Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Omnipresent Temporal Plot Hole

No. It's not the title of a Muse song (but on the subject of Muse I did pick up the tab book for their second album for £2.99 the other day - bargain!). It is the title of a very long blog entry about Doctor Who. If you only ended up on this entry because of the Lego tag I suggest you just scroll right on down to the bottom.

So, generally I've been a big fan of Doctor Who since it was brought back to TV in 2004. I have a small collection of Daleks in the office and it got me watching the old version of the show for the first time in a long time. It's the only current TV show that I watch on a regular basis these days. Apart from that I mostly end up watching reruns and documentaries on Sky Arts.

That said, I didn't think much of the 2009 Torchwood mini-series, Children of Earth. I think it pushed things further than they needed to go.

Generally though, Doctor Who has been my favourite show in a long time, which is why it's so disappointing that the current series is making me question if Steven Moffat has lost the plot a little.

When Matt Smith was announced as the new Doctor I was pretty sceptical about the decision, but, happily, my scepticism was unfounded and I have to say he is brilliant in the role. A great bit of casting.

Unfortunately, I'm less happy with some of the rest. Beyond the normal Doctor/companion situation we seem to have three big, long arcs going on; River Song, the new Daleks and of course the crack in the univers that likes to eat everything in sight.


Now, as much as I like the individual episodes all three of these things have been giving me problems. Doctor Who has a well earnt reputation for having somewhat flexible continuity sometimes, but the new series is pushing it in my opinion.

In River Song's first appearance she recognised the 10th Doctor and at first appeared to think they were at the same point in each other's relative timelines. Then she died. This brings up a question to me, because I over-think this kind of stuff. If she thought the 10th version of the Doctor was at the same or similar point in their relationship as her how come the 11th Doctor has not yet lived through it? How did she look at his next incarnation and know he was too young?

It doesn't really make sense and Moffat did admit in one of the corresponding Confidential episodes that she wasn't originally written to be a recurring character, which I think shows.

The second issue is the Daleks.

Daleks are awesome. They're viscous, half insane, alien squid things in personal tanks with plungers for weapons. What's not to like?

Well, the new tanks look a bit naff to be honest. They look a bit too plasticky and I'm not really sure why they look like they do. The logic is that they are 'pure' Daleks whilst the others are remnants of the messed up hybrid Daleks from the Game Station in series one. That makes some kind of sense I suppose, but why the different tank design?

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The way the copper coloured Daleks were treated within the show was as if they looked like normal Daleks. The Doctor never questioned their appearance. UNIT never questioned their appearance. Captain Jack, who had also witnessed Daleks before, never questioned it either.

That gives a pretty strong suggestion, to me at least, that the old style Daleks had been retconned in favour of the newer, updated style. Out were bright colours that screamed of the sixties and seventies and in one more sombre, more suitably military colours and as far as anyone let on this was the way it had always been. All of this makes the return of the bright colours and the introduction of the bigger, bulkier tanks all a little weird.

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Finally we came to the thing that this post is named after, the crack in Amy Pond's bedroom wall. Anything absorbed into it ceases to have ever existed. Okay, got it, but isn't it kind of odd that the thing has next to no regard for cause and effect?

And what about those big unchangeable points in time. The Daleks stealing Earth was the first in an unbreakable chain of events that led to or will lead to or will probably lead to the first human colonies outside our solar system. Does that mean that almost all of the episodes set in the future have effectively been retconned and what happened to Donna? Donna who was only dropped off of the TARDIS because of what happened to her during those events. In the adjusted timeline did she ever leave the TARDIS? If not then she's just ceased to exist too.

