New Series

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.


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


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

New Series

Caves and Twins: The Wedding of River Song

The sixth season finally limps across the finishing line with a few years’ worth of back story to bring to a conclusion and a massive escape act required from Moffat for the whole thing not to feel like a massive cheat.

So was it as bad as every season finisher?


Texting and scones – A funny line that kind of defines the eleventh Doctor and Smith portrayal

Time Crash – Nice conceit, fairly well pulled off.

The Brig – Lovely tribute to Nick Courtney that worked really well in the story

Live chess – I just like these throwaway quirks that make the Doctor Who universe feel just that; something beyond a South London estate and the odd trip to Europe.

Dorium – A character I like.


Cheat – I had a lengthy whinge about the ‘not dying’ thing the new series has done to, er, death before Season Six started – and complained that they were building up the Doctor’s death before the start of it when it was patently clear that this was going to be another cheat. Which it was.

What’s more the second they showed the Teselecta in the recap – in the first few seconds – it was horribly clear how the cheat was going to be perpetrated. I’ve lost count of the ‘didn’t die’ swerves in this series – there’ve been so many there are numerous theories floating around the web as to how Rory and Amy don’t really exist, so often have they been killed off.

The Eleventh Doctor has, by my reckoning, died four times already. It’s lazy; it’s manipulative; it’s cynical; it’s deeply tiresome. Stop it, now.

Love saves the day – Or a kiss. Once again we have a ‘kiss/love saves the day’ conclusion to a story. Boring.

Amy machine-gunning the Silence/Silents – That just seemed wrong

River Song – I assume River’s story has come to an end now. I do hope so, anyway.

Arc – I did not enjoy this story arc. Perhaps I will if I ever buy the box-set and watch eight episodes a nigh, which seems to be how people watch TV series these days. But less than half way through I found it boring and distracting. The Silence, the Flesh, the Eyepatches. They bored me.

I don’t know what to make of this series, beyond the fact that it didn’t do it for me. Moffat’s writing seemed to be tied up in knots throughout; shedding casual viewers here and there and even alienating the fanbase to some degree.

A giant story arc should never be attempted again; splitting the season should never be attempted again; teasing lead characters’ deaths and then not delivering should never have been done in the first place. River needs to be gone once and for all. The Doctor should not be a God or a lonely emo or a mighty warrior or River’s Love of Life.

Please let Doctor Who be small, offbeat, funny, scary and unique again. It’s surely no coincidence that the best episodes this season – The Doctor’s Wife and The Girl WHo Waited spring to mind were exactly that.

If I wanted the FBI, Roswell aliens, conspiracy theories, interminable arcs and heaps of portentous bullshit I’d watch The X-Files, Lost or half a dozen other US sci-fi imports. And there’s nothing wrong with any of them (well, most of them), but they’re not Doctor Who.

Which is, when you think about it, the point.

• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?

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