The Two Doctors

The Two Doctors

What’s the use of a good quotation if you can’t change it?

The Sixth Doctor

Synopsis

The Sixth Doctor finds himself teaming up with his Second incarnation to ensure his own existence in the presence.

Review

There is a distinct advance in bringing an experienced Doctor Who veteran in to write a story like this one, and that is that he completely understands the character of the Doctor.  Robert Holmes, who worked on the programme regularly from the late 1960s, is one of the best writers to work on Doctor Who in the show’s history and his experience writing for various incarnations really serves him in good stead here.  That’s not to say this story is perfect, however, as there are other issues at play here.

Holmes’ characterisation, despite the story’s other flaws, is on point.  The version of the Sixth Doctor he presents here is a lot better than most of the other stories in Colin Baker’s first season.  Here, the arrogance and hard edges to this incarnation are still present but they are dealt with much better and he seems a lot more recognisable as being consistent with past incarnations with the Doctor.  Examples of this include his snarking with the homicidal computer onboard the space station and his unwillingness to drop the initial mystery despite Peri’s misgivings.  Combined with a spot-on interpretation of the Second Doctor, and this element really works well.  The idea of having the Doctor converted into a species that he seems to see absolutely no redeeming qualities in is a really interesting idea and something that has never really been explored before or since  The story does have a rather heavy-handed nature when it comes to the writer almost lecturing about the issues surrounding eating meat and this is down to Holmes’ vegetarianism, but they are hardly subtle.  One of the clearest examples of this is the character of Oscar who kills helpless animals for fun but cannot stand the sight of gore.  The story also suffers from the rewrites and Robert Holmes’ lack of interest in Seville as a location is evident – he famously wanted the story to be shot in New Orleans and had a lot of jokes thrown in about the differences between English and American English.  The story does also have a more general issue which is its attitude towards violence, which definitely seems to be down to Eric Saward, but is particularly problematic when it comes to the death of characters like Oscar.

Two Doctors - Dastrai, Jamie, Doctor

It’s also really nice to see Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines back in Doctor Who.  Both actors feel as though they have not been away, despite a gap of nearly twenty years since both played their parts regularly and using the first part of this story effectively reintroducing them works really well.  I really like the reaction shot when the Second Doctor realises that he’s picked up a cucumber rather than a knife in his initial meeting with Shockeye.  This story does also add significant credence to the idea of Season 6B, which is a fan idea to explain some plot holes, such as Jamie and the Doctor openly talking about the Time Lords and the ageing of both actors.  The two returning actors also seem to enjoy great chemistry with both Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant which makes this story more enjoyable, but it is a shame that we don’t get to see these two Doctors spend more time together.  The scenes with both Doctors together really fizzle and it seems clear that both men had great rapport and respect for the other.

Two Doctors Sontaran

Sadly, the story really drags.  The story spends a lot of time with the Sixth Doctor investigating what has happened to his previous incarnation and I really think Peter Moffatt’s direction makes the story feel very flat and lifeless in places.  The classic example of this is the reveal shot of the Sontarans, which seems bizarrely framed.  The Sontarans themselves were included at the instance on John Nathan-Turner, and it is clear that Holmes did not want them there as he seems extremely disinterested in them.  Speaking of the Sontarans, their costumes really let this story down, especially the loose neck collars which make them look less believable.  Chessene’s plot changes halfway through the story, from being obsessed with taking the Doctor’s symbiotic nuclei to unlock the secrets of time travel, to seemingly converting the Doctor into an Androgum for no good reason.

