Doctor Who (6.11): Scooby Doo, where are you?

So we’ve dealt with Big Story Arc, done creepy and wrung out our emotions. This week we’re in mystery mode (though as always with Who, every episode has a little flavour of everything else to pep it up).

Talking of flavours, The God Complex (from the pen of Being Human creator Toby Whithouse) tastes a little like a Scooby Doo adventure. And that’s not a bad thing – I loved Scooby Doo (until they put bloody Scrappy Doo in anyway) – but I have to say neither Hat Jr or I were feeling any real sense of jeopardy. (Her concern for the alien Minotaur was quite touching though.)

(Spoilers below the line sweeties…)

Dragged off target again, the Doctor and companions find themselves in a hotel with hideous ’80s decor, walls and corridors that move around, rooms filled with your personal nightmares (ventriloquist dummies, a sad clown, girls laughing at you, weeping angels etc) and front doors that open onto solid brick walls. (Yes, I’d quite like Hotel California to stop playing in my head too now.)

They’re not alone. Also trapped are supersmart medic Rita, blogger Howie, Joe and cowardly mole-man Gibbis (David Walliams). And roaming the corridors is a monster…

It takes the Doctor a while to realise how he’s misjudged the situation and to put things right – but there are all sorts of lovely things to enjoy along the way:

  • Another tantalising glimpse of the things we could be seeing with the Doctor: people 600 feet tall that you have to talk to in hot air balloons, and the tourist information office is built in one of their hats.Though of course, the Doctor is thrilled to be in what is clearly (to him) a fake 1980s hotel. “Whoever did this, I’m shaking his stroke her hand stroke tentacle…”
  • A subtle performance from David Walliams as Gibbis. I did feel sorry for him to begin with, a poor Tivolian used to being oppressed and colonised by others, but once the Doctor exposes his cowardice as a sly survival mechanism, the sympathy rapidly drains away. We do get some good jokes at Tivoli’s expense though: “Our anthem is called ‘Glory to Insert Name Here…'”; “I work in town planning. We’re lining all our roads with trees so invading forces can march in the shade.”; “At times like this I think of my old school motto – Resistance is exhausting.”
  • There are two doctors in the house and both are very, very clever and observant. No wonder the Doctor likes Rita enough to make that Apprentice joke: “Amy, with regret, you’re fired…”
  • When the TARDIS disappears, the Doctor’s reaction: “Okaay. This is bad. At the moment I don’t know how bad, but certainly we’re three buses, a long walk and eight quid in a taxi from good.”
  • The sheer glorious sight of the cast – including David Walliams in his mole prothestics wheeling Joe, gagged with duct tape and tied into a chair – creeping around the corridors with their ghastly floral wallpaper.
  • The Doctor’s reassurance is actually the worst thing he could be giving in this situation. Once again Steven Moffat is using the Doctor’s strengths against him.
  • Amy telling Gibbis about how the Doctor has always saved her and will save them all from the hotel: “But don’t tell him I said that, because the smugness would be terrifying.”
  • Rory: “Every time the Doctor gets pally with someone I have this overwhelming urge to inform their next of kin.” And the little jump as he anticipates getting hit by Amy for saying it.
  • A delighted Doctor to Rita: “You’re a Muslim!” Rita: “Don’t be frightened.” If only more Daily Mail and Express readers watched Doctor Who…
  • Again with the mirrors, when the Doctor corners the Minotaur to get to know it better.
  • It’s not just me who loves Rory. He gets some of the best lines these days – ‘not all victories are about saving the universe’.
  • The Doctor being ‘literally an otter’s toenail from getting’ everyone out of there.
  • The Doctor rationalising why it’s up to him do the saving – because he brought Amy and Rory to the hotel and that it’s hardly freewill, because “offer a child a suitcase full of sweets and they’ll take it. Offer someone all of time and space and they’ll take that too.”
  • That the Doctor’s room is Room 11. And that it’s Amelia waiting for him inside.
  • The Doctor is both saying what Amy needs to hear to save herself from the Minotaur – “I can’t save you from this. There’s nothing I can do to stop this. I stole your childhood and led you by the hand to your death. And the worst thing is I knew. I knew this would happen. This always happens.” – and also facing a truth about his life.
  • We all knew the Minotaur wasn’t talking about himself – “An ancient creature, drenched in the blood of the innocent … for such a creature death would be a gift” before he made it clear, didn’t we?
  • Rory does have excellent taste in cars.

But after all the larks with the alien Minotaur, comes the heart-rending moment when the Doctor says ‘au revoir’ to Amy. Although, famously, the Doctor lies, I believe him when he tells Amy she hasn’t seen the last of him (“Bad Penny is my middle name. Seriously, the looks I get when I fill in a form…”) because both Amy and Rory deserve a better send-off than that.

Even with the wonderful reply to Amy’s ‘why now?’: “Because you’re still breathing.” Even knowing how much it costs him to walk away (and damn, Matt Smith is a fine actor – the Doctor’s loneliness in that final shot is heartbreaking). Even though he is ‘saving’ Amy and Rory. She’s right that it can’t really end like this, as if they’d just shared a cab ride.

It’s a good job we’ve got cybermen to take our minds off it all next week.

Posted by Jo the Hat


Filed under Dr Who

13 responses to “Doctor Who (6.11): Scooby Doo, where are you?

