Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Clara
Writer and Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Richard E. Grant: Dr Simeon
Catrin Stewart: Jenny
Neve McIntosh: Madame Vastra
Dan Starkey: Strax
Ian McKellen: Voice of the Great Intelligence

Doctor Who The Snowmen (2012)

Hiding in the clouds above Victorian London, The Doctor has withdrawn from the hero business after going through the emotional wringer with the Ponds some time ago. An encounter with a perky barmaid, Clara, and an instantly appearing snowman made of some kind of memory snow or something isn’t quite enough to pull him out of his exile. Clara’s going to have to try a bit harder.

8/10

This is a great episode and probably the best seasonal special in the 21st century run. It’s simply tremendous fun and jam-packed with fun (santaran), scary (man-eating snowmen), imaginative (memory worm), surprising (do not read spoilers for this one), brain-tickling (one word answers) goodies which doesn’t have quite enough time for it’s monster-of-the-week story. If the finalé had had any emotional impact, this would have been near-perfect. The crux of the episode is The Doctor and the invigorating Clara and that’s all we want to see. And now we want to see more.

This Doctor Who episode contains inferred extreme violence, unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Alex Kingston: River Song
Michael McShane: Grayle
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

A day trip to New York turns out badly when the book the Doctor is reading – starring Melody Malone – makes a reference to Rory getting them coffee as Rory is getting them coffee. The Doctor realises that the book is a history book sent back in time to help him avert yet another disaster but then Rory is kidnapped and taken through time to somewhere the TARDIS can’t go.

8/10

When you’ve got characters who are statues, it makes jolly good sense to go to the place with the most famous statue in the world – New York City – and this episode gets off to a good start with their big reveal. The return of the intensely unlikable and irritating River Song (a typically unconvincing eye-rolling Alex Kingston) is a problem but it’s the only one worth mentioning. The episode is otherwise tense and atmospheric and, critically, it connects emotionally. Marketed as the Pond’s farewell (though I swear they already did that last season), certain events aren’t, therefore, surprising but they are touching. It makes me wish I could share a love like this; it’s very nice. This time the logo has the Statue of Liberty behind it; subtle and rewarding to spot.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Douglas MacKinnon

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012)

The Ponds are beginning to value their daily non-Doctor life more-and-more and wondering whether there will come a time when they won’t want to join him on his adventures. However, a peculiar invasion of Earth by small black cubes looks like it’ll give the Ponds and The Doctor some quality time together.

6/10

This is certainly a solid enough episode with the attention well kept during the supposedly mundane majority leading to a climax we’re not really bothered about; running and shouting without much interest or useful explanation. Aside from some awful photoshopping of cubes onto famous landmarks it does look cool (the cubes countdown looks great and there’s a big spaceship to blow up) and the cubes are quite intriguing. However, if there had been more attention paid to the Pond’s sort-of maturing beyond the thrill of adventure and finding fulfilment in making a successful marriage, this episode could have been more than just entertaining. As it is, we’ll have be content with The Doctor playing on a Wii and painting a fence.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012) – 7/10 science fiction wild west adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Andrew Brooke: The Gunslinger
Adrian Scarborough: Kahler-Jex

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012)

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the America old west town of Mercy and find it, and now themselves, under siege by a cyborg, Gunslinger, who wants them to give him the alien doctor.

7/10

This is better than the previous two episodes with a plot that very nearly engages. The crux of the plot is the Doctor needing companions to balance out the soul-sapping weariness of being alone and that is clearly communicated. While the concepts are interesting and worthwhile, the plot suffers from familiarity and a complete absence of atmosphere. Director Saul Metzstein’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship episode also had no atmosphere. However, there’s some fun lines this week (‘Tea… Leave the bag in.’, "I speak horse. He’s called Susan.") and the plot does raise thought-provoking questions about companionship and redemption, vengeance, justice and second chances.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Links

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Rupert Graves: Riddell
Mark Williams: Brian Williams
David Bradley: Solomon
Riann Steele: Queen Nefertiti
Sunetra Sarker: Indira

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012)

The Doctor along with Queen Nefertiti of Egypt and big-game hunter John Riddell is tasked with boarding a spaceship that is on a collision course for Earth and stopping it.