Verdict: The last multi-Doctor story of the Classic era is largely flawed but great fun in some places.  It is probably the story that seems to understand what the production team were going for with the Sixth Doctor, and it is great fun to see Troughton and Hines back.  6/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Patrick Troughton (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), John Stratton (Shockeye), Jacqueline Pearce (Chessene), Laurence Payne (Dastari), Aimee Delamain (Dona Arana), James Saxon (Oscar), Carmen Gomez (Anita), Tim Raynham (Varl), Nicholas Fawcett (Technician) & Clinton Greyn (Stike)

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Peter Moffatt

Behind the Scenes

  • First appearance of the Sontarans since The Invasion of Time and their last appearance in the Classic series.
  • The first multi-Doctor story not marking an anniversary for the show.
  • Final story directed by Peter Moffatt and the first Sixth Doctor script written by Robert Holmes.
  • Last appearance of Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines.  Troughton was quick to agree to return, having enjoyed returning for The Five Doctors a couple of years previously.  He sadly passed away in 1987.
  • The story was originally set in New Orleans, where the plot involving the Androgums and food tied into the culinary tradition of the city.  However, funding was pulled, and the story was rewritten to be set in Venice, and then in Seville.
  • Jacqueline Pearce was a last-minute replacement for another actress and would go on to play Cardinal Ollistra in the War Doctor and the Eighth Doctor Time War series.
  • The TARDIS console used for the Second Doctor’s TARDIS was the prop used in the first two series of the Davison era as the budget could not accommodate the cost of the rebuilding of the original 1960s console.
  • The first three-part serial since The Planet of Giants and the last to date.

Best Moment

I really like the opening of the first part, where the scene changes slowly from black and white to colour.

Best Quote

Do try and keep out of my way in future and past, there’s a good fellow.  The time continuum should be big enough for both of us.  Just.

The Second Doctor

Black Orchid

Black Orchid 1

A superb innings, worthy of the master.

The Master?

Well, the other doctor.  W G Grace.

Sir Robert Muir and The Doctor

Synopsis

The TARDIS arrives in 1925 England, where due to a case of mistaken identity, the Doctor ends up playing in a local cricket match. The travellers accept an invitation to a costume party but events take a more sinister turn when the Doctor finds a dead body.

Review

Black Orchid, sadly, feels paper-thin.  Observing some of the best detective dramas, thinking of programmes like Inspector Morse, manage to build up dramatic tension and uncertainty about the eventual reveal of the murderer.  I don’t think that it is entirely the story’s fault, as there are only fifty minutes to work with, but there is nothing similar here.  There is no uncertainty as to who the murderer is, and the story does wear its literary allusions on its sleeves, pastiching stories like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Agatha Christie novels.

The writing and runtime certainly contribute to my issues with this story, as it ultimately feels like filler.  I strongly believe that Doctor Who is a flexible enough programme to be able to adapt to any type of story, however, the reduced time really means that none of the aspects of this story really work very well. None of the guest characters feel very fleshed out or believable, and the whole issue of Ann and Nyssa being identical feels extremely contrived.  It’s almost as if the long cricket playing sequence is also completely unnecessary, but I do quite enjoy Adric and Nyssa’s complete bemusement and Tegan trying to explain cricket to them, so I guess it’s actually quite a nice moment for this TARDIS team.  I completely agree with the main cast that this story lacks any dramatic tension – as soon as the first murder takes place, you know exactly where the story is going.

Black Orchid 2

On the positive side, however, it is nice to see the TARDIS crew out of their normal uniforms.  The costume designs at the ball are pretty fantastic – I’m particularly in awe of the Henry VIII costume seen in the background.  I also like the fact that, despite the fact that he is no longer wearing his pyjamas, Adric retains his Badge of Mathematical Excellence.  The party is a nice chance to see the team let their hair down, and it is particularly nice to see Tegan getting along so well with Sir Robert Muir, especially as the majority of the previous stories have seen her getting more and more irritated about the Doctor’s failings to take her to Heathrow.  It’s nice to see her and Nyssa having a good time at the party and dancing the Charleston.

