Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: The Infinite Quest (Part 4)

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Oh well!

There’s only so many times I can get 600 odd words out of absolutely nothing, and I’m increasingly starting to suspect that I’m about to hit the limit on that.

Literally nothing happens in this segment. Well, not literally. There’s a brief shift in scene and a few bits of dialogue, but it’s clear that this is a segment that no one would have found particularly impressive while it was on. If they found any of them that impressive, that is – I’m starting to question what the point of this was at all. Given the structure of these things, they’re always inevitably so throwaway and meaningless, I doubt they were in any way a highlight of Totally Doctor Who at all.

They’re further hampered by the fact that they’re a week apart. I remembered very little of what was happening last week – why do the Doctor and Martha want to rescue Callico? – and I doubt I’ll remember much of this one next week. These instalments are so immaterial as to be irrelevant week on week, and so you can’t maintain any significant attempt at serialised storytelling. And that’s a problem, of course, because the whole conceit of The Infinite Quest is that it unfolds week by week.

Elsewhere, the episode manages to take everything that should be good about animated Doctor Who and does the exact opposite. Blatantly, this is the cheap one – they’re all just standing around, blinking and little bit, and occasionally moving their mouths. It’s not a particularly well animated piece television – understandably, because it was likely made on a shoestring budget. I’m usually less than inclined to criticise something on the basis of its technical standards, but here the technical process is part of the storytelling – it’s the very medium in which it’s conveyed. So, actually, where the medium falls down it is worthy of critique.

Along the same line of though, I think it’s probably worth discussing the peformances. That’s something I’ve been largely avoiding over the past few weeks, but it sticks out here. They aren’t, to be honest, very good. Freema Ageyman – here, at least – isn’t particularly good at voice acting, and while David Tennant manages better, it’s also clear that he’s not putting in a huge amount of effort. They’re passable, and in some ways their performances are more or less appropriate for the animation, but it is rather weak overall.

On the one hand, that feels like a shame. Yes, this is all just a throwaway bit of nonsense that’s “for kids” – but then, why is it that the stuff that’s “for kids” is reduced to being throwaway nonsense of limited quality? You sort of question the point of this at all, and why “Doctor Who for kids” amounts to something that seemed to have been made on a “that’ll do” basis.

But then, on the other hand, it’s a little difficult to hold them to task for this exactly. In some senses, it’s just part of a process of working out what works and what doesn’t. This is, as it exists in 2007, what Doctor Who looks like on CBBC. Eventually, though, they’ll figure out the right way to do a more simplistic story with weekly cliffhangers, and it’ll be fantastic.

So, yeah. For now, it’s the throwaway nonsense of The Infinite Quest. Eventually, though, they work out how to do The Sarah Jane Adventures, so it all turned out fine in the end really.

(588. That’ll do.)

Related:

Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor Reviews

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Broadchurch series three was about toxic masculinity – so why did it end by saying “not all men”?

broadchurch season 3 david tennant olivia colman julie hesmondlalgh rape not all men sexual assault mishandling criticism hd series 3 chris chibnall jodie whittaker

The series, then, was about toxic masculinity. That was the overarching theme, evident from the start and continued (almost) to the closing moments of the series. More specifically, though, it was about men controlling women – exerting influence over them, disregarding their boundaries and autonomy, and attempting to control them. 

However, it’s telling that at the end of it all, we get a “not all men” scene. DI Hardy decries the rapist as an “aberration”, insisting that “not every man is like that”. Which is odd, really – quite apart from all the problems inherent with that phrase, it seemed like every episode up until now had been about saying yes, actually. All men.

So why did the final episode flip the script?

Hmm, so. Broadchurch series 3.

Mostly, everyone loved this series of Broadchurch. I thought it was particularly good – and, really, more importantly particularly sensitive in terms of how it handled its rape plotline – until, at least, the final episode. There were a lot of issues, I reckon; from pushing Trish to the edges of the narrative, essentially removing her from her own story right at the end, to the redemption scenes given to each man (particularly Charlie Higson’s character), to the identity of Trish’s attacker full stop. Oh, and, the fact it said “not all men”. Yikes.

Pretty much no one, however, seemed to be writing about it – the praise was largely without caveats, and none of the above was raised in critique. So, obviously, I wrote about it. Problem was, I suspect, it took me a week to actually get the above piece done, so it didn’t exactly latch onto the public consciousness. I hope that, if Broadchurch ever undergoes a critical re-evaluation, this final episode becomes a bit more of a sticking point.

The other thing about this article, though, is that I decided to avoid outright criticising the show – or, maybe more accurately, just criticising the show. I thought it’d be a bit more interesting and worthwhile to try and divine why Broadchurch swerved at the last moment, and what that meant in terms of the overall message it was trying to impart. I’m not so sure about the second half of the piece, where I get all symbolic about things; nowadays, I’d be much more direct in my condemnation, like I was with Liar. Though equally Liar was a lot more straightforward in its flaws, so, perhaps it wouldn’t have necessitated an article like the above in the way that Broadchurch did. Or seemed to me to.

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Why Star Trek: Discovery must deal with the legacy of Janice Rand

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Janice Rand is probably the most obvious victim of the strain of sexism and misogyny that ran through Star Trek’s early years – initially the programme’s female lead, Janice Rand was gradually phased out of the show across the first half of the season. She was on the receiving end of attempted rape, objectification, and frequently belittled and undercut by both other characters and the narrative itself.

Star Trek’s treatment of Janice Rand is fundamentally at odds with the utopian idealism that is so often sold as the franchise’s main virtue. For Star Trek: Discovery to now make attempts at returning to that 60s utopianism, it must by the same virtue address the legacy of Janice Rand within the narrative.

It’s become increasingly clear that Star Trek: Discovery is going to be very deeply entrenched in 60s nostalgia, returning to the aesthetic and many of the characters of The Original Series.

If Discovery is to do that, it’s going to have to address the failings of the original Star Trek – it’s going to have to put right what once went wrong.

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