Posts Tagged ‘river song’

Following last month’s triple purchase of Doctor Who Magazine the buggers are at it again…special editions of issue 452 on 20 September for The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan. Hope they don’t do this for the 8 stories due in early 2013.

DWM 452 The Power of Three DWM 452 The Angels Take Manhattan

All the Daleks!!! EVER!!!

Dinosaurs!!! ON A SPACESHIP!!!

Cyborg gunfighters!!! IN THE WILD WEST!!!

River Song!!! Baby Weeping Angel!!! IN NEW YORK!!!

“I seem to be able to fly her. She showed me how, she taught me. The Doctor says I am the child of the TARDIS. What does he mean?”

Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler - The Doctor

To paraphrase show runner Steven Moffat, “Let’s Kill Hitler” is a “slutty” title. Like Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife” earlier in the series it was designed to provoke interest and discussion. Through the 3 months that “Doctor Who” was off screen it certainly did that, with anticipation running incredibly high for what was in effect a 2nd series opener within the same series.

Some viewers doubtless felt cheated due to the almost blink-and-miss nature of the appearance by Adolf Hitler after all the hype, but let’s face it the episode could never have been the “Doctor Who” equivalent of “Downfall” or “Schindler’s List”. Examinations of the monstrous evil that was Nazi Germany have no place in what is, and always has been, a family series. Whilst the Daleks and their creator Davros can be used as an allegory for the Nazi regime’s concept of racial purity and the dark-minded eugenics scientists respectively, it’s utterly impossible to have heinous topics such as the Holocaust covered within the series framework without it becoming “Torchwood” by any other name. If the younger members of a viewing audience are not aware of Nazi Germany and its Fuhrer then they need to be educated about that hideous chapter in human history. “Doctor Who” is there to entertain.

And “Let’s Kill Hitler” certainly did entertain. This is the closest that Steven Moffat has come to a Russell T Davies-style pulp sci-fi romp but it was far more entertaining and filled to the gunnels with a surfeit of his trademark timey-wimey twists.

If you can’t treat Hitler seriously then there’s only one option left to a writer. You have to rip the shit out of him. As Moffat himself said in the preview in Doctor Who Magazine 438:

“Hitler would be deeply, deeply pissed off to know that we treated him as a minor comic character in a episode of Doctor Who. My guiding moment for it was how Steven Spielberg handled Hitler in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – when Hitler signs the book for Indiana Jones. We didn’t create him as a great icon of evil, we took the piss, and I don’t think we can humiliate that man enough.”

Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler - Adolf Hitler

Arthur Darvill’s Rory was given all the best material in relation to the humiliation of Hitler. He punched Hitler, yelled “Shut up Hitler”, and locked the Fuhrer in a cupboard all in the space of a few minutes. After this episode “Hitler in the cupboard” may become a euphemism regarding the rumours of Hitler’s sexuality. Is the Fuhrer still in the cupboard? Did a double die in the bunker on 30 April 1945?

The main remit of Hitler’s presence seemed to be to provide an easily recognisable war criminal from Earth’s past for the occupants of Justice Vehicle 6018 to compare Melody Pond and her recorded future murder of the Doctor to. A bizarre hybrid of the crew from “Fantastic Voyage” manning a version of the T-1000 from “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, the occupants and concept of the Teselecta didn’t get as much screen time as they deserved because of all the other plot threads flying around. Since the revival of “Doctor Who” in 2005 the idea of non-Time Lord time travellers has been dealt with sparingly. The idea of extracting war criminals from the end of their timeline and then “giving them hell” is one that the Doctor finds repulsive. There’s an odd parallel between those actions and the bizarre Mormon practice of baptising the dead.

Since the appearance of the aforementioned T-1000 in 1991, the morphing of entities from one form to another has invariably been along the lines of a melting effect. 20 years down the road the “Doctor Who” team came up with a new way for the Teselecta to change features, a superb “block” effect that made it hard to believe this was not a feature film budget the special effects team had at their disposal.

