Words: Alicia McBride
Following 'The Big Bang', Matt Smith and Steven Moffat have just completed their first run together at the helm of the TARDIS and I would deem it a success overall. For the most part anyway. The finale was a perfect blend of complicated time travel, scientific theory and human interest. I wonder how many pairs of eyes across the country teared up a bit at the end? I know mine did. However, before getting into the good bits I am going to get my negative feelings about the finale out of the way first because, to my surprise, I seem to be harbouring quite a lot. While the two-parter was an engaging, fast-paced, fitting end to the series it was not without its faults.
Firstly, there seemed to be some inconsistencies that I could well be wrong about (god knows I have no idea what’s going on most of the time) but did they not spend 50 minutes in 'The Pandorica Opens' convincing the audience that the Pandorica was completely impenetrable? I have to say, I was a little shocked to find out in 'The Big Bang' that actually all this mighty cosmic container was going to take to open was the sonic screwdriver, which, I believe, the Doctor had tried to use before to no effect. Hmmm. Given that it was also designed to be Doctor-proof, his ability to manipulate it to respond to Amy’s DNA in the future seems unlikely.
Another grumble is Amy remembering the Doctor at her wedding. Very smart, the whole something borrowed, something blue memory trigger, except it was completely undermined by Mother Pond, who was quick to remind the wedding party of crazy little Amy’s imaginary friend and the many psychiatrists they had to take her to. In the first episode the whole point of this was that Amy never stopped waiting for him to reappear and never stopped believing he was real. So, riddle me this.....if Amy grew up exactly the same after the big bang, still biting psychiatrists that told her he wasn’t real then why did the Doctor not return from the other side sooner? I know, I know…it was far more dramatic (and touching) for the TARDIS to materialise at her wedding but it wasn’t quite accurate.
My other concerns with the finale are relatively minor. As completely improbable as I think an alliance between all the Doctor’s foes is, what a hell of a storyline. I really wish they had done more with it and it’s a shame they didn’t. I also, cruelly, wish Amy’s family hadn’t been restored. Other than drippy Rory, who ended up with them anyway, Amy is the only assistant that hasn’t had any sort of longing for home or relatives. Okay, it’s horrible that she could not remember her parents but it means she was more free to run away with the Doctor, and it added to her uniqueness. Assistant’s families have played such a big part in past storylines it made a change not to have that earthly tie. I’m also slightly disappointed to see Rory hopping in the TARDIS ready for the Christmas special. I have loved his and Amy’s relationship but I am not overly keen on seeing more of him.
But enough with the negatives, because there were so many positives. The finale was wildly unpredictable, edge of your seat action, spanning several thousand years. I think what made it so successful is that while the usual “Doctor saves the universe” spectacular was delivered with originality, drama and lots of confusing science stuff, there was much more of a human storyline. I love that it concluded with Amy and Rory’s wedding; the series began the night before the big day, with an unsure Amy running away from the responsibility. How perfect that it ended with them reunited, despite having both died, and more in love than ever? And anyone who wasn’t touched by Rory choosing to guard her in the Pandorica for over 2,000 years has a heart of STONE.
I also find myself increasingly excited and intrigued by the Doctor and River Song. I admit that in the beginning I was dubious, mostly due to a slightly possessive and territorial thing I have about the Doctor (hence my resentment of every assistant so far), but also because she is cocky as hell. I have realised that she is probably justified in this as she is pretty kick-ass and the only woman so far who has seemed a genuine equal to the Doctor. I also think the handling of the narrative arc involving The Silence has been very cleverly done. It was first seen, along with River, in the Tennant-era and was hinted at all through this series without being the main focus. But hold on to your hats kids, because The Silence is going to catch up with the Doctor in the Christmas special and I cannot wait.
Overall, this series has been a pleasure to watch. Perhaps less spectacular than previous series and with more of a focus on the characters, the writing has been witty and warming with just enough alien-fighting action to please the fans. A universal theme across the episodes seems often to have featured the last of a species fighting for survival and being driven to drastic measures to ensure survival. I wonder if this is Moffat being very clever and preparing us for a cornered and desperate Doctor in the future. Either way, it has contributed to some great moments, from Liz 10 and the human species abusing the last ever star whale to Vincent Van Gogh accidentally killing a blind alien that was alone and confused, it’s been emotional. It’s also been downright scary in places, somehow I am still not over my fear of the Weeping Angels and the horrible aliens that inhabited the old people in 'Amy’s Choice' coupled with Toby Jones’ incredibly creepy Dream Lord were unsettling to say the least.
It’s not often that I want a television show to remain exactly the same but with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan meeting expectations and then surpassing them and the excitement of the coming storylines there is nothing that needs changing about Doctor Who. Except, well, maybe he could keep the fez.
Read Alicia's thoughts on the start of the series here.