Review: Doctor Who-The God Complex

After the past three episodes, The God Complex had a lot to live up to and on first viewing, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. The set up just seemed a little strange. But on second viewing I think it’s a strong contender for my favourite episode of Nu-Who. It’s written by Toby Whithouse who wrote the second-series story, School Reunion and the fifth-series story, Vampires in Venice.

The hotel made for a creepy, atmospheric setting. It was even shot like a horror movie, with elements of the shining added. Visually it is spectacular; director Nick Hurran worked wonders with the setting like he did with the last episode, The Girl Who Waited.

Everything in this hotel screamed creepily. The framed photos on the wall added to this; not only did we see pictures of the current residents but also previous, including some past Doctor Who monsters: there was a Sontaran, a Judoon and a Tritovore.

Almost-companion Rita is brilliant but we’ve seen that set up before and knew she wouldn’t make it. It would have been a nice surprise for her to stay on and travel with the Doctor. Retcon please, Mr Moffat. Maybe Rita was a ganger?

The fear inside the rooms was a really intriguing idea; just what did the Doctor see behind door number 11? The Valeyard? Himself?

Also, what did Amy’s door number mean? 7th Nu-Who companion? Or did the door represent the age she was when she first met the Doctor? Or am I just over-thinking it?

It was interesting after last week to see how Rory had completely lost faith in the Doctor and could have effectively saved everyone by walking them through an exit.

Once again, we get echoes of McCoy’s manipulative, calculating Doctor in Smith’s portrayal. The scene in which he convinces Amy to lose faith in him was very reminiscent of the 7th Doctor and Ace in the curse of Fenric. I also felt that the monster was a reflection on the Doctor himself. We even get the Doctor having to make quite possibly the most grown-up decision he has made in the whole of his travels in space and time: he can see what he has done to Rory; he can see what he has done to Amy. The only thing that didn’t sit right with me is why have Amy and Rory stuck with him for so long? They’ve been through worse. Or maybe this wasn’t the reason but the catalyst for the Doctor to see things how they are.

I feel bad for writing this as the man has just swum 140 miles in sewage invested water for charity but I felt David Walliams was the weak link of the episode. It could just be that he is too famous and I couldn’t get past that to truly buy his portrayal as Gibbis. Which is a shame really as I know Walliams is a life-long fan of Doctor Who. He actually had my favourite line of the whole episode: “We’re lining all the streets with trees so invading forces can march in the shade.”

Overall it’s a great episode, sharp script, great acting and great directing and has made this half of the series four-for-four. Let’s just hope next week’s – Closing Time – makes it five-for-five.

Review – Doctor Who: The Girl Who Waited

The Girl Who Waited heralds something we haven’t seen in a while-three episodes in a row that are good. Let’s think about that – the past three episodes have all been good.

First, it’s written by Tom MacRae, who himself is an impressive man. At just 23 he had his own show, Sky One’s Mile High. In the eight years since his career has gone from strength to strength. He is a true talent powerhouse. MacRae has previously written for Doctor Who before: he wrote the Cyberman two-parter for series 2.

This episode is Doctor Who at its best and, if any episode challenges Neil Gaiman’s The Doctor’s Wife to a Hugo award, it’ll be this one. This is an intelligent adventure, one most definitely one for the adults.
It’s timey-wimey and deals with parallel time streams. The Doctor and Rory are stuck in one time stream, Amy in another, which happens to run faster. A few minutes for Rory and The Doctor is a week for Amy.

The episode deals with paradoxes and moral dilemmas caused by paradoxes. The Doctor forces Rory to make a brutal decision. We see even more how Rory’s character has developed. We see him really angry at the Doctor for letting something like this happen. He even challenges the Doctor with the line “You’re turning me, into you.”  Every member of the cast puts in a magnificent performance, but this is Karen Gillan’s episode. Here, we see her really flex her acting muscle and she does it well. She plays the older version of Amy incredibly well. She only adds the most subtle of stiffness to her joints. Never overplaying it, she’s just subtly slower. She even deepens her voice, slightly for the older Amy.

The scene where the older and younger Amy are discussing their love for Rory is truly moving.

We also get insight into the darker side of the Doctor and we’re shown the risks and danger involved in travelling with him. Personally, I think Smith, like McCoy before him, is best, when he plays the cold, calculating, manipulative Doctor. People thought Smith should be worried following Tennant. No, the actor following Smith is the one who should worry.

The dynamic between the TARDIS crew is going to be permanently altered after this episode. Although Amy will never know what her other self went through, Rory has been deeply affected by the future Amy that he met. He met a more cynical, hate-filled Amy who spent 36 years alone: 36 years of cold, hard reality. Her Doctor didn’t save her. The truth is that the Doctor cannot save everyone and some of his friends die in the course of their adventures with him and Amy did die in this episode, just the younger one survived.

This episode was a vibrant-a visual delight. The look of the centre re-asserted the idea that in the future everything will be sterilised, clean and white.

In many ways, The Girl Who Waited is the budget episode. It features very few guest stars and mostly focuses on the principal cast and it’s spectacular for it. Murray Gold has done it again; his musical score manages to tug at the heartstrings a little bit more. This episode deserves all the high praise it receives. Let’s just hope that next week’s episode, The God Complex, can make the good episode run four-for-four.

Listen to our podcast review here.

Torchwood: Miracle Day, Episode One. Spoiler-free review

Each incarnation of Torchwood has been dramatically different from the last. Series one started out on the digital channel, BBC3, series two was moved to BBC2 and series three was promoted to a prime time BBC1 slot. So where do you go for series 4? Well, to America. The new joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Starz is a thing of beauty. It’s Torchwood with the budget Torchwood deserves.

The tone this time around is slightly different – it’s not as dark as series three but isn’t as fluffy as series one and two. This is good old fashioned BBC drama that happens to have a sci-fi theme. It raises huge moral and social questions.

The pace is fast and very action-packed and the culture clashes between the US cast and the Welsh cast provide the funniest lines of the episode. The action really kicks off as soon as Jack arrives. It does, for a while, focus mainly on the US cast but that is understandable as this is series one for the Americans and series four for the UK. Don’t worry, it isn’t long until Jack, Gwen and Rhys are in full frame. The new cast adds so much; Bill Pullman is on fine form as the convicted child molester Oswald Danes. Bill plays the role with an understated menace, which makes him extremely creepy. He puts a pause in the right place and it sends shivers down your spine.

The theme tune and title sequence have been changed and they work well, as does Murray Gold’s musical score throughout, setting the tone of each scene perfectly.

Episode one leaves you wanting more and from the series trailer we were shown, we’re in for a good ride. I’m only worried about where they can take Torchwood after Miracle Day – the only logical place would be a movie, which would be welcomed with open arms.