We could go on for hours, probably days about the great episodes of Doctor Who over the last 50+ years (hence our dedicated section to the finest episodes from the new series)
The show has kept us coming back with a remarkable blend of sci-fi, suspense, humour and quarkiness while providing terrific TV drama. Mostly terrific. Ok, some terrific and some…not so much. For every Doomsday, Midnight or Curse of the Fenric…there are clunkers. Whether it was a lousy costume, an uninspired villain or nonsensical plots,
here are 5 stories where it was obvious the producers simply weren’t trying.
Doctor Who did a good job of making a name for itself in the early days by avoiding the stereotype of science fiction at the time, namely having monsters that were just guys in cardboard suits.
The unbelievable “robots” in this 1967 story weren’t the only issue; the 4 parter was horribly out of synch as virtually nothing happens in part 2 just to have all the action jammed in the last two slots. There were quite a few production errors too, as the boom mic could clearly be seen in a couple of scenes. Even the pimped up trailer for the DVD re-release doesn’t help improve the lame product.
Shoddy camera work, lame plot and a hurried climax all lead us to assume the Krotons was filmed on a Friday before a long weekend.
INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS
Doing a dinosaur story is always tricky, even when you have millions in the budget.
Entering year 11, the Who prod team had (smartly) steered away from Dino based tales for this very reason. Too bad the producers decided to forego that precedent and deliver this laughable Pertwee jaunt about a couple of T-Rex’s wandering around London. Even ignoring the God-awful production values of the “dinsosaurs” and rating the episode on its plot merits won’t provide any respite from its crapness. We soon find out the dino invasion is part of a non-sensical plot being perpetuated by a some mad scientists and wait for it… a bunch of rich celebrities who want to avert the creation of humanity and repopulate the planet by themselves.
Furthering the agony is the story’s length; at 6 episodes, it’s way too long and the writers are forced to kill time by having the Doctor and Sarah endlessly captured, escaping and being recaptured by the bad guys, because the producers apparently didn’t realize that writing “The Doctor saves Earth from Dinosaurs. Also, there are celebrities” on a chalk board doesn’t constitute a script. We won’t even address the lazy, logic defying conclusion of the Doctor saving the day by busting out a never used before or since Time Lord “immunity”. It was preposterous. And in a show about a 700 year old alien dressed like a Dandy who travels time and space in a Police Phone Box, that’s saying something.
Don’t think Nu Who is immune to production largesse; David Tennant’s first series produced a few stinkers, the worst offender being the aptly named Fear Her, which involved a child’s drawing coming to life. Or it’s an alien. Or both.
We’ll try not to be too hard on Abisola Agbaje, the poor girl who had to play Chloe Webber and her alien counterpart, because it’s always risky to cast child actors for key parts.
But it’s fair to say that compared to other child actors she is rather ineffective. And that her weak portrayal, particularly when dealing with a heavy theme like child abuse hurts the episode…and our eyeballs when we watch her.
Russell T Davies has even gone on record as saying there was always one episode in each series he produced that he would save money on by cheaping out on. And the cheap is on full display here with shoddy FX and uninspired, overused Cardiff locations (see: limited travel budget) being used as background.
And the absurdity of wrapping the episode with the Doctor lighting the torch for the 2012 Games was too kitch for words. But if there words used they would be NOT and TRYING.
Where to start with this howler from Colin Baker’s first season? How about the awful, styrofoam “set “pieces that looked like they were pilfered from a pre school art class?
For those who were fortunate enough to avoid enduring this episode, it depicted a planet ruled by a never seen tyrant who punished dissidents by tossing them into the Timelash; a gateway that sends its victims anywhere in time and space and presumably lands them somewhere awful like in a black hole or volcano. Or in the studio audience of a Maury Povich show taping. But when the Doc gets throw in, his cruel and unusual exile…is to the highlands of Scotland. That’s a “punishment”?? Sign me up for a TimeLashing please!
Things go from bad to worse as guest star Paul Darrow chews up so much scenery as a stereotypical baddie he must have needed root canal. Also, for no reason other than lame historical name dropping, HG Wells is in it. We could go on..
but all you need to know about the total laziness that was TimeLash is summed up in it’s conclusion…the Doctor jets off in the Tardis to prevent a missile strike by materializing in their path. H.G. sneaks aboard and when he learns of the Doctor’s plot, realizes that this will mean they are going to die. Everyone watches in horror as the missiles and (presumably) the Doctor explodes. But not even two minutes later he’s back and explains his miraculous survival by saying… “It’s a neat trick. I’ll show you some time”. They couldn’t even bother to write us some lame techno babble explaining how he escaped! Saying the producers phoned it in doesn’t do it enough injustice…more like they strung a couple of tins together and shouted the script down the string line.
THE IMPOSSIBLE ASTRONAUT
Whodom is split on the ambitious, wildly high concept timey wimey ness of Series 6, but count us among those who call Bull Spit.
Season 6 began with The Doctor summoning his closest friends to Utah (as in, we better play to the new found American audience) to witness his death. Possibly the most impactful moment in history, with consequences reaching every corner of the galaxy. And a moment that Rory, Amy and River must totally ignore about 8 minutes later when the Doctor shows up at the restaurant they are all eating in (This Doctor being from a different point in his timestream) The ensuing 80 odd minutes of the 2 parter are an overwhelming jumble of concepts and visuals that just don’t add up. To be fair, the image of an Astronaut emerging from the water to assassinate the Doctor (and the viking inspired funeral afterward) was a spectacular sight.
But when you break down the rest of the episode, it just makes no sense. The Silence, who live solely to destroy the Doctor and can erase memories are the epitome of stealth… why bother concocting such an elaborate ruse to kill him when they could have just like, whacked him in the shower?
Then there’s the dropping in of a great character in Marcus Kant who does nothing of value but take a few camera phone pics. The narrative bears little sense either; the Doctor soon gets captured by the FBI and held captive, even though President Nixon is fully aware of the Doctor. When he escapes, the President has to keep using his influence to get the Doctor out of scrapes or into high security locations. Why wouldn’t the Prez just order that everyone follow his instructions and save him being thrown in jail for months?
The whole episode just strikes us as a plot slapped together to get some great visuals with little thought put into the plot.