Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Fat Cyberman Is Bigger Than The Houses

Some houses (left) and a fat cyberman [actual scale]

My daughter is now, just, old enough to appreciate Doctor Who. In other words, she loves all the different monsters and aliens ("I wonder how that monster attacks?"), and the idea of the Doctor and his friends saving the day, but the actual stories themselves don't yet mean a huge amount to her.

A good example of this is the 2008 Christmas special, The Next Doctor. When we watched this again together recently, despite the good things about it (those bits that involved Dervla Kirwan mostly) I was afterwards moved to deliver a lecture about the disappointing nature of the conclusion, where the Doctor, faced with a, well, rather odd sort of Cyberman plan, sorts things out with a magic wand. I'd barely even got into my stride when I was cut down by my daughter's observation: "Yes, Daddy, but the fat cyberman was bigger than the houses!"

She meant this as a compliment, of course, rather than to bemoan the way the CGI excesses and general bombastery can get in the way of actual good drama and stuff, but, especially perhaps with a Christmas special, who's to say she's wrong? Doctor Who plays to a vast stadium, not just the geeks in the front few rows now (as I think Paul Cornell once said, more or less) and whenever ageing fanboys like me say something about the new series that starts, "Yes, but hang on..." the young kids of today will riposte, "But the fat cyberman was bigger than the houses!" and crush us.

Still, as a friend of mine pointed out to me, this is actually a very useful phrase when it comes to describing something whose position on the quality spectrum may lie somewhere between meh and actively poor, but which, nevertheless, does at least deliver exactly what it says on the tin.

For example, the next time you're asked what you thought of Transformers 2, you can just say, "Well, the fat cyberman was bigger than the houses..."