Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6.5 Premiere Let’s Kill Hitler

by Amy Yen

“No, she will be amazing.”

Oh, the twisty-turny, timey-wimey, crazy, tragic, brilliant, impossible life of River Song. How do we even begin to talk about River Song?

So it turns out, everything about the River Song we know is a paradox. Her TARDIS blue diary, the “spoilers” she always warns about, “Rule 1: The Doctor Lies,” all of it came from the Doctor himself, who got it from River. Even her name, both of her names, are paradoxes. Amy names her baby after Mel, who is her baby. River takes her name from the Doctor, after the Doctor knows her as River. It’s impossible. She‘s impossible.

So we finally meet River at the start of her story, so long after meeting her at the end. She’s been hiding in plain sight this whole time. “You got to raise me after all,” she tells Amy & Rory, & it’s an awesome idea, the girl who grew up with Amy & her imaginary friend. It’s such an awesome idea, I only wish there had been a few more plants for it. As it is, it does seem odd their best friend isn’t at their wedding or in any of the many scenes of their life in Leadworth, particularly in “The Eleventh Hour.”

So “Mel” regenerates into the future River & man, does Alex Kingston so clearly have a blast with Regeneration Cycle River, who is as spazzy & insane & fantastic as Eleven was when he first appeared. And she uses all of her remaining regenerations in one go, which doesn’t make sense on a number of levels, not the least of which is that it was established in the Sarah Jane Adventures last year that time lords can most likely continue regenerating indefinitely. But it does conveniently explain why River doesn’t renegerate in the Library, so I guess that’s a plot hole we’ll ignore.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” was full of answers, sometimes almost to a surreal degree (particularly when the Doctor accesses the Justice Department robot’s records on the Silence). But there are still plenty more left. The Silence is a movement based around the oldest question in the universe, hiding in plain sight (a familiar Moffat theme). Which is what? The Doctor now knows of his impending death, which we knew was going to happen since he has to set up the blue envelopes. But we still don’t know the goal of that exercise, since it still can’t be to save him, because we know now the Doctor’s death is apparently a fixed point in time. So how are they going to get out of this now?

More random thoughts on “Let’s Kill Hitler“:

  • Love Amy & Rory’s crop circle signal to the Doctor. It’s interesting that this is the first I think we’ve seen companions getting extended breaks on Earth in the middle of their adventures & getting the Doctor’s attention this way. If I remember right, before the Doctor had Martha’s phone, companions on Earth never had a way of contacting him again. Or I guess they did, but they just weren’t as clever as Amy & Rory.
  • “Permission?” “Granted.” I do love Rory & the Doctor’s revolving mutual perception of each other. The Doctor respecting Rory more & more, Rory accepting the Doctor’s role in Amy’s (& his) life.
  • The Justice Department robot thing is really cool, such a neat idea. Executed wonderfully, like Mystique in the X-Men movies. And for another comparison, the inside control room was totally Enterprise all the way.
  • Rory was extra awesome this episode & I can’t tell you how nice it is to see him taking a more active part in all these adventures. “Shut up, Hitler!” “Right, putting Hitler in the cupboard. In you go!”
  • “Time can be rewritten. Remember Kennedy?” Wait, what?
  • Guiltalso guiltmore guilt!” Man, Ten’s companions were emotionally scarring for him. Also, interesting moment when he rejects the image of himself, “No, give me someone I like!” The Dream Lord was right after all.
  • The TARDIS tells the Doctor regeneration has been disabled. Why? How? This is never explained & it’s a troublesome plot hole.
  • “I’m trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I’m really trying not to see this as a metaphor.” HA! Also, Robot Amy? Exceptionally creepy. And nice job with the dead eyes, Karen Gillan.
  • Sonic cane!
  • River is the child of the TARDIS…so the TARDIS teaches her how to fly. It’s lovely & makes perfect sense.
  • This was Matt Smith’s best performance yet. He’s just so brilliant.
  • “As far as first dates go, I’d say that was mixed signals.” I can’t even put into words how fantastic the dialogue Steven Moffat writes is sometimes.
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Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Spring Finale A Good Man Goes to War

by Amy Yen

“He’s not a warrior.”
“Then why is he called ‘The Doctor’?”

River Song says it best in the end. Is this what The Doctor thought he would become? Feared? Stories about him whispered between soldiers? It’s not like he doesn’t know it’s happening. He says as much in “The Pandorica Opens,” stands on a rock at Stonehenge & says to his enemies above him, “Remember every black day I ever stopped you!” And finally, thankfully, somebody says aloud what we’ve all been thinking.

