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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: “Voyage of the Damned”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Season 3, Episode 13: “Last of the Time Lords”)

There’s got to be a morning after…
Oh, look, it’s Doctor Who does The Poseidon Adventure — on the Titanic. Good fun. No, wait: What? Fun? Holy crap, but this is a depressing episode. Jesus. Dead bodies floating in open space, a “nuclear storm” drive that’s gonna wipe out life on Earth? Characters dying senselessly… sure, some die nobly, saving others, but some just die senselessly.

They’re sick, these Brits. This aired on Christmas night in England. This is what people wanna watch after their turkey dinner and Christmas crackers? Man… (“Human beings worship the great god Santa, a creature with fearsome claws, and his wife, Mary.” I think I snorted something out my nose at that line: could that be considered blasphemous? especially on Christmas night? Way to go, Russell Davies.)

Very nice psych-out on Davies’ part. We kinda knew the Doctor couldn’t be on the real Titanic (didn’t we? didn’t we see a sketch back in Season One of the Eccleston Doctor on the Titanic? he wouldn’t double back on himself — I think there’s a Time Lord law about that…). And so, right away, it’s all Christmas wreathes (didn’t Titanic sail in April)? golden robots? little red aliens? Kylie Minogue in a cute waitress getup? As the Doctor might say, “What? What?!”

Nice way to get the Doctor back into that tux, though (and the black Converse — formalwear, you know). This new Doctor: he likes to party, and he is a sucker for a pretty face with wanderlust in her heart. He can spot ’em across a ballroom, can’t he — the lonely, the misfit, the wannabe wanderers — and he latches onto Astrid right away: “You dreamt of another sky, new sun, new air, new life. A whole universe teeming with life. Why stand still when there’s all that life out there?” And she’s hooked: “You must be rich…” she says. “Haven’t got a penny,” he replies, and that’s even better. He’s rich in the way that counts: he’s free. She doesn’t need much seducing by him to make her ask to come along with him — “I’m just a traveler. Imagine it. No tax, no bills, no boss. Just the open sky,” he says, but he had her at hello. No, he’s convincing himself: he’s lonely, but he keeps screwing it up, especially lately: losing Rose, hurting Martha. He doesn’t want to do that again, but he doesn’t want to be alone, either. Too bad we knew from the outset — even if neither the Doctor nor Astrid did — that poor Kylie wasn’t going to be appearing in the rest of the season…

I said it last year, after “Runaway Bride,” last year’s Christmas episode:

If it’s Christmastime in Russell Davies’ universe, that must mean it’s time for another extraterrestrial plot to take over and/or destroy the Earth, with the chance of alien spaceships over London 100 percent.

And so I snorted some more when the Doctor and Astrid and the tour group head down to Earth, Christmastime in London. Because I said to myself, People must be terrified, it’s Christmas again… And sure enough: “London? At Christmas? Not safe, is it?” the news vendor says. Hilarious. Watch the crawl on his TV: “Londoners in festive fear… Major roads of out London gridlocked as thousands flee in the face of alien threat… The Royal Family will remain in London.” Awesome. But, please, get out of my head, Russell Davies.

Random thoughts on “Voyage of the Damned”:

• Don’t forget that this episode really begins with the short “Time Crash,” which you can watch and discuss here.

• Hey, the arrangement of the theme music changed!

• Oh, the Doctor gets kissed a lot these days. Not that he doesn’t deserve it…

• Great snark-a-licious references:

= the Doctor IDs himself as “passenger 57” (though please tell me you don’t watch The Apprentice, Doctor — I can take you being a Wesley Snipes fan better than I can take that)

= the Doctor running through the security protocols, trying to guess: “10! 666! 21! 4! 5! 678! I dunno: 42?”

= and of course Starship Titanic is itself totally a Douglas Adams thing

• You don’t know it yet, but in the next episode, “Partners in Crime,” you’ll discover that the elderly newsagent on the empty London street is, in fact, Donna Noble’s grandfather.

• The TARDIS heads straight for England when it falls into Earth’s atmosphere. I guess it likes the place as much as the Doctor does.

• Hey, Morvin and Foon — they won their tickets on Titanic just like Jack Dawson did! Poor lovebirds had to share some more of Jack’s fate, too…

• The Doctor has a direct line to Buckingham Palace? Well, okay. But why bother to get the Queen to evacuate if the whole planet will be destroyed anyway?

• Great quotes:

“Bad name for a ship. Either that or this suit is really unlucky.” –the Doctor

“I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I’m nine hundred and three years old, and I’m the man who’s gonna save your lives and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?” — the Doctor (I think that’s the first time Kasterborous has been mentioned in the new series. Cool.)

“You look good for nine hundred and three.” –Astrid
“You should see me in the mornings.” –the Doctor
“Okay.” –Astrid (Oh, the look on his face… Man, they’ll probably cut this whole exchange from the Sci Fi version. Bastards!)

“You’re not falling, Astrid… you’re flying.” –the Doctor

“It’s just France and Germany. Only Britain is Great.” –the Doctor
“And they’re all at war with the continent of Panerica.” –Mr. Copper
“No. Well, not yet.. We could argue that one…” –the Doctor (Oo, was that a bitchslap to the U.S.? Ouch.)

(next: Episode 1: “Partners in Crime”)


MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
posted in:
tv buzz
  • JSW

    I really wish the Doctor would stop lying about his age, though. Everyone knows he passed the big nine-oh-oh back during Colin Baker’s time. He was 953 when he regenerated into Sylvester McCoy.

