Having enjoyed the recent ITV drama, The Widower, starring Reece Shearsmith, I had high hopes for the new four part crime thriller Chasing Shadows, in which a difficult to work with detective (aren’t they all!?) with autistic tendencies takes on some missing persons cases.
The show promised it would be more than a standard crime drama and would take a unique slant on what is very much a well worn format, but unfortunately, two episodes in and one very uninspiring case solved, and I am still not convinced of this one bit.
Reece Shearsmith gives an undeniably decent performance of a man suffering from Aspergers Syndrome, adopting some physical and voice attributes that aren’t subtle but aren’t overdone either (just).
However, if it was the show’s intention for us to warm to DS Sean Stone, I am afraid that we are a long way off the mark. The writing lacks any warmth or depth to a character that could potentially be extremely complex, and there is little to no chemistry between Stone and his partner, Ruth Hattersley, played adequately by Alex Kingston. Continue reading
[Spoilers all the way down this week.]
Oh, he’s a clever so-and-so that Steven Moffat. The fans want a multi-Doctor episode to mark the 50th anniversary, so he gives us not one but several. He’s been dripfeeding us echoes of Doctors One to Ten for weeks and when we sit down to watch the series finale, with – let’s be honest – half an eye on the November special, he gives us all Ten (blink and you miss Eight though) and in a way that makes sense.
He doesn’t, of course, tell us the Doctor’s name, because the power of it lies in its mystery. There is no name you can give him that can match his chosen name or the draw of the secret surrounding his other name.
I can’t tell you how glad am I to have my prediction for the Ponds proven wrong. The Angels Take Manhattan was heartbreaking as promised, but the ending was, to steal a phrase from the Pet Shop Boys, HappySad. The scenario I mooted last week was beyond sad and into bleak, Steven Moffat’s outcome was (unsurprisingly) much better.
Spoilers below the line…
If you value your sanity you will stay away from Doctor Who internet forums for the next week or so. Those things will be frothing, hissing and spitting with venomous bile and fizzing adoration in (probably) equal measures.
I suspect for many people it won’t have been an entirely satisfactory ending. It works, when you’ve mulled it over, on many levels, but it works better on second viewing (especially without a six-year-old child noisily worried that there will be no more Doctor Who ever). Naturally the residents of Hat Towers are delighted that Matt Smith will be back for Christmas.
I could sing the praises of Steven Moffat for hours on end, but one thing that stands out as I rewatch these episodes is that they have been written with rewatching in mind. This man has two versions of the story running in front of you, and you will never see both versions on your first pass. The first line we hear after the recap is a reference to a heartbreaking conversation we’re not going to hear for another 40 minutes or so, but there is no way you could know that until it’s explained.
Steven Moffat will use every trick in the book and then a few new ones he’s invented while on the train to Cardiff to deliver brilliant surprises, and I love him for it. (Sorry, made the mistake of reading the Grauniad’s Is Doctor Who becoming too complex? article, and I’m still a bit tetchy.)
It’s a mark of how powerful the writing and performances are in Closing Time and how much I adore Matt Smith’s (and Steven Moffat’s) Doctor that this episode wrung more tears from me than almost any other this series. (The Doctor’s Wife takes the tear-stained top spot.)
There’s a great gathering together of themes here, a sense of loose ends being, if not tied off, at least being plaited neatly until we’re ready to fray them again. The lonely Doctor pops by just to say hello (and goodbye) to Craig before he treats himself to one last galactic spectacle – he has only a few hours before his date with death at Lake Silencio. Except that there are fluctuations in the electrical supply and people going missing, and try as he might, he just can not walk away.
(Spoilers from here on in.)
I’m wondering if writing a TV show is a little like ‘making love to a beautiful woman’ (as The Fast Show’s Swiss Tony liked to say). The more confident you are, the better the experience for both parties (as long as confidence matches ability anyway – but let’s not waste too much time on this analogy, we have another corking episode of Doctor Who to celebrate).
I don’t think there is anything about Let’s Kill Hitler that isn’t wonderful on some level (and often on several levels at once) . And, using the usual gauge, I can report that Hat Jr barely said a word throughout the whole thing (only two questions – is the Doctor really going to die and are Amy and Rory going to die?) – otherwise completely rapt.
(Spoilers, sweeties, below the line)
Put a finger on your lips and breathe one word: “Spoilers”.
I’m at a loss for words frankly. Not because A Good Man Goes To War isn’t masterful, magical storytelling from Steven Moffat – it is all that and so much more, but how to do it justice. The last time I felt like this was after the last episode of Ashes to Ashes aired.
The plot is the easiest bit to deal with. Rory and the Doctor set out to raise an army and free Amy and baby Pond – Melody – from the kidnappers. They do so but walk into a trap and find that Madame Kovarian (for this is the name of Eye-patch lady) has tricked the Doctor again, stolen Melody and left a flesh avatar of the baby in Amy’s arms. How Amy is even able to stand in the last five minutes of this episode I don’t know, as motherhood is emotionally draining even when your baby hasn’t just melted into a pool of white emulsion.