Sunday, 23 September 2012
The Power of Three
For just a few moments, I actually wondered if Kate was the Big Finish character Elizabeth Klein.
The Power of Three has a few clever ideas and I actually wondered for the first ten minutes if this might turn out to be a good story. I really liked the way this episode deconstructed previous Earth-set stories. When Sarah Jane Smith got involved in an Earth-set story, she would drop everything and help out the Doctor. Here the adventure has started, the Doctor has showed up and Rory is getting ready to go to work. I also liked the way the characters were expecting the cubes to turn out to be an alien invasion and were left waiting and waiting for something to happen. It would probably have been a more interesting story if the cubes had actually turned out to be a marketing gimmick or a a clever work of concept art (a Doctor Who story without aliens? It has been done before!). Unfortunately, the expected happens and the cubes start glowing and doing evil things. That is the point at which the story starts to drag. For every good idea in this story, there are at least two bad ones.
It's a bit difficult to see Amy and Rory as a good example of normal life. Amy has had a traumatic childhood, a history of psychiatric treatment and has become a successful model after working as a kissogram. Rory comes close to being normal, except we know he has spent a thousand years guarding a box in the guise of a Roman Centurion and was also an Auton replicant. How do you relate to characters like that? A couple of episodes ago, Rory and Amy were about to go through a messy divorce. Now they are playing the average happy British family. Rory's dad seems a completely different character to the person we met in his first appearance. He is not so much a character as somebody who is there to deliver comic lines.
The introduction of Kate Stewart as leader of UNIT does not get enough time to do it justice. Kate comes across as rather colourless and uninteresting. She is very quick to point out that her position has nothing to do with her father. Does anybody really believe that? Nepotism is not cool. Bringing up the Brigadier, I really hate all the sentimentalizing of the Brigadier. Nicholas Courtney was a great actor, but it is getting a bit tedious. The Brigadier was actually best as a bully and an antagonist of the Doctor. Turning him into a pseudo-companion or a comic sidekick was just wrong.
The alien menace turned out to be a terror from the mythology of Gallifrey. We had the terrible vampires and Yssgaroth and the Hoothi fungus that can animate the dead. It turns out that they are also terrified of some old bald guy with wrinkly skin. Time Lords scare very easily.
Proving that the story has too much going on and not enough time (though they oddly manage to throw in a bit of historical romping with Henry VIII), the Doctor saves the day by waving around his sonic screwdriver. This is the kind of reset button plotting that we became so used to under RT Davies and which we have never quite got away from under Moffat.
This was yet another disappointment of an episode.