Is this The Doctor? Because the Doctor I remember doesn’t ever use his sonic screwdriver as a weapon, pointing it tip-first at flesh-Amy. He wouldn’t let Jack Harkness use his gun on Futurekind trying to kill them, so he definitely wouldn’t insight a gun battle between the cleric soldiers & the Headless Monks. He wouldn’t pantomime guns as Danny-Boy destroys the Demon’s Run communications array. He wouldn’t force the colonel in this episode to give the order to “run away,” just to humiliate him.

I don’t know who that is, but that is not the Doctor.

“Look, I’m angry, that’s new. I’m really not sure what’s going to happen now.” It isn’t new, not really. Remember what Ten did to the Family of Blood? I don’t know when exactly it happened, because it wasn’t simply when Eleven took over (remember he still pointed his screwdriver up to malfunction the Silurians’ weapons & even his disdain for all his enemies’ “silly little guns” in the aforementioned “Pandorica Opens” speech), but at some point, the Doctor became less empathetic, more okay with violence, okay with being feared, maybe a little too in love with being the Oncoming Storm, the last time lord. And because it’s mostly fun to watch him show off, we mostly just went with it, but I for one am relieved that it appears this was at least partially intentional, or at least that Moffatt & the producers are aware of the discrepancy, the change in this very, very established character.

River Song calls him out, in his darkest hour. And then she tells him her secret. Brings the spark back into his eyes. Makes him know, instantly, what to do next. Gives him hope.

Hopefully, it will also signal a return to the Doctor we know & love. Because it’s not like I didn’t like this episode or the first half of this unfortunately split series. But the Doctor’s empathy & kindness & mercy is what makes him a different kind of hero, & it’d be sad to lose what makes him special.

More random thoughts on “A Good Man Goes to War“:

  • So River Song is Amy & Rory’s daughter after all. Even though this was probably the most popular guess of any of the theories out there, it still gave me chills to actually hear it. Although, how does this “change everything” with the Doctor & River’s relationship? If anything, you would think it improves it, now that he knows. Then why did she spend so much time last year apologizing for when the Doctor finally finds out who she is?
  • Don’t forget, we still don’t know who it is she killed to get sent to prison. “A very good man.” Maybe one that went to war?
  • “The only water in the forest is the river.” I always thought that Amy’s last name being Pond & River’s name being River had to be significant somehow. Nice to see this pay off.
  • A lot of callbacks in this episode to previous one-off characters, much like the beginning of “The Pandorica Opens.” Of course these callbacks weren’t really that cool, since they involved sub-par episodes like “Victory of the Daleks,” “Cold Blood” & “Curse of the Black Spot.” It was kind of fun to see Dorium, the black marketer that River Song tricked into giving her a vortex manipulator last series.
  • Lorna Bucket turned out to be kind of a disappointing one-off character. Not because of anything she did, just because I kept waiting for her to turn out to be someone important, someone maybe that we already met (maybe a younger River Song). Too bad the Doctor remembered their encounter in the Gamma Forest, or else I’d think we’d see that adventure yet. As it is, I guess she’s just there for the Doctor to be sad over & to give Amy the clue that eventually reveals River’s identity.
  • The Headless Monks are not scarier than either the Silence or the Weeping Angels in concept, but in execution, they are creepy as hell.
  • Rory was kind of really awesome in this episode. Yes, having him be in the Centurion outfit is kind of random & silly, but it’s also still kind of cool. His showdown with the Cybermen was a nice moment, as was his meeting with River (although the best part is her reaction to seeing him, especially on the second watch-through when you know what she knows…this is her father).
  • The bit at the beginning, with Amy telling her daughter that her father is coming…”He looks young but he’s lived for hundreds of years”…was that really necessary? Just for that little moment before she says The Last Centurion when you think, WTF? Seriously? They’re really going to go there with it being the Doctor’s kid? Really? I just thought, OMG give it a rest already. The more they try to put tension in the Amy/Rory/Doctor “triangle,” the more irritating I find it. Just let them be! I promise you, you will find that all three characters can stand on their own now. Really.
  • Autumn 2011. Ugh!

Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 6 Episode 2 Day of the Moon

by Amy Yen

The second part of the Doctor Who series 6 premiere, “Day of the Moon,” was simultaneously incredibly fun to watch & unbelievably unsatisfying. This is because, even though since new Who began, they’ve always introduced series-long story arcs, they’ve never been quite this open-ended. “Day of the Moon” completely failed in any way to answer all the questions presented in “The Impossible Astronaut.” That wouldn’t really be a problem if one didn’t also get the impression that they’re not going to address any of those questions until, say, the mid-series finale.

Unfortunately, the end of the episode & the preview for episode 3 definitely suggest that Doctor Who will go on their usual path of adventures-of-the-week with only tiny steps forward in the overall arc until the last couple of episodes. That’s not such a big deal when the overall arc is something as innocuous as “Bad Wolf” or Torchwood, but it is when the arc is Amy being possibly or possibly not pregnant, the little girl in the spacesuit possibly or possibly not being a time lord and, you know, the death of the Doctor. If they seriously don’t address any of this for like three or four more episodes, it’s going to be a very frustrating season.

