Doctor Who #897: The Curse of Clyde Langer Part 2

"This is how it goes, isn't it? Everything you ever were, everything you ever wanted to be, it just gets worn away till there's nothing left."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Oct.11 2011.

IN THIS ONE... Clyde is sleeping rough, but gets help from the homeless Ellie. The curse is eventually broken.

REVIEW: This story won a Writer's Guild of Great Britain's Best Children's TV Script Award for its honest portrayal of teen homelessness, honest in that it doesn't end with the usual Sarah Jane Adventures happy ending. Instead, the character of Ellie, homeless for the last two years, disappears off the streets. The "Night Dragon" that takes the homeless away is explained away in real-world terms, but no doubt, had the series continued, Clyde would have continued his search for her, and the vans taking people to a "second chance" in another city would have turned out to be more sinister. So it's perhaps better, in this case, that it never happened. Ellie's disappearance is a bit abrupt, especially given what she and Clyde shared, so if her disappearance is sinister, then it's a permanent kind of sinister, and speaks to the dangers people are exposed to on the streets. Clyde may be supernaturally cursed, but the setting shows us many more people who live a cursed existence, and not a fictional one either. At the very least, the montage of the team's search for her highlights just how many people, young and old, are subject to poverty and homelessness. It's all made more poignant by the fact Ellie becomes a viable love interest for Clyde, or at least a sweet, brave friend, one we want to see saved from this predicament, a strong character who might have joined the cast.

So no happy ending for Ellie, but that doesn't mean the plot itself doesn't suffer from facile solutions. We never find out why Sky is immune to the curse's effects, and she comes to the conclusion that saying his name aloud will lift it too easily. Sure, she's an alien, but that's not given as a reason. Perhaps a clearer link between her saying the name in surprise might have made for a tighter resolution. Similarly, Mr. Smith's hijack of a passing ship's transmat is a bit of a cheat to get the totem pole in the attic, and there's no exposition to explain why Clyde hugging the pole and saying his name would null the curse the way it does. He just does it and it works. We're missing a conversation in the car, or at least an indication that such a conversation existed. It's not even clear what would have happened to Clyde had the Native American demon escaped. Obviously, the focus is on Clyde's homelessness and showing how he and Ellie survive and even find a little happiness, not on the nuts and bolts of the plot. Sky, the new character, had to be instrumental in saving him (though Rani, Sarah and Carla's strange sense of loss touchingly reveals how strong their bond to Clyde really is), but The Curse of Clyde Langer probably should have been SJA's first three-parter.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Plot problems aren't enough to drain the life out of a touching human story.

0 comments:

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine