Doctor Who S6 Part 2 trailer analysis
|FEATURES - TV|
The Doctor's time is running out, but fortunately so is the wait for the rest of Season 6...
[This article contains spoilers for the first half of the season. If you haven’t seen it, then it’s well worth catching up on, especially the episodes written by showrunner Steven Moffat himself (‘The Impossible Astronaut’, ‘Day of the Moon’, ‘A Good Man Goes to War’). The last three episodes broadcast, including 'A Good Man Goes to War', are currently available on BBC iPlayer.]
With the second half of Doctor Who Season 6 set for broadcast from this coming Saturday, what better time to take an in-depth look at the thrilling Comic Con trailer?
This is a fantastic trailer, teasing plenty of exciting elements. The Doctor getting lost in a corridor! Winston Churchill with a gun! The TARDIS crashing through a window! The Silence! Cybermen! Weeping Angels! Various creepy new monsters! Slow-motion! The Doctor saying “My. Time. Is. Running. Out.” one word at a time, which is a curiously non-time-efficient way to do so! Someone uttering the vague and mysterious declaration “Something has happened to time”! Metal eyepatch lady saying “An impossible astronaut will rise from the deep, and strike the Doctor dead”! The Doctor responding with “Haven’t you figured that out yet?” (offering a further hint that he may have somehow accepted his fate, as well as meta-textually teasing fans for not being as smart as Steven Moffat (which, to be honest, is kind of a high standard to set))! Amy encountering a crazy Alice in Wonderland-type garden! A Star Trek-style ship’s bridge! Teleporting! And many more things such that listing them would make this paragraph even more over-excitable than it already is!
And Rory punches Hitler, yelling “Hoo-aah!” (Last exclamation mark; promise.) So this means that Rory’s Captain America. He's not only the Last Centurion, but also the First Avenger. It's great how they've taken the character of Rory, who’s such an unlikely hero, and made him legendary. However, there are hints in ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ that the show might subvert this. The whole episode is about the Doctor getting angry and going to war against the people who kidnapped Amy and her baby, but his overconfidence is his weakness, and River Song makes a big deal of the fact that the Doctor's name means healer, but now he instead inspires fear, which is what made them so determined to oppose him in the first place. And there are arguably parallels with Rory: as the Sontaran dies, with Rory congratulating him on his bravery, the Sontaran bitterly protests “I’m a nurse…”; as, of course, Rory was before he became the Last Centurion. Though Rory chose to become a nurse, because he likes helping people, as opposed to the role being a punishment conferred by the Doctor for fighting on the wrong side, as in the Sontaran's case. Perhaps this is implying, for both Rory and the Doctor, that the instinct for healing should be favoured over the instinct for war.
If the characters come up against Hitler, will they run into Indiana Jones (and his father James Bond)? (What about Tom Cruise as Colonel Von Stauffenberg?) And taking a cue from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, do they somehow get the TARDIS to go and pick up Charlie Chaplin, and try and get him to impersonate Hitler to help them with their plan? And what about the actual Captain America? Who gets first punch, Rory or Captain America?
Though of course, in this summer’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America faces the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and HYDRA, rather than Hitler (as screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley explained in an interview with /Film). Incidentally, Hugo Weaving should totally guest star on Doctor Who, perhaps as some sort of alien villain (or villainous alien). In fact, he’s versatile enough to play pretty much any character, whether buried under prosthetics or voicing a character who’s CGI or even offscreen (as Martin Sheen did for the character of House for Neil Gaiman’s episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’). He has a brilliant voice, as exemplified by his memorable turn as Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy, and he can play a complex, unnervingly charismatic character with only his voice and physical acting, as in V for Vendetta. (Perhaps he could play a Heath Ledger Joker-like villain, slowly drawling ‘Doctor, Doctor’ jokes as he advances toward the Doctor?)
A later episode in the (half-)season (Episode 11, written by Toby Whithouse) is called ‘The God Complex’. Is this referring to the Doctor, or some characters’ view of the Doctor? It's interesting to note that Russell T. Davies, as showrunner and especially as a writer, loved to portray the Doctor as an utterly heroic figure (making inspiring speeches set to Murray Gold’s stirring score), painting him as an almost Messianic figure (though the parallels with Jesus were not always perfect ones). On the other hand, Steven Moffat, as a showrunner and especially as a writer, although he keeps traces of this approach, seems to question or deconstruct this portrayal, at least to a certain extent (most prominently seen in ‘The Pandorica Opens’ / 'The Big Bang' and ‘A Good Man Goes to War’), raising at least the possibility that, as heroic as the Doctor is, he sometimes overreaches and tries to play God (who he’s not), and because he’s so powerful, that folly can have far-reaching and damaging implications.
Perhaps it’s a sort of dystopian view of the Doctor, both in microcosm (in that it centres on the actions of one character) and in macrocosm (in that his actions have implications across the entire universe). That is to say, with the Doctor representing some kind of paternalistic government (c.f. Demolition Man), which intervenes in order to try and make people’s lives better by solving big problems, but ends up creating bigger problems. (Although the satire is perhaps softer than this, since it seems that we’re still meant to root for the Doctor, at least most of the time.)
The title of the next episode is the bombastic ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’. Of course, it’s not going to be quite as simple as that, either pragmatically or morally. Pragmatically, of course, as with any other Doctor Who episode, it has to be significantly difficult (even with a TARDIS), in order to provide the adventure. Morally, the Doctor not only has the obvious responsibility to save life and stop evil, but also not to interfere with certain fixed events in the timeline, no doubting covering this. He’s intervened before, such as in ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ and ‘The Waters of Mars’, though at the end of the latter episode, Adelaide Brooke (who he saved, among others) realised the danger of such actions, and killed herself in protest (and to try and right the timeline), leading the Doctor to remorse for the consequences of his actions, acknowledging that “I’ve gone far…”
However, when confronted with someone as evil as Hitler, will that resolve hold fast? In effect, his dilemma will probably be somewhat like those faced by DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) in Neil Cross’ excellent, intense, gritty detective series Luther. He’s a brilliant, eccentric, but troubled man who cares deeply about helping others, and throws himself whole-heartedly into opposing evil, but endeavours to preserve even the lives of his enemies where possible, although that’s severely tested. (Of course, the Doctor, and Doctor Who in general, are capable of a great deal of lightness as well, but the general similarities hold. Except Luther doesn’t have a time machine.) (And continuing the Luther metaphors, would Alice Morgan be the Master?)
In any case, the second half of Season 6, following on from the jaw-dropping revelation and massive cliffhanger of 'A Good Man Goes to War', looks set to be vital, riveting television. The season resumes with 'Let's Kill Hitler' at 7:10pm on Saturday on BBC One in the UK, and on BBC America on the same day in the US.
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