Doctor Who – 2011

I hate trying to write reviews of Doctor Who. I love the show to pieces, but find it a little tiresome to over-analyse it. Sometimes it really does feel like it’s enough to say “that was great!” and leave it at that. Unfortunately for me apparently I made some kind of commitment to not just leave these things hanging.

The series as a whole adopted the technique of showing us what’s going to happen, then leaving us the rest of the season to work out why it happened, what it means and what happens next. It’s a good idea, keeps you guessing all along. Unfortunately they made it just that little bit too big – the doctor dies. Not just regenerates, but really properly dies and has a Viking funeral and everything. But it’s too much, as soon as they did that you know there’s a trick – the BBC isn’t going to kill off the franchise! So from the get-go you know you’re being manipulated and it will all be undone one way or the other, which rather takes the drama out of it.

The rest of the season is rather surprisingly not about the Doctor’s journey, it’s River Song’s. While certain dimwits complain about the complexities of her storyline (or timeline) I for one loved it! What’s the point of having a show about time travel if you’re not occasionally going to do things in the wrong order? Everything made perfect sense and was a really fun look at what you can do if you take ideas to their distant but logical extremes. That’s what science fiction is supposed to do. Plus Alex Kingston is wonderful.

While a couple of the more standalone episodes left a bit to be desired (pirates? Really? And what was all that with the cloned people?) I am willing to forgive almost anything because this was the season that Neil Gaiman introduced us to the TARDIS. A stunning episode, hilarious and heartbreaking from start to finish. The Girl Who Waited was another superb piece of science fiction and provided some great acting opportunities for the companions. I’ve really enjoyed the themes they play about with for Amy and Rory, I love the way their characters have gradually been clarified this season, not developed because nothing has really changed about them, it’s just that the audience and the Doctor have come to understand their characters so much better. These two companions more than any I can really remember are full characters in their own rights, they don’t just define themselves by their relationship with the Doctor.

With the Doctor, two regular companions , regular visits from River and visiting companions like the TARDIS and Craig, it’s felt pretty crowded at times but I for one have really enjoyed it. I like Doctor Who when the solitary brooding is implied off screen rather than front and centre. I think this season worked spectacularly well for combining characters, thought provoking plots, action adventure and outright fun. It’s a phenomenally difficult balance to find, but I think Doctor Who is easily one of the best shows on television at the moment – my only complaint is that there’s not enough of it.

Other reviews (containing spoilers)
Slouching Towards Thatcham – Most importantly though, was season six actually any good? It was certainly more ambitious, scary and arc-heavy than any season since the series’ rebirth. And despite a couple of clunkers early on, the quality has been consistently high.

CliqueClack and The Guardian both review episode by episode and generally like them.


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