  • Eric-Jon Rössel Waugh

    Answer: the ship didn’t have to hit the Earth and blow up to smash through Buckingham Palace. Which it was going to, except they ran out of budget. I like it better this way anyway, because by now you kind of expect that sort of thing to happen and this bucks (hur hur) the trend.

  • God, you’re not kidding. I refer to this special as, “Merry Christmas! Now go hang yourself.” So, so bleak. What’s-his-name with the credit card at the end probably managed to fall into the Thames and drown before the night was over. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but damn.

  • Actually, the 9th Doctor was pictured in the port with passengers who miraculously had changed their minds and survived by not going.

    The 9th Doctor also make a reference to clinging to an ice-burg, but that could have been another incarnation (the 4th makes a reference to the Titanic, but I can’t remember if he made mention of being on it…)

  • Ryan H

    I watched this with my Dad on Christmas day. Before hand we were talking about the new Who, which he hadn’t been following very much. I commented on how the new shows occasionally have a surprisingly high body count.
    About halfway through this episode he turned to me and says “you weren’t kidding”

    So good :)

  • boz

    “Allons-y, Alonso!”

    finally :)

  • Barb Gorczyca

    I watched this back on Christmas Day (uncut as it should be) and rather enjoyed ranking it as my favorite next to Christmas Invasion. What bothered me is the de-aging of the Doctor. As mentioned above, he should be around 953 not this 903 but maybe this has to do with Last of the Time Lords episodes (maybe he got de-aged more than he should have to explain the difference – who knows). This even screws up the Big Finish audios where the 8th Doctor is close to or over 1000 in age. Very annoying. I also Alonso finally made an appearance ;-)

    The high death rate is nothing new. It was similar during the JNT (John Nathan-Turner) days of the original series.

  • Karen R

    Dang, now we State-sider’s know stuff was cut. Frak. I watched this off my TiVO this morning and was just floored. So dark and dramatic and poignant and cutting right to the heart. Instant chemistry with Kylie. Max Capricorn’s facial expressions during his tete-a-tete with the Doctor were hilarious. I vote “gut-wrencher” scene as the Doctor being lifted skyward by the Host. How awesome. Glad to see that Who has at the top of his game for this season because the overall dreadful mess that’s been Season 2 of Torchwood was getting me worried.

  • Andrew the Giant

    Russell T. Davies

  • MaryAnn

    What about him? Are you chastising me for not using his middle initial? Was there some confusion about whom I was talking about?

  • Andrew the Giant

    Last time you told me it was just easier for you. Well I don’t care how difficult it makes your life to use his middle initial because I’ll do this every time until you credit him correctly. It doesn’t cause confusion, it’s just… tacky.

  • MaryAnn

    Then you’ll be banned from commenting, Andrew the Giant. If you have nothing to add to the discussion, please don’t add anything at all.

  • Andrew the Giant

    My input is no less valid than any poster’s for making a point about correct crediting. Seriously, you’d actually ban someone just for saying “Russell T. Davies” on future posts?

    Jehovah! Jehovah! Jehovah!

  • MaryAnn

    I ban trolls, Andrew. This issue isn’t about “crediting,” as I’m sure you’re well aware. If my conversational tone bothers you, you are invited to go elsewhere to discuss the show.

    I’ll delete any further comments on this topic.

  • The Avatar

    Right across the world! One word, just one thought, at one moment!A telepathic field, binding the whole human race together. All of them, every single person on Earth, thinking the same thing at the same time! And that word, is

  • This episode was a little depressing, wasn’t it.

    It was rich that the only person you wanted to die lived. What was it that Mr. Copper said, “If you could decide who lived and who died, that would make you a monster, wouldn’t it?”

    Call me a monster, that Slade dude should have died!

    I knew that Astrid wouldn’t go traveling with the Doctor, but did they have to kill her to make sure she wouldn’t? (Of course, if she had lived, the Doctor would not have been able to say no.)

  • NorthernStar

    I loved every minute of it! (DT for Christmas. Gay men really do give the best pressies.)

    Mind you, I remember giggling half way through watching this at Christmas and going “my God, it’s a blood bath!”

    Humbug indeed!

  • joy

    I watched it Friday night at Comic Con, and I feel sure they aired the full version (happily). Because when I watched my DVR version, there were definitely a few scenes cut here and there. Which I totally get doing for time purposes, but it still kinda sucks. Now we have to wait for the actual DVDs to come out.

    My sisters and I are big BBC show-watchers (the typical ones – RH, DW, TW, MI-5, etc.), and so we’re well aware of the BBC’s inexplicable (and mean) tendency to kill off characters with absolutely no remorse. This eppy was no different – for no sooner than my sister would say, “Awww, I like ________!” BAM! ______ deader than a doornail.

  • MaryAnn

    I watched it Friday night at Comic Con, and I feel sure they aired the full version (happily).

    Yes, I watched it at Comic Con, too, and yes, it was the unedited BBC version of the episode. The Sci Fi Channel version did, at minimum, delete the “you should see me in the morning scene.”

  • soundacious

    You don’t know it yet, but in the next episode, “Partners in Crime,” you’ll discover that the elderly newsagent on the empty London street is, in fact, Donna Noble’s grandfather.

    George: That’s not your grandfather. I’ve seen your grandfather. He lives in your house.
    Paul: Everyone’s entitled to two, aren’t they? And that’s my other one.

  • Les Carr

    It’s strange to see the number of comments about bleakness and bloodbaths – perhaps it’s a difference in national sensibilities? In the UK it was received as a piece of light-hearted, jeopardy-free flim-flam. Still, I absolutely loved it when it was originally broadcast. I saw it again on a BA flight this summer and was tearing up for most of it. Thankfully everyone else was asleep:-)

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