Dec. 29th, 2010 01:46 pm
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[personal profile] eve11
I got a Blu-ray player and a netflix subscription for Christmas, which is fab. Last night, I watched the Curse of Fenric, as I realize Seven is the only Doctor I've not watched any episodes for (although I've listened to all the audios), and Fenric was the only Seventh Doc episode that was on instant download:

Wow, that was a bit crazy, wasn't it? After watching it, I'm pretty sure of two things:

1) There was a cool story in there somewhere
2) It would have scared the pants off me as a child

The murderous Haemavores, the storms, the rampant killing of characters they did try to get us to know, the surrounded-by-zombies claustrophobia, the leaving of soldiers to die... all added up to something that I would actually think twice about showing to anyone under the age of eight, to tell you the truth. There were some seriously adult themes in this one, culminating with Ace's love/hate relationship with her mom, and a very symbolic diving scene at the end.

At the same time, for at least the first 40 minutes of this episode I was shaking my head going... "Wait, what? What? Where? What the hell is going on?" Also did I miss a past episode where the Doctor trapped this Fenric thing with a puzzle, or was all of that done off-screen? Was there a past episode (that I missed) that dealt with Ace's relationship with her mom?

Really, can you imagine the writer's meeting for this one? "Okay guys, we have an hour and a half to tell a story. Let's make sure we incorporate all of the following:"

- Vikings
- Vampires
- Nazis
- Mentally unhinged commanders
- Code-breaking Computers
- Russian spies
- Killer fish aliens
- Oriental Treasure
- Poison gas
- a Firing Squad
- Vicars with a crisis of faith
- Creepy Swimming Holes with Bad Reputations
- Ancient evil bodysnatchers
- Scientists with a tumultuous past
- Secret Laboratories
- Babies

And I'm sure I've missed a few.

Also let's make sure we fully develop and grow the character arcs for:
- *the Russian Captain
- the Widowed War Bride
- *the Crippled Scientist
- *the Crazy Commander
- *the Vicar
- *the Killer Fish Alien
- *the Two Girls from London
- the Bolshevik and the English Soldier
- Ace

(*) We will also kill them off

We will also have a few other characters strewn around (like the old lady and the nurse) to further the character arcs of these guys. So, now we're off to tell a coherent story!

Right. So I think they might have bitten off a little bit more than they could chew with this one. Some things worked well, I think. But because there was so much going on, I don't think they had enough time to develop anything to the point where it made sense in the bigger picture. Why did the Russians let the Doctor and Ace go? Why did the Doctor not warn the Brits about the Russians (and thus let all those soldiers get killed)? What was up with the undersea welding clamshell things? How did the Doctor get from the poison hangar bay to the fish monster to tell it about fenric? What was that bit about the Russian dude also being a viking? Why did the fish monster kill the rest of the haemavores?

There were a lot of mini character stories floating around that seemed in one sense tacked on: the vicar, the war bride, the Russian commander's friend, the professor being humiliated at the hands of his nurse, the backstory between the professor and the commander. On the other hand, they certainly made it more impactful when each of those characters (aside from the war bride) met with an unsavory end. I must say, the Haemavores were genuinely scary, when they were not complete and utter camp (thinking about the girls luring that Russian into the water, lol). I loved the zombie-apocalypse feel that they had, and the shot of all of them rising up and coming out of the water was totally creepifying, as was their inexorable thinning of the human characters.

I would have liked to have seen more about the Doctor and Ace; I particularly liked the part where she challenged him about never telling her what really was going on, and how she kept undermining the Doctor's plans without knowing (explaining the logic diagram to the professor, giving up the solution to the puzzle at the end). But on the other hand, why try to cram so many stories into just that one story? It seems like the conceit was that all the pieces should have slotted into place at the end, but for me it still seemed like a bit of a jumble. Partly I think this was due to direction and editing, but part of it was just due to the fact that they threw the catchall drawer and the kitchen sink into this one.

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