Thursday

splendid aftereffects

so, the doctor who finale."Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot device"
—David Langford, "A Gadget Too Far", as a corollary to Arthur C. Clarke's third law


in order to start this post off, i googled 'only fools and horses rodney centurion' and found a picture of 'rory' from the ending couplet; fortunately, they're different, so well done bbc costumes dept.

as i was saying, i find it hard to emotionally connect with a series that simply makes no sense. having a two part episode brings in another problem; how do you try to predict what's going to happen next episode?

take for example, an agatha christie story. poirot might be investigating something, and something doesn't quite add up, and you think "hmm, maybe there's something to that not making sense." it piques your interest, it stimulates your imagination.

but what about when nothing at all makes sense? take for example, all the hints dropped by the doctor that amy's house was too big. this turned out to be because amy's parents had been erased from history by the crack in space - so why was amy still there? surely this is paradox number 1 in time travel stories. but it's not where i wanted to go with this.

someone went to amy's childhood home, and copied her memories and used them to lure the doctor to the pandorica. but pandora's box was a memory from her childhood too - but they'd only arranged to lure the doctor there, because that's when the pandorica opened... or the paradoxica as it might as well be called. the 'not making sense' here isn't a sci-fi fudge, it's a properly careless script that makes no sense at all. it must have been made up as it went along, because you can't start writing a story like this with the end in sight and have it make such little sense. it's entirely wrapped up in it's own bollocks.

still fun though, and i love the asynchronous doctor song character - that's a really good attempt at portraying the chaos that two people skipping in and out of time and each others' lives at different points would experience. i've not read the time traveller's wife but i imagine it's along the same lines.

so there's something else in 'the pandorica opens' i want to relate - 'the perfect disguise, they actually believe their own cover story'.

this is an idea from the 1953 pk dick short story 'imposter', which was also borrowed for terminator salvation (spoilers ahead!). as a trope, distinct from ridiculously human robots, the 'unconscious infiltrator' was probably best used in grant morrison's the invisibles and the filth, where cover personalities are water tight are layers deep. like in the who's tommy, there the revelation of one's true character coincides with enlightenment; in imposter, the main character is hunting down, believed by the authorities to be a walking bomb. the protag is convinced he is not, and just wants to go home. brilliantly, realising he is in fact a robot - finding his original's body - is the very trigger that blows him up. (end spoilers)

so this trope has taken 57 years to wind its way from astounding magazine to prime time, saturday night, bbc1. this is the world we're living in; i don't think pk dick won the ideas war, but it's quite nice that fairly lame versions of his stories are commonplace, 50 years later.
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