6/10

Adequately entertaining and that’s something of a problem. There’s not much to say. The biggest problem, aside from it’s mediocrity, is probably a total lack of atmosphere but the Pond’s aren’t annoying in this episode (that’s left to Rian Steele’s Nefertiti and Sunetra Sarker’s Indira), Mark Williams gets his trowel out ("Haven’t you got one?") and we do get the Doctor sending a baddie to his death without a second thought. The Doctor’s position as judge, jury and not-quite-executioner has been a recurrent theme for a while now but it rather goes by here without comment as if it’s presence is not borne by precedent but was how the story was going to end anyway. I noted the Dalek zits on the logo last time, this week’s has dinosaur skin on it. A nice detail.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Links

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure television review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Oswin
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Daleks: Terry Nation

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012)

The Daleks capture The Doctor, Amy and Rory and take them into orbit around a planet they use for keeping all the Daleks which are a bit too psychotic for the mainstream population. The planet has stopped responding but the Daleks are too scared to go in themselves and disable the forcefield that prevents them from destroying the planet and exterminating the problem.

6/10

Just enough. There’s just enough fun ("I can see you."), clever moments ("Doctor Who?") and irresistible charm and cuteness (Jenna-Louise Coleman) to outweigh the Williams’ and Daleks unwanted presence, the Williams’ unwanted marital discord and the unconvincing plot setup (I thought all the Daleks were dead). I wonder if there’s some significance to the new Doctor Who logo being covered in Dalek zits.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Links

Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011) – 7/10 WWII period science fiction adventure Christmas special TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Claire Skinner: Madge Arwell
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Farren Blackburn

Doctor Who The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011)

World War II: After being helped by Marge Arwell one night, the Doctor offers to return the favour anytime she wishes. When she does call him in, well, nothing the Doctor does ever goes to plan, does it?

7/10

A welcome return to form following the dismal 2011 season finalé which has plenty of energy and connects emotionally. There’s a great start and a lovely finish and there are wonderful concept, character and visual ideas in-, the somewhat predictable, between. Matt Smith is, once more, incredible as the Doctor. He showcases his comic abilities in the spaceman suit, delivers abundant energy in his physicality, machine guns his lines out with pinpoint clarity and then, backed up by Murray Gold’s quality score, cements a viscerally emotive climax. It’s easy to forget that anyone else has ever been the Doctor. That said, it’s disheartening to see planet-wide doom wheeled out once more and one wishes that Doctor Who would deliver some episodes without peril. He doesn’t need it.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who S33E13 The Wedding of River Song (2011) – 1/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Jeremy Webb

Doctor Who S33E13 Wedding of River Song, The (2011)

The Doctor travels to Lake Silencio to meet his death.

1/10

Absolutely dreadful series climax completely broken in concept and execution. What should be emotional is embarrassing as actors pour their hearts into performances but haven’t connected with the audience first. There’s not even the hope that future Who won’t have Amy, Rory and Melody in it. Elevated steam trains provide the only highlight and this is, by some margin, the worst episode of all six series and is to be avoided.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who S33E12 Closing Time (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Producer: Denise Paul
Director: Steve Hughes
James Corden: Craig

Doctor Who S33E12 Closing Time (2011)

The Doctor pops in to see Craig as part of a ‘farewell tour’ before he dies in a couple of days time but a trio of disappearing people and a some odd power fluctuations mean that he may have to stay and save Earth one last time.

7/10

Fun episode with a generous amount of the Doctor being cool ("I speak baby", "Here to help") and just enough shape and story to the running around to be satisfying. The homosexual dialogue feels ostentatiously normal (as in look at how normal we treat homosexuality; it’s just like a heterosexual family unit but with two dads and look how normally we reacted to it, we didn’t pull a face or anything, normal, normal, normal, see) but completely undermines itself by having Corden’s character ‘hilariously’ try to explain that he wasn’t the Doctor’s partner in that sense of the word. Homosexuality isn’t normal. It exists, but it isn’t normal. If you believe in God, he condemns homosexual acts and urges you to exercise self-control. If you believe in evolution, homosexuality leads to extinction.

