TV Review: (Nu) Who Series 6 (Spoilers)

Steven Moffat and Matt Smith had a great freshman run with Series 5 as new showrunner and as the new Time Lord in the TARDIS, respectively. So by the time their sophomore series rolled in, Series 6, viewers and audiences had high hopes for where the show was headed. Interestingly enough, while the series did answer some leftover questions from Series 5, and had some gems in it, most of the “Doctor Who” fandom was a little bit divisive over this one.

In re-watching Series 6, I realized that one of the reasons why most people had a problem with Series 6 was that Moffat had been more concerned with the spectacle of having over complicated and timey-wimey plots, and sometimes, some emotional things that happened to Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and Amelia “Amy” Pond (Karen Gillan) weren’t really addressed or given closure to properly. I think that in this case, the characters suffered a bit in order to give viewers to give those timey-wimey plots, which, actually, were quite fun, if it weren’t for the fact that I needed to fact check the timelines of the Doctor (Matt Smith), the Ponds, and River Song (Alex Kingston) every once ina  while. Also, interestingly enough, this series was divided into a Spring Half and an Autumn Half.

However, one thing that I did love is how strong the TARDIS crew was now working with each other as if they were really one family unit, and nobody (meaning Rory) was left out, even in terms of character. In fact, I was surprised, on the second watch, to realize that Rory actually grew quite a lot from Series 5 to Series 6.

Generally speaking though, I did enjoy Series 6 both the first time and the second time I watched it.

My favorite episodes from this series included “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, “A Good Man Goes to War”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, “The Doctor’s Wife”, “The Girl Who Waited”, “The God Complex”.

This series’ story arc concentrated on the reveal of the true identity of River Song, and it talked more about the Silence and what “Silence will fall” means. Also, as I mentioned earlier, this series was a little bit more timey-wimey, especially as the series finale actually loops back to the first two episodes of the season.

Aside from the Christmas Special, Moffat wrote all the mythology heavy episodes, making that a total of six. Aside from Moffat, other writers for this series included Mark Gatiss (“Night Terrors”), Toby Whithouse (“The God Complex”), Neil Gaiman (“The Doctor’s Wife”), Stephen Thompson (“The Curse of the Black Spot”), Tom MacRae (“The Girl Who Waited”), Matthew Graham (“The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People”), and Gareth Roberts (“Closing Time”). Directors for this series included Toby Haynes, Jeremy Webb, Richard Clark, Richard Senior, Steve Hughes, Peter Hoar, Julian Simpson, and Nick Hurran.

Now, before we delve even further into the series, you know the drill….

warning-spoilers-final

As I mentioned earlier, on big criticism of this series is that Moffat became a little bit more focused on the spectacle and the timey-wimeyness of it all, and because of that, our heads hurt a little in trying to sync up timelines; and sometimes, character did take a back seat. However, I can say that there were some wonderful little gems in this series that did a lot of good character work, such as Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife”, MacRae’s “The Girl Who Waited”, and Whithouse’s “The God Complex”.

Before we talk about the episodes themselves, let’s sync up the time streams and time lines so that we can understand a little bit as to what happened when, in terms of the perspective of the Doctor.

In actuality, the current version of the Doctor, (aged  909), we know only comes in after Amy, Rory and River witness the events at Lake Silencio during “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”.  The future version of the Doctor, (aged 1103), is actually the the Doctor from after the events of “Closing Time” leading into the events of “The Wedding of River Song”. So all of the Doctor’s waving at Amy and Rory from different parts of history actually happened before he met up with Craig Owens (James Corden) in “Closing Time”.

Also, the River who is with Amy, Rory, and the Doctor during the two parter is a future version of River, who actually knows what’s going on, but has a hazy recollection of who exactly was in the astronaut suit. This River is still imprisoned in Stormcage. The River in the astronaut suit is a younger version of River, who caused the events that led into “The Wedding of River Song”. Also, the River we see at the beginning and at the end of “A Good Man Goes to War” are two different versions as well, coming from different time periods. When River appears to Amy and  Rory at the end of “The Wedding of River Song”, she has just finished the events that happened during “Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone”, and Amy and Rory had just finished experiencing “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, with the aborted timeline of “The Wedding of River Song”, which overlaps with the season premiere.

