Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Rebel Flesh (Part One)

Originally Broadcast 21st May 2011
 Written by: Matthew Graham

I have to admit I was against this episode from the beginning. I thought “Matthew Graham=Fear Her” and the episode itself looked cheap and not as important in comparison to the others in all the trails. Even when the two clips were released a week early it still looked poor in relation to the previous four episodes.

Unfortunately I would be proven right as this story turned out as one of the weakest Smith instalments to date.
Pre titles sequence: It looks well shot and written until we get the lazy “show his foot, yes that means he’s going to slip in the acid” and the lack of care feels very sci-fi. Then we get the line “If I miss my boy’s birthday due to filling out forms”. OK, lazy writing, we’re going to need to know that later one. Point taken.

There are a few shaky camera angles as well but there’s a bit of good dialogue here like “Almost coming?” “Almost people” along with some really good dialogue lines for the Doctor as he rambles.
It’s clear from the outset the Doctor knows more than he’s letting on, which is a great plot piece, yet I don’t seem to recall people picking up on it too well in the weeks gap upon original broadcast.

I think Graham’s problem in his writing is how he feels he has to spoon feed his audience. He might as well put up alarm bells and a slogan onscreen saying “YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THIS”. We even get a long sequence of people telling us everything about the Flesh in one go. And oh look the Flesh scanned the Doctor. Well it scanned him, he said it did and then the same thing happened again before the Doctor gives a speech on it. I wonder if that’ll be important later on in the episode? Nah, I’m sure we won’t need to know the flesh is scanning the Doctor; I mean Graham’s only told us twice.

I suppose I’d best give something positive in here so I really do like the locations used, this episode certainly had a good locations expert to find these castles. The interiors certainly do look the same, despite there being two or three actually used for filming.
Back to the episode and “Amy breath”, oh look that might be important.

The further through this episode the further I think it’s just a mess. It just feels cluttered with so much same-y stuff that it doesn’t need. Graham’s script really could’ve done with being redrafted again. And when the writing isn’t there, we get pretty CGI scenes to look at such as when the Doctor tries to stop the solar storm hitting the monastery.
“We’ve been out for an hour. I’ve seen whole worlds fall inside out in an hour. A lot can happen in an hour,” says the Doctor. OK, that’s three times we’ve been told that little nugget of information.

I’d say the episode tries to change the normal storyline of doppelgangers, yet it falls down the “we have rights” issue and really hits you over the head with it. If it were underplayed a little bit more maybe it’d be more effective. But now even Buzzer’s realised what’s happening as he says “I’ll say it again, Isle of Sheppy”.

"Can you repeat that for us, Doctor?"
 I hate to say it but I feel I need extra motivation to bring myself to watch an episode of the show I love so much, as this one is kind of painful.
I’ve always stood up for the BBC’s CGI in Doctor Who, despite the bad rep it usually gets by non-believers, but this episode seems to ruin ALL of that. The CGI on the Ganger’s is really bad. Jennifer’s neck stretching looks dreadful, I hate to say it because the effects on Who can usually stand up on it’s own two feet, but not here.

I don’t really understand Rory in this episode either, it’s certainly nice to see him do something rather than being played as the “back bencher” or the third companion, but he’s incredibly faithful to Amy, I don’t really get his characterisation in following Jennifer around, especially when it comes to a close on the episode. It feels like he has to do this for the storyline and not for his character.

And there’s eye-patch lady again, so I can cross that off my “series six checklist” along with seeing the TARDIS scanner saying Amy’s pregnancy result. Now all I need is to see or hear about the Doctor being killed in episode one and I can cross everything off my shopping list.

Thankfully the episode has reached its end, with a ganger Doctor, which is quite a good ending I have to admit. I really like this cliffhanger, but it took too long to get there. Hopefully the conclusion will be infinitely better than this, but I’m not holding out hope…

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