Saturday, 26 June 2010

Doctor Who: The Big Bang (spoilers)

Phew! Here's a quick review I've knocked up for Orange. I'm going to sit down and watch it again now!

I think that what I liked most about it was that after the big enemy team-up of the previous episode, it was all on a, erm, human scale. It was the strength of their relationships - and the power of storytelling itself, fitting in with the recurring 'fairytale' theme - that enabled Rory, Amy, River and the Doctor to save the universe and retrieve the Doctor from the other side of Amy's crack (ahem).

There was also some brilliant structural stuff, as a clue planted in an earlier episode ("why did the Doctor suddenly have his jacket back on again?") paid off beautifully. I always loved the structural games Steven Moffat played in Coupling, and this sort of thing makes him the perfect writer to handle Who.

Anyway, it's Saturday night - I'm off!

It's a tricky business, reviewing Doctor Who. You get the sense that if you make one wrong move, you'll end up with whatever the collective noun is for Whovians banging at your door with torches, pitchforks and home-made sonic screwdrivers. So, here goes...

Last week's episode ended with things looking fairly bleak for everyone involved, but a cracking opening set up a breathlessly superb 10 minutes of the classic timey-wimey stuff that head writer Steven Moffat specialises in, as the Doctor organised his escape from the Pandorica and Amy's revival.

However, with the universe about to unhappen as a result of the Tardis blowing up, he had to find a way to plug the gaps and bring reality back to life. And that meant the Doctor piloting the Pandorica into the exploding Tardis and disappearing from everyone's newly recreated memories! Bah!

Still, as he was flung back in time through the series ("I hate repeats!"), he put a plan into motion, including a classic "oh yeah" moment involving an earlier episode. It culminated in a visit to the night when seven-year-old Amy sat up waiting with her suitcase for her “imaginary” friend, the Raggedy Doctor.

There's been a bit of a hoo-haa about whether Doctor Who is "proper" science fiction, but for all the pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo the Doctor motor-mouths, what saves him is the power of his relationship with Amy. By implanting himself as a story in the head of the imaginative little girl, he lit the fuse that would go pop years later at her wedding reception.

So how about the series as a whole, then? If there were any doubts about the casting of fresh-faced nipper Matt Smith as the ancient time-botherer, they didn't last long; the angular actor captured perfectly the weight of time sitting on his character's shoulders. Karen Gillan, with her fierce eyes and feist coming out of her shapely ears, was also note-perfect as Amy Pond - “the girl who didn't make sense”.

Something else Smith brought along – which was complemented gloriously by the rest of the cast – was cracking comic timing. This was definitely the most chuckletastic series of new Who so far, helped along by the formidable sitcom chops of Moffat himself (remember Coupling?) and other writers such as Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly) and Richard Curtis (Blackadder).

So well played everyone. And with the promise of further River-related revelations as well as more about "the Silence" and who blew up the Tardis, the Christmas special and next series can't come quickly enough for me.

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