I do feel like the climax is ultimately rushed though.  The Doctor’s arrest is rapidly undone by just showing the police officers the interior of the TARDIS, and even the fact that the police box is missing from the station is rapidly resolved, where elsewhere this would have been a cliffhanger.  I know ultimately the Doctor isn’t cleared of the murder of James until the police see the deformed George Cranleigh threatening Nyssa.  The second episode feels very rushed and thus denies a really satisfying conclusion.  The whole ‘Black Orchid’ element feels like a bit of an undeveloped and problematic plot point too, focusing on the British colonialism aspect that any foreigners would obviously wreak horrible revenge on George.  The fact that his two victims are servants and barely mentioned is also extremely problematic.  In a story with a relatively short running time, the Doctor’s companions don’t have very much to do other than spend time at the party, and in Adric’s case, eat.

Verdict: Black Orchid sadly never really feels like anything other than a two-part filler.  There are some nice moments, but they don’t redeem a paper thin plot and a rushed conclusion.  3/10

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa/Ann Turner), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Barbara Murray (Lady Cranleigh), Moray Watson (Sir Robert Muir), Michael Cochrane (Charles Cranleigh), Brian Hawksley (Brewster), Timothy Block (Tanner), Ahmed Khalil (Lakoni), Gareth Milne (The Unknown/George Cranleigh), Ivor Salter (Sergeant Markham) & Andrew Tourell (Constable Cummings)

Writer: Terence Dudley

Director: Ron Jones

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • Peter Davison, Matthew Waterhouse and Janet Fielding hated this story, citing a lack of mystery and any dramatic tension.  Sarah Sutton was more positive, but still rather dismissive of this story.
  • The first story since The Highlanders not to feature any science fiction elements other than the TARDIS and its occupants.  There is some dispute as to whether it is a ‘pure historical’ as the story does not focus on real people or real events.
  • The first two part story of the 1980s.
  • Peter Davison is a keen cricketer, and performed all of his cricketing scenes.
  • Ahmed Khalil had to have his voice dubbed in due to his lip disk.

Best Moment

Probably no surprise, but the cricket match is probably the best part of the story.  Despite it being overly long, it’s quite nice to see Davison’s talent at bowling!

Best Quote

So what is a railway station?

Well, a place where one embarks and disembarks from compartments on wheels drawn along these tracks by a steam engine – rarely on time.

What a very silly activity.

You think so?  As a boy, I always wanted to drive one.

Adric, The Doctor and Nyssa

 

Time Heist

There are so many memories in here. Feast on them! Tuck in! Big scarf. Bow tie – bit embarrassing. What do you think of the new look? I was hoping for minimalism, but I think I came out with magician.

The Twelfth Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor and Clara receive a mysterious phone call and find themselves in the middle of a bank heist. Their quarry is to steal from an impregnable bank, with the aid of two strangers, whilst the Teller protects the bank, able to detect potential thieves through telepathically detecting their guilt.

Review

Not to damn the story with faint praise, but this might be Steve Thompson’s best contribution to Doctor Who. Time Heist won’t trouble most top 10 lists, however, compared to his two previous efforts, this is more entertaining, and Douglas Mackinnon’s direction and Peter Capaldi’s performance are strong parts of this story. That’s not to say that the story is perfect, as there are problems with the writing and it is really rather forgettable.

Douglas Mackinnon’s direction is certainly one of the more positive aspects of this episode, and it is perhaps notable that, as the episode is part of the same production block as Listen and Mackinnon directed both of them, the styles feel very different. I’m particularly fond of the way that the way that the opening shot transitions from a shot of the opening credits into Clara’s washing machine and the Doctor’s face. Additionally, during the scenes in the corridors of the Bank of Karabraxos, the simple use of lighting to make the same corridor set look different is quite effective. Douglas Mackinnon seems to be a fairly safe pair of hands for Doctor Who as he seems to know how to direct different types of stories. This one, which is more of a romp, pays homage to heist movies quite a lot, especially with that zoom shot of the Doctor and his gang of bank robbers. Equally, the image of someone’s brain being turned into ‘soup’ is something that, despite other problems with this story, still remains with me.

