Posts Tagged With: doctor who series 6

The One with the Friends Titles

In many ways it feels like yesterday. That sense of envy, the homage to stressed-out Village life (capital intentional) where people are happy and unhappy at the same time, where humdrum jobs and complicated (or non-existent) love lives are made bearable by the people you hang out with. I was almost seventeen and it seemed such a carefree way to live: these twenty-somethings who existed in a hubbub of late films and spontaneous baking sessions and endless cups of coffee. I had just found, in the real world, an uneasy point of entry into a peer group in which I never really belonged and in which I was, for the most part, an outsider: a Gunther to everybody else’s Ross and Rachel, surrounded by ostensibly lovely people who would never actually call me.

But when you’re that age recognition of any sort is important, and you start to draw parallels. During more reflective moments, in evening conversations conducted over cider or Grolsch in our local pub, I would compare myself to Ross – heartfelt, sincere and slightly pathetic Ross. The analogy worked: Ross really was a bit of a dickhead. I didn’t see it at the time, seeing as I only recognised what how awful I was years down the line. Still, Phoebe was always my favourite – good old Phoebe, who was unable to think a sentence through in her head before saying it out loud (“There isn’t always time!”) and whose songs alone made the show worth watching, if only to detract from the tedium that was the Ross and Rachel love story. They wound up having a baby (by accident) and settling down, presumably in Scarsdale where the schools are good. We don’t know. I still don’t think I’ve seen that last series; the novelty had long worn off and my life had moved on.

It’s become fashionable to sneer at Friends, to dump the word ‘problematic’ into discussion as if that covered the multitude of readings: as if it is as simple as calling it homophobic (it isn’t), fat-shaming (guilty) and disproportionately white (so were the social lives of most people watching it). As ever, things are more complicated and as ever, the internet isn’t interested in grey, not least when black and white looks so much prettier. As far as I’m concerned Friends lost some of its sheen once it became markedly less Jewish, at least in terms of the humour it was producing, and when the characters disappeared up their own backsides in order to become stereotypical parodies of themselves, instead of rounded people: in other words, taking what the audience found funny and building the entire show around it, rather than writing something that could actually be called interesting. But I had this conversation a couple of years back, if you can call ‘conversation’ an eight-hundred word pot-stirrer I did for Metro that actually did reasonable traffic, not least because there were a number of people willing to haul me over the coals for it – or, as a particularly cynical American wrote on Twitter, ‘The one where the straight white man gets to have his say’.

What’s left? A series of eight stills from Doctor Who, accompanied by (hideously in)appropriate Friends episode titles. I have eschewed the obvious ones – hence, The One With The Flashback isn’t there, simply because it wouldn’t be funny. The rest of it sort of works. I don’t watch Friends anymore, for the same reason I don’t re-watch Doctor Who: there is too much TV out there I haven’t seen yet. But it  was a big part of my life for years, and it would be churlish to deny it that sense of cultural importance, at least on a deeply personal level: programmes like this are a comfort blanket, a sense of reassurance, a Friday spent in familiar company even if the conversation is only ever one way. It would be nice if we could just view it as that, instead of having all this other baggage. It would be nice, but I don’t think it’s going to happen, which is why I tend to keep out of it these days.

Anyway, those images.

How you doin’…?

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The Inevitable Eurovision write-up

We open, as you knew we would, in a sepia-tinted art gallery.

Ah, Madonna. I had to slap down someone on a Facebook group this morning who compared her to Cassandra from ‘The End of the World’, largely by leaving “MOISTURISE ME!” gags on every thread I posted. When I asked him to explain himself, he said (and we paraphrase) “Well, because she’s old and she’s had so much surgery”.

