Friday, October 22, 2010

Doctor Who Live Review

Last Saturday was a busy day for us. In the afternoon, we'd gone to the Strictly roadshow in Edinburgh and we went virtually straight from there to the SECC in Glasgow to see Doctor Who Live, touted as:
"an out-of-this-world experience featuring many of the television show's most popular monsters and images. Special effects, optical illusions and fantastic pyrotechnics accompany specially edited video clips and exclusively filmed scenes starring Matt Smith as the Doctor.
The iconic scores of Doctor Who's composer, Murray Gold, are brought to life by a band of live musicians on stage as the Doctor battles to save the World"
Daddy Alex was lovely and sent us a recording of Genesis of the Daleks for my birthday, but we were both suffering from withdrawal symptoms from Matt Smith and the wonderful writing of Steven Moffat. 

We had originally booked for the first scheduled showing on Thursday 14th, but about a month ago, we had a letter from Ticket Soup to say that the performance had been cancelled for "technical reasons". I wonder if those reasons included not selling very many tickets because even on Saturday the arena was not what you would call full. I was really annoyed, though, because I had paid for decent seats near the front and our new seats were on the absolute extremities of the arena so our view was very restricted. That was really unfair and I'm taking that up with Ticket Soup separately, especially as there were much better seats, which weren't even as good as we'd originally booked sitting empty.

Having said that, although Anna loves Doctor Who, the idea of having the monsters, especially the Cybermen, actually walking around near her scared the living daylights out of her more than I'd anticipated. Her face was a mixture of terror and amazement for most of the show. For the rest she hid under my coat. I wondered at the beginning if it was all a bit too scary for her, but Winston Churchill, played by Nicholas Briggs, saved the day by making her laugh. It would have been good to have seen more of him throughout the show because his brief interlude was definitely one of the highlights.

The story was basically that an inter-galactic showman, Vorgenson, played by Nigel Planer had managed to capture many of our favourite Doctor Who monsters and kept them inside a device called the Minimiser. The Doctor gets wind of this and tries to stop him, fearing what that crew, combined, could inflict on the universe.

It was a good enough story, with a few bangs and whistles, and the live band was spectacular. It was quite strange to see them carry on playing despite the mayhem that was going on around them. To be honest, though, I felt that there was something missing from the performance. I guess it didn't help that the main character on stage, the one holding it all together, was such an unsufferable twit. He was just a prat, and not even that good a showman. Maybe he needed a bit more pure evil about him. Nor were there any female characters. Surely they could have filmed some stuff with Karen as well as Matt - maybe have had Vorgenson kidnap her as a way to get to the Doctor. I think that would have helped get the audience on side sooner - and  also offered another opportunity for interaction, for giving us a role in moving the plot forward, perhaps by making us shout something to attract the Doctor's attention, or something.

For much of the first half, I felt that I had paid an extortionate amount just to see footage from the last series on a big screen, which I could look at any time on my Sky Plus box at home. It took a while before the plot really warmed up.

There was noise and kerfuffle and flying daleks and sparks, and smoke and cybermen. For the first time since the Battle of Canary Wharf at the end of Season 2 of the new series, we had dialogue between the Daleks and Cybermen. To be honest, it wasn't as humorously full of mutual disdain as that initial encounter, but I still want an anti dalekanium plasma gun. Just in case, you understand. BBC, please note merchandising opportunity.

It's only right that the BBC should find a use for the expensive costumes it's created, to give them an airing and make some money out of them, and Doctor Who Live is a good way of doing it. I think the detail needs sharpening up, but I'd still recommend going to see it. 

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