The Power of Three
Amy and Rory are struggling to come to grips with their unusual lifestyle. They are both a married suburban couple and a pair of time and space travelling champions who occasionally cross swords with nasties who threaten all of creation. Whereas the modern Doctor Who has repeatedly hammered home the message that the pedestrian lifestyle is unacceptable, the Ponds are realizing that it’s what they want. But just as they are about to make the big move to a real life, a new cataclysm arrives, ‘the slow invasion.’ The puzzling arrival of featureless black cubes across the planet has even the Doctor nonplussed and he reluctantly decides to move in with the Ponds for the duration until the answers present themselves.
If The Power of Three was actually about the Doctor living with Amy and Rory that would have been somewhat interesting, but even Chibnall could barely muster up enough interest to give us a quick montage. I’m not exactly interested in that (this was already covered in the series 5 story The Lodger to great effect. It’s barely even about what Amy and Rory are like without the Doctor because if seeing is believing Amy does sweet FA while Rory busts his skinny arse at the hospital.
The arrival of U.N.I.T. and its new leader Kate Stewart (complete with hand-held tri-corder/mobile phone) also fails to make much of an impact because its all so very boring. I do like Jemma Redgrave as the new head of U.N.I.T. but the decision to downplay her character left her little to actually do aside from be somewhat (but not too) plucky and clever.
The planet (well, England) has been invaded far too many times to count since 2005, so all that is left is for this story to put an interesting spin on it. The result is the pet rock invasion. That should be the actual title.
Aliens attack humanity using our gullibility and sheer stupidity by dropping scanning devices on our front lawns that we dutifully take in doors and keep as pets. When a year passes and people suddenly start dropping like stones it should have been viewed as a mercy killing rather than a disaster. People are so dumb that the press idly wonder if it’s some kind of viral marketing gimmick.
I was reminded of this time a few electronic devices appeared on a prominent bridge in Boston. It was immediately shut down and the bomb disposal squad was called in only to find that in this case it really was a marketing device (for Aqua Teen Hunger Force).
This has to be one of the all time most moronic stories I have ever watched, be it Doctor Who or Bullwinkle and Rocky. It makes absolutely no sense, serves no purpose and in the end frantically tries to serve up some kind of ‘message about the goodness of the human race’ at the viewer with nothing to back it up.
There were several moments that were so hackneyed and poor that I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare where Russell T Davies came back to the program and all hope was lost.
There were several moments that were so hackneyed and poor that I felt like I was stuck in a nightmare where Russell T Davies came back to the program and all hope was lost. Companion narration, blurred edits, celebrity cameos, pop culture references, madcap zany comedy, TV news anchors staring at me in a strobe of successive scenes of info-dumping and the inevitable ‘humanity is so great’ speech at the end. The only difference was that Davies would have made it a two parter and placed the cliff-hanger with the Doctor having a hear attack. The second part would have had the exact same plot points as this episode, just with extended scenes of the companion crying as the program tried to fake the viewer into thinking that the Doctor was dead.
That raises another problem that I have with Doctor Who (and Torchwood, for that matter), it lacks any understanding of the concept of death, its meaning and consequences. I mean, we see epidemics where people drop dead like droids in a Lucas film and it has just as little impact because the program has told us several times over that there are no consequences. If you doubt that, I refer you to the time the Doctor restarted the universe by recreating the Big Bang (something that Red Dwarf would use as a clever joke Doctor Who now relies upon as a plot device).
As another (far more well written) review stated, The Power of Three is hampered by the new series format. The short run time demands that a good 3/4 of the story is set up and the resolution is a magic wand flourish. Added to that the ‘blink and you miss them’ alien invaders and you’re left wondering what the point of all that was. The Doctor and the Ponds did not have an epiphany, the aliens harmed no one, U.N.I.T. was re-introduced and useless and the Doctor just hit the reset button on the magic box devices to save humanity. So… what was that for?
The only saving grace (again) was the cast. Smith was just superb (aside from the cringe-worthy Saturday Night Fever dance after coming back to life) and both Gillan and Darvill held their ground with some execrable material. Returning guest star Mark Williams (of Red Dwarf and the criminally under-rated and unavailable Strangerers) was very nice if you ignore the fact that he is a stand-in for Bernard Cribbins. Why the program feels the need to dangle the possibility that something may actually happen after showing people die then come right back to life as if they’d just had a snooze I have no idea.
Next week: ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’
Overnight ratings from Doctor WhoTV:
1. Asylum of the Daleks – 6.4 million (overnight) 8.33 million (final figure)
2. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – 5.5 million (overnight) 7.57 million (final figure)
3. A Town Called Mercy – 6.6 million (overnight) 8.42 million (final figure)
4. The Power of Three – 5.5 million (overnight) TBA (final figure)
5. The Angels Take Manhattan