The dreadful Torchwood keeps telling us that the 21st Century is when everything changes. But the dreadful Torchwood makes it quite clear that, in fact, nothing changes. Ever. The earth gets invaded by cybermen, demons manifest in the center of Cardiff, and the average citizen just sits in the bar saying "Don't be silly, there's no such thing as aliens look you rugger boyo blonwyn isn't it?" Torchwood even have a magic plot device in the form of a drug called "Ret Con" (ho ho) which ensures that nothing changes. The main character is so immortal that even if you drop a thermonuclear plot device on his head, he'll still bounce back for the next episode. Totally unchanged.
The nice thing about "Turn Left" is that everything really does change. It's a quite convincing snapshot of what it would actually be like to live on an Earth which was invaded by aliens ever other Saturday. It's an everyday story of folk whose world has become a permanent warzone. I'd like to see the series take this direction in non-parallel earth stories. I'd like Donna's mum and Donna's Grandpa to be living in a world that had been scarily changed by all the alien stuff. If there is ever an "adult" version of Doctor Who, I'd like it to take this approach: a darkish, humans' eye view of last weeks rip-roaring space yarn.
It's all bollocks, but that hardly matters. If the Doctor died in "Runaway Bride" then he never went to depression-era New York, and if he never went to depression-era New York, he never defeated the Daleks; and if he never defeated the Daleks, Caan never went back in time; and if Caan never went back in time, Davros was never rescued and there was never a second Dalek empire. Ergo: no, the stars aren't going out.
And I don't think that, even if Buckingham Palace had been struck by a full size replica of the Titanic, England would have relapsed to the 1950s quite so quickly. I mean, why is the office clerk rubber stamping papers rather than using one of those newfangled laptop thingys? And isn't it cute that the refugee is the sort of fellow whose a-mother is a-lika the spaghetti, and not, say, a Pole? Most seriously, the Damn Fine Climax (where every piece of text the Doctor can see changes to "Bad Wolf") which had me punching the air and going "Whoo!" turns out to have nothing whatsoever to do with this story or next story or any other story or anything else. It's one more example of R.T.D thinking up a scene and dropping it in whether it belong there or not.
Not knowing, at this point, that parts 12 and 13 are going to be the most gratuitously pointless guest star fest ever exhibited on a public stage, it was terrific fun and actually quite moving to hear, second hand and in passing, that Sarah Jane and Martha and Torchwood had given their lives to save the earth. And the angsty stuff, like Donna's Mum looking at the mushroom cloud and realising that everyone she knows is dead, is nicely done. And Catherine Tate continues to be not nearly as shit as we'd expected. Seeing her development from incredibly annoying Donna to not quite so annoying Donna telescoped down to a single episode was really quite impressive.
Every TV show falls back on some version of It's a Wonderful Life sooner or later. Dallas did it. Holby City did it, for goodness sake. And usually, they did it for some reason. In Star Trek , Captain Picard has always been very ashamed of a reckless decision he made as a young man: but he discovers that if he could go back and correct that mistake, he'd prevent himself from becoming a famous starship captain. In Red Dwarf we're led to believe that Rimmer is a loser because he was kicked out school when he was a kid; but the twist is that it was actually the heroic, alternate-world Rimmer who was expelled: our Rimmer had the good fortune, but still became a failure. Lois and Clerk combined with It's a Wonderful Life with Groundhog Day so we can watch the World WIthout A Superman becomign mroe and more depressing. In Star Trek the point is that we should accept who we are, the bad along with the good. In Red Dwarf the point is that we make our own choices and shouldn't blame out shortcomings on others. In Lois and Clerk the point is to tell a cute little seasonal parable about Hope. In Doctor Who the point is..er...well, I'll get back to you.
But no, really. Nice story.
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