Series 6

Confession #120: I Love a Retrospective


My kids had spring break last week. We spent some lovely time with family members whom we don't get to see often enough, and returned home with a couple of spare days to laze around the house. The girls and I have been making our way through modern Who together over the past few months, and before we headed out of town, had reached the end of Tennant's run. Although they were resigned to the change, they were (much like their mom at that stage) not really ready to move on.

However, with several more days of spring break stretched out in front of us, and the Smith era just waiting there invitingly, the girls decided to dive in. They grudgingly agreed to give this not-Tennant guy a try, knowing that eventually we'd roll back around to Capaldi (remember that they started modern Who by watching Series Ten), but they weren't harboring any high hopes.

We started on Wednesday the 4th with The Eleventh Hour (S05E01, a day late for the eighth anniversary of its first broadcast) and binge-watched nearly two full series, finishing The Girl Who Waited (S06E10) by Sunday the 8th. That's twenty-four episodes in the span of five days—a serious feat, if I do say so myself. Somewhere in the middle they reached the fourth of the five stages of the Whovian's regeneration cycle (counting "Regeneration" as the first), though I don't know that they necessarily rank Eleven as their favorite. Still, they're on board with him being the Doctor, and they adore Amy, Rory, and River. Result!


The Impossible Series Plot


Review of The Complete Sixth Series
DVD Release Date:  22 Nov 11
Original Air Date:  25 Dec 2010 - 01 Oct 2011
Doctor/Companion:  Eleven, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song
Stars:  Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
Preceding StoryThe Big Bang (Eleven, Amy, Rory, River)
Succeeding Story:  The Doctor, the Widow & the Wardrobe (Eleven)

Since the blog began with a review of the first episode included in this boxed set (A Christmas Carol), I won't go into details about my views on each one. As a reminder, though, I'll list for you the thirteen regular episodes of the series here, with links to the associated reviews:

Look back over that list and take a moment to think about what this series was. There was some great stuff (as The Doctor's Wife), some stinkers (I'm looking at you, Rebel Flesh/Almost People), and some mixed bags (Good Man gave us both the scintillating Mdme. Vastra and the regrettable "kitchen sink approach to cameos"). Mostly, though, it was about something "inevitable" (the Doctor's death) that we all knew was never going to happen. I'm not sure why Moffat decided to go that route. As I've said before, no one over the age of eight ever believed the Doctor was really and truly dead - or at least that he would really and truly remain so. That takes a heck of a lot of suspense right out the window along with your credibility. So I suppose in the end, it was all a question of how he'd get out of it, rather than of whether.


Much Ado About Nothing


Review of The Wedding of River Song
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

While I will admit that I rather enjoyed (most of) the Series Six finale, and there were plenty of moments that felt epic, when you stop and think about it for a while, not much really got resolved. Moffat is a master at smoke-and-mirrors scriptwriting, like last year when the universe got "rebooted," yet we didn't learn anything about why the TARDIS blew up in the first place. In fact, we still don't know the answer to that particular little puzzle.

Now we do have the answers to a couple of big questions: no, the Doctor didn't really die on that beach (was anyone surprised by that?); and yes, River Song is his wife. Sort of. Actually, that wasn't clearly answered, either, thank-you-very-much. I can't imagine the Doctor actually taking that kind of thing seriously (especially since it was clearly used as a device to gain River's cooperation). Perhaps that's why they did a handfasting ceremony instead of an actual wedding. Are they really "married"? How binding/lasting is a handfast marriage? How did the Time Lords (does the Doctor) view such an interpersonal contract? Frankly, I was terribly disappointed to see these two get "married"; not only does it go counter to how I think of the Doctor, but it made River's story overly predictable ("Of course she's the Doctor's wife! What else could she possibly be to him?" Yuck.). My own personal canon will look on this as a non-binding contract-of-convenience, and leave it at that.


"Closing" in on the Reveal


Review of Closing Time
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

On the surface, Closing Time is a light-hearted, family-oriented romp leading us into the series finale. I, for one, don't believe it. I think it's highly unlikely that the production team would use something so utterly fluffy to head into the final stretch of the series, especially with all the portents of doom we've been getting since The Impossible Astronaut aired back in April.

It doesn't even take very thorough digging to see there's way more than the top-layer story here. The whole thing is very "meta." Here are just a few examples of how it references previous episodes:

  • Opening: much like Rose, the shop girls close up, then find danger in a dark part of the shop.
  • The Doctor visiting Craig: "Doctor's Reward," anyone?
  • Another baby: could there be any more babies (or kids) in this series? (Will the Doctor's cot reappear next week, or next series?)
  • "Stop noticing; just go": did he learn nothing from Bowie Base One?
  • "You always win! You always survive!": Obviously, this references the fans' view of the Doctor. The lovely, not-quite-weepy expression of the Doctor's reaction is supposed to help convince us that's not going to happen again this time. (Sorry, Mr. Moffat; protest all you like, but no one's buying it.)
  • "He needs someone": Donna told him so. But did he listen? Noooooo. And where did it get him? Hello, Eleven!
  • "Oh, please. Just give me this.": Seems we've heard this somewhere before...
  • Impossible Astronaut continuity: he nicks the blue envelopes from Sophie and gets a Stetson from Craig.

Labyrinthine Clues


Review of The God Complex
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

Perhaps it's the fact that it was originally intended to be part of Series 5 instead of Series 6, but for some reason The God Complex has had a whole lot of hype. All sorts of superlatives were used, and somehow it was supposed to be something to which we all really looked forward. Having seen it, I can't say that I didn't enjoy the episode, but it certainly wasn't All That. To begin, there were some important ways in which it was quite derivative.

I had really mixed feelings, for example, about Rita. Overall, I loved her (nearly as much as the Doctor did), but you really know from the get-go that we're not taking on a new Companion (even if poor Amy doesn't when the Doctor pretends to "fire" her). Which, of course, means she's another Astrid Peth - perfect Companion material doomed to die heroically/horribly. Personally, I'd rather not invest emotional capital where the investment is sure to fail. That makes it hard to engage as fully in the episode as it might deserve.

More blatantly, though, it takes a page straight out of The Curse of Fenric. The climactic scene with Amy is a perfect rehash of how the Doctor has to ruin poor Ace's faith in him in the earlier story, and for effectively the same reason (though it's actually done much more gently here). Although I do like the way it sort of references the previous episode by turning Amy Pond: the Girl Who Waited into Amy Williams: the Girl Who Stopped Waiting, there's no hiding the fact that the major plot point came straight out of Fenric.



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