Monday, 3 October 2011

Doctor Who?

This post is about the sixth series of Doctor Who and without any doubt contains spoilers. Read only if you have seen or if spoilers rubs of you like water of a duck. 

“Mooofffffffffaaaaaaatttttt!!! Waves fist” or “Damn you Moffat!” were responses I got used to seeing on twitter right after a new episode of the sixth series of Doctor Who has been aired. Often enough those responses were my own, but I wasn't alone. I can picture Stephen Moffat rubbing his hands together with pleasure at angry or confused fans; jumping up and down with joy like a kid, well, I don't know if Moffat is really the jumping up and down type, but in my head he is, at any opportunity to break a rule, reinvent it or simply ignore it just so he can put an innocent Doctor Who viewer in an uncomfortable position. Uncomfortable is my favourite position for television watching. 

Series Six of Doctor Who had a fantastic anarchic and rebellious feel to it, with many plot moves and development that had an air of cheeky defiance to them. By setting the first rule, in which the Doctor lies, and I think it is safe to say that therefore Moffat lies, he opened the door to challenging the institution that is Doctor Who, not just the show, but all that accompanies it.

As someone who was left generally underwhelmed and even disappointed at the end of series five, watching the sixth series was a remedial experience to begin with, but quickly became independently exciting. This series has brought Doctor Who back into that special place in my heart reserved for my favourite television show and it was like it never left, and it is now there to stay. 

Oh how I enjoyed the cunning sneakiness of Moffat and the Doctor: no one should know their own future, but what do you know, the Doctor does, challenging of the iron rule of a fixed point in time and space, new take on regenerations and clever teasing with off-screen adventures and stories, which apart from anything else practically hands out fantastic opportunities to the nurtured fan fiction surrounding Doctor Who.  So many small and big takings of liberties, which more than anything else established the undisputed authorship of the Moff. 
Mmmm... Maybe not the jumping up and down type.

Perhaps most joyous of all this glorious sixth series for me, was the story and the craftiness of its telling. I loved how what seemed so important and pressing at one point in time and space, became unimportant, or less important in another. Right from the start many questions were raised and speculations made, whether about River's identity, the Doctor's killer or the reason for his death. However, some answers were given half way through the series, and once that question was answered it wasn't difficult to deduce the rest, and the new questions were raised. We are too clever to believe that the Doctor was actually going to die, of course there will be some way to get him out of this kerfuffle. Most of us have also figured out that River is his killer/wife and the daughter of Amy and Rory before it was told to us. The questions and the answers given were merely instruments of skilful and wonderful storytelling and not the main point; and so the story and its experience become the living and dynamic two hearts of Doctor Who

The story was emotional; it had romance, drama, suspense, action, comedy, sadness, darkness and great characters. I was delighted to see Amy whose “life made no sense” in the fifth series transform to the Amy Pond, whose time-line is constantly rewritten and changing. Amy, as it turns out, had more knowledge over the Doctor’s time-line than she had of her own.With every episode Amy becomes slightly less involved and more passive, her knowledge of the Doctor's death becomes less urgent as the constant rewritings of her life and the tragedy of not being able to raise her child leave their dramatic mark upon her. Suddenly Amy is no longer the attention seeking poster girl, but rather a sad lost and confused character, who didn't have a chance to make sense of her life.

It is as if through the loss of control over her time-line Amy's character gained the depth and meaning it previously lacked. I was quite pleasantly shocked at how cruel she suddenly turned in the finale, her anger and pain finally bursts out in a desperate moment to take control and seek revenge. Amy's development also allowed Rory to change; he is no longer simply the loyal pet who tags along after Amy, he is her protector, sometimes from the Doctor, sometimes from herself. His character development has been an absolute pleasure to watch. While in the fifth series he came across as annoyingly jealous and spineless, now the subtle build up of his pain and anger towards the Doctor, which come from a different place than jealousy, one we can understand and even relate to, combined with Arthur Dervill's fantastic talent for comic timing, makes his and the Doctor's interaction my second favourite of this series on-screen relations. 

My favourite on-screen relationship of the series, which causes me to grin stupidly even as I write about it, is of course between the Doctor and River. The chemistry between those two explodes onto the screen and I cherish every moment they are on it together. My heart leaps with the kind of excitement and happiness that only the combination of the best screwball comedies and magical fairy-tales bring out of me. I can’t help but want River and the Doctor to live together forever and have lots of time lord babies so they can rebuild Gallifray together... OK maybe I am getting carried away here, but what can I say I am a hopeless romantic and River and the Doctor's relationship, in my opinion, is amongst all other things very romantic. What can be more romantic than stopping time for true love? 

"You're embarrassing me!" My heart shrank for River at this line

A lot has been written and said about Matt Smith brilliant acting talent and all I can do is passionately agree and say that he is, in my view, one of the best if not THE best young actors on television today, in the US and the UK. Smith's phenomenal ability to look old despite his young age is often mentioned and is very true; I wrote an article comparing Hartnell's Doctor and Smith's, for issue 12 of The Terrible Zodin. I want, however, to point out how impressive was his ability to look quite the opposite, like a child. In the series finale Smith managed to sweep me into his enthusiasm and happiness as his eyes lit up when he realised Amy remembers.

It has been an excellent series that had me at the edge of my seat, laughing and crying separately and together and flared up my childish television passion, just as Doctor Who should do. Yes, the final question might be obvious, maybe even stupid and one that was probably asked in the past and yet to have been answered, but I love it! It is the question of a child and that is its charm and I love that Moffat asks it so blatantly and that it made some fans angry. I would like to believe that like in the case of this excellent series, this final question and its answer, or lack of one, would once again be a device for telling a wonderful story; the story of Doctor Who?   

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