New Series

Caves and Twins: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

It’s Christmas, it’s BBC1, it’s that time between the afternoon snooze and the turkey sandwich. It can only be another Doctor Who special.

Not one of the Christmas specials has been much good by my reckoning, the first one and the one with Gambon in were OK; most have been utterly awful.

I did not really look forward to the Doctor Who Christmas special this year; mainly because I never think they’re up to much but partly because I found myself tiring of Who over the year. All of a sudden fatigue set in and I wasn’t really bothered any more. But, because it’s Doctor Who and I’ll never truly dislike it, I tuned it.

So did I find a succulent turkey – or was it overcooked sprouts all the way.


It was nice to see Matt Smith again

The reproducing, sentient trees were a nice idea.

The sets and all the period detail were impeccable.

Like most fans I appreciate the nods to the past – something that seems increasingly nice when faced with the possibility of a reboot film series.

Nice to see Amy and Rory again.

Like the tree monsters.


I know it’s Christmas and I know expectations are low and I know these specials are kind of duty bound to be stupidly Christmassy, but for fuck’s sake.

I just didn’t care and I didn’t believe it and I didn’t like it. About half an hour before it actually happened I’d guessed, no, feared, that the Power of Motherhood was going to save the day. Just like a kiss saved the day and love saved day and hope saved the day again and again and again over the last couple of years.

RTD shrugged, made Tennant cry and just fell back on some MacGuffin when he’d written himself into a corner; Moffat just relies on schmaltz. It’s usually done in a clever way – and in a way that’s possible to overlook for a while.

But it happens so frequently that it’s impossible to ignore – and deeply tiresome. And predictable. And rather cheap and cynical.

Because at Christmas Moffat gets a bit of a bye. Perhaps he should be allowed his indulgence once a year, like we are when we stuff our face for a day. God knows the man is busy enough, what with his 15 series that he showruns.

But what I’m left with is a story that almost feels like a waste of my time. I’m sure lots of people enjoy it and would shout humbug at me. But judging these Xmas specials on the same basis we judge the usual episodes show them up badly.

Something else that creeps into these recent Xmas episodes is a Moffat-patented wackiness; last year a shark-drawn sleigh, this year a forest-possesed Edwardian mother piloting a golf ball through the time vortex.

What can we expect next year, I wonder? A TARDIS disguised as a polar bear running trough Albert Square? A Timelord that’s regenerated into a reindeer with a nose made of strange matter? A flying penguin powered by faith and ridden by John Masefield?

I suppose I should mention Bill Bailey and Claire Skinner and Alexander Armstrong and Arabella Weir. I didn’t care. Neither did I care for the emotional manipulation that struck a rather dubious tone, in my opinion. Once again, death has no sting. What does this say to kids about their nature of life and death? Either way it’s damn lazy and cynical.

It’s incredible how quickly Moffat’s take on Doctor Who seems staid, overfamiliar and out of ideas. And I don’t take ay pleasure from saying it. Just as I don’t take any pleasure from watching it, much as it pains me to admit.

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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