The Angels Take Manhattan
Episode / March 30, 2016

Aired 29 September 2012 The Doctor’s admission that he tears out the last page of book so that the adventure never has to end provides all the setup that is needed for this adventure, poignantly foretelling of the permanent departure of Amy and Rory from the TARDIS that has been teased for so long. Amy has been the longest-serving companion of the new era of Doctor Who and Steven Moffat’s time as the showrunner has largely been about exploring Amy more than anyone or anything else. She saw him as a child, dreamed of his return, formed a strong comradery with the Doctor as she traveled with him, and even became his mother-in-law. Along with Rory who has increasingly become more prominent and affable, it was never going to be an easy task to say goodbye to such a beloved duo, but ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ certainly provides an emotional and fulfilling sendoff. The story begins with an ill-fated private eye whose investigations reveal an unscrupulous collector, a hotel with a hidden secret, and the Weeping Angels themselves, including one in plain sight that is certain to draw just as many criticisms and praises. This sequence effectively reiterates how dangerous…

The Power of Three
Episode / March 30, 2016

Aired 22 September 2012 After many excursions to the past, to the future, and to distant planets, Doctor Who returns to modern-day Earth with an offering that feels like an homage to the Russell T Davies era complete with a sinister global threat that slowly builds as the episode progresses, newscasters explaining the global reaction to and ramifications of the threat, and even some further exploration of the Doctor as well as Amy and Rory. The multitude of very ordinary cubes forms the ominous focus of this episode, a very slow invasion force that initially captures the world’s interest before becoming commonplace paperweights and junk due to their apparent meaninglessness over several months. It’s not until they’ve been accepted as a normal item that their threat is eventually revealed. As events slowly played out over the course of almost a year, it helped to portray the sense of just how long the cubes are present before doing anything interesting. And as Amy warns that the world is taking them for granted sure enough a countdown appears on the faces of each and every one. The return of UNIT to help reinforce the global security concern is a welcome touch, and…

A Town Called Mercy
Episode / March 29, 2016

Aired 15 September 2012 ‘A Town Called Mercy’ provides a rare trip to the Wild West for the Doctor, continuing the cinematic scope that recent episodes of Doctor Who have attained with a location shoot in Spain and unafraid to show off its gorgeous setting throughout the story. The oft-advertised cybernetic gunslinger quickly makes an appearance, promptly killing someone to cement the severity of the threat he poses, and events continue in rapid succession from there. Even if American accents continue to be somewhat of a downfall for Doctor Who casting, the town of Mercy is brought to life exquisitely even with its purposeful anachronisms, and the classic plot device of a strange man in a stranger land works very well here as the Doctor, with all of his Time Lord and British sensibilities, walks into a saloon and asks for a cup of tea. The Doctor soon becomes entwined in events as he finds out about the mysterious gunslinger as well as another alien doctor in Mercy, the subject of the gunslinger’s hunting. Adrian Scarborough plays this other doctor, Kahler Jex, and brings him to life quite well. He’s a man who has done some truly awful things, events…

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Episode / March 29, 2016

Aired 8 September 2012 Doctor Who‘s promise of a weekly cinematic blockbuster continues with ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,’ an obvious nod to Snakes on a Plane. Although the tone is a bit lighter and the story itself doesn’t quite reach the height of its predecessor ‘Asylum of the Daleks,’ it still offers an enjoyable tale that’s unafraid of exploring some darker territory as well. The programme has become increasingly confident in setting the scene for the tale to come, and that’s no exception here as, before the opening theme plays, the Doctor has recruited some friends to travel with him and established that there’s a missile closing in on a ship that they need to stop. This allows for a strong cast of guest starts to flex their muscles, though the sentimental standout is undoubtedly Rory’s father Brian Williams, played masterfully by Mark Williams. The interplay between Arthur Darvill and Mark Williams is superb, perfectly capturing the father-son dynamic while Brian brings a more grounded and practical viewpoint to proceedings. Rupert Graves’s bombastic big game hunter Riddell and Riann Steele’s confident Queen Nefertiti make a formidable pair in their own right as well. The ship itself ends up being a…

Asylum of the Daleks
Episode / March 28, 2016

Aired 1 September 2012 Doctor Who‘s seventh series starts off in style, offering a very strong story and bringing some excitement and danger back to the Doctor’s most dreaded foes while exploring Amy and Rory’s relationship further. Yet for all that ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ manages to achieve, it’s the surprise appearance of Jenna-Louise Coleman- she who has been cast as the Doctor’s new companion starting in the upcoming Christmas special- as Oswin that’s going to provide just as much of a talking point as anything else. For here she is, seemingly fated to an existence as a Dalek before the planet she is on blows up, five episodes earlier than when the Doctor is slated to meet her. That’s an interesting plot thread to ponder over and explore, to be sure. The Amy and Rory seen here- quite some time after the events in ‘The Wedding of River Song’- are on the brink of divorce, seemingly because Amy is incapable of having children. Both Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are in superb form here, excellently portraying the necessary emotion of a couple who has been through so many incredible and heart-wrenching events together and, as a result, almost forced…

