Monday, 9 June 2014
Gridlock written by Russell T Davies and directed by Richard Clark
This story in a nutshell: The Doctor gets stuck in Bank Holiday traffic!
Mockney Dude: The look on the Doctor’s face when Martha suggests that they visit the world of the Time Lords fully justifies the junking of Gallifrey, its staggeringly emotional. The Doctor talks about Gallifrey with such poetry now so clearly he didn’t know what he had until it was gone because he used to slag them off terribly! Wild eyed and rain slicked, he looks like a force of nature dashing about the back streets of New New York seeking out his companion. Tennant screams ‘MAAAAAARFAAAAA!’ in exactly in the same way McCoy always used to scream ‘HAAAAACE!’ so maybe he has had tips from the fellow Scotsman. His wrath towards the mood sellers is frightening, when the Doctor discovered the Vraxion smuggling in Nightmare of Eden he was quietly appalled but after all the events in his life since then all of that kind of quiet pretence has dropped away and he really goes for them. Only the Doctor would consider jumping onto the roof of the next car down, its completely insane…and a bit magnificent. When Brannigan calls him a magician you can’t help but believe him. If you ever need a reminder of how good David Tennant was in the role go and watch the last scene that he makes extremely emotional without having to raise his voice. It always makes me prickle at the eyes. If you needed a reminder that this guy is the Doctor then catch the furious climax as he rushes from one crisis to another and tears down the walls that is keeping this civilisation trapped. Sometimes Davies got it absolutely spot on.
Marvellous Martha: I can understand why people didn’t enjoy Martha’s mooning over the unobservant Doctor but I found it infinitely preferable to Rose’s jealousy act in the second season. I find Martha a much more likable, less selfish character so even if I want to slap her around the face and tell her to get a life (which always makes me punch the air with delight in Last of the Time Lords when she finally tells him to get off) I still feel really sorry for her. It doesn’t help that the clueless Doctor is taking her to the same places he took Rose (ever heard of rebound) except Martha gets the slums where Rose had the palaces. I really enjoyed Martha ripping the honesty patch from Cheen when she discovered she was pregnant, hostage or not Martha is still a Doctor in training. Her reaction to being told 10 miles will take them 6 years is a scream and even better is her ‘wow, that’s like…crazy!’ at the extreme lack of speed that is spoken about in some awe. Sometimes she thinks the Doctor likes her but sometimes she thinks he just needs someone around. It's crazy (but understandable) that these girls are all making the same hasty decisions, like Rose Martha didn’t even think about the consequences of travelling with the Doctor and her family wouldn’t even know if she were to die on another planet. Martha expresses incredible faith in the Doctor, which is always lovely to see although hardly justified given their brief time together. She gets her very first scream as the Macra casually tosses the car about. I love the way she sits down on the chair like a stubborn child, refusing to leave until the Doctor tells her about his past. The moment they share at the climax brings them closer together.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘They don’t exactly look like Empire builders to me!’
‘You Are Not Alone.’
The Shallow Bit: Travis Oliver is one of the sexiest things Doctor Who ever dished up. Freema Agyeman somehow manages to be smoking hot without ever feeling as though she is trying.
Result: Even by Doctor Who’s standards this story is weird. No other show would produce something as insanely unique as Gridlock and every time that happens it makes me love the show just that little bit more. There are plenty of layers (in both a narrative and emotional sense) to Davies New New Earth from the Underworld dodgy dealing to the people trapped on the motorway to the epic landscape of the city above, we travel up these layers a learn so much about this world as we do. Gridlock manages to explore its world in some depth because we are always on the move, juggle some whacky concepts and characters, exciting with some visually arresting set pieces and delivering a handful of some of the most emotive moments in the series to date. Not bad at all for a 45 minute episode that juggles a genuinely epic narrative. David Tennant seems so much more comfortable in series three and is delivering one knock-out performance after another (he's even better in series four where he reaches his zenith) and Freema Agyeman gets to carry a sub plot of her own and prove that she is no slough either. Aesthetically it is one of the bolder Doctor Who stories (whacky races would be an acceptable description) and every aspect of the production team is committed to pulling off Davies' vision with absolute conviction. I cannot predict what genre/subject Davies will attempt to conquer next, so far he has tried his hand at an intimate character study, a SF spectacular, political satire, post-modern commentary on reporting, two life and death end of season blockbusters, a Christmas invasion, screwball comedy, gothic horror/celebrity historical, a satire on Doctor Who fans (literally pulling the show inside out and proving how far it can be bent out of shape and still be Doctor Who) and an medical thriller on the moon. Now we can add a treatise on faith and forgiveness to that list all wrapped up in a deliciously oddball setting. He's the most unpredictable of Doctor Who writers (far more unpredictable than Moffat would prove to be when he became show-runner), always trying a stab at something new and very often achieving hugely entertaining results. Wait until his efforts in season four. This is Doctor Who and Davies in particular firing on all cylinders and shows the tenth Doctor and Martha shaping up to be an extremely effective team. Top drawer: 9/10