Friday 30 August 2013

The Rings of Akhaten - Season 24 Remix

Original rap: Murray Gold.  Original photo: @PondsAreCool

Everything I touch seems destined to turn into something mean and farcical.
- Henrik Ibsen

Him:  We’re not doing a blog post on this.

Me:  Okay, right.  Now, in Doctor Who Magazine – in DWM 464 – this month’s1 – it says that Neil Cross’ original intention for the confrontation scene at the end of The Rings of Akhaten with the giant…  Ummm…  What was that thing?

The Him stares.

Me:  The Pumpkin God…

The Him’s still refusing to join in.  I try again.

Me:  Do you remember the speech at the Pandorica?  The Matt Smith speech.  “I. Am. Talking!”  That bit.  Well, some people got Sylvester McCoy to perform it at a convention.  Remember that?


Me:  This is a similar sort of thing.  At a convention somewhere, some poor chap has – well, Colin Baker – has been handed this piece of paper which has got the Doctor's speech printed out on it and they’ve asked him to read it in the style of the Sixth Doctor.  Now, in the DWM, Neil Cross said - because he’s a big Lovecraft fan - his intention for this scene in the big, steaming pile of television, was that the Doctor would ultimately end up facing down a Lovecraftian Great Old One.  So, essentially, this creature would be…

By now the Him’s gurning has reached the point where he may actually damage himself permanently.

Me:  Ha!  Stop it!  So – this creature was going to be, if not Cthulhu, something that was so frightening - so unimaginably huge and terrifying, that it would tear our minds apart with razors made of algebra if we saw it - yet, the Doctor talks it into submission.  Wow!  Which makes me wonder how many drafts of that speech Neil Cross had written, before it was given to Matt Smith to deliver to a big green wall.  And how the bits that were borrowed from a Rutger Hauer improvisation got left in…  Oh… 

The Him’s stretched his lower lip right over his face and tucked it behind his ears.  It’s funnier than it sounds.  I untangle Him and try and continue.

Me:  Are you going to say anything?  Or just sit there doing impossible things with your face?

Him:  I’m trying to make you sound like you’ve lost it.

Me:  It’s working.  Also, I'm more than capable of doing that by myself, thanks.  So, the Doctor’s up, facing this brain-pulpingly huge Lovecraftian nightmare planet god thing.  One that looks like a pumpkin.  You can see all the ideas behind the story.  And they're fab.  A society based on singing; all the different species - the tricky questions about belief and sacrifice...  Even the leaf probably works on paper.  I get what he was aiming for, and the intentions are laudable.  This whole culture being in terror of an evil – and the singing holding it in place and everything…  Unfortunately…  Unfortunately, they gave it to whichever director they gave it to2 and it went through some kind of editing process that-   I don’t know what happened to it, but the director has an awful lot to answer for…  Anyway, I just want to know what you think of this…

Cue up the vid…

Me:  Basically, this is Colin Baker's version - but with added musical backing from the episode.  And it’s great.  Right up until Murray (“Itsa me”) Gold wakes up and the orchestra come in and then it becomes…  Ah.  I don’t know.  He’s got some sort of key that he writes in that makes me swear at televisions – and he seems to write the majority of his music in it now.  It’s like he’s auditioning for the most saccharine, sub-Lloyd Webber musical imaginable with audience-manipulating lowest-common-denominator tosh.  It pretends to be glorious and triumphant, but there’s nothing there but maths.  There’s no emotion. And, in fairness, he hasn’t always been like this.  Eight years on one project’s going to burn anyone out. 

Play gets pressed.  The girl sings.

Me:  The girl’s singing I can about cope with.

Colin Baker starts speaking. 

Me:  Go on, Col.

Colin Baker:  I’ll tell you a story.

All going well so far.  And then there's an odd silence.

Me:  I don’t know why he goes for a lie-down there, unless it’s to allow Murray Gold to come in with the- URGH!

The brown notes commence.  With choir.

Me:  mrrgGGH!

And on it squelches…

Me:  Oh, God…

Him:  You’ve only yourself to blame.

Me:  It’s awful.

And on…

Me:  Oh, say something, Colin.  I don’t want to listen to this any longer.

And on…

Me:  I'd rather watch The Sensorites.3 

Colin Baker's back in.  He throws himself into it and we get an idea of what could have been.  The fact the choir get dropped down in the mix doesn’t hurt either. 

Him:  “Itsa me, Murraygold.” 

Colin Baker:  Can you hear them singing? 

Me:  NO!  It’s better when you can’t hear them.  And why would they be singing like that anyway?  It’s their entire existence that depends on this encounter – it’s not an advert for cakes! 

And on… 

Colin Baker:  You’re not a god! 

Him:  “You’re just a big, burning orange.” 

Colin Baker continues to knock it out of the park. 

Colin Baker:  Take my memories… 

Him:  “Take my leaf.” 

Colin Baker:  I hope you’ve got a big appetite. 

Him:  “I hope you’ve got a big hat.” 

Colin Baker wrestles with the brown notes – squeezing the music into submission with an impassioned delivery.  We coast smoothly over the Blade Runner quote,4 and just when we think he’s crushed the terrible thing forever… 

Colin Baker:  Take it!  Take it all, baby! 

Me:  Auwgh!  Must we? 

And that’s it.  Game over.  He’s not getting out of that. 

Him:  Murraygold! 

Me:  Arrgh!  Urrgh! 

The musical smugout smugs on, crushing everything. 

Me:  It’s an alright speech, but it’s got an impossible line.  That's never going to be delivered by any actor - hell, any human being – whether or not they’re playing a Time Lord – no-one’s ever going to be able to say that line and make it…  No-one can say it without embarrassment because it’s terrible.  And the new series is littered with poisonous gems like that.  I bet it looks great on paper though.  It’s written to be read but not said.  Harrison Ford was right.  And that music’s abysmal.  It’s so bad.  I thought I might have been mistaken... 


Me:  I – I don’t know…  Aurgh.  You know what?  I reckon Murray Gold’s just using the "Boite Diabolique" now.  Some people like it though.  God knows what’s wrong with them. 

1.  One of the books I’m in gets a review in it.  The second one’s in DWM 465. 

2.  Farren Blackburn, it says here.  Sorry, fella – I bet this looked phenomenal on paper. 

3.  Genuinely.  The music actually produces a physical response from me that’s not dissimilar to the way some people view spiders or snakes.  Or sprouts.

I’ll go into more depth about the music at a later date but I think I should state that I do think Murray Gold’s capable of producing some great pieces of uplifting music.  This is Gallifrey, Our Childhood, Our Home still tugs something fundamental within me, I am the Doctor blew me away when I first heard it (I prefer The Sun’s Gone Wibbly though) and even the Gridlock hymn - not the comedy parp-parp stuff, whilst not my cup of tea, was better than this.  This is excessive, indulgent, un-edited and emotionally hollow .  Someone, somewhere needs to say; “Do it again and do it better.” 

4.  I'm not convinced by the Mortiis reference either...

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