Doctor Who #923: Liberation

"I recommend rapid movement in the opposite direction of the xenomorph." "In other words, run?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Jan.18 2010.

IN THIS ONE... K9 and the kids free some aliens from the Department's big prison.

REVIEW: At 25 minutes apiece, K9 episodes can't very easily tell a complete story, so this is really a continuation of Regeneration. The Jixen is still the threat, and the kids learn to act as a team. I don't know whether other stories will take the two-chapter route, but it's possible the show will be a little more serialized than that. We might get rid of the Jixen here, but other subplots are catered to and others are created. We have Professor Gryffen trying to make his spacetime portal work (but will it be used for Doctor Who or Torchwood-type stories); another hint that he's lost his family somehow; June, the Department official, turns out to be Jorjie's mother, so that's gonna have repercussions; and a security chief called Drake massages his metal hand and promises to take revenge for the way he's been treated. I don't know how well that played week to week, but watched in closer succession, it creates a tapestry that doesn't talk down to the audience by overstressing moments. On the flip side, the episode suffers from a lack of structure, with many moments you could pull out of it without affecting the plot. The "tapestry" structure may not be the best use of its 25-minute real estate.

The story itself concerns the team breaking a bunch of goodie(?) aliens out of the Department's facilities at the Tower of London. You'd think by 2050, the cells would be a little more high tech. That's a failure of the location. The aliens themselves are a grab-bag of full rubber suits and strange costumes, none of them making me want to see more of their species. K9 spends a lot of his time getting shot down by drones and then the Jixen's foe, the Meron, and even more time sleeping it off in a dumpster. Even if he's the nominal star of the show, he still needs to shake off his former role as a deus ex machina who needs to be nerfed for stories to happen. The climax is a bit of a mess, in large part because the Jixen has too many powers. The thing is hard to look at (no real explanation of what that is or does), pukes tracking slime, emits a deafening scream, AND fires a sort of energy barrage. So the ending is a lot of effects, shaky cam, and "team work" based around the idea of playing keep-away with June's alien-looking weapon/shackles.

I suppose the boys needed to be in dire straits together before getting along, which I really hope they do. For now, Darius' only function is to disagree with Starkey about everything. They argue about who ate the biscuits, about what the plan should be, about whether to give K9 up to the Department... positively everything. If Starkey says white, you can bet Darius is right behind saying black. It's annoying as hell. I'm not sure if Darius' pickpocketing and hotwiring abilities are supposed to show Starkey that he's just as much the rebel as he is, but at this point, it makes them seem a little interchangeable, which can't be good. Oh and I know I'm 4 years in the show's future, but I have a message for the production team: "You're using the word Cyborg wrong. Stop it."

Though K9 can't technically reference Doctor Who, it seems like they can't help themselves! So here's a new feature for diehard Who fans who need excuses to watch the show. For example, in this one, there's a prison corridor door labelled D84, which was the detective robot's designation in The Robots of Death.

- While I'm interested in the ongoing subplots, the plot itself is a rushed mess. And any scene with Darius in it is one I can do without.


Tim Knight said...

Really appreciate your WHO REFERENCE WATCH feature. I picked up on some of the obvious ones later in the series, but your knowledgeable eye is catching subtle ones that passed me by.

Siskoid said...

I'll do my best. I won't waste time with, y'know, "this sort of thing happened all the time on Doctor Who".


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