episodes and two Christmas specials by this point.

That's even longer than Blake had been absent from Blakes 7 by the time he returned in Terminal or Blake, so it's a long time in cat years. Blake was the title character though; Doctor Who wasn't called "Rose." Maybe it should have been?

You can see how important Rose was to this season by looking at the box for the DVDs, where Rose is given a prominent position in between Sarah (who hasn't been in Doctor Who since 10 episodes before Rose left) and Martha:

Of course, given that when Rose last appeared she had been trapped in another universe, it immediately raises the mystery of how she could get back into the series. Most viewers probably thought she was gone for good.

So throughout the season, the viewers (I was not one at the time, because I was only made on the day that the trailer we are discussing today was first shown at the end of Turn Left) were teased with brief glimpses of Rose and hints as to how she could come back, until finally she played a significant part in helping Donna in Turn Left. Cleverly, the setup of this episode prevented the reunion of Rose with the Doctor, thus keeping fans in suspense for this event still to happen.

With that in mind, here's the trailer:

It starts with lots of fast shots of all the character we can look forward to seeing, with dramatic sounds as we cut between them: first (significantly) Rose, then the Doctor, Donna, Martha, Captain Jack, some Torchwood mannys, Bernard Cribbins, Sarah, and then the clips get faster and faster, showing other mannys and a Dalek and a hand and finishing with an explosion. This is all calculated to be very dramatic.

The trailer then changes pace to give the usual clips:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are at war!"
says a General, a line that is obviously written to be used in a trailer in this kind of way.

A fleet of flying saucers invade the Earth.
"It can't be," says the Doctor. Then there are clips where nobody knows what to do about the flying saucers.
"It can't be," says Martha, echoing the Doctor and so emphasising this point that something truly unbelievable is happening. Of course we don't know what they're reacting to so it is yet another way that the trailer is keeping us in suspense.

The Torchwood mannys have guns and shoot them at something we can't see.
"I'm sorry, we're dead," says Captain Jack, giving me another excuse to use this picture:

Meanwhile, Rose has a big gun and a Dalek voice seems to laugh at her (insert your own joke here).

"It's only just beginning," she says, which is ironic because the trailer is nearly finished. It ends on a shot of a Dalek's eyestalk.

This trailer is massively effective in building expectations for the next episode, for the reasons I have mentioned above and also for keeping the actual shots of Daleks to a minimum - enough that we know the Daleks are coming, but not enough to show us what they are going to do when they get here. But by seeing the reactions of the Doctor, Rose, Martha, and so on, it means we know they must be doing something incroyable.

So, what did The Stolen Earth deliver after all that?


Invading the Earth.

In Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. we saw the aftermath of a successful Dalek invasion of the Earth. They planned to steal the Earth but Dr Who stopped them before they could. In The Stolen Earth the Daleks reverse this plan: first they steal the Earth (as the episode title suggests), and then they invade it. And most of the episode is about them invading the Earth and how all the many characters we saw in the trailer react to this.

This is an amazing achievement for Doctor Who as a television programme, delivering a level of cinematic spectacle never before seen in the series in a string of set-piece scenes that build relentlessly towards a climax. The audience is kept waiting until almost the very end for two things that are eagerly awaited: the arrival of the Doctor on the invaded Earth (crucially, to allow this to happen he has been kept away from the Earth because the planet has been stolen), and the reunion of the Doctor with Rose.

And then, at the very moment of payoff, as the Doctor and Rose see each other and are about to be reunited, the Doctor is shot by a Dalek. Rose, Donna and Captain Jack carry the injured Doctor into the TARDIS, where he begins to regenerate. And that is the end of the episode!

Unlike the episodes I have previously looked at, Doomsday and The Sound of Drums, which in many ways failed in the end to live up to the promise of their trailers, The Stolen Earth surpasses even the heightened expectations that viewers would have been given by its trailer. You may have been expecting thrilling escapades involving Daleks, but did you expect them to shoot the Doctor and make him regenerate? That was not hinted at by the trailer in any way. You may have been expecting the Doctor and Rose to be reunited, but did you expect their reunion to be interrupted, postponed by the cliffhanger even at the moment of consummation?

The Stolen Earth is the first part of the two-part finale, and as such it postpones resolving any of its plot threads until the concluding part, Journey's End. In some respects it functions almost like an episode-long trailer for its own sequel, the real finale, by building up the audience's anticipation throughout but denying them any real satisfaction.

In that case, perhaps we should ask the obvious next question: so, what did Journey's End deliver after all that?

To answer that fully would take me a whole other article, one that would have to be full of a lot of very rude words. The short answer, in the words of Call of Cthulhu, is:
"onlie the liveliest awfullness"

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Promise vs the Reality 2

Doctor Who: The Sound of Drums

The Sound of Drums is the second-to-last episode of season 29 of Doctor Who. While it is usually counted as being the first part of a two-part story, concluding with Last of the Time Lords, it really has to be seen as following on directly from the preceding episode Utopia (which finished on a cliffhanger, so the two stories would have to be linked by that if by nothing else), and in the context of the story arc that had been building up for the entire season - that Britain's new Prime Minister, Harold Saxon, was in some way a baddy.

With that in mind, here's the trailer:

This trailer is all about the Master. It starts with scenes (well, clips really, considering this is a trailer) establishing that the new Master, whom we would have just seen Derek Jacobi turn into in the final scenes of Utopia, is the new Prime Minister.

We hear a fragment of his speech "...diplomatic relations with a new species..." and see floating balls appear. "...and these are my friends." The mere fact that we know he is the Master makes his friends sinister by association. The peril in this trailer has so far been cleverly implicit.

Now we get some more obviously exciting scenes: a house explodes; some mannys get gassed; we see a manny screaming at the camera - perhaps in the traditional Doctor Who Monster POV shot?

Back to the Master - he's in a gas mask, giving a thumbs up (this gesture is a deadly insult to cats, you know). Now he is shouting into his 'phone "Run for your life!" and "I said RUN!" Who is he shouting at? We don't know, but we can guess it's the Doctor.

The shots of the Master are intercut with shots of some mannys shooting guns, with the implication that they are the Master's minions. Who are they shooting at? We don't know, but again it seems likely that it's the Doctor or maybe his Companions.

The Master meets Mr President, the significance of which is lost on me, speaking as a cat, unless it signifies that the Master is trying to take over the world. But he usually is, so I would have taken that as a given.

The last shot of the trailer is of the Master's face, addressing the camera and perhaps the viewers directly:
"What this country really needs, right now, is a Doctor." He smiles and goes "ting" - no he really does. This is a marvelous fourth-wall shattering moment on which to leave us hanging until the full episode next week.

Quite apart from the fact that this trailer makes no reference to the cliffhanger situation that the Doctor, Jack and Martha were left in at the end of Utopia, which is a touch of genius, this trailer is effective because it promises that so much of what this season's arc has been building up to will be delivered upon next time: the Master is the Prime Minister of Britain, but there's clearly more to his plan than just that (the floating balls point at this) - so what is his plan and what can the Doctor possibly do to stop him?

So what did The Sound of Drums deliver after all that?

Well, for a good portion of its run-time, the episode looks like delivering on all it has promised in the trailer and in the season-arc so far. True, the Master is a silly evil version of the Doctor now rather than the character he was in the old series, but would a Delgado or Ainley-style Master have worked put against David Tennant's Doctor?

That aside, the Master is indeed Prime Minister of Britain, and he spends the early part of the episode killing anyone who might be able to curb his power or expose him as a baddy. It seems to leave him all-powerful in Britain and we, the viewers, know that only the Doctor is going to be able to stop him in the end.

The Doctor, Jack and Martha turn up, having escaped from the Utopia cliffhanger and traveled to the present where the Master is. The Master finds out where they are and sends his minions after them. The high-point of the episode is that the Master - the baddy - is the all-powerful ruler of the country, and the Doctor - the goody - is on the run with only his two friends, everyone else against them. What a great premise.

It goes wrong almost immediately after this, when the Doctor turns his TARDIS keys into invisibility cloaks.

From that moment on, the story is doomed. It spirals downwards into stupidity culminating in the Doctor being turned into an old manny by means of the Master using his magic wandlaser screwdriver, the Doctor's severed hand (one of the stupidest plot threads in Doctor Who, and we're not even done with it now) from The Christmas Invasion, and some science from The Lazarus Experiment.

The episode concludes with the Master summoning the Toclafane to take over the world, and doing so in such a way that the only possible way out is for the whole story to be cancelled retroactively come the next episode. Which it is. Even with this fact being somewhat foreshadowed in the form of the TARDIS 'Paradox Machine,' it still represents a terrible nosedive from the high promise offered by the Sound of Drums trailer.

Doctor Who Trailers: The Promise vs the Reality 1

In what is hopefully the first of a new feature for my Big Gay Longblog, I am going to look at some of the "Next Time Trailers" that end most episodes of the new series of Doctor Who. They try and show lots of exciting bits from the next episode with the intention that this will make the viewers want to see it.

For multi-part stories, showing off some of the next episode can mean sometimes giving away the resolution to the cliffhanger straight away. Now I'm only a cat, but it seems to me that this is effectively replacing the cliffhanger with the trailer, both of which are tools for making viewers want to tune in for the next episode. Maybe that's why we don't get many cliffhanger endings in the new series? That's sad if true.

