It’s taken five months, but tonight we finally all sat down and watched Doctor Who‘s 2012 Christmas special again. So I can finally expand on my extremely brief initial remarks.
Unfortunately, this is going to be a very tedious excuse for a review, because once again, I’m going to be overwhelmingly positive. I was very disappointed by the final episode of Series 6, and remarked that “Next up will be the Christmas special — a presumably stand-alone story in which I hope we will see that Moffat has not misplaced his mojo”. And indeed we did.
24 hours on from writing my review of The Wedding of River Song, I’m still a bit shocked at how negative it turned out. And I still don’t really understand why I liked it so very much less than, say, The Big Bang. But I did have two more thoughts I wanted to share; plus a lot of interesting points have been made in the comments, some of them deserving a public response.
Needless to say, lots of spoilers follow.
And so we come to the end of Doctor Who series 6. So many questions to answer, so much ground to cover, so many ideas to tie together. Were they answered? Was it covered? Were they integrated? Will this so-called review consist entirely of questions?
Read on after the break. Needless to say, spoilers follow!
Warning: Doctor Who spoilers from the start.
Read on after the break only if you’ve seen all the episodes of Doctor Who Series 6 apart from the last.
At the end of my God Complex review, I worried about Closing Time: “I loved [The Lodger] but in part because it was so very self-contained, a sort of holiday from the main story; and because it wrapped up its whole rom-com subplot so neatly. I don’t see how a sequel can really work, and I especially struggle to see how it can tie in to the arc.”
Well, I needn’t have worried.
… And there there are the times when Doctor Who just gets it all so perfectly right that you feel you never need to watch anything else ever again.
There’s so much that could be said about The God Complex — about the careful selection of one-shot companions; about the craftsmanship with which they’re given separate and interesting characters so that in the space of 45 minutes we come to care about who makes it and who doesn’t; about the nightmarish nature of the hotel’s corridors and staircases, before we even get into the individual rooms; and about how the nature of what the monster is doing turns out to be different from what we all assumed. But that’s not the point.
Waiting has been a recurring theme in New Who. Sarah Jane waited thirty years (in real time!) to see the Doctor again after The Hand of Fear. Captain Jack waited in Cardiff for somewhere north of a hundred years before finding the Doctor in Utopia. Amy waited twelve years for the Doctor within a single episode (The Eleventh Hour), and then for another two years later in the same episode! Rory waited two thousand years for Amy to emerge from the Pandorica in The Big Bang. (It’s part of Rory’s charm that he is the only one of these to have waited for anyone other than the Doctor. Amy means more to him than the Doctor does.)
When Series 6′s complex and demanding opening two parter Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon was followed by the relatively straightforward third episode, Curse of the Black Spot, I couldn’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by comparison. It had a lot to recommend it (in fact I really must go back and watch it again), but set against the sprawling ambitious of the opening gambit it seemed somehow mundane. That’s harsh, but based on a true story.
Night Terrors had the similarly difficult job of following on from Moffat’s mid-season two parter A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler; but would it be substantial enough to stand up against those very rich episodes?
Oh, I have been looking forward to this for so long … The title alone had me salivating: the juxtaposition of the causal “Let’s” with the history-changing “Kill Hitler” is pure Who, capturing in three words the programme’s unique blend of the light-hearted and the profound. Only Doctor Who can switch between two so constantly, seamlessly and effortlessly.
It’s been just over two months since the first time I watched A Good Man Goes to War, the finale of the first half of Doctor Who, Series 6. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what I made of it, so I didn’t write my review straight away, wanting to give it time to sink in, and also planning to watch it a second time. Now, with the second half of the series scheduled to start in less than three weeks, the time has come for the reassessment.
So I watched it again tonight, and the verdict is in.