Somewhere out there is a guy sending emails to every single website in existence telling them to review the latest episodes of Doctor Who, just so he can punish my commitment (and dare I say, obsession) to creating the ultimate reviews round-up.
Well, if you’re reading, sir, I’m onto you, and I can take anything you throw at me. Don’t believe it? Keep reading…
Let’s get the dirty bits out of the way, shall we?
An overnight audience figure of 6.2 million viewers for Let’s Kill Hitler has been declared the “the lowest audience for an opening episode since the sci-fi show’s return in 2005” by The Mirror, who naturally omit to mention that the figure is an estimate and that even the final total won’t include viewings online via BBC iPlayer.
It is obvious that there is a segment of the so-called mainstream media that have an agenda against Doctor Who and the BBC. We’ll be looking at this in more detail in the near future, but in the meantime, let’s jump into the reviews themselves, starting with Neil McCormick’s blog for The Telegraph in which he explains why he thinks that Steven Moffat and his team of writers are “making it up as they go along“. He actually has a good argument for some of this:
“my youngest son remains unconvinced that River is actually Amy and Rory’s child, because the first time River meets her mother Amy on screen (in Time Of The Angels in the last series) and Rory (The Pandorica Opens) she gives no impression of ever having met them before. Indeed, the second time she meets Rory (in The Big Bang), she refers to him as “the plastic centurion”, rather than, say, “daddy”. Perhaps only a seven year old would be so sensitive to how a child addresses their parent, but he has a point.”
(He seems a smart lad, young Master McCormick. I wonder if he can help his dad work out the difference between a man called Stephen and a man called Steven.)
Briefly back to The Mirror now while we’re on the subject of plotting; while McCormick reckons the show is full of plotholes, the redtop rag that was once a bastion of socialism and is now tarnished with the stench of corporate brown-nosing, phone hacking denials and Piers Morgan (no air freshener will sort that problem out), The Mirror reckons that the River Song storyline is “convoluted”. While this might be a sentiment shared by Kasterborous podKaster James McLean, it does make you wonder where things are going.
“…The way this storyline has taken over is a serious misjudgment by Moffat.
It all became too convoluted on Saturday night, especially when River turned out to be Amy’s best friend from her childhood, too. Even the other characters are getting confused.”
Of course, Jim Shelley is no fan of Doctor Who, so no one should be losing any sleep over this.
So, a couple of negative reviews so far. You might have already read our own review of Let’s Kill Hitler but you won’t have read anything like the one from AssignmentX. Seriously, Sean Elliot: it was affectionate, it was passionate, but hell, man, you ramble!
He does draw attention to the fact that there are a lot of people questioning the River Song storyline. This is interesting for me personally as I hadn’t been aware until now that this was an issue. Worse things have happened in Doctor Who since 2005, after all.
“A lot of fans and viewers are upset stating that the River Song storyline has grown out of control, but it’s just like any other seasonal arc. It’s the main theme of this season that she is a weapon created to kill The Doctor, and eventually she will accomplish this as seen in the first episode of series six.”
Just on the matter of rounding up these reviews – a lot of them aren’t really reviews in the accepted sense of the word. On your behalf I have trawled through a whole host of plot summaries with a quick “I liked it!” at the end. Now I don’t want to say that I’m any particular king at the art of reviews – although we have contributors who have produced outstanding readings of episodes over the years – but a quick summary followed by an opinion isn’t a review. CraveOnline (watch out for pop-ups) features such a review, but at least some effort has been put into the thoughts of the writer, who raises an interesting point:
“…if there was one thing that the episode excelled at, it was making me care about the Doctor and River as a future couple. Ideally, it should have taken Melody more time to begin developing into the more traditional River Song.”
This is fascinating to me; I’m adding this to a list of topics that we need to address very soon on Kasterborous…
Mels has also been causing a bit of a fuss. There we were, over 12 months ago watching Rory and Amy’s wedding and she wasn’t in sight. She might claim that she doesn’t do weddings, but if this was the union of her own parents, surely she would be there?
So – has the sound of crowbar in the TARDIS impacted on your enjoyment of Let’s Kill Hitler? It certainly did for The HD Room’s James Zappie, who observes:
“When you sit down to watch an episode of The Doctor, you have to be prepared for a lot crammed into an hour of television. Sometimes, though, there’s too much wedged in and it is too fast paced to really leave an impact. It was a small thing in the scope of the episode as a whole, but it would have served the character and scene a lot more if we had even heard mention of Mels before this moment.”
This sentiment is echoed by Sight on Sound’s Kate Kulzick, who seems frustrated by the introduction of Nina Toussaint-White as Mels.
“Perhaps the early montage introducing Mels, Amy’s best friend, is intended to be an example of history being rewritten due to Melody’s time travelling, but even if this is the case, it still feels like a cheat. An examination of Amy and Rory’s friends and family, who must exist, would be interesting, but this comes off as a get-out-of-jail-free card allowing Amy and Rory to not be angry over having missed their daughter’s childhood.”
