Sunday, October 2, 2011

Doctor Who - Season 6

I'm still not totally sure on how I feel about the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who. The show is still written consistently better than it was during the Russell T. Davies run, and Matt Smith is definitely my favorite Doctor of the three I know. But I'm also not sure about his grand plan for the show. Not only does the show have a more persistent running storyline each season, it's pretty clear that he has one big story that he's taking years to tell. And while that's fine for some shows, I'm not sure it's really the best thing for this one. I like Doctor Who when I have no idea what's going to happen next. Is he going to discover something sinister happening on a seemingly benign alien planet? Is he going to get trapped with a bunch of scientists on some remote research station? Is he going to bump into a noteworthy figure from Earth's past and figure out what weird thing inspired their work? That element of surprise and the feeling that anything could happen is still there in the show, because only a handful of episodes each year dedicate more than a few minutes to the ongoing plot. But just the idea of there being a single story driving the 11th Doctor's entire existence seems anti-Who to me.

At least the story is fairly interesting. It involves the fate of the universe of course, as every major Who storyline does. It also involves his current companions, Amy and Rory; River Song, the fellow time traveler he met back in season 4; and a creepy conspiracy involving a sinister group that's out to get him for some reason. It's a bit too reliant on using time travel as a crutch, both an explanation for and a solution to every problem, though it's kind of hard to complain that a show like this uses a lot of 11th hour gimmicks and cop outs to resolve the ridiculous situations that arise. I just hope it ends up being worth it. It's a fun show to watch, but Doctor Who has a long history of conclusions that seem disappointing next to all of the events that build up to them.

In terms of this year's actual episodes, I don't think they were as a whole really stronger than last year's, though I thought there were definite high points. For one thing, having an episode titled "Let's Kill Hitler" is fun, even if that's not really what it's about. The two part season-opener introduced a great new Who monster in a similar vein to the Weeping Angels; creepy aliens called the Silence, who you forget everything about the second you can't see them anymore. "The Doctor's Wife", written by Neil Gaiman, is one of the show's great one-offs; a story about the TARDIS taking the form of a woman, and finally getting a chance to talk to the Doctor face to face. The second half went on a nice little horror kick, with a couple effectively creepy, well directed episodes that had a lot of fun with the spookier side of the show. As far as Who finales go, this year's was pretty acceptable. It was kind of just a bunch of crap getting thrown at a wall, and some weird choices were made, but at least I have a much better idea of where everything is going, and some weird loose ends were tied off. The next season of Who won't begin until next fall, and it won't end until 2013. But at least there's the annual Christmas special to look forward to.

No comments: