Archive for the ‘River Song’ Tag

Christmas Cheer   3 comments

Obviously, spoilers follow.




"Grr, spoilers!"

“Grr, spoilers!”

A year ago I would have said it was impossible. Even after S9, amazing as it was, I had my doubts. He’d followed up the 50th anniversary special with the disastrous ‘Time of the Doctor.’ He’d set up ‘Silence in the Library’ with ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ and ‘The Angels Take Manhattan.’ Moffat’s been good before, but it’s never stopped him also being terrible.

But S9 held on to the end. ‘The Husbands of River Song,’ in spite of its title, gives the character the arc she has awaited and deserved since 2008.

Well done, Mr. Moffat.

Way back when the Twelfth Doctor was first cast, it occured to me that this was the man to take River to Darillium. This man had the depth of character, the emotional courage, the grace to see her off properly. But given everything that happened in Matt Smith’s era, I figured that was off the table.

I have never been happier to be wrong.

This episode is everything I could want from a Christmas special. It’s ridiculous and spectacular, sweet and funny and sad. Twelve’s joy is contagious, the best treat we could ask for. River, when she’s over being campy, is courageous and sincere and – for nearly the first time since the Library – entirely real. This is the River I’ve been missing all these years.

It’s strange to think that River could ever have loved or been loved by the Eleventh Doctor. Her chemistry with Ten was undeniable – which of course could be said of just about anyone – but her scenes with his successor lacked any hint of a spark. Now, in a single look Capaldi’s Doctor conveys what Smith’s had failed at for four seasons. This Doctor knows River, loves River. That Doctor was just pretending. One possible explanation is that Matt Smith is just a vastly inferior actor. However, while Capaldi is undeniably a master, Smith is not lacking in skill. I’m not sure it’s entirely his fault that the love story failed to launch. It’s more like both actor and writer had some growing up to do. Working with Capaldi has somehow forced Moffat to move past the twelve-year-old boy and start writing for grownups again.

My husband points out that you could look at it as River’s growth and development over the course of her timeline. In the Library, she was as mature as she was going to get; in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler,’ the most puerile. She grew up out of order, from our point of view. We’ve been tolerating her childishness for a long time; now at last she’s the adult we’ve been missing.

Whatever it is, I’ll take more. Onward to Series 10!


Spoilers, Sweetie   4 comments

The return of River Song


I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Alex Kingston is a goddess. River + Twelve promises to be a sizzling combination. On the other hand, I despised her entire post-Library storyline. After ‘The Name of the Doctor’ I really felt it was time to let her go. Can Peter Capaldi save this relationship? Can Moffat make her great again?

It’s probably too much to hope for. Still, it should be fun, and I’m intrigued by the promised “surprise guest castings.”

A Paradox of Angels   Leave a comment

The first minute or so of ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ is good noir fun. The last 5 or so are sweet, touching, beautifully acted, hopeful, and sad.

Most of the rest is crap.

This story is supported by some of the worst premises in show history. The big one, of course, is that the timelines get so scrambled that the TARDIS can never reach New York in 1938. What about New Jersey? What about 1939? Another is the idea that reading something – knowing something – makes it fixed, makes it happen. This idea is shot through by pretty much every single other episode of the series, particularly the modern series. A third is River’s conviction that the Doctor must never see his friends’ pain. This is offensive, bogus garbage. What sort of child is the Doctor, that he has to be protected from the hard facts of life? It’s not like he doesn’t face them every day. He may not like them – ‘School Reunion,’ anyone? – but he can face them. He’s a grownup whether he wants to admit it or not.

All bogus. It’s storytelling at its weakest, and the Doctor at his most petty and selfish.

Still. The ending is absolutely gorgeous, from the moment Rory steps up on the rooftop ledge. Here their love for each other, their commitment, their conviction, are crystal clear. Of course Amy would choose the angel’s touch, and Rory, over going on without him. Someone calling himself her best friend ought to understand. The setup may be terrible, but the moment itself is a sendoff worthy of characters as long-standing and much-loved as Amy and Rory. The afterword, with flashback to Amelia waiting in the garden, serves as satisfying wrapup to Amy Pond’s run.

