Posts Tagged ‘doctor who’

613 – The Wedding of River Song

This is it. The moment fans have poured over since the beginning of the series – the Doctor’s death at the edge of Lake Silencio. Can the Doctor undo a fixed point in time? Will River really murder the man she loves? And most of all, what is the Question that the Silence want to remain unanswered?

Perhaps what’s best about this episode is that all of those questions are answered in the most mind-blowing way possible. One of Steven Moffat’s many strengths as a writer is his ability to surprise the viewer with sequences that are unexpected and leave them desperately trying to figure out what is actually going on. Nowhere is this more apparent than here, where time begins to collapse in on itself in spectacularly puzzling fashion.

The cast spark off one another brilliantly, with Rory once again getting some great lines and even a cracking scene where Amy gets her badass on. River’s love for the Doctor is both convincing and amusing, with their banter becoming a highlight of the series.

The only problem is that when the moment comes – the grand reveal – it’s impossible not to feel a little disappointed in just how easy it all really is. After the cleverness of last year’s time-travel clue-laying, this is almost a let down. Or at least it would be if the rest of the episode – indeed, the entire series – wasn’t so damn good.

On the whole, this is an excellent close to a generally great series. Leaving enough questions unanswered for the next series, but providing just the right amount of clues, Moffat has delivered a thoughtful, challenging, fun and downright entertaining show. Here’s to the Christmas episode.


612 – Closing Time

James Corden returns as Craig for this comedy episode featuring the Cybermen. Left to look after his baby for a weekend, Craig runs straight into the Doctor, who is going on a farewell tour before his inevitable death on April 22nd. However, there are sinister goings-on afoot and Craig is enlisted to help his old friend to stop the Cybermen one more time.

It’s unusual that a comedy episode would be genuinely funny, but this is precisely what ‘Closing Time’ manages to be. Frequently bordering on hysterical, the episode thrives on the excellent chemistry between the hapless Craig and the Doctor, while managing to get a hell of a lot of laughs – and even some key plot points – out of Craig’s child Alfie.

The plot moves along with a good pace, allowing time for a couple of good twists and red herrings, before arriving at an explosive climax. Held together by good CGI and some excellent comic timing, the episode is a joy to watch as it races from one amusing set piece to the next.

If there is perhaps one minor problem with the episode, it’s that the Cybermen aren’t really needed. It could be any enemy from the Doctor’s past – heck, it could even be an all-new villain. This is something of a shame, as it feels like the Cybermen have returned just to be made fun of.

On the whole, this is one comedy episode that works very well, thanks to the talents of its two stars and a few excellent lines. Another cracking episode in a damn good series.

611 – The God Complex

The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves trapped in an alien building designed to look like an old earth hotel. Each room contains a nightmare specific to one person and, once viewed, turns them into prey for the minotaur that stalks the corridors. If the Doctor can’t figure out what’s going on soon enough, everyone will succumb to their own fears…

This is one of those strange episodes that seems to think it’s much better than it really is. Packing no less than six plot twists, it also breaks the show’s running time by an extra four minutes. There’s also a lot of fat that could really be cut out here, such as the many interminable scenes between each minotaur attack.

That said, there are some good points here – some of the nightmare rooms are quite unsettling, such as the ventriloquist’s dummy room – and the first couple of plot twists are pretty clever. There are also some great turns from the supporting cast, including the brilliant David Walliams as a cowardly alien. It’s just a shame that it seems to drag on so long.

Probably the weakest episode of the series so far. A shame considering the quality of the rest of the run, but perhaps inevitable that there would be one weak link. It’s just disappointing that the story doesn’t really go anywhere fresh or exciting – this is an episode set entirely within bland, empty corridors.

610 – The Girl Who Waited

When Doctor takes Amy and Rory to one of the Universe’s hotspots, everything goes hellishly wrong. An outbreak of a contagion that the humans are immune to has broken out, turning the paradise into a final resort for those dying. Family members get to see their loved ones live out their lives all in the space of a single day – something that backfires dramatically when Amy enters the wrong doorway. Attempting to rescue her from a cure that will kill her, the Doctor and Rory head after her, only to find that Amy has been alone for thirty six years – and she’s become someone entirely different.

The central premise of the episode is incredibly thoughtful, posing the question of what exactly it is that happens if the Doctor fails his companions. Amy’s relationship with the Time Lord has already gone through some turbulent times, but here their fragile alliance is stretched to breaking point, with the Doctor leaving his redheaded friend in a deadly environment for almost four decades.

