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Original Tardis Material

My icon expresses how keen I am to watch next week's installment.

It's entirely possible that I am far too easy for River Song but I loved that. Loooooved it. My inner ten-year-old is petrified every time there is some movement in my peripheral vision or a mote swimming across my eyeball. There are, as ever, caveats... but IS IT NEXT WEEK YET? IS IT? HOW ABOUT NOW?

Caveats out of the way first: (a) wish they had paid more attention to who they are killing off among the poor old redshirts. (b) Steven, you like creepy use of voices etc as much as I like surveillance and small fires -- to whit, your writing tics are showing.

Okay, that done with, may I give a sort