Saturday, 26 June 2010

Dr Who: The Big Bang

Well the first Matt Smith/Steven Moffat Dr Who series comes to an end with a terrific, twisted romantic episode, where the Doctor jumps between different time zones with a fez and a mop, fights a stone dalek (not very well, he gets shot) dances horribly but somehow saves the universe.

Its a terrifically enjoyable story, the early parts a riot of time zones and fairy tale logic, with some lovely moments of a man protecting his lover for 2000 years, the idea of a man saving himself by turning himself into a fairy story idea given to his companion when she was young, the idea that the cracks seen were the Doctor watching his past as his life ran out, of the universe being rebooted by one person's memory, of a box collapsing into a burning sun to save the universe. The tone was wonderful throughout, was full of ideas that were given with a light touch.

While all the actors were good, Matt Smith dominated as the Doctor, giving lots of energy, anger, absurdity, the fez making him look absurd and oddly grinch-like menacing.

This has been a real high-quality level season for Dr Who. What's great is that not everything is answered, leaving mysteries for the future, such as who is River Song (the doctor's future wife?) and what is the silence, both of whom have fairy tale logic and feeling, which suggests a complicated resolution to come.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

New Dr Who episode

Will go into detail more next week but "The Pandorica Opens"  was a wonderful, twisted episode, with cybermen reassembling to kill, the companion getting killed by a clone of her dead love, the Tardis blowing up, and the Doctor always one step behind, ending up trapped by the box he was investigating (but was actually studying him).

What was terrific about the episode was the way that set things up. After a very fast intro, the story settled down, like many Moffat scripts do, to a base few locations and people talking and interacting over a tricky problem (be it Coupling or The Empty Child). Slowly the problem builds, with some nice horror bits in this story, leading to a gleeful monster barrage that would do Godzilla proud, played off against more intimate moments of horror for all characters (all leading to some sort of death), as the universe begins to explode around them. Great stuff. Can't wait for next week.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Vincent And The Doctor

This was an excellent comeback for the series after the quality dip of last week. It had a good monster, who was't what it seemed. It gave Matt Smith's Doctor weird gadgets for him to have fun with while running away from a monster, and some nice moments of Doctor boredom as he studies the painting of a masterpiece with palpable impatience. Best of all it had Van Gogh, a tortured genius who can see an invisible monster.

Tony Curran was terrific as Van Gogh, depressed but not over-doing it, still human and focused enough to be a credible painter. He played well off the leads and never begged for sympathy. The episode, like an earlier story The Unquiet Dead (with a dying Charles Dickens) gave enough monster moments for a Dr Who story but was primarily focused on character beats, a dying genius meeting an eccentric immortal time lord and his companion, then developing be the story of famous man who is losing his way. Now this can go wrong. The Tennant era, for all its good points, never got the famous character type of story right, only Moffat's The Girl In The Fireplace ever truly working, and that one wasn't quite as good as The Unquiet Dead or this one. When underplayed it can be a moving story. The people involved got the tone here perfectly.

Of course it was the Richard Curtis script. Famous from Blackadder and comic relief, his script was a lot more dramatic than expected. What was good about it is that it played fair with the audience, keeping the story simple, on the people, had plot points that were developed properly and made sense, and had a wonderfully slight, short story feel.