Saturday, 28 May 2011

Doctor Who: The Almost People

Acid Reflux

Doctor Who: The Almost People
Airdate: May 28th 2011. UK. BBC1

Warning: Spoilers... huge spoilery spoilers. Abandon innocence all ye who here enter!

There that was better. That was a whole lot better than last weeks set up episode (reviewed here) to this weeks conclusion (of sorts). And of course, once you’ve had the main appetiser of a kinda humdrum (in my opinion) set up... it’s always nice to go for dessert and add some extra action, comedy and intrigue in with your old style corridor running.

Tonights Doctor Who episode dealt with the gangers from last weeks episode (who are basically home grown replicants of a team of workers on... oh I don’t know... some kind of acid world) battling their human counterparts in a bid for survival until The Doctor... or possibly his ganger clone, show them all (or most of them) the error of their ways and they all live reasonably happily ever after... except The Doctor of course, who destroys Amy Pond with his sonic screwdriver and embarks on a crash course with destiny. I understand destiny will probably be calling around about next episode (although I think we’ve already seen the hand of destiny at work somehow) and will probably be finishing up somewhere nearer the winter, later in the year.

And if you’ve really gone this far without having seen this episode yet then you probably need to know that everything I just said was almost certainly not a lie but, just in case, you probably ought to go and watch the actual episode like Uncle Moffett would like you to do before reading any more of this cobbled together review. You have been fairly and duly warned... twice now. So no more pandering if you’re foolish enough to still be reading without seeing the episode first.


This weeks episode was fast paced and inventive. It’s true there was a lot of obvious stuff happening... like for instance, you knew as soon as Amy Pond (or should I call her pseudo-Amelia) started displaying the least bit of prejudice that she was going to get it all wrong and they’d switched Doctors on us... I’m really surprised that they tried it on though. Maybe playing up to audience expectations a little too much?

Secondly... you may already have guessed that Amy Pond was... well, not Amy Pond. Now I wasn’t sure myself, their have been inklings all the way through but I’d forgotten about that aspect... to tell the truth I didn’t really see the specifics coming. I knew that either Amy or Rory were going to turn out to be not Amy or Rory. That much seemed like a good way to go with this season story wise but I was just too stupid to know which one would be the key. Yeah, should have guessed it was going to be Amy but... oh well... I admit to being a bear of very little brain.

So yeah... some obvious things happening in this one and also some tracks pretty hastily covered. New Doctor Two has been destroyed in a blast from his sonic screwdriver... or has he? After all... The Doctor was scanned. Maybe the “memory” of the new flesh is all that’s required to make another Doctor. That would explain a lot about the event of the first ten minutes or so of the first episode of this season wouldn’t it? But of course the writers know that the general audience at large are going to leap at the conclusion that a second Doctor running around explains everything... and even if it doesn’t it would relax that audience to the point where they stop engaging their brains with that aspect of the series. And so the writers killed off Doctor number 2 to take that crutch away from us.

But, you know, there’s still a possibility The New Flesh will turn up again as part of the solution in four or five months time. So I’m not ruling it out completely. The writers of this show are so very much not done with playing cat and mouse games with the audience just yet, thank you very much. So leave it in your brain and file it away for future use.

There was a lot of running about with doubles of everyone in this episode and one of the few problems with it was that there was a lot of confusion... at least in this household. People were getting confused as to who was dead and who wasn’t... it got to the point where someone in my house confused Marshall Lancaster’s characters death with the death of Rory (which of course didn’t happen... well done Rory, that’s two episodes you’ve survived in a row without dying again... you’re really beginning to get the knack of this now). That being said I’m getting a feeling in my bones that there’s going to be at least one character leaving us this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if either Rory or the current incarnation of The Doctor (or possibly both) were leaving at the end of the latest series... but I guess we’ll have to wait until somewhere towards the end of the year to find out for sure.

So... what else?

Well, I keep getting so preoccupied on the plot elements of these episodes just lately that I keep forgetting to highlight some of the things that really worked. So here’s one... the musical score. Last week seemed nothing special (or I’m sure I would have mentioned it) but the scoring in some of the scenes this week was quite brilliant. A lovely see-sawing, descent into madness style motif which wouldn’t have been out of place in a fifties sci-fi movie was used at one point which then kinda segued into the Amelia Pond sub-theme which we hadn’t heard from in quite a while. All very nice. And there’s cybermen next week so no doubt we’ll get that damned “new cyberman” leitmotif clubbing us over the head again... therefore I’m making the most of the more effective elements of the scoring this week.

There was some nice lighting in this weeks too I noticed and some very welcome comedy moments with the two Doctors playing off each other like a time travelling tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee. Also some solid references to previous incarnations of The Doctor (including a much remembered William Hartnell speech as he said goodbye to a leaving companion which might be a Moffett-like omen of foreboding as to how things might be going down later this series possibly?). Some nice performances all around and nice things happening this episode then... as a result, I’m really having a hard time trying to reconcile my drab and bored reaction to the first part of this story with the classic modern Who-fest upon us in this episode. But I guess I’ll get over it.

So... now then. Half looking forward to next week (which the BBC kinda neglected to show a trailer for... wonder why?) and half dreading it. There’s no way that Moffetts going to leave us with anything other than a nasty cliff hanger at the mid season split methinks. Chances are that we’ll find out just who River Song is (and that better be a whopper of a reveal now Mr. Moffett or your fans are going to lynch you I expect) and a “good man will die”... or possibly a good companion?

Either way... I’m sure I’ll be fairly glued to my seat subjecting myself to the last five minutes of whatever dancy-dancy-feel-good programme the BBC are running before Doctor Who at present with the phone turned off and ready to pick up on all the clues I can when battle commences next week. I just hope that whatever happens next week isn’t followed up with a drab second part later on in the year. Or Mr. Moffett might just have to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow this time around.

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