"...my lord!", to quote the second Blackadder, as this week's Doctor Who so nearly did. Alas, I cannot bring myself to award it more than half marks. Perhaps 4.5 out of 10. A few good lines in the script, but a bit of a mess overall, and...
...and here I digress for a moment. 21st century Who in general has a strong flavour of the old Who comics about it - particularly the very old Dalek comics, from which the end of series 1 took its Dalek flying saucer design. There's more than a hint in some of the more surprising TARDIS antics - flying through space at missiles, popping out of mid-air and crash-landing, hovering down the motorway, etc. Note also the general colour, brashness and "anything goes" attitude. But this story felt more like the sort of thing you get in an annual, the sort of two-page text story for which the entire brief is "Dr Who [sic] meets a famous historical figure", and the writer pads this with a few gags, a wafer-thin story and some laboured bits of dialogue of the play-ending "...Rexel 4" variety. Last year's second episode veered close to annual territory, but avoided it by the judicious use of wuxia monks, a werewolf and a better story.
At some point (probably in the next month or so) a fan who cares more than I did will reveal exactly how many sly Shakespearean references there were in this episode, and exactly how much of the script was written in iambic pentameter, and therefore exactly how clever we should all admit this episode to be. But cast your minds back to 1988: Silver Nemesis had Shakespearean references and iambic pentameter all over it, and it was, in a word, wank.
Particular lowlights: well, that bit of Shakespearean programming language at the end of Love's Labours Won for a start. The pre-credits monologue to camera, with that "Eeee-heheheheheee!" cackle at the end. Mother Doomfinger (the Bond villain that never was?) - I doubt she even scared the pre-teens. In fact, the witches in general. Presumably they felt they had to include a trio of cartoonish children's-story witches to get the "Shakespeareness" right, and yet they still got it wrong. (After all, the witches in Macbeth are mannish creatures (oddly enough, being played by men) with beards, who do their manipulating by psychology alone and who don't fly anywhere. The Carrionites weren't even right by regular myth-witch standards - instead of maiden, mother and crone they had two crones and called them both "Mother". Feh.) Oh yes, and: "Got to get used to this - whole new language - when are we?" Which is stretching the notion of "whole new language" a bit far, methinks.
If this poor spirit hath offended, think only this, and all is mended: that I rate this higher than Silver Nemesis. That's pretty faint praise, but there it is.
In other news, round at The Lovely Jo's folks' for Easter, to coo at week-old kittens and cop for some chocolate. More detailed Easter news may or may not follow at a later date.