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I'd be so dead...

...because I really couldn't manage a smile thinking about "Smile".


Like locker_monster, I came into this episode with low expectations, because I saw Frank Cottrell Boyce's name in the opening credits. "In the Forest of the Night" is, to me, by far the worst episode in all of Doctor Who (okay, to be fair, I have not yet seen "Time-Flight"...), and it was very difficult to watch an episode by the same writer without prejudice. I think I did give it a fair shake, though, and I didn't find it to be bad. I just didn't find it to be good.

Simply put, it was boring. There was just too much talking, to explain everything to us rather than let the puzzle reveal itself. I actually started zoning out near the end. It was basically boring enough that I don't have much to say about it, except for two inconsistencies that bothered me and one thing I'm starting to get really sick of.

Inconsistencies: Maybe it's because I've been reading Brandon Sanderson books, but I am finding that when I'm watching a show, I'm trying to figure out how the system works: what its rules are, and how the hero is going to defeat it. It's a huge problem when reading Harry Potter, because that world's magic system is so poorly-defined, there are inconsistencies everywhere. For this episode, how exactly did the emoticons work? Did they reflect what you were thinking or what you were displaying? They could show when you had an idea, which is not an expression, but they'd smile when you were smiling, even if you weren't actually happy. Well, the whole system was stupid in the first place, but it would have been nice if it obeyed its own rules.

Second: Bill asks about the evacuation of Earth and if this is the last remnant of humans, and the Doctor says many ships were sent out and that he'd encountered a few before, and yet later, the Doctor is screaming about saving these people, because if he doesn't, then the human race would be extinct. Which is it, Doctor? (This feeds into another thing I'm sick of: every situation being the possible end of the world, the end of the universe, the extinction of the humans, etc. Not everything needs to be apocalyptic.)

And finally: What is with the mind-wipes? After an episode that made a big point of "You shouldn't mind-wipe people, Doctor", the Doctor mind-wipes an entire species? Or is the point of this episode "It's okay to mind-wipe sentients as long as they're not flesh sentients"? Of the last four episodes, three have ended in mind-wipes. You could say it's four mind-wipes in five, since "Heaven Sent"'s point was that the Time Lords were resetting the Doctor's experiences in the maze until they got what they wanted. Message to the show: Mind-wipes are cheesy plot devices. Stop it.

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
alumfelga
Apr. 24th, 2017 10:31 am (UTC)
Oh, so the writer of "Smile" is the same person who wrote "In the Forest of the Night"! That explains a lot. I thought it was a new guy.

Bill asks about the evacuation of Earth and if this is the last remnant of humans, and the Doctor says many ships were sent out and that he'd encountered a few before, and yet later, the Doctor is screaming about saving these people, because if he doesn't, then the human race would be extinct.
Fair point. I'd say it wasn't the only place, because seriously, if the Doctor was that close to committing genocide again and there was no further comment on it, it'd be ridiculous.
shivver13
Apr. 24th, 2017 05:50 pm (UTC)
From what I've read, Frank Cottrell Boyce is supposed to be a well-regarded author. I don't really get why his DW efforts have been so bad. At least this one wasn't as bad as his previous one, though.

I'm sure that this wasn't the only place. I'd have to go check the timeline in AHistory, but I think this was meant to be contemporary with "Ark in Space" and "The Beast Below", and in both cases, the humans survived and were implied to flourish. Just... just stop trying to inflate how dire the situation is with mentions of "extinction" and destructions of entire planets, Mr. Moffat. One of the things that endeared me to this show was that the cosmically-powered hero cared even when only one person was in danger. Now it seems the Doctor only cares if the disaster has a planet-wide effect.
alumfelga
Apr. 26th, 2017 06:45 pm (UTC)
I don't know then. Maybe he's good at creating his own worlds, but can't do Doctor Who? Neil Gaiman is a well-regarded author, too, yet we spent half of "The Doctor's wife" watching Amy and Rory running through corridors.

One of the things that endeared me to this show was that the cosmically-powered hero cared even when only one person was in danger.
Amen to that!
dm12
Apr. 24th, 2017 10:49 pm (UTC)
[There was just too much talking, to explain everything to us rather than let the puzzle reveal itself.] Hmm... reminds me of Star Wars. The original trilogy showed, the prequels talked a lot, but really showed nothing. I agree; show, don't tell!

And the inconsistency between optimism of humans surviving vs. this being their last chance? He also said that this was the first Earth colony. If it's the first, there must have been more afterwards, right? And then, what about Mars? Lots of trouble here with history.
shivver13
Apr. 25th, 2017 12:07 am (UTC)
Yes, yes! I noticed that, too! And honestly, at the end, he's basically telling the humans there that they either need to pay rent to the robots or be killed. He'd just been saying that humans would be extinct if they were killed, so why is he now no longer concerned that the humans would be killed? Wouldn't you think that he'd be pleading with the robots to not kill the humans?

And by the way, if the robots can build anything for their planet, what use would they have for money?
dm12
Apr. 25th, 2017 12:16 am (UTC)
What about all of those "Great and Bountiful Human Empires?" Ignore everything the previous Doctors have said, why don't we?

The contradictions are dizzying if you think about them at all....

The Doctor could have reprogrammed them to their original functions, couldn't he have? So many problems...

And all those mind wipes... a new species, so he says, and he wipes their minds. It seems a big part of this series, I wonder if every episode is going to have a reference to it, and what's in that vault?
shivver13
Apr. 25th, 2017 03:26 am (UTC)
Well, the episode does not state when it took place. It did say it's one of the first human colonies, so it can't be too far in the future - we know that Mars was the first, and that's this century. The other two exoduses (exodi? :) from Earth that I can think of are from "The Beast Below" (3295 AD) and "The Ark in Space" (set in 16087 AD, but it's stated that the episode is several thousand years after the actual exodus from the planet). Nothing prevents the humans from returning to Earth (and in fact, "The Ark in Space" is all about the humans returning to Earth after the planet becomes habitable again), and indeed they must have, since the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire is in 200,000 AD. So this episode isn't quite as contradictory as it might appear.

That said, DW's continuity has always been rather loose. I try my best to make it fit together, but it's a fool's errand for me, since I try to include the extended universe in the timeline.

They haven't yet managed to really interest me in the vault yet. So far, the episodes have a "Hey, look, there's a vault here and someone made the Doctor guard it" mention, without any real information or anything that the viewer can start speculating about. Sort of like "Hey, look, there's a crack here". Or "Hey, look, there are eyes spying on Amy". Or "Hey, look, the Doctor thinks there's something strange about Clara". Or "Hey, look, there's this Missy woman collecting dead people's souls." Or "Hey, look, there's that word 'hybrid' again". If this pans out the way Moffat always writes his arcs, we'll just get reminded that the vault exists every episode, and then the finale will tell us why we were supposed to be interested in it.
dm12
Apr. 25th, 2017 04:05 am (UTC)
You're right that DW plays fast and loose with time and events. Part of what makes it so crazy.

Right about those Moff arcs... although I did figure Missy out fairly early on.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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