Doctor Who: 19th June • 20 June 2010 • The SnowBlog
Doctor Who: 19th June
Well, not so much an episode as 45 minutes of setup for next week. But I wasn't bored. [spoilers ahead] It was kind of a giant horse-pill of plot to swallow this week. Somehow everyone but the Doctor knows there's a universe-wide catastrophe in progress and that he caused it (but perhaps the how of that knowledge will be explained later). It's set in the past so most of these races haven't met the Doctor yet, so are they all time-travelling back to Roman times? Somehow? Where does that leave the uniqueness of Time Lords - and the safety of the rest of us - if every advanced race can transport armadas through time? I'm assuming even sans real Romans the doctor isn't wrong about the time period he thinks he's in. (But perhaps all that will be explained later.) And, biggest plot point to swallow of the lot: all the Doctor's enemies are working together to create a Baroqueishly elaborate ruse to capture, but not kill, him. (I'm thinking we're just supposed to accept that and there'll be no clever explanation later.) It's all a bit much, but in its defence it has led us to quite a dramatic, Han Solo-style cliffhanger.
I had a giddy thought as the words 'To Be Continued' appeared and I muttered to myself 'it had better be'. For a moment I imagined the announcer saying 'And that was the last ever episode of Doctor Who.' Just as a wind-up. Followed by: 'I'm sorry. I meant to say, tune in next week for the concluding part of this story.'
A point I wanted to make about jeopardy: it doesn't need to be bigger and more terrible than ever before. It simply has to be something you care about. In fact making it personal and smaller can make it easier to get your head around. There really is no need to imperil not just this universe, but all other universes, not just now but for all time, ever, in order to raise the stakes on all previous seasons' finales. There's isn't even a need to have everyone on Earth at risk. I think we could gain a bit of poignancy if the jeopardy arms race was halted and what was at risk was something more personal. To choose something at random: Amy having to live out her life on some miserable alien world. Or the Doctor losing all his childhood memories. Actually that last one's a good one: imagine if the Doctor didn't know where he came from. He'd have a hell of a job finding out. Which is not to say the story itself - the resolution of that jeopardy - shouldn't possess breadth and grandeur. It's the jeopardy itself that needs to be personal rather than (or as well as) epic and I feel it's all in danger of getting a bit silly. There is no possible way next season can top the last two. We've already imperilled all of space this season and all of time last season. For the finale next year I think they should aim for poignancy and not scale. To bastardise a phrase: 'feel locally, but act globally' if you will.