Monday, February 18, 2013

Reflecting on Doctor Who Series 7…

So, I've posted this elsewhere, but I thought I would add it here after my review of The Hobbit.  It's mostly a collection of thoughts, and not so much a review, but I had a lot of feelings at the break in Series 7 and I needed to get those feeling out somehow... So here it is.  And feel free to ignore if you are not into Who...
As a whole, there is something very refreshing about Series 7, especially after series 5 & 6.  It reminds me more of RTD era Who, and I mean that in the best ways possible. 
I am a big fan of Series 1–4 of (new) Who, but I will be the first to admit that during the RTD reign, some of my favourite episodes were written by Moffat.  So, when he took over, I was excited to see what he would do, and where he would take the writing.  But that’s where things got complicated…  Series 5 & 6 are hard to watch because Moffat has these grandiose ideas that work amazingly well constrained to an episode (“Blink”) or a two-parter (“The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”), but when given a whole series to flesh out an idea, I’m left with a severe case of what the fuck.

For most of Series 5 & 6, I feel like I was alternatively being bashed over the head with obvious hinting (the crack in the wall) or with bait & switch misdirection (River Song’s story).  This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy both of these series – I did! – it just was so full of story arcs and multi-part episodes it got exhausting.

As Series 7 started, I realized that there was a dramatic change happening, specifically with The Ponds. This was progression felt so naturally done, I didn’t feel like they were being written out, or cast aside.  It actually felt like character development…

Which brings me to “The Power of Three,” which I just adored.  This, to me, felt the most RTD-eqsue: the Doctor hangs around on earth, in present time, and using weird gadgets to investigate; UNIT is involved; there is an international crisis that The Doctor fixes at the last possible moment.  It felt like “Aliens of London” meets “Army of Ghosts,” with a hint of "The Sontaran Stratagem"/"The Poison Sky" thrown in for good measure.  This honestly may be one of my favourite episodes ever, just based on the way that all the characters interact with each other (I love “Boom Town” for the same reasons).

And can we just stop for a moment and talk about how wonderful Brian Williams is?  He is like the best parts of Jackie Tyler and Wilfred Mott rolled into one.  His amazing acceptance of Amy and Rory’s life with The Doctor, is summed up perfectly in two scenes:
1) when he rattles off all the suggestions he can think of for what the Cube might be, and
2) when he watches the Cubes for nearly a year.
He isn’t envious of Amy and Rory’s adventures, he doesn’t hate The Doctor, he just wants to help in any way he, as a good person, can.

In “The Power of Three,” Brian asks The Doctor what happened to the people who traveled with him before.  When The Doctor mentions that a few of them had died, my heart nearly stopped.  NO.  I refused to accept that was going to be The Ponds fate.  But Brian insists that they travel on, and asks The Doctor to take care of them…

I have so much I to say about “The Angles Take Manhattan” but I’m having a hard time articulating anything.  Like the previous episode, this one, to me, was reminiscent of RTD’s series 2 finale, “Doomsday.”  Both Amy and Rory have to make impossible decisions, and both choose, in the end, to be with each other no matter what the cost.  Their decision to jump reminded me of Rose staying behind to help close the Void.  But much like Rose getting trapped in a parallel universe, when the paradox doesn’t work, Amy and Rory get stuck back in time.  It’s heartbreaking and beautiful, and I’m still tearing up just thinking about it.

I will really miss The Ponds… or should I say The Williams’ as that’s how their names appear on their grave – and that just felt like Amy’s way of finally moving on from needing The Doctor to fully accepting her life with Rory.

To avoid crying again, here are my (hopefully) brief thoughts of the other episodes, in list form!

1. Asylum of the Daleks.
  • A huge opening, and I worried it was going to be like “The Impossible Astronaut”/”Day of the Moon” again.  It was a nice surprise that it wasn’t.
  • I am fascinated by the concept of the planet Asylum. I wanted more.
  • Due to Oswin’s work, does no one know who The Doctor is anymore? Is this the arc?
  • Speaking of Oswin – as soon as The Doctor knew there was something wrong, I thought she was going to be a highly evolved AI, like Jane from the Ender’s Game series.

2. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
  • I think they underused The Silver Fox Rupert Graves.
  • This episode was fun, if not all that dramatic, or plot heavy.
  • How many HP Actors can we fit in an episode is one of my favourite Whovian games.
  • The Doctor was a bit scary here, like how he gets when he doesn’t have a companion.
  • Oh, and I’ve already said it, but Brian Williams is amazing.

3. A Town Called Mercy
  • I loved the misdirect in this episode, thinking that the town was referring to The Doctor as their savior until the very end
  • I really wanted The Doctor to talk about The Time War, and I was really bothered by the fact that he didn’t.
  • Jex reminded me a lot of Professor Yana (“Utopia”), so automatically I didn’t trust him.
  • Interesting, but ultimately my least favourite of this series so far. 

4. The Power of Three
  • The Doctor can paint a fence in less than an hour, just FYI
  • Brian’s willingness to help is precious
  • The strain that Amy & Rory’s time with The Doctor puts on the rest of their lives and friends is really amazingly well shown
  • The Doctor says the Shakri are Gallifreyan legend, much like the Toclafane (“The Sound of Drums”).
  • I don’t care that the resolution was weak, the character development was amazing!

5. The Angels Take Manhattan
  • Film Noir episode, yes please
  • Holy Shit it’s the motherfucking Statute of Liberty
  • We don’t get much Father-Daughter alone time with Rory and River, so that was a silver lining during some dark moments
  • If River is already a professor in this, then we are near the end of her Timeline, and the Doctor will have lost all the Ponds (which is sad, even tho he’s already witnessed her death).
  • The leap of faith broke my heart

I am still not ready to accept the fact of the Pond/Williams family, so I haven't watched the Christmas special yet.  Also, because I haven't had a ton of time and I have been catching up on other things. 

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