Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who--"Gridlock"

I was not excited to see this episode when I heard rumors about it. First, I heard it featured a return to New Earth, a concept I was not enamored with the first time around. You may recall New Earth was where humanity settled down after the Earth was destroyed in “The End of the World.” The Doctor and Rose visited the Face of Boe there in last season’s premiere and had a fairly run of the mill adventure there. Second, the episode was written by show runner Russell T. Davies, a hit and miss writer if there ever was one. Generally when he reisits pet concepts, the stories are pretty mediocre. Not really so this time around.

The doctor will not admit it, but he wants Martha to stick around, so he stretches his offer of one TARDIS trip to two. One to the past, one to the future. Once in New New York, Martha is immediately kidnapped and forced to join in a carpool stuck in a never ending traffic jam. The Doctor join another car and discovers the passengers have been stuck there for twelve years. Another has been there for twenty-three. Before he can rescue Martha from her car, he is teleported away by Boe’s personal nurse.

Boe is dying, but he has one last message for the Doctor-- “You are not alone.” Most of New New York was wiped out decades ago by virus laden drugs. The only survivors were the ones on the motorway. The Doctor fixes things so everyone an return, Martha is transported back to him in time to save her from human enslaving crabs that live below the fast lane, (Yep.) and they are both with Boe as he dies. The episode ends with a homesick Doctor describing Gallifrey to her.

Not a great episode, but decent. It was necessary set up for the big revelation of the Master’s existence in the form of MP John Saxon a few episode down the line as well as pay off for the prophecy Boe has been destined to give the Doctor since the first eason. Davies throws in his two favorite themes, gay is good, religion is bad liberally. At least two motorist were in homosexual relationships as an unnecessary touch. The religion one struck me as weird. From time to time, the radio airs a praise and worship song everyone sings along with. They are using religion as a crutch to cope with a journey that has no destination. Davies is a firm believer in religion as the opiate of the masses so that mirrors his attitude about living a spiritual life with the expectation of a reward at the end. Rather obnoxious, but I can ignore it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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