Sunday, 29 May 2011

Doctor Who: The Almost People (2)

Doctor: 'Would you like a Jelly Baby?'

Matthew Graham has definitely gone up in my estimations. I liked this episode a lot. Admittedly, it had a few problems—the dialogue was occasionally clunky, the CGI predictably rubbish, and there was far too much telling rather than showing. ('Who are the real monsters?')—but these are minor gripes in what was, an otherwise, event laden episode. And now that we know who died back in episode one, the question must surely be: what has happened to Amy?

I can live with the fact that a Ganger (and not our Doctor) died back in 'The Impossible Astronaut'. There's a modicum of logic to it—if that is indeed what did happen. The Moff went to great lengths on Doctor Who Confidential this week to explain that the Doctor and his Ganger are mentally and physically identical. When they swapped boots, even Amy couldn't tell them apart. The timing of when they swapped boots is perhaps harder to nail down. I'm guessing that it was some time prior to the Doctor giving up his sonic screwdriver, and telling Amy to trust his Ganger. Earlier than that wouldn't make any sense.

Seeing the Doctor interact with himself was a rare treat. The Doctor's always had this internal monologue going on, and making the internal, external provided the perfect platform for all manner of shenanigans. (Beautiful word, shenanigans). It also afforded Graham the opportunity to write some cracking dialogue, and for Matt Smith to act his little (though quite likely big) socks off. Finally, someone the Doctor can relate to. Someone who can concur unequivocally with his stratospherically high opinion of himself, and yet not feel inferior in comparison. What's true of the Doctor, is also true of him.

Despite feelings of outrage and anger over the injustices done to the Gangers, the Doctor's Ganger remained essentially unchanged. He didn't succumb to feelings of animosity and revenge. It was interesting to see how the various moral dilemmas affected the Ganger-crew: Miranda, tempered by her own mortality, ended up sacrificing herself to save the humans; Jimmy, moved by seeing holo-Sam, ended up feeling compassion for his human counterpart to the extent of actually replacing him (at Jimmy's request); even Dicken stopped sneezing. Was that a dropped thread? Or am I reading way too much into this whole sneezing thing?

Jennifer's transformation from Anakin into Darth Vader was perhaps less successful. I get it that she was pissed off with humanity, but would that really have changed her personality so radically and in such a short space of time? One minute she was all timid and demure, the next she was inciting genocide against the whole human race. I'm not saying the issues didn't have far reaching implications, but this was an intimate tale, with a small cast, and her megalomania and ambition felt way too big for the story.

The CGI (as already mentioned) fell on its arse again. They keep trying to pull off these big CGI monsters but they just don't have the budget. The Doctor's transformation was effectively done, as was Jennifer's elongating jaw, but her turning into a monster felt (a) too much like 'The Lazarus Experiment' and (b) like an excuse to inject some random action into proceedings where absolutely none was required. There was enough going on without it.

I was a little puzzled by the Doctor obliterating Ganger-Amy. For two episodes now he's been banging on about the Gangers being real people (Gang banging, if you will)—so why the sudden need to kill off Amy's Ganger? Obviously to break the connection, but didn't she deserve to live? Wasn't the whole point of the episode that the flesh was more than just moss? Unless the Doctor knew her molecular memory would survive (as the Ganger-Doctor's surely must), and that she'd eventually come back.

Quibbles aside, that was some cliffhanger! How long has Amy been missing? Was she taken when the Silence captured her back in 'Day of the Moon'? The Doctor's been telling Amy to 'breathe' since at least episode two. Or was the switch made in the three months between TIA and DotM? Could it even have happened prior to the events of TIA? I was surprised, too, when Rory let the Doctor kill Amy. I half expected him to shield her—yet he didn't. Did he sense that something was wrong? Or is he just starting to trust the Doctor?

Eye Patch Lady is a mid-wife? What kind of a creepy hospital is Amy in? All, no doubt, will be revealed next week. The trailer for 'A Good Man Goes to War' looked amazing.

Other Thoughts:

—I loved hearing Tom Baker's voice at the start. Nice tip of the hat, too, to Pertwee's classic line: 'Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow'. Marvellous!

—The moment anyone says 'You need to trust me', it almost certainly means that you can't trust them. And you can trust me on that.

—How did those eyes in the wall make any sense? Were they there just so the Doctor could crack his 'The ayes have it' joke?

—What a stroke of luck the Doctor had that onion-tasting clot cure in the TARDIS. Is that the only condition he has a cure for?

—We'd best be on the lookout for stolen biscuits. Jammy Dodgers in particular.

—The code word was badboy? Saucy.


Ganger-Doctor: 'Is that what you were thinking?'
Doctor: 'Yes, it's just so inspiring to hear me say it.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Ha, I know.'

Doctor: 'Breathe!'

Doctor: 'Yowza! An escape route. You know, I'm starting to get a sense of just how impressive it is to hang out with me.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Do we tend to say Yowza?'
Doctor: 'That's enough. Let it go.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Okay.'
Doctor: 'We're under stress.'

Rory: 'I'll break out the big guns.'

Doctor: 'We both wear the same bow ties. Which is cool.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Cos bow ties are.'
Doctor: 'And always will be.'

Buzzer: 'I should have been a postman like me dad.'

Miranda: 'You can't let him go. Are you crazy?'
Doctor: 'Am I crazy, Doctor?'
Ganger-Doctor: 'Well, you did want to plumb your brain into the core of an entire planet just to hold its orbit and win a bet.'

Doctor: 'Call me, Smith. John Smith.'

Doctor: 'If you have a better plan, I'm all ears. In fact, if you have a better plan, I'll take you to a planet where everyone is all ears.'

Doctor: 'Have you been getting up very early and jumping on the bed?'
Adam: 'Yes, really high.'
Doctor: 'I expect chocolate for breakfast. If you don't feel sick by mid-morning, you're not doing it right.'

Ganger-Jimmy: 'Hang in there, mate.'
Jimmy: 'I'm quite handsome from this angle.'

Amy: 'I never thought it possible.'
Ganger-Doctor: 'What?'
Amy: 'You're twice the man I thought you were.'

Doctor: 'Miranda Cleaves. Marvellous! Beware of imitations.'

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