Naturally, the episode focuses on Rory and Amy’s relationship and here the two actors do not disappoint. Their chemistry is nothing less than excellent as Rory and Amy struggle to deal with that most difficult of life-changers: time itself. Seeing Amy wizened, older, angrier and vengeful is one thing, but seeing Rory, heartbroken, attempting to salve the wound is quite another.

That’s the episode’s true strength: the ties that bind the characters. Amy’s aging affects not only the Doctor and Rory, but a younger Amy as well. Full credit should go here to the make-up artists: not only does Amy look visibly aged, but it never looks silly or overdone. In fact, the characters are what keep the storyline together to such an extent that the robot villains are almost irrelevant.

Most of the episode is highly enjoyable, if slow-paced, meaning that it’s a shame that the final action sequence is forced to be so melodramatic. With the over-use of slow motion, dramatic music and low angles, it’s almost like watching a cheaper version of the appalling film 300. In fact, given how much the drama relies on characters up until the last few minutes, the climactic fight is genuinely disappointing.

All in all, this is a very good episode. Light on action, heavy on excellent character building and with a pitch-black finale, this might be looked on as one of the most intelligent episodes that Doctor Who has yet enjoyed.

609 – Night Terrors

Last series Mark Gatiss gave us the abomination known as ‘Victory of the Daleks’. To describe the episode as a stinker is an injustice to all the other bad episodes there have ever been. ‘Victory of the Daleks’ was pure, unadulterated eye cancer. So with trepidation we step into Gatiss’ latest episode, knowing that he has a hell of a lot to make up for…

Actually, it’s not a bad episode at all, although it does step once again into that familiar territory of strange domestic problems (something Gatiss uses a lot). The story flits wildly between engaging and wonky, although the whole affair is pretty much saved by an excellent villain. The creepy Dolls are quite wonderful, appearing both sinister and believable all at once. The only real problem is that once it’s revealed that they grab people and change them into Dolls, all the tension is lost – it becomes painfully obvious that the Doctor will just undo everything at the end.

There’s also a fantastic supporting turn from the always likeable Daniel Mays as a panicked father and some incredible use of sound, such as the ‘breathing’ lift and those skin-crawling children’s giggles.

So does it make up for ‘Victory of the Daleks’? Yes, easily. While the episode is flawed in several places – easy to figure out, the Doctor doesn’t do much, not enough is done with the Dolls and the ending would be better if the father killed the child – it’s still entertaining enough. Not the best, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the last episode Gatiss wrote.

608 – Let’s Kill Hitler

BOOM! And so The Doctor finally returns to our screens. So many unresolved questions are now rattling around and we’ve had months – long, cruel months – to debate and discuss. Now we’re going to find out the answers. What happened to Melody/ River, Amy and Rory’s child? Is the Doctor actually going to die? Are bowties really a fashionable accessory? (Hint: yes).

The Doctor returns to present day England for a reunion with Amy and Rory, who still don’t know a thing about what’s going on. There the three are grabbed at gunpoint by Amy and Rory’s friend Mels, who forces the Doctor to take her to kill Hitler.

That’s when a series of amazing events occur and the Doctor finds himself face to face with a demented River Song, who is under orders to kill him. Faced with only forty minutes to live, the Doctor must stop River from destroying history and also deal with a time-travelling justice department, who want River captured at all costs.

The title is a bit misleading, to be honest. Hitler himself gets a paltry two minutes of screentime (which is hilarious, to be fair), and then literally gets shoved in a cupboard. Nothing is made of the setting either, with Germany in 1938 getting forgotten almost as soon as it is set up. This is a real shame, given who much storytelling potential could have happened here – the gang having to save Hitler from would-be assassins might well have been TV gold.

Still, what’s here is definitely good and occasionally great – River’s first attempts to kill the Doctor are borderline hysterical, while Rory could almost do stand-up after some of his lines. (‘Can you drive a motorbike?’ “I expect so, it’s been that sort of a day.”)

The alien villain is also well done and quite interesting, seeing a team of people shrunk down and piloting a shape-shifting humanoid robot. The effects department might be trapped behind the same budget limitations as before, but the idea itself is both entertaining and imaginative – certainly more so than regular alien baddies are.

On the whole, Who returns with style and flair. A couple of the major questions are answered by this episode, with many more left to be poured over for the remaining weeks of the series’ run. Long may it continue.

507 – A Good Man Goes To War

And so the first half of the series draws to a close, with a US TV-style break and an almighty cliffhanger. The events of the past six episodes have all been leading up to this one, and it’s a doozy.

