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Should have used a Babel Fish

The second episode failed to deliver on the promise of the first. Not that it was bad — just that for someone who has already watched and read a lot of science fiction, it was a bit too simple and one-dimensional. From Rose's shock at seeing real aliens ("The aliens... they're so... alien") to her moral conversation with The Lady Cassandra, the surgically-altered Last Human Being from 5 billion years into the future, it all looked like it was the first time those kinds of scenes had ever been done. To someone who has already seen more sophisticated versions of the same, it just wasn't convincing.
Of course the point is that I'm part of only one of three audiences that Doctor Who has to cater to. I'm an adult with an interest in science fiction. The other two groups... well, I'll await the verdict of the Seasoned Doctor Who Fan. To members of the Third Group, Young Children, it was probably just right. For them, chances are that this series really is their first exposure science fiction, and so they'll need to have it presented in a direct, unsophisticated way. They'll seek out more complicated variants once they grow into members of my own demographic.

Things I liked about the episode:
The many Douglas Adams-isms. The End of the World as a spectacle for the bored rich, the humorous misinterpretations of what is left of earth culture at the time, the ingenious bit of hokum to explain why Rose can understand what the aliens from the future are saying, and her reaction to the explanation ("You've changed my mind, and you didn't even arsk?")
The aliens themselves. Every race shown seemed like a nod to a different era of science fiction design, from 1950s B-movies (fat naked alien with huge forehead) to latter-day Star Trek and Babylon 5 (the Trees and the Repeated Meme creatures, respectively).
The spider-bots. They were creepy enough to take me back to another American series that had me hiding behind the metaphorical sofa when I was little, Sapphire and Steel. That was one of my first exposures to televised SF, and the enemies, shown mostly as little lights under doors, really gave me the willies at the time. The spider things didn't quite do that, but I can imagine that they'll be giving some English kids exquisite nightmares.
The Doctor himself. Now he did give me the willies in the final confrontation scene. This Doctor is no clown, and is not a man you want to cross.

Things I really didn't like:
Plot resolution, again. I won't spoil it, although maybe I should just to ridicule the sheer Deus ex Machina-ness of it.
Rose's motivation. Rose is an excellent character, but I still don't understand why she sticks with the Doctor. I can buy the fact that the Doctor is looking for trouble, I can even buy him taking on this stray human for a companion (as long as he remembers to feed it, natch), but I can't see someone like her not being fed up already.
Character resolution. This probably boils down to the "it has to work for the kids" thing again, but I would have been very happy not to know about the reason why the Tree creature was so touchingly sorry for the Doctor until episode 13 or the next series. Hearing about his planet, even in the sketchy manner the Doctor talks about it, takes out some of the mystery.

6.5 out of 10, I'd say.


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