I’m fairly open minded, even as I stumble on towards the inevitable midlife crisis part of my forties. But I confess I don’t find this sort of thing particularly amusing, largely because it’s symptomatic of an unpleasant type of humour: namely the idea that women of a certain age are there to be mocked if they do anything to physically defy that age. Madonna, presumably, is ripe for the pickings because she’s rich and famous and she can take it, and besides she was flat when she sang ‘Like A Prayer’. From one perspective it’s harmless fun and this is a free country and can’t you take a joke? From another, it’s sneering, condescending and judgemental and it’s an unpleasant reminder of how we treat women in these supposedly enlightened times. You pick. When I called out this behaviour I was accused of having a sense of humour bypass, so I think I’ll leave the judgement to someone else.

We might reasonably call out Madonna for not really producing a decent record since Ray of Light, with Saturday evening’s clearly rehearsed ‘Music’ singalong a cynical headline grab. That’d be a more reasonable target for a poison arrow, rather than her spandex-clad buttocks. But in many ways it was textbook Eurovision: glossy, overblown and a little bit controversial but seldom making the headlines for the right reasons. That makes her the perfect choice, because it’s not about the music, and for all our attempts to pretend that Eurovision used to be a singing competition, it never really was. Madonna also made waves on the forums, not least because her eye patch thing wasn’t the only Doctor Who reference she managed to include over the course of a nine minute set.

This was just after she lined up on a set of steps to perform ‘Like A Prayer’ with a set of cowled, possibly headless monks. Go figure.

It was the closing ‘statement’, of course, that was responsible for most of the eyebrow raising. I missed the dual flags entirely (perhaps the BBC cut away from it, or perhaps I was just looking at my phone). It was marginally less controversial than the stunt that Iceland pulled, although this isn’t the place to discuss any of that: I have my opinions and you do not get to hear them. Eurovision has always been a hotbed of whatever’s topical – political squabbles, military skirmishes and financial disrespute dressed up in a negligee of supposed togetherness and solitary brother / cisterhood…seriously, don’t get me started on France. At least I could understand the words to that one: over the course of the evening the automated subtitle generator interpreted Malta as ‘melter’, ‘multi’ and ‘Mulder’. Thank goodness Jools Holland wasn’t there.

There were highlights. Denmark (“like a Tesco advert”, to quote the thirteen-year-old) was chirpy and fun, vocalist Leonora ascending a set of steps to a giant chair with her pals, while Graham Norton noted that the “WhatsApp group will probably be deleted around midnight”. And San Marino’s entry – the delightfully retro ‘Say Na Na Na’, which supposedly took five minutes to write (well, one minute and then another four scrolling through Facebook) was both naff and brilliant, and probably would have done quite well a couple of decades ago (I thought much the same about Scooch’s grotesquely comic ‘Flying The Flag’, a 2007 entry that turned up at the party at least eleven or twelve years after its friends had all gone home to bed). And the whole thing was slick and decently compered – Eurovision presenters tend to be dreadful, but this lot weren’t bad, even if there were only four of them so they could cover the entire arena at once. (And why, in these days of twenty-first century open plan introvert’s nightmares, do they still insist on calling it a green room? It isn’t a room of any sort. It’s a roped-off VIP area a meticulously timed short walk from the stage. You can’t even duck under the tables for an illicit shag.)

Anyway: gallery of memorable moments follows. All thoughts are from yours truly unless I tell you otherwise.

1. To kick off, here’s Cyprus’ Tamta, modelling the next Rani outfit.

2. Meanwhile, as Middle Earth burns around her, Albania’s Jonida Maliqi is despondent that she didn’t head into the West with the other Elves.

3. North Macedonia. I have this sudden urge for Quality Street.

4. “Lister, they’ve got to learn.”

5. Serbia? It’s Mike. He wants his tubular bells back.

6. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Elton John.

7. So that’s what happened to Mad Max 5.

8. It was all going so well for Greece, until they brought out the Prisoner balloon.


10. Workprint footage from those promo videos.


12. It’s the Wiggles! It’s the bloody Wiggles!

13. And finally, the inspiration for Spain’s set design proves fairly obvious.

Same time next year? I’ll bring the Prosecco.

