Saturday, May 25, 2013

Doctor Who - Season 6 - Episodes 7-13 

A Good Man Goes To War (Episode 7)

Rory and The Doctor set off on their mission to find and rescue Amy.  They start by recruiting a lot of old friends who owe the Doctor favors.  They are successful in rescuing Amy and she and Rory's newborn daughter Melody Pond.  Or so they think...The beginning of this one is a right hot mess and the pacing of the whole episode is bizarre.  The idea of the Doctor building an Army and waging war is a little out of character even if the take over is basically more theatrical than violent.  I was really having a hard time making connections between the lady with the eye patch, the headless monks, the marines and the Silence.  Isn't the Silence supposed to be behind all this malarkey?  But we see nor hear hide nor hair of them.  I was spoiled on the revelation at the end of the episode but I can imagine it was probably a stunner when it happened.  Grade: C

Let's Kill Hitler (Episode 8)

This is basically the beginning of River Song's story. A lot happens in this episode. Rory, Amy and the Doctor are reunited after a couple months apart and in roars Amy and Rory's best friend Mels of whom we've never seen or heard.  She hijacks the TARDIS and they travel back to 1938 and accidentally save Hitler from being punished by a time traveling justice seeking robot run by a lot of miniaturized humans.  Mels is shot and dying but reveals that she can regenerate and turns into River Song.  And we're still in the first 15 minutes...
There is almost too much going on in this episode but most of it I liked.  The robot run by lots of miniaturized human and policed by mechanical antibodies is cool even though its origin is never really explored or explained - it's just a plot device.  So time lords can change their age at will - did we know that?  Though I'm not a big River Song fan this is an interesting beginning to her story though I still kinda hate the whatever it is between she and the Doctor.  One little thing I liked was seeing the former companions even if they were just holograms:)  Grade: B

Night Terrors (Episode 9)

The Doctor gets the following message on his psychic paper: "Please save me from the monsters." He traces it to a down at the heels estate, where a little boy is terrified of the lift and the monsters living in his cupboard.  While the Doctor talks with the boy, the elevator sends Rory and Amy to a strange world they can't make heads or tales of.  In the end they all find themselves being tormented by creepy dolls in a ..."Refuge for dirty posh people who eat wooden food or..termites..giant termites that want to get on The Property Ladder" aka a dolls house.

This is a lovely creepy episode that plays on the terrors of little kids.  There's also a nice dash of pedophobia. And it's interesting that they have this one off episode about an unexpected, not normal kid wreaking havoc - nice connection to the larger storyline whether deliberate or not.   It's visually very interesting.  All in all this whole season has been very nice visually.  I am starting to get rather irritated with Matt Smith's super fast mumbly speak - I feel like I'm missing a good quarter of what he says. Grade: B+

The Girl Who Waited (Episode 10)

"What's the answer that won't get us killed?"  Always a wise questions to ask when you're traveling with the Doctor.  Amy is separated from Rory and the Doctor on a planet with two time streams, one fast, one slow. One week for Amy, is just moments for Rory and the Doctor.  The Doctor sends Rory out to track her down and when he does find her, 36 years have passed for her.

This is another one that is visually stunning.  Karen Gillan does an awesome job playing an older Amy who hasn't had any human contact for 36 years.  In general she does a great job in this episode.  This is also the Doctor's Dilemma in 43 minutes - It's a microcosm of what he always faces with his companions. He will always be forced to let them down and make the ugly choice.  I LOVE when Doctor Who is poignant and creative. There were tears during this one. The last line is Killer with a capital K. And as a non sequiter, I think I'm falling a little in love with Rory. Grade: A

The God Complex (Episode 11)

aka Hotel California - You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave.  Our fearless Trio find themselves in a cheesy and demonic 1980's hotel.  There are a few other folks there as well - 3 humans and an alien from a planet with the distinction of being the most invaded.  Each person has a room for them that has their own personal worst nightmare. And the TARDIS has disappeared!  Even more freaky... "It's amazing that you've just come up with a theory that's even more insane then what's actually happening.."  suddenly Rory's getting all the great lines.

