Fallout: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

tborakFallout: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos is proof that the writers of Doctor Who do not know how to work with consequences.  Maybe it’s the danger of having a 55 year old show but right down to the title, we see the absolute lack of understanding when it comes to fallout from an action.  You’re probably asking yourself: “what’s he mean”.  Well, the story is ill-titled, as I mentioned in my episode review.  Besides having the worst name in planetary history, only vaguely recalled because I’m a tech guy and AV is audio/visual and Kolos was a Klingon in classic Trek, there’s no reason to make such a badly named planet part of the title.  Then, news flash: there is no battle!  We’re seeing the aftermath, or the fallout, from the battle.  That lack of understanding precludes a lot of what we can say about the episode.  So a more accurate title was The Lack of a Battle on the Generically Named Science Fiction Planet.  Which is only slightly worse as a title, but at least it’s honest!

Then let’s call it like it is: the episode is effectively trying to say that the lack of good judgement on the Doctor’s part lead to Tim Shaw wrecking havoc on Ranskoor Audio Visual Klingon.  So in effect we’re smacking the Doctor on the wrist with a “all of this devastation could have been avoided if only you handled Tim Shaw more judiciously” only to end the episode on the “moral high ground” by doing the same damned thing again.  Thus, in a cohesive universe, which the writers of Doctor Who are abjectly against creating, we will come back in season 12 with The Ultimate Destruction of Khaless Tv RunningTotal where Tim Shaw has now beaten every nice race into submission in his quest for more teeth.  It’s senseless.  (The poor Ood!)

But the actual fallout from TBoRAK is two-fold.  On the one hand, there is this legendary planet with all these crashed ships at that heart of which is a floating citadel with no entry way.  Because no one would ever think “gee, I need to get in there” and you know… drill into it?  At which point, get ready for that episode I mentioned above.  It’s a veritable treasure trove waiting for any pirate worth his salt to come and scavenge.  Where is Hugh Bonneville these days?  Is he still on that pirate ship with his kid?  (See A Good Man Goes to War.)  Second, there’s now a race of people (which include Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey) who are basically gods and can create anything with a bit of hocus pocus.  So why are the Daleks even a threat when these guys could mentally pulverize the Daleks?  Because why not, that’s why!  That’s the level of thought going into it.  Hey, I wonder what would happen if the Bonneville’s pirate captain met Mrs. Hughes…

It’s very hard to talk about the fallout from an episode whose very nature is supposed to be addressing the fallout, but failing to do so on epic levels.  No ramifications from the simple lockup of Tim Shaw, short of the promise that one day, tooth-face will get out of that cell.  And no ramifications from the gods with bad skin.  The only thing we can hope is that the rag-tag batch of survivors become friends and maybe hang out on Argolis together and relax at the Leisure Hive.  Other than that, there’s not a lot of meat to this story.  And that’s unfortunate because it was Jodie’s first season finale, and it was absolutely not her fault that the episode was so weak!

The next episode will be interesting as it’s a fairly contained story and conveniently set on Earth.  Stay tuned next week…  ML

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2 Responses to Fallout: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos

  1. scifimike70 says:

    Understanding synchronicity is an easy way to understand consequence, as I pretty much learned from my own writing of Continuum City. Even more to your point, good SF writing demands much synchronicity. Scenes like in Part 2 of The Visitation, when the 5th Doctor was able to unlock that emergency hatch with the poacher’s arrow that quite conveniently made it into the escape pod, is one of countless examples in Dr. Who. Resolution, even if they wisely saved it for the New Year’s Special, was quite agreeably the better closure for S11. Thank you, ML.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. scifimike70 says:

    I was just viewing a 90s interview with Verity Lambert (from More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS) where she commented on how the classic Dr. Who began to lose audiences near the end due to how camp it was becoming. One can easily imagine how successful Dr. Who could be with both Verity and Jodie working together on it. I’m on record for how I’ve enjoyed Jodie’s time so far for being toned down in certain respects compared to previous seasons. I wouldn’t know about how politically correct it may seem in correspondence with the flack that much has received from fans (as I’ve read in scattered reviews for S11). Normally I don’t like to notice issues like that anyway, certainly not in Dr. Who and maybe it was Star Trek’s rationality for all walks of life that helped in that regard. I’m just thinking out loud. But maybe it’s my given regard for the feminine charisma that Verity established as the very first producer of Dr. Who.

    Originally, as Verity’s production of Dr. Who had established, the show had a proper balance and that went well through Troughton’s, Pertwee’s and most of T. Baker’s era. I’d first learned how to appreciate the natural benefits of camp thanks to Jack Nicholson in The Shining which has been considered to be the first epic-horror movie thanks to Stanley Kubrick. Verity herself pointed out how beneficial Dr. Who’s uniquely flexible format was. Yet it didn’t work for her years afterwards when it became more camp. With British SF shows that dispensed with camp made themselves known like Blake’s 7 (at least for its first two seasons), Sapphire & Steel and The Omega Factor, quite imaginably Dr. Who at that point could be seen more as science-fantasy, even with enough scientific realism thanks to writers like Andrew Smith for Full Circle. So what’s the best way now after the trials and tribulations of S11 for Dr. Who to recapture or refresh its magic?

    Liked by 1 person

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