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…
I’m worried that I’m getting the seven-year itch, but I don’t honestly know if I can say to Doctor Who “It’s not you, it’s me…” I was totally cream-crackered when I watched The Power of Three on Saturday night and it didn’t do anything for me at all. Having finally rewatched it tonight I’m relieved to find that I actually quite like it – but that’s it. I don’t love it. The basic plot’s not bad, though the whole tally of the Shakri thing was a little weak (no weaker than the Tardis towing Earth halfway across the universe I guess). Jemma Redgrave used the phrase “Ravens of Death”. Matt Smith is fabulous – I can not take my eyes off him when he’s on screen. Mark Williams is great and should have been introduced ages ago. So why am I left slightly dissatisfied? There’s lots to like, and I want to like it. Answers on a postcard (or feel free to recommend a counsellor).
Spoilers below the line…
God knows I love a knowing reference, an in-joke, a bit of intertextuality, a spot of homage, but like the time I drank a litre of orange-flavoured 20-20 (don’t ask, I won’t tell), I fear I may be overdoing it when I’m watching Doctor Who these days.
I’m aware there are some problems that are inescapable, some cultural reference points that are so deeply burned on to the psyches of the adults watching Who that they are always going to come to mind, even if the writer didn’t intend them too. Think cyborg killing machine, think Terminator. Think time travel and cowboys, think Back to the Future 3. Think cowboys and sci-fi, think Firefly…
Does it matter? Only if it becomes like the orange 20-20, something I never want to experience again. I’m not there yet, but I have to say that for the first time in a long time, I’m a bit dissatisfied with my weekly Who fix.
I didn’t hate A Town Called Mercy, there is plenty to like, and yet the niggles are niggling scratchily and insistent.
(Spoilers below the line) Continue reading
I’ll be honest with you, I was a little worried that Dinosaurs on a Spaceship would be a letdown. There was so much that could go wrong – the dinosaurs being giving only enough screen time or plot weight to justify the child-baiting episode title for a start. I should have known better of course. The second episode of the new series has made me very happy indeed.
It had its dud moments, (Queen Nefertiti like a cat on heat with the Doctor for one) but they were fleeting. Instead we got an explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, the chance to meet Rory’s Dad (the brilliant Mark ‘we wanna be together’ Williams (or, yes Arthur Weasley if you’re too young to remember that building society ad)), the first stirrings of sadness as our time with the Ponds shortens (a quarter of that time elapsed while you were watching this episode – assuming Steven Moffat hasn’t lied about the timing of their leaving), a chance to slam those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing and remind them not to judge everyone by their own greedy, shallow standards (here ends the Save-the-NHS-from-privatisation speech) and Rupert Graves looking damnably hot.
Here be spoilers…
It’s been a while since we’ve had a Dalek story that really tapped into the full menace of the hate-filled killing machines (Dalek in the first of the New Who series is the one that comes to mind), but Asylum of the Daleks is properly creepy.
(It’s been a while, so to avoid tears before bedtime, let’s be clear, this is a spoiler-filled review and, if you can, you really should watch the show before we go on.)
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.)