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TV Review: Doctor Who – “A Good Man Goes To War”

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For those of us here in the U.K. (and to a lesser extent, Americans on sites of disputable legality), the end of this half of the current season of Doctor Who has been and gone. With it has come a certain revelation about the true nature of one of our beloved characters, which changes the rest of them forever. Or it makes you look at their earlier interactions in a slightly different light. Whatever’s good for you.

Okay, the revelation itself – if you’ve been anywhere near fansites in the last year or so, it was kind of obvious. It was actually spoiled on one of my earlier episode reviews by a commenter but considering that the last episode has only just aired in the U.S, I wouldn’t go looking for it. The problem with this twist is that it wasn’t much of one. I’d gone into the episode with as little foreknowledge as I could possibly manage and yet I could spot the hints from a mile away. If you have any talent for recognising the significance of names or word association, then you will also see it coming from a mile away. I’d like to stress that this is about half and half the fault of both Steven Moffat’s writing and the bountiful source of 1s and 0s known as the Internet, as now everybody can get their theories heard. It was only a matter of time before somebody stumbled on the right one. 

I’ll be honest, if you haven’t seen “The Almost People” then you certainly shouldn’t be reading this review but if you have or you just want to read it regardless (if so, thanks), then I think I’m safe in telling you that the plot of this week’s episode follows on from the last one. At the end of last week’s episode, it was revealed that Amy Pond has not physically been with them for the entire season (her mind, soul, katra, whatever you call it has been, just in a duplicate body). We also found out that her real body was going into labour in the far future. “A Good Man Goes To War” is about the Doctor having an interstellar whip-round for allies to help him find Amy and her new-born child.

Finding these allies means that the BBC gets another chance to raid its Costume Department, as in “The Pandorica Opens”. Indeed, we see most of the same aliens here (Judoon, Silurians, Cybermen and more). Perhaps the members of the alliance are keen to endear themselves to the Doctor considering what happened when they tried locking him up, although I am uncertain about whether the universe at large remembers that. One of my friends had a problem with the Doctor raising an army like that as he doesn’t do armies. However, I find that it’s an example of the writer making the character break their own rules to show how serious the situation has become. They did it all the time on Star Trek with the Prime Directive. 

The main problem with this episode is that it builds up to the battle of Demon’s Run (the asteroid where the battle takes place), which is over very quickly and the rest of the episode is spent talking and tallying the casualties. How this is different from any other night on the town for the Doctor remains to be seen. Oh, and there’s the matter of Amy’s baby dissolving into a flood of Dulux paint, but it’s also a Flesh duplicate like Amy was so it’s okay!

As an actual episode of Who, it was far better than last week’s two parter and “Curse Of The Black Spot”. However, this is down mostly to the dialogue and interactions between the cast (the scene where Matt Smith’s Doctor tries to work out when exactly Sparkly Time Child was conceived stands out as a particularly wonderful moment). And it was cool to get a glimpse into Moffat’s theory for our use of the word “Doctor”, a theory he advanced over 16 years ago. There were also some very awesome moments, especially the trailer friendly sequence with Rory and the Cybermen at the beginning of the show and the moment where the Doctor first appears on screen. Absolutely predictable and cheesy but still marvellous. 

Unfortunately, where the episode fell down was in the fact that the two main focuses of the episode (the Battle of Demon’s Run and the revelation) were quite poorly done for the reasons mentioned above. And when your two main selling points are disappointing or anticlimatic, then the rest of the episode should be damn amazing to compensate. And frankly, this one wasn’t (it should be noted that it was still good). 

However, at least it is better than the next episode sounds from its title. Words cannot express the level of surprise that I felt when I found out that an article on Kasterborous.com had correctly reported the leaked title: “Let’s Kill Hitler”. It will be the first episode of Doctor Who that will air on either side of the Atlantic after the summer hiatus and the second part to this two-part episode. The title makes it sound like either a jaunty, Carry On-style comedy or a serious piece involving Nazis. Either way, it’s an absolutely terrible title. 

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