Doctor Who is possibly the only program I ever get seriously excited about. Since they’ve brought it back I’ve been like a school kid again and unashamedly so. As luck would have it, for the first time in ages I didn’t have a gig on Saturday, so I actually got to watch it as it came out live and broadcasted and as god intended.
WARNING. CONTAINS SPOILERS SWEETIE.
So how did I find the first episode of the sixth series? A little disappointing I’m afraid. In fact it’s possible this is the weakest opening episode so far. Saying that, it’s only the first part so it may kick in next week in such a way that makes part one a lot better on second viewing. It wouldn’t be the first time. There has been the odd ropey episode that ends up being integral to something later and suddenly that episode becomes a lot more fun in hindsight. The Lazarus Experiment springs to mind.
I know it was suppose to be a massive shock at the start of the episode, but I was disappointed with the bluff of the Doctor being shot, about to regenerate and then getting killed in the middle of his regeneration. There was a similar bluff in the penultimate episode of David Tennent’s The Stolen Earth and that didn’t excite me either.
The plot itself wasn’t bad once you got over the silly is he/isn’t he dead nonsense. The idea of the aliens that you forget the minute you stop looking at them is fantastic idea, if a little similar to the Weeping Angels from Blink. And even though they’re supposed to look a bit like Edvard Munch’s Scream, I can’t help feel they’re more like an amalgamation of Greys and the Ood. All in all it gave me a slight feeling of, I’ve seen this all before.
I was also a little disappointed with the use of River Song. I would go out of my way and say that she is the best character since they brought the series back. The casting of Alex Kinston is spot on and I’ve loved her as an actor since Moll Flanders. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moffat didn’t just create the character especially for her. But in this episode I really can’t see what she was there for apart from a bit of expertise and some saucy flirting. Or is it just a cynical plot to get people like me excited about the first episode. Is River Song the new Daleks? Perhaps, but I would have been excited if it was Nimon vs The Candyman and penned by Richard Curtis.
I also couldn’t understand the point of explaining River Song and the Doctor’s meetings. I was always under the impression that they were meeting at random points in their lives and this is why they compared diaries. Her explaining that they meet in reverse order meant that they would have a good idea at what point they were. By simply knowing that each time they met, the other wouldn’t remember the last adventure the next time. And if this is the case why is she so joking and light hearted when the doctor meets her for the first time in Silence in the Library? Surely she’d be more upset knowing this would be the last time she ever see him again. Perhaps I’m getting a bit too geeky over this and have read into it wrong, but I checked again and this does seem to be the case.
Also when Pond told the Doctor she was pregnant, did we care? Seriously? Wasn’t that part of the whole getting married plan? Don’t kids normally come next? Obviously this is going to have significance later in the arc, but let’s hope it’s not an overused “chosen child” that saves the whole universe crap. If it is this significant, then they went about in a shoe horned lack lustre way.
Actually I don’t know why I’m being so down on it. From what I saw on the other channels later it was the best written, acted and intelligent thing on Saturday night. There were a few nice touches that I enjoyed, like when they burned the Doctor’s body. Not wanting to leave a cell behind. This goes back to the reason why the Master was burned.
And of course there was the sauciness which I’m a sucker for (not like you filthy hound). Seeing the Doctor naked under the ladies dress, addressing River Song as that “bad bad girl” and her exclaiming that she’s “good at screaming” added a much needed touch of Carry On to bit of a confusing first episode.
It was also a nice touch to film some of the scenes in America, however as it’s Doctor Who and British I just assumed it was Camber Sands with a big rock superimposed in the background.
I’m just hoping this is the start of an absolutely amazing story arc that spreads throughout the whole sixth series and I’ll re-read this and think maybe I shouldn’t have been so judgmental.
I generally found it a little weird that Moffat wanted to appeal to the diehard Doctor Who fans from the off. If you were a casual viewer you would certainly be confused and possibly switch over. Even as a diehard fan I missed a crucial point. It wasn’t till I actually read a review of this episode that I realised there was a connection between this and episode 11 from the 5th series called The Lodger. If you missed it, the spaceship River Song and Rory discover towards the end of the episode is the same in the both episodes. In fact, in The Lodger, they explain its someone’s attempt at a TARDIS. Which prompted me to go back and watch The Lodger again and to be honest it’s a much better story. Here’s hoping things pick up.
6 out of 10