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The New Who Top Ten: #2


Number Two: ‘The God Complex’ (2011)

Doctor Who has always been about corridors. If you have a TV programme in which the chase is a recurring motif, then enclosed spaces are the way to go, particularly when you can then use the same constructed length of space again, shot from a different angle, and pretend it’s another part of the building. A chair here, a wall sign there, and the illusion is more or less intact. And if it isn’t, who cares?

Corridors are a big part of this episode, although they don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re the conduit to dealing with your fears. This isn’t like any hotel, where the other rooms – and their occupants – are tantalisingly sealed. In this place, you’re actively encouraged to open up the doors until you find the one that happens to contain that childhood book with the horrible pictures, or the playground bully who abused you, or (if you’re a Time Lord) a large crack in the wall.


The first time we get wind of this, it’s because of a gorilla. Yesterday I mentioned bananas, so it only seems fit to stretch the imagery a little further. The gorilla is enough to terrify a poor policewoman out of her wits and, in the process, unleash a fearsome (but unseen) adversary. She dies with a curious smile on her lips, and the psychological extent of this creature on the human mind is at least partially revealed, even if the creature itself is not. The gorilla vanishes.

It’s an electrifying moment, and rather than being one of those wonderful scenes in an average episode (see ‘Listen‘) it sets the tone. There are many things to admire in ‘The God Complex’, but its biggest joy, as it turns out, is the direction. Nick Hurran has long since been a safe pair of hands, his ability to tease out a shot managing to enliven even ‘Asylum of the Daleks’, but his work here is frankly exemplary. The monster reveal shots in the hotel rooms are a jarring mixture of fast and slow. Jump cuts are abundant. The minotaur stalks the hotel accompanied by lurid lighting and grotesque, Hammond-driven muzak. Crucially, the first time we even come close to seeing it properly, it is through a glass darkly. It is a trick that would have dramatically improved ‘Mummy on the Orient Express‘.


None of this would matter if the narrative didn’t go anywhere – even the best directors can’t polish a turd – but Toby Whithouse delivers. Whithouse has never been the most consistent of Who writers, but ‘The God Complex’ is packed with ominous dread, cranking up the tension as the characters gradually succumb to the Minotaur. The story is a cross between Alien and the last three chapters of 1984, taking its stylistic cues from The Shining, and there are only so many ways you can make that interesting, but Whithouse does this by introducing a smorgasbord of characters who all react in different ways – from David Walliam’s devious Gibbis (the physical resemblance to a rat cannot be a coincidence) to Amara Karan’s Rita, a strong contender for the greatest Doctor Who companion who never was. Rita is calm and logical without being soulless and it’s a shame, in a way, that her death sentence is sealed before it actually happens, when she agrees to go with the Doctor after the story is concluded – which, unless you’ve already been in all the publicity shoots, is the metaphorical equivalent of sleeping with Jack Bauer.

Curiously, ‘The God Complex’ becomes – in its last ten minutes – something else entirely, by using one of the central relationship dynamics as a means to entrap the monster. There are no elephants within any of the hotel’s rooms, but there is one in the TARDIS – and the Doctor ultimately deals with it by forcibly breaking Amy’s faith in him so that she can concentrate on her marriage. It’s a gamble that doesn’t quite work, as ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ proved, and it’s a shame that this later story leaves such a nasty taste in the mouth when ‘The God Complex’ states so explicitly that Amy is relying too much upon the Doctor, and even more of a shame that in the end she can only make the choice when – at the end of ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ – her hand is forced.


Still, that’s all to come. Back in the hotel, the Doctor solves the riddle, confronts the Minotaur and gives it the release it so desperately desires. It’s an unexpectedly touching scene – the dissolution of the hotel’s walls, revealing the holodeck behind it, is a metaphor for the Doctor’s psychological digging, with the Minotaur’s request for death a direct parallel with the series arc. I’d normally find this painful, but in an episode in which deaths necessarily occur off camera, it’s something of a catharsis, irrespective of the wider ramifications. If the finale feels tacked on – a scene Whithouse was asked to insert in light of sequencing – then he gets away with it by keeping it relatively understated, at least by New Who standards.

