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Turn away and forget Dr Who?

Never. That was just a trick to make you carry on reading – just like Steven Moffat’s tricks to keep you watching the new series. Do you have to trick people to keep them interested? Robert Louis Stephenson once said that in fiction every sentence is a kind of trick, in which clear literal sense is replaced with artistic concealment, then da-dar… the truth of what is happening is revealed. Except he said it better – or more confusingly at first, then clearer.

I LOVE the aliens who you forget when you are not looking at them. A great idea. But the Doctor dying AGAIN? I really hoped the Moff was not going to do that. Is this the only shaft writers have in their quiver? We have only just recovered from the trauma of David Tennant’s Doctor spending a year of specials awaiting death and someone knocking four times. Then last series (Pandorica/Bang) included the death of Amy, Rory, and the Doctor, also the whole universe.

Do we have to be plunged into this morbid tease all over again? Evidently so. But there is a development, a sort of hidden progress in our relationship with the series. Of course we know the Doctor can not die,as it’s his show, but the intrigue lies in HOW WILL THEY GET OUT OF IT?

So watching is not so much an emotional experience, as a thoughtful one – kind of like a game of chess. It is a bit like a whodunnit, or a howdunnit? Or a Why-the-heck-have they dunnit? In fact the chess pieces set in place were rather too many: The Doctor dies. Who has to be there to make the story work? A mystery astronaut, an alien, Amy and Rory, an old guy with a can of petrol. Oh and River Song of course. And nearby, a younger version of the Doc. A puzzle indeed, but perhaps too much of a puzzle. With the four Tardis-blue invitations, the whole thing almost comes in a box with the word ‘puzzle’ written on the side. Maybe one too many gears grinding away there in the engine room of the thing to really let us sit back and enjoy a good yarn.

We also have a little girl in a spacesuit and elsewhere, Amy revealing that she is pregnant. Already my sci-fi literate friends begin to wonder if person A isn’t a grown up version of person B who turns out to be the daughter of person C.

I hope not. I hate that kind of stuff. It is the play-doh of which sprawling X-Men sagas are made, stretched about by comic fans for comic fans. But in TV, especially BBC TV, I hope for the stuff of life – real life and real wisdom, hidden under marvellous fantasy. And written by people who couldn’t and haven’t ONLY written DR Who.

Of course Stephen Moffat is a brilliant writer, so we must – and will hope for the best. Because often he provides it.

Re, X-Men-type convoluted saga, where the killer turns out to be future unborn daughter of the wife you haven’t met yet. This kind of thing can be surprising (momentarily), but lacking in meaning and a satisfying poetic outcome.I mean, it would be a surprise if the killer astronaut turned out to be the easter bunny. But it would not be dramatically satisfying.

I have my own theory about the spaceman but I won’t spoiler it here…

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About Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin is a writer, cartoonist and editor. He is author of the Candle Man series of fantasy novels for Egmont. His best-known comics are Abe - an autobiographical strip (Top Shelf);Temptation (Penguin Books and Active Images); Spider-Man heroes and Villains (Eaglemoss);the Rockpool Files (With Phil Elliott, Slave Labor/Marvel UK); Robot Crusoe (Funday TImes); Plasmer (Marvel UK); Clan Destine (Marvel USA).

3 responses to “Turn away and forget Dr Who?

  1. Dr. John Smith ⋅

    So Astro Girl is River Song, surely? Must be! Yet another example of the Doctor visiting a female character as a child, who grows up to lerve him. Any more of this behaviour and he should surely be placed on some kind of temporal register, banned from coming with sixteen years of the nearest impressionable schoolgirl.

    I see where he’s dead again, too – snorrre! There’s such a thing as crying (bad) wolf y’know. Any gimmick used too often quickly loses currency. That aspect of the plot confused me a bit, too. So the Doctor we saw killed at the beginning of the episode was 200 years older than the one who emerged from the Diner *ahem* rest rooms. Riiight… Even allowing for his ageless appearance (since when do Time Lords not age?) his illustrious predecessors barely survived five years each before getting kilt. And we’re supposed to believe he’s racked up two centuries? Where was he hiding out all this time, a Mars bar?

    That said, it was an exciting and imaginative episode full of twisty-turny, timey-wimey stuff that will undoubtedly pay off later on. Though perhaps rather too many baffling set ups for my liking and not enough pay offs (or explanations) to add up to a satisfying episode in its own right.

    I liked The Silence – but really, they’re just The Men In Black via the Weeping Angels aren’t they? Moff goes back to the same well a tad too often for my liking. I’ll be back next week of course. Try’n stop me!

    PS: I had a reality check when watching CBBC’s (otherwise touching) Liz Sladen tribute, which included a scene from an RTD episode. And there was the lovely Sarah, plus Rose, Captain Jack, Tennant’s Doctor, Bernard Cribbins et al, grinning and winking at each other around the Tardis console in an odiously self-congratulatory manner, as triumphal choirs swelled on the soundtrack and they operated bicycle pumps, bath taps, accordions and toilet chains to tow the Earth back into orbit or something. Moffat is Asimov incarnate alongside this piffle!

  2. Laura ⋅

    This first episode was fantastic and frustrating at the same time, but I have a feeling about where Moffet is going with this. After watching season 5 again, I realized that everything Moffet has done in the show is for a reason, and usually a very good reason. This version of Doctor Who is one of puzzles and keeps us scratching our heads until he finally reveals his purpose.

    Case in point, think back to the Weeping Angels episode “Flesh and Stone” Amy can’t see and wants to give up, but the Doctor told her something that had everyone asking what he meant, “remember what I told you when you were seven”. We didn’t find out until the finale of the season that he was talking about his story. Or at least that is what I got from it.

    Moffet has a reason for having the audience watch the Doctor die, but there were four words that were used at key points in season 5 “time can be rewritten”. Amy even said it during the Impossible Astronaut. I believe that the doctor we saw die spent 200 years looking for a way to prevent his death from happening to his past self.

    As for Amy suddenly spilling that she’s pregnant to the Doctor, that has me confused as little. As for River Song being the little girl, I don’t think Moffet would make it that simple, I think there is something so much bigger in store for River, possibly something related to River’s and the Doctor’s past, and yes I mean past. Let the theories commence!

    • Great to hear from you! TIme can be rewritten, indeed… Here’s a theory that has started to haunt my dreams – John Tomlinson, who often comments on this blog (sometimes in disguise), reckons that River Song was always supposed to be Mme de Pompadour – but maybe the actress Sophie Miles was unavailable. Think how wonderful ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ is, and how cool it would have been to see Mme d Pompadour stroll into the library of shadows! Now I’ve heard that theory I can’t get it out of my head.

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