Well, after what feels like the longest lead-in to a mid-season story since The Dalek’s Masterplan, A Good Man Goes To War promises much with bonkers SFX, a raft of returning monsters, River Song and an angry Doctor.
So, was this The Big Bang or was it that drivel with the Master as the Prime Minister?
Sonataran nurse – Gave a bit of depth to this race, which hasn’t been interesting since 1976.
New Adventures – There was something of the NAs about this in the way that it tried to establish a complicated, fleshed-out, almost unified vision of the Whoniverse where Sontarans can be goodies and Earth Reptiles live on Earth alongside humans. I liked it.
Some very good lines – “Stringy”; “Stevie Wonder”; “Get some rest”; “Make a donation”; “No it’s not; it’s cool” – Moff’s was always one for with his zingers; he was on form here.
Regulars – I’ve generally like the characterisation and performances of the regulars but I thought they were particularly good here – especially Smith, who was quite different again, and Arthur Darvill as a believable, likable foil.
The intro bit – Nice bait-and-switch on Melody’s Dad (one of several throughout) and good Cyberman intro bit.
The fat blue bloke – I just like him
Abberline – Just liked this reference
Headless monks – A bit like the Smilers, these were a bit lost in the mix and didn’t really come off.
Greatest hits – Rather like The Pandorica Opens, this was a bit of a greatest hits of Moff’s run and beyond; rather like his version of Journey’s End. The pirates, those daft space Spitfires, Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, that fat blue bloke. It felt very familiar and it was a little bit of a case of diminishing returns.
River Song – It’s fairly clear we’re supposed to think River is amazing, cool, funny, sexy ad generally fabulous. But I’m afraid I just find her a bit irritating.
Cyberman voices – Still terrible
Lots of nice elements, but it was pretty out there. So much going on – a few revelations and more questions again. Maybe, over 13 episodes, this will all turn out to be something of a masterpiece but it feels rather on the edge at the moment, like it could be an absolute disaster too.
On a second viewing this was a lot more enjoyable if you can indulge it. Smith really is excellent as the scales fall from his eyes in this episode and he continues to add more strings to his bow.
A Good Man Goes To War (even on a second viewing) does little to dispel the impression that this is shaping up to be quite the oddest series of Doctor Who in a long time. Certainly change was required but this feels fairly radical, to the point where this no longer feels like a Saturday early evening show but something that may be better off after the watershed.
I’m unsure if that’s a good idea in terms of keeping an audience, but a a few teases have started to pay off this season I’m enjoying it more. Here’s hoping the second half of series six is the superior one.
• Caves and Twins? What are you dribbling on about?
Go here: Caves and Twins