Film & TV

Review – Doctor Who: Series 7 Part 1

This particular run of Doctor Who may not have lasted long, but it certainly wasn’t low on incident. We saw old foes reintroduced, fun concepts explored, and Moffat-esque cleverness, but most significantly, the departure of two of the best-loved companions of recent years. It was finally time to say goodbye to the Ponds, but did it all end with a bang or a whimper? 

Many expected this to be a darker series, with director Steven Moffat having promised Amy Pond and Rory Williams a ‘heartbreaking’ send-off. It certainly started on an uncertain note, with the Doctor’s favourite couple having split up. There was some surprisingly emotional baggage uncovered, and there was the small matter of the return of the Daleks to contend with. Compelling enough? And you’d also probably have to have been on Skaro not to know about the other stuff uncovered in this episode. The Doctor’s new assistant (Jenna-Louise Coleman), who was supposed to be making her first appearance in the upcoming Christmas special, actually turned up here (and not quite in the form we expected her to). But she seems promising nonetheless.

To balance out the dark beginning, a sense of fun was soon rediscovered – an episode titled Dinosaurs on a Spaceship always makes you hopeful. It duly delivered in spades, providing a platform for this Doctor’s loveable kookiness, Amy’s comic side and Rory’s wit, whilst also introducing Mark Williams as Rory’s oddball dad. However, the fun was not to last forever, because the strangeness of the Western was coming.

This also gave rise to the Doctor’s darker side – he suddenly started advocating the sacrifice of nefarious alien doctor Kahler Jex to a cyborg terrorising the town of Mercy. This episode served to show how the companions are the emotional core of the series, with Amy coming to the moral rescue once again. Plus it’s always entertaining when evrabahhdy speaks in that Amerr’cun drawhl that’cha only find in the cawld harsh laynds of tha daysert.

But this was when things went slightly strange. The next episode slowed the tempo right down by being set in the Ponds’ abode and showing, respectively, how the companions had a life outside of The Doctor (which hasn’t been done in such detail before), and how he really didn’t cope well with normality. The interplay between the characters was probably strongest here, as they came to realise that they were growing apart, but also how much they mattered to each other, which set up the finale very well. Speaking of which…

This was it – the end of Amy and Rory’s time in the blue box with the Raggedy Man. Indeed, from the moment that they were introduced, their story had been billed as a kind of skew-whiff fairytale – beginning with the headstrong girl who waited twelve years for her friend to come and whisk her away on adventures, and continuing with her put-upon, but actually quite witty and courageous husband spending 2000 years watching over her, with it all bound together by an eccentric, hyperactive time-traveller. So then it was fitting that it all ended with a storybook – the ending of which was determined by the trio’s actions. So, whilst it was emotional on all the required levels – The Doctor was determined to protect his friends, his friends were reluctantly ready to sacrifice themselves – it came down to the simple fact that everyone wanted a happy ending. But did they get it?

Well, it depends – make of the story what you will. Quite poetic for 7pm on a Saturday. One chapter’s ending is another’s beginning, however, and we now look to the Christmas special for a new(ish) companion. Farewell Ponds, we will miss you, and also farewell to an occasionally strange, but never far from thrilling series.

Long live Amy’s feistiness, Rory’s dry wit and Moffat’s dazzlingly inventive plots. Oh, and fish fingers and custard!

Alex Nicholson

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