So there you have it: an episode that’s almost as close to perfect as it’s possible to get. I used to do a lot of recruiting, and the most painful part of the job was delivering bad news to an unsuccessful job candidate, particularly when it was someone you liked. Constructive feedback was the order of the day, but sometimes you struggled to find a valid reason why you’d had to turn someone down, because on any other day you’d hire them in an instant. It’s just that there happened to be someone better. And I suppose there’s no really good reason why ‘The God Complex’ shouldn’t be at the top of my list, because I can’t find a single reason to dislike it. It’s just that there happens to be one better.

But we’ll deal with that tomorrow…

Screen shot 2011-09-19 at 10.40.46 AM

Cameron’s Episode: Midnight

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The New Who Top Ten: #9

Apologies if you got an emailed notification this morning only to find a non-existent post. I was so good. I set up all the templates, assigned tags and everything and was all ready to write later, before accidentally hitting ‘publish’ instead of ‘save’. That’ll teach me not to do this stuff before coffee.

Anyway, our list continues with…


Number Nine: ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ (2011)

I dithered about this one. I’ve said before that I don’t believe in the concept of guilty pleasures – there’s good TV and there’s bad TV, and yes, you can sometimes be objective. There’s such a thing as standards. As far as my own are concerned, ‘A Good Man’ embodies many of the things I’ve come to despise about New Who. There’s the ridiculous poetry – something Moffat seems to be particularly fond of, throwing out tawdry balladry on the backs of beer mats and napkins and then passing it off as Gallifreyan ‘standards’, the sort of thing that Time Lord nursemaids whisper to sleeping children, presumably to give them nightmares. These poems are then transcribed and turned into desktop wallpapers that saturate the internet, which is a royal pain in the arse when you’re looking for appropriate images for a blog post.

What else? Well, there’s the Eastenders-style cliffhanger about River’s parentage, the lamest of endings. There’s also River herself, who turns up early in the episode to poke fun at Stevie Wonder before disappearing until the final scenes – in order to deliver a mawkish, cloying judgement upon the Doctor’s actions, with an earnestness that becomes grating before she’s finished her first sentence. There’s the birth of the comedy Sontaran thing (and although Strax is comparatively dignified in this episode, the rot sets in early with the breastfeeding gag). There’s the ‘angry Doctor’ scene, which probably has its own tumblr page but which would have worked better had the Doctor not actually stopped mid-rant and said “Oh, I’m angry. That’s new”, which  – however well-intentioned – is the metaphorical equivalent of ending a drama group sketch by turning to the rest of the class and saying “That’s it”.


And yet here it is, sitting in my hall of fame. What’s going on?

Moffat’s investment in Amy makes for a good start. This is Mrs Williams before she became tiresome and annoying – instead she’s frightened and scared, having just given birth to a baby she didn’t even know she was carrying (the stuff of women’s magazine articles and soap story lines for decades). Said baby is then promptly taken away by a sinister one-eyed despot, presumably to be trained as a killer. But fate has a far worse twist in store, with Moffat arranging a happy reunion before snatching out the rug from under us just a few minutes from the end. I still maintain that the dissolving baby would have been even more effective if it had occurred with no warning at all, but there would have been thousands of screaming children and an OFTEL investigation.

So perhaps it’s fatherhood. Perhaps that’s the reason I’m prepared to give ‘Closing Time’ far more slack than it is arguably due, given that the climax involves James Corden destroying the Cybermen with love. Perhaps for all its current failings Doctor Who does tap into the fears and joys of parenting, much as Eraserhead did many years ago. I know nothing but this: when Amy’s child is snatched, I cared about it. But it’s still a secret pregnancy, and those who complain about the speed at which Amy and Rory seemingly accept their loss, as chronicled in later episodes in which Melody is not mentioned (largely because they were resequenced) have missed the point: it almost destroys their marriage. (Said complainers would also do well to watch ‘Logopolis’, and marvel over the speed at which Tegan deals with the death of her aunt.)


