Tuesday, 15 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - The Lodger (5.11)


In Which: The Doctor attempts to pass himself off as a normal human being, while Amy is stuck in the TARDIS...

What did I think?: Strangely (being as I have an irrational hatred of James Corden) I really enjoyed this episode. To me it felt like it was something different, while still being Doctor Who. I think, on the whole, I enjoyed it more than last weeks episode, but I wouldn't say it was better necessarily.

It's strange that this series has effectively delivered a companion-lite episode, for the first time in three full seasons that one hasn't been needed! (For those of you who don't understand this statement, allow me to explain. Due to the fact that the filming periods for Series' 2, 3 and 4 contained 14 episodes (including the Christmas Special each year) and they were the same amount of time as for 13 episodes, then each year had a "Doctor and Companion-Lite" episode, so that the actors were able to shoot a different episode at the same time. Series 2's was the infamous "Love and Monsters", Series 3 had "Blink" and Series 4 gave us a Doctor-Lite episode in "Turn Left" and a Companion-Lite episode in "Midnight"). However, Amy's sidelining here was good, allowing the Doctor to shine in what almost felt like a buddy-comedy episode, with him and James Cordon's Craig.

Just to be clear - even though I am filled with irrational Corden-hatred, I thought he was quite good in this, and the relationship between Craig and Sophie was well-played, understated yet believable. Plus, the fat man got the girl, which always gets a cheer from me, as I am a fat man!

The more I think back on it, the more I loved this episode. So much stuff was pitch perfect and with this and Vincent and the Doctor, I'm finally starting to feel that the Eleventh Doctor (incidentally, how cool was it that he finally confirmed, on screen and in dialogue that he was the eleventh? That's never happened in NuWho) is settling in and that scripts are tailored to him, the last of the Tennant-isms having finally departed.

And the time machine at the end was brilliant. "Someone's attempt to build a TARDIS" - I know we'll probably never refer to the mysterious person/race's attempt to build it again - but one wonders what civilisation has enough knowledge about TARDISes (Yes I know that plural looks weird, but that's because TARDIS is an acronym and you shouldn't pluralise acronyms. If it was a word would the plural be Tardii? Don't know...) to try and build their own equivalent time machine. Or maybe he just meant it in a general "complicated time/space travel ship" generalisation, rather than a specific TARDIS.

And the ending, with Amy finding the ring? What a perfect moment. (I did worry she'd find it and do the sitcom-plotline of thinking he was going to propose to her - but I'm glad that hasn't happened!)

Is it just me, however, or does it feel a little weird having these two character-based single episodes next to each other? I understand why - they need to distance themselves from the cracks/Rory events of Cold Blood by a couple of episodes before the finale (Where the cracks will re-appear, and I'm thinking maybe Rory will too...) but it seems like they could have swapped one of these with something earlier in the season maybe... but I don't know.

The Good: Performances. The believable romance. CG was nice and minimal. The new Time Machine set was lovely.

The Bad: Cordon did a few times resort to his "I'm a large laddish bloke" acting as a default. Slightly strange scheduling of these two episodes next to each other...

Conclusion: 9/10

Next Week: The Pandorica Opens... (I don't know what it is, or what happens when it opens, but it sure sounds exciting!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Vincent and the Doctor (5.10)

I know, I know, I'm posting this review the day before the next episode. Sue me, I've been busy!


In Which: The Doctor and Amy spy a monster in a Van Gogh painting, and go and visit the man himself to find out what's going on

What did I think?: This was a strange episode. Not so much a normal Dr Who episode as a character study of Vincent Van Gogh. It had heart, and pathos, and felt like it belonged in an entirely different series. This is not a complaint, as I thought it was a good episode, but it did feel slightly out of place.

Tony Curran was a magnificent Van Gogh, and the whole atmosphere of the episode was superb. Van Gogh's depression was mentioned (in as much as something like that can be in a family show like Dr Who), and all of the character interaction was wonderful.

But what of the plot? Sadly, I didn't find it that interesting. In a way, I would have preferred the whole episode to be about the Doctor, Amy and Vincent, without the invisible monster at all.

Yes that's right, I said invisible monster. The budget cuts raise their head again - although it did work quite well. The problem was, the monster felt like it was from a completely different episode. I understand that they needed a plot for Van Gogh to work against, and to triumph (even if, as it was discovered at the end of the episode, the triumph was temporary), allowing him a little moment of happiness.

But this is a minor niggle. It was a good episode. Bill Nighy was seven shades of awesome (as one would expect from Bill Nighy) and Matt Smith shined in this episode, once again as the Doctor who doesn't know the answer to everything - most notably in this case, how to help Vincent.

The ending was, as has become traditional this series, superb. And the moment where Van Gogh is standing in an exhibition of his own work and is overwhelmed was brilliantly shot. The Doctor is obviously still struggling to keep the Rory information from Amy, although Vincent can see she's lost someone - which confuses Amy.

The Good: Performances and character work - all excellent.

The Bad: The Monster story felt sort of tacked-on, and I do wonder if the whole script could have been done without it.

Conclusion: 8/10

Thursday, 3 June 2010

REVIEW: Doctor Who - Cold Blood (5.9)

Again, I'm aware that this review is really late - and I have no defence beyond the fact that I'm moving this weekend and I haven't had any time to just sit down and write a review!! So it's going to be quite a short one again, sorry about that (or, if you prefer my short reviews, you're welcome!)


In Which: The Silurians get mad, the Doctor attempts to broker a peace deal, and particularly harrowing and dramatic stuff happens at the end.

What did I think?: Hooray! This lived up to the promise of last weeks part one, and continued to be a good old-fashioned Whovian runaround. However, the bit everyone is going to want to talk about is the last ten minutes, which I will get to, so be patient!

The majority of the episode was, I felt, a suitably good ending to the previous weeks episode. We got some negotiations over the future of planet Earth, Amy actually doing stuff again (although how did she manage to pickpocket that Silurian doctor? Her hands were nowhere near his pocket!) and, in a nice touch, the Doctor going back to one of his traits on classic Who, which was taking a character from the story, and leaving them somewhere else to where they had started. In this case, leaving Nasreen and Tony to hibernate with the Silurians. (Which reminds me, aren't the rest of the Silurians gonna be pissed off when they discover a pair of "apes" in their city?)

The Silurians actually had a plan, which makes a change, and also, they weren't all of the same mind. They were a proper functioning society (that granted, we only ever saw small pieces of) and therefore they argued, disagreed and had different opinions to each other. Which was nice, and again a feature of Classic Who.

And then we get to the end. Oh Rory. After doing sterling work this episode (not quite as much as last episode, but still, the moments where they are deciding what to do with the dead Silurian was a masterclass from Arthur Darvill), then Rory takes an energy blast for the Doctor. And dies.

Yes, again. He died in Amy's Choice (in the dream) and now he dies here. And the heartbreaking thing? A crack eats him, and Amy consequently (in some fantastically acted moments) forgets him. Leaving the Doctor carrying one more burden. But, we're not done yet. Because what did the Doctor pull out of the crack? A piece of Shrapnel.


Does the TARDIS cause the cracks? Is that what explodes? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.

And if, as I suspect, we're going to see the things that have entered the crack in the last two episodes, then how is Rory going to play into that? Since he was dead before the Crack even ate him?

The Good: It's become a cliche to say this, but the performances. The Old-School feel of the episode. Aliens with opinions. The last ten minutes.

The Bad: Just the little inconsistencies like Amy's pickpocketing skills. Oh and the annoying military Silurian who was the sister of the other Silurian so that they could use the same makeup...

Conclusion: 9/10 - Next week - Van Gogh!