This Doctor Who episode contains homosexual references and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who S33E11 The God Complex (2011) – 5/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Sarah Quintrell: Lucy Hayward
Amara Karan: Rita
Dimitri Leonidas: Howie Spragg
Daniel Pirrie: Joe Buchanan
David Walliams: Gibbis

Doctor Who S33E11 God Complex, The (2011)

The Doctor’s seeming inability to travel where he intends sees him and his companions arrive, unexpectedly, in a perfect recreation of an Eighties’ Earth hotel but this hotel may become their prison.

5/10

Weak Who with worthless lives in meaningless danger. As mentioned before, if you always put people’s lives in danger it’s no longer an extraordinary circumstance and loses dramatic impact. The story point of the episode, however, is excellent as the Doctor SPOILER leaves Amy and Rory to get on with their lives without him. It’s a true sacrifice that places the personal interests of others ahead of his own need for companionship and an audience.

This Doctor Who episode contains mild peril.

Classified 12 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.10 The Girl Who Waited (2011) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Tom MacRae
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran

Doctor Who S33E10 Girl Who Waited, The (2011)

The Doctor takes Amy and Rory to one of the Universe’s most popular tourist destinations but when they arrive something is wrong. A small mix-up sees the Doctor and Rory in one room and Amy in another but time is running at different speeds in each.

8/10

This is a slow burner with an over-acted setup but once the meat of the episode finally kicks in, we are given something easy to empathise with and emotionally powerful and interesting as well. The most powerful entertainment frequently asks us ‘what would you do?’ and that’s certainly the case here. Both Karen Gillan (with some uncommonly good age make-up; unusually, it’s not wildly overdone) and Arthur Darvill are outstanding and, for the first time, I feel their relationship truly came across as deeply as the writers have intended for many episodes now.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence against robots.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who 33.09 Night Terrors (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Richard Clark
Daniel Mays: Alex
Jamie Oram: George

Doctor Who 33.09 Night Terrors (2011)

The Doctor responds to a distress call from a small boy who is terrified of just about everything but the parents’ advice and actions to put all the scary things in the cubpoard may backfire.

7/10

This is certainly a scary episode with some agreeably disturbing transformations and a plot that works quite well as long as you don’t ask where the deadly dolls came from.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.08 Let’s Kill Hitler (2011) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Richard Senior

Doctor Who 33.08 Let’s Kill Hitler (2011)

The Doctor, Amy, Rory and the TARDIS are kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to 1938 Berlin where they inadvertently interrupt the assassination of Adolf Hitler.

6/10

How had there not been an Seventies exploitation movie with this title? While the episode story is too jarring to convince (especially regarding a brainwashed assassin who suddenly isn’t when the plot needs it) and repeatedly putting a principal character’s life in danger works to undermine it’s potential drama, there’s just too much fun spread around to keep complaining. When you’ve got lines like “Take Hitler and put him in that cupboard”, the rest of the episode gets a pass.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.07 A Good Man Goes to War (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Peter Hoar
Alex Kingston: River Song
Frances Barber: Madame Kovarian
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Cybermen: Kit Pedler
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Cybermen: Gerry Davis
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Silurians: Malcolm Hulke
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Sontarans: Robert Holmes
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Ood and Judoon: Russell T. Davies

Doctor Who 33.07 Good Man Goes to War, A (2011)

7/10

Tightly written and irresistibly paced as the Doctor (who doesn’t even appear for the first twenty minutes) conspires to subdue, without bloodshed, an asteroid stronghold defended by two armies. His late appearance proves thematically important as the fear of his reputation as someone who will bend time, space and anything else he wishes to his will is just as powerful as his presence. It’s an intriguing backbone to all the sci-fi ‘splosions and shooting. It’s cool to see all various races back and the acting is a little more consistent from the non-Matt Smith cast than it has tended to be this season. While, the series-motif of constantly blurting into tears is rather more justified here, it still seems rather turn-on-and-off-able.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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Doctor Who 33.05,06 The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People (2011) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Matthew Graham
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Julian Simpson

Doctor Who 33.05,06 Rebel Flesh, The / Almost People, The (2011)

A power surge from a solar tsunami separates doppelgangers made from a special liquid flesh from their human originals. The Doctor tries to bring everyone together harmoniously but things are never that easy.

