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Doctor Who: Closing Time (Review)

Look! They gave me a badge with my name on it, in case I forget it… Which is very thoughtful, because that does happen.

– The Doctor shows off his name badge

I have to admit, I liked Closing Time. It wasn’t quite as good as The Lodger, but it was an entertaining diversion at the end of what has been a pretty gloomy run of episodes for Doctor Who. And based on the previews for The Wedding of River Song, it isn’t going to get any lighter next week. I do have to admit, I kinda like the idea of Craig as an almost “stationary” companion – one whose life is constantly interrupted by the return of the Doctor to his relatively quiet existence, something that works quite well in contrast to the relationship between Amy and the Doctor.

It's all under (remote) control...

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Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited (Review)

You always said that for Christmas dinner, you wish there were two of you.

– Rory tries to look on the bright side

The Girl Who Waited might just be the most Moffat-esque Doctor Who script that wasn’t written by the man himself. “Timey wimey” hijinks, killer robots, glitchy technology and cultural misunderstandings all tie together one of the best episodes of the show’s sixth season. Writer Tom MacRae even throws in a juicy character dilemma to add flavour. Offering a fairly explicit example of why travelling with the Doctor might not necessarily be a good thing, despite how much fun it might seem, The Girl Who Waited serves as a prelude to The God Complex, while continuing the season’s exploration of just how tough it is to be the companion.

The waiting room…

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Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

A Good Man Goes to War originally aired in 2011.

Demons run when a good man goes to war.

Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war.

Friendship dies and true love lies,

Night will fall and the dark will rise,

When a good man goes to war.

Demons run but count the cost.

The battle’s won, but the child is lost.

A Good Man Goes to War is pretty much the epitome of Moffat’s “let’s cram as much as possible into forty-five minutes” approach to Doctor Who. This is the episode directly following Matt Smith’s last proper two-part adventure, and it firmly sets the status quo for the rest of the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure. Moffat doesn’t opt for two-parters after this point, and you can see the roots of the “blockbuster” approach he adopted for the show’s fiftieth season.

A Good Man Goes to War has enough crammed into it to sustain a bombastic Russell T. Davies season finalé. There’s character arcs, betrayal, redemption, heroism, continuity, twists and radical game-changers – all bursting at the seams of this episode. There’s a staggering amount of ambition powering A Good Man Goes to War, and even attempting to do all this in the course of a single episode earns Moffat a significant amount of respect.

What’s even more impressive is that A Good Man Goes to War manages to carry it all off.

The Doctor goes with the flow…

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Doctor Who: The Almost People (Review)

“How can you both be real?”

“Because we are.”

– Amy & the Doctor

Hm. That was a vast improvement on last week. And I say that as someone who enjoyed last week’s episode a lot more than most. It’s very formulaic Doctor Who, with the team running around gothic corridors (“a maze,” as the Doctor describes it) and bright lights fleshing, while continuing the series’ key theme: as a race, humans can be absolutely horrible… but sometimes, just sometimes, absolutely brilliant. Throw in a fairly substantial cliffhanger and larger elements from the season-long mythos, and you end up with an episode that feels like it’s filled to the top. Not everything’s golden, and not everything gels, but it works consistently enough to make for entertaining tea-time telly.

Doppel!Doctor!

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Doctor Who: The Rebel Flesh (Review)

I love Matthew Graham. After all, the writer who gave us Life on Mars is surely something of a British national treasure. however, his track record on Doctor Who seems just a little bit spottier, with his previous contribution being the somewhat… poorly received Fear Her way back at the end of the second season. So, perhaps giving Graham a two-parter, especially the two-parter directly before the cliffhanger before the break in the season might have seemed like a bit of a gambit. Fortunately, The Rebel Flesh is a much stronger entry than Fear Her, even if it’s not quite as spectacular as last week’s episode.

Flesh and bone?

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Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Wife (Review)

“Are all people like this?”

“Like what?”

“So much bigger on the inside.”

– TARDIS and the Doctor

That was awesome. Neil Gaiman’s Doctor Who episode, The Doctor’s Wife, was perhaps the strongest stand-alone episode the series has had in quite some time – packed to the brim with wonderful and cheeky and clever concepts, executed in wonderful style. It had just about everything, from small fanboy-ish references (“the old control room”) through to clever explorations of the ideas the show takes for granted, managing to fit perfectly with what had come before and suggest some new takes on classic concepts at the same time.

The Smith-en young couple...

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Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

The Impossible Astronaut originally aired in 2011.

Rory, would you mind going with her?

Yeah, a bit.

Then I appreciate it all the more.

– The Doctor and Rory

While Steven Moffat’s first season as showrunner followed the same basic format as the seasons run by Russell T. Davies, his second up-ends that. Viewers had become so conditioned to that structure that The Impossible Astronaut proves quite a shock. Far from an accessible and enjoyable romp in the style of Rose or New Earth or Smith & Jones or Partners in Crime or The Eleventh Hour, The Impossible Astronaut jumps right into the middle of things.

Taking advantage of the fact that this is the first time since New Earth (and only the second time in the revival) that a season premiere hasn’t been burdened with the weight of introducing a new Doctor or companion, Moffat is able to really mess up the structure of the season. Indeed, you might go so far as to suggest that he’s reversed it. Moffat’s second season ends with a one-part adventure that introduces us to a new era and new mission statement, but opens with a bombastic two-part climax.

It’s certainly ambitious.

Cowboys and aliens…

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