Monday, April 23, 2007

They had me at Shakespeare, but lost me at Code

A few thoughts on The Shakespeare Code... This really could have been a favorite of mine, but it makes a couple of mistakes. In many ways, it's like The Unquiet Dead: The Doctor and companion meet a famous author who helps them prevent some kind of supernatural invasion. But the respect writer Mark Gatiss showed for Dickens is sadly lacking in Gareth Roberts' Shakespeare.

Now, I usually like Gareth Roberts' stuff. He's especially good at send-up, but I suppose Shakespeare is a sacred cow of mine. If it was only Shakespeare in Lust, I'd be fine with it, I think. But ol' Bill is such a pompous jackass that's it's very hard to like the character.
I think you can be a genius and still not act like a jerk. He's worse than Colin Baker's Doctor! But ok, you send up the author, whose life is extremely sketchy, in a way that's fine. I suppose there's some fun in cleverly throwing the big lines around, and Bill stealing them from the Doctor (don't start thinking about paradoxes, they'll hurt your head). My real problem is that the episode references two of the most popular, and thus worst, authors of the 21st century, and I can't get behind that.

It's bad enough that the title refers to Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, but that the Doctor is a fan of J.K. Rowling? And that Martha uses Harry Potter to win the day? GAHHHHH!!!! I've got nothing against people who read those books, but to me, they're pale copies of other works. I don't need to read The DaVinci Code, cuz I liked it better when it was Holy Blood, Holy Grail. And I don't need to read Harry Potter, since I thought it was amply superior as The Books of Magic. I mean, COME ON! I guess I'm just one of those 57 academics who punched the air that week.
And for all that, I still think Martha's charming. She doesn't care if they throw feces out a window, she's seen worse bedpans. She's charmed by Shakespeare's euphemisms like Nubian Princess, etc. She's pissed at the Doctor when they share a bed and he doesn't look at her twice.

Other thoughts on The Shakespeare Code:
-Hey, that Elizabethan London looks great.
-Rewriting the universe with words instead of block computation is a great idea, but I didn't think William's words at the end there were particularly great.
-Once again, Martha restarts one of the Doctor's hearts.
-An arrow hits the impervious TARDIS and sticks... Should it? It does lead to a cute moment in the next story, so we'll allow it.
-If you think we'll actually visit Queen Elizabeth a FIRST time in the season, I would say you're wrong. I think that'll remain an untold tale... unless it seguays into one of the novels?
-Scene I could have done without: The frilly neckbrace.
-Favorite line: "Psychic paper, uhm, long story. Oh, I hate starting from scratch."

Doctor Who Week Celebration Extra! This space reserved for other Doctor Who posts today.
-Jim Squires at bits bytes pixels & sprites has played TARDIS Tennis and told us all about it.
-Thoughts from an Empty Head by fellow Whovian SAP makes the cut by mentioning Doctor Who as a favorite tv show. (But more Who content throughout the blog.)
-And at Retroactive Continuity Redux, De makes sure to mention the newest episode in his Monday Miscellany. Heck, he mentioned Who the day before as well.


De said...

I watched this with my daughter last night and felt the episode was way too cheeky with its far too numerous "I'll have to use that" (and other permutations of same) and, as you mentioned, the underwhelming caricature of Shakespeare.

Probably the best part was when the Doctor mind-melded with the Globe's architect in the asylum.

Looking forward to your review of "Gridlock," which I felt was terrific.

Siskoid said...

Check in tomorrow morning for that one. I think you'll like what I have to say.