Steve Thompson has a pretty poor reputation amongst Who fans, but I think this is probably his strongest contribution to the show. It would be all too easy for me to say that all the positive aspects of the story were Moffat and all the negative parts were Thompson, but it is difficult to say for certain who contributed which bits. I think it is more than likely that, in addition to the initial idea of the Doctor participating in a heist, Moffat probably also helped write dialogue for the new Doctor, as this is something he probably had to do a lot of during Series 8, with his abrasive personality being a distinct change from Matt Smith’s Doctor. This story isn’t so much of a tonal shift as say, Robot of Sherwood, probably due to Moffat being more involved in the script writing process, but is still a bit more light hearted than what has come before. This being said, this is a story in which the Doctor hands two characters devices that he believes the use of which will kill them. However, the story is quite flawed in places, and I feel that the story is much more plot driven than character driven. Guest characters like Psi and Saibra are given very little to do, with us only really being given thin characterisation of both, which ultimately makes them feel generic and bland. I feel that the hints that the Architect is in fact the Doctor is a bit too telegraphed from the beginning, making the eventual revelation underwhelming. Equally, the conclusion of the Teller aliens being reunited feels very derivative of Hide. Ultimately, Time Heist feels forgettable, which is a shame in a way, because I would love to say that Steve Thompson’s final contribution was fantastic.

When you meet the Architect, promise me something. Kill him.

I hate him too, but I can’t make that promise.

Saibra and the Twelfth Doctor

That being said, the idea of the Teller is quite interesting, and the fact that the alien is largely done by prosthetics is fantastic. Apparently, Thompson had learnt from the experience of The Curse of the Black Spot, where an entirely CG alien had meant that there wasn’t much of a budget to do anything else, and was determined to have a ‘practical’ alien here. The idea of a monster able to detect guilt is quite a good one and quite creepy. I feel that the story does focus on the exploitation of the Teller, but like the characters of Psi and Saibra, doesn’t really do enough with it.

Are you taller?

Heels.

What, do you have to reach a high shelf?

Right, got to go. Going to be late.

For a shelf?

Bye.

Twelfth Doctor and Clara

This story, like many, does really benefit from having an actor like Peter Capaldi in the lead. As usual in his first series, he gives this story his absolute all, which is good because it is incredibly uneven in places. This is the first story that really feels as though it focuses on the 12th Doctor rather than Clara, and Capaldi doesn’t waste the opportunity. The scene after Saibra ‘dies’ and his reaction to Psi’s criticism of his ‘professional detachment’ is something that I don’t think we’ve really seen before. Equally, his bemusement at Clara’s preparations for her date with Danny is superb and hilarious. The other character who stands out is Keeley Hawes’ Ms. Delphox and Karabraxos, who gives a great performance as the owner of the bank and her clones. A central theme of the story is self-loathing, and both the Doctor and Karabraxos certainly hate the other versions of themselves they see reflected in the Architect and the Delphox clones.

Verdict: An interesting premise and some excellent acting save a script that is not fantastic here. 6/10

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Keeley Hawes (Ms Delphox), Jonathan Bailey (Psi), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Saibra), Mark Ebulue (Guard), Trevor Sellers (Mr Porrima), Junior Laniyan (Suited Customer) & Ross Mullan (The Teller)

Writer: Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat

Director: Douglas Mackinnon

Behind the Scenes

  • Steven Moffat originally came up with the idea of the time-based bank robbery, before handing the concept to Steve Thompson to write the story. Thompson added the Teller as the ultimate CCTV system and Psi and Saibra.
  • The fifth and final episode of series 8 that was leaked ahead of broadcast.
  • The story contains images of Abslom Daak, who originated from the comics as well as images of Captain John Hart from Torchwood, and the Androvax and the Trickster from The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Best Moment

I really like the quick transition between the Doctor and Clara in her apartment straight into the action.

