Sunday, 2 May 2010

Doctor Who: Flesh And Stone ( review with spoilers and controversy )

"A forest in a bottle on a spaceship in a maze. Have I impressed you yet, Amy Pond?"

Poor Amy. She might be impressed by that forest/spaceship/maze combo, but presumably not by having a Weeping Angel lodging in her mind and having to stumble through an army of said Angels with her eyes closed. All in a day's work for a Doctor Who companion.....

The Doctor and co. have escaped from last week's cliffhanger with the aid of the Byzantium's still-functioning artificial gravity ( love that old SF impossibility! ) and find themselves inside the crippled Starliner, with the Angels close behind. The first scenes of the episode bristle with tension as the desperate band of clerics and time-travellers try to penetrate the ship's security systems and escape the rapidly advancing and strengthening Angels.

Bishop: This whole place is a death-trap!
Doctor: No, it's a timebomb. Well, it's a death-trap and a timebomb..... and now it's a dead-end. Nobody panic.

Even when they find their way to the heart of the ship the crisis doesn't let up: the Angel in Amy's mind forces her to count down to her own imminent death..... for fun, that pesky Crack In Time makes an unwelcome reappearance, and the Doctor's crew have to navigate through the ship's Angel-haunted "oxygen factory" to safety.

This episode is a spell-binding exercise in tension and atmosphere, a worthy successor to Steven Moffatt's previous spine-chillers like The Empty Child and Blink. And there are so many great moments: the shoot-out in the corridor, the Angels laughing and ( gulp! ) moving, the Doctor's tender moment with Amy in the forest, "Something I've... missed", Father Octavian's moving and defiant final words, the Angels forgetting the gravity of the situation, the list just goes on.

For me the best scenes are the ones set in the forest. ( Filmed in Puzzle Wood, Coleford, in my home county of Gloucestershire, fact fans! ) Director Adam Smith brings us more of that fairytale quality with which he imbued The Eleventh Hour, and the performances of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Iain Glenn are extraordinary. This two-parter has been one of the best Doctor Who stories since Rusty Davies brought the series back 5 years ago. And potentially one of the most controversial scenes in the show's history is saved until the last moments.....

Poor Amy wanted to see an alien planet, which she did, but the price was being terrified, mentally scarred and even bruised from climbing out of a dead starship. So she asks to be taken home where, five minutes after she originally left in the Tardis, on the eve of her wedding, Amy decides she wants something more than adventure and travel from the Doctor. She wants some Time Lord TLC. In a funny, but startlingly frank ( for Doctor Who ) scene, Amy tries to entice the Doctor into her bed. He, of course, is having none of this and decides she needs to get her priorities right. Cue the "Next Time" trailer, showing the Doc whisking Amy and almost-forgotten boyfriend Rory off to sixteenth-century Venice for a romantic date. With added vampires.

This scene has already caused a ( mild ) uproar amongst the Daily-Mail reading set who don't think such a thing as ( whisper it ) s...e...x should even be hinted at in a supposed "children's show". My 14-year old daughter Sophie came over all Mary Whitehouse-prudish and said this scene was WRONG and STUPID. She's not been impressed with this new series and the fact that Amy is now officially a "slut" ( her words ) is just the icing on the cake. To carry on the food-based metaphors I think it's just a storm in a teacup but we'll have to see what happens next.....


Steve Does Comics said...

I hated it.

No I didn't. I loved it.

I have to admit that, up until last week, this series of Who hadn't really done it for me. It all felt like Moffatt was afraid to stray too far away from what RTD had been doing, in case he alienated the fans but, with this story, he finally gave us entirely what we'd expected from him when it was announced he was taking over.

The closing scene with randy Amy was great. It was wrong but it was clearly meant to be - hence the Doctor's reaction. And the response to it does make you realise how conservative (with a small c) Dr Who fans can be. I still remember the outrage when Paul McGann kissed his assistant in the TV movie. You'd think he'd pulled out a shotgun and killed Bambi.

That Baldy Fella said...

I thought it was great. Really liked the fact that the crack in time is already coming into to play and it feels like a far stronger story arc than we've had in previous years. And I liked the whole "just fancy a shag" thing seeing as the love affair companion bit has been done and would be tiresome to see again. Hooray for Moffat, I say.

cerebus660 said...

You really don't know how difficult it was for me to write that review without mentioning "Amy's crack" ;-)

Have a good Bank Holiday, guys!

Momo said...

Just managed to see it - time problems I guess.

Again there were classic lines: "Get a grip" regarding "the gravity of the situation"
We've had kissing before with gay Captain Jack and being gay myself, it is nice to see LBGT getting representation in my favorite foreign TV show.
I think Any's reaction was quite human and when two people are in close proximity for a great deal of time, intimacy (non sexual) can lead to desires for just that.
Well done the writers for showing a human side (on Amy's part)
The kiss-o-gram wants a kiss.

Now the crack seems to be responsible for re-writing time - hence no one remembers Dalek/Cyberman attack on London or the Giant Cyber King in 1861.

If that time has all been re-written, we may hope Rose isn't stuck on the parallel Earth-2
And Martha's cousin wasn't killed!
Am I right in thinking that?

Edward Grainger said...

While I thought it was a good story,I thought the second part seemed a bit rushed and lacked the menace of the first. Still,I'd have to disagree with the saintly Sophie about the final scene.It's surely more remarkable that the bloke with the time machine hasn't had women throwing themselves at him before! Alright,Katy Manning & Jon Pertwee might have been a bit far-fetched, and it may be sexist to suggest that (de)material(izing) possessions can sway a lady's heart, but I thought the scene helped colour in Amy's character in a sympathetic and plausible way. Still not sure about the continuing insistence on these season-long backdrop stories, though. The crack stuff was what obliged the rest of the script to be rushed, that and the supposed eventual romance with her-out-of-EastEnders. That I do have my doubts about!


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