In contrast, however, we have TVGeekArmy, whose thoughts on the whole River Song element of the Whoniverse are much more positive.
“Some have directed criticism against River despite the enduring charisma of Alex Kingston. I pity the folks who decided to have a problem with this character, because it grows more apparent with each passing episode that River/Melody is the lynchpin of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. It’s been announced that Amy and Rory will be less involved with the series by the end of this season, meaning that by next year, in all likelihood, yon River will join the Doctor full time. That is something I’m very excited about.”
Tor, too, spends far too long telling the reader what happened. This is the 21st century, people – episodes can be found online! However the reviewer summarises well, noting that:
“If you were concerned about where Series 6 of Doctor Who was going, “Let’s Kill Hitler” has the show going in a fresh, funny direction that is ultimately more satisfying than the intensity of the first half.”
Now we’ll continue with a slight air of befuddlement: some of you out there are responsible for the inexplicable rise of The Nerdist, a more-than-pointless blog in which people who speak like surfers attempt to review TV shows and movies, fail badly and then become hugely famous. I had thought that the whole thing was a joke, but no, it is indeed completely serious. I’m not even going to bother quoting from this horrific diatribe; suffice to say it isn’t a pleasure to read.
In complete contrast, meanwhile, is Newsarama’s review, which combines a recap, a review and lots of interesting observations about Let’s Kill Hitler, from the various inter-episode bookending (“Hello Benjamin”/”Mrs Robinson”) to thoughts about the plot. I particularly liked this quote:
“[River had] been taken by The Silence as a baby, and spent her first years of life being programmed like a wee Prydonian Candidate to kill The Doctor.”
Elsewhere we’ve got Samantha Holloway’s review in The Examiner, which brings up the matter of Steven Moffat apparently having a rather limited timey wimey arsenal.
“This is one of those sad times where it seems like we’ve seen all the Moff’s tricks. It was clever, but the whole thing with the gun was a lot like the thing with the architect in Curse of Fatal Death.”
Similar – but then how many 7 year olds have seen a Comic Relief episode from 1999?
You know, too few plaudits are offered on sites like Kasterborous to Mr Arthur Darvill, whose performances as Rory Pond really do bring a delightful addition to the TARDIS team. AfterElton’s Heather Hogan would agree with me, too, noting that
“If you had told me all the way back at “The Eleventh Hour” that Rory would end up being the saving grace to Amy Pond’s companionship, I would have laughed in your face. But he just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t he? Punching Hitler in the face, locking him in the cupboard, hopping on a motorbike in 1930s Berlin to track down his childhood best friend/grown-up daughter. I like his acknowledgment in this episode that he is often a bumbling sidekick of a sidekick, but there are days when he is marvelous. This was one of them.”
While several reviews have praised the predestination paradoxes that appear in the episode, TVOvermind’s Sam McPherson was less than impressed with the implications of these fun moments.
“Though I appreciate Moffat’s eschewing of typical time travel tropes, predestination paradoxes always seem to fall apart when you look at them. For example: Amy named her baby Melody because she named her baby Melody. Another: River takes up her new name because the Doctor told her that at one point in the future she would take up that name. It doesn’t make much sense if you think about it.”
Something I do try to do with these review roundups is to draw attention to a new website that we haven’t featured before. However this week’s choice isn’t the best. In fact, we should be awaring this week’s Missing the Point award to BuzzFocus, who seem think that River’s poisoning of the Doctor is a homage to the Sixth Doctor’s post-regenerative attempted murder of Peri. (Yeah, that’s right – another 25+ year old spoiler. Sue me.)
“River, experiencing a few kinks in her regeneration process and remembering that her sole mission is to kill The Doctor, poisons him (in another great Moffat-penned homage, this time of The Sixth Doctor’s homicidal nature immediately after his regeneration), and jumps out of Hitler’s office window.”
But it’s not a homage, is it? No more than the prequel video released by the BBC a few weeks ago was a prequel rather than a “prologue”. It’s called a “coincidence”.
The great thing about rounding this load of fascinating reviews up is discovering what goes on in the heads of other Doctor Who fans (and Jim Shelley). For instance, this gem escaped from the mind of Comic Book Resources’ Graeme McMillan:
“A thought occurred during this episode. If the Silence are a religious order and not the name of the alien race from “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Day of The Moon,” then… what if those aliens are actually working against the Silence? What if young Melody was in the astronaut suit because it was a way of keeping her away from the Doctor? What if “Silence will fall” is actually a reference about the failure of the attempt to kill the Doctor?”
Now, I’ve spent ages thinking about those monsters, but I didn’t think of that. Interesting, eh?
So, an amazing collection of thoughts, observations and experiences watching the new Doctor Who episode, Let’s Kill Hitler.
We’ll finish up with this little snippet from The Guardian, who report that viewers thought they heard a German guard swearing (in English) during Let’s Kill Hitler. The words “Halt, was machen sie?” naturally means “Stop, what are you doing?”
Not sure which swear word they think they heard…