Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fish Custard

5:1 The Eleventh Hour
5:2 The Beast Below

You're like Father Christmas, the Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo, and I love you very much...

This is going to be difficult.

Seasons 3 and 4 were so bad, and the End of Time was so jawdroppingly shameful, that one is tempted to rave about Steven Moffat on general principles – to give him the Nobel Peace Prize simply because he is not George W. Bush. On the other hand, the degeneration from Dalek and the Satan Pit (as good or better than anything in the Original Series) to, say, the Stolen Earth (literally beneath contempt) happened so quickly that one feels one should err on the side of caution. Yeah, this time you gave us a funny, well-paced scene between the Doctor and Little Amy. This time you presented us with a moral dilemma that actually seemed to be a dilemma. Sure, for the last 72 hours I've been thinking about the line "...and then I'll change my name because I won't be the Doctor any more..." and grinning. And granted that Steven Moffat thinks that Doctor Who has more to do with fairy tales than with science fiction – and granted that the floating England is supposed to be dream like and impressionistic – then the Beast Below seemed actually to be a story in which most of the plot-threads were actually tied up by the end.

But that's only this week. You're just leading us on. We've been hurt too many times before. Next week you're going to kick us in the teeth.


The first thing to say is that Steven Moffat has done this story before. Twice. At least.

This is not to say that it is not a good story. In fact, the idea of a character who meets the Doctor when she is a little girl, and then meets him again when she is all grown up works much better in the modern era than in seventeenth century France. One suspects that this is the story which the Moff has always wanted to tell, and that R.T.D. persuaded him to shoe-horn it into an historical.

So: The Girl in the Fireplace the big controlling idea behind Doctor Who Season 5. We are going to see the Doctor through Amy's eyes, which involves seeing him twice. He's the fairy tale raggedy Doctor that had breakfast with Little Amy and he's the super-sexy complex man who Big Amy handcuffed to the radiator. And that double vision is not a bad reflection of what the programme has become: maybe what it always was. Doctor Who is both the programme you remember from when you were a kid; and it's the programme you are watching now, warts and all. It's both a children's fairy tale and a modern cool CGI soap. Both adults and kids love it, but in different ways. And maybe, in "the language of the night" the Doctor really is and only ever should be Amy's imaginary friend; and the monsters are really only her nightmares. Doctor Who is the kind of thing which lives in children's imaginations. R.T.D.'s Doctor was Christ in plimsolls, space-Jesus worshipped by the whole universe and commemorated in stained glass. Moffat's Doctor does indeed come in answer to a little girl's prayers. But the god she is praying to is called Santa.

It was, I think, cowardly to do all this from the Doctor's point of view. It would have been braver to do it from Amy's. We should have stayed with Amy for some of the years when people thought she was mad, and spent some time doubting with her if the Doctor was real. We should have been looking at the Doctor through her eyes, wondering if this new visitor was the same man she met all those years ago: not looking through his eyes wondering if the woman in the police uniform was the little girl he met five minutes ago.

The scenes between the Doctor and little Amy were really well done. They felt like something out of the Secret Garden or Bagpuss. The joke about the Doctor not knowing what kind of food Doctors's like best outstays its welcome, but it does give us the sense that the Doctor has spent a reasonable amount of time with Amy: long enough for him to actually be her Imaginary Friend. And it's very funny.

The most wonderful thing about Time Lords is I'm the only one.

(When was it happening? The TARDIS is flying over modern London (Millennium Dome, London Eye) but ends up in a cottage "12 years ago" – where 12 years ago is clearly "the olden days". Are we being subtly informed that the Doctor met little Amy "now" and grown up Amy "12 years in the future". I hope that the village where Amy lives will become a regular setting and that we get to know some of the characters. Just so pleasantly different from that generic London-Cardiff where everything used to happen.)

Even in the Christmas Invasion, David Tennant was very definitely not Christopher Eccleston. One could see the direction that his "not being Christopher Eccleston" was going to take, even if he was going to fill in some of the details as he went along. Matt Smith, I'm afraid, very definitely is David Tennant. Same buffer zone between stylish and geeky clothing; same arrogance; same habit of fast-talking his way out of problems. So far his unique selling point seems to be his child-friendliness. He made friends with Amy when she was a child: he keeps interacting with children and empathizing with children. Tennant would not, I think, have made so much out of the line about "when grown ups tell you everything's going to be fine..."

