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New Who: The Story Thus Far – Series 6 (Episodes 8-13)

John Hussey continues his series analysing the revival, this time with Series 6.

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After the short summer break Series Six returned to where it left off (sort of). Incorporating the time gap between ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ and ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ in real time, Moffat devised the idea that the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) had been using that time to search endlessly for Melody Pond. Within the ‘Let’s Kill Hitler Prequel’ Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), via an answer machine within the Console Room, expressed her concern and sadness over the idea of missing out on her child’s growing up and wished desperately for the Eleventh Doctor to get in contact with her. The Eleventh Doctor simply stood in silence unable to respond.

‘Let’s Kill Hitler’

lets-kill-hitler-art‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ saw Amy and Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) call the Eleventh Doctor back in style through the means of a good old fashioned crop-cycle. This eventually brought about the introduction of Mels (Nina Toussaint-White) who was apparently one of Amy and Rory’s oldest friend. I feel this idea could’ve been implemented a lot earlier on, i.e. perhaps hinted within Series Five, especially since her character held important significance. But I feel I can let this one slide somewhat but my previous statement still stands for good reasoning. Through the usage of flashback we see the friendship of Amy, Rory and Mels as they grew from small children to teenagers and finally young adults. Mels was a mischievous child which Amy and Rory practically had to parent in order to try and keep her out of trouble. The interesting twist was that she was the one who pointed out Rory’s unknown affections towards Amy and thus got them together.

What made everyone’s jaw drop was the revelation that Mels was in fact Melody. It had already been established in ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ that the child (Sydney Wade) from ‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon’ was in fact Melody after being taken to Earth in order to be raised and trained by the Silence. Her eventually escape led to her regeneration. This new incarnation of Melody turned out to be Mels and in fact without the Ponds knowledge they raised their future child. It all became a bit confusing in Moffat’s favour of typical timey-wimey nonsense but once your head was wrapped around the information it all became quite clear and very clever. Mels was forced to regenerate and River Song was born. We saw her very beginning and how she first met the Doctor and fell in love with him.

The adventure itself was somewhat debatable in its execution as I find the story to be a little out of sync with the events that had gone on before. ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ came across as too light and comical which lost the appeal of the dark tone the first half of Series Six established. It felt a little all over the place. It’s a shame really especially with what ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ had going for it and hinted at where the series would go next. The story could’ve been a dark one especially with the incorporating of Adolf Hitler (Albert Welling) on the eve of World War Two. Sadly this was brushed aside to a mere side-story that was quickly wrapped up, leaving his appearance and potential completely unused. The title is misleading and also the very nature of their surprise landing in his office shouldn’t have come as a surprise as it was Mels’ wishes in the first place to go and kill Hitler. That I never quite understand.

However the redeeming factors of the plot are the developments between the Eleventh Doctor and River Song and the introduction of the Teselecta. The idea of having miniaturised people inside of a chameleon robot that hunted down dangerous war-criminals in order to bring them hell at the end of their allotted time-stream was very inventive on Moffat’s part. It was used well within the story which also played in nicely with the revealing behind the true meaning of the Eleventh Doctor’s death at Lake Silencio. The Silence was revealed to be a religious order and believed that silence would fall if the First Question was answered, a question that was at that point unknown. Melody Pond was to be the assassin to kill the Doctor but ultimately failed due to falling in love with him. These ideas were all incorporated together nicely but overall the story fell flat in places and could’ve been better. Also I never did find the Ponds lack of concern with their daughter throughout the story very understandable either. In my eyes this was one of Moffat’s weaker pieces which borders on the line of not brilliant but not necessarily bad.

