But even as he basks in the perfected world, the title character admits that it still has its problems, but that this only adds to the joy of the new world. After all:
“Think of the tedium: A sky perpetually blue without the smallest cloud to ease monotony, a poem with no word misjudged, a diamond with no flaw.”
Perfection is never absolutely perfect. Nothing will be absolutely flawless – there will always be some imperfection on some level. It puts the whole thing in context, gives it life, gives it an organic taste.
Nobody is perfect. Nothing is perfect.
So why do Doctor Who fanboys cry like little babies when they don’t get that perfection in their choice of entertainment?
* * *
The latest episode of Doctor Who was on the other night and was bloody brilliant. Splashes of stone-cold genius, backed up by the sheer unashamed populism of the show. Appealing to the lowest common denominator is all well and good, especially when there is still something for the smart set. A farting Slitheen is easy to stomach when you get Christopher Eccleston two episodes later, fucking lighting up the world when the Doctor realises he can save everybody at the climax of Stevie Moffat’s first story. Just this once!
That’s been the hallmark of Russell T Davies’ revitalisation of Doctor Who – appeal to as many people as possible, from chavs who just like seeing one of their own save the universe to hardcore fans who dig into that awesome mountain of continuity built up on the show after the past four bloody decades.
Part one of The End of Time keeps that trend intact. There’s a café scene that has as much depth as anything else in the entire history of the series, because it’s one where the Doctor shows – for the first time ever - real, genuine fear at his coming end. There’s a marvelous and ridiculous climax that goes over the top, and then just keeps on going, with John Simms eating the shit out of every piece of scenery in sight. And then, just when that climactic screech is about to unleash, one of the basic founding stones of the past half-decade is ripped out of the series, with the Daltonator bringing the house down in the closing seconds.
So there is some unnecessary overage groping, the occasionally tacky special effect, some hamfisted Obama angle and plot holes that you could drive the Earth through.
* * *
The bits that make many geeks cringe are the bits that make their grandparents laugh. If you hate the slapstick, you hate your grandmother, and what sort of fucker hates their grandmother?
* * *
I really don’t get it.
What is this hunger for perfection? No work of art or entertainment is going to please everybody all of the time, because people just aren’t built like that. A moment like the transformation scene at the climax might seem genuinely creepy to some (especially with that horrible overpowered fluttering noise), while written off as pure cheese by others.
I know I shouldn’t feel too bad for Russ. He has brought back his favourite television show of all time, and made it more insanely popular than ever. It has been an absolute critical and commercial hit.
But I still feel for the poor Welshman when seeking out critical analysis of the latest episode. Hungry for analysis, the first three reviews I saw anywhere including the phrases “shower of shit”, “RTD does not understand how to do television” and the ultra-charming “everybody involved should have their home fire-bombed”.
Still, at least Davies has a sense of humour, and I’m sure he is delighted to see that the things often railed against by die-hard fans are the exact same things that have made the programme so ridiculously popular.
A bit of cheese, a piece of scenery chewing, this is the stuff the serious people hate, but make the show so popular in some wildly variant demographics.
Whatever Davies does, it will never be as good as the version in some people’s heads, the version that hits all their buttons and leaves the rest of us in the cold. The dim probability that these coruscating works of genius would actually find a mass audience seems to be lost on these misunderstood artists.
Complaining that a television show or book or comic is not as good as it should be is the easiest complaint of any viewer or reader. Easy snark makes easy criticism, but weary nihilism only appeals to moody teenagers and the melancholic elderly. Critics who maintain that they could do better – if they were only given the chance! – are the biggest dickheads of them all.
* * *
The ultimate question is – what do these people really want? They can bitch and moan about something they profess to love, but what do they really want?
A perfect episode, with nothing to complain about. Something that still manages to appeal to everybody, by giving them what they ask for.
Getting exactly what you want and expect?
How fucking boring would that be?
* * *
The final episode of the Davies/Tennant Doctor Who screens later this week. Then it’s off for more adventures in tine and space with a new face and a new style. It will probably be a bit cheesy, and a bit magnificent, and will have something for everybody.
Perfection isn’t required.