Friday, December 27, 2013

Nobody Cares and Nobody Demands Better

I had another article scheduled, but a topic came up and I need to vent a bit.

The last couple of months have seen the release of two episodes of the classic series Doctor Who.  If you haven't seen it, um, seriously, it's existed for 50 years now, surely you would have heard of it.  Doesn't matter, you don't need to know anything about it, and if you do know of Doctor Who, no spoilers here because, again, it isn't important.

What's important is the response I've seen to both episodes.  The first was the 50th anniversary episode of the series, and the second was on Christmas day and was a passing of the torch type episode.  Both episodes are damn big events within the Who fandom.  Both had some flaws (nothing is perfect).  Both were also accused of ruining the franchise (or some equivalent there of).

That last part is very annoying to me.  I watched both episodes as they were released (in the US at least) and enjoyed them quite a bit.  I saw some of the flaws, the niggly bits that cause issues, but none were deal breakers, not just for the episode, but the series in general.  Yet the screaming and yelling on both are loud.  One person, whose reviews I respect, hated the "big moment" of the Christmas episode and followed it with a string of scathing tweets (no, I wont' link them) about it.

That big moment he accused of being a Deus Ex Machina, a god in the machine.  Old term, usually referring to how Greeks would end plays that they couldn't figure out how to resolve by having a god come down and sort shit out.  Was that big moment one?  In my estimation, no.  It was set up pretty early on in the series that this was possible and the trail was laid down in a way that it worked.

The same thing was said about the "big moment" in the 50th anniversary, and that moment was a kind of retcon.  Many screamed at how it ruined the main character, and most of the revived series (the series was dead for a couple decades) was now pointless.  I disagree again, as it really didn't change anything with the rest of the modern series, it didn't lessen anything about it.  It LIBERATED the series from it, granting it a new breath, a new birth, and the chance to get beyond it.  Before that moment was changed, it had done it's job, it had explored the depth of the character, but it wasn't needed any more, and removing it opened the character up to a new path.

This rage reminds me of the end of the modern Battlestar Galactica series.  Everyone loved the first hour of that 2 hour finale.  The second hour, however, will come with a lot of venom.  An UNGODLY amount of venom.  Maybe it was because this was the first major sci-fi series to be completely within the information age, picked apart by the internet episode by episode, but the end of that series raised a stink I can still feel.  And I liked it.  I couldn't understand the hate for it, I still can't.

So why?  Why does this kind of thing exist?  It's easy to say "well it's the internet," but I think it's more than that.  The title of this article "Nobody Cares and Nobody Demands Better" is a quote from that person I mentioned earlier.  I think that's the root of the problem, and not true in the least.  The problem?  Many have placed their bar of expectations far, far too high.  They want every episode, every movie, every comic to be the best EVAR!  Okay, that's fine, as I said before, critics want creators to and their creations to be better.  BETTER, not BEST.  Nothing is perfect.  Perfection, however, is demanded, but perfection varies from person to person.  One man's Deus Ex Machina is another's clever use of a plot device, a retcon is a necessary liberation and an epilogue is the fulfillment of a promise made decades ago.

It's also super focused.  The 50th anniversary episode and the Christmas episode are actually one after another, in sequence.  There's a hidden time gap, but they are the are together.  In fact, I would reach back as far as the last regular episode of the last season, so 3 episodes, all related to each other.  The fact that they are titled "The Name of the Doctor" "The Day of the Doctor" and "The Time of the Doctor" should have been a clue they are not meant to stand alone.  Yet one of the first comments I saw about the last one was "When you paint yourself into a corner, walking on the paint is not an acceptable option."

What if the plan was to walk on the paint all along?  Or maybe you missed the path that wasn't painted over that lead out?  As I said, that last big moment was spelled out as possible from very early on in the revived series, and with the events of the previous episode, could have been done at this point.  Was this intentional or the normal outgrowth of the script?  No idea, and we likely never will know the truth.

So does nobody demand better?  Well, no, they do.  There was a time when the various entertainment markets could get away with shoveling out crap, but good things still came out, they were praised and elevated above the rest.  There's an old adage that 99% of everything is crap, and while I don't strictly agree with it, most stuff isn't good because there is SO much of it out there.  Diamonds in the rough are hard to find.  Demanding better is why there is so much out there, because they were looking for diamonds all along.
Were those 3 episodes of two different series bad?  God no, they were quite good.  Perhaps not great, but that's fine, I'll take good.  Great would have been amazing, but that doesn't happen often, if it did, it wouldn't be as great, now would it?

Rant over.

Before I move on, I finally got a new job.  It shouldn't interfere with my updating this site, but if it does, I'll make sure to say something.

Next time, I can't live without, until then kiddies.

No comments:

Post a Comment