‘Night Terrors’

doctor who night terrors promo pics (1)Mark Gatiss returned once again to pen a story for Doctor Who and used his gothic ways for a plot surrounding a terrified little boy and the everyday monsters of his bedroom. ‘Night Terrors’ went back to the routes of the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory simply travelling together, something that had been pushed aside a lot throughout the run up to that point by the heavy arc (not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing). In some ways this story felt out of place within the second half as ‘Night Terrors’ followed the first half’s tone of being dark while the previous plot ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ went for a more romp approach along with lighter tones. Also it is fair to say that this particular Gatiss plot wasn’t his best but it still contained all of his usual traits which as always brought about an interesting plot filled with nightmare fuel. It was different seeing the Eleventh Doctor return to a council estate which became a popular environment for his two previous incarnations to travel to. It’s fair to say Moffat’s directions in show-running pulled away from everyday environments and went back to traditional routes. The premise of the story revolved around George (Jamie Oram) who suffered with a fear of everything, including most importantly the fear of being abandoned by his parents.

The plot had many twists and turns which certainly did shock you upon first viewing as it’s implied that some sort of alien force was behind the dark goings on around George but in fact it was of his own doing. Upon his father Alex (Daniel Mays) declaring that his partner cannot have children left one speechless as to how George existed. He was revealed to be a Tenza who came to them to grant their wishes of having a son of their own as well as granting itself a family. Its purpose was to be loved and be the perfect son but upon feeling rejected the Tenza subconsciously used its abilities to trap its fears within its cupboard along with the Eleventh Doctor and Alex. The Peg Dolls that appeared within the doll’s house proved to be freaky but I believe they were underused through lack of screen time.

The problem I found most with ‘Night Terrors’ was the pacing, it wasn’t quite right and the slow build up left barely any room for any action or further development. In many ways the plot would’ve benefited by being a two-parter and having the second half the Eleventh Doctor, Amy, Rory and Alex fighting against the horrors within the cupboard and slowly gaining George’s trust which led to the original conclusion of Alex excepting him as his son and George feeling loved again. Due to the 45 minute format it felt very rushed which was a complete shame as it had much potential. The ending in itself was beautiful and it’s always nice to see a happy ending. It’s also great to see the companion fall into extreme peril with Amy being turned into one of the Peg Dolls. At the end of the plot we heard the first usage of the creepy children’s rhyme which signified as a monologue of the events going, i.e. the indication of the Eleventh Doctor’s approaching death.

‘The Girl Who Waited’

girl-who-waited-generic-promoThe Girl Who Waited’ saw a Doctor-Lite story for the first time since Series Four but this time the Doctor was incorporated more into the story but in a way where he simply took a back bench. This was cleverly done with the idea of a virus called Chen7 on Apalapucia that killed two-hearted races which allowed Rory some well-deserved screen time and frontal action (like within ‘A Good Man Goes to War’). The plot revolved around the idea of Amy being caught within the bizarre time stream within the facility and Rory ultimately bumping into an alternative Amy from the future that had been stranded on Apalapucia for decades. This bitter Amy refused to help her younger self due to it erasing her current present.

It was a sad and emotional story for Rory to face. So many dilemmas were put into place for him to face and his love shone out brilliantly throughout the entire story, especially his sadness of not being able to grow old with his wife. Rory even had moments of hating the Eleventh Doctor, something that hadn’t happened since Series Five, due to his dangerous lifestyle and later on because the Time Lord forced him into making the harsh decisions he would normally do. In the end Amy was rescued through a massive paradox and Rory was forced to watch a version of his wife be left behind and killed at the hands of the Handbots. It was just a tragic love story which gained a happy ending of sorts but left a clear message of how manipulative and cold the Doctor could be, even to his own companions.

‘The God Complex’

the-god-complex-promo-main‘The God Complex’ is by far one of my favourite stories in Series Six and for good reason. Toby Whithouse returned with another stunning piece of work and placed the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory into a dark scenario which created a fantastic storyline. The hotel setting was creepy and quite eerie. It just felt so empty and yet at the same time felt familiar due to its Earth decoration. Within these walls contained fears of all description but most importantly the fears of our beloved characters. The clever devise was that one of the rooms was designated for one of the characters and within held their greatest fear. This would result in them falling back on their greatest belief which the Minotaur would feast upon and transfer into energy it could use against them. Once their beliefs were shattered they would without control fall victim to the Minotaur’s trance and lend themselves to it to become its food. The Minotaur was a great choice in monster in many ways as the hotels endless corridors that continuously shifted against the Eleventh Doctor and his friends resembled greatly Cretan Labyrinth. It just became an emotional journey and very chilling to the bone knowing that one by one the characters we had grown to love had their lives taken from them in such a sinister mind-game.

