Last night was a smorgasbord of Doctor Who: the latest from Twelve as well as Eleven’s first season finale. Thoughts on both to follow.
First, ‘The Forest of the Night.’ I love a title taken from poetry. (Here’s the poem.) This one’s a little bit silly, a little bit scary, a little bit saccharine, but overall good fun. Clara/Danny stuff is interesting without being melodramatic. I really like chill Danny: he knows this Clara, and loves this Clara, and is willing to accept a little chaos in the bargain. I do enjoy the conversation about wonders at home vs. wonders ‘out there.’ I like the kids, who manage to be kids without being horribly obnoxious. (Ugh, ‘Nightmare in Silver.’) I love the idea of a protective forest.
We get Missy back again in this one. She is managing to stay interesting, in part at least because not everything seems to be going her way. She alternates cackling evil with an almost human frustration as her plans gel and then fray. I really really hope Moffat doesn’t screw this up. Next week’s episode looks great, but there are plenty of opportunities to go horribly wrong.
After that we watched ‘The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,’ so I could get the DVD back to the library on time. It’s mostly enjoyable, with a number of great little moments, but it also suffers from melodrama and plausibility problems. I realize it’s silly to debate plausibility in a show like Doctor Who, but there does seem to be a line somewhere. The protective forest I could buy, with a grain of salt of course, at least in part because I was enjoying the episode so much. I was engaged. Same with silly Robin Hood. But the conspiracies here – both in favor of and opposed to the Doctor – leave me rolling my eyes. Moffat wants to bring all his toys back to play together. It’s not delightful like RTD’s Daleks vs. Cybermen in ‘Doomsday;’ it’s just too much somehow. Did I come into this story with preconceived notions? What is it about these ideas that don’t take off for me? I was not engaged, I was bored and mildly annoyed. It doesn’t seem fair.
Melodrama is also an issue here. It’s not one of my favorite things, and certainly a problem RTD had as well. All the epic sweeping emotion between Amy and Rory, and River’s for the Doctor, definitely trigger some eye-rolling. Rory’s whole guarding the Pandorica thing has no story value, no function except to build up the romance. It’s artificial and annoying – especially since I don’t think it’s particularly romantic.
River’s criminal aspect is also a problem. I straight-up despise it. It’s a valid character choice, I suppose, but one I desperately wish hadn’t been made. I understand all of S6 would be different without it, but still I miss Library River. And I’m annoyed by all the setup for S6. I guess I see the value of doing it, but once again knowing how it goes makes it less intriguing than irritating.
There are definitely things I like about the episodes. The Doctor’s speech atop the Pandorica, the stuff about memory (though it too is a bit much in places), the way he plants himself in Amy’s mind – silly maybe, but very well executed. The acting is, as always, spectacular. Something old, something new, a perfect description of the TARDIS. And Amy and Rory’s delight in running away at the end is contagious. Overall I’m left in a good place, even if I didn’t spend the whole time there.