Sunday, October 02, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x13: "The Wedding Of River Song"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Jeremy Webb

River: “Then you better kiss the bride.”
The Doctor: “I’ll make it a good one.”
River: “You better.”

I don’t care about semantics folks because as far as I am concerned Moffat just went and did it – he actually married the Doctor and River. He just went and made the eternal bachelor a married man. So, how come I’m not irritated by it?

I’d like to say it was down to River actually being a likeable/interesting enough character for the Doctor to marry or maybe it was the childish pleasure I took in seeing certain folks on internet forums going bananas over it but either way, it didn’t bother me. Maybe I don’t fit the ‘stereotype’ of a fan of the series after all.

In fact I think it was down to the fact that not only was it more literal than the alleged marriages to Liz 1 and Marilyn Monroe but also because in the series style, it wasn’t a straightforward type of a wedding. The Doctor didn’t just marry River because he might truly love her. He married her so she would fulfil her role in bringing about his death.

Even being forced into astronaut suit and left at Lake Silencio didn’t mean that River was going to kill the Doctor completely. She actually surpassed herself in draining the suit’s weaponry and spared the Doctor against his wishes. By doing that, River also opened up a world of trouble in her wake too.

Here we got a world where time was all playing out at the same time, forever stuck on a particular date and the only person at the start trying to figure what the heck was going on was Churchill. I might not have liked Churchill’s ill treatment of the Doctor but at least he was trying to get his captive soothsayer to fess up to what was going on.

Visually, the first few minutes was impressive stuff – cars on hot air balloons, Charles Dickens being interviewed on live TV, pterodactyls scaring kids and Emperor Winston Churchill lamenting about Cleopatra whilst trying to get the Doctor to open up more about River’s disruption to the world.

I liked seeing the Doctor and Churchill chewing the fat in those scenes, though the arrival of General Amy Pond and her army of hot soldiers around the time the Silence decided to attack was actually a lot more welcoming. Was there any doubt that Amy and Captain Williams (that’s Rory to the rest of us) were gonna show up to help the Doctor and their daughter once again?

Turning a pyramid in Cairo into Area 52 with a bunch of captive Silents and a sneering Kovarian was definitely an interesting move. I loved the little bits during these moments – the Doctor and Amy’s reunion, Amy’s method for trying to retain her memories, the use of the eye patches, the Doctor trying to set Amy and Rory up and of course, even Kovarian’s clear disgust over the Doctor and River’s flirting was amusing to watch.

That being said though, it did make the attack of the Silence feel somewhat slight by comparison. Even Kovarian’s comeuppance probably could’ve done with a little more screen time too but there’s no way in hell I’m going to complain about Amy leaving Kovarian to her fate. It was a nice way of showing us that Amy was affected by losing her daughter and she did show some remorse for it in a later scene as well.

As for the Doctor getting out of being killed – nice one, Moffat. I assumed that the Gangers plot would end up being used again but the Tesselecta disguised as the Time Lord instead was actually an interesting manoeuvre on the Doctor’s part. For me, because of the surprise factor, it actually worked better than if a Ganger version of the Doctor had been used instead.

Of course the more interesting part of the Doctor’s faked death was down to him wanting to erase his own fame. I think it’s an interesting concept that the Doctor wants to step back and not be as noisy as he used to be but will it realistically work in the long run? Let’s face it, the Doctor’s knack for attracting trouble is more than enough to ensure that it might not actually work in the long run.

Plus, considering that Amy, Rory and River are also aware of him still being alive (along with Dorium too), I still don’t know if they’re completely safe from Kovarian and the Silence (Amy killed a Kovarian in an aborted time line) or other big threats out there. Plus, it does seem depressing if the likes of Martha, Jack, Sarah Jane, Jo and Mickey also think he’s dead.

As for Dorium – great use for the character in this one. So what exactly is the fall of the Eleventh and what’s so great/horrible about Trenzalore in the Doctor’s future that the Silence came up with this plan to kill him in order to prevent? This finale might have answered some questions but it definitely did not waste any time in actually setting up new ones, including a particular question as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how that pans out.

Also in “The Wedding Of River Song”

I just realised this is the third finale in a row to feature wedding. We’ve already had Donna/Shaun, Amy/Rory and now Doctor/River. I now think we should get that gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled next series.

Churchill: “Explain to me in terms I can understand. What happened to time?”
The Doctor: “A woman.”

Malokeh from “The Hungry Earth”/“Cold Blood” was Churchill’s doctor in this one and we briefly saw a Paradigm Dalek as well.

Churchill: “You mentioned a woman.”
The Doctor: “Yes, I’m getting to her.”
Churchill: “What’s she like? Attractive I assume.”
The Doctor: “Hell in high heels.”

Dorium: “Would you like to know what it is?”
The Doctor: “Yes.”
Dorium: “Are you sure? Very, very sure?”
The Doctor: “Of course.”
Dorium: “Then I shall tell you but on your very head, be it.”

The Headless Monks kept Dorium in better condition because he was rich. I liked that he got a media chip installed in him for entertainment purposes in the same that Churchill’s downloads comment made me laugh.

The Doctor (to Churchill): “All this time, I didn’t realise it was my silence, my death. The Doctor will fall.”

The Doctor: “What have you done?”
River: “Well, I think I’ve just drained my weapons system.”

The older version of Canton briefly appeared in this episode as well during the retelling of “The Impossible Astronaut” and Mark Gatiss played Gantok as well.

Amy: “What’s wrong with you?”
The Doctor: “I’m still alive.”

The Doctor: “Hi, honey I’m home.”
River: “And what sort of time do you call this?”

While I was pleased with the mentions of Rose and Jack in this episode, I have to applaud Steven Moffat for having the Doctor find out that the Brigadier had died a few months ago. That was a lovely tribute to Nicholas Courtney.

River: “Am I the woman who marries you or murders you?”
The Doctor: “I don’t want to marry you.”
River: “I don’t want to murder you.”

Amy: “We’re doing this for you.”
The Doctor: “People are dying for me. I won’t thank you for that, Amelia Pond.”

After six series, Doctor Who Confidential was cancelled by BBC3 and the one for this was the series last. It’s a shame about that. Oh and I’ll review the Doctor/Einstein scene “Death Is The Only Answer” tomorrow.

Madame Kovarian: “Amy, help me.”
Amy: “You took my baby and hurt her and now she’s all grown up and she’s fine and I’ll never see my baby again.”

Rory: “I’m not sure I completely understand.”
Amy (re River): “Um, we got married, had a baby and that’s her.”

River appeared to Amy during the last scene fresh from the Byzantium, which tied nicely to their first meeting last series.

The Doctor: “I got too big, Dorium, too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows.”

Chronology: April 22nd 2011 for a good portion of the episode and there was a title card saying the show will be back at Christmas.

As a finale, there’s a part of me that kind of thought “The Wedding Of River Song” should’ve either been a two parter or an hour long but watching the episode at least twice more, I actually think this was an incredibly interesting (and surprisingly straightforward) way of ending this current series. It’s gonna be a hell of a wait for the next series but it’ll be worth it though.

Rating: 10 out of 10


Anonymous said...

"For me, because of the surprise factor, it actually worked better than if a Ganger version of the Doctor had been used instead."

Also, it doesn't involve the Doctor sacrificing someone else's life to save his own.

shawnlunn2002 said...

True, but it was a nice surprise that it wasn't a Ganger version which seemed widely speculated as a solution to the death problem.