Sunday, May 16, 2010

Doctor Who - Schrodinger's MILF

DOCTOR WHO: AMY'S CHOICE

Come and see the real thing,
Come and see the real thing,
Come and see
Tryin’ hard to understand
The meaning that you’ll see in me
There’s a meaning there,
But the meaning there
Doesn’t really mean a thing!

I am not seeing you
I
am the real thing!

Some say that Susan, Barbara, Vicki, Dodo (before being shot through the head anyroads), Jo, Leela, Nyssa, Tegan and even Peri managed it. Jackie Tyler (and, according to Word of God) Donna Noble managed it off screen, but Amelia Jessica Pond becomes the first TV companion to demonstrably fail to use birth control. She's up the duff, in the club, in pod and generally getting her money's worth out of her uterus - a far cry from the traditional silence of the show as to where babies come from. You know, in 2005, someone actually said to me how disgusted they were when Father's Day had a pregnant bride in it? 'And then,' they hissed, 'they had the Doctor go and draw attention to it!' as if the Doctor idly asking "boy or girl?" was the equivalent of a five-hour dissertation of mucus plugs. 'You'd never have got that in the proper show,' he concluded to me.

'Quite,' I nodded.

A pause.

'Apart from that pregnant Time Lady in Arc of Infinity,' I nodded. 'You know, the one in the coffee lounge.'

The uberfan suddenly had people far more interesting to talk to than me. He didn't run off screaming "LOOMS ARE CANON, I TELL THEEE!" but I like to think he did, and was probably composing a lengthy blogpost on why female Gallifreyans have breasts if there are no children to feed when the Beast declared Rose Tyler not a virgin and then he exploded in horror.

Ah. I really should go to conventions again...

Anyway, it's 2015 and there's a clear lack of apocalypse in Upper Leadworth as the Doctor pops round to see how Rory and Amy are getting on in the half-decade since their Venetian escapes. Just what have the couple been doing since then is patently obvious to everyone except the Doctor - Amy's belly drops a lot quicker than the penny as the Last of the Time Lords twigs that her increased waistline just might be significant. Luckily, the TARDIS has arrived in the day or so before the birth when the 26-year-old mum to be is full of beans and has the energy to rush around and the happy cocktail of hormones required to NOT beat nine colours of shit out of the Time Lord after he screams "Day-am, did you swallow a planet? You remind me of a zeppellin! I shall call thee Rotunda from now on...."

In a massive departure from most sci-fi shows, Amy's brood is NOT

a) the Messiah
b) hellspawn
c) an alien version of either of the above
d) half-human
e) someone who's going to grow up to be Rose Tyler/Captain Jack/the Rani
f) something Amy would most likely die giving birth to
g) something evil that's using Amy as a host and making her evil
h) the result of alien abduction/government conspiracy/magic/spiked water supply

It's just a baby. Novel move huh? Seriously, when was the last time THAT happened in a fantasy series? I tell you, Something Borrowed might have avoided being a total war crime had it tried such originality... well, a slightly less misogynistic war crime, anyroads. Speaking of unreasonable hatred for Torchwood, the Yanks have recoiled in terror and the USA remake is off. RTD was so heartbroken it took him whole minutes before he forgot all about it and focussed his attention back onto The Sarah Jane Adventures.

"So, what do you do around here to stave off the self-harm?" asks the Doctor after three minutes where the most exciting and dangerous happenings are Amy's Braxton-Hicks contractions. Yes, Upper Leadworth is deader than Canberra on Tuesday afternoon and the Doctor admits he's only dropped in by mistake - he's as eager to move on from ex companions as t'other fellah (David something? Anyone remember?), and Amy and Rory are forced to admit their normal lives ARE a tad dull in comparison. Just for a moment (and I should stress we haven't even reached the opening credits yet - still, better use of the teaser than The Eleventh Hour managed, right commuters?) it looks as if this story will be a novelty Happy-Endings like tale free of monsters, death, blood, destruction, horror or pain. Cue crap joke about Amy's hormones providing them anyway.

Alas this originality starts to run dry as Doctor Who tackles for the first time that whole "it's a dream" plot every other show EVER has done. You know the sort, the main protagonist wakes up one day and finds themselves in Ordinary-Land and the usual format was just a dream about a successful TV show/computer game/book series. Cue lots of genre savvy gags as the protagonist is asked just how credible it is they are a crime-fighting/demon-killing/time-travelling hero and ends up briefly in the looney bin. Just as our hero begins to wonder if it WAS all a dream they find out that this is a nefarious trick - 'reality' is the dreamworld and they must restore the status quo STAT!

It been done from Stargate to Star Trek to Red Dwarf to Charmed to Alex Mack to I Love freaking Lucy! Farscape did it at least twice an episode, until approximately an 3rd of the entire series is actually a delusion in his own brain. Only Buffy actually did anything really clever, with the brilliant ending of the Slayer in a padded cell - it turns out 'reality' WAS reality after all! HAH! Oh, seriously, there were tears in the playground the next day, and not just from the girls.

Just in case you hadn't grasped it (covered as it is by references to The Space Museum as Rory and the Doctor peer up Amy's jumper to see where her baby's gone), the Doctor announces, "We're back to reality now!" before

Yes, while Amy's practicing lamaze breathing exercises in Upper Leadworth, she's also slowly dying of hypothermia in a crippled TARDIS in deep space. To misquote Paul Jennings' Wake Up To Yourself, is she falling asleep or falling awake? It's not as if Upper Leadworth is nice, as all the pensioners turn evil and declare a jihad on Amy and her popped belly button. Is frozen Amy dreaming of being pregnant Amy or the other way round?

