Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doctor Who, Fifth Season, Reviews, Kind of

""I'm the Doctor, and I'm worse than anybody's aunt!" from The Eleventh Hour

I finally saw some of the fifth season of Doctor Who. It's late in broadcasting, so I'll do some quick, sort of stream-of-consciousness, reviews before going to try to catch up to the end. I'm also pretty much assuming that readers of the blog have seen the shows, too.

I've skipped The End of Time for now. Having been thoroughly spoilered, I'm going to wait til I stop sulking about the Doctor holding to the Obi-Wan Kenobi school of truth-telling.

Right. Onward:

The Eleventh Hour: Matt Smith is the Doctor. I think he could be better at this than Tennant; like Eccleston, he does alien very well. The whole fish-custard sequence really works. I wouldn't have expected it to, but it does. I love the interaction between the Doctor and kid Amy. Am I wrong for liking Kid Amy more than Adult Amy?

The Beast Below: Not a bad episode, not the best. Why and how does Amy know the Doctor is very old and very kind? Sexy Doctor could get almost as annoying as Lonely God Doctor. "So much for the Virgin Queen" could also get very old.

I don't really believe in Amy's rebellious streak when she sits down to pick that lock. It feels very script-driven, not character-driven. Why does she get so hysterical about the ship's story when she's first shown it? It's not her history. I could, just, see the inhabitants of the ship being guilt-and-survival driven enough to keep hitting "forget," but why does she? She gets to save the day, using fairly plausible reasoning. You know, now that I think of it, I could see Rose in this episode. Not sure who Amy is, yet.

I liked Liz X, overall, but did she really think that a mask perfectly molded to her face constituted a disguise? Really? Still, she can come back, any time. She and Sally Sparrow. And the Doctor's Daughter. Will we see her again?

It has a space whale. I like space whales.

Victory of the Daleks: Skipped this one. I'm tired of Daleks. Probably will have to see it before the end, though, to find out why it matters that Amy doesn't remember Daleks.

The Time of the Angels and Flesh and Stone: Love River Song, love Amy's banter with River. River's method of escape at the beginning was very impractical, but thoroughly awesome.

I spent most of these episodes wishing the monsters were anything but the Weeping Angels, since I also spent most of them grumbling that these were not at all like the angels in Blink and somehow not nearly as scary. Suddenly, these are beings that don't eat people's stolen time, they munch radiation; they snap necks; they can stare at each other without turning to stone; and, they, yawn, want to devour the universe, just like every other monster out there. The funny thing is, Moffat knows that smaller scale scares work: Blink and Silence in the Library were seriously creepy, and not even a city was at risk. That said, I'll admit that the slowly emerging faces on the statues were pretty creepy, as was the moment when they realized "Those aren't statues."

Since when has closing your eyes turned off the vision center of the brain? I'd ask whether the Doctor had ever heard of dreaming, but I've seen Amy's Choice. "It would take all those angels to equal one Doctor" (paraphrasing). How convenient that... they did!

A borg forest? Beautiful. The Doctor's gravity solution at the end of The Time of the Angels? Very nice. Watching him work with River? Also good. I had my doubts about her return, now I'm glad it looks like she'll be a semi-regular.

Is the crack in the universe following Amy? Or is she following it?

Overall, held up better than previous two parters; there wasn't the feeling of sag or letdown they sometimes have, and the tension ratcheted up nicely.

The Vampires of Venice: Oooh, alien-fish-vampire people. Proper Doctor Who at last! And running down corridors and along alley ways--excellent.

Signora Rosanna Calvierri is one of those awesome evil queen types. Pity she gives up at the end ("One city to save an entire race?" Yeah, did she have to go pose as a victim? Oh well. She was magnificent until then). Why didn't the Doctor offer her & her babies a ride in the Tardis? He's always offering races trips to new planets. Why not this lot?

Hmm... she refers to "cracks in the universe," plural, but we've only seen the one. I wonder why?

Amy's Choice. Why are the two men in Amy's life fighting over her? Are they really?

I wouldn't mind seeing more of the Dream Lord.

Hm... who contributed what to the nightmare? I vote Amy contributed the "nothing happens" element, Rory the monsters, and the Doctor an immobilized Tardis.

Does Amy think the Doctor tells her everything? Why? Does she think she's the only one? She took River Song in stride, and surely the Doctor has learned to tell others about previous companions? OTOH, the Tardis has completely reconfigured itself. Who knows where the knickknacks and mementos from past lives are now?

Still not really sure about Amy's character. I like her well enough, but there is something missing. Smith's got the Doctor character down.

The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood. I'm not that up on my old Doctor Who, but--they already did this story, didn't they? The one where the Silurians oversleep and wake up to find the earth overrun by apes? And where the nice guy who wants to share is killed by the evil military types who don't?

Ok, so Moffat split the nice-guy role this time around. Our friendly vivisectionist gets shot, but the benign leader is spared.

Why does the female Silurian soldier look so very human? Do all old English churches have chains in the walls? Really?

Does Amy have to keep wearing really short, tight clothing?

Amy, honey, those places you're offering the Silurians as uninhabitable... are inhabited. The current residents just might object to you giving away their property.

Why isn't the Doctor offering the Silurians a trip to another planet? Granted, they have a bit more reason than most for wanting to stay on this one, but he could try.

The fixed point/not fixed point in time thing... I don't get it. I don't think the creators get it, either. Fixed points seem to be a dramatic convenience rather than anything believable in-story.

Rory and the Doctor using the Meals on Wheels van to capture a Silurian--fantastic. Liked Nasreen quite a bit; she's (wisely) scared, but also curious and determined not to miss a thing. She also has the sense to see that future human/Silurian relations might be helped by having a human or two on the inside the next time the alarm goes off.

Rory... Um. Didn't know him well enough to be all that shocked, unfortunately. Pity. Creepy bit at the end there, with the Doctor and the Tardis.

Verdict so far: Uneven, but, then Doctor Who always has been a bit uneven. Also definitely enjoyable, and I'm going to settle down now for Vincent and the Doctor, which I've been looking forward to.

"I am about to tell you something very important. Listen carefully, because your life may depend on it someday: I am definitely a madman with a box.” from The Eleventh Hour


  1. I adjusted to Amy's clothes after a while. If I had legs like that I'd be wearing short skirts too, hell.

    I've been totally up and down on the peripheral characters this whole season. I hated River (all superior face!) when she showed up and met Ten, and I could not get behind Rory and Amy's relationship, because I definitely had the feeling he was in love with her and she was only with him because he was a security blanket. And I HATED the Silurian episodes - I am not crazy about that writer at the best of times, and the Silurian episodes were crap (alas!).

    But the last four episodes were very strong, I thought. I griped all through Vincent and the Doctor that they were being heavy-handed with Vincent's depression, and then I cried like a baby at the end of the episode. :p

  2. Just finished watching the rest of the episodes & plan on writing out a proper review later :)

    Amy's clothes are sort of an "optional gripe": I'd rather she didn't wear them, but I can at least believe that the character *would* wear them, unlike with, say Seven of Nine (of Voyager), whom I liked just fine as a character but whose choice of clothing I couldn't believe.

    Back to Who: After Pandorica/Big Bang a lot becomes clear in retrospect and Amy & Rory both go up in likability.