Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

All right, I'll admit it - Doctor Who minisodes aren't much to write about.

The regular cast with a guest-star standing around the TARDIS set for three whole minutes, talking their way through a few minor effects on the console… well, it's all a bit of a Jim'll Fix It pantomime isn’t it. Even the TARDISodes and so-called 'prequels' of recent years have unashamedly been just an additional scene to stick onto the beginning of whichever episode they're promoting.

I mean I love 'em. No other show on Earth does this kind of thing as a matter of course, but when it comes to being something epic that you can gush excitedly about and copy the link into your Facebook status over… well, nah. It's just the TV equivalent of a Sweet Tooth tube of sweets with a tiny comic strip inside the wrapper. Special more for its obscurity than its simple content.

Unless it's Pond Life.

If you had updated your digital reception for the 2012 olympics, then for the 80 minutes prior to tonight's premiere of Asylum Of The Daleks, you had the option to press the red button on your remote and, after a bit more prodding, view this 5-6 minute Doctor Who short. (also released episodically online over the past week)

A deleted scene this isn't. The final few months of Amy and Rory's married life are scrolled through at breakneck speed, but predominantly from the point of view of that time-traveller who keeps on dropping-in, at embarrassing moments, and in the wrong order. (dodgy helmet-regulator, we gather)

And my, but how my viewing perspective has changed since the last televised episode. Now when I see the inside of the TARDIS, I recognise it as that place where I went for a flight at The Doctor Who Experience. Similarly, when the Doctor's 'working' music came on, I felt like I was back on board the crashed SS Elysium again. To get these sensations while watching the TV show are great consequences of those real-world encounters.

Anyway, in Pond Life, since ditching his former work-ethic of taking friends with him on his travels, the Doctor keeps on enjoying no end of exciting adventures, while Mr and Mrs Pond are repeatedly left to either do normal life, or cope with cleaning up his loose ends.

Despite what a whirlwind montage this all is, it doesn't look much like fun.

Firstly this is because of how incomprehensible the narrative is. There is very little story to be discerned here, and certainly no puzzle to solve. Are the situations that the Doctor keeps phoning in from all going to be seen in the upcoming new series, or not - like the teasing opening of the last series that never came to pass that year? (Easter Island or Jimmy the Fish anyone?) If so, just what is this jumble intended to mean to us now then? If it's to get us to watch the series, then great, but despite its production standards, this story offers little to recommend itself in its own right.

Quite apart from it featuring the Doctor recording a pop song, despite last season having resolved to pretend publicly to be dead from now on. Oh, they were only backing vocals, oh well that's not so bad then.

Secondly it's coarse. In less than six minutes the author repeatedly takes the easy way out of writing entertainment by just falling back on the same joke about implied nudity.

In one scene Mata Hari hilariously drops her skirt in front of the Doctor.

In another, the Doctor bursts in on Amy and Rory in bed.

In still another scene an ood sits on the toilet.

I dunno, I thought that in comedy, doing the same joke twice was supposed to be unwise... and yet here they still expect us to still be laughing at it the third time! Er, guys, this minisode is only five minutes long y'know…

I guess I should also point out that, for the Doctor, this same gag also opened the last series:

Well, it's quite difficult to be both coarse and original, which is why the two don't usually go together. I very nearly skipped showing this to my mum, which really reverses its power as publicity. I never showed her any of the 41 episodes of Torchwood either, which in many of its similarly worst moments was penned by the same author.

Thirdly, it's no fun because towards the end it all becomes a bit serious. The Doctor's final visit finds the Ponds strangely not in. The Doctor leaves an answerphone message, which he ultimately changes his mind about and deletes. The way it's all cut with music makes it look like Amy and Rory's wedding has gone the usual way of most TV marriages - into a dissolve.

The rest of this short might not have sold me on tonight's season opener, or indeed the rest of the series, but that last dry moment certainly would have.

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