Voyage of the Damned Review

In The Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor encounters the spaceship called the Titanic.  He is faced with the task of stopping the ship from crashing into Earth and killing everyone.  This was one of my favorite episodes in the series because we got to see the Doctor face a problem without a permanent companion.

Throughout the episode, the Doctor assembles a crew to help him save the lives of the individuals on the ship as well as the citizens of earth.  This crew played a significant role in portraying the message of the episode, which I think is an important one.  The message was that all people have metaphorical skeletons, but those things aren’t what define you.  In other words, every person has character traits that aren’t desirable, but those traits shouldn’t hold someone back from being themselves.  In my opinion, many Doctor Who episodes don’t have a lesson to teach.   I think this is a problem for a show of Doctor Who’s stature because there are millions of viewers, and the target audience is children.

Another aspect of this episode that I really loved was that the characters who were not series regulars were given proper characterization.  Despite only being in this one episode, the people that aided the Doctor were given mini back stories and development.  Character development is another problem the show struggles with in my opinion.  In almost every episode, a myriad of inconsequential characters are introduced.  These characters are given significant screen time in the episodes, and their fates are usually points of interest in the plot, however because of a lack of development, viewers don’t care when their fates are determined.

The Voyage of the Damned featured two criteria that I crave as a viewer, and the episodes which fail to meet those criteria falter in comparison to the season four Christmas special.

Gridlock review

With a more critical mind, I watched the third episode “Gridlock” of season 3, Doctor Who for the second time, this pass weekend. Although enjoying it the first time around, rewatching it made me question the basics set ups of this tv series.

As expected, the episode started with a messed up world in need of the Doctor’s saving. Except this time, Russell T. Davies takes on the challenge to combine the following elements: “a women giving birth to a basket of kittens”, “mood(drug) merchant with no moral baseline”, “an environment so polluted yet the people are too keen on carpooling that it involves kidnapping strangers”, and lastly, “a decade long traffic jam”. Looking at this set up logically, there is no logic whatsoever. The entire episode plays out in an absurd way, with the Doctor jumping from carriage to carriage in deadly fumes, Martha driving through giant killer crabs, and the Face of Boe explain his ingenious plan at the end to clean up the mess and end the 45 minutes madness.

The amount of obvious flaws and plot holes made me think maybe that was the intent of the show runner. No human would ever wait for decade long traffic, a police that never reply, and a monster underground without question the reality. We would never be fooled by such ridiculous set up. But the very fact that human did accept all of the above as a society norm should rings us like an alarm. With the right setting and context, we can accept something as bleak as a never ending traffic jam.

Maybe the story Russell T Davies laid out for us in this episode were supposed to be understood on the metaphorical grounds. We as human are so adaptive to abnormality, we can always find strength in other people who’s also sharing the same harsh condition, build community, and establish an illusion of comfort zone in order to maintain our sanity. When in reality, we are all stuck in our separate tin pod, on a long road of poisonous fume, waiting for the future that might never be here.

When we live in a society where poverty, hunger, war, inequality and so many others are accepted as inevitable parts of our society. When our leaders find reasons to justify racism, sexism, inequality. When we have normalized these madness, who are we to question the eternal traffic jam?