By Tyler Dawson
Dinosaurs… on a spaceship! There are many great Doctor Who episodes and story arcs but none are as perfect as this series 7 gem. It’s got something for everyone: Action, adventure, romance, sorrow, and darkness. I love everything about this episodes from start to finish. All of the dialog is crisp and intelligent, somehow managing to balance witty humor, darkness, and gut wrenching sadness. Also, dinosaurs! On a motherfucking spaceship! You really can’t go wrong with that, I don’t care what you say.
The premise is simple enough: The Doctor stumbles upon a spaceship hurtling toward Earth sometime in the distant future and of course they are going to blow it up with missiles because humans (those assholes ruin everything right?). So the Doctor recruits Queen Nefertiti of Egypt, some generic, sexist, big game hunter, and of course the Ponds (while unwittingly bringing along Rory’s dad, Brian, for the ride). Hilarity ensues! Because did I mention fucking dinosaurs?
So once he gets his gang together, the Doctor pilots the TARDIS to the spaceship and then BAM! A door slides open and we get our first look at fucking DINOSAURS! The Doctor then says with the delight of a five year old, “dinosaurs… on a spaceship!” Thus the adventure begins. As the Doctor begins to doctor the situation, he inadvertently transports himself, Rory, and Brian to a beach which he quickly surmises is the engine room powered by the waves (it is a prehistoric vessel after all!) then instructs Brian and Rory to dig. Brian obviously has this covered because he is a badass and literally has everything with him at all times including a trowel. But of course Rory doesn't have one which leads to the Doctor proclaiming “I do!” when Rory says he is too old to have a Christmas list. Classic Rory. And then they are chased by a motherfucking pterodactyl, because dinosaurs! Which leads to them being captured by two Marvin-esque robots who are really quite entertaining in a Douglas Adams way (fun fact: He was a writer for Who back in the day). Speaking of fun facts, the gentleman who plays Brian “Pond” also was Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, further intertwining the two franchises (David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr., anyone?). The robots take them to their leader, but on the way they encounter a motherfucking TRICERATOPS… who loves Brian’s balls. His golf balls, you sick bastards! Because what triceratops wouldn’t like to play a game of fetch with some grass scented golf balls?
Finally, after all of these fantastic scenes the episode gets to the real heavy handed meat and potatoes: We meet Solomon, who is a real piece of shit if I’m being honest. Another fun fact! David Bradley, the actor who portrays Solomon, was also in Harry Potter as Argus Finch. It’s like a Harry Potter reunion in here! Additionally he portrayed William Hartnell in the excellent An Adventure Space and Time, which I highly recommend if you are a REAL Whovian. Anyway, he bullies the Doctor into stitching him up from injuries sustained courtesy of raptors by having the robots shoot Brian. What a dick. Fortunately Rory has a nurse pack and fixes Brian right up in a lovely father-son moment. This of course angers the Doctor, but what pisses him off even more is that Solomon confesses to killing all of the Silurians because they wouldn’t give him the dinosaurs. This is one of the only moments in recent Doctor Who memory that you can literally see the disgust in his eyes (very similar to the scene in Runaway Bride when he is flooding the chamber). It is here where we get a glimpse into who the Doctor REALLY is inside and what he is fighting every day of his life, especially in the Matt Smith era.
After exchanging threats, they are then chased by the two robots and they escape by riding our friend the triceratops before arriving to a control panel. The Doctor seems to be without a plan until Rory suggests to check for defense systems and this happens:
Of course there are no defense systems (it’s a fucking ark!) and Rory is once again left looking stupid. Classic Rory. Suddenly Solomon and the robots teleport in, demanding the Doctor give him Nefertiti as she is more valuable than the dinosaurs. Of course the Doctor refuses and Solomon shoots the triceratops. Several times. And it dies. This fucking guy is literally the worst person in the universe. Pretty sure he is worse than the Daleks or Cybermen. And on top of that he fully intends on leaving everyone else on board the ship to die; remember this missiles? Yeah, they launched and shit is getting real.
Inevitably the Doctor finds a way to save the day but here is the kicker and why this episode is my favorite despite it’s silliness: The Doctor kills Solomon. Not directly, of course, but purposefully. He doesn’t even attempt to save him. He doesn’t even offer to. In fact, he is gleeful about it. In his mind this guy is so irredeemable that he doesn’t even grant him the same courtesy that he would his mortal fucking enemies. He just teleports into his ship and explains that he is going to kill him via redirecting the missiles toward him as he escapes and as Solomon begs for mercy the Doctor, who basically tells him to fuck off and enjoy his bounty with a smile on his face. Not only is it a reminder of why exactly he needs companions, but also a great build up to the end of the Pond era. At the end of the episode, the Doctor invites them to drop the dinosaurs off but Rory and Amy decline. This is the first time we see them start to grow apart. Brian, on the other hand, relishes the opportunity and the Doctor takes him literally everywhere. The old man companions are the best (Wilf!).