Best Quote

Intruders are most welcome. They remind us that the bank is impregnable. It’s good for morale to have a few of you scattered about the place.

Delphox

Revenge of the Cybermen

Revenge of the Cybermen Cybermen

Harry Sullivan is an imbecile!

Fourth Doctor

Synopsis

Arriving on Space Station Nerva in its distant past, the Doctor, Sarah and Harry find its crew threatened by a mysterious plague. Discovering that things are not what they seem, they stumble upon a plan to commit genocide devised by the Doctor’s old enemies, the Cybermen.

Review

Revenge of the Cybermen is a bit of a bizarre story really and a lacklustre end to Tom Baker’s largely strong first season. Having held a cult statement due to being the first story to be released on VHS, it demonstrates some poor writing and feels like a 60s era story. The direction is largely strong from Michael Briant and generally, the story feels as though it has quite high production values. I really struggle with this story, especially the Vogan Civil War element, which really failed to grab my interest.

Revenge of the Cybermen Doctor

I will start by talking about the positives of the story. I feel like the direction, is for the most part, quite good and Briant is very competent in his shots. I particularly like the contrasting uses of light on Nerva Beacon and on Voga, as it makes the scenes on the planet feel significantly different to those on the space station. This is not to say that everything works well, although the blame cannot solely be laid at Michael Briant’s door. The writing and some of the performances do him no favours and small things like the Cyber Leader having his hands on his hips when interrogating Sarah seem like contributing factors as to why the story doesn’t really work for me – the Cybermen seem to have too much emotion. Additionally, scenes like the fight between the Cybermen and the Vogans lack any kind of visual flair to keep them interesting, which feel especially necessary when they drag like they do here. Like I say, it would be unfair to blame the director solely for this, and he does do the best he can with an admittedly poor script. Briant does a good job considering the fact that he is working with a limited budget and it is fair to say that I think that Spielberg, or, to use a more achievable director for the modern series, Rachel Talalay, would struggle to make scenes involving that Cybermat look good.

As this story featured the return of the Cybermen after a seven-year absence, it does seem as though both Gerry Davis, one of the creators of the Cybermen, and Robert Holmes seem not to understand how they work. I think that Holmes, like his predecessor as script editor Terrance Dicks, did not like the Cybermen and so his interest was probably not too high when he came to do his extensive rewrites on this story, but there are some really ridiculous moments that smack of laziness on both men’s behalf. The Vogan Civil War is really uninteresting, rather extraordinary when you consider the calibre of actors under the prosthetics, and just feels like padding to get the story up to the required length. Each part feels as though it has a massive amount of exposition in There are also massive plot holes in this story, the most irritating of which being that the Vogans at no point consider using the gold as a weapon against the Cybermen, despite it being one of their weaknesses and Voga is the planet of gold. I really dislike the idea of gold being a weakness for the Cybermen anyway as it adds to a list of weaknesses for this supposedly continually upgrading race established over the course of 1960s Doctor Who, but this plot hole bugged me, especially as two Cybermen slaughter a load of Vogans in the overlong battle scene.

Sadly, unlike other stories of this era where the elements feel a bit lacking, this story suffers from coming early in Tom Baker’s era, and it is clear that he has not got to grips with the part during the production of this story. There are hints of the direction that Baker would take his incarnation and he isn’t helped by the fact that this story feels as though it was written for any of his three predecessors. It’s hard to say for certain, but the moments that feel most in character for this incarnation of the Doctor are likely ad-libbed moments and reactions. Equally, Sarah Jane feels very poorly written and lacking any agency. The scene where she is interrogated by the Cybermen in the concluding part really shows how disinterested Holmes was in this story, and it is a shame Sladen doesn’t have more to sink her teeth into. I do feel that both Sladen and Baker deserve a huge amount of credit for getting through the scene talking about heading towards the “biggest bang in the universe” without absolutely corpsing though. The only one of the TARDIS team who feels well written in this story is Harry, continuing to show his usefulness to the Doctor, combined with his occasional bumbling.