After revealing Amy to be a Flesh construct to deceive himself and Rory, the Doctor prepares an army to wage war on the ones responsible: the mysterious Eyepatch Woman and the Headless Monks, who are holed up on the military asteroid of Demon’s Run. However, the only one who refuses to join is River Song, as she knows what’s about the happen: her secret will at long last be revealed, and the Doctor’s struggle will see him lose harder than ever before…

What’s not to like about this episode? Memorable moments abound – from Rory’s fireblazing opening to that ending – stuffed with cracking characters that actually manage to have a little depth to them. The winner here is the excellent Sontaran nurse, both grumpy and excited by the prospect of combat, although honourable mentions to the Silurian swordswoman and her maid, who appear to have a lesbian thing going on.

In fact, it’s a highly adult, pitch-black episode all round, really. There’s a lesbian couple, a gay couple, people having their heads cut off and shut in a box, severed necks twisted into stumps and more shocking sights, but that would be spoiling it.

All in all, this is probably the finest Doctor Who series that’s yet been made. Dark, twisted, clever, tricky and so bloody good, it makes everything Russell T Davies ever did look laughable (which is, you know, accurate). One tiny flaw – we have to wait until autumn for an episode titled ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’. Moffat, you tease.

506 – The Almost People

Come on, people, who wants another episode of more of the same thing? What’s that, ‘not really’? Well, tough, because that’s what you’re getting.

After spending all of last episode failing to convince the humans that the Gangers are real people and deserve to be treated as such, the Doctor now finds himself in the quandary of having his very own Flesh creation. However, they are both trapped in the middle of a crumbling castle, sitting on top of a very explosive series of acid mines and the Gangers want to go to war with the entire human race…

It’s a strange episode, this one. Roughly half of it is simply more of what was in last week’s instalment – ‘I’m a human!’/ “No you’re not!” – but the other half is the stuff you actually want to see – plastic flesh shapeshifting and going mental. There’s violence, carnage and death on offer, which is why it’s such a shame that the episode wasn’t halved and done as one story instead of two.

Slow burning, a little bumpy and quite cheesy with a far too simplistic climax, the entire two-parter is pretty much saved by excellent CGI, cracking monsters and cliffhangers that will be discussed continuously until the next episode.

505 – The Rebel Flesh

And now for the token, unnecessary, very cheesy two-parter that seems to be required in every Doctor Who series. At least this one is trying to be a bit different.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive on a small planet in the middle of a solar storm, where the only inhabitants are a small group of military contractors who are experimenting with extremely dangerous acids. In order to do their jobs, the group have to use ‘Gangers’, realistic flesh creations with their faces and personalities that remain under their control at all times. However, after a particularly violent solar storm, the compound is damaged and when everyone wakes up, nobody knows who’s real and who isn’t…

Honestly, this doesn’t matter because it’s easy enough to figure out and the idea of who’s a Ganger and who isn’t is discarded pretty early on, meaning that it’s purely a bit of filler designed to pad the episode out to double-length. Most of the episode sees the Doctor trying to convince everyone that the Gangers are real people, before it inevitably goes tits up.

The best part about this episode is that its cliffhanger is really quite good. It’s just a shame that you have to sit through forty five minutes of nonsensical blathering in order to get there.

604 – The Doctor’s Wife

Neil Gaiman is a hell of a name to get in to write an episode of Doctor Who, so this week’s tale of space-time shenanigans is more eagerly awaited than usual. As it turns out, it’s worth the wait.

A Time Lord distress beacon arrives at the TARDIS, prompting a frenzied and ecstatic Doctor to take himself, Amy and Rory on a rescue mission outside the known universe. Once there, however, things go quickly wrong as it transpires that the planet is a malevolent, sentient being, and the soul of the TARDIS is removed and placed inside the body of a human woman…

A great episode all round, this one. Funny, touching and really damn dark – especially Amy’s terrifying run through the TARDIS. The Doctor’s wonderful range of emotions, running the entire gauntlet from sorrow and shame to vengeance and cunning, are a joy to watch unfold and the interactions between him and Idris might be one of the highlights of the entire run so far.

The only real complaint is that it feels too quick to end. It’s almost like Gaiman had another five minutes of script saved up for the finale, but had to cut it out. The Doctor wins with little to no real effort on his part, leaving the final ten minutes weirdly anticlimactic.

However, this is still a fantastic episode by a fantastic writer. Original, witty, charming and strangely affecting, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ is another great episode in a highly enjoyable series.