Retrospective: Series 6 (2011)

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Guest contributor David Selby continues his new Who retrospective, this time looking at Series 6.

As regular readers may know, I was rather shocked at the lack of an explanation in The Big Bang, and began Series 5 hoping to find one that suited me. But did I?

The Impossible Astronaut

The Impossible Astronaut was a very popular episode. Anyone could tell that purely by the response it received by fans. It was also the most recorded television episode ever. Whilst I enjoyed the episode, I felt the same as I did after New Earth; not as fresh as I normally do after an opener. I like my openers to introduce a new companion and a new story, and I felt that the episode was sort of still part of Series 5, which was obviously down to the fact that it still featured the Ponds, so looking at it that way, Moffat did a good job at keeping it entertaining. I’m just not sure the first episode should be a multi-part story, as I said; I need that ‘fresh’ feeling.

Day of the Moon

Once again, I have a mixed feeling about Day of the Moon. I feel it lacked in what the second part of a story should, and asked more questions than it answered, which for a two-part story isn’t exactly the right thing to do. But on a positive note, the episode was nevertheless entertaining, and like Let’s Kill Hitler could be remembered for some of its amusing moments, like the part in the Apollo 11 base with the Doctor, Amy, Rory, River and Nixon.

Curse of the Black Spot

In all honesty, I feel the same way about this episode as many others, but not because it was ‘bad’, but because it missed an opportunity. A pirate episode would be much better suited to a two-part blockbuster story featuring pirate battles, sea monsters, hurricanes and treasure islands, whereas the episode spent most of the time on a calm sea in the hold of a ship. However I don’t blame Steve Thompson for this as the first draft did feature a pirate island and more battles with other ships, but this was sadly cut out – and also, as most of us know from Sherlock, Thompson sure does have potential.

The Doctor’s Wife

The Doctor’s Wife was by far the strongest episode in the first half of the series, however the highlight for me was not Idris (or TARDIS or ‘Sexy’), it was seeing more of the TARDIS at last. However, the ending for me, with the goodbye scene, didn’t quite work and they shouldn’t have really called the episode, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’. Good episode nonetheless though!

The Rebel Flesh

To me, The Rebel Flesh felt a bit more like one of the episodes in the Russell T. Davies era, although I dare say that I was a tiny bit disappointed by it. Given as it was written by Matthew Graham I was expecting better. And no, that wasn’t a joke, I’d just finished a run-through of my second favourite show, Life on Mars, which was written by him, and I’m afraid he did better there!

The Almost People

All things considered, The Almost People was a good resolution to the two-parter showing how all the different clones were affected. I also found the title to be rather fitting; The Almost People as a name showed us that no matter how much the Gangers tried, they would never quite be accepted as humans, which is a sad concept which reflects the way we think and see things as a species.

A Good Man Goes to War

A Good Man Goes to War was my favourite Moffat episode of the series, it was everything you’d expect from a Moffat episode; Bizarre, insane, clever and ‘big’. I loved the way it flicked between the different places, and whilst being humorous, it was also emotional, and in my opinion dealt with River’s reveal in the best, darkest, and most touching way possible.

So, overall, the first half of Series 6 wasn’t at all bad, but not the best. But how did the second half fare?

Let’s Kill Hitler

Let’s Kill Hitler was, I’m afraid to say, a disappointment. For a start, it was way too early to meet a young River Song as we didn’t even know who she was, and River also went from being a dark but caring character to being an annoying and careless character. Although, saying that, I enjoyed the scene when River saved the Doctor and the music was once again superb.

Night Terrors

Night Terrors was, in my opinion, another episode which stood strongly on its own two feet as a story. The Peg Dolls made a great monster and the twist about the Victorian house turning out to be a dolls house would have been brilliant if I hadn’t read about it beforehand!

The Girl Who Waited

The Girl Who Waited was by far my highlight of the series. We got an alien planet, which we hadn’t properly seen since The Doctor’s Wife, and a beautifully heart-breaking episode which appeared to have a high standard in every little part of the episode – the acting, the effects, the music and the writing were all simply outstanding, making this my second favourite episode of the Moffat era!

The God Complex

The God Complex had a lot to follow up from, didn’t it? But fear not, it did an amazing job – the episode went from being good to excellent at the end, which in my opinion was the best resolution of the series. You had Rita’s death which was tragic and shocking, followed closely by the Doctor’s realisation that the Minotaur was using faith, which included some great flashbacks to the ‘Joe scene’ and linked the episode together perfectly. This was followed by the wonderful scene of Amy sacrificing her faith in the Doctor and the Doctor leaving them at home.

Closing Time

You had the heart-rending episode which saw Amy killed by kindness and abandoned by her most trusted friend, and the episode which saw her lose faith in him, whilst the Doctor dealt with the loss of an innocent woman. So anyone who says this episode is too light-hearted, just think to yourselves; “It was about time, wasn’t it?” Whilst not necessarily being the strongest of the series, Gareth Roberts still made me laugh with Closing Time, meanwhile the ending was haunting, scary and shocking all at the same time.

The Wedding of River Song

Well at least I enjoyed the previous three episodes. Sadly though, I was incredibly disappointed by The Wedding of River Song. There were yet more questions left unanswered – what does “Doctor Who” mean exactly? Who are the Silence? What is Silence? Why does Madame Kovarian want to kill the Doctor? When exactly did the laws of time change where you only had to witness a moment for it to ‘work’? And most importantly of all, where did this sudden love for the Doctor from River come from? And the love did seem very one-way, I have to admit. A lot of the so-called emotional scenes seemed a bit too forced and in general this proved that a finale needs to be two parts. I really hope that Moffat redeems himself this year

But with the Moffat episodes from the second half aside, I thought that the Series 6 part 2 was excellent, and I would like to see more episodes like Night Terrors, The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex.

The retrospective concludes next week with all the Christmas specials and mini-episodes.