Posts Tagged ‘matt smith’

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.

603 – The Curse of the Black Spot

Last year’s third episode was the abomination known as ‘Victory of the Daleks’, so it is with some trepidation that we approach this series’ instalment. Fortunately, it’s a damn sight better than it has any right to be, given the subject material.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory respond to a distress signal broadcast from a ship. However, they soon discover that the vessel in peril is an old pirate ship that’s been stranded in calm waters, the crew stalked one by one by the Siren. A single cut, a solitary drop of blood is all that takes to curse the sailor and draw the Siren out of the water, where she kills them.

As a concept, it’s a bit ropey, but in execution it work very well. This is largely down to how the story gets to the point very quickly, eschewing the usual fifteen minutes of wandering around and talking in favour of having the Siren show up and start killing very, very quickly. It’s a refreshing change of pace, one that gets things straight to the point. Smart ideas and creepy set pieces are allowed to take over with very little interruption – how many ways are there to get a cut on an old, wooden pirate ship?

All in all, it’s a decent enough episode with plenty of humour and some great moments. The final fifteen minutes might push the initial concept to breaking point and the final twists are real clunkers, but for the most part, the episode is far better than it really should have been.

602 – Day of the Moon

This review is going to be a short one. Like all good second part episodes, ‘Day of the Moon’ is rammed with classic moments and some incredible twists and revealing even a single one of them would be a crime.

That aside, it wouldn’t be spoiling it to say that the episode is fast, furious, funny, with a couple of shocks lined up for its climax that will see many a jaw unhinge itself and plummet to the floor. There are some moments here that may well become total classics among Doctor Who fans, from the mind-bending opening to the unsettling terror of the orphanage, right up to the moment when River Song’s heart visibly breaks. The expert hand of Steven Moffat leads the audience on a gripping tale, filled to the brim with the sort of great moments that define Doctor Who when the show is at its prime.

Without wanting to spoil any of the episode, this is definitely one of the greats. Fantastic aliens, a cracking sense of humour, stunning revelations and a puzzling climax work together to create the biggest, darkest and most twisted ongoing Doctor Who storyline to date. A must-see.

Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut

With an uncharacteristically quiet opening, the Doctor returns to our screens. A series of letters invite Amy, Rory and River Song to a lakeside in America, where they’re reunited with an old friend. But that’s only the beginning, as horrific events swiftly unfold, plunging the adventurers into a complex new mystery.

As a series opener, ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ is perhaps the slowest one to date, beginning as it does with a variety of comedic moments featuring the Doctor messing about in time and setting up an intriguing mystery. Once things get going (and quite swiftly, after about ten or so minutes), the episode rattles along at a fair old pace, introducing an unsettling new enemy, a freelance detective and Richard bloody Nixon himself.

Because this is merely part one of two, there’s very little time for exposition or any of Doctor Who’s usual trappings. Instead, we’re treated to several surprisingly intense (especially for 6pm) scenes involving the skin-crawling alien enemy and even a shot of a woman exploding. It’s a bit of a shame, then, that so much time is given is given to setting up the plot as it leaves very few memorable moments. The corkers that are on offer are excellent – aliens looming out of the shadows, Nixon being bossed around by the Doctor and that bit just ten minutes in all serve to remind why this show is doing so well under the guiding hand of Steven Moffat.

Without knowing what lies in store for the series, it’s hard to judge this opening as a set-up. If there are any hints for the plot, they’re very well hidden and will no doubt provide hours of fun for those who want to find them. On its own merits, it’s a quiet, slow-burning start, but one with a compelling mystery and a fantastic central premise. The eleventh Doctor’s newest series is off to a promising start.

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.


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.