Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The first full-length Doctor Who story since The Edge Of Destruction (1964) to be set entirely within the TARDIS.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves repeatedly falling asleep and then waking-up within two alternating scenarios, unaware of which one is real, and which the actual dream.

Both realms feature a growing threat to be overcome, one of which, unfortunately, is yet another group of zombies.

(Mrs Poggit appears to be a stand-in for The Eleventh Hour's absent Mrs Angelo)

Throughout they are goaded by "The Dream Lord", who must surely rate as the most comicbook super villain the Doctor has ever encountered.

On the face of it, he appears quite extraneous to the plot, serving merely to prompt and highlight the characters' motivations, and to give the threat a voice. By the time that the closing credits rolled, I had to wonder if the story would have been any different at all without him.

Yet, without a sentient enemy to be defeated, I have to admit that I think the end would have felt much weaker. It's just a shame that the Dream Lord is such a generic bad guy, demonstrating no unique characterisation of his own to distinguish him from, say, the Master.

Also, a quick word on the episode's name. They had a villain called The Dream Lord. How many great story-titles did this offer? "Captives Of The Dream Lord", "Day Of The Dream Lord" or even just "The Nightmare Of Death".

Instead, they called it Amy's Choice.


Despite two plots, the overall story is thinner than usual, but that's probably a good thoughtful direction for this sometimes breakneck show to go in.

Well, I say thoughtful. Faced with identifying a dream while having it, none of our three heroes really explore the concept of dreamscapes. There are things that are very difficult to do in dreams, such as reading quickly, running, or using a keyboard, but the only experiment carried out is when the Doctor moves his fingers quickly to try to spot any motion blur or pixelation.

Also, I tend to identify when I'm dreaming by checking my recent memory. For example, if I dream that I'm in New Zealand, then I check whether I can remember my flight over there. If I can't, then I know it's a dream. Sadly, with years having supposedly passed in Leadworth, nobody explores whether Rory's claimed new medical knowledge is sound, or what became of the crack in the universe all those years ago.

That may sound like a nit-pick, but for me the excitement of science-fiction lies in the question what if, and for that you have to explore the idea's ramifications.

This story however didn't really want to be science fiction, being far more concerned with concentrating on the characters' run-of-the-mill relationships with each other.

Probably an unwise idea in the script was to have one version of Amy pregnant. When she gambles that this scenario is not real and kills herself, along with her full-term unborn child, we're inevitably left with two worries:

1. What if she had been wrong?

2. Is this show about to plunge into making a statement about the abortion issue?

Fortunately neither of these two concerns came to fruition.

After four plot-hole ridden stories out of five this season, I was disappointed to find myself once more unwilling to trust that this tale would tie-up satisfactorily, however my fears were unfounded. It did. Whew.

The Doctor's vegetarianism seems to be remembered again (arguably ignored in The Eleventh Hour) while his inability to dream is forgotten, but he's a new Doctor, so he has new rules.

Speaking of which, one of this edition's strengths is its room to concentrate on the regular cast. Like Colin Baker, Matt Smith seems to be playing the Doctor differently each story, and for me he's already become one of the best things about this season.

I was also relieved to hopefully see the end of the uncomfortable Doctor / Amy / Rory triangle. I'll tolerate Amy and Rory having something going on, even though he clearly deserves better, but the Doctor has got to remain above such things. Love interests have a strong tendency to subtract from a lead character's potential instead of enhance it, and indeed it's been painful to see Amy and River doing just that in recent weeks.

The Doctor's appeal lies in his uniqueness - let's keep him that way.

Labels: ,

0 comment(s):

Post a Comment

<< Back to Steve's home page

** Click here for preceding post(s) **

** Click here for following post(s) **