6/10

Feeling a bit padded with characters running around like headless chickens for no obvious reason, this is an episode with a terrifically interesting idea well-presented (how would you feel if there were two of you?) and some impressively spooky make-up for the “almost people”. There’s also a brilliantly SPOILER unexpected climax / cliffhanger which builds upon the intrigue of the Eye Patch Lady. “We’re coming for you.” Wonderful. Hopefully, we’ll get some answers next week before the show takes a summer break. That said, it never quite gels completely (hehe) but feels like it just, only just, keeps losing it’s grip on edge-of-the-seat greatness.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes, violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.04 The Doctor’s Wife (2011) – 7/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Richard Clark
Suranne Jones: Idris
Michael Sheen: Voice of House

Doctor Who 33.04 Doctor’s Wife, The (2011)

The Doctor takes Amy, Rory and the Tardis out of the universe in response to a distress signal from another Time Lord. Surely he’s dead, but it must be followed up. Very soon, with Amy and Rory in great danger, the Doctor will wish he hadn’t responded but a woman in a cage proves to be a priceless, never-to-be-repeated encounter.

7/10

Toying with expectations that we would learn more about SPOILER River Song, this is an interesting episode with a surfeit of cool, thinking-out-the-universe ideas. Some of the acting is a bit amateur-hour though. Early on we have insane ramblings (which is never, ever convincing on-screen; it should be unsettling, but it just looks like a school play) and, for the climax, all our lead actors jarringly turn on their waterworks like a switch. Fortunately, this episode has connected better emotionally than the last one and we’ll let them off this time. To end on a high note, there is a monstrously good gag regarding the bedroom the Doctor made in the Tardis for Amy and Rory: SPOILER he’d installed a bunk bed! “Bunk beds are cool.”

This Doctor Who episode contains mild adult dialogue and unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.03 The Curse of the Black Spot (2011) – 4/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steve Thompson
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Jeremy Webb
Hugh Bonneville: Henry Avery
Lily Cole: The Siren

Doctor Who 33.03 Curse of the Black Spot, The (2011)

The Doctor and his crew respond to a distress signal from a pirate ship where a siren has been abducting seamen with even the smallest injury.

4/10

Taking inspiration from the title of the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the mermaids of On Stranger Tides, this shows that even the Doctor is not beyond the curse that pirates usually bring to all entertainment they touch, i.e., they destroy them. Despite a quality turn from Hugh Bonneville, this is easily a contender for the worst Doctor Who episode of the modern era thanks to a completely broken plot and too many actors welling up or bursting into tears unjustifiably. As we are not involved emotionally, that’s just comes across as over-acting as does Murray Gold’s music which is completely over-the-top for a disinterested audience.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

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Doctor Who 33.01 The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon (2011) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Toby Haynes
Alex Kingston: River Song
Mark Sheppard: Canton Delaware
Marnix Van Den Broeke: The Silent
Stuart Milligan: President Richard Nixon
Sydney Wade: Little Girl
Frances Barber: Eye Patch Lady

Doctor Who 33.01,02 Impossible Astronaut, The / Day of the Moon (2011)

Amy, Rory, River Song, and former FBI agent Canton Delaware are all called to Utah, America by messages contained in dark blue envelopes. When they arrive, it’s not a huge surprise that it is the Doctor that called them but an unexpected astronaut and the belated arrival of another invitee will be.

8/10

While I suppose we should be grateful that this isn’t an end-of-the-world plot for a change, it certainly feels like it’s getting too serious in it’s urge to have high stakes. Nevertheless, it’s a joy to have Matt Smith back as the Doctor (asking President Nixon for a fez!) and we’ve got River Song back making absolutely no sense as usual, Amy Pond and Rory the Roman providing stronger support than ever and yet more impressively designed man-in-a-literal-suit monsters. This is also an uncommonly good-looking episode with an opening sequence utilising some spectacular American scenery, nicely photographed and well used by the director. That said, he does bungle the entrance of the Doctor (he’s lying on an Edsel wearing a Stetson; Stetson’s are cool) by giving it less time in the scene than the travelogue shots of the scenery. The second part is stronger, more intriguing, more fun and more brilliant than the first with the importance of Neil Armstrong’s ankle revealed and a great final visual hook that, along with the plethora of other questions we’d forgotten had been raised over these two weeks, will hopefully be resolved later this year.

