Amy and Rory have now left the TARDIS, the angels have returned and Steven Moffat wrote them out exactly how he wanted to; it’s just a shame that didn’t come across in the finished version broadcast Saturday 29th September.
Hardcore fans will be aware that ‘The Moff’ was aiming for a ‘blockbuster epic’ last episode which would say goodbye to the Ponds and finish off this half of the series. However, someone should really have pointed out to him for a Doctor Who episode to be ‘epic’ it has to actually make sense.
The previous four episodes of the series were, in short, absolutely fantastic, rivalling the story telling of both Christopher Eccelstone’s series and other great episodes such as ‘Human Nature’, ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Amy’s Choice’. Amongst pessimistic Doctor Who fandom there was surely a collective moan when it was revealed the overdone Daleks would be returning in the series’ first episode, but viewers were pleasantly surprised. Not only did the story have a fairly unique plot where the Daleks were not trying to take over something with an overcomplicated plan, but it also successfully, and surprisingly, introduced a character who no one was expecting. It was fast paced, amusing and clever, even though it repeated ideas from earlier ‘Moff’ episodes and betrayed most hardcore fans by not using all the promised ‘old school Daleks’.
‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ was an episode I did not particularly look forward to. It sounded silly, gimmicky and slightly like it had been thought up in a pub. Was it? Not a bit, the episode was faultless. The casting was brilliant, with names such as Mark Williams, David Bradley and Rupert Graves all contributing. It far outdid its earlier 1970’s dinosaur story - The Invasion of the Dinosaurs - in terms of special effects, creating an amazingly realistic episode with some very novel ideas. It also gave the Silurian costumes a good run-out.
‘The Power of Three’ was also very impressive, again with a good cast, as well as nods to past series of Doctor Who with a number of references to UNIT and Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. It did exactly what it said on the tin, it gave us an opportunity to see Rory and Amy’s domestic life during ‘the year of the slow invasion’. What made both ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’ and ‘The Power of Three’ most impressive, however, were their scripts. Chris Chibnall has certainly lined himself up to take over from Steven Moffat as script editor, hopefully in the near future. Both stories combined ‘Douglas Adams style’ elements, with cheaply purchased senile robots and cubes which played the birdie song. He somehow managed to weave together a number of bizarre and strange plots into a single narrative which was both incredibly entertaining and amusing.
I never expected much from A Town Called Mercy. It was better than I thought it would be, mainly because the bloke who played Mr Jolly in Psychoville was in it.
My pessimism having subsided with the previous four episodes, my expectations were up and I eagerly awaited the latest instalment of ‘The Angels take Manhattan’. There are a number of ways to describe the episode, picturesque being the best. It was clear that the production team made the most they could of shooting in New York, providing a brilliantly suitable location for the last episode. They also managed to combine this with a 1930’s New York to act as the setting for the rest of the episode which created a distinctive film noir style. Alex Kingston’s return as River Song was also enjoyable, whilst other elements, such as fears over reading the future from a book and the inevitable Statue of Liberty weeping angel made parts of the episode gripping. So what went wrong?
Leaving the plot aside for two minutes (whilst I calm my rage thinking about it) the departure of the Ponds was always going to be difficult because of one vital fact, I couldn’t care less about them. What made Chris Chibnall’s episodes so brilliant is that he tried to introduce character traits for both Amy and Rory for the first time in two series. Aside from both character’s ability to make funny quips now and again, the only thing they thought about all the time was each other. Seriously, look back, there’s barely a single reminiscence to the Scotland Amy loves so dearly or to anything about Rory at all, oh except the fact that he’s a nurse. WHAT DO THEY DO WITH THE REST OF THEIR TIME? Oh and they like babies. This is not how people function. Amy’s last lines really summed up her whole existence “It’ll be fine, me and him, how it should be, me and Rory together.” River’s relationship with the Pond’s adds very little, with the occasional, very unemotional, “mother” being thrown in. As such, their over emotional farewell was always going to be a particularly dull and nauseating goodbye. Oh and showing suicide on a kid’s show? Was that really a clever thing?
More importantly though, I must ask myself, how can I judge this episode when I really don’t know what it was about? The plot isn’t just full of holes, it’s more bits of string blown around an empty room, completely unconnected. The plot is the holes! Why does no-one notice a giant statue of liberty? Why does one angel survive? Why is there a crime boss randomly collecting angels for no purpose? Why can’t he just go back to 1939 and pick up Rory? How is he allowed to be in the same place as Rory if that’s the paradoxical problem? Why does River ask whether the bulb on top of the TARDIS need changing, does she not know about the chameleon circuit? On the whole it may be the case that the story needed to be dragged out over an extra three episodes just for it to make sense, but frankly I’d rather have just had the Pond’s shot and then move on with it.
I suppose what really aggravated me about the story, however, was Steven Moffat’s arrogance. The episode was billed as “the final farewell to the Pond’s”, as if anyone cared. Furthermore, rather than trying to make the episode fairly novel or interesting, he just resurrected his favourite monsters, which we were expected to find terrifying. Well, whoever it was that decided that having cherubs which giggled and made running noises in the dark would be a good idea should be struck off the pay list. They weren’t entertaining to watch, they added nothing to the story and they were just incredibly irritating. I hope the warehouse which contained them all burns down. Oh and what were the angels doing in this episode? Nothing. Nothing at all. They were just existing. The whole episode was just one great big opportunity for ‘The Moff’ to pretentiously show off his pride in his favourite creation. Frankly I’d rather it have been Peter Kay as the Absorbalof.