Pushing that point further, any major change to the timeline could and probably would also lead to things like Captain Jack Harkness not existing, which means he couldn't end up going too far back in time, get hired by Torchwood, build a rift manipulator to keep the Cardiff rift in check, which ended up seeming to be the cause of the rift (depending on your point of view of course) and if that was actually the case then all sorts of crazy things wouldn't have happened, which further affects the timeline. In all likelihood a certain Professor Yana probably wouldn't have ended up on a certain planet at a certain time and even if he did end up there the TARDIS would probably not have ended up there without Jack and the Master would have never ended up on early 21st century Earth, so thinking about it (which I have been doing a lot) individual changes could lead to earlier changes happening as a result of the amount of time travel we're already dealing with. A change further back, for example Captain Jack not ending up in Wales a couple of hundred years too early, would cause changes to happen before the appearance of the crack, so when the crack did finally appear there it ends up swallowing something else, something that previously wasn't there, leading to possibly more of the same and rendering the entire universe into one great big, complicated paradox.

The biggest question of all of course is this: Why isn't the Doctor doing anything about it? Cracks are opening across the whole of space and time, taking entire worlds with them, making catastrophic changes and what does he do? He takes his companions on a trip to Rio, or trys to anyway.

That's not exactly responsible of him, is it?

Well, congratulations if you've actually managed to read all of that. Well done and on a side note, Louise Dade who does the excellent Lego webcomic, Tranquility Base, made a little something on the subject of the new Daleks that made me smile.

Also check out these awesome lego mini-daleks.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I don't think we can fully discuss the issues surrounding the new series' three arcs until at least one of them has played out. I'm betting on the Dalek arc playing out separately to the other two, also.

    River Song now recognising the 11th Doctor (who should be the 12th Doctor thanks to Russel Davies wasting a regeneration in order to piss off viewers*ahem*play for ratings*ahem*build 'drama') could be explained in two ways:

    1. Fluid timelines
    History isn't set in stone, and future history is just as malleable as past history. If the 10/11th Doctor died at the wrong time from the point of view of River v1, the 11/12th Doctor would regenerate with the memories of meeting River for the first time. However, River would become River v2 due to the fact that she would now have a different first meeting point for the Doctor; hence she can still say he's too young and not cause the universe to collapse on itself through continuity faults. Either that or she's toying with him, or joking about his youthful looks.

    2. The crack in the universe has screwed over history.
    Until we know what the crack in the universe actually is, we can't say for certain what it does and does not do. I wouldn't be surprised if the River Song story arc is somehow intertwined with the crack in the universe arc (I can't bring myself to call it "the crack arc"). It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    I think the arc involving the crack in the universe is going to sort out many of the continuity problems we're seeing right now when it's fully played out. It's also likely to be the arc that plays out first, since it has "end of season finale!" written all over it.

    We already know that the 'Cyber King' isn't in continuity at the moment, and nor is the early 21st century Dalek invasion (the later invasion hasn't happened yet from Amy Pond's point of view so we can't say for sure whether it's just one part of the Dalek timeline that's screwed or if all of it is). This leads me to think there are two possible outcomes from this storyline:

    1. The Doctor will solve the problem and restore the continuity we know from the series (aka the safe option).
    This is likely because it means everything we've seen so far will not have been a total waste of time. The writers may take the time to sort out the mess with Donna Noble while they're on with it, meaning she could potentially return as a companion at a later date.

    2. The Doctor solves the problem with the crack in time but some of history is altered as a result (aka the Crisis on Infinite Earths option).
    I'm personally rooting for this version. There's a lot of loose ends, patches in the trousers of time and outright shit that has clogged up the Doctor Who continuity for decades and it's time it got sorted out. The Daleks have at least three separate timelines all to themselves and we have two versions of the Cybermen which seem to be treated as the same version at times.

    To add to this, Russel Davies and Co. did a lot of damage to Doctor Who's credibility by having utterly stupid things going on (not limited to the godawful idea of a Cyber King but that ripoff of the Poseidon Adventure could do with being axed from history, too). This time eating crack could be used to clean shop. After nigh-on fifty years, it's about time.

    Here endeth the rant. :)