Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lodged In The Craw

In case anyone's wondering, here is a list of things that would have been less stupid than defeating the Cybermen with love:
  • Defeating the Cybermen with anger;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with sulkiness;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with ennui;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with provolone;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with woodlice;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with the letter "K";
  • Defeating the Cybermen with Burt Wards gonad-reduction drugs;
  • Defeating the Cybermen with gold coins (again).
Also, contrary to the opinions of some, the stupefyingly ridiculous and cliched ending to "Closing Time" is not improved by the Doctor trying to argue there was more going on than "love > Cybermen", mainly because he gives up and admits that was what happened (in fairness, that's not how everyone read his conclusion; see the above link). 

As far as I'm concerned, the Doctor grinding to a halt in the middle of attempting to cook up what only in this situation could be referred to as a less ridiculous explanation serves as a giant flashing sign above the episode: "Even the Doctor has to admit it was love".  Which, of course, requires another sign just beneath it: "So the ending is exactly as fucking awful as you were thinking".

That's not undercutting, that's underlining.  That's telling your audience that any attempt to fanwank some kind of borderline plausible - or even simply non-nauseating - explanation for what just happened simply won't do.

About seven years ago, I was sitting in my friend Richard's sitting room for a meeting of our creative writing group, and I was writing a ping-pong story with our newest member.  She started, I continued, and she continued some more.  Apparently, she hated what I'd written so much that she actually pulled the "It was all a dream!" move halfway through the exercise.  Rather put out at this heavy-handed editorialising (the point of a ping-pong story is to adapt to what you are presented with, not rub it out because you can't twist it back to the tale you wanted to tell all along), I wrote in something even more extreme than my previous effort, complete with a random bystander exclaiming "It's like some kind of horrible dream, except it's clearly real".

What I did as a (hopefully) mild rebuke/quick gag in my friend's house, Gareth Roberts did to reinforce a terrible narrative resolution in a show watched by millions.  Presumably, he still got paid.

(Seriously, we're really supposed to believe the Cybermen's "assimilation machine" can't deal with a father scared for his baby?  That's really not happened to them in all the time they've been terrorising the galaxy?  God, these new Telosians are useless, aren't they?  As though trying to conquer Victorian London with Mecha Kong, a mad prostitute and Cuddles the Monkey wasn't stupid enough.)

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