Doctor Who #935: The Last Oak Tree

"Families should be together."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Apr.12 2010.

IN THIS ONE... Robin Hood's tree is stolen by a giant caterpillar.

REVIEW: Early on, this episode makes me believe June will actually get to do her job without Drake interference. After all, when the Major Oak is stolen from the London Museum, Drake's nowhere to be seen and June doesn't have to share the command center with him. Alas, he later shows up, we hear the same old jurisdictional bullcrap, and he tries to blow up the featured alien AND the kids with "flash vapor". All he needs is a mustache to twirl and this could be Scooby-Doo. Why is he Lommax's obvious favorite? His CCPCs are clunky and useless and his "victories" are manufactured (he sneers at June because Gryffen and K9 have broken the case before she has, but they work FOR her, so what's the big whoop?). Anyway, my dislike of the character knows no bounds; for more, see tomorrow's review (spoilers!).

There's kind of a fun sequence at the start where K9 argues with a hologram of Robin Hood in the London Museum and Jorjie thinks it's a hottie, and it makes me wish the show was doing more world-building. It was one of the pilot's best elements and seeing the night shot of London with the floating screens again, for example, only shows how much potential was wasted. The series has been largely inconsistent in its portrayal of fascist London, when it hasn't looked like the present day outright. Between Starkey and Jorjie's worlds - the Museum obviously a part of the latter's - there should be a huge difference. Nothing to date has really made me believe the need for the kids' early rebellion. But no, instead we're back to the sewers, sets the production likely never takes down anymore, and Nondon as a hub for alien activity despite the repressive alien-hunting regime.

As for the plot, there's a cute bit where you think the monster will actually be made of paper maché (it only produces it) and the creature, a giant woodlouse, has a wetness that enhances its CG origins. Woodlouse? Yeah, the centuripede looks like it could be the goodie cousin of the Tractators from Frontios, with electromagnetic powers instead of gravitic, but what it turns into, a kind of rainbow fairy, while it ties into its coming to England in the past, doesn't quite match that theory. Nor does it make complete sense - when do they turn into caterpillars again if they're BORN fairies? And if their natural forms are fairy-like, why do they have a centipedish name? (Presumably, Earthers have never seen the transformation.) Part of the problem with a huge CG creature like this is interaction with the live action, and we get an awful lot of scenes where the giant monster is in an enclosed space with Starkey (admittedly, the best character to have a familial fixation), but you can't see it. The last act feels disjointed as a result. Oh and because none of these reviews would be complete without some contempt for Darius (matching Jorjie's own; when will this make him a better man?), I'll point out the pointless subplot about the Prof waiting for a gala invitation he traditionally receives and rejects, and how, with an explosion about to rip through the sewers, Darius rifles through the postman's bag for it instead of taking the whole bag up the ladder. The production is intent on making him both stupid and unethical and that is irritating. Yes, unethical, because he doesn't want the invitation to make the Prof happy; he wants to sell it to him. Since all the Prof really wanted was to know he was invited (and therefore, relevant to the scientific community), why would he need to buy it? Gah.

- The plot taken from a nature show on the giant sea turtle is fine and carries an ecological message that's fine for the kiddies, but problems abound: Catering to terrible characters, CG/live action mismatch and pointless subplots.



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