  1. Lovely review, as always. However, I don’t think we saw what was in the Doctor’s room. Amelia was in Amy’s room. I’m guessing that the Doctor saw himself in Room Eleven – but I could be wrong, I usually am. I thought the episode was made by the conclusion which was beautifully judged. However I’m guessing there will be a final outing for Rory and Amy in the season finale. If they are really going they will be a hard act to follow, particularly Rory.

    • You could be right. I was following the clue of the ‘do not disturb’ sign that the Doctor hung on the door if room 11 as he left, and which fluttered to the floor after the Minotaur collapsed.
      I liked the wag on Twitter who suggested that what Matt Smith saw in there was actually David Tennant… and initially I thought he had probably seen himself. Will have to watch again and see if we can pin this down.
      And, yes, Rory certainly deserves a proper send off. I’m hoping not in a coffin…

  2. Tim

    Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.

    FIrstly, this was a magnificent episode from writer Toby Whithouse. I’m not sure all the internal logic quite holds together, but I can live with that when the story itself is this good.

    I’m with Robert – I thought the Doctor was in Amy’s room, and that what the Doctor saw in his own room is the realisation that all his meddling results in as much bad as good, and death/wiped memory/stuck in a parallel universe for so many of his friends.

    (Theories below the line, sweeties.)

    Three ideas keep running round my brain until it hurts, so I thought I’d share.

    Theory number 1: At first glance, the last 3 episodes appear to be standalones. I don’t think they are, because that’s not how the Moff works. Maybe the first one was a standalone, but not the other 2. Aside from all 3 having the common theme of fear and faith (or the loss thereof), last week’s episode introduced the concept of a faster parallel time stream and the folding of time on itself. And the shock ending of this episode leads me on to …

    Theory number 2: This isn’t fully-formed yet, so feel free to shoot holes in it. What if the Doctor leaving Rory and Amy at their new house is the beginning of a time loop? The opening scene of this season saw the pair firmly ensconced in a new home, with the Doctor randomly trying to get their attention – a scene which seemed a bit out of place at the time and was criticised by some, as I recall. Is this all part of some plan? (Equally, it could be related to the Doctor needing to get Amy and Rory out of the TARDIS to avoid a paradox in which they meet their future/past selves. I don’t know: so many theories, so little time …)

    Theory number 3: I wondered last week whether the trip to the Kindness facility was actually a deliberate act by the Doctor, who is looking for ways to prevent his own death – another example of “the Doctor lies”. Now I’m wondering whether it might be that the TARDIS itself is lending a hand, by taking the Doctor to – in Idris’s own words – “where you needed to go” (not necessarily where he wanted to go).

    I’m going to have a litle lie down now before the men in white coats arrive …

    • Jay

      I really like your “theory number 2”
      the only problem is when the doctor leaves, amy tells him if he were to see her daughter that he should tell her to give mom a visit.
      at the beginning of the season, she knew nothing of having a daughter and that daughter in fact being River Song.

      • Tim

        Oh, go on, then, refute my half-baked theories with trivial things like the facts. Oops. You are, of course, quite right. Bah humbug.

      • Jay

        I really did enjoy the theory. That would’ve been an intriguing story arc

      • Tim

        No worries. This whole timey-wimey stuff isn’t half difficult to keep your head around!

        I am wondering, though, whether it is somehow important that the Doctor ensured Rory and Amy were out of the TARDIS for the next step of his plan to save himself. Perhaps because he is going to loop round in time to pick them up at a different point, so he needs to avoid a paradox?

        One final theory: is it possible – a bit like last season – that we are somehow currently seeing a different version of the Doctor? Could a switch have occurred somewhere so that we are now seeing the 200 years-older version of the Doctor – it could be that this happened in the gap between the two halves of the season. It’s a stretch, I know, but I’m fully expecting Moff to pull off some kind of left-field sleight-of-hand for the finale. I just can’t work out exactly what the clever git has come up with …

      • Jay

        I’m prepping myself to have the rug pulled from beneath me.
        Moff seems to enjoy it. He gives us a few solid episodes and then some crazy bits that don’t really make sense.

  3. DL

    There was a mysterious ticking noise (not a pipe bomb). The Master?

  4. .::Big.Bang::.

    I loved those little scenes between the Doctor/Rita. And the typical Asian thing – you’re an A-sian not a B-sian. =P Thank God my Mom isn’t like that!

    “Amy tells him if he were to see her daughter that he should tell her to give Mom a visit…” Why just ‘Mom’? Why not ‘parents’? Rory, a father (ugh!), must also be missing his baby. Still, fingers crossed Rory doesn’t die. Don’t really care if it’s Amy…but please not Rory!

  5. I can’t believe no one’s mentioned the Doctor’s degree in cheese-making yet. Shocking. 🙂

  6. Simon

    Hi cousin! A truely great episode, and another great review! But how could you not mention the conspiracy theories about Norway that the blogger was talking about? Margaret and I laughed out loud with that comment! I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about the Americans and large tunnels in the Norwegian mountains! BTW… I believe that the TARDIS is inside his room (nr.11) – listen carefully; you can hear a very subtle familar sound when he opens the door! AND… the Ponds had to leave the TARDIS now, cause the Doctor has work to do… he knows that Lake Silencio (no, really the lake is called that!) is coming closer – and he has to find a way to avoid the Astronaut killing him… who the Astronaut is…? Spoilers, sweetie! 😉

  7. Richard

    When the Doctor opens room 11, the sound in the background is the critical stop noise from the TARDIS, just before it needed to make a 5-minute jump into the future.
    When Rita looked directly into the CCTV camera I got the sudden heart-sinking moment of remembering something similar in My Little Eye or even The Blair Witch Project.

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