The beginning and the end of episode 1 were very strong. I didn't see either punchline coming. But the middle seemed to be in the very worst tradition of New Who. We have a monster which makes no sense whatsoever, but which the Doctor can exorcise using fast-talk and gobbledegook. Yes, the Doctor pointedly saves the day without his magic wand or his magic box: but in the end, he saves it with a magic computer virus and because these are the kinds of alien prison guards whose attention can only be attracted with a special magic alien guard attracty telephone. I don't think this particularly mattered – the story wasn't about the shape shifting criminal or the giant eye-ball. But it's interesting that when we need some kind of threat to act as a background to the Doctor and Amy getting to know each other, the new series still defaults to "puzzle aliens defeated by the magic internet" rather than, say, "men in rubber suits who want to conquer the earth".

Am I alone in finding it a little queasy that something which is explicitly constructing itself as kid-friendly includes quite so much innuendo? I understand that everyone else in the whole world thinks that the only notable thing about That Superhero Movie was that one of the characters used the word "Cunt". But That Superhero Movie was marketed as being for persons over the age of 15. Jokes about internet pornography and a lady not turning round when a gentleman is undressing seem a little... well... preferable to R.T.D. making toilet jokes every five minutes, actually.

The Beast Below I thought was very good indeed. The whole thing was driven by Big Red Buttons of the most shameless kind. There was really no way you could work backwards and imagine anyone actually building that space station. If you were leaving the earth because the earth's resources were running out, furnishing your schoolrooms with the kinds of desks that were obsolescent when I was at school would be rather more trouble than using modern ones, I think. (Do modern kids look at that scene and say "Oh, a rather traditional English classroom?" as opposed to "Why are those children sitting at funny tables?") And it's hard to see why anyone would say "Hey, make the surveillance cameras and the security robots look like seaside mannequins of the kind no-one can remember". But that didn't seem to matter, because we were clearly in the realm of Alice in Wonderland via The Prisoner. A dream/nightmare of England; a big floating metaphor. The imagery worked. I liked the idea of a spaceship where the transport tubes are still styled like the London Underground.

The Big Terrible Secret felt kind of like a lift from Ursula Le Guin but it was genuinely big, genuinely terrible and genuinely secret. I thought that the moral dilemma really worked nicely. I thought that the confrontation between the Doctor and Amy, though it came a bit too quickly, was convincing. I thought that the Doctor and Amy having the hearts-to-heart looking out into space was way too much like the End of the World. I thought the final pull-away at the end was much too much like the final pull-away at the end of Girl in the Fireplace: only there wasn't much point in it because we'd already been told about the whale.

It's a real problem that Doctor Who is now so much about the Doctor (as opposed to being about the places he goes and the people he meets). This is maybe why Smith is so much like Tennant: Tennant has so redefined the role - not the mannerisms, but what the Doctor is, that if Smith wasn't like Tennant he would run the risk of not being the Doctor. Only two stories after the regeneration, and it is already all about being old and sad and the only one of your kind. And this would not be so bad if Moffat didn't feel the need to lay it on with a bloody trowel. The Giant Space Whale, apparently, is old, and sad and the only one of its kind, but therefore it is kind, specifically, kind to children. At the beginning of the episode, we see the Doctor being kind to a child, and his whole relationship with Amy is based on having been kind to her when she was a child. This is extremely unsubtle.

But at the climax of the story, Amy has to explain that the Whale is old and sad and the only one of its kind, and therefore kind, especially to children, the camera pans to the Doctor and soppy music plays – as if the comparison was too obscure and buried for us to work out by ourselves. And then, at the end of the episode, Amy goes through it all over again. The Whale is old, and sad, and the last of it's kind, unable to decide what it wants for breakfast. "Sound a bit familiar?" Yes, fine, we got the message, could we move on now?

In the old days we knew that the Doctor was either a fugitive or an exile. But only rarely did he meet characters who were fugitives and exiles, and if he did, he didn't feel the need to say "Oh,did I mention? I'm a fugitive and an exile myself".

So: to over praise because they're not RTD, or to under praise because we don't want to set ourselves up for another disappointment? It's only a TV show, after all. It's not like I'm breathlessly willing it not to suck and can only really watch it properly on the second viewing. Let's go for a qualified, but still quite enthusiastic thumbs up.