The character of Gibbis (David Walliams) of course was there to get under people’s skin as he constantly remained selfish and above all a coward, even gladly resorting to handing over members of his own group to protect himself. Shame really that the more vile characters out of friendly, kind-hearted groups nearly always seem to survive while the likeable characters perish. It was nice to see that Rory had become so strong as a character he feared nothing anymore. Though it would’ve maybe been obvious that his fear would be to lose Amy but I guess that was all a part of showcasing how strong Rory had become and probably how much trust he had in the Eleventh Doctor after all their travels together. Long had passed the days in which Rory use to doubt the Time Lord and now they were the best of friends enjoying one another’s company as they travelled together.

Amy’s fear was very interesting and the scene in which the Eleventh Doctor broke her will resembled greatly the scenes in ‘The Curse of Fenric’ where the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) did a similar thing to Ace (Sophie Aldred) in order to defeat the enemy. The most interesting scene was the then unknown nature behind the Eleventh Doctor’s own room. I will admit I didn’t expect what was actually revealed as I always assumed it would be either himself or the Master he feared above all else, but the final outcome wasn’t something to be disappointed at and it worked well into the then narrative. It was surprising to see that at the conclusion of the story that the Eleventh Doctor said goodbye to Amy and Rory due to him worrying about their safety, this and of course him finally going on his way towards facing his inevitable destiny with death.

‘Closing Time’

closing-time-artThe penultimate episode gave us a return of Craig Owens (James Corden) and the Cybermen. It was an interesting story for the Eleventh Doctor preparing for his death at Lake Silencio. During the time between ‘The God Complex’ and ‘Closing Time’ he went on his farewell tour lasting for around 200 years (which then made him match his age as seen at the beginning of ‘The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon’). His last destination brought him to Craig Owens which originally started as a quick house-call before his death but ultimately became one last adventure when the Time Lord’s instincts of meddling grew too strong to resist. It was filled with mad banter and a full sense of fun which was a nice touch seeing how it was his last supposed adventure. The nice little nods towards the Eleventh Doctor’s demise was well executed and showed off his sadness as he knew too well he had pushed his fixed date with destiny back for far too long and it was time for him to confront it.

The usage of the Cybermen on the other hand made less sense. Once again their appearance lacked anything worth mentioning and was just a shamble of their full potential and a waste of their presence. They were just there for the sake of it. Plain and simple. Gareth Roberts could’ve easily have created a small time villain and put that invention in the Cybermen’s place and it wouldn’t have made a difference. If the Cybermen are going to be little more than background noise then don’t bother to use them. ‘Closing Time’ could’ve easily been better if the tone was constructed more carefully. It could’ve either been a laugh like with ‘The Lodger’ with the appearance of Craig Owens whilst maintaining an eerie side to it along the impending nature of the Eleventh Doctor’s death hanging over the plot. Or it could’ve been a serious and dark Cybermen plot without the inclusion of Craig. The two different elements and tones simply didn’t sit right with one another and the integration of comedy and bodily horror just didn’t gel. It was just a massive shame of a story in many ways made only worse by the Cybermen’s pathetic excuse of a defeat. The ending of the plot made up for the rest of the story with the Eleventh Doctor making his preparation to go to Lake Silencio. Then we saw the return of Madame Kovarian and the Silents as they recaptured River Song and placed her within the Astronaut suit against her will ready to complete her task of killing the Doctor.

‘The Wedding of River Song’ 

the-wedding-of-river-song-promo pics-(1)The ‘The Wedding of River Song Prequel’ was rather short and didn’t reveal much but did give some indication of the content of the finale and left a few questions lingering in the air along with the return of the sinister children’s rhythm first seen within ‘Night Terrors’.