In conclusion… dinosaurs! On a spaceship!
By Chris Miller
After the thoroughly detestable slop that is “Fear Her,” I needed to cleanse my mental palate. “A Good Man Goes to War” is an easy choice. It takes a couple of views to catch everything in this almost overstuffed episode (classic Moffat!), but it is well worth it. Rory gets to be a bad ass, we get to meet the Paternoster Gang and we find out who River Song really is. And let’s not forget my new favorite poem:
The episode opens with Amy talking to baby Melody Pond, describing the man that will come to save them. At first, it seems she is describing the Doctor, but really she is referring to Rory the Last Centurion, which leads to maybe my favorite Rory scene of the series:
The Doctor travels the galaxy collecting favors and raising an army, bringing back old favorites and introducing us to new ones. Danny Boy returns from “Victory of the Daleks” to knock out the communications on Demon’s Run and Henry Avery and his son Toby return to take Kovarian’s ship. We meet Commander Strax, seen serving penance as a lowly male nurse (no offense to Rory), and Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint , seen discussing the end of Jack the Ripper as a light snack for a certain Silurian detective. Rory goes to the Stormcage Containment Facility to find River Song, returning from a birthday trip with the Doctor. River cannot come to Demon’s run until the very end, when the Doctor will finally learn how she is. She ominously intones that the Doctor will rise higher than ever before and fall even further. The Doctor rounds out his army with Dorium Maldovar and some Silurian and Judoon forces.
The enemy is numerous, lead by the eye patch woman: Madame Kovarian. Colonel Manton leads an army of clerics with the cooperation of the Headless Monks. They are stationed on Demon’s Run awaiting the inevitable arrival of the Doctor. The Fat One and the Thin One provide a measure of humor and a bit of humanization for the enemy. Cleric Lorna is less an enemy, more a fan of the Doctor. She even provides a crucial plot piece, a prayer leaf with Melody’s name in her native language. Lorna had a brief encounter with the Doctor on her home world.
The Doctor arrives with his band of extraordinary gentlefolk and takes Demon’s Run without a drop of blood spilt (the Doctor rising higher than he ever has before). Eleven forces Manton to tell his troops to “run away.” He wants the universe to know what happens, when you come after his friends. Dorium hacks into Kovarian’s files to determine why they want Melody. Melody has Time Lord DNA (another clue), having been conceived in the TARDIS. It seems that Kovarian wants her as a weapon against the Doctor. It is at this point when the trap closes. The headless monks return, taking out the Silurians and Dorium, whose decapitated body joins the monks in their attack. Kovarian reveals to the Doctor that Melody is a Ganger and he runs off to warn Amy. Rory, Lorna and the Paternoster Gang battle the headless. Though all the monks are killed, Lorna and Strax receive fatal blows. Melody dissolves into flesh at Kovarian’s signal. Strax dies, happy knowing he died in battle. The Doctor goes to Lorna, telling her that he remembers running with her as she dies. At this point, the Doctor has fallen even further than he rose.
River finally appears and Eleven confronts her in anger. She explains that the Doctor has brought this on himself, because his exploits have created a sense of fear in many. The word doctor, meaning healer, comes from him, but its meaning is changing. For Lorna and the people of the Gamma Forests, doctor means mighty warrior. The Doctor demands to know who River is. She directs him to his cot and asks him to read something inside it, revealing who she truly is. He immediately enters the TARDIS and leaves, asking River to get everyone home.
Amy angrily demands to know what River told the Doctor. She hands Amy the prayer leaf and asks her to read it. In the language of the Gamma Forrest, there is no word for Pond, as “the only water in the forest is the river.” The TARDIS translator finally kicks in revealing the words “River” and “Song”.
This episode is full of excitement, twists and big reveals. It sets up the rest of the River arc and ties all through the remaining of the Eleventh’s tenure. We get a last look at old friends and a first look at new ones. And to tie back to the Fear Her post, let’s check our checklist for a bad episode:
1) Annoying kid? No
2) Lame Monster? No
3) Irredeemable cheesy finish? No
4) Written by Mathew Graham? No
Ok, I added that last one. I guess I’m still angry about Fear Her.
