Friday, 6 December 2013

The Doctor's Wife, The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People & A Good Man Goes to War

The Doctor’s Wife

Suranne Jones as Idris

Aunty and Uncle
The idea of having the TARDIS inhabit a woman is VERY fanboyish, isn’t it? Neil Gaimen, acclaimed writer steps into the Doctor Who fold for this episode, and he doesn’t disappoint with a wonderful bizarre world created, and the TARDIS embodied brilliant by Idris – played by Suranne Jones.

In fact, the entire cast numbers no more than seven including the three regulars, and Elizabeth Berrington as Auntie and Adrian Schiller as Uncle, who were both brilliant. Then we have the voice of ‘House’, provided by Michael Sheen. House is the planet they have arrived on,
The Doctor has mail. Groan.
somewhere just outside the Universe. An extremely interesting and creepy character who decides he wants to posses the TARDIS and going travelling the Universe himself. The story is for want of a better word, just plain barmy. It’s truly mad, but it also works. There are a couple of issues, of course, nothing is perfect. For one, the Doctor again mimics popular culture with a cheesy line before the opening titles roll – ‘You’ve got mail’, and the TARDIS corridors are not the most inspiring pieces of set – but hey, they are corridors. How amazing can they be, really?
Makeshift TARDIS!
Aside from those points, we really have an episode which is a dream. For fans mostly. The Doctor and Idris build their own TARDIS out of bits and bobs from the TARDIS graveyard. It spins like a ball or top through space. It looks amazing! Who hasn’t dreamt of building their own TARDIS from bits and bobs? And there’s wonderful humour here and there, especially with Uncle and Aunty, and then we have the affection Idris and the Doctor show for each other. It really is a love letter to the TARDIS. This amazing machine that has taken the Doctor on so many adventures.
And the TARDIS is a character in its own right. From day one it has been. I should know, I have one of my own. Kudos to Moffatt and Gaimen for this one, sometimes, not too often, but sometimes you have to give something to the fans.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People

This two part story about dopple-gangers is actually rather good, even if the initial premise seems a little ‘done’ so to speak. People are being created from a white goo as a double of a real ‘human’, so that they can do a dangerous job working with acid. If that body falls into the acid or has something else bad befall it, they just whip up a new body. Sound convenient? Well, it is I guess.
A pile of dead 'gangers'
But it’s about more than just that. It’s about very human fears, about the question – if we could give someone or something life, what restrictions would and should we place on it? Not easy questions to answer. We have the controller, Cleaves, (played by Raquel Cassidy) with a blood clot in her brain and yet a determination to keep collecting the acid for the mainland (this is set in a castle on an island). The writer (Matthew Graham) has made her very pig-headed and focussed, and then she softens. I didn’t like her character much, although the casting was strong, the writing was a bit one-dimensional for her.
Jenny (Sarah Smart)
Then we have Jimmy (Mark Bonner) who ends up giving his ‘ganger’ his blessing to take his life as he dies. After a massive flare strike on the place the gangers have become real. Then we have the aspect I really didn’t like – ‘it’s us and them’, like humans and gangers have been at war for fifty years. To be honest, even with the inevitable conflict, Graham didn’t need to be quite that blatant.
Nevertheless, lots to love. Two Matt Smith’s working wonderfully together. I really enjoyed this bi-play, it was a highlight although I do think Smith now continues to go for the comic choices too much. Then we have the script tackling prejudice in a general sort of way, with Amy refusing to trust the ganger-Doctor, only to find they switched at some point. She comes to the realisation she was wrong.
It’s a bit of a runaround yes, but some lovely characterisations in there, and Jenny (Sarah Smart) is one of the best, playing Rory for the most part as Jenny’s ganger. And Rory falls for it hook line and sinker! Amy gets a little jealous too, so they play around well with that stuff. It’s good because Rory gets something to do for a change which doesn’t directly involve Amy, and we see just how trusting he is. And then the moment at the end – Amy is a ganger and has been perhaps throughout the whole series, at least since the gap between ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ and ‘Day of the Moon’. The Doctor ‘sonics’ her (he is now using the sonic screwdriver to do just about everything and I am getting annoyed incidentally) and she turns to white goo. Now that’s a cliff-hanger!

A Good Man Goes to War

Frances Barber as Madame Kovarian

This was really one of those episodes which flies by and you think ‘What the hell just happened there?’ That was my experience anyway. To be honest, this one did not float my boat. Not even slightly. It was mad, it had a gazillion things in it, it had a sort of resolution kicking off a whole bunch of new questions, it had a baby turning to white goo, and it started to make me question the direction if the show and the direction Moffatt seems to be taking Matt Smith’s Doctor.
Revealing a headless monk.
So we have Amy hidden on a big space station called ‘Demons’ Run’, and the Doctor deciding the best way to rescue her is to attack the place. With a Sontaran (Strax, played by Dan Starkey), a Silurian, actually with a whole bunch of Silurians, and a big blue man called Dorian. Ummm. So this is a big statement by Moffatt. This is a complete change in every way to the Doctor’s character. Usually he’d go it alone. He’d use his noggin. He’d be clever. Not that he wasn’t clever in his way.
Then we have Madame Kovarian (played by Frances Barber). We’ve seen her pop up her and there so far, looking at Amy through a small window that appeared and disappeared very mysteriously in most of the previous episodes. That was the real Amy’s experiences seeping through to the ganger-Amy it seems. Who the devil is she? Why does she care so much.
The Anglican Church is also at Demon’s Run, that’s the Army version of the future (with uniforms of today) and there’s the headless Monks. Who apparently steal heads. But not to put on their bodies. They are, to be fair, mostly gimmicky. And everyone there apart from Amy and Lorna want to kill the Doctor.
Look I get it, many people hate the good Doctor. But really. A reason for it all is needed – and yet maybe given,
we will see what this year’s Christmas Special entails. AND River appears at the end to show the Doctor what he’s become. And reveal she is really Rory and Amy’s baby. Who is apparently a Time Lord, because she was conceived in the TARDIS. Strax dies, so does Dorian. it’s not very pretty. The Doctor then runs off presumably to be with River, saying he’s going to look for Amy’s daughter who was a ganger and Kovarian, who is involved in an endless war against the Doctor, or so
Neve McIntosh as Vastra.
she declares, has. Because the baby – who is River Song remember, is a weapon against the Doctor.
It’s a manic 45 minutes asking many more questions than it answers, there’s no real story in there it’s mostly questions and reveals, and to be honest I didn’t care for it one jot. It’s so manic that basically, well, I was disinterested. Oh, the pirates return for a brief appearance too from ‘Curse of the Black Spot’. The Doctor is again very child-like, but also is pretty okay with the killing too. Runs off and leaves everyone so I hope that is dealt with sooner or later. Meh.


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