Posts Tagged ‘amy pond’

509: Cold Blood

An opinion-diving episode, this one. Some like it, some hate it. Whatever your view, you can’t ignore its dramatic content.

The Doctor and Nasreen have arrived at the Silurian’s colony deep beneath the Welsh countryside, where only vengeful Restac and a few soldiers are awake. There, the Doctor hopes to trade their capture Silurian, Alaya, in exchange for Mo, Amy and Elliot and form peaceful relations between the two species.

Unfortunately, it all goes pear-shaped when Alaya tempts Ambrose into killing her, leaving it up to Rory to figure out a new plan.

It’s a strange two-parter because there’s not really any reason for it to be stretched as much as it is. This could easily be squeezed into one, tightly focused, fast-paced story, but here instead we have two episodes of filler.

Still, there’s some good stuff here. The Doctor’s obvious excitement and enthusiasm is, as always, a delight to watch and the idea that the humans and Silurians might just co-exist is an encouraging one.

Unfortunately, the characters are still weak and under-developed, worst of the lot being panicking mother Ambrose, who flip-flops between sympathetic and hard-ass with such speed she deserves a smack in the mouth. The romantic bit feel incredibly random (it was only mentioned once in the previous episode, too) and the solution to the crisis is disappointingly easy.

That said, the episode’s climax is jaw-droppingly good, offering thrills, gasps and even a tug on the heart strings, all topped off with an excellent shock ending. If it was just one episode instead of two, this would be far, far better. On its own, it’s quite average, saved by an excellent final ten minutes.

5/10

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508: The Hungry Earth

Another episode that really could be far better than it is. Unfortunately, it’s held back by both budget and imagination.

Attempting to arrive in Rio, the Doctor has completely missed and instead winds up in the Welsh countryside in 2020. Happily for him, while he might have missed a festival, he’s arrived just in time to find the world’s most ambitious drilling project and it’s just passed twenty one kilometres. As you might have already guessed, success comes at a price – there’s something living beneath the earth and it’s really pissed off to be underneath the drill…

It starts off so promisingly with a really creepy idea – that the earth could open up and swallow you whole. Unfortunately, it goes downhill after that with a few clunky characters, some hokey horror elements and a really crap monster.

There are a few really good bits in here like the preparation for the attack, the way the monsters close off the village with a shield bubble, the villagers’ conversation with the captured monster-thing and the final, totally unexpected, cliffhanger.

It’s a shame that the rest of it is just so average. The characters don’t really have anything to do, Amy’s time on screen is spent channelling the spirit of Catherine Tate and Rory lacks any of the early charisma that made his interactions with the Doctor so enjoyable.

On the whole, while this isn’t a terrible episode, it’s definitely not a great one. It’s enjoyable, but you’ll have to completely switch off to make the most of it.

6/10

507: Amy’s Choice

This week sees the Doctor caught between a rock and a hard place – between Amy and Rory. Luckily, the three characters are on hand to deliver another good episode in a crafty and quirky story designed to mess with the viewers’ heads as much as the Doctor’s.

Five years have passed since the Doctor bid Amy farewell and she’s now married to – and pregnant with the child of – local doctor Rory. The two are living in a quiet, cosy village in the countryside where the only interesting thing going on are the couple’s walks. Suddenly the three fall asleep and find themselves on board the TARDIS with the power rapidly failing and are given a choice by a man calling himself the Dream Lord – they need to choose which reality is the real world and they need to find out by dying in the one they believe to be a dream. With the Doctor choosing his beloved TARDIS and Rory opting for the idyllic life he imagines his future to be, the final decision is Amy’s. Will she choose the right life and the right man with it?

Don’t be distracted by the show’s gentle spookiness or the creepy idea of a middle-aged man screwing with your head – the episode’s real purpose is to try and resolve the sexual tension between the three cast members and move on. Unlike the Mickey-Rose saga of previous series, the whole point of this one is to move past that sexual quandary before it becomes stale (again). Mercifully, this task is handled beautifully and the episode’s feel is one of satisfaction.