So, the Amy and Rory after the events of “The God Complex” don’t actually see the Doctor until two years later, for Christmas dinner after the events of “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe”.

Also, it must be noted that the Amy that we are actually with from the first episode all the way to “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People” was a Ganger version of Amy. The real Amy had been kidnapped prior to the events of “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, was replaced by her Ganger version whom she was “operating”  via her consciousness, which was all the way on the asteroid known as Demon’s Run.

Okay, now with that out of the way, let’s delve into the episodes of the series.

I genuinely enjoyed “A Christmas Carol”, as it was one of the few Christmas Specials that really had a direct connection with Christmas itself, and because in terms of emotions, it hit all the right notes. Another thing to note here is that you see the Doctor really manipulating and changing someone’s timeline in a way he hasn’t really done before, and that this is the beginning of the Doctor realizing the unfortunate consequences that also sometimes happen whenever he gets involved.

“The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon”, “A Good Man Goes to War”, “Let’s Kill Hitler”, and “The Wedding of River Song” all centered around the main story arcs of the series- River Song’s identity and the Silence.

“The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” was a great way to start out the series, as it began addressing the identity of River Song and introduced us to the Silence from the get go. It was also a good solid adventure. It must be noted that the little girl in the space suit, and who regenerated later on was really an earlier version of River Song. Here, we begin to see the darker side of the Doctor, as he did instruct humanity to kill the Silence by tricking the Silence to actually say it on national television. However, it must be argued that the Silence did have plenty of time to leave Earth before the Doctor intervened. Smith also did a fantastic job in differentiating the two versions of himself, and you can see that his older self was really an old man in a young man’s body.

“A Good Man Goes To War” was great, and I still get chills at the end of this and “Let’s Kill Hitler”, with the revelations that come with it. I smiled when the Doctor realized that River was Melody Pond (and I bet you that he was thinking that Rory was going to kill him because apparently, he had been travelling with his in-laws the entire time), I got chills when River told Amy and Rory who she was, and I also got chills when River gave up her remaining regenerations to save the Doctor in “Let’s Kill Hitler”.

I also love how Demon’s Run was the Doctor at his darkest and at the height of his power, being able to call in favors to help in rescue Amy without truly shedding a drop of blood; but it was his lowest point as well, as Madam Kovarian (Frances Barber) still managed to truly kidnap baby Melody; and because everything had been done because after eleven incarnations, he not only can be seen as a savior of worlds, but also as someone very, very dangerous. Another reason why this happened was also because the Silence did not want him to answer the “Oldest Question in the Universe”, as that would mean that “Silence would/must fall”.

It’s also interesting to see that after everything that has happened to his previous companions, he would literally move heaven and earth to save Amy not only because he cares about her, but because he is also probably fed up with having to deal with people who want to use his friends to get to him.

With “The Wedding of River Song”, I still enjoyed it as a whole, but my favorite bits were really the first part and the ending parts of that episode. It also must be noted here that he did want to defy his destiny of actually dying (yes, he was avoiding it because he knew that this was his final body), tried justifying it by saying that he could go back in time and visit Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) and Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), but at the news of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney) passing on, he decided that it was time.

My gripe with “A Good Man Goes To War” is the fact that I would have wanted to have gotten to know Madame Vastra (Neve Mcintosh), Jenny Flint (Catrin Stewart), and Commander Strax (Dan Starkey), a little bit more, as these were brand new characters. I also feel that they (although I do love them), drew away from more potential screen time for Lorna Bucket (Christina Chong), who had one encounter with the Doctor, and joined the army just so she could meet him again. However, it works perfectly as a mid-season finale, just as “Let’s Kill Hitler” was a good mid-season premiere. My only gripe with that one is that we weren’t really able to get to know Mels (Nina Toussaint-White), and that the revelation that she was Melody and grew up alongside her parents, wasn’t allowed to sink in first before she regenerated into her River Song form.