This Doctor Who episode contains one scene of strong fantasy violence, gun violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who – A Christmas Carol (2010) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg
Director: Toby Haynes
Michael Gambon: Kazran / Elliot Sardick
Katherine Jenkins: Abigail

Doctor Who xmas 2010 Christmas Carol, A (2010)

Amy and Rory are on their honeymoon but their spaceship gets into serious trouble and needs to land. However, the controller of the planet below, Kazran Sardick, doesn’t care and won’t let them land just because he can. The Doctor attempts to change his heart before the 4003 people on the spaceship crash to their death.

6/10

Adaptations of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol always have the same gigantic problem: why does Scrooge change? Invariably, it’s just not convincing that he has a change of heart and it always happens too quickly. Christmas Past and Present don’t get it done but Christmas Future does just like that. It a problem that Moffat’s adaptation here suffers from. Michael Gambon’s character is all over the place emotionally, he doesn’t appear to grow or change over the course of the story but simply blub or not depending on whether the writer told him to. Still, there are compensations. Matt Smith’s Doctor is still a hoot, an effervescent whirlwind of hair and fashion advice, the flying fish are cool and the climax works emotionally.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.12,13 The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Peter Bennett
Director: Toby Haynes
Alex Kingston: River Song
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Daleks: Terry Nation

Doctor Who 32.12,13 Pandorica Opens, The / Big Bang, The (2010)

The Doctor gets a message through time via a Van Gogh painting. It leads to the Pandorica, a presumed-mythical box containing the most dangerous and deadly weapon in the universe. When the Doctor arrives, it starts to open.

7/10

While I’m convinced that I could not explain the plot to anyone if my life depended on it, fact is, this double-episode season finalé works and connects emotionally. It’s fun, exciting and involving and, as the Doctor, Matt Smith continues to be brilliant. He doesn’t switch crunchingly between serious Doctor and jolly Doctor, as the Tenth David Tennant did, but allows each to bleed into the other. He also carries off a bow-tie and a fez. On him, they are cool. Overall, this has been a stonking series that has consistently entertained and thrilled. There’s always been enough lore to keep fan fires stoked and speculation rampant but most of the episodes have also connected on a more primeval level and it is this that makes good episodes great.

This Doctor Who episode contains mild adult dialogue and references and violence, unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.11 The Lodger (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 8/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Director: Catherine Morshead
James Corden: Craig
Daisy Haggard: Sophie

Doctor Who 32.11 Lodger, The (2010)

Arriving not quite where he’s expecting, the Doctor finds himself in even more trouble when the TARDIS kicks him out and cannot land. A day later, he takes a downstairs room where the upstairs is starting to eat people. Recognising that something strong enough to interfere with the TARDIS is not to be trifled with, he must not arouse suspicion and that means living as an ordinary human and not even using his sonic screwdriver.

8/10

Before we get to the season climax over the next two weeks, this episode combines a number of great elements into a fun episode. We get Matt Smith’s Doctor being funny and brilliant; his comic timing and delivery is impeccable. The plot generates suspense around an everyday object (a door intercom and upstairs flat) and there’s even an agreeably hoary romantic element as a fat bloke struggles to declare his love. We also get the most unusual scene (in the modern era) of the Doctor’s assistant – Amy Pond at the moment, of course – using the TARDIS and it’s equipment. Though the episode does turn out to be rather apocalyptic (though it would take the baddie some time to get through all six billion people at the rate it’s going), it’s the concentration on recognisable feelings and reactions that makes the episode so much better.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.10 Vincent and the Doctor (2010, Period Science Fiction Adventure) – 8/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Richard Curtis
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Producer: Patrick Schweitzer
Director: Jonny Campbell
Tony Curran: Vincent
Line Producer: Patrick Schweitzer

Doctor Who 32.10 Vincent and the Doctor (2010)

The Doctor takes Amy (who has absolutely no conscious memory of Rory at all) on a series of wonderful trips and their latest is a visit to a Vincent Van Gogh art exhibition. While there, the Doctor spots something odd about one of Van Gogh’s paintings: a monster in a church window.