There are a few bones to pick, though – it doesn’t really make the most of the idea, the situation is slightly too obvious in its ‘which man will Amy choose?’ setup, the scene where the postman rides in and gets killed is unintentionally hilarious, the explanation for what’s really going on is pure bollocks and why are all the enemies in this series so far really slow-moving?

Having said that, the episode is still pretty good, managing to move the story along, keep the characters consistent and provide a few good sci-fi scares along the way. And the bit where the Doctor shoves an old lady out of a window with a table lamp is brilliant.

7/10

506: The Vampires of Venice

If that incredibly cheesy title sets your teeth on edge and has your buttocks clenching in preparation for another duff episode, fear not – it’s actually quite good.

After Amy threw herself at the Doctor last week, he’s decided that spending some time with her fiancé Rory will do her good, taking the two of them to Venice in 1580. Unfortunately, there’s sinister vibes in the air as women are being sent to a very private, exclusive school run by a reclusive lady and are coming out with a peculiar aversion to sunlight…

The easiest and best way to summarise this episode is to say that the monsters are a bit crap but the chemistry between the cast is excellent.

Adding Rory into the mix is a genuine stroke of genius – he brings a refreshing viewpoint to cast, highlighting the Doctor’s many flaws and giving Amy something new to fret over. He’s actually a much more interesting cast member than, say, Mickey was in the second series because he does a lot more than just whine about the relationship he’s not part of, and it’s this wonderful tension that crackles and sparks throughout the episode. Alongside this is the lovely sense of playful humour that now gets to ride over the trio during their adventure.

The plot itself is actually lacking a lot – aliens want to sink Venice, Doctor intervenes, credits roll. What makes the episode at least fairly tolerable is that the aliens aren’t on screen for a huge chunk of it. It’s a merciful and crafty idea that keeps a silly sci-fi story grounded in reality and although it’s a massive shame that the ‘vampires’ are just crappy CGI monsters, it’s good step that they were used.

Another downside is the fact that the alien’s diabolical contraption – and they have around four, all of which suddenly appear in the final act, a confusing idea – has a bastarding ‘Plot Undo Button’ built right into it. It’s such an offensive and hateful idea that the episode looses an entire mark simply for including it.

Still, it’s not a terrible episode by any means. Lifted out of mediocrity by a clever sense of humour and some really very funny scenes, it’s a wobbly step, but not a crippling one.

6/10

505: Flesh and Stone

Take note, people: for the first time since Doctor Who came back, we have a ‘part two’ episode that isn’t totally underwhelming.

After finding themselves trapped in a cavern, surrounded by an army of incredibly powerful, reawakened Weeping Angels, the Doctor manages to save himself, Amy, River Song, Father Octavian and the team with a crafty gravity flip. Unfortunately, this puts them on board the crashed ship, which is still leaking its energy source – the one place the Angels are desperate to go…

This is one of those rare episodes that doesn’t have much of a plot. Instead, we’re treated to scene after scene of those menacing Angels closing in on the helpless soldiers as the Doctor panics, realising that there is no way to defeat them.

It’s a testament to Moffat’s writing prowess that he manages to get so much mileage out of an enemy that doesn’t actually do anything on screen. While part one took a single Angel and evolved it to terrifying new heights, this second half is all about the regular Angels and Moffat packs it full of skin-crawling moments.

The first half of the episode is British sci-fi horror at its finest – the Doctor backs further and further into a corner as the Angels grow ever nearer and it’s pulse-pounding stuff. Then, just as the episode wanders dangerously close to becoming repetitive, Moffat pulls a brand new idea out of the bag and flips the Angels on their heads completely.

The only real complaint is that Amy doesn’t get to do that much in the episode and when she is on screen she can act a little bit like Catherine Tate. Indeed, the final scene is so far removed from the Amy we knew and were growing to love that it’s horribly jarring, almost to the point of breaking her character.

