So I take a week-long holiday in Shropshire, and this is what I find when I get home.
I tell you this. If they use that line about redecorating one more time, I will break into the BBC props department, steal Capaldi’s screwdriver and ram it so far up the backside of the chief writer his throat will light up every time he opens his mouth. It’s not even that it’s no longer funny. It wasn’t funny back in November, when the Tenth Doctor used it.
Let’s be clear: the “You’ve redecorated – I don’t like it” line is not a recurring gag. It’s something that Troughton said twice. His delivery was impeccable on both occasions, as Troughton’s invariably was, even when he fluffed his lines (mostly because his Doctor was exactly the sort of person who might be appearing to fluff his lines in order to lull you into a false sense of superiority before he reveals his hand).
Then Matt Smith does it in ‘Closing Time’, and it’s quite funny then, partly because Smith’s delivery is quite different, and James Corden’s look of outrage is plain silly. And it is, as Gareth said, “a little homage-y thing.” But then Tennant used it, and now it’s being ground into a catchphrase, in the same way that the fish fingers thing became a meme and the question “Doctor Who?” became a highly important plot line. (I will leave that dangling there for a moment, just so you can take in how ridiculous it sounds.)
Actually, I was looking at a video of the ‘redecorated’ stuff on YouTube, in between deciding whether or not it was worth Photoshopping Clara into Dulux catalogue images or screengrabs from DIY SOS, with speech bubbles reading “I don’t like it” (I decided it wasn’t worth it). And I found this:
Sheesh, some of these fans are intense. I’m so glad I don’t engage in pointless debate like this.
“I wonder,” says Gareth of this latest insertion, “if the intention is so that it can be flipped around later, with hilarious effect? Maybe someone will say ‘Oh, I just love what you’ve done with the place!'”
Gareth also likens this whole thing to Clara’s observation (in ‘The Snowmen’) that the TARDIS thing is “smaller on the outside” – which, as he points out, “doesn’t make sense at all. (On the outside, it was the size that it was. You now see the inside and this is what you should comment on. It would work if you started in the TARDIS and then went outside.)”
It’s a simple example of a scene being written to fit a joke. They wanted a pan inside the TARDIS, because that was new. But Moffat also wanted that joke, presumably because it makes Clara ‘different’. It’s a thinly disguised attempt at characterisation, but it doesn’t work with the moment that precedes it. But what does that matter to the tumblr feeds?
(Two of the greatest reactions to the TARDIS, incidentally, come not from full-time companions but from the supporting cast. In 1973, Benton – acting as a substitute for the unavailable Frazer Hines – is asked by a slightly put-out Doctor whether he’s going to mention that the TARDIS is bigger on the inside, because “everybody else does”. An incredulous Benton replies “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” Thirty-five years and seven / eight Doctors later, depending on how you count, Bernard Cribbins is faced with the spaceship’s vast interior, only to remark that “I thought it’d be cleaner.”)
“Also,” says Gareth of the trailer, “why does the Silurian woman shout ‘free the carrots, now!’..? Maybe we’re getting a crossover with one of the silliest episodes of Lost In Space.”
“It’s clearly ‘cabbage’, not ‘carrots’,” I said.
“It was more sort of ‘cabbots’,” said Gareth, “and I thought that freeing carrots sounded more plausible.”
“Find me a picture of a space cabbage,” I said, “and we have a blog entry.”
So he did. And we do.