Doctor Who #934: Aeolian

"What is love?"
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Apr.5 2010.

IN THIS ONE... An alien plays her mating call, threatening the Earth with bad weather and destruction.

REVIEW: An episode with actual themes, Aeolian is about both music and love, with the kids and the ultimately benign alien threat each playing into both. The Aeolian features a wonderful design right out of Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, though it doesn't have much to say without K9 interpreting it like he's jabbering on during an opera. Its power to amplify music which makes the Earth resonate across the galaxy and signals its mate (while also causing terrible weather) lacks any form of reasonable physics, but then this is an episode in which Gryffen makes an amazing statement about weather being just like music, whereas Darius is under the belief that no one knows what causes the weather. Uhm... And of course, it later appears that Gryffen AND June know all about these aliens and how they're now all but extinct, a shortcut used way too often for my tastes. Just how much information does Earth have about other beings in the universe? Lost civilizations even.

The science is crazy, but when we look at the Whoniverse proper, an awful lot of stock is put in sonics. This element is probably no better or worse than the parent show's technobabble. Where the premise becomes theme is when the kids are each shown enjoying music. It hits that particular nail on the head way too hard, but I'm ready to give the episode some slack given how often the show usually misses the nail entirely. Jorjie's got a guitar on her wall, but here listens to what I assume is Aeolian song on the radio. Darius is revealed to play the electric guitar too. And Starkey? He's annoyingly humming a song that's popped into his head (the Aeolian's) and can later play it on the church organ. Why don't they just start a band already?

For some reason I'm thinking of the Archies, but it isn't just the teen band idea; they've also got a romantic triangle going that would be at home in teen humor comics. The dynamic is nothing new. Darius has long been shown competing for Jorjie's attention, while she obviously likes the clueless Starkey. So it's not much of a revelation when they both admit their feelings, though Jorjie plays clueless in this case and doesn't realize Darius is talking about her. You ask me, neither boy deserves her. Jorjie is the heart and soul of the series, and is played by the only person with any real charisma and ability in the cast. Darius is a doofus who, despite being a great scientist's assistant, can't remember what color drug will revive Jorjie. He's useless (if just a notch above Drake whose stupidity almost gets the planet blown up). Meanwhile, Starkey is this dull boy who would rather tinker with his robot dog than go out with a girl. The only moments my eyes actually stay on the screen is when she's there, her plight as she almost dies crushed under her bedroom ceiling during the storm is actually engaging, and she makes us live through her little soap opera. I just have to ignore who she's actually talking to and about. If I have to name a #2 character, then its her mom June. With all this talk of love, should we detect feelings between her and Gryffen? As with most things on the show, it's not all that clear, but she does spend a lot of time defending him, even though he was apparently once responsible for something called the Great Cataclysm. I appreciate the series throwing out subplot hooks like this, but have come to fear the execution.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Tries harder than usual, but it's really all in Jorjie's hands at this point. A really neat alien takes it over the top.

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