Probic Vent Ood For Thought

4Oct/110

Caves and Twins: Season Six

Season Six - doesn't time fly? Doesn't seem long since Eccleston was running through a tunnel and enquiring as to whether we'd like to join him.

Blink and you skip forward over six years to the brilliant Matt Smith's sophomore series - and that of show-runner Stephen Moffat too.

Portents are frequently poor. High-level fan gossip suggested that Series Fnarg would be a disaster and it was brilliant. But there were lots more unpleasant rumours this time around about the allegedly shambolic production office; Moffat distracted by his other series and various production commitments; an unloved and over-promoted production staff; the BBC at odds with the show's show-runner; and a fickle press that's apparently forgotten its love affair with out series.

Ratings do seem to be down this series too. Oh there's timeshifting and there's definitely poor scheduling but there does seem to be a drop-off in the public's interest in the show. All of a sudden 'do you wanna come with me?' seems like a long time ago. So it's a good time to take stock.

In the classic 'what was good; what was bad?' format of Caves and Twins I've turned my eye stalk on the whole series to figure out which stories worked and which didn't.

Caves

The Doctor's Wife - An all-time classic. Funny, scary, weird. And a Timelord called The Corsair. A manifesto for how NuWho can succeed.

Deaths: Rory

A Good Man Goes To War

A classic NuWho clusterfuck but on reflection I liked all of the elements and I loved the last 15 minutes. Matt Smith, especially, was fantastic.

The Girl Who Waited

A genuine hard sci-fi set-up that led into one of the best-observed emotional stories of the new run. Brilliant work from the regulars and another episode that could really show how Doctor Who can work shorn of its tiresome story arc trappings.

Deaths: Amy

Twins

The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon - I just didn't care, probably because anyone who had any sense knew that the stand-out scene, and the peg the whole thing hung from, was a lie from the outset.

Deaths: The Doctor, Rory, Amy

Curse of the Black Spot - Classic NuWho shit episode. Not because of the odd swerve, which didn't work anyway, but because of how utterly trite and dull the whole thing was.

Deaths: Rory

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People - There was a lot on these episodes I liked but I didn't really feel it had the courage of its convictions. The Doctor doppelganger didn't really go anywhere or make much sense; the moral ramifications of the gangers were wrapped up in noble self-sacrifices and/or a big explosion and I didn't feel any of the characters were well-drawn.

Deaths: Amy

Let's Kill Hitler - Impossible to like something so in love with itself. A sprawling mess that tried the patience and had another death swerve.

Deaths: The Doctor

Night Terrors - Utterly awful. I hated this.

Deaths: Amy

The God Complex - I feel harsh putting this one here too as there were lots of bits that I liked but the ending was drivel and, given the promising set-up, it didn't deliver.

Closing Time - I've seen this twice and can recall virtually nothing

The Wedding of River Song - Carried the sins of the season as a whole on its shoulders and, as such, couldn't be rated as good. The whole season comes to a messy, shagged-out end in an episode that sparkles with lovely moments but ultimately collapses under the weight of how daft the whole season has been.

Deaths: The Doctor

27Aug/110

Caves and Twins: Let’s Kill Hitler

Doctor Who's back! With the second part of Series Six, which has been split in two for reasons that's absolutely aren't anything to do with money or ructions among the production team or Moffatt's schedule.

Four episodes into the Silence/River story arc and there's at least some manner of closure. But was Let's Kill Hitler The World at War or was it Allo Allo?

Caves

The regulars - I have doubts about Alex Kingston as River Song sometimes, mainly because the lines are occasionally terrible and the character is a bit annoying, but the main trio are excellent and have great chemistry

River Song - I quite liked the set-up of who River becomes, with the diary and archaeology.

Twins

Everything - That sounds a bit glib and unfair but I think the biggest problem with this is that it's just a massive ball of confusion, with story arcs going back several years in some cases.

Somehow, it's still not clear how, the Silence are involved as is the eyepatch lady and in the midst of everything our heroes are in Hitler's office - for no other apparent reason other than it's clearly supposed to be a kerrayzee thing to do - while miniaturised war criminal hunters are stalking around in a shapeshifting robot with the aim of torturing the Fuhrer.

No doubt a breathless review in DWM will laud it all for that very reason - bonkers! - but coherent storytelling that doesn't require an episode of Confidential to explain it all seems to be in short supply at the moment. The Silence, the killing of the Doctor, the reason for River being in prison - it's still all ongoing and I'm bored of it; it feels like Doctor Who is in danger of collapsing under the weight of its own mythos and how pleased it is with itself.

I don't think these stories are actually poor but they aren't easy to follow and require an increasing effort to keep up with that. The 'story arc' episodes in this series have left me cold - and I'm a Doctor Who fan.

Mels - Like Ace but worse. And a swerve that was pretty flippin obvious.

Funny regeneration - Firstly, River seems to experience regeneration as orgasmic, which is a rather tedious little touch if totally in keeping with Moffatt's tics, then we get the trademark 'whacky regeneration' acting and music. Bleh.

Another non death - Tiresome; decreasing returns; and feels lazy

Hitler - I'm prepared to go along with it but really? Doctor Who meets Hitler? Dangerous territory.


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