Indeed, we're approaching the final leg of my interminable trudge through the 30 Day Doctor Who Meme (only three more after this!)
Today, it's Day 27 - An Episode You Wish Hadn’t Been Made (or in my case, Episodes You Wish Hadn't Been Made)
There are so few episodes of which I can truly say "I wish it hadn't been made" and so many more of which I can say "I wish it had been done better," or sometimes even "This story needs major surgery, stat!" Because my sense of terse understatement is highly undeveloped, I'll give you at least my partial list, from least wince-inducing to unreasonably cringe-worthy to "Keep it off my screen forever, kthnxbai."
The one that almost didn't make it to this list, because it wasn't all that bad, but:
"Love and Monsters"
Initial thought? NO FACE IN THE PAVINGSTONE! NO CHEESY, SKEEVY LOVE LIFE JOKES!
And frankly? That's the only thing about this episode that I truly didn't like. I would rather have had Elton mourn Ursula and his lost friends. Alternatively, the Doctor could easily have saved more, or all, of LINDA, which, given the overall silliness of the episode, would have been good; the slight darkness of Elton's admittedly wonderful words about the Doctor at the end would have been transcended by the episode's secondary message - that friendship is to be treasured above anything like power, or even efficiency.
Three that made my teeth grind, with the third one almost making it to "Plz Blow Up Nao" status:
Initial thought? YOU DID *NOT* JUST DO THAT TO DONNA!
There were so many ways this could have been written to allow Tate to leave the series, and still treat Donna with respect. If the dialogue between Wilf, Sylvia and the Doctor had been rewritten, with the Doctor telling them to keep things secret for now, until he could find a way to return Donna's memory without killing her, promising that he'd work on it until he succeeded, it could have worked (It might never happen, but at least you have the Doctor acknowledging that he has to make the effort.) If he had allowed Donna to make the choice, and Donna had allowed him to take her memory, again, it would have worked. If she had refused, and he had had to let her die, it would have been incredibly powerful. It probably wouldn't have passed muster with the BBC, but it still would have worked. As it was, it's still the episode I can't watch past a certain point, because it really hurts to do so. I can far more easily watch PotW all the way through. And speaking of that S1 ender ....
Initial thought? WANT NINE! WANT NINE! DO NOT WANT "DON'T YOU THINK SHE LOOKS TIRED?"
I was, eventually, able to learn to like the Tenth Doctor, but honestly? I could have done with another season or so of Nine, and my sorrow at seeing him go made me wish, with the strong desire of a three-year-old child wanting its mother, that this Christmas special had been saved for a couple of years. And then there's the rage-inducing decision by the regenerated Doctor to torpedo Harriet Jones - in my opinion, for doing something that had to be done (there was no way the Sycorax were going to keep their word. Their leader had already shown that. Worse, they were stupid; stupid people are very apt not to believe even credible threats against themselves.) I know there are many ways to fanwank his decision so that it's perhaps a little less egregiously awful, but I like to reserve fanwanking for saving bad plots, not for masking bad characterization. As I said, I was eventually able to like Ten but this episode, with his arrogant, arbitrary and petty action in the final minute or so, didn't help.
"The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood"
Initial thought? RAMPANT MISOGYNY ALERT!!
This had a number of intriguing concepts, a couple of kickass minor characters (Dr. Nasreen Chaudry, for one, whose awesomeness transcended even the "I'm going to stay down here for a bazillion years for luuuurrve" foolishness, since Neera Myal and Tony Pugh sold me on their affection) ... and, unfortunately, it also had Chris Chibnall's usual fear-of-women and love-of-clunky-dialogue fail. Chibnall lived down to my expectations - why did he do so well with Life on Mars and generally suck, in my opinion ("Adrift" and "Exit Wounds" for Torchwood notwithstanding) at writing anything in the Whoniverse? Every single female in these two episodes is depicted as aggressive, untrustworthy, or weak, with Amy being the only possible exception (and some might construe the fact that she's written as forgetting her own fiance as weak; I wonder how it would have been written if Rory had been the one to survive and Amy the one sucked into the crack? I think it's entirely possible Chibnall might have written Rory as remembering more.) The episodes could have been saved I think, or at least partly salvaged, by a scenario that didn't make Ambrose into a villain deserving of all the disgust she gets from the Doctor and her own son for doing some reasonably logical-under-the-circumstances things, while Ambrose's dad gets nothing but approbation for doing things that were just as stupid, and even less honorable. Yeah, these two are pretty despicable in my books, saved from being finalists for "Burn Them in a Supernova" category because someone has to cheer for Ambrose.
And finally - drum roll, please - two I think should never have been made, with the most stinking piece of ordure bringing up to the rear:
"A Christmas Carol"
Initial thought? DITCH IT
Oh, my god, this was horrid. While the fabric of DW canon is so loose as to be cheesecloth rather than silk, the entire conceit of this Christmas episode - that the Doctor would knowingly play havoc with someone's time line to change his entire personality - is repugnant to me and something I believe exceeds even the loose strictures of DW canon. It put me out of the story in a particularly unpleasant ways. And, while I've spent decades knowing DW plots don't necessarily make sense and oft-times are complete nonsense (and that that is sometimes part of the show's charm), this one left me so emotionally uninvested that its considerable loose plot ends and particularly large, muddy clods of nonsense were impossible to ignore; I tried to suspend it, but all that mud and plot absurdity brought my disbelief plummeting to the ground. And it's a pity, because some of the writing is gorgeous (Moffat can't not write beautifully; it's just the plots he erects that can be a misery), the actors act the hell out of what they're given, and some of the fairy tale imagery is charming. In the end, though, none of that can save this one for me.
Initial thought? NO, REALLY - DITCH IT. AFTER YOU'VE PUT IT THROUGH A SHREDDER AND POINTED AND JEERED AT IT FOR GOOD MEASURE.
I've talked before about my distaste for this (and here's where I said it for at least a second time.) I found it unconvincing in every way, embarrassing for both the writer* and for Tennant**, a waste of Freema Agyeman's Martha (I'm glad she was never written quite as sloppily afterwards), and completely unsuccessful, for me, in doing what it obviously was trying to do - convince me that the Doctor would have any of the responses to the described plot hooks which the writer asks us to believe he would. (And by "embarrassing" I mean I actually found myself looking away from the screen in embarrassment *every time someone uttered the phrase "burn with me" and **the entire time Tennant was trying to convince me he was possessed by the chunk'o'sun or that he was afraid of the situation.) Chibnall ... fucking Chibnall ....