Neil Gaiman's second Doctor Who episode is lazy, irritating and uninspiring.
Last week's The Crimson Horror ended on an unexpected note. Clara's time travelling exploits had been uncovered by Angie and Artie, demanding a trip in the TARDIS in exchange for their silence. The biggest worry with children on TV shows is that they can be terribly annoying and are often used to initiate plot strands. In The Walking Dead, Rick and Lori's son Carl was forever wandering off and turning up at the most opportune moment, often at the expense of any character development. Sadly Neil Gaiman falls into that exact trap.
Thinking he's onto a winner, The Doctor takes Angie and Artie to the biggest theme park in the universe, Hedgewick's World Of Wonders. Well it used to be, but the planet has since been quarantined after several attacks from Cybermen. When The Doctor is partially upgraded by the mysterious Cyber Planner, he has to battle the Cyber Planner in a game of chess with the universe at stake.
|Erm... no thanks. I'll stick to Free Cell. image courtesy of guardian.co.uk|
Of the pair, Angie is significantly more grating. She's just travelled through time and space and her only reaction upon arrival is one of disappointment and boredom. It's the typical unimpressed-at-everything young teenager shtick that is ubiquitous on television. Artie's sweet politeness and well spoken demeanour is less problematic. After a brief interaction with a hollowed out Cyberman, Angie and Artie are sent to bed; The Doctor and Clara have the possible threat of a Cyberman invasion on their hands. Before leaving, the Doctor unequivocally tells Angie and Artie not to wander off. Do. Not. Wander. Off. Great, I thought, Neil Gaiman has addressed this most irritating of traits.
Except he didn't. Angie was unimpressed with the prospect of going to sleep, even more so than the lack of mobile phone signal (apparently she doesn't know how mobile phones work). So she decides to wander into the barracks and complain to the soldiers about her boredom. The inclusion of the Doctor's warning made the wandering off moment even more irritating. (I feel I must note that my problem lies with the characters, and not the performances from the child actors.)
|The Doctor vs The Doctor. Image courtesy of craveonline.com|
Steven Moffat's main instruction for this episode was to make the Cybermen scary again. Whilst Gaiman does update one of The Doctor's most feared enemies, he arguably takes away the threat that made them so menacing in the first place. The new Cybermen can twist and remove their heads, upgrade their abilities when it suits them, and can run in short bursts. Except this last ability seems to be forgotten by the latter stages of the episode where they resort to their familiar marching movement. They're more powerful, but less scary than before.
|The Mighty Porridge (Warwick Davis) image courtesy of digitalspy.co.uk|
At the end of the adventure, The Doctor hands Angie a snazzy upgraded phone. It's only in this moment that she seems to find happiness.
That's right; according to Doctor Who, kids aren't impressed by space, time travel, and the unimaginable wonders in the universe. All they care about is their f***ing mobile phone.