"Demons run when a good man goes to war"
And here it is, the point at which I stopped loving new Doctor Who, even in a series that has two of the best episodes it has done, and the first series that I haven't ever rewatched in its entirety. I do enjoy Matt Smith's Eleven immensely but the writing across this season - which was split into two for transmission - was just fatally erratic for me. Alongside the innovative work from Neil Gaiman in The Doctor's Wife and Steve Thompson in The Girl Who Waited, two contrasting but superlative pieces of writing, stories such as The Curse of the Black Spot and Night Terrors took the show to a less sophisticated place - (or do I really mean that I started to feel that this version of Doctor Who wasn't necessarily aimed at me...?)
Even the big finales (for there were two, one for each half) fell a little flat. The premonition that the Doctor would "fall so much further" than ever before in A Good Man Goes to War raised expectations only to be dashed by an overloaded episode with little emotional heft aside from the River Song reveal, and The Wedding of River Song suffered from the general over-use of the characters dying-but-not-really-dying trope (poor Arthur Darvill...). That said, the high points of the series are so very good - the striking US-set opening double-bill, the Doctor finally meeting the TARDIS, and brain-scratching sci-fi with real heart. Frustratingly inconsistent.
Episodes, in order of preference
The Doctor's Wife
The Girl Who Waited
The Impossible Astronaut
Day of the Moon
The Rebel Flesh
The Wedding of River Song
A Christmas Carol
A Good Man Goes to War
Let's Kill Hitler
The Almost People
The God Complex
The Curse of the Black Spot
Top 5 guest spots
1 Suranne Jones' Idris - I think this is one of my all-time favourite performances - idiosyncratic and unexpected, interesting and deeply moving, the farewell scene as Smith's lips start to wobble is simply heart-breaking
2 Mark Sheppard's work as Canton Everett Delaware III is vividly done
3 Although only appearing in voice form as Interface, Imelda Staunton still brings enormous gravitas to a striking episode
4 I love Sarah Smart and so getting two distinct versions of her Jennifer in
The Rebel Flesh/
The Almost People was a real bonus
5 As Madame Kovarian, Frances Barber was a delicious teasing presence as her brief cameos hinted at the series arc. That her character's fully-fleshed appearance was ultimately a little underwhelming is best swept under the carpet.
Idris aside, Christina Chong's Lorna Bucket
Most wasted guest actor
Daisy Haggard, if we had to suffer the return of James Corden's Craig, the least they could have done was give her a decent role in the story too.
Most important thing that is never mentioned again
What throws the TARDIS so off-kilter in The Rebel Flesh? A solar tsunami from our Sun you say? Oh, one of those old things
Gay agenda rating
A - Marriage equality is raised, gay marriage is shown and crime-fighting kick-ass inter-species lesbians are introduced
Labels: Alex Kingston, Arthur Darvill, Doctor Who, Frances Barber, Karen Gillan, Leo Bill, Mark Bonnar, Mark Gatiss, Matt Smith, Michael Sheen, Sarah Smart, Steve Thompson, Suranne Jones, Tom MacRae