be facile to say that Russell T. Davies wrote Doctor
Who like a soap opera and Steven Moffat writes it like
a sitcom. I’ve actually never seen any episodes of
Queer as Folk or Coupling. Also, RTD was
funny even when he was being serious, and Moffat is serious
even when he is being funny. But bear with me a moment.
the consequences of RTD’s finales (and let’s
include "The End
of Time"). We have two regenerations of the Doctor,
two deaths of the Master, one companion lost in a parallel
universe (twice), and one companion’s memory erased,
not to mention numerous deaths of supporting characters
and extras. Conventional wisdom holds that in soaps no one
ever permanently dies, but they DO die.
as we know for certain, Steven Moffat’s first finale
has had the consequence of…a wedding.
of the finales have employed some form of “reset button”
deus ex machina, and I’m coming to accept that
this is just how the show will be in the 21st century. The
stakes are so high that the writers have little choice but
to put the whole universe in peril just to top last year,
and unless you stop the disaster each time with two seconds
to spare, you have to do a bit of rewinding.
difference is that even with RTD’s reset buttons,
something still changed in the end. There were casualties.
With Moffat, we get all but the freeze-frame over the credits,
and next week (well, next year in this case) we start over
with a new situation and new comedy.
may not be a terrible thing. I’m just pointing it
Big Bang” is really great up to the opening credits.
I love the bit where Amy remembers the stars but no one
else knows they’re there (a nice callback to “Starry
Night,” and love the shout-out to Richard Dawkins).
I love seeing her hide in the museum. I love the surprise
as the Pandorica opens and it’s not at all who or
what you’re expecting.
almost immediately after the opening credits, it quickly
becomes clear that not only is the Doctor alive and well,
he hasn’t really suffered at all. Not that we wanted
him to, as such, but after fan speculations that he would
have to spend 2000 years in the box, perhaps going mad,
perhaps turning into the Dream Lord, it really bled out
that there’s a lot of zapping around “Blink”-style
to figure out what has to happen in the future to fill in
the holes in the past. It’s fun, and it’s funny,
and it’s clever, but it’s not as dramatic as
it could have been.
what good is a prison any idiot with a sonic screwdriver
can open from the outside? Even if the silly Monster Alliance
figured they’d averted disaster and planned to post
guards outside it to prevent this, it seems a bit weak (and
why couldn’t he do it in the previous episode?).
I did like Rory guarding the box for 2000 years. I liked
him having an Auton gun. I liked Rory in general, and I
must admit I like River Song now, too. Companions with guns
who aren’t afraid to use them make me happy. And I
loved the fez bits. The Doctor’s rewind was great,
and even though you knew it wasn’t forever, it was
still pretty moving.
problem is, after this “reboot” (the Doctor’s
actual word for what happens) I have no idea what’s
happened to the rest of the universe. I’ve watched
it twice and I still don’t know. I could fill this
entire post with questions. Here are a few examples:
Do people remember the Daleks now, as Amy didn’t in
of the Daleks”?
2. Did the Cyberking still appear in Victorian London, something
else the Doctor identified as a surprising lost memory?
3. Did the Saturnynes
still invade Venice, since they fell through a crack
in time that now is closed and has always been closed?
4. Does River still remember the Doctor? Presumably, since
she brings the diary to the wedding (and how did she get
there without the Vortex Manipulator?), but if so, why isn’t
it enough for her to remember him?
5. Is Rory still an Auton? (I assume he isn’t, since
we hear him say when the TARDIS reappears “I was plastic”
rather than “I am plastic,” but…see next
6. Did all Amy and the Doctor’s adventures still happen?
Rory still remembers them, apparently (but see previous
question). If so, how were they changed, since all the cracks
are presumably erased, which (for example) took away the
means by which the Doctor defeated the Angels? If not, what
happened to the rest of the Doctor’s past —
how far back is “just a dream” now?
aren’t really trivial questions. I no longer know
how much of the foregoing season is still “real”
as far as the story is concerned. This is brilliant from
a metafictional point of view, but I’m no longer sure
how to take the series on a literal level.
these are Moffat’s consequences. Maybe lots of events
in history, both in general and specific to the Doctor’s
life, have been rewritten and the next season will involve
discovering some of them. That would be pretty interesting,
particularly since there are still some explicit unanswered
questions to be dealt with. As the Doctor points out, we
still don’t know who or what caused this disaster
in the first place, and apparently the Silence wasn’t
just the death of the universe but the name of the unseen
“villain” of this piece.
is cool and suspenseful — this gives us a reason to
watch the next episode of the “sitcom,” whereas
otherwise we might have had a convenient place to quit.
It’s also gutsy, because it’s really frustrating
— we don’t even know who or what landed outside
Amy’s house and left burn marks on her lawn.
it turn out to be the Dream Lord? Or some other extratemporal
being (who presumably can’t have been part of the
exploding universe)? My money’s on the former for
now, since Moffat’s approach is more solipsistic (focused
on the main characters, and without warning any external
reality could be a dream) than RTD’s, but who knows?
end, this finale turned out to have all the most important
“flaws” we criticized in RTD’s: overblown
threat, too many monsters, deus ex machina, and
worst of all, “wishing” the Doctor back to life,
though at least this last wasn’t quite as cheesy as
of the Time Lords.”
as I’ve said before, the mark of a good Doctor
Who story is that most of the “hang on a minute”
and “oh come on, what?” questions don’t
occur to me until after it’s over. By that standard…this
one was pretty good.
I think I’ll watch another year. Even if this one
was all dreams, I’m more than happy to sleep a little