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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Doctor Who 31.03,04 The End of Time (2009, Science Fiction Adventure) – 5/10 TV review

Cast / crew
David Tennant: The Doctor
John Simm: The Master
Bernard Cribbins: Wilfred Mott
Writer: Russell T. Davies
Producer: Tracie Simpson
Director: Euros Lyn

Doctor Who 31.03,04 End of Time, The (2009)

The Doctor finally returns to the Ood to see what all this prophecy business is about while, on Earth, the resurrection of the Master is about to take place on the day of humankind’s extinction. Wait, what?

5/10

This is a fitting, if not good, climax to David Tennant’s tenure as The Tenth Doctor. Fitting in that it’s a mess with variable acting (dismay at the return of John Simm’s The Master was well-founded) and sudden inexplicable shifts in tone (the Doctor arrives at the Ood all cheerful after some sight-seeing then tears off in a contrived hurry) as part of a sometimes imaginative but clunky script from departing show-runner Russell T. Davies. Tennant is good, again, and tends to nail each individual scene but sudden shifts between anger, despondence and cocky chattiness are, as they always have been, unsettling and unconvincing. The best contribution comes from composer Murray Gold who makes the episode rather more thrilling than the baffling story should allow. Be warned if you thought the end of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was drawn out: before his regeneration, the Doctor’s reward seems to take forever.

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

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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