By Tyler Dawson
Here’s the thing: I don’t hate any episode of Doctor Who. They are all watchable and entertaining to some degree. It’s not like if one of my least favorite episodes pops up on my Netflix queue I automatically skip it. So when I say Let’s Kill Hitler is my least favorite episode it’s like saying Coors Light is my least favorite beer. I love beer and I will drink Coors Light for $1 beer night during Happy Hour but it’s not my go to beer and you’ll never find it in my refrigerator. Let’s Kill Hitler is the equivalent of being forced to drink Coors Light right after finishing a glass of your favorite expensive beer; you’ll drink it because it’s there and it’s still beer but what you really want is more of your favorite because it’s so damn delicious.
Let’s Kill Hitler was the mid-season premier (thank God they are doing away with that nonsense for Series 8 http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/moffat-reaffirms-no-split-for-series-8-56617.htm) after the stellar mid-season finale A Good Man Goes to War. Then after months of anticipation for the follow up, we get the goofy and clumsy Let’s Kill Hitler which feels like everyone trying to get back into the swing of things, more specifically Matt Smith as the Doctor. As Mels is driving her sweet Corvette Stingray through the cornfield, The Doctor, Amy, and Rory are hiding behind a newspaper and let out a collective (and highly unconvincing) “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!” then scatter.
Then we meet Mels. Mels, Mels, Mels. I don’t really even know where to begin with her except… why? Why go that route with her? She’s over the top, obnoxious, and only exists as a River Song plot device. The Doctor even makes light of the fact that no one has ever mentioned her or seen her before now (after uttering the God-awful and uncharacteristic “Doctor very lost” lines… really Moffat? What the Hell?). Mels then proceeds to point a gun at the Doctor, who again makes a goofy uncharacteristic face, as he meekly asks where she wants to go… To Nazi Germany, of course! The titles roll and for some reason we find ourselves watching a series of flashbacks chronicling Mels’ and Amy’s “friendship” since childhood (which again has NEVER been mentioned up until this point)… essentially Mels has always been obsessed with the Doctor and breaking the law, but I’m really not sure why we needed to know that since it was pretty obvious from the get go. But anyway…
So here we are in Nazi Germany and the Tardis crashes into Hitler’s office (thanks to Mels who shot it for some reason because the Doctor lied to her about some technobabble?) and they inadvertently save his life by knocking over the Teselecta. This leads to highlight of the episode: Rory punching Hitler in the face and putting him in the closet.
Before he can do that, however, Hitler fires off some shots and hits Mels, who reveals that she is Melody Pond after the Doctor proposes to her for some reason. She then begins to regenerate and finally shows up in the body of River Song, thus mostly unravelling the mystery of the character set up years ago in Silence in the Library. After bouncing around and “exploring” her new body, she asks about River Song and the Doctor (again, with a goofy face and odd inflection in his voice) replies “spoilers”. Afterwards a battle of wits involving a banana between Melody and the Doctor ensues until finally she kisses him on the lips. It turns out that the kiss somehow administered Time Lord killing poison that only kills the Doctor but not Melody even though she is also kind of a Time Lord but not really. Then she jumps out the window and kills some Nazis (which was admittedly was pretty cool). This is roughly the halfway point of the episode and it picks up from here.
It’s almost as if they wrote and shot the second half, took a few months off, then wrote and shot the first half and edited the two together. But the first half is damn near unwatchable as far as Doctor Who goes and it seems just so out of sync with the rest of the series. I’m not sure what happened but as soon as The Doctor starts dying the episode didn’t miss a beat. The Melody Pond character was still awful until she “transformed” into River, but at least Matt Smith recovered and started playing the Doctor we know and love instead of what seemed like a poorly done fan film that was the first half of the episode. However despite the relevance to series, “Let’s Kill Hitler” still ushered in a mostly mediocre finish to Series 6 and start of Series 7 which is strange because Series 5 and the first half of Series 6 were so strong. That said, “Let’s Kill Hitler” was pivotal in setting up “The Wedding of River Song” and it does pose some interesting questions as to the future of the Doctor which, rumor has it, will be directly answered in “The Time of the Doctor” Christmas special (http://www.doctorwhotv.co.uk/matt-smith-is-final-doctor-56627.htm). For instance, we are to believe that the Doctor can regenerate from absorbing the Time Vortex or a blast from a Dalek laser beam but not a simple poison? Could Moffat have been implying way back in Series 6 that he was out of regenerations? Is that the reason why the Silence is just now trying to kill him? Is that why in each of the 11th Doctors seasons he has gone to great lengths to fake or prevent his death? We will find out soon enough!**
“Let’s Kill Hitler” will always be the episode that, for me, was the biggest let down of the entire NuWho series for its horribly campy, uncharacteristic beginning and its heralding of the Great Moffat Slump. Sure there were a few great episodes after it (my favorite comes in this time period!) but things really didn’t pick up until very close to “The Day of the Doctor”. Hopefully Moffat gets back to his tempered self with Capaldi’s run, but as much as I loved Matt Smith’s Doctor most of the writing toward the end absolutely hamstrung him. It needs to get back to being your favorite beer and not Coors Light.