All in all, it’s a well-structured, satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable episode that packs a hell of a lot of surprises into it, be it the Angels, some revelations about River Song or the discovery of the crack in time. It’s also good to see the episodes linking on to each other again – although, whether this is just a trick Moffat inserts into his own scripts or something that’s catching on is as yet unknown. For the time being, Doctor Who is back on track. Hooray!

8/10

504: The Time of Angels

‘Don’t blink!’ – The Doctor

Wow. Just when you start to despair and bang your head against a wall, Moffat returns in style and pulls one out of the bag.

The Doctor’s future wife, River Song, sends him a cunning message that draws the TARDIS to a crash site on a planet long abandoned. The ship they were chasing contains the last remaining Weeping Angel, a statue that has laid dormant for hundreds of year and is now being supercharged by enormous amounts of radiation…

The plot is fairly simple, like all ‘Part One’ episodes: bucket loads of setup, tension and loss as the Doctor suddenly finds himself miles out of his depth. What makes it so good this time around is simply that the Weeping Angel enemy is so, so brilliant.

Moffat has had the foresight to take what was scary – i.e. not blinking or you die – and up the ante significantly. The Angel now has far more power than any of the others previously encountered. This one can come get you through TVs, switch off lights and, most brilliantly of all, get inside Amy’s head.

The production values are consistently high, the acting top-notch throughout and the ideas flying off the screen. This is Moffat going for the jugular of the children watching and with any luck night lights will remain on across the nation.

There are a few problems, though. The amount of supporting characters means that there aren’t many real characters in the Church Squad. They turn up just moments before you know they’re going to get it in the neck, which is a disappointment. And another point – one that certainly seems to rear its ugly head time and again – what is with the BBC and their casting of ethnic actors? The first two characters that die are… wild guess… black! It’s a surprise that the Angel isn’t black, just to complete the image.

Still, that aside, this is a really thrilling return to form that will keep its viewers glued to their screens for the conclusion next week. Hopefully it won’t go the same way as all the other ‘Part Two’ episodes and be full of exposition.

8/10

502: The Beast Below

‘It’s a… tongue.’ – The Doctor

Last week’s opener was an absolute barnstormer, kicking the Doctor back up into high gear. This week sees the pace lagging once more.

The Doctor and Amy travel hundreds of years into the future and discover a massive spaceship that houses the entire country. Unfortunately, there are sinister forces at work on Starship UK, as the Doctor quickly finds himself up against a hideous, smiling enemy.

It’s an episode in two parts. The first part is roughly half an hour long, with expert precision in setting up the arena, the villains, the world and the characters. The second half is the final fifteen minutes, and it’s here that everything goes completely to hell.

The setup is great, fantastic even, with a genuinely creepy enemy in the form of the rotating head Smilers and the location is a hugely interesting one. Liz X is a wonderfully campy, gun-toting Marvel ass-kicking bitch that brings an enormous amount of fun to the episode.

Matt Smith is, again, brilliant in the Doctor’s fairly hefty shoes, bringing humour, charm, wit and genuine glee to the role, while Karen Gillan is still both smoulderingly sexy and so innocent she’ll make most of the male viewers feel very bad about themselves. There’s even, quite brilliantly, a link to next week’s show, which is something that really needs to be done all the time, because it creates a sense of continuity in the show.

The problem is that the final fifteen minutes, the dungeon scene, to be specific, utterly destroy all the prior goodwill. It’s so jarring and random that it really feels like the BBC filmed it at the last moment because it was too heavy on the political commentary that runs rampant throughout the rest of the episode. The Doctor’s character changes randomly, Amy’s character, Liz X, the children, even the revelation at the heart of it makes no goddamn bit of sense and it’s so infuriating.

Nothing is explained or resolved. Why are kids being dropped down lift shafts for bad scores? Why is everyone afraid of the Smilers? What are the Smilers? Why are the Smilers there? Has the power never cut out, not even once, in over two hundred years?

It’s a crushing shame because the Doctor was just getting back to his feet. If the final ten minutes had a better twist – actually, that’s the wrong word because even twist endings make sense – and there was some kind of explanation for any of the events, then this would be just as enjoyable as the first episode. As it is, this is simply disappointing.

6/10