The after-afterword, penned later by Chris Chibnall and sketched but never shot, is another wonderful moment, though including it in the episode might have been a bit much.

And finally, it may be completely implausible and ridiculous, but the Statue of Liberty is cool.

grrr argh

grrr argh

(don’t bother with the image source, it’s just Moffat talking.)

Series 6: The End   Leave a comment

The ongoing storyline of the season is terrible and I hate it.

However, the season itself is not bad.

‘Closing Time’ is a fun, silly episode about a man learning to be a dad. It’s sweet and kind of dumb and has Cybermen. There’s a Cybermat named Ratty who has adorable teeth. Craig and Sophie are wonderful, and of course Stormageddon is a treat. The Doctor broods. Amy and Rory get on with their lives.

I found myself wondering if Karen Gillan and/or Arthur Darvill had been making noise about leaving, and Moffat was trying to figure out how to live without them. Write them out gently? Give them some time off and see if they change their minds? Who knows?

The last scene of the episode involves River, Madame Kevorian, and the Silence, and it’s awful. Far from the interesting, independent woman of the Library, this River is only an archaeologist in order to learn about the Doctor, and having been brainwashed since infancy has never had an original or autonomous thought. She’s smart, sure, and strong, but she’s so much less than she was before. It makes me terribly sad.

For that reason I almost skipped ‘The Wedding of River Song.’ In the end I’m glad I didn’t. Not only do we see the back of that disastrous storyline, but the rest of the episode is quite well constructed. It’s a joy watching this Doctor figure things out, being brilliant and clever and coy in turns, pulling it all out with a wave of his hand. The bit with the Tesselecta is wonderful. Amy and Rory are wonderful. Even Madame Kevorian is in her evil way wonderful. Dorium is fun and silly, and Winston Churchill and all. It’s entertaining television, and would have been quite good if not for all the messy little threads it was trying to gather. I think if Moffat stopped trying to write huge season arcs and just stuck with one- or two-part stories, all of his work would be a thousand times better.

Some time ago I wrote a tale of my own for River Song, a backstory I could live with. It’s not brilliant as stories go, but to me it’s a vast improvement on the official version. Courageous souls can find it here.

Posted January 16, 2015 by Elisabeth in Season 6, The Great Re-Watch

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Killing Hitler   1 comment

My memory of ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ was that it was terrible. Mostly because of River. And upon rewatch, that much remains true. ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ is terrible.

It’s also amazing.

I had entirely forgotten about the Tesselecta, which is ridiculous given that it’s practically the one redeeming feature of the entire storyline. It’s a great sci-fi concept, gorgeously and humorously executed – ‘powered by miniature cross people’ – with an absolutely delightful recurrence at the end of the season. Everyone aboard the thing is great. The antibodies are a bit silly, but since the episode establishes that the machinery is not at peak in any case, it works.

The acting is also amazing. Karen Gillan as both Amy and terrifying ‘Terminator 2’ Tesselecta Amy is spectacular. Alex Kingston is a joy to watch even when the lines she delivers tear the last remains of a wonderful character to bloody shreds. And Rory is amazing in every way – even to the point of acknowledging the ridiculousness of how amazing he is. ‘It’s been that sort of day.’

While I despise Mels, the growing-up scenes are kind of cute – especially the ‘penny drops’ scene. Mostly however that’s due to Amy/Amelia and Rory. It’s also kind of cute the way it shows Amy and Rory ‘raising’ their daughter, even if the entire concept is completely stupid.

It remains, however, that brainwashed psychopath murderer River is a terrible idea and a terrible character. I hate it. All of her agency, everything that made her interesting as a character is torn away in favor of propping up the Doctor. Worse, she’s weight- and size-obsessed, as she never is anywhere else. This obsession, and her sudden sexualization, even if in keeping with the character under the circumstances, is disgusting coming from Moffat’s pen. It’s the largest single piece of DW-related evidence so far that the man is a lecherous old creep who should not be allowed anywhere near television for children humans.

