This post will contain spoilers for the ninth Matt Smith episode of Dr. Who This episode really hit the spot for me, much more so than the rather slow Hungry Earth did, however, taken both together, the pacing was good. This story would have been much better as a double episode broadcast on one day as a special, than two discrete episodes.
There were a few parts which didn't quite work out.
- We had the nasty lizard doctor [spoiler]advancing with the scalpel[/spoiler], and he then [spoiler]turns out to be a sweetie-pie[/spoiler]. Really?
- When the [spoiler]lizard doctor was about to dissect Amy, he pushes a button and the clamps grab her arms - but she'd been struggling for ages up to this point, surely she could have slipped out[/spoiler].
- The [spoiler]poison gas defence seemed a bit too convenient[/spoiler], but I'll forgive them this, given the idea is that there is [spoiler]suspended animation[/spoiler] available.
- How can the doctor [spoiler]reach into the crack without being affected?[/spoiler] Especially when [spoiler]he was going to feed himself to the crack in 'Flesh and Stone'[/spoiler]
There was the very 'classic' who feel to a lot of the episode, a little reference to Celery (Davison) , as well as the whole episode being rather Pertwee-esque.
There was a lot I liked about the episode. Firstly, [spoiler]the setup for a return, 1000 years hence, with Nasreem and Frank. It'd be great to have them join the Tardis - when Amy is coming to the end of her time and the Doctor wants to get past his 'likes em young' phase. Honestly, though, I don't expect to see them again except for any episode which features Homo Reptilia in the return to 3010[/spoiler].
[spoiler]Rory's death was unexpected for me, I do like it when shows take a major step by killing off a main character, it says to the audience that 'nobody is safe'. My one gripe here would be that Rory hadn't really been around for that long, this was only his third story.[/spoiler]. Update: My other gripe is [spoiler]the lack of permanence! Oh my God! You killed Rory![/spoiler] [censor]You Bastard![/censor]
I do love Matt Smith's characterisation of the Doctor. [spoiler]"Front door approach, definitely. Always the best way.... <fx>'hostile life form detected'</fx>.... apart for the back door approach, that's also good, sometimes better"[/spoiler] His characterisation is absent minded, professorial, slightly manic especially when he's stumbling over his lines to get all his thoughts out as quickly as possible and with lots of elements from previous Doctors. Even with all the absent-mindedness, he's focussed on the task at hand - [spoiler]during his hug with Nasreem he's calculating just how much time he can give and is glancing at the timer[/spoiler]. From the end of his first episode Matt Smith has owned the part, and for me he's totally eclipsed Tennant in the same way that Tennant eclipsed Ecclestone. My favourite line in this episode? [spoiler]"Okay, <hits the table>, bringing things to order. The first meeting of representatives of the Human Race and Homo Reptilia, is now in session. <camply>Ha! Never said that before, that's fab!</camply>"[/spoiler]
A few thoughts for the future.
In the recap before the credit sequence they made a point of showing [spoiler]Rory putting the engagement ring in a safe place in the Tardis. I'm expecting Amy to discover this ring in a later episode, but how would the ring remain if Rory has been wiped from history. Perhaps the Tardis shielded it, in that case but why not shield Amy? The argument that Rory was a special case because he pre-dated her time traveller status can just about wash, but I can't see them having it both ways if they show the ring somehow survived the crack. (Update: the ring did survive. Immediately after the convenient-to-the-story jolt to the Tardis, the doctor is strewn on the floor and we see him look at the ring box - why was the ring still on the Tardis?)[/spoiler]
It'd also be nice if, just once, they'd portray [spoiler]a military class who were able to fight, but were not warlike as they knew exactly what warfare meant (I know the clerics from 'Flesh and Stone' may have fulfilled that role - but I'm referring to where we have a 'generic' warrior caste).[/spoiler]
With the Doctor announcing [spoiler]a 1000 years to get the planet ready to be shared, Elliott replied with a very definite 'Yeah, I get you'. The edit gave this significance it seemed. Are we going to be returning too see Elliott at various times in his life?[/spoiler]
The episode raised questions, and I trust the important ones will get answered. Overall, I really enjoyed being taken along for the ride this week, 5/5.