With the new Series 6 of Doctor Who kicking off in two days’ time, we’ve been watching our way through all the previous Eleventh Doctor episodes. Having finished with Series 5 a few days ago, tonight we watched the Christmas special, A Christmas Carol.
"Me and Father Christmas, Frank SInatra's hunting lodge, 1952. See him at the back with the blonde. Albert Einstein, the three of us together -- whoom! Watch out!"
And it really is the most extraordinary piece of television. Continue reading
I wanted to blog about The Big Bang the moment it finished — I felt electrified, and wanted to let it all pour out — but the way things fell out, Andy Murray’s match against Gilles Simon started just as The Big Bang ended, then I watched the extra time at the end of the USA-Ghana World Cup match (commiserations to US-based readers, I was supporting you guys). Then I had to reboot my son’s iPod (which crashes if you try to play an MPEG layer II file on it, if you can imagine anything so lame), then I had to clear up the detritus of dinner, unload and reload the dishwasher and all. So it’s only now — four hours after the end of the program — that I’m free to write.
Has the glow faded?
So after all the anticipation, the Pandorica opened on Saturday night?
What was in it? Well, I can’t tell you, can I? That would be completely spoily.
What was my reaction? I can’t tell you that, either. Because I don’t know.
I was planning to avoid writing any more about Doctor Who except for the reviews of the last two episodes. But I was so fascinated by last week’s trailer for this Saturday’s episode, The Pandorica Opens, that I’ve not been able to stop myself thinking about this: what is inside the Pandorica?
As Prisoner Zero told us right back in the first episode, ”The universe is cracked. The Pandorica will open. Silence will fall.”
[To start with: an apology. I've been writing so much about Doctor Who and Buffy recently that I've slacked off a bit on the subject of programming, which was always supposed to be heart of this blog. I'll get back to that real soon, I promise. But first ...]
The Lodger was written by Gareth Roberts, whose previous on Doctor Who consists of the so-so Shakespeare Code, the forgettable and very silly The Unicorn and the Wasp and a co-writer credit (with Russell T. Davies) on the truly awful Planet of the Dead. So you’ll forgive me if I came to The Lodger with low expectations.
To my amazement, it’s my favourite episode of the season so far. I laughed, I cried, I was scared, I was delighted. I felt caught off guard by this episode in a way that I’ve not for most of the others. I had no real idea what to expect, so everything took me by surprise.
Start with a man who sees things different from everyone else. That’s an interesting science-fictional premise. Throw in an alien that is invisible — to everyone except the man who sees differently. There’s your source of tension, maybe conflict and danger. Make the man one of the best-loved of artists, and you have immediate grounding, the opportunity to show us on film things that we’re already familiar with from paintings. And of course add in the Doctor and the freshly Rory-less Amy.
Should be all the ingredients for a classic episode, right?
So, did Cold Blood live up to the very promising The Hungry Earth, the first half of the two-parter that it concludes? Having watched it only once so far, my answer is a qualified yes. My concerns about the Silurians looking too human were exacerbated when we saw more of them, but since they actually did have noticeably different characters, the ability to read that on their faces was fairly useful.
Here, for example, we see a statesman — one who wants to broker peace. And you can sort of see that in his face, as compared to the warrior who we saw last week. It’s an impressive job of make-up to enable the actors to act through the layers. I still don’t think the loss of alienness is a price worth paying, but at least now that I’ve seen the second part, I can understand why the programme makers did think so.
Read on for some slightly spoily thoughts …
I’m sorry that my Hungry Earth article is very nearly a week late. But now is the time: Cold Blood is on tonight, and I want to write down my thoughts on the first half of the two-parter before I see the second. The reason for that is that in many New Who two-parters, the first half is the stronger: think of The Empty Child vs. The Doctor Dances, Silence in the Library vs. Forest of the Dead, and arguably The Time of Angels vs. Flesh and Stone. On the other hand, the second half sometimes lifts the first, casts it in a clearer light and makes it look better than on first impressions — think of how The Family of Blood surpassed Human Nature (which was already superb).
Either way, I don’t want the second half to bias my impressions of the first, so let’s take a moment to think about The Hungry Earth as a standalone episode.
I will try not to be too spoily, but I can hardly help revealing what the photograph already makes clear: this story features reptilian humanoids who can only be … anyone? Yep, the Silurians!
A couple of nights ago, I watched The Hungry Earth, episode 8 of the new Doctor Who. Among other things, it reminded me that I’ve not yet written anything about episode 7. So let’s fix that. And then I’ll go on to talk about episode 8 next time.
I had more a more fundamental problem with Amy’s Choice than with any other episode in the season so far. I’ve tried to think of a way to discuss it spoiler-free, but I’ve not come up with anything. So we warned that THIS REVIEW IS VERY SPOILY.
Episode six rolls around (and, hey, that was the name of the band that Ian Gillan and Roger Glover were in before they joined Deep Purple): we find out how the Doctor responds to Amy’s ill-judged overtures at the end of Flesh and Stone, and how he deals with vampires.