Verdict: The return of the Cybermen is really rather underwhelming, with a poorly written story which doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny. It does contain some lovely direction and the use of Wookey Hole Caves does raise it slightly. 3/10

Cast: Tom Baker (The Doctor), Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith), Ian Marter (Harry Sullivan), Ronald Leigh-Hunt (Commander Stevenson), William Marlowe (Lester), Jeremy Wilkin (Kellman), Kevin Stoney (Tyrum), David Collings (Vorus), Alec Wallis (Warner), Michael Wisher (Magrik), Brian Grellis (Sheprah), Christopher Robbie (Cyber-Leader) & Melville Jones (First Cybermen)

Writer: Gerry Davis

Director: Michael Briant

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The symbol hanging in the Vogan audience chamber would be re-used in The Deadly Assassin and would be retrospectively named as the Seal of Rassilon.
  • The story was largely rewritten by Robert Holmes. The original story was set on a deserted space casino and Davis rewrote it to be set on the Nerva Beacon. This story carries Gerry Davis’ only writing credit on his own.
  • Terror of the Zygons was originally shot as the season finale for Tom Baker’s debut season, but was held over to start the following season.
  • The first Doctor Who story released on VHS.
  • The location filming took place at Wookey Hole Caves, where production was beset by bad luck. An electrician broke his leg and Elisabeth Sladen’s motorboat went out of control. Terry Walsh rescued Sladen, but was taken ill shortly afterwards.
  • First major appearance of the Cybermen since The Invasion. They had previously made a cameo appearance in Carnival of Monsters, their only appearance in the Pertwee era.
  • During the transmission of the story, William Hartnell passed away.
  • This story marks the reappearance of the TARDIS, which was last seen on screen in The Ark in Space.
  • The first occasion where the Cybermen’s voices are provided by the actor inside the suit.

Best Moment

The entrance of the Cybermen at the end of the second part is one of my favourite parts of this story.

Best Quote

Then what is it? You’ve no home planet, no influence, nothing. You’re just a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship.

Fourth Doctor

Revenge of the Cybermen TARDIS

Flesh and Stone

Flesh and Stone Crack

Cracks, cracks in time. Time running out. No, couldn’t be. But how is a duck pond a duck pond if there aren’t any ducks? And she didn’t recognise the Daleks. Okay, time can shift. Time can be rewritten. But how? Oh.

The Eleventh Doctor

Synopsis

The Doctor, Amy, River and the Clerics are trapped by an army of Weeping Angels and an evergrowing Crack in the Universe. They try to escape through the crashed Byzantium, while Amy faces a deadly battle with a Weeping Angel inside her own mind, forcing her to navigate the forest vault with her eyes closed.

Review

Flesh and Stone picks up from where The Time of Angels left off, and the frenetic pace doesn’t let up, which leads to a really satisfying conclusion to the story. The first two-part story of the Matt Smith era has a great mix of horror and humour with some superb writing from Steven Moffat. Adam Smith’s direction and Murray Gold’s music help to escalate the tension as the number of the Doctor’s allies dwindle.

Now. Listen. Remember what I told you when you were seven.

What did you tell me?

No. See that’s the whole point. You have to remember.

The Eleventh Doctor and Amy Pond

The strength of this concluding part is that it manages to maintain the frenetic pace and energy of its predecessor, and Adam Smith is a massive part of that.  In the opening moments of the story, after the recap, we get a beautiful tracking shot which reveals how they escaped the climactic events of The Time of Angels.  One of my favourite moments is the scene where the Weeping Angels enter the Byzantium in a darkened corridor whilst the Clerics fire at them.  The direction here is effective and creepy and I like how the only light is from their weapons.  Murray Gold’s music particularly helps, especially when Amy is walking through the forest with her eyes closed, evoking unease and putting the viewer on the edge of their seats.

