Three Episodes into Series 6 of Doctor Who

I suppose now is as good a time as ever to revive my poor old personal blog. Those who are all about the pictures and the oh-so-glamorous travel should pop over to those respective blogs, but I hope some friends (old and dear and possibly new) will enjoy some of the meanderings of my brain.

First off, a re-cap, when Doctor Who returned to our screens back in 2005, I was honestly luke-warm. Despite nearly a decade since the made for TV movie here in the states, the mostly bad taste from it was not gone and I’d read just enough about the new series to have a rather jaded eye in its direction. I was honestly floored by the first new series with Christopher Eccleston and although he didn’t stay with the series long give him mad props for getting it started on the right foot.

By contrast, it was the incredible David Tennant who I feel really came to inhabit the role of the doctor over the next several years. You couldn’t watch the series and not see that this was a man who absolutely loved the mythos of the character he was getting to portray. Like a lot of fans, it was with a heavy heart I bid the tenth actor to portray Doctor Who adieu.

And now we have Matt Smith, and at first I wasn’t entirely sold. Who was this baby-faced actor playing the doctor? Who would presume to fill David’s shoes? But from the start, he’s brought his own character and style to our beloved Doctor Who. By the end of series 5, I was entirely onboard with our wann-wear-a-fez Time Lord!

Before I continue, here’s your warning, if you haven’t watched any of the first three episodes of Series 6, stop here!

The Beautiful and enigmatic River Song - Spoilers Dear!

Okay… where to start… I guess the same place Series 6 begins, the death of the doctor?! Really? Series 6 begins with Amy and Rory having been back home for awhile but following some of the current Doctor’s exploits in history via books and film. Out of the blue, they get an invitation apparently from the doctor to meet him. And thus begins their adventure to the American west where they find the enigmatic River Song and Matt’s Doctor. Only a short time later, a figure in a space suit emerges from a lake and engages the doctor first forcing him to regenerate and then killing him mid-regenration?! Say what??  We did get one little clue just before this happened. While months have passed since Amy and Rory last saw him, the 11th and apparently last Doctor has aged some 200 years.

Moments after the 11th Doctor was destroyed by the mysterious figure in a 20th century spacesuit,  we meet an old man who assures us that was the doctor and he is dead and his invitation/instructions apparently included bringing gas along to dispose of the body, viking warrior style on a row boat in the lake. Before he leaves, we find out that Canton Delaware III has met them before on an adventure they’ve yet to have…

Still reeling from the death of the doctor, River notices something, the invitations they all received are numbered and one number from the sequence is missing. This eventually turns out to be, yes, the Doctor, but this one instead of 200 years on is still on track with Amy and Rory only briefly having left their side.

And thus begins a sub-story that apparently will go with us across most of if not the entire series… And this is something I’m lukewarm about so far. We still don’t know the whole story of the figure in the spacesuit. In the 1960’s this turned out to be a small girl who Amy nearly kills (to try to save the doctor in the future). She may or may not be Amy’s child. At one point Amy tells the doctor she’s pregnant. And then later tells him she was wrong, but she seems to have forgotten seeing a picture of herself holding a baby in the 1960’s. Matt has quietly scanned her multiple times now and she is literally alternating between pregnant and not. What’s more, we saw the small girl from the 1960’s regenerate?! Amy’s child? And Rory’s? The doctors?!?! Other???  Yes, I’ve totally glossed over the rest of the two part opener, the Silence are an incredible enemy and I doubt we’ve seen the last of them, and Matt does a great job defeating them (for the moment), but I was dumbfounded when the crew sets off on further adventures with so much glaringly unfinished business??? I know you have a time machine, but there was a little girl in distress and you just shrugged it off and left?

While I have to date loved Stephen Moffat’s writing on Doctor Who and loved the results of his being at the helm in Series 5, the 6th series is coming off heavy-handed to me somehow. Where previous series have had a theme that wound its way through the series (Bad Wolf, the crack in the wall, etc.), it was, I don’t know, less glaring? Less out there? This time we’ve seen what now feels like the crescendo for the series and now memento-style we’re going to work our way back to it for the rest of the series? I hope I’m greatly under-estimating Mr. Moffat and the end of the Series 6 will be so spectacular that a scene as big as the death of the doctor is somehow not the big moment of Series 6. And now through the rest of the series, we have the rest of the cast keeping his death a secret from Matt since it would alter the timeline to tell him, and as with all paradoxes, the results could be catastrophic.

Equally, like many fans I suspect, I hope that is undone or nullified somehow. I find it hard to believe the BBC would so easily accept the end of the Doctor. Even with another 200 years of adventures, you’d have to have Matt on board for the rest of the series since we’d know THIS actor’s doctor is the last.

And so, finally I arrive at tonight’s episode, The Curse of the Black Spot… hmm… Well, I didn’t see the end coming a mile away, but I did figure out the role of the siren before Amy and Rory or even before Matt’s doctor explained it. And here’s where I bounce back to the whole major plot revelation in the opener. In any other series, I think I would have entirely enjoyed the episode, I mean, what episode that ends with  real ocean-going pirates on a space ship could be bad?? But given this is just a momentary side-trip from the bigger plots, it feels so unimportant as to be, ‘oh hum, let’s move on please.’ There are too many big plots over-powering it. We still have Matt’s doctor’s death, Amy’s possible pregnancy, a regenerating tot that may be Amy’s child, and it’s been hinted at that we’ll learn more this season about River and why she’s in prison…

Oh River… this is one plot point that I have to give the current writing crew. Alex Kingston has done a great job giving us an incredible character, lovable, roguish but noble, and somehow very important to the Doctor in ways he doesn’t understand yet. And in the first two episodes we get an even better understanding of their relationship and how thoroughly backwards it is. We already know that the Doctor’s first meeting with her is her demise (sort of she goes on to live in a computer generated forever-and-ever-after-life). But their lives are more or less completely in reverse. When she first meets the doctor, he knows all about her already, having already had their adventures together. So throughout her life, it’s like watching him slip away as he comes to know her less and less. Please, cue the violins, this is the definition of tragic! And this could come off very schmaltzy, but with great actors and writers, well, I am thoroughly buying it.

So there we are, so far, three episodes in and because of the mysteries left over from the first two-parter, I’ve never wanted so much to see how they are going to resolve things. And I’m hoping it turns out to be a more enjoyable ride than I’m expecting so far. How about you?

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