Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Blogtor Who Top 50 - No. 39

Here it is! Blogtor's personal countdown of his 50 favourite Doctor Who television stories, one a week till the big day in November 2013. Now, just to point out, this choice is purely my own. So don't expect reasoned debate or objectivity. Or even the need to please every fan out there. This is my list, and I stand by it. I will also add that I've seen every Doctor Who story released (at least twice), so I feel like I know what I'm talking about. Anyway, enough chittle of the chattle, let's begin...

Gridlock
First broadcast 14/4/2007 starring David Tennant

Given that the writer of this episode, Russell T Davies, is so anti-religion and all the horror that organised religion can bring with it, it's curious that faith and belief are such strong elements of his time in Doctor Who. And no more so prevalent than in this gem from David Tennant's second series which also saw the religion of the show itself celebrated with the return of The Macra!

Gridlock, for me, features three beautiful, moving and hugely defining moments. Almost at the halfway point we have the haunting rendition of The Old Rugged Cross, so exquisitely played as the drivers stop for one moment to contemplate their situation, expressing their faith. It's a real gear change from all the bouncy action and worth noting is The Doctor's reaction; the only person not to sing along. 

Then we have the rather shocking reveal of the senate and the after-effects of the mood "bliss". What it says about the future is deeply unsettling on one hand but then, on the other, they had sense to cordon themselves off and protect the undercity. And also, on the other hand, we have the comment on the human race and their reliance on cars and their need to travel in such small numbers (with some cars only featuring one occupant) - a trait which massively annoys me in "modern times".

Uh oh, hold on - I've got three hands!
 
Anyway, Murray Gold does such a gorgeous and sublime job in that particular moment; utterly illuminating. He matches it with more terrific work as we meet the Face of Boe and then say goodbye to the huge head. And then in the final of the three scenes I'd like to mention - when The Doctor reveals all about the Time Lords and Gallifrey. It's such a beautiful and heartbreaking admission from him as he opens up, finally, to Martha about his past and the Time War.

Tennant is on top form here and pitches his own admiration for his people coupled with the sadness at his own loss perfectly. Can't help but get teary every time. Gridlock is cleverly bookended with these conversations. "I don't want to go home!" Davey T proclaims to Martha, hiding his lie, insisting on traveling somewhere "new". By the end of the episode, his new companion has sussed him out. An incredibly moving tête-à-tête.

There's also a delightfully rompular nature of the story (which carries on in tone from the fabulous previous episodes Smith & Jones and The Shakespeare Code) and the intriguing and eccentric characters which break up the intensity of the message and the earnestness of faith.

Gridlock has so much going on and it's easy to pick up on the more stylistic nature of the story - the CG visuals, the traffic jam, the Catnuns and the return of the Face Of Boe. But beyond the superficial, this rich Russell T Davies story reveals itself for those looking for heart and meaning. This is a story with a huge morality with an intriguing and enriching look into The Doctor's personality - quite unlike any Doctor Who story I know.


 See Nos. 50-40 HERE

3 comments:

Paul Mount said...

One of my favourite ever DW stories, let alone 'the new serieals'. Thrilling, stunning visuals, great script, some really poignant moments. Pretty damned near perfect, in fact.

Calli Arcale said...

I first saw "Gridlock" within a week of my husband's grandmother's funeral. Such a lovely lady, and her death was not expected. She was mostly in good health, but had gotten a heart valve replaced before a planned trip to California. That trip never happened; she never left the hospital. At her funeral, they played her favorite hymn. You guessed it: they played "That Old Rugged Cross". So when I saw that on Doctor Who, I bawled my little heart out. It blindsided me; never expected Doctor Who to hit my personal life quite so closely. It's a good story, but the timing of that song will always give me a certain visceral reaction that the producers could never have anticipated. That's how it is with art, of course. It's only partly what the artists bring to it. It's also what the audience brings to it.

Shane said...

The singing of "The Old Rugged Cross" struck a chord with me as well (no pun intended). The church I grew up in sang that song regularly. It was moving to see it used in the context used in this episode. Also, this episode has two of the most lovely women ever to grace Who: Freema Agyeman and Lenora Crichlow. Too much beauty for one episode.