Doctor Who 5.10, 5.11, 5.12

So, the last few weeks of kitchen renovations and relatives who like to die at the worst times possible (he’s been laughing at us all week, I swear) appears to have made me incapable of writing Doctor Who reviews. How terrible is that? Thus, before I can post my full review of the finale, I need to do a bit of a catch up:

5.10 The Doctor and Vincent

This may not be a popular opinion (I really couldn’t tell, everyone was rather divided) but I really enjoyed this episode. It was quite different from the usual style of story-telling in Doctor Who, which may be why it was such a divisive episode. When I read that Richard Curtis was writing an episode, my first reaction was “that must be a mistake, surely?” and then I got quite curious.

Richard Curtis usually writes more mainstream, reality-based fare. He wrote Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Blackadder and The Vicar of Dibley (among other things). His work is usually comedic, often with romance either the central plot or an important sub-plot. This is not to say that I dislike him – he’s written some of my favourite movies and TV shows, so he’s a writer that I really love. He’s just not quite what I expected for Doctor Who.

If we ignore the slightly out of place pop song at the end (a Curtis hallmark, I think), this was a stonkingly good episode. It was touching in places, beautifully written and gave all three characters their chances to shine. The idea that Van Gogh’s mental illness enabled him to see something that everyone else couldn’t worked beautifully for me and added an extra pathos to his situation. It’s hard to believe that a man who is now regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time was regarded so poorly in his own time.

I’m trying to decide whether I liked the idea that he could perceive Amy’s forgotten sadness. I think that I do, but I’m not quite sure yet. The little references to Rory were just perfect, though.

There were some really fun bits – the Doctor’s godmother! – mixed in with the touching, which is something Curtis has always excelled at and I loved the Doctor’s chase through the streets with the thing only visible in his weird mirror-thingy. When I saw that in the season preview trailer, I had assumed that it was a Medusa-type thing so it was nice to be wrong.

Watching the Confidential actually gave me a much better sense of why Curtis wrote this story. He had some incredibly powerful and profound things to say about mental illness. In some ways, it was terribly sad that despite everything there was still something so terrible in Van Gogh’s mind that he committed suicide. Yet at the same time, you left that episode feeling uplifted and hopeful because the he was able to see the joy and beauty in the world in the midst of all that.

It’s an episode that I think needs re-watching to really grasp, but I loved it.

5.11 The Lodger

The Doctor being forced to spend a few days as a normal bloke is just a dream for fans and writers, right? Particularly this Doctor, who fails so hard at being normal because he really isn’t. I loved it! It was an Amy-lite episode, presumably to make other filming easier, but her scenes were pure genius. It’s Karen Gillan’s delivery and her facial expressions that make the character. She’s brilliant.

This is where I confess that James Corden went to my sister’s school, a couple of years ahead of her. I watched him in school plays and he was a brilliant actor even then (his comic timing was fantastic), so I’ve been thrilled to see how well his career has gone. I know perfectly well that he’s won awards for his writing as well as his acting, that he’s currently one of the hottest things out there and that (if we forget that sketch show) everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what he’ll do next. For me, seeing him in Doctor Who has been the biggest thrill!

I knew that he’d be funny, because James couldn’t be anything else, but I’d forgotten how good his straight acting is. He had some beautiful, touching moments in this and hit them perfectly. I was talking about this with my dad earlier today, and he noted how romantic the storyline the story was. One of the things that I really loved was that it wasn’t just Craig who was in love, we could see from the first scene that Sophie was in love with Craig and couldn’t tell him. Craig was getting there and he would have done it eventually even without the Doctor’s influence, but I did love the way that it all played out.

OK, yes, I also loved that football match. Hee!

The only frustration was that we have no idea who was trying to build a TARDIS there. I’m kind of hoping that we’ll find out at some stage – perhaps it’s something for next year?

5.12 The Pandorica Opens

Wow, I think epic was the only word for this one. I’d wondered what Moffat would do with the scope of a season finale two-parter. Part of me though he might go the opposite route and write something simpler, but instead he went epic and I loved it!

The opening sequence was just wonderful. It tied together all the threads of the series and I loved seeing how all those characters across the time periods worked together to get the message to the Doctor. Then we were into Roman Britain and I was quite prepared to hand-wave any oddities, except then at the end we got an explanation that took care of it all!

It is entirely possible that I squeed when Rory appeared. Yes, I’d been hoping that Rory would be back in the finale but I’d not been able to work out how he’d do it. Of course, now I’m faced with the prospect that he’ll be dead by the end of the next episode because I doubt that an Auton!Rory will be allowed to survive. Curse you, Moffat!

How much did I love the scene where Amy remembers him? It was absolutely beautiful, wonderful acting from them both, and then heartbreaking when Auton!Rory killed Amy. I know that Karen Gillan is back next year, but how the hell do they get her out of this?

The scene where it took the Doctor a while to realise that Rory should be dead was also perfect. Hee.

I have to admit that I did wonder for a moment whether we’d fine the Doctor inside the Pandorica, particularly after that “trickster, sorcerer” moment. River’s point about him always being the good magician in those stories was just right. After all, in Battlefield the Doctor turned out to be Merlin. Or a Merlin. In one universe, anyway.

The idea that they might be putting the Doctor into it didn’t occur to me until right at the end.

And yes, I did sigh a little when the Daleks appeared because it’s always the Daleks and then I got quite excited when it was an entire alliance. Why didn’t they think of doing this before, though?

I have to admi that when the Doctor was being all “Hear me roar!” on Stonehenge, I was a trying to work out when Glastonbury was on. Heh.

I’m sure that I’m forgetting a few things. It was great that the list of aliens included a number of classic Who aliens (Moffat, we love having those little references, keep them up). The headless Cyberman was very creepy. The cliff-hanger ending was absolutely amazing and I had no idea how it could possibly be resolved. Moffat certainly did a good job with the first part, but could the second part compare or was it going to fall flat?

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