But the real trouble with these trailers comes when they end up promising something very different from what the actual episode they are trailing is really like. And sometimes what they hint at in 30 seconds ends up being a lot better than the 45-minute long episode that follows.

It's these trailers that I really want to look at, and then I'll consider how the promise that the trailer offers compares with the reality that the next episode delivers.

Doctor Who: Doomsday

This is the trailer that followed the episode Army of Ghosts, which ended on the cliffhanger of Daleks coming out of their voidship (which is like a spaceship that can go in the void between universes), into the Torchwood base that had already been invaded by Cybermen.
Daleks AND Cybermen - what's going to happen next?

Here's the trailer:

It starts with the Doctor saying that the Earth will blow up, so we know that the stakes are going to be really high. Then we see Cybermen and Daleks fighting, which promises to be the most exciting thing ever in Doctor Who! (That is if we don't count Paul Darrow's two appearances.)

"THE GENESIS ARK IS PRIMED" says a Dalek (maybe the leader of the Daleks?) and that introduces a mystery, because we don't know what the "Genesis Ark" is. The Dalek also says "WE MUST PROTECT THE GENESIS ARK" so we know it must be very important to the Daleks. Here the trailer is successful at being intriguing as well as exciting.

"The Cybermen came through from one world to another. And so did we!" It's Jake, who was in Rise of the Cybermen earlier that season. The trailer shows that he will be back, which ought to make fans of his happy, and also his speech may hint that he will be important at helping the Doctor save the day somehow.

Pete is also a character from the other universe of Rise of the Cybermen, and he's here too. He says "This is our world, not yours. And you're gonna listen for once," which is a defiant speech presumably being said to the Daleks. His defiance is good because it brings a note of hope into the trailer.

Rose, who was the Doctor's Companion at the time, says "You didn't have to kill him!" to a Dalek, which raises the question of who has been killed, because we don't know. The Dalek answers:
"NEITHER DID WE NEED HIM ALIVE" which is just a Dalek being properly evil.

The trailer concludes by raising the stakes even more. A Cyberman says "Cybermen plus Daleks. Together we could upgrade the universe!"
The final shot is of the faces of Rose and Mickey, with them looking horrified at the prospect of the Cybermen and Daleks teaming up instead of fighting each other. This is cleverly contrasted with the expectation that the viewer would look forward to that same prospect with eager anticipation.

In summary, this is a brilliant trailer that promises so much for the finale of that season of Doctor Who: high stakes; excitement; mystery; the return of old characters; but most importantly of all both Cybermen vs Daleks and a Cybermen/Dalek team-up.

So what did Doomsday deliver after all that?



Rose blubbing.

I'll come back to that in a moment. First, let's give Doomsday some credit - it does feature great scenes of Cybermen vs Daleks, and - perhaps even better - Daleks insulting the Cybermen as they fight. This almost makes up for the lack of Cybermen/Dalek team-up, because the Daleks (even though there's only four of them to begin with) don't need to team up with anybody in this story.

The Genesis Ark turns out to be full of Daleks, which fits well with what has gone before and does not disappoint (often, the trouble with a trailer setting up an intriguing mystery is when the real answer doesn't live up to the answers you can come up with yourself - more on this in future 'Promise vs Reality' entries, I hope).
Also, and this may be a minor point but it is important, at least one Dalek gets away at the end, rather than having every single Dalek be destroyed. Again.

Those are the things the episode does well. Very well, even. But, no matter how good they are, they are overshadowed by the prominence given to the departure of Rose from the series, and the way it utterly dominates the tone of the episode.

The very first lines of the episode are delivered by Rose: "This is the day I died" she says. It then goes on to present the episode as the story of how Rose dies, not the story of Daleks vs Cybermen vs mannys from another universe that the trailer had promised us.

And Rose doesn't even die for that matter. It's a cheat - she is declared 'officially dead' in that universe, while being trapped in the other universe. Now I'd be all for Rose dying for real, because not only would it give me an excuse to post this picture
but also it would hopefully mean that we'd be spared from her coming back to the series again and again and again. The fact that she does so makes this, retrospectively, even more self-indulgent than it otherwise would be, and that's saying something.

After the Daleks and Cybermen are defeated, Rose is trapped in a different universe from the Doctor - one he can't get to because of reasons - and it turns out that they were deeply in love with each other and this is supposed to be epically tragic and boo hoo hoo hoo hoo. Romeo and Juliet it isn't.

Blub blub blub goes Rose. Blub blub blub goes the Doctor. That's how the story ends. Not with a bang but with a crying competition.