We finally came to the finale with ‘The Wedding of River Song’ and although it wasn’t the finale shebang that we were normally accustomed to I for one still found it to be one of the boldest and most satisfying endings to a series to date. Unlike the usual finale of the New Series it didn’t just reveal all the hints gathered throughout the series with a massive showdown against that’s series villain and instead answered the questions whilst continuing the events further. We went back to point zero of the story with the Eleventh Doctor finally facing his fate at Lake Silencio, only this time by the Doctor’s actual perspective. The interesting part of the story was the whole of time collapsing around Earth due to River being unable to pull the trigger within the Astronaut suit and thus she created an alternative universe with them being the polls at the centre desperately trying to magnetise to reverse the affects. We had reoccurring characters such as Winston Churchill (Ian McNeice) and Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) who formed as an example of time going wrong. The Eleventh Doctor explained the events up to his interrupted death scene to his old friend Winston.

Unable to attend his death without first knowing the meaning behind it the Eleventh Doctor killed a Paradigm Dalek to gain information on the Silence. He then had another encounter with the Teselecta who this time decided to help him. The Eleventh Doctor challenged Gantok to a live game of chess which ultimately forced the Silence’s accomplice to take him to Dorium Maldovar (Simon Fisher-Becker), who was now just a head after being beheaded in ‘A Good Man Goes to War’. Dorium finally revealed the meaning behind the Silence’s quest to kill him. It all derived from the Eleventh Doctor’s future which would take him to Trenzalore in which a circumstance would arise that would force him to answer the First Question, a question that must never ever be answered. Knowing this information the Eleventh Doctor attempted once more to run from the situation but upon hearing the saddening news that his old friend Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) had passed away the Time Lord decided it was time to face his demons. I like to think that in his mind the Eleventh Doctor thought “what would the Brigadier tell me to do?” in which he would’ve told him to face his enemy and never give up.

Within the alternative universe the Eleventh Doctor tried desperately to convince River to go through with the fixed point in order to save Earth’s history whilst she tried desperately to convince him that would break her heart and that nobody in the universe loved him more than her. This was the cementing of their relationship and through a rushed but effective marriage scene the Time Lord and River were wedded.

The Silence and Madame Kovarian made another appearance but it wasn’t much of one at that. Madame Kovarian was reduced to a prisoner but the Silence got some great scenes of taking over the Pyramid base and killing most of the occupants. It was nice, in a harsh kind of way, to see Amy get her vengeance over the insane woman by allowing the Silents to kill her through her own eye-patch. Though it is fair to say the involvement of the alternative Amy and Rory was debatable but necessary all at the same time. Time was finally reversed and River was forced to kill the man she had only just fallen in love with and married. The final scene with Amy, Rory and River is still to this day rather confusing in the sense of when it’s set and why only at that point did Amy remember about the alternative events of Lake Silencio. Of course I let this slide somewhat as it doesn’t damper my enjoyment of the episode. The fact that River from different points in her timeline revisits her parents in different timelines was a nice little treat, especially since her parents were deprived of raising her properly.

The final resolution of Series Six was just amazing. I to this day find it a fantastic closing to an arc and series. The Eleventh Doctor fooled everyone by using the Teselecta as a decoy, thus allowing the fixed point to happen and the Silence believe him to be dead whilst secretly remaining alive. The Time Lord would then go back to being a shadowy figure, a conclusion to the idea of the Doctor becoming too big and powerful. Within the final few seconds of the episode Dorium revealed to the audience what the question was: Doctor who? Absolute genius. But the bigger question was will this mean that the Doctor’s name would finally be revealed and what did this battle at Trenzalore actually entail? All we could do was wait as ‘The Wedding of River Song’ successfully brought another semi conclusion to the ‘silence will fall arc’ whilst leaving it wide open for continuation and expansion.

My Verdict

  • 
‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ – 7/10
  • 
‘Night Terrors’ – 8/10
  • ‘The Girl Who Waited’ – 10/10
  • 
‘The God Complex’ – 10/10
  • 
‘Closing Time’ – 6/10
  • 
‘The Wedding of River Song’ – 10/10

Continues next month with Series 7.

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