on 17 December 2012
So, series 7 part 1... How can anyone describe it's awesomeness? With at LEAST 3/5 truly awesome episodes, this is undoubtedly the best 5 consecutive episodes since the show returned in 2005.
For me the only unfortunate thing about this series for me, is that, rather than taking a step closer to the strength of the original stories, Moffat has moved away from the serials that made Doctor Who so unique. This does cut some episodes slightly shorter than perhaps is entirely satisfying. This, however, simply shows up the series' many other strengths, as it is still amazing.
1. Asylum of the Daleks: This episode has one of the best rewatch values that I have ever encountered in Doctor Who. The first time it came on, I watched it 5 times on Iplayer! However, there are a few problems with the episode that are slightly disappointing. Firstly, the premise of the whole story is that the daleks on the Asylum are supposed to be insane, but when you think about it, the only daleks featured are not insane, they simply don't work! They have the same instincts as ordinary daleks, but their weapons don't work, and some of them spin on the spot. Secondly, although there are many original daleks are featured, and have very little to do - nice idea, but do it properly! Finally, the daleks in the intensive care unit are "bad news" according to Oswin, and yet within the same minute, she says that they never do anything! Grrr...
However, other than these flaws this episode is almost perfect, with a fantastic plot twist and a very engaging debut from Jenna Louise Coleman. The Amy Rory subplot is given just the right amount of airtime to give the episode a nice emotional edge without moving into soap opera levels (always the problem with Russel T Davies' era.
2. Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: Unfortunately, this episode is not quite such a success, for me. When I heard that the budget would be Hollywood style, I did rather hope that the scripts would live up to the same standard. Much as this episode is quite enjoyable on the first watch, it has a rewatch value of about 0. The plot just isn't funny enough to be the amusing episode of the series, nor is it exiting or fast-pace enough to be thrilling. While the introduction of Brian was well-done, the rest of the episode felt cobbled together. Good enough but not nearly up to scratch with the rest of the series.
3. A Town Called Mercy: An emotional thrill-ride adventure which begins in a light-hearted manner and suddenly shocks the audience into silence, as we find the Doctor a changed man - no longer the lively and excited "mad-man with a box" but a lonely traveller who has become set in his ways and tired of adventure and discovery. It shows the Doctor's corrupted view of justice and fairness, and the coincidences that his foolish actions can have.
However, the episode is not exclusively contemplative, and has several excellently tense moments such as the slow advance of the Gunslinger on the Doctor when the hopeful townsfolk mistake him for "the alien doctor", and his subsequent advance on Mercy. An excellent episode, with very few flaws.
4. The Power of Three: This episode starts excellently, there is a very interesting conscept at the heart of the story - what happens when the Doctor comes to stay? However, on the whole, the majority of people do not tune in to Doctor who to be intruiged by some little black boxes for 30 minutes. The slow invasion was a good idea which had never been done before, and it nearly worked: The build up suggested an exciting climax and some strange-looking monsters who had some kind of devious plan. However, what we got was a very brief and vague explanation of a new alien from the Doctor's childhood, the complete lack of any danger to the Doctor or his companions, and a "something blows up" ending. So much promise, such poor execution.
5. Angels Take Manhattan: Well... what can I say? Such a fantastic climax to the Pond era. An affectionate look at the Doctor, Amy and Rory having a bit of downtime, with an emphasis on how the couple have grown up since we first met them in Series 5, followed by an atmospheric sequence in the novelised Manhattan. However, the atmosphere becomes far more foreboding as the Doctor finds that he may shortly lose his best-loved companions. The idea of the future being cemented once you've read it, is fantastically inventive, and shows Moffat in top form. The ending is saved from being incredibly cheesy in a cleverly timey-whimey way - Moffat's speciality - only to give the audience a sudden plot twist as Rory is taken by an angel, and Amy follows - leaving the doctor in a state of utter distress. We all feel it - excellent.