What happens in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ is this: a confusing, jumbled legion of characters new and old is dumped into a battle station and pitted against a set of dark Jedi in cassocks. The pirates from three episodes back turn up for no obvious reason. If you don’t concentrate you won’t have a clue who anyone is or what’s actually going on. It ends with melodramatic silliness. It shouldn’t work. That it does is down to Moffat’s sheer audacity – within the space of two or three minutes we’re getting in-jokes about the writing process and things have got thoroughly silly, but we don’t care because want the Doctor to rescue Amy, and this strange bunch of misfits and blue-skinned merchants is oddly compelling. Put simply – and at the risk of saturating this entry with back-handed compliments – the episode succeeds precisely because it is so utterly outrageous. It’s a gamble that wouldn’t pay off later in the series, when ‘The Wedding of River Song’ tried something similar and never made it off the ground.

But of all the characters who stroll across the screen during the battle of Demon’s Run, it’s perhaps Rory who provides the unexpected high point. Forced back into a two-thousand-year-old outfit by the Doctor (we can only pray it’s been through the laundry) he stomps into a Cyber war ship, stern and impassive even as the starry sky behind him is filled with a multitude of explosions. It’s one of the few occasions Doctor Who has been genuinely exciting. I still maintain, four years later, that it would have worked better as the finale to the previous episode, but ruminations about structure probably won’t get us anywhere. For this scene alone, I’m willing to forgive ‘Good Man’ just about everything that follows. Even the breastfeeding gags.

Cameron’s Episode: ‘Dalek

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Standing corrected (part two)

(For part one, see here.)

“It’s the Flesh. Definitely the Flesh.”

I have to say, I don’t think I was totally off base with this one. Oh, you remember. Moffat writes himself into a corner. Just to show us he can also write himself out of it. The Doctor dies by the lake, except it turns out he was hiding inside a robotic duplicate, which also has the ability to grow facial hair. There’s a pointless wedding sequence on a rooftop and then Dorium asks the First Question, which unfortunately does not turn out to be “Rice, chips or half and half?”.


I have whinged about the inconsistencies of the Teselecta resolution before, so we won’t dwell on it. But oh, I was so sure it would turn out to be the Flesh. Because we’d not seen them for half a series, which is enough time to leave a dish to simmer before bringing it back to the boil. You have two Doctors running around for two hundred years, taking it in turns to wave at Amy and Rory from history books. There was no way I could be wrong about this. (On the other hand, I was also once convinced that the Flesh would turn out to be somehow related to the Zygons, so meh.)

Here’s the crux of my argument: we don’t actually see the Flesh Doctor die. It’s heavily implied, but by no means established – and you know as well as I do that unless you see a corpse, you can always cheat death (and, in some cases, even a corpse doesn’t mean anything). It would have been interesting to have the Flesh Doctor willingly surrender to the Real Doctor, who shoots him in order to make the Silence happy. Except the Real Doctor probably wouldn’t have done anything of the sort, so it would have been River instead. Meanwhile the Real Doctor is hiding in the back of Canton Delaware’s truck, playing Bejeweled on his iPhone.

But that’s the thing with twists. With Moffat you’ve come to expect them. The climax of ‘The Pandorica Opens’ – that dual revelation that Rory is an Auton and that the impenetrable prison was empty, and intended for the Doctor – was extremely effective, but it’s arguably the last time that a twist of that magnitude has worked (and it’s a shame that the closing episode of that series was so piss poor). By the time we get to ‘The Impossible Astronaut’, and the realisation that there is a twist of some sort coming (because a twist is the only way you can get out of the on-screen death and cremation of the Doctor), we no longer care.