Obviously this episode bothered me. It’s too bad, because like I said it’s also great, but the ick sticks while the good stuff fades away. Next time I watch I’ll try to remember to skip over River’s scenes: no matter how wonderful Alex Kingston is, the ravaging of her character contaminates the entire story.

Posted November 29, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 6, The Great Re-Watch

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Dark Water?   Leave a comment

One comment on the upcoming episode:


That is all.

Sorry, no it isn’t. There’s more. Re-watching S5 is reminding me how much I love the original River and how much I despise what came after. I can’t take the melodrama, I can’t take the femme-fatale guff. I know, at one time I thought Twelve and River were a good match. It doesn’t matter; River has fallen so far, there’s no way to bring her back and make it right. Evil or heroic, any River in this episode will kill the whole season.

The poor gal has already died twice. Just let her go.

Posted October 27, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 8

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Flesh and Stone   1 comment

I have problems with this episode.

The angels, established in ‘Blink’ as quantum-locked and having very specific abilities, are given whatever magical powers will serve the scene and make things scary or tense or whatever the writers are going for. They can climb out of a TV, ok. They can live in your brain, ok. They can climb OUT of your brain. They see you looking and they assume you can see – as if the whole quantum lock thing were voluntary. I can see what they’re doing, trying to build tension and make things interesting, but the actual effect is the opposite. Magical creatures that can do anything are not interesting, they’re boring. Things that work one way and then suddenly work another are annoying. I’m not happy with the angels in this episode.

Ditto River Song, as I said before. WHYYYYY does she have to be a criminal? And can she really be punished/shamed for something she was brainwashed to do and had absolutely no voluntary say in? And did ANYONE in the world not get that who she killed was the Doctor? Now Alex Kingston is a genius and she can sell anything; it’s incredibly difficult not to buy every word out of her mouth. But it’s all garbage. River isn’t River, she’s some weird thing made to build dramatic backstory. Ick.

Amy coming on the Doctor is wrong in every way. I’m sure some people think it’s cute. I don’t get it. One, he says no, just as Ten does with Martha, and she ignores him. I guess it’s funny to have a woman come on to a guy so strong he can’t make her back off. No, it’s not funny, it’s appalling. I’m fine with women having sex drives and being kinky; I just think it’s really inappropriate here. Is it because it’s the night before her wedding, or because he’s saying no, or because it’s so out of the blue? I don’t know. I just know I despise it.

On the other hand…

I didn’t get this on the first pass, and it’s kind of brilliant: Moffat’s whole ‘big bang’ thing is an attempt to explain away Davies’ excess. There’s no way people wouldn’t remember Daleks, planets in the sky, the Master race, a giant Cyberman over Victorian London (a giant dinosaur over Victorian London) – and yet people don’t. I appreciate the attempt to explain that. Once again, if I didn’t already know it was lame I’d be looking forward to seeing how it all turned out.

The acting, as I mentioned with River, is stellar. I love watching Matt Smith’s Doctor figure things out. He’s brilliant in every way. Karen Gillan completely sold Amy’s fear in the forest, in spite of the fact the all the reasons and motivations for that fear were crap. Her countdown is terrifying. Props to Karen. I understand that people think the writing in these episodes is great. I don’t get it. The actors do amazing things with a script that makes no sense. I can’t give credit to the writers.

It’s disappointing when a story is bad. But somehow, it’s still Doctor Who. It still has charm, adventure and excitement. I still love it. And though this one disappoints, there are many others that make up for it.

ETA 11/17: Having finished S5 and half of S6, I now realize why I missed the thing about fixing the RTD era. It’s because it’s so glossed over. Other than this one early mention of Amy’s missing memory, there is no suggestion that those events were forgotten or never experienced. The erasing and re-booting of the past doesn’t make sense; it just happens, and you sort of accept it and move on. A disappointing example of Moffat’s failure to deliver.

Posted September 24, 2014 by Elisabeth in Season 5, The Great Re-Watch

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