The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe
Episode / March 27, 2016

Aired 25 December 2011 The Doctor Who Christmas special has quickly become a must-see annual tradition. Yet for all the splendour and sometimes important storylines that the previous specials have dealt with, ‘The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe’ manages to feel more classically and quintessentially Christmas-y than any other. Following a slightly bigger opening in which Madge Artwell comes across a crash-landed Doctor and helps him back into his TARDIS, prompting a debt to be paid later, time jumps ahead a few years and the story begins to focus in on Madge herself, played fantastically by Caroline Skinner. She has just received news that her husband has died on the frontlines, facing the conundrum of both having to spend Christmas without him and having to find a way to tell her children of the loss. The Christmas special is by necessity something completely different from the proper series, and here Matt Smith is allowed to bring some levity and light-heartedness back to the role after having to carry so much emotional weight throughout the last few episodes. Companionless as still obviously affected by what has occurred to him, the Doctor nonetheless brings out a childish glee as he fills…

The Wedding of River Song
Episode / March 26, 2016

Aired 1 October 2011 By beginning the revived Doctor Who‘s sixth series with the very public death of the Doctor, Steven Moffat was always going to have a tough task in wrapping up the plot arc in a satisfying manner that didn’t alienate its fans or more casual viewers. While it’s inevitable that not everyone will be pleased with the outcome, ‘The Wedding of River Song’ manages to tie together the loose threads and lingering questions without too much deus ex machina or paradox as might be expected. The beginning of ‘The Wedding of River Song’ is Doctor Who at its most confident, unabashedly referencing its past episodes and creating a grand spectacle in the process. In an alternative London, time is frozen at 17:02, and the likes of pterodactyls, steam trains on tracks in the sky, Roman soldiers, and even Charles Dickens advertising his upcoming Christmas special on television are all seen in quick succession. Enter a bedraggled Doctor who tells Winston Churchill that time has been splintered, causing all of history to happen at once. The cause? A woman. An extensive flashback follows, as the Doctor explains events and how this history came to be, establishing and re-establishing…

Closing Time
Episode / March 25, 2016

Aired 24 September 2011 Doctor Who has had many notable guest stars over the years playing a number of memorable supporting characters. While James Corden’s Craig from ‘The Lodger’ is certainly one of the quirkier and more endearing, he’s probably not the character that many were most yearning to see more of in another episode. On a farewell tour of sorts as his impending death approaches and again alone with no companions, the Doctor once more crosses paths with Craig in ‘Closing Time,’ though the end result isn’t quite as memorable as their first encounter. This majority of this series has been filled with utterly fantastic episodes, and so any misfire stands out even more than it may in previous years. Unfortunately, ‘Closing Time’ is one of those misfires, one that even the genuinely comedic and touching double act of Matt Smith and James Corden can’t save. The basis for the story is strong enough as a small group of Cybermen is restored due to the laying of power lines. Meshed in between some shopping centre banter is a genuine building of tension as many familiar horror mainstays such as malfunctioning lifts, flickering lights, and disappearing people are employed. Regrettably,…

The God Complex
Episode / March 25, 2016

Aired 17 September 2011 Ever since Doctor Who returned to screens in 2005, the storylines have very much focused on the companions as much as the Doctor, not only as they become more assertive in the face of evil but also regarding how said evil affects their lives. Although families have very much stayed in the background recently, there’s no denying that Amy and Rory’s episodes together have delved incredibly deeply into their psyches to fascinating affect, exploring their relationship with each other as well as with the Doctor, and ‘The God Complex’ continues that theme with another very strong offering. As the TARDIS lands in a rather ostentatious 1980s hotel, the Doctor and companions soon learn that each person in the hotel has a room that houses his or her greatest fear. The incredible camerawork and the presence of CCTV cameras creates a very eerie and disturbing experience, and the anticipation and fear of each character finding that one room keeps the concept inherently interesting. And while the brief appearances of the Weeping Angels, ventriloquist dummies, a clown, and even trendy girls (for the stereotypical shy nerd in the bunch) all tap into a wide variety of fears, it…

The Girl Who Waited
Episode / March 24, 2016

Aired 10 September 2011 In an era where story arcs are becoming more and more commonplace, it’s telling that two of the most memorable stories from this series so far have been standalone entries, first with ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ and now with Tom MacRae’s ‘The Girl Who Waited.’ The TARDIS lands on the holiday planet Apalapucia near a door with two buttons alongside it, and it is soon discovered that the planet is under quarantine. The Doctor and Rory exit the TARDIS and press one button before proceeding through the door, and Amy then follows and unknowingly presses the other button before going through the same door, entering somewhere completely different. The multiple time streams in the different environments soon become apparent, present to allow farewells to those affected and Amy’s area running at a much faster rate. What follows, as the title aptly suggests, is a story very much about Amy Pond, and Karen Gillan again delivers an incredibly strong and moving performance. In a fascinating reversal from the young and innocent Amelia Pond who presented in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ as the one person the Doctor hadn’t screwed up yet, the older Amy who has been caught in time…