As a recently graduated student still convinced of my own importance, I can remember seeing The Sixth Sense and then bragging afterwards to anyone who’d listen how I’d spotted the plot twist coming a mile off. To be honest, this isn’t strictly true. What actually happened was that I visited the cinema knowing there would be a twist, and then tried my utmost to figure it out. Which meant that when Haley Joel Osment drops a big hint halfway through (in a line that Shyamalan says he almost deleted), I picked up on that. If you know there’s a twist – i.e. if it’s been mentioned in every single review – you’ll look for it. But if you don’t know that, say, “______” has one of the most unexpected things to happen in any movie ever, despite gratuitous (if subtle) foreshadowing, it’ll catch you totally off guard. (I am purposely not mentioning the title here, but that underscore includes an IMDB link.)

Aw, c'mon, he's just so *cute*.

Aw, c’mon, he’s just so *cute*.

Just to jump off into a tangent for a moment, I think I can speak about The Sixth Sense openly here because there can’t be that many people reading this blog who haven’t seen it. But if you’ve been living under a paving slab for the last thirteen years, now might be a good time to jump down to the next bit. See you there.

Right, he’s gone. We can continue. I can remember a conversation I had with Emily about this movie, and about how our respective parents had reacted.

“It was funny,” she said, “because mine figured it out straight away. We were watching and they had the opening bit where he gets shot, and my mother sniffed and said ‘Oh, I bet he’s dead now’, thereby ruining the film for my dad.”

“See, I had the exact opposite,” I replied. “We watched the entire film, and then they had the big revelation, and then the denouement where he says goodbye, and then the credits roll, and then halfway through the credits my mother suddenly sat up and cried out ‘Oh! So he’s been dead all the time!’. I despair of her, I really do.”

(Spoilers end here.)

Anyway, you see where I’m coming from. The first five series of the revived Doctor Who constructed their story arcs around obvious foreshadowing looming to a big climax. The sixth starts at the end and then works its way towards it in what is in many respects a colossal flashback. Moffat is essentially throwing down the gauntlet and asking us to solve a puzzle, something he’s done with increasing frequency over the years, as we ponder – even now – exactly how Sherlock could have survived that tumble from the roof. Forced to confront the issue, we find ourselves going through a myriad different solutions in order to come up with the most plausible (knowing, of course, that Moffat will then do something that’s neither plausible nor well-written). So I was convinced it would be the Flesh, and it wasn’t. But you can see how I got there.

“Matt Smith? Nooo. Way too young.”

I think it’s a coming of age thing. It’s not as big a deal as that first kiss, or a graduation – it’s a small milestone that you only really think about later on as one of those tiny moments when you realise your life is ticking away. I’m talking, if you hadn’t guessed, about the first time they cast a Doctor who’s younger than you are.

screen grab of matt smith from bbc

That nose. I swear. Has its own weather system.

I was thirty when Matt Smith hit the big time. I can remember being at a petrol station in Craven Arms and seeing him on the wrinkled cover of The Sun, along with the headline “The New Doctor is Matt…Who?”. It was a fair question. He’d done his share of theatre, but wasn’t what you could call a household name. There was a lanky, floppy-haired young man grinning at me from the front page of the newspaper, and I was appalled.

“He’s too young,” I complained to Emily, when I got back in the car, carrying a crumpled receipt and the large bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut that would see us back to Oxfordshire. “They’re casting a hip-and-trendy bloke who’s going to be, like, the cool Doctor. I’m sure of it. He’s younger than I am!”

In one respect it turns out I was right about the ‘cool Doctor’ thing. My timing was a little off, though, because Smith – while the youngest actor to date – was only three years Peter Davison’s junior, at least with respect to the age he’d been when he got the job. So I was thirty, but Davison had been twenty-nine. Still, that wasn’t the point. When Davison was in the TARDIS I’d been three years old. He was a grown-up – a young grown-up, but still a grown-up. It wasn’t the same at all. Even after the reboot and Davies’ insistence that you have to cast younger actors because of the amount of running about, they were still looking at older, established actors for the part. (And besides, the Fifth Doctor was my Doctor.)