** Update post Christmas Special! It appears the rumors were correct and Time of the Doctor mostly cleared everything up. I very much enjoyed the special and I am very much looking forward to Capaldi. Hopefully we will have a legit write up of it soon.
by Chris Miller
What makes a Nu-Who episode awful? I don’t have a list, but I’m pretty sure you can just list everything wrong with Fear Her and build a solid list.
1) Annoying kid √
2) Lame monster √
3) Irredeemable cheesy finish √
Fear Hear had all of the above. But the worst offense is that the episode is truly dull, despite the council employee (played valiantly by Abdul Salis) doing his best to inject some much needed humor.
The episode opens on a quiet neighborhood opening day of the 2012 London Olympics, preparing for the Olympic torch to pass by. Some boring stuff happens and then a kid disappears. At this point any possible suspense has been wiped out, as it is all but reveled that Chloe (the neighbor girl that won’t leave her room and loves to draw) is the culprit.
DW10 and Rose show up for the opening ceremonies. They are quickly distracted by several missing kid posters and begin to investigate. DW10 notices that it’s colder than normal, somehow. I’m sure that won’t be important later. The Doctor begins to detect an energy signature with his hands, because apparently he can do that now. Chloe continues to talk in an annoying voice to her drawings. I think maybe she drew a cat, or something. I’m not sure; I think I might have nodded off a little. At some point Chloe starts to draw something and then scribbles it out. This results in the ever so frightening scribble monster that takes a solid fifteen seconds for Doc Ten to deactivate or whatever you do to scribbles that come to life. If another attacks, he can always erase it.
After a strange leap of logic, they figure out that it must have been Chloe. There is a quick tacked on back story, where Chloe’s dad was abusive and died. I suppose this was designed to create sympathy. As with most everything else this episode tried to do, it was an utter failure. She drew her dad on a closet wall for no apparent reason other than some bizarre, nonsensical moment at the end of the episode. Chloe turns out to be possessed by some alien flower thing that got knocked off course by a solar flare. It is explained that these things have a family of millions and create make believe worlds to entertain themselves. I’m not sure why this space flower doesn’t do whatever it normally does to create an alternate reality, instead of relying on a child to draw people. Also, the bizarre whisper talking Chloe does when the space flower is talking made me want Chloe to draw the writer, director and producer of this episode and then throw that drawing into the passing Olympic torch. Chloe draws the Olympic stadium and steals everyone there. The acting of the announcer is beyond atrocious. You would think he was describing someone getting a skinned knee and not tens of thousands of spectators and athletes vanishing in thin air.
Doc and Rose head back to the TARDIS to find the flower pod to send the space flower home. Shockingly (not actually shocking at all), Chloe follows them and then heads back home to draw the TARDIS and Ten. Now Rose has to save the day all alone. She figures out the ship is in a filled in pothole. She digs out the ship, while Chloe is drawing the whole world. (Quick philosophical aside: If Chloe draws the whole world; wouldn’t Chloe and the space flower also disappear into the picture? Is that its end game?)
The ship doesn’t run on heat alone (aha! That’s why it was important for the Doctor to be able to detect that the temperature was slightly below normal), it needs…love? Thankfully the awful announcer mentioned that the torch is a symbol of love so that Rose knew to throw the ship into the torch, because that all makes tons of sense. The drawing of the dead, abusive dad comes to life and the only thing that can stop him is Chloe and her mom singing. Everyone begins to reappear, except for the Doctor...until the torch bearer falls down and DW10 is there to pick it up and carry it to the stadium.
This powers the alien flower’s ship into space and we assume home. It was all truly dreadful. It was boring, poorly written and poorly acted. GFY, Fear Her. And GFY, Rant9* for making me watch this episode again.
* Editor's Note: You are most welcome.