Fanboy says new Who "quite good", shock.

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John Peacock said...

I actually think there's a twist a-coming. My wife thinks I'm mad to think that, but there it is. Just add it to the list of reasons my wife thinks I'm mad. At any rate, the things that seem odd - the indeterminate time of the first episode (and it contains some almost flash-frame oddnesses as well) or the self-conscious Britishness of the second - might well turn out to be part of the twist.

(Clue - where did the Doctor and the swimming pool find themselves during all the hoo-hah at the beginning of ep 1?)

Mike Taylor said...

I'd agree with nearly all of that, and I'm more enthusiastic overall than you (or maybe just a bit less guarded). For the first time in a couple of years, I now find myself eagerly looking forward to Saturday evening because I really, really want to see the new episode.

The one area where I don't agree with you is on the Tennantness of Matt Smith. In the first episode, yes, and it did worry my at the time. But I think that in The Beast Beneath we saw a very different Doctor: thoughtful, observant, not "wacky" for the sake of it but unpredictable for good and specific reasons (as when putting that bloke's glass of water on the floor). With Smith, I feel that we're in the presence of a truly *intelligent* Doctor, one who sees things more quickly than I would or recognises their significance more rapidly; whereas Tennant would just leap unhindered to the conclusion without all that tedious mucking about actually working things out. (It's an interesting exercise to go through TBB and imagining how each part would have worked out had this been an RTD/Tennant episode rather than Moffat/Smith.)

By the way, anyone who's interested in my take on TBB might like to look at my own blog entry about it, at -- and follow the link from there for my review of The Eleventh Hour if you like.

SK said...

Though he may have rarely felt the need to open up about his past, the bits that everyone remembers are the bits when did: 'they sleep in my mind'. The new series is deliberately trying, as it has done since 2005, to construct such iconic moments (presumably in the hope that there will be a rather higher concentration of them than in 1967).

I, also, don't see much of the tenth Doctor in the eleventh, now: more of the seventh (or, as an astute friend of mine pointed out, more of the same bits of the second that were also seen in the seventh).

Finally, I think you've missed the point of the computer virus. The whole point is that it's not a 'special magic alien guard attracty telephone'. The sonic screwdriver is the 'magic alien guard attracty' thing that he just has to press and it would do the job, and that ability is explicitly removed from him. The telephone he uses as part of an actual plan to attract the aliens' attention (cause a worldwide event that they can't miss; do it in such a way that when they trace it back it comes to something mobile, that he can have in the same room as the Prisoner). The screwdriver he pressed the button and it did what was necessary for the plot (eg, attract the alien guards) -- that he doesn't get that option this time, that he has to instead come up with a plan using what's to hand (and the convenient way computer viruses work in the Doctor Who universe, but I think we're agreed that to ask computers to work in Doctor Who the way they do in the real world is like complaining that spinning wheels don't actually have a sufficient power source for elemental tramsutation, right?) is, I think, something of a mission statement.

SK said...

Oh, and: I thought the same as you (that the second scene explaining the Doctor's similarity to the Space Whale was over-egged; we got it the first time!) but someone pointed out that actually that scene's slightly mis-emphasised: the story point it's there for is not to repeat what happened for the duller members of the audience, but to emphasise that the Doctor didn't get it the first time around. Amy knows him better than he knows himself -- he still hasn't looked in a mirror for more than ten seconds.

That's also why people claiming that Amy is 'smarter than the Doctor' and this is 'character assassination' are wrong: she's not smarter than him, she just has more information. She can see something he can't: him.

The second scene is mean to to get that across; it doesn't, quite, possibly because it's a very hard thing to do for an audience that's used to the modern 'touch an idea and then on to the next' style, to revisit an idea from a different perspective -- to show that two characters could have different perspectives -- without immediately tripping said audience's 'seen this already, get on to the next thing' detectors.

Phil Masters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Masters said...

I've already made my comments on "The Eleventh Hour" (see blog passim); in brief, yeah, it seemed like Moffat marking time and repeating himself. "The Beast Below" just struck me as weak, I'm afraid - the plot and setting didn't engage me much (possibly because I watch as an SF fan rather than as a fairytale fan), and didn't have time to develop properly in the 45 minutes, despite which, it did feel like we were being told every important thing twice (however good the characterisation reasons for that). It also suffered from the stock genre implausibility of a dystopia which was assumed to just vanish in a puff of niceness when the reason for its existence was removed. (I thought that the first season of noohoo had a clear illustration of why the Doctor's policy of vaguely sabotaging dystopias and then bogging off was bleedin' irresponsible.)

