Monday, April 26, 2010

Victory of the Angels, failure of the BBC

So, last week's Dalek blip was just clearing the pipes for this week's Angel winfest. They're back. River is back (if, in the logic of timey-wimey wibbly wobbly, she ever went away). Moffat is back. All is good. "Time of the Angels" bears the same relationship to "Blink" as Alien did to Aliens: not just more of the same but a larger-scale, different approach to the same enemy that makes it a separate entity to be enjoyed in its own right.

Especial points to note. The Church Militant of the fiftieth century, bizarrely armed with P90s as modelled by SG1. The traditional, old-school assistant gets into peril scene, with the modern sensibility of the assistant also solving the problem. Moffat's cheerfully logical, thought-through attitude to the whole nonsense of time travel thing. Possibly the first ever mention on-screen of the TARDIS noise, done in a way that was hilariously funny (I have often wondered why a machine that is designed to blend into the background inconspicuously also makes enough noise to wake the dead whilst doing so.) And, for the first time in a Moffat script, people dying.

But please can the BBC identify and shoot the moron who thought it was a good idea to put an animated Graham Norton cartoon on screen during the last 30 seconds as the episode builds to a climax, to advertise the ghastly reality-TV-showbiz-whatever load of twaddle he perpetrates with Lloyd Webber. For reasons I will come to this didn't affect me as badly as it might, but I'm outraged on principle and I'm not the first to be irritated.

It's worrying that there are people working at the world's greatest public service broadcaster who fail to grasp the fundamental difference in the natures of Dr Who and Who Wants to be a Friend of Dorothy or whatever it's called. The latter is mindless froth designed to be dipped in and out of at ease. The former is a carefully constructed drama with a beginning, middle and end that people want to watch as an uninterrupted whole. As it is, the Beeb's scheduling people regard it all as homogenised televisual product to be stuffed into the available Saturday evening slots, with as much discretion and acuity as Microsoft's unlamented paperclip: "it looks like you're watching TV on a Saturday evening. You will want to watch this too." These clods cannot comprehend that I would watch Dr Who whenever it was shown, or on catch-up if unable to make the original broadcast, whereas I would pay good money not to have to watch Graham Norton ever. (Actually with one exception: he was very funny as Father Noel.)

The reason it didn't affect me directly was because of subtitles ... I don't know if it's old age or what, but my ears or my brain or both sometimes just cannot process rapid, quick-fire dialogue like they used to. Sometimes I have to put the subtitles on. Sad but true. However, the subtitles did blot out all but either end of the Graham Norton animation. My outrage still stands.

If no one looks at Graham Norton, perhaps he'll go away.


  1. Plinky9:11 pm

    I may be swimming against the tide here, but I never much rated the Angels as very scary. Good story, clever idea for a monster, but not too high on the fear-o-meter. River Song should've been the first victim. I can't stand her!

  2. Thought you might enjoy ihasatardis's take on the infamous Graham Norton ad. . . .

  3. ihasatardis gets it right, again! Thanks for that.

    I think the Angels work because they plug into the childhood conviction that out toys move about when we're not looking, and we've all been startled by someone innocently walking up when we didn't know they were there. I wouldn't want River too often but she's fun when she's there. Like Captain Jack, she's now a relic of the time when the Doctor was a sex god and everyone fancied him, an era which hopefully has passed along with RTD. However, she's also a good enough actress to seem like someone who genuinely loves the Doc too, in her own sweet way, which is a feat Barrowman could never pull off.

  4. Nineteen-Delta8:22 am

    It would appear that the Doctor fell into the Mister Norton's trap. Maybe Mister Norton should keep his trap shut. - Maybe he'll become a villain in the next series. An annoying little sprite that appears when you least want them to.


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