Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Rash Of Robots.

Have there been too many robot villains in Season Eight?

When the Doctor regenerated at the end of last year's Christmas special we all knew we'd be in for a roller coaster ride as viewers when the show returned.

Not only do we have to get used to a new Doctor but a new Doctor who is suffering post regenerative shock, one who is adjusting to a new mindset and also having a brain that's creating new synapses, neural pathways and defining his new personality.

Added to the pressure of having a Doctor not firing on all cylinders we have a threat, the great, unknown thing, a villain or malcontent that could destroy Earth/humanity/Planet X etc and a Time Lord that it is only cognitive sometimes.

In my opinion, Deep Breath was the best story to emerge so far this season. We had Peter Capaldi literally throwing himself into the role (sorting through rubbish yuck!) and a very frightening robotic villain.
 The clockwork man was a lovely homage to the 10th Doctor story, 'The Girl In The Fireplace', featuring a robot, repairing itself with spare parts taken from human beings. I challenge anyone to tell me they weren't even slightly chilled when the clockwork man thanked a bystander for donating his eye, we didn't see him take the eye but we can imagine it.
Similarly, Clara trying to avoid being detected on board the clockwork's spaceship to avoid becoming a collection of spare parts was nerve wracking. I was extremely pleased with the season opener.

Robots Of Sherwood.

Surprisingly, I didn't find the story title a spoiler. Sherwood may have been another planet which is not as strange as it first sounds since the 10th Doctor offered to take Rose to Barcelona, the planet not the city in Spain.
I was trying to work out who the robots may have been, Robin Hood and his merry men seemed a logical choice since they had always be known as fictional characters. It was also possible the the Sheriff of Nottigham was the robot (or one of them.) but when they finally emerged I was very disappointed.
The robots were silent killing machines with no identity as in their planet of origin, what they were designed for etc.
The whole episode reminded me of the Pertwee story, Time Warrior without that story's wonderful characters and contrivances. Perhaps this story would've impressed fans more if it had been shown later in the series (or written for later inclusion in the series.).

Into The Dalek.

Whovians and purists will now be screaming at me "the Daleks aren't robots!" Yes I totally agree and despite the fact that the Dalek machine houses a really cheesed off Kaled mutant, the Daleks are very 
robotic. I've merely included them in this blog to illustrate how the vast proportion of this season's villains have been mechanical.
A Dalek that has the potential to turn away from evil, gee we haven't seen that since the 9th Doctor's first Dalek story. The concept has also been examined in the 1967 Troughton story, The Evil Of The Daleks.
Aside from that it was a blatant rip off from the show's own history. Miniaturised people being sent on a vital mission inside someone/something was the main focus of the Tom Baker story, The Invisible Enemy, not only that but Enemy itself was a shameless rip off of the 1966 movie Fantastic Journey.
This story actually became a clone of a clone and not very engaging or interesting (the inside of the Dalek looked pretty cheap and tacky). So far I haven't spoken to anyone who was on the edge of their seat watching this one.

The Caretaker.  

 Ah the Skovok Blitzer, a well designed robot whose on screen time wasn't long enough due to the turgid soap opera element better known as Danny and Clara's relationship.

The opening montage of scenes depicting Clara's struggle to enjoy a normal life without giving up her time with the Doctor was quite funny, but it should have been left there and the focus shifted towards the threat of the Blitzer.
The Blitzer was a well executed design and reminded me of the Terminator. There is also something frightening about a robot who calmly goes through its protocol before killing you, almost like the robot equivalent of "sorry I have to kill you, nothing personal".
That is where the fright level ended, having the Doctor tell us that it's coming isn't quite as frightening as seeing it make it's way to Coal Hill.
Another annoying aspect was the lack of detail, it's a Skovox Blitzer, which planet did it come from? Which race invented it? Why is it on Earth? How did it find it's way back from the future? All these issues conveniently ignored so that we can spend more time seeing how the Doctor and Danny react to each other etc.
This was definitely a missed opportunity.

What's Next?

At the time of writing there are still two stories and the Christmas special to be seen. One story features spiders the other features a mummy whilst it's rumoured the Cybermen will be appearing in the Christmas special. It not unfeasible that the Spiders or the mummy could be mechanical but it does seem doubtful ( although this could be wishful thinking). I love robot villians but their appearance should be tempered with breaks to showcase other threats and menaces. Fans may have enjoyed this series more if the stories had been broken up a little more but I also believe that all the villians were shortchanged due to long scenes and dialogue between Danny and Clara. Shorter scenes and tighter editing wouldn't have given these monsters more time to shine.
What are your thoughts?

No comments:

Post a Comment