Sophie Okonedo was good, though.

SK said...

Not so much 'marking time', I think, as 'setting out his stall' -- which of course involves repeating himself, as he's not going to take a radically different tack than he has done in his episodes before.

Gavin Burrows said...

He's the fairy tale raggedy Doctor that had breakfast with Little Amy and he's the super-sexy complex man who Big Amy handcuffed to the radiator. And that double vision is not a bad reflection of what the programme has become: maybe what it always was.

If you keep making these insightful observations, which no-one else has thought of but sound obvious as soon as you say them, I will turn up at your house armed with a sharpened sense of envy!

And maybe, in "the language of the night" the Doctor really is and only ever should be Amy's imaginary friend; and the monsters are really only her nightmares

Absolutely agree with this, and the point made later about Amy seeing the Doctor in a way he can’t. (That may well have worked if done immediately, straight on the back of the first reveal, so we were less likely to think we’d just reached Summing Up Stage.)

However if (as some are already speculating) this is made into a Big Plot Twist, like the whole thing’s happening in Amy’s mind in some ‘Life On Mars’ scenario, that would ruin everything. Fans have a “better out than in” philosophy, in which whatever is implicit is better made explicit. Taking such a turn would be a classic demonstration of how wrong they are.

whereas Tennant would just leap unhindered to the conclusion without all that tedious mucking about actually working things out

At times not. Such as in the already-mentioned ‘Satan Pit” where he confronts the physical form of the Devil and (joy of joys) stops to work out what’s going on! But these exceptions stand out because they are just that. You would win this argument on points rather handsomely.

Spike said...

I have kept episodes 1 and 2 on tape (well on bytes really but I am a fuddy duddy like you) as I could not bear the risk of disappointment. I am a coward. Then tonight I watched them all at once. 5 out 10, I think.

Beast Below was good. It was, as you note, fantastical, allegorical even, with more than a hint of trowel. But it had internal consistency. It was the best so far and if that standard is maintained, I will be converted back to a Who-watcher. I lack the obvious deep masochism that permitted, or compelled, you to watch X years of RTD.

Episode 1 was, exactly as you say, good at the beginning and end but weak and formulaic in the middle. As a fuddy duddy I object generically to the necessity for stroboscopic pace and constant running around, shouting and explosions. But this is no doubt essential to keep the younger generation from switching to the Wii, and it is endemic to all popular media, not just Dr Who.


Spike said...

Victory of the Daleks (it occurs to me there is a finite limit of Dalek episodes, limited to the number of nouns or other substantives that can be prefixed to "of the Daleks) was a bit of nonsense. The Daleks are bathetic, and the Doctor is made to look histrionic by babbling about the apocalyptic threat from what have become comedy aliens. This is surprising because RTD was able to milk real dread from the Daleks, and more power to him there. This episode is noise and light.

The plot fails on at least two points: the rump Daleks' entire strategem is to trick the Doctor into vouching for them to the neo-Daleks. However, as the rump Daleks clearly already know, it is irrelevant whether the neo-Daleks recognise them as Daleks or not - they will at best recognise them as unter-Daleks and exterminate them. Neo-Dalek recognition is an unnecessary irrelevance, and the rump Daleks know it. So their plan is pointless. They could've simply created the neo Daleks in some safe point in space free from Time Lord interference and even knowledge.

Secondly, the tactical device of threatening London is only necessary when the Doctor is on their ship and while the Daleks still believe him to be a plan. Once he is hiding in the TARDIS and the Doomsday device is known to be a common household confection, there is no point in proceeding with the feeble plan (and incidentally, why wouldn't even a critically damaged Dalek ship be capable of incinerating London, something from the Dalek's point of view indistinguishable from a Stone Age village made of cow dung?). At this point the Daleks, with the future of their race at stake, should set their time machine and get the F. O. in 30 rels. If they're feeling vindictive, how about just activating the planet-busting singularity without telling anyone, maybe taking out the Doctor if they're lucky and certainly salving their bruised pride. For that matter, why not threaten the Doctor with the Oblivion device in the first place, rather than using the Luftwaffe as their proxies (using their curious dish which presumably not only locks generators in the "On" position but freezes switches, jams fuses, locks plugs in sockets, immobilises cables, and makes light bulbs not just un-unscrewable but indestructible). Convenient of a Luftwaffe raid to be imminent just at the exact minute the Doctor has them by the goolies, otherwise their dish would've been no use whatsoever. Lucky Daleks eh?

