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.)
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…)
I’ve a horrible feeling that the Ponds’ time in the TARDIS is coming to an end. The Girl Who Waited is horror of a different kind – no universe-threatening evil plan, no Earth-destroying aliens, but a man forced to choose between the wife he knows and adores and the wife he doesn’t know quite so well because she’s been waiting for him for 36 years. The Ponds are certainly testing their wedding vows to the point of destruction, and I fear that there’s not much more they can take.
Which will be a shame because I love Amy (I have developed a bit of a girl-crush on her to be honest) and I adore Rory. Only Rory would even attempt to put two different, but equally feisty, Amys inside the TARDIS after all. I can only hope Steven Moffat will prove me wrong about this theory.
(Spoilers, sweeties, below the line…)
Night Terrors might not rank as the scariest Doctor Who ever (and to be honest I’m not sure I want them to make anything scarier than Blink or The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) but last week’s trailer was sufficiently creepy to have Hat Jr considering watching this in daylight…
In the end, she not only couldn’t resist watching it tonight, she rated it seven out of ten. And as I write I can only hear happy sounds coming from her bedroom. Phew!
(Spoilers below the line…)
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.
If you happened to catch Matt Smith looking super-dapper on the One Show sofa earlier this week (I swear I only braved it to watch him), you’ll have seen him leaning forward, mouth open, breathing “No!” in response to the “whopper” of a cliffhanger that would conclude The Almost People.
It wasn’t until Hat Jr was tucked up in bed, that I realised that was exactly what I was doing as the last few moments of tonight’s Doctor Who unfurled themselves.
It gets seriously spoilery below the line – you have been warned… Continue reading
That Steven Moffat does love a good mystery doesn’t he? We’re back with a bang (or three) and already we have a gazillion questions. Why did the future Doctor invite Amy, Rory, River and his younger self to Utah to watch him die at the hands of the mysterious astronaut? Who is inside the spacesuit? Why was the younger Doctor late for this appointment? Is the Stormcage actually a prison or is it more like witness protection (guard on the phone: “You better get down here sir. She’s doing it again. Dr Song, sir. She’s packing…”) she certainly seems to be able to leave whenever she choses?
Stephen Moffat is a god amongst men. He’s been teasing us with clues (and red herrings, no doubt) for the past 11 weeks, all on the promise that everything (except perhaps River Song) would be explained in the final two episodes. It was a lot to live up too – and on the evidence of what I’ve just watched – I have every faith he’s going to pull it off. (Not that I ever really doubted him, to be honest.)
It’s also nice to have him back as writer (rather than ‘just’ rewriter/polisher). You can feel his hand on the tiller from the first moment of the pre-title sequence (possibly, the most gripping and tantalising yet). We have Van Gogh painting a message to the Doctor, which turns up in London in 1941 so that Bracewell and Winston Churchill can pass the message on. When the Doctor doesn’t answer the phone to Winnie, the TARDIS reroutes the call to River Song – who promptly escapes the Stormcage to steal the painting from Liz Ten’s Royal Collection. She then procedes to finangle a vortex manipulator (I’m guessing just like Captain Jack’s) from a blue alien in order to travel in time.
In the meantime, the Doctor decides to head for the oldest cliff in the universe in order to decipher (via the TARDIS translation circuits) the oldest writing in the universe: “Letters fifty high. A message from the dawn of time. And no one knows what it says… All we have to do is open the doors and read the very first words in recorded history.”
And (channeling Hitchhikers not for the first time this series) the mystic words are… HELLO SWEETIE (plus some co-ordinates in time and space). The Doctor looks rather pleased with this vandalism for all that he challenges River about graffitting the oldest cliff in history later. Love her retort: “Well, you wouldn’t answer your phone.” You go girl!
So it’s off to Salisbury Plain to meet River (pretending to be Cleopatra) – and a Roman legion (“The invasion of the hot Italians” according to Amy, who really liked History and the Romans at school apparently). By this point, I’d already lost track of the fabulous Alex Kingston’s costume changes – but even she’s outshone by Van Gogh’s picture (called The Pandorica Opens) of the Tardis exploding: beautiful and horrific in equal measures.
And all this before the titles!