Saturday, 26 June 2010

We're all stories in the end

And that's that. This season of Doctor Who ends with Steven Moffat's two-parter 'The Pandorica Opens' and 'The Big Bang'. The cracks in time that have popped up everywhere have been leading to something big and bad. The 'Pandorica' is going to open and the 'most feared thing in the universe' will emerge. Doctor Who likes to throw hyperbole at its monsters but, in a nice twist, this lives up to its promise. The first episode is completely and undeniably epic. There's Stonehenge, Romans, Rory, and every monster ever dreamt up. It does tragedy in ways that only Doctor Who can: your girlfriend can't remember you because you never existed and it turns out you're a robot anyway. It all makes sense in a wonderfully fantastical way, being important and ridiculous at the same time. The first part ends as first parts always should: with the question 'how are they possibly going to get out of this?' The answer is 'do timey-wimey things'.

'The Big Bang' starts by undercutting the scale of the first part with some misplaced jokes and a box that's apparently easier to open than you thought. It then goes on to explain itself in a very timey-wimey way. Almost too timey-wimey. The episode is groaning under the weight of its own explanations. Every few minutes someone stops to try and make us understand it all, which isn't easy. It's extremely convoluted, not entirely coherent, and sort of breaks the promises of the episode before. But it gets by on delivering what Doctor Who is so good at - the emotional finale. Yes, I don't understand why the universe is collapsing, but the relationship between Doctor and assistant stays at the heart of the story. I don't want either of them to die in their past's future's present or anything. It gets itself out of holes in unclear and slightly dubious ways, but the power of the characters means that you don't really care.

Like usual this has been a season of remarkable planning on foresight. Episode one creates a puzzle and the rest are the pieces. Admittedly, its a puzzle with strange answers, but it does come together eventually. Sort of. In an unusual decision, some of the story has been left untold. It seems the show is becoming less closed off and more open to a running story. Even more unusual still is that the next season will apparently keep the same cast. No change this time. The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond live on. Which is nice. Apart from one mid-season dip the quality has remained high and has rarely resorted to action set-pieces. A confident new era has started and it isn't interested in slowing down. Doctor Who is in good hands.

1 comment:

  1. A crack in the universe with a monster coming through sounds quite Whedonesque. Now that the season is over, I'll add this to my netflix list.