Things got worse not long afterwards, when the BBC released this publicity shot:


Which only made things worse. “Look at her! She doesn’t look a day over sixteen!” I remember bleating. “It’s like they’ve left a couple of kids in charge of the TARDIS!” I must have been fun to be with in those days.

The problem, as it turned out, was that I was imagining Smith as he’d been in the Sally Lockhart stories, or at least the two that were adapted for television. There he was young, permanently sheepish and borderline cockney, or at least that’s how I remember him. I was convinced he’d bring the same approach to Doctor Who. The series five trailer – which involved the Doctor punching out Bracewell in the execrable ‘Victory of the Daleks’ – didn’t help.

Then we got to Easter 2010, and ‘The Eleventh Hour’. And I think there’s a reason why this remains in my top ten New Who episodes some three years later. Over the course of sixty-five minutes, Moffat introduces a new Doctor, one-and-a-half new companions, a whole new approach to the show, a host of gags, an unfortunate meme-that-should-never-have-been-a-meme and a cameo from Patrick Moore. And a story, of sorts. The threat of Prisoner Zero and the Atraxi were hardly among the most interesting that the show has faced, but in an episode which basically served as a game-changer I think we can let that go.

It was fast and frenetic and incredibly English, but at the centre of it all was Smith himself, who absolutely blew me away. From his exasperation at the villagers’ reaction to the eclipse of the sun (“The end comes, as it was always going to, down a video phone”) to the moment he faces Prisoner Zero’s mimicry of his own as-yet undiscovered appearance with “That’s rubbish, who’s that supposed to be?”), Smith plays a character who’s simultaneously young and old – a pattern that was set to continue. Whatever you may think about Moffat’s done to the show (and I’ve written about that in ample detail, so we won’t re-tread old ground), and however much Smith’s current performance as the Doctor seems loaded with the same gravitas and weariness that was arguably Tennant’s undoing (it’s like they’ve learned nothing from ‘The End of Time’), there is a brilliance about this opening episode that solidified the Eleventh as a Doctor who could be fun without being smug, who was as utterly alien as Baker’s Fourth, and who would take things to the brink before saving the day. And in Amy, Moffat created a lovably off-the-wall character who became my favourite companion, at least for a while. I’d got it wrong before, of course. But seldom have I been so pleased about it.

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How ‘The Wedding of River Song’ should have ended

Call me picky or devoid of any sense of fun, but personally I found ‘The Wedding of River Song’ to be a bloated, incoherent mess. It was just Moffatt showing off. There’s a ludicrous teaser, with pterodactyls and generic CG and unnecessary cameos from Simon Callow. Then the story gets going and it’s all downhill from there. It solves certain problems – one rather cleverly, and with less irritating smugness than usual, but so much of it is wrong (and makes no sense) that it’s too little, far too late. There must, I told myself, be a way to improve this monstrosity somehow?

But there wasn’t. It’s just too far gone to be properly redeemed, and you will instead have to be content with this, which is not a rewrite of that tedious marriage ceremony, nor an abbreviated scene in Amy’s back garden that removes all of Alex Kingston’s dialogue. Instead this is just a little coda I tacked on to the end, and I suspect it will go over the heads of anyone who’s not pretty familiar with the film it rips off, in addition to having a working knowledge of the events of series six.

This took me less than an hour once I had all the components – that in itself took some time, as I really didn’t want to fork out a fortune on Amazon to buy a foreign language dub of a film I already owned. Instead, I had to wait until I got lucky after a chance encounter in the local British Heart Foundation one lunchtime. Even then, I was unable to edit it exactly as I wanted; I had a vision in my head of how it should look, and finding the right segments in the original footage proved difficult, if not impossible. The point is made, but it is not the clip I wanted it to be. Still, Gareth liked it, and he’s a tough sell, so on that basis alone, it works.

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Father-of-mine of the bride

From Gareth:

“It occurs to me that ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ could be summarised somewhat as not so much losing a daughter, but gaining a Song.

(I also wondered whether the final episode could be not losing a Song but gaining a Doctor.)”

I swear.

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