This is again not to say “Day of the Moon” was a bad episode, because it wasn’t, although it was a little scattered for a Moffat episode. There were a lot of bits where I didn’t understand at all why people were doing what they were doing. Like, besides setting up for a really fun pay-off, why was it necessary to have the whole thing at the beginning of the episode with Canton pretending to lock the Doctor up & hunt down the TARDIS crew? Why were they split up & where they were (& in River’s case, wearing what they were wearing) to begin with? Also, how the hell did Canton & the Area 51 team get zero-balance dwarf star alloy?

That being said, the entire idea of the Silence’s invasion, that they’d been planting ideas & controlling the actions of the human race for thousands of years, is as terrifying as the Doctor’s solution, using their own post-hypnotic suggestion against them, is brilliant. “How fast can you run,” indeed.

More thoughts on “Day of the Moon”:

  • “Welcome to America.” Again, much love for Canton. Shades of Will Smith in Independence Day in that scene. Mark Sheppard also makes a great villian, even when he’s just pretending to be one.
  • Loved the recording device hand implants, especially the Doctor’s demonstration of how it works to Canton on the TARDIS & Amy’s completely terrifying (how many times have I used that word describing the Silence? well, they are) scene at the orphanage with the sleeping Silences on the ceiling.
  • Another awesome River escape scene, although it’s very similar to her scene from “Time of Angels,” if less clever (one assumes she would have left a message with her coordinates for the Doctor somewhere in time & space if she had needed to) but more funny (another reference to the TARDIS swimming pool!).
  • “Tricky Dickie. They’re never going to forget you.” A lot of random & gratuitous use of Nixon in this episode, although I enjoyed how he always just immediately started giving whoever it was he was presented to pep talks on patriotism. I also liked that the Doctor tells him he has to always tape what’s going on in the Oval Office & then tells him to say hi to David Frost.
  • River Song & The Doctor share their first (hilariously awkward) kiss after yet another outrageous display of flirting in the final showdown scene with the Silence (“Stop it.” “Make me.” “Yeah, well, maybe I will.”). He certainly isn’t acting like he doesn’t trust her now. He even gives her a formal invitation to come with them. I can’t wait to find out who she is already.
  • I like Rory. I just don’t like that they’re still going there with the Amy & the Doctor ridiculousness. We’re past that point, aren’t we? I did like their make-up at the end. “It’s a figure of speech, moron.”
  • “Rome fell.” “I know, I was there.” “So was I.” Is it significant that Rory sometimes can’t remember his 2,000 years as an Auton?
  • “Incredibly strong & running away. I like her.” Yes, but who is she? Who is that little girl & OMG, is she regenerating?! WHAT?!
  • “This is my friend, River. Nice hair, clever, has her own gun. And unlike me, she really doesn’t mind shooting people. I shouldn’t like that. Kind of do, a bit.” Yes, let’s talk about that. Here’s the Doctor, who abhors violence, who would yell at Jack for drawing his gun. Now he doesn’t bat an eyelash at River Song killing eight Silences (or at Canton wounding one, or for that matter, at the entire human race killing the Silence on sight). It really is a whole new Doctor.

Thoughts on Doctor Who Series 5 Finale The Big Bang

by Amy Yen

Spoiler Alert: This review includes spoilers for the US/Canada airing of “The Pandorica Opens” & “The Big Bang,” the 2-part finale of Doctor Who series 5. These episodes will (presumably) air on BBC America on July 10 & July 17.

“Big and little, at the same time. Brand new and ancient. And the Bluest. Blue. Ever.” This Doctor likes to talk, doesn’t he? He likes to works things out, out loud, to himself, to his companions, to us. He likes to muse, he likes to wax nostalgic & he likes to tells bedtime stories to little girls with red hair. He likes the fairy tale — the girl who waited for the raggedy doctor, the boy who waited for the girl, the daft old man who stole a magic box.

It’s poetic that the Doctor chooses to skip the rest of the tour down memory lane (“I hate repeats,” he says) & limits his attempts to save his memory to Amy & Amy alone. It’s like he wants to pretend his past started that night, with that body, when he met little Amelia Pond. It’s a little meta, with Matt Smith finishing off his first series, firmly solidified as The Doctor, with as brilliant a performance as we’ve come to expect of him, & best of all, Steven Moffat topping off what has at times been an unevenly written series with the type of finale that, in the RTD era, we would have expected to get blown out of proportion. But Moffat shows terrific restraint & produces a finale that is large enough in scale to be a real threat (the universe is literally collapsing) but at the same time still feels tight & focused on the characters that matter to us. The Doctor & his companions & really, no one else. There’s no huge fleets of enemies — just a lone Dalek, awesomely dealt with by River Song — & a mess that the Doctor must figure out how to clean up.