I also loved the callbacks to the past in “Let’s Kill Hitler” with the holographic interface in the TARDIS turning into Rose, Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman), and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate), while he’s dying of poison. We can see here how much he doesn’t like himself and how much he acknowledges that he ruined their lives, due to the fact that seeing them causes him to feel really guilty.

Not many people really liked “The Curse of the Black Spot” and “Night Terrors” because of its weird placement within the series, but on the whole, I actually enjoyed them more than I thought I did.

I think that “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People” gets a bad rap, and I think that it’s mostly because of the CGI Jennifer Lucas (Sarah Smart) monster at the end of the two parter. However, I loved how  it was a discussion about humanity, and what makes a person a person. Think “Battlestar Galactica” but with clones instead of robots. I did love how it had a somewhat classic who feel to it, and watching it the second time, knowing which one is the real Doctor this time, makes it an interesting watch.

We know that the entire first six episodes had the Doctor studying Amy’s ganger, so that he could know precisely what to do about the situation already, and it was interesting to see him being thought of as the Ganger version of himself, and the inherent fear that the others had for him, even Amy. However, switching with his ganger had been necessary to see if ganger Amy had independent thought or not, because if she didn’t have independent thought she wouldn’t be able to recognize which one was the ganger Doctor, and that meant that Amy was still alive somewhere. That reveal in the end however, was amazing. Smith’s performance here, however, was just amazing.

“Closing Time” was a fun romp, and it’s always fun to see James Corden’s Craig Owens again from time to time.

“The Doctor’s Wife” was basically Gaiman’s love letter to “Doctor Who”. It was a magical tale that not only gave out an amazing performance from Smith and Surrane Jones, but it also showcased the deep bond and relationship the TARDIS and the Doctor have with each other. Also, we got to see some corridors inside the TARDIS, and got to revisit the TARDIS interior of the Ninth (Christopher Eccleston) and the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant).

MacRae’s “The Girl Who Waited” was a wonderful “Doctor Who” story with a lot of science fiction in it, while being a great character piece for Amy. Gillan really outdid herself here, and you can see how she differentiated her older self from her younger self, with her older self still having some  elements of her younger self in her. Darvill was also great in this episode, with the emotional journey he went through, to having to face a choice as hard as the Doctor constantly makes. Also, the Doctor had to own up to the fact that the way he travels is really dangerous, especially for those whom he holds near and dear to him.

“The God Complex” was a wonderfully done science fiction story, and it did a lot for the main characters as well.

Here, you can see the difference in the character journey’s that Amy and Rory went through during their time on the TARDIS. Granted, Amy was still that little girl who admires the Doctor and loves going on adventures, but there were moments in which her more maternal instincts kick in. Also, she and Rory rely more on each other more than before.

Meanwhile, Rory stepped up his game, and at times, became a little bit Doctor-like. This can be seen on how he comments on how he isn’t afraid of anything anymore, and that he had forgotten that not everything was about saving the universe all the time.

This and the fact that the Doctor had to break Amy’s strong faith in him so that they could be saved, allowed the Doctor to try to let Amy wake up and finally, really, become Mrs. Amelia Williams. That, coupled with the knowledge that he knows that sooner or later they will either leave, or something horrible will happen to them, and with the knowledge that they wouldn’t just readily give their life on the TARDIS up that easily, prompts him to leave them on Earth. But, of course, he gave them a new house and car as well.

It was interesting to see the Eleventh Doctor be a little bit sad and mopey at the fact that he is alone, especially as he has been traveling with the Ponds for quite a while now.

Smith was also really strong in this series, and he felt like he came more into his own and was more comfortable at being the Eleventh Doctor in this series.

All in all, Series 6 was very much a Moffat series, as it did have overly complicated plots that dealt with a lot of time travel and timey-wimey stuff. However, it did have several stand out episodes; and for me, this was the peak of all the adventuring that the Doctor, Amy, and Rory had together. I also felt that the writers knew the voices of the characters well, and Darvill, Kingston, Gillan and Smith all gave wonderful performances throughout the series. Interestingly though, I felt that Series 5 was tighter story wise, but this series has such good performances that I cannot give up on at all.

What did you think of Series 6? What were your favorite episodes and moments, and what were your least favorite episodes and moments? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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