The answer is, quite obviously, "Duh! Frozen Amy is the real one as it would take way too much effort to make Baby Pond a regular feature of the show! And isn't the universe ending on her wedding day, so how the hell does Amy happily survive with Rory working their way through the karma sutra for the next five years?"

This train of thought is not exactly derailed by the Patented Bored God turning up. Yes, it's the Dream Lord, a powerful extradimensional being with a sideline in surreal sadism - no, not the Celestial Toymaker. I don't care what Gary Russell says. Or even if the Toymaker is the Guardian of Dreams who torments people with waking hallucinations. Besides, surely the antecedent is the Word Lord from 45 - you know, the sadistic extradimensional bastard who, for some unaccountable reason, dresses and acts exactly like a NuWho incarnation? And while the Word Lord wore a pinstripe suit, backcombed and talked fluent mockney, the Dream Lord has a fetish for leather-elbow-patched tweed jackets, bowties and braces. Wonder if that's significant?

Could he be the Celestial Toymaker? The Great Intelligence? The Kro'ka? Any kind of formless psychic being with a grudge who caught the Time Lord Victorius banging Elizabeth I like a dunny door in a cyclone? Who cares?

Anyway, with less than 45 minutes left, the Dream Lord cuts to the chase and spells it out. He has created a false reality and is swapping it back and forth for the genuine article. The only way for the Doctor, Amy and Rory to escape is to work out which one is fake and then "die" in that one. But if they choose wrong and die in reality, they're screwed and will walk in the false world world for a very long time, their minds living there to strut and fret forever THE POOR PLAYERS!

Oops, dipped into Farscape again. My bad.

Yes, it's all gone a little Mind Robber on us, hasn't it? What would Peter Ling say? "Hang on, I wanted to do a story when someone had a baby in the TARDIS!" probably, before remembering he's dead and falling awkwardly silent. So, do the crew choose to perish with the inescapbly doomed TARDIS or fight off the fetucidal OAPs? I mean, if the Frozen Amy World is the right one, she's dead meat anyway, surely? But would the secretive-bordering-on-self-destructive Miss Pond choose a reality where the Doctor's constantly taking the piss out of her engorged womb and Rory has a truly horrid pony-tail?!!

I mean, if this WASN'T a mid-season episode, we might actually get something approaching tension. Still, Moffat's to blame. You shouldn't have done all those trailers of a clearly childless Amy punking Vincent Van Gogh, should you?

Of course, in the meantime we get some hardcore characterization - Amy's erotic dreams about her true love put Jeff's internet porn to shame (apparently), Rory's Heartbeat-style fantasies are mocked, and is the Doctor really finding Upper Leadworth deadly dull... or is he just really, really uncomfortable being around ex-companions who are enjoying lives without him? And given Amy's secretive nature, would she even bother to tell anyone if she went into labor? The TARDIS crew are suddenly their own worst enemies... in a good way. Not like Eric Saward padding out an episode. There's a point to it. Unlike, apparently, the Doctor.

(It seems a lot of writers were impressed by that bit in Torchwood were Gwen loses any pretense of insanity and screams "WHAT'S THE POINT OF YOU THEN?!?", since it's been done several times since in other spin-offs - but it loses it's power, since Gwen's question did of course have the answer "Not a lot, this show is stuffed and not even America will buy it and they bought fucking Wilfred for crying out loud" and the others tend to answer "I will respond by way of saving the entire universe when it is drammatically appropriate!")

Rory thinks Leadworth is real and the TARDIS a dream. The Doctor is confident it's the other way round and Amy's certain both are real - given the way she keeps clutching her stomach in the TARDIS and is very hormonal, she MIGHT JUST BE RIGHT! (Well, it would make a change in these sort of adventures, wouldn't it?) In the meantime, a generic alien invasion so utterly predictable the Doctor doesn't even need to hear about it is under way and the old folk are closing in on the trio, since Amy's no longer up to an Awful Lot of RunningTM - let that be a lesson to young girls watching: don't get pregnant to avoid Amateur Dramatics, because nine months later alien bodysnatchers will be trying to reduce you to albino mouse droppings. Good thing Rory's protective instincts override his hippocratic oath, huh?

So, leaving aside the possible nasty side-effects of dragging a nine-month pregnant woman backwards up a narrow flight of steps (yeah... Rory knows what he's doing... sure), the Doctor's effortlessly rounding up survivors, car-jacking and pissing off the alien-possessed pensioners - let that be a lesson to any alien refugees watching: don't take over human hosts who need zimmerframes, because those young resistance fighters will be able to run away before you can atomize them with death breath! Oh, there's a moral for everyone in this episode, isn't there?

Alas, Rory's managed to put Amy into labor (assuming she's not just after attention), get himself mortally wounded and the Doctor's regenerated supreme confidence is starting to show cracks. I mean, you wouldn't even notice the Tenth Doctor being this unsure and scared, but this one?

Of course it all sorts itself out eventually, and the revelation of who this one-off villain was is immensely satisfying, since I guessed it at the start of the review and was proved completely right! HAH! But there's a hint of unfinished business and we might see the creepy bowtied tweed villain again... coz Amy's not the only one that keeps secrets from others...

Next Time: The Hungry Earth
"The graves swallow you up!"
It's like Frontios! Only, you know... with Silurians...


ah bugger it...
5/5