So here are my random thoughts on tonigh’s Doctor Who episode The Pandorica Opening but first a little sillyness…
This week’s episode could have been titled: How do you solve a problem like the Doctor? Now I know my theory about Graham Norton as the series bad guy and the crack being the gap under the curtain is rubbish but see it fits. Really it does 😉
And now with that out of my system let’s get down to The Pandorica Opening…
The opening worked well pulling together the disparate threads from the series through vignettes to pull the Doctor, River Song and Amy together and then make the revelation of Vincent’s painting. River Song gets a moment to shine showing she is the best female rogue since The Stainless Steel Rat’s Angelina diGriz.
Tonight showed one broken down Cyberman scarier than all the ones in the new series so far. The arm; the head with tentacles, skull, poison dart and added snappy front action; and then the headless body. The original series could have gotten an entire episode out of that. There would have been lots of screaming and running. It would have been glorious. Even the potted version was excellent. Several reports on Twitter suggest it was a proper old fashioned Doctor Who hide behind the sofa scare for the kids.
Then we get the Big BADDS (Bads Amalgamated Doctor Defense Society): an alliance of lots of old enemies who are unfortunately working on a mistaken assumption. A great excuse to bring all those costumes and prosthetics out of storage. It would be silly but I’d love a Reservoir Dogs style slow motion shot of one of each of them walking towards camera. Instead we got a nice panning shot across them. By avoiding a dodgy CG battle they weren’t made into a disappointment. They got to be ominous.
The crack in time was always going to be a hard sell as a season bad guy. It has the same problem as Sauron in Lord of the Rings: it can’t do a dramatic scene. The Big BADDS working together is a nice touch as something so awful that it can unite all of them really must be a really Massively Big Bad.
I think I spotted a couple of passing references to the old series (along with a little Star Wars Cantina action)… a fleeting reference to Ghost Light when the Doctor comments about ghosts?
“I hate good wizards and fairy tales they always turn out to be him”. In the old series story Battlefield the Doctor is mistaken for Merlin. Now there is a myth started by Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae that attributes the construction of Stonehenge to Merlin. Looks like Geoffrey got it wrong. Looks like the Big BADS built it to mark the location of their trap.
The monsters weren’t the only risky moment. The CG space fleets was also handled well where an overstretched budget could have left it looking ropy. “If you bury the most dangerous thing in the universe you’d want to remember where you put it”. The risk with Stonehenge is Spinal Tap; it’s like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and coconut shells for horseshoe sound effects; I think they got away with it. Using the real location for establishing shots definitely helps.
I really enjoyed The Pandorica Opening and it will be a long week waiting for The Big Bang. That’s where I’d usually leave this except I was thinking how the other episodes this series tie up with the story (and a few from earlier series by Steven Moffat)…
Blink – Introduced the Angels
Silence in the Library – Introduced River Song and her non synchronous timeline with the Doctor.
The Eleventh Hour – Established the crack in time, the new Doctor, Amy and Rory.
The Beast Below – Liz 10 having the picture in the future.
Victory of the Daleks – Churchill’s phone being able to call the TARDIS.
The Time of Angels / Flesh and Stone – The crack in time, the Angels and more River Song.
The Vampires of Venice – The crack in time being really scary to Monsters.
The Hungry Earth / Cold Blood – Rory vanishing.
Vincent and the Doctor – The Painting to set up the picture being sent along with the impact of Rory being wiped from time.
I’d say it’s a safe bet that time machine causing all the problems in The Lodger is going to turn out to be TARDIS.
That leaves Amy’s Choice as the one episode this season that doesn’t seem to tie in. So is there something I missed, is it a set up for something past this series or was it just a one off?