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Some really outstanding moments...overpowered by TOO MUCH nonsensical writing
on 22 October 2011
After Series 5, I felt satisfied with what Steve Moffat was doing with Doctor Who. Despite suffering from severe inconsistency, Series 5 made for fine viewing because of some absolute classic episodes, and of course, Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, and his new team, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and River Song (Alex Kingston).
Even though I had criticisms about the overall writing and creative direction dipping, I remained a fan and was eagerly anticipating the next series.
Series 6's premise is this. Throughout Series 5, there was the omen constantly popping up that `Silence will fall." And the Doctor is finally going to learn the hard way what that means. And a "good man, a hero to many" will die...and the identity of the enigmatic River Song...will FINALLY be revealed.
Immediately, I will say this about Doctor Who Series 6. On the whole, it was disappointing. Starting with the opening two-part story, "The Impossible Astronaut"/Day of the Moon", it sums up the series in a nutshell and how much of a downward spiral Moffat's writing has taken. It gets off to a strong, gut-wrenching start when one of the main protagonists ACTUALLY DIES, thus setting up the premise for the "Silence Will Fall" arc superbly, but because the whole thing drags - and new sub-plots and plot-twists are being recklessly thrown left, right and centre - you're left wondering WHEN and IF Moffat will get to the point.
A lot of fans/critics have derided Moffat's storytelling since he took over Doctor Who for being too complicated (among other reasons), and I'm not necessarily against that. Complex stories are deeper, more engaging and showcase a sharp, inspired method of creativity, just like Steve's legendary episodes during the Davies era. But when I think back to "Blink", "Silence in the Library" or "Time of the Angels", THOSE episodes were complex, yet intricate and masterfully done.
"The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon" follows the trend of "The Big Bang". The writing and pacing are all over the place, it's barely coherent, too easy to get lost in...and even after having watched and understood the whole series, this two-parter still feels long-winded. It doesn't have any real individual merits to give it value, depending on future episodes alone to make it so integrally important to the arc.
Things aren't helped by such dud episodes like "The Curse of the Black Spot" (an episode that turns out no better than Series 5's tedious "Vampires of Venice"), "Night Terrors" or the cringingly bad "Closing Time", a laughable mess featuring James Corden which reduces the Cybermen from once-legitimately terrifying, manipulative, powerful arch-foes (as established back in Series 2) into now-ridiculous, embarrassing, incompetent dullards, which is not only atrocious, but unforgivable.
All this is such a shame, because Moffat and his vision DO prove that they're capable of such greatness. For instance, new baddies the Silence (primary antagonists for this series) are another absolutely INSPIRED Moffat creation. Although they don't quite have the menace and terror of the Weeping Angels, the Silence are truly frightening, malevolent, ruthless and psychological, which is perfect for the ominous nature of the story arc.
When Moffat finally settles down from too much `timey-wimey' drivel, we get an absolutely superb return to form with the mid-series two-parter. After the average "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People", things take such a dramatic turn with The Doctor and Rory rushing to find Amy and their newborn in "A Good Man Goes to War".
This episode is the one we've all been waiting for, as long-awaited answers to questions finally emerge in a terrific, action-packed epic with grave consequences for all involved. The main thing is that it's all clear and intricate, like Steve's writing used to be. Things start to make sense and the story/character development is truly major and irreversible, and the long-awaited revelation of River's identity is genuinely satisfying and jaw-dropping.
Despite the somewhat ill-taste title and redundant Nazi setting, "Let's Kill Hitler" is a classic second-part, primarily due to the REAL focus being River Song. The development of her origins and character just further establish her as one of the greatest characters to have ever been devised in the Doctor Who mythos, and Alex Kingston demonstrates just how versatile she is and what greatness she's bought to the show.
My personal favourite episodes of Series 6 are "The God Complex", "The Doctor's Wife" (a truly wonderful episode that strongly focuses on the relationship between the Time Lord and his TARDIS) and "The Girl Who Waited", a deeply psychological masterpiece that's right up there with classics like "Turn Left" & "Amy's Choice". "The Girl Who Waited" is by far the BEST episode on the boxset, being both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill's finest hour, and the single-best episode for Rory and Amy. It's THAT essential.
Annoyingly however, series finale "The Wedding of River Song" feels totally underwhelming after all the hype. While the answers and resolutions are satisfying, the drama and fear factor themselves fall flat. Most of the episode is a mess of mishmashes and tiresome repetition. Compared to true finales like "The Parting of The Ways", "Doomsday" or "Journey's End", there's little here to justify "The Wedding of River Song" as the epic it's painted to be.
So, where does Doctor Who go from here? Obviously, it will continue and there's still a strong fan base who appreciates what Moffat has done with the show. But for me, I'm on the verge of switching off, and I don't think I'm the only one. The show now has too little of the charm or consistency that made it so special one time. We have the perfect Doctor in Matt Smith, who's sadly given too much lacklustre writing.
Only one fan's opinion of course, but I don't rate Doctor Who: Series 6 that highly. Fans will either really love it, or really hate it.
Your call, but I think this series is mostly overrated.