As a third objection, I was also going to complain that in the beginning of the episode a single unter-Dalek disposes of 8 or so WWII aircraft in 2 seconds, whereas at the end of episode the new master-Daleks of the Universe cower in fear before a single WWII aircraft. We can surmise that the Spitfire may be fitted with Dalek personal guns, or maybe even something bigger, along with anti gravity powers and some kind of atmosphere bubble. And, though there is no evidence whatsoever of it, we can grudgingly grant that perhaps the Spitfire has some kind of defensive field on it that is proof versus the neo-Dalek's personal guns. So with generosity we can let the author off from that point, but the plot still fails on the other 2.

The Daleks carrying files around and bringing cups of tea were very funny though.

Greg G said...

"The plot fails on at least two points: the rump Daleks' entire strategem is to trick the Doctor into vouching for them to the neo-Daleks."

No. The Stratagem was to trick the Doctor into vouching for them to the Progenitor device into activating so it would create the neo-Daleks. The old Daleks always knew they'd die if they succeeded.

"Secondly, the tactical device of threatening London is only necessary when the Doctor is on their ship and while the Daleks still believe him to be a plan. "

It was a bit silly, yes, but there's no reason for them to turn the lights off, either. They are known for being petty.

It would have been good for the story to make the point itself, but I'm assuming that the old Daleks tried the first plan because they weren't sure the Progenitor was going to work and that they might need to try again (did their Android actually build the two green Daleks? I don't know). When the new Daleks came out, they no longer had any need for Earth at all.

Dr. Mabuse said...

dI worry about how the Amy character will develop. In some long-ago piece, you wrote that the Companions are stand-ins for us, the viewers. We get to experience the adventures of the Doctor through a character who is unremarkable and can reflect our sense of wonder and amazement at being caught up in something extraordinary and otherworldly. Their bewilderment and confusion is just what we would feel, because they were randomly caught up in a great adventure. It's one of the best story-telling devices, and a sure way of hooking the reader; I'm not a princess or a Chosen One, I'm just an ordinary person, and yet here I am, swept away on this wild adventure.

Episode One started off in the right way - Amy wasn't a "special" child, not a savant or an extra-sensitive empath, she was just a little girl scared of the crack in her wall and the strange noises. It seemed right that the Doctor would just happen onto a scene where something bizarre was going on - as you said, he's like her Fairy Godfather who just appears when he's needed.

There seemed strong reminders of the Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe - Lucy and her siblings were never made out to be "special" children, they just happened to be on the spot when an adventure occurred. And even the same misunderstandings occurred - Lucy meeting a Faun and no one believing her. In the original BBC TV adaptation, I even remember a scene of Lucy in her lonely isolation drawing a picture of Mr. Tumnus, only to be scoffed at by Edmund - just like Amy's drawings of the Doctor. Plus the whole "Twenty minutes in the Tardis turns into 12 years on Earth" was similar.

But when grown-up Amy comes on the scene, I felt it all beginning to shift gears, and I think I can already outline the shape of the entire coming season. Already, she's not "just like us". She's emotionally messed up, and it's partly the Doctor's fault. She'd already lost her parents at the beginning, but then the Doctor left without returning, TWICE - so she's got "abandonment issues". She's going to have to "learn to trust". And there's that waiting wedding dress; naturally, she has to come to terms with "making a commitment". I have the horrible feeling that Amy isn't going on the Tardis for adventure, as we would. She's going on a journey of personal discovery, or healing, or some such. In other words, the Doctor is going to "fix" her, which will make the whole series even MORE Doctor-centric than ever, only with yet another head case thrown in for more angst.

Spike said...

Ooh yeah I have that sinking feeling about Amy too. The art of drawing characters who are merely life-sized, and the importance of doing so, seems to have been lost.

Back to Incomprehensible Plan of the Daleks. Well incomprehensible to me at any rate. OK so fair enough the Doctor must vouch that the khaki Daleks are kosher, merely in order for the Progenitor device to agree to activate. I'm vaguely aware there was some human-Dalek gene splicing going on earlier, and if I'm vaguely aware then perhaps the typical viewer can be expected to know that (despite explicit mention). The Progenitor devices are equipped with hi-res gene scanners, no doubt. Do we have any idea who built the Progenitor devices and stuffed them with re-purified Dalek DNA, presumably in a cocktail of steroids? Were they built by pre-contamination Daleks? If so, how am I the humble viewer supposed to know that? If not, how bloody stupid are the Daleks to build the Progenitor devices, such that they can only be activated with the written permission of their arch-enemy? A somewhat excessive safeguard, methinks.

Plus I'm sick of this illiterate use of "DNA" to mean 'essence', in this case 'essence with concrete memories capable of authenticating the true identity of a particular shape-changing humanoid'. Maybe "DNA" is now just a Dawkins-friendly word for "soul"?

Also, what gives with the synchronised timeline between the Doctor and the Daleks? In case we forgot, this is 1940, so what are the odds that these Daleks have the same recent history of Doctor-Dalek interaction as the Doctor does? Their last memory of him is the same as his last memory of them. Are the Daleks like Time Lords then, with a timeline that exists independently of time? Or do we just have lazy writers for whom time-travel paradox can be turned on and off at will.

Oh well it's only telly isn't it. You get the occasional good writer who has the ocasional good day, and the rest of the time it's rubbish. Apart from The Wire of course. ;)

Greg G said...

The last episode of Dr Who I watched was "Dalek" back in 2005, and I found the plot in this episode easy to follow.

Haven't rewatched the episode yet, but do they actually say "DNA"? I got the impression the device was rather something more than a test tube.

Again, people seem to be expecting Daleks to be rational beings. When has that ever been the case? They have been commonly portrayed as being obsessed with racial hygiene. It made sense to be they'd have some kind of safeguard on a device such as this.

Tynam said...

Spike: I don't have a problem with the plan. Greg G's right on this one; I rather like that the dalek's racism is a plot point here.

Sequence of events (on the dalek's personal timeline, not the universe's):

1) Original daleks built and hid a make-more-daleks box for emergencies.
(Pretty typical dalek thinking)

2) They make sure only a dalek can open it. Being daleks, they have some pretty rigid ideas about how to prove you're a dalek. They build a lock to match.

3) Acceptable keys include (and may not be limited to):
a) A DNA scan showing you're a dalek.
b) Evidence from anyone the daleks trust to identify a dalek correctly. (A list presumably limited mostly to daleks and time lords.)

4) There being almost no daleks left, it's an emergency. Damaged last-of-the-new-daleks go find the box.

5) Following all the series 1 guff, the daleks have too much human DNA and the lock won't open.
(Makes sense, except for the usual TV flagrant misunderstanding of DNA. The acceptance parameters for the lock were set by a bunch of racists. Who probably didn't understand DNA either; the daleks consistently suck at biology.)

6) So they use key B. They need an entity known to the original daleks (at the time the box was built) who can identify a dalek when he sees one.
There is only one choice.

7) They arrange a bluff guaranteed to attract the Doctor's attention, and likely to acquire the key they need.


I agree that Amy's eye-roll when talking about having a crush gave me that sinking feeling. I'm hoping that the point is, at least, for her to grow up and get away from having her crush.

Phil Masters said...

Tynam's understanding of the plot of episode 3 entirely agrees with mine. It had a degree of internal consistency. Which didn't save it from being utter tosh, mind you.

Who[?] - especially 21st century Who[?] - is or has become science fantasy - a notoriously bastardised term among people with any knowledge of genre history, neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring - or more politely, a post-modernist fairy tale. So individual episodes are likely to include any number of yawning abyssal plot holes and vague hand-waves (like deactivating a robot's externally triggered self-destruct circuit by persuading it that it's like got human emotions, man, you know), and we're not supposed to complain.

However, there are the elements of a half-decent program in there, combining the classic Who[?] plot structure with half-decent modern FX operated by a competent production staff, so it may be worth hanging in there, just to see how well each individual episode happens to come out, and don't worry too much about the iffy running stuff with the assistant's emotional problems or the glowing cleft in time or whatever.