Doctor Who: Review supplemental on The Big Bang
|REVIEWS - DOCTOR WHO|
We get the stethoscope out a second time on the last episode of season 5 of Doctor Who...
After The Pandorica Opens, expectations were high. There’s a very important word in that sentence there. It ain’t ‘Pandorica’. It ain’t ‘Opens’. And it certainly ain’t ‘were’. So I guess, by a process of elimination, that word must surely be ‘After’.
Arf arf. I’m joking, of course. The most important word here is...
That’s a big ol’ word, especially for Doctor Who fans. And, though I haven’t gone online to the usual forums yet, I’m imagining that expectations for The Big Bang might well not have been met. I’m also imagining that’s something of an understatement. There’s probably a good few fans out there who’re throwing their Tom Baker underpants out the pram purely because we didn’t get a Dalek army, or a Dalek/Cyberman showdown, or Davros, or the Master, or that long-awaited return of the Chumblies. What we got tonight was a very different kind of Who finale.
RTD’s finale’s were always about spectacle. They embraced all the worlds that Doctor Who took in, from Emperor Daleks and Wars in Heaven, from the end of humanity to the last of the Time Lords. Maybe we, as fans, have been a little bit conditioned to expect the big, blowout, war-to-end-all-wars finale. With Moffat’s Who things have changed, and though we might have always been expected something bigger than we’ve ever seen before (a Big Bang, no less), what we got was something far more low-key – but nevertheless, it had just as much impact.
"SinceThe Empty Child, pretty much every Who fan I know has been enraptured by Steven J.S. Ice-Skatin’ Moffat’s writing, and tonight, here it was in full force"
This was always about the emotions. It was the most villain-less finale we’ve had so far, and the epicentre was all about Moffat’s writing. SinceThe Empty Child, pretty much every Who fan I know has been enraptured by Steven J.S. Ice-Skatin’ Moffat’s writing, and tonight, here it was in full force. If you’re kinda peeved that we didn’t see anything more of the Sontarans, the Cybermen, the Atraxi or the Hoix, at least sit back and revel in the fact that we got fifty-five minutes of Moffat’s writing. And what glorious writing it was! As ever, it’s intelligent, searching, witty and pitch-perfect in terms of characterisation. Moan about everything you like, but here, the writing is untouchable.
And that kinda makes it, for me at least. It wasn’t necessarily sci-fi, and it certainly wasn’t the kind of Who finale we’ve been conditioned to expect. But what it did was take the nu-classic Who finale into new and interesting territory. Character-based territory. Though the universe was very much at stake, all that death and destruction acted at the periphery of the narrative force – what we were interested in (and what Moffat wants us to be interested in) is the people and the circumstances at the eye of the storm. There’s no massed Skarosian invasion, no megalomaniac Time Lords to be defeated – just the beauty and whirlpool of emotions that goes on at the heart of a simple, human wedding.
But hey, we got stone Daleks – a pretty cool concept in itself – the actual death of The Doctor, timey-wimey fun (with a fez!) and an intricate, engaging and ultimately rewarding story. And that’s what Doctor Who is all about. The storytelling. And this was a brilliant story brilliantly told. What more can we ask for? OK, so we’re still clueless as to who was ultimately telling us that ‘Silence Will Fall’ and we’re all – to a man – intrigued as to who or what River Sexy Song actually is, but these are all things that we know, deep down, will eventually be cleared up. Because that’s the way that Moffat works. He works clearly and he works cleverly; we know we’ve got nothing to fear, and everything to expect.
This, in my opinion, has been a fantastic series of Who. The whole arc has been well constructed, and while not ultimately rewarding, is intriguing to the last. We’ve had uniformly great performances from Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and some great supporting roles to boot (Tony Curran and Toby Jones spring instantly to mind), some great sci-fi-idea-driven drama and a heartwarming story of a love that lasted two thousand years. It might not be what I expected, but it was certainly something I enjoyed. Bring on Christmas.
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