Better still, with the exploding TARDIS mystery & the cracks in space & time, Moffat’s major arc this season feels wonderfully personal to both the Doctor & Amy. It’s very neat that the mystery is not over, that there will be some carry-through to series 6. The actual resolution of the problem, the Doctor creating Big Bang 2 to bring back the universe, but being trapped behind the crack & erased by history in the process, and needing Amy to remember him to bring him back, seemed to come about too easily, but I found that I didn’t really care. I didn’t even mind how easily & quickly the Doctor escaped the cliffhanger from the end of “The Pandorica Opens,” when he is trapped by all his enemies in the inescapable box. To be honest, I watch Doctor Who for the Doctor, to see him have adventures & save the world. Nobody wants to see him taken out of the game for too long. I actually thought the time travel aspects of the episode were all really fun & clever. I particularly liked seeing the logistics play out of him going to see Rory to tell him how to get past-him out of the Pandorica (with the cue from Rory involving the ridiculous fez & mop & the Doctor realizing he’s missing his sonic screwdriver now because he gave it to Rory 2000 years ago & thus going back to give the instruction to put it in Amy’s pocket so it’d be there in the future).

I was also hugely relieved that the story resolved with Rory alive & human & back on the TARDIS again, although it conflicts with reports that he wouldn’t be returning with Amy in the next series. Right now I’m choosing to believe the reports were wrong, because Rory is awesome. I loved the idea of the Roman centurion guarding the Pandorica for 2000 years to protect Amy. “Why do you have to be so…human?” the Doctor wonders, because, at that moment, he’s not, & the Doctor loves him for it. Rory is a hero; he is Mickey Smith, much sooner than Mickey Smith became Mickey Smith. In the end, maybe he realizes, he can have the girl and the adventure too. Because in the end, Rory also loves the Doctor.

There’s also River Song in this story, although she turns out to be much less pivotal than originally thought. The most interesting part of her remains what she will be. “You always dance at weddings, don’t you,” she teases. The Doctor remains largely baffled by her, but he’s getting better at hiding it. He hands her back her vortex manipulator with the casualness you’d never see him show with Captain Jack. He trusts her. But even she, in a roundabout way, is warning him that he maybe shouldn’t yet.

Anyway, going back to Amy, because that’s what this entire series was really about. The Doctor asks her if it was worth it. “Shut up, of course it was,” she tells him. He tells her he lied. He didn’t take her along with him because he was lonely (although that can’t be a complete lie). He chose her because her life was all wrong. Her house was too big, there are holes in her story. “Amy Pond. All alone. The girl who didn’t make sense. How could I resist?”

Amy’s story is one of the most interesting companion stories we’ve seen because the Doctor has been entwined in her entire life. He’s been actually responsible for very real emotional issues with her character. “Twelve years & four therapists,” she tells him when he first finds her again. It’s a much more grown-up, serious backstory than we’re used to for a companion. But Amy is tenacious. She doesn’t forget & when she figures it out, she interrupts her own wedding. “I remember you and you are late for my wedding!” she shouts at the Doctor who she’s always waiting for. She is messed up & complex & brilliant. How could the Doctor resist?

Additional notes on “The Pandorica Opens” & “The Big Bang”:

  • I have found Murray Gold’s score inconsistent & at times distracting throughout the series, which is odd because I used to find him very solid in the Tennant years (“Martha’s Theme” remains one of my favorite scored pieces from a TV series). But I thought the music was used very well in “Big Bang” & especially loved the Eleventh Doctor’s Theme at the very end when Amy & Rory rejoined him on the TARDIS & they left for their next adventure.
  • “I found you. I found you with words, just like you knew I would.” Did he, I wonder? It seemed very much like, in Amelia’s bedroom, that the Doctor was resigned to the fact that he couldn’t make Amy remember. But then, she’s right, why tell her the story? And he did show up in his tux.
  • Looking back on it, I wish there were one or two more plants where the Doctor tried to talk to Amy during his rewind. We don’t see her on the TARDIS (amusingly on the way to Space Florida) or dropping off the card during “The Lodger,” so it’s just the scene during “Flesh & Stone” that was our clue.
  • “Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.” I especially loved all the references to the blue blue of the TARDIS. When they re-painted the TARDIS back in “The Eleventh Hour,” I found it to be almost too blue, like it looked like a toy. But it all went with the fairy tale atmosphere of the entire season. “The Bluest. Blue. Ever.” Sometimes I feel like Moffat likes to write exactly the way I like to think.