8/10

It’s clearly something of a coup when you have one of the world’s most successful writers pen an episode for you and Richard Curtis provides a little gem. While it boasts all the traditional elements of the adventure side of the show with Matt Smith’s brilliant Doctor armed with "overconfidence, this and a small screwdriver," it’s true impact comes from a climactic scene where the Doctor gives something extraordinary to artist Vincent Van Gogh; something Van Gogh can add to his life’s pile of "good things." It’s an amazingly emotional sequence and has nothing to do with saving the world or slaying the beast and, as I’ve said before, pulling these stories back from never-ending Armageddons and connecting emotionally to the audience is the key to a great episode. This does, and this is.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.08,09 The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Peter Bennett
Director: Ashley Way

Doctor Who 32.08,09 Hungry Earth, The / Cold Blood (2010)

After a science project hits the milestone of drilling 21 kilometres into the Earth, the Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive just as the Earth fights back.

6/10

Seemingly not really knowing what to do with the characters (though Amy does get a fun "did you just shush me?" moment), writer Chris Chibnall delivers an inconsistent double-episode where he keeps pulling things out of thin air to help the plot along and yet another end-of-the-world situation. When will writers realise that end-of-the-world drama generally isn’t dramatic at all. While harder, it is always much more interesting to focus on smaller problems. How do we get out of this locked room is always more involving for an audience than how do we save the world. However, there is an interesting backbone as the Doctor demands his cast members ‘be the best that humanity can be,’ and has to cope with his crushing disappointment when they don’t. Matt Smith takes the challenges of the script and makes them work while the homo-reptilians look great and the climax points to an intriguing season end in a couple of episodes time.

This Doctor Who episode contains extremely unpleasant scenes, fantasy violence.

 

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.07 Amy’s Choice (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 8/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Simon Nye
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Director: Catherine Morshead
Arthur Darvill: Rory
Toby Jones: Dream Lord

Doctor Who 32.07 Amy’s Choice (2010)

Five years after the Venice outing, the Doctor returns to the village where Amy is married and expecting a child. Then all three of them fall asleep and wake up on the TARDIS.

8/10

So if last week’s vampires were typically useless how do we improve on that? How about lawnmower wielding OAPs that have an eye in their mouth that turns you to dust? This is a snappy, imaginative, interesting episode with two sets of fun baddies: the afore-mentioned malevolent pensioners and the Dream Lord played with charismatic glee by Toby Jones. It gets the viewer involved by asking the characters and the audience the same question – which world is the real one? – and distracts the audience from the first answer that will have popped into their head (SPOILERthey’re both not real) by using a powerful emotional situation involving our heroine being told to choose which of her “boys” she would ultimately pick.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Links

Doctor Who 32.06 The Vampires of Venice (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Producer: Patrick Schweitzer
Director: Jonny Campbell
Arthur Darvill: Rory
Helen McCrory: Rosanna

Doctor Who 32.06 Vampires of Venice, The (2010)

The Doctor takes Amy and her fiancée, Rory, to Venice so that their relationship won’t be unbalanced by her having experienced the amazingness of travel through time and space and him not. Naturally, something dangerous is about to happen, this time with a finishing school which turns young girls into vampires.

6/10

Everything containing vampires is inherently a bit useless as they are nearly always character vacuums, sucking life out of the plot through unconvincing and inconsistent ‘rules’ and motivations. This episode also suffers from the makers feeling the need to make everything life-threatening but without giving the story time to make it so. This renders heroic acts contextless and self-sacrifice worthless. That said, there are some nice lines and fun scenes, Matt Smith is terrific and the story frame with Amy and her fiancée is a good, interesting one. It’s a shame writer Toby Whithouse wasn’t allowed or guided to stick closer to that and make this a more low-key episode with a fun and interesting story. Instead, it’s a poor adventure with fake peril, the worst kind.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Links

Doctor Who 32.03 Victory of the Daleks (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 6/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Mark Gatiss
Producer: Peter Bennett
Director: Andrew Gunn
Ian McNeice: Churchill
Creator Daleks: Terry Nation
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who 32.03 Victory of the Daleks (2010)

A call from Winston Churchill brings the Doctor and Amy to World War II London but he has a shock in store when he unveils his secret weapon: a Dalek.