Flesh and Stone Weeping Angel

The story is top-notch, which makes it one of the few two-parters in modern Doctor Who which feels like it really lives up to its predecessor.  The fact that Moffat gives the Angels a voice makes them feel all the more menacing and a potent threat.  What this two-parter does, in general, is add to the mythos around the Weeping Angels, making them feel much more fleshed out and resourceful.  There is genuine brilliance in some moments of the dialogue, especially the speech that Father Octavian and the Doctor share before the former has his neck broken.  The dialogue flips quickly between comedic and epic speeches, which are equally well written, and the comedy does not detract from the overall tone of the story as the Doctor looks to lead the Clerics and Amy and River

I know that this episode is controversial amongst some regions of the fanbase due to two separate issues.  The first of these is that we see the Weeping Angels move.  I feel that this is particularly well done in the story, with the idea being seeded when we see an Angel reach out to grab the Doctor’s jacket, something which I only noticed when watching for this review in a quite literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.  As mentioned above, the sequence in which Amy has to walk through a group of the Angels with her eyes closed is one of my favourite moments in the episode.  I appreciate for some it may take away some of the mystery of them, but the execution is superb.  The second controversial moment comes in the final moments and one that I can see where people are coming from.  When Amy comes on to the Doctor, it is an expression of her relief of surviving the ordeal she has been through, and it has been horrific.  She has had an angel in her mind and was seconds away from dying.  However, I feel the execution is inappropriate for a show of Doctor Who’s ‘family nature’ stamp, even if it does not impact on my appreciation of the episode too much.  One redeeming part of it is Matt Smith’s reactions to being kissed, looking largely uncomfortable.  This establishes this incarnation as much less comfortable with romantic interactions, even perplexed by them., whereas his predecessor seemed to be completely at ease.  It might be a difference even from the asexual nature of the Doctor of the classic series, but it is at least something a bit different, a bit more alien and just watching Smith’s performance here, it is entertaining.

Flesh and Stone River Doctor Amy

Like the Angels, this story continues to flesh out the mysterious relationship between the Doctor and River Song, and with a slightly smaller cast, this story does get a bit more room to breathe.  Alex Kingston is fantastic as River again and we learn here that she is in prison for killing ‘a good man’.  There is surely no doubt in anyone’s mind that her victim is the Doctor and I’m not sure that it was ever intended to be some great mystery.  Kingston and Smith have some good chemistry, especially demonstrated in the scene where the two talk before she gets picked up at the end of the story.  I also really like Karen Gillan in this story, and by this time in 2010, she was established as possibly my favourite companion in the revived series.  However, contrived the reasons for bringing Arthur Darvill in as a semi-regular for the remainder of the series in the next story would cement her and the Last Centurion as two of my favourite companions of all time.

Verdict: Flesh and Stone is one of the strongest concluding parts of a two parter, with the perfect melding of writing, performances, music and direction. 10/10

Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Alex Kingston (River Song), Iain Glen (Octavian), David Atkins (Angel Bob), Darren Morfitt (Marco), Mark Monero (Pedro) & George Russo (Phillip)

Director: Adam Smith

Writer: Steven Moffat

Behind the Scenes

  • Flesh and Stone reveals more about the Cracks in the Universe, with the Doctor realising that a lot of past events have been retconned.
  • The final scene where Amy attempts to make sexual advances on the Doctor was criticised.
  • The first episode where we actually see the Weeping Angels move.

Best Moment

It should come as no surprise, but Amy’s walk through the forest.

Best Quote

The Angels are feasting, sir. Soon we’ll be able to absorb enough power to consume this vessel, this world and all the stars beyond.

Well, we’ve got comfy chairs, did I mention?

We have no need of comfy chairs.

I made him say “comfy chairs”!

Angel Bob and the Eleventh Doctor