This is one of those episodes that swings between absurdly comical and holy buckets of creepy.  I suspect there's also some scathing commentary on organized religion hidden in there. There's a nice hidden message that faith in the Doctor will get you consumed.  It is again the Doctor's dilemma - how he is always the undoing of his companions. It's a nice development of the Doctor.  And again the episode's design is awesome - they've really outdone themselves this series. In the end the Doctor tries to do the right thing though somehow I doubt it will stand. And leaving with another lovely Rory quote.  "We've forgotten that not all victories are about saving the universe." Grade: B+

Closing Time (Episode 12)

The Doctor shows up to say hello to Craig (from the series 5 episode The Lodger) and he and Sophie's baby Stormaggedon Dark Lord of All aka Alfie.  During this somewhat awkward visit The Doctor notices some electrical fluctuations and his savior complex kicks in.  So he get's a job at a department store, in the toys section of course. And apparently Amy's become a model in the meantime. Hmm...

Craig is from one of the episodes that I actually liked in Series 5 so I was excited to see him again.  As with the original episode this is mostly played for laughs and it works well.  The scene where the Doctor tries to distract Craig by declaring his love is pretty hilarious.  The Doctor is also feeling a little nostalgic about his life as he believes it's coming to an end.  It has a sappy, sentimental but lovely Doctor Who type ending.  And I wish I could have The Doctor's cleaning service. And we're back where we started with series 6...interesting. This season has been really nicely constructed though I don't really want to think to hard about the timeline...I'll just settle for timey wimey stuff happens. Grade: B+

The Wedding of River Song (Episode 13)

We open in an alternate universe where Winston Churchill is the Holy Roman Empire, pterodacyls and hot air balloon carried cars float in the sky and all history has been smooshed into one moment; 5:02 pm on April the 22nd.  Then we are following the Doctor as he travels trying to discover why the Silence believe he has to die. The Doctor's attitude can be summed up thus: to the Doctor: "Time catches up with us all Doctor."  The Doctor: "But it's never laid a glove on me." And we're back at Lake Silencio in Utah. And we find out why River has been in jail since we've met her. 

Despite feeling a little queasy whenever I thought too hard about how things happened, I did very much enjoy it.  I thought it was head and shoulders above the Series 5 finale and sets up some interesting story lines for Series 7.  It's a little all over the place but it does pull all the threads together by the end in a way that more or less makes sense.  Overall a nice wrap up to a really excellent season. Grade: B

Series 6 Review

Well color me very pleasantly surprised and very happy to be surprised too.  After my lackluster response to Series 5 I thought I was done with Doctor Who which was definitely pretty sad in a first world problem sort of way.  But it turns out Series 5 just kind of sucked! Who knew!  Glad to see the show runner's are hitting their stride and now I am super anxious to see Series 7.  Which will be a very long time from now. Sigh... I do wish they worked on a faster time frame.

 The biggest positive surprise was that I finally warmed up to Amy and Rory.  I actively disliked Amy and she's still not my favorite companion, but her obvious moments of devotion to Rory and some particularly nice acting by Karen Gillan (particularly in The Girl Who Waited) stole a tiny little sliver of my heart.  I had been indifferent to Rory but, especially in the second half of the series, he really developed some personality outside of lovesick puppy dog following Amy.  I really liked him by the end of the series.

And then there's River Song.  In this series, her character had more of a point and was really integral to the through line so I got to a point where I was pretty tolerant of her.  And while I didn't really get the point of "the marriage" it didn't fill me with rage either because it was such a brief and secondary event. I definitely feel like her character arc has come full circle though and I do hope we are pretty much done with her.   

My favorite episodes from this season in chronological order: The Curse of the Black Spot (episode 3), The Doctor's Wife (Episode 4) and The Girl Who Waited (Episode 10). It's worth noting that there wasn't a single episode I didn't like.  All in all an impressive season!

Some unanswered questions I'm left with: How does River Song travel through time without a TARDIS?  Can Time Lords travel through time without a TARDIS? Oh yea and that question about changing their age at will?  Am I the last person to know they can do these things? And most importantly what did you think of Series 6?  What was your favorite episode(s)?  Are there any one-off characters you wish the Doctor would go back and visit?  When writing out The Doctor is the "the" capitalized or not?

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