Production values on the revived series have cocked a snoot at the frequently cited criticism of wobbly sets on the classic series. From summery contemporary Leadworth, to 1938 Berlin, to the interior of the Teselecta, to the Luna University in 5123, the behind-the-scenes team once again worked wonders with their available pennies. Cardiff’s Temple of Peace has become the closest thing to a regularly used quarry following its use in “The End of the World”, “Gridlock”, “The Fires of Pompeii”, and “Cold Blood”. Here it represented the Hotel Adlon and the setting for yet more revelations surrounding River Song/Melody Pond…

“Well I was just on my way to a gay Gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, “Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish, I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer”.

Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler - River Song

A far more apt title for this episode would have been “The Birth of River Song” or “An Unearthly Melody”. But that would have rather blown the central theme of these incredibly enjoyable 45 minutes of television out of the water. Once again Steven Moffat peeled away some of the mystery surrounding arguably the most popular supporting character to have appeared in the revived “Doctor Who”. Alex Kingston has clocked up ten episodes as River Song since her first appearance in “Silence in the Library”/“Forest of the Dead”. Three more outings and she will have equalled the duration of the Ninth Doctor’s onscreen tenure. Only in “Doctor Who”, with its wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey nature, can a character be killed off in their debut story and then go on to become a much loved semi-regular.

As much as Alex Kingston owns the screen as River she is matched step-by-step by Matt Smith in every shared scene. Despite the 20 year age difference between the actors there is an incredible chemistry between them that makes you simply accept that one day the Doctor and River will be husband and wife – though knowing Moffat it may not in fact be that simple in the end. Even when dying because of her actions with the poison of the Judas Tree, the Doctor’s fury is reserved for those hurting River and not her for killing him. From before her birth River had been lined up as a weapon to kill the Doctor. She can’t help what she has been trained and conditioned to do. This expression of love was repaid when River sacrificed her remaining regenerations to save the Time Lord.

As is par for the course with a Steven Moffat script many questions are answered but more posed. We now know that the little girl seen regenerating at the end of “Day of the Moon” was Melody Pond. We now know that the Silence is not a species – It is a religious order or movement with a core belief of “silence will fall when the question is asked”. Naturally we’ve not been told specifically what the question is other than it is “the first question”. The oldest question in the universe. Hidden in plain sight. Are we going down the path of “who is the Doctor?”. That was tried with the so-called “Cartmel Masterplan” and was a dismal failure.

Unlike “The X-Files” when the so-called story master plans of the alien invasion/colonisation were clearly made up as the seasons clocked up, Steven Moffat has clearly prepared a intricate story arc for the Doctor and his associates. Probably since the age of 8! There have been complaints in some quarters of fandom and the media that he has made the series too intricate and complex with the need to remember plot elements from a couple of years before. So??? In this era of DVDs, iPlayers, digital downloads, and Wikipedia, intricately woven narratives in “Doctor Who” are now possible in a way that they never were in the classic series. When it was tried in stories such as “Attack of the Cybermen” it failed because not even fans could remember the necessary elements from stories dating back to the 1960s! And there is a difference between building a mythology and ripping one off for ideas. If the viewer doesn’t want to think or isn’t prepared to absorb plot elements then they can go away and watch one of the increasingly naff “reality shows”. In this age of fast food-style television it’s a pleasant change to have a programme that makes you use the brain as well as entertains. And when the plot gets too complicated ask your 8 year old child to explain it all to you. Who knows, in 30 years they might be running “Doctor Who”.

Courtesy of records from the Teselecta, the Doctor is now aware of his impending death on 22 April 2011, 5.02pm at Lake Silencio, Utah, USA. The Doctor’s death is a fixed point in space and time. It has always happened and must always happen. So how will it be avoided? Can it be avoided? We’ll find out in “The Wedding of River Song”…

All indications are that Doctor Who will be returning for the final 6 episodes of this series on Saturday 27 August. Treats in store include: Hitler, Cybermen, Weeping Angels, and River Song!!!

Plus Karen Gillan is confirmed to be appearing alongside Matt Smith in Series 7, though no word on the actual number of episodes that she’ll be in.