6/10

It’s fun to see a Dalek wearing a Union Flag and fighting alongside Winston Churchill in World War II and Matt Smith again manages to segue between fun and fury far more neatly than David Tennant ever did (and he wields a mean jammy-dodger) but Mark Gatiss’ script is largely unconvincing. Essentially, the Doctor keeps asking the Daleks what the plot is and they keep telling him. It builds to a typically weighty moral dilemma (save the Earth or save the rest of the Universe) but it has no impact and no emotional resonance.

This Doctor Who episode contains bad language and unpleasant scenes, violence.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links

Doctor Who 32.04,05 The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Director: Adam Smith
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who 32.04,05 Time of Angels, The / Flesh and Stone (2010)

The Doctor gets a inter-time call from River Song who is trying to stop a spaceship transporting a Weeping Angel.

7/10

I always like it when a writer includes something that is significant that we, the audience, don’t realise is significant until it’s pointed out to us; at which point we wonder why we didn’t register it ourselves. Steven Moffat delivers that here (SPOILER the alien planet we’re on this week has aliens with two heads) and it one of a number of quality pieces of business through the double episode. There is a great gag regarding the noise the TARDIS makes when it arrives somewhere (SPOILER the Doctor keep leaving the brakes on). The cliffhanger for the first part is also brilliantly written as the Doctor points out the one thing you should never, ever put in a trap and, remarkably, Moffat comes up with an equally brilliant escape (SPOILER "Jump!") as the start of the second part. Like The Doctor himself, I’m not too sure about the 21st-century sexuality that pops up at the end. Sadly, it’s a sign of the times.

This Doctor Who episode contains adult dialogue and unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who 32.02 The Beast Below (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 9/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Peter Bennett
Director: Andrew Gunn
Sophie Okonedo: Liz 10
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who 32.02 Beast Below, The (2010)

Over 1,000 years in the future, the entire UK has had to construct and board a giant spaceship to leave Earth and find a new home. The Doctor and Amy Pond visit but the Doctor is intrigued by a silently crying child and something that isn’t happening when he puts a glass of water on the floor.

9/10

This is a thrilling, imaginative, visually striking and, critically, tremendously fun adventure for The Doctor. Writer Steven Moffat continually subverts the audience in a way that is enticing and delightful (with the exception of a maguffin video message from Amy Pond) and Matt Smith absolutely knocks the Doctor out of the park. So far, he is managing, better than David Tennant before him, to balance the jolly adventuring with the heavy emotional baggage ("Just me now. Bad day.") and resigned almost-rage at having to always make tremendously difficult decisions. Tennant always flipped a switch between the two and his jolly Doctor and action Doctor always felt like two separate people. Matt Smith is successfully keeping both in the same character. Director Andrew Gunn also does a good job and supplies a striking visual of The Doctor holding Amy Pond by the foot floating outside the TARDIS.

This Doctor Who episode contains mild unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who 32.01 The Eleventh Hour (2010, Science Fiction Adventure) – 7/10 TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Director: Adam Smith

Doctor Who 32.01 Eleventh Hour, The (2010)

The newly regenerated and slightly disoriented Doctor and TARDIS crash into the garden of Amelia Pond, a young girl with a scary crack in her bedroom wall.

7/10

A huge amount of fun as Matt Smith instantly becomes The Doctor and makes the role his own. Composer Murray Gold demonstrates that it is harder to score comedy than heroic action. His hero and action cues are brilliant but his work during the fish fingers and custard sequence falls way short. It makes you appreciate just what a master Henry Mancini was. He was someone who worked frequently in the comedy genre and his scores there were invariably witty, light, melodic and fun. Getting back to The Eleventh Hour and writer and new show-runner Steven Moffat gets us off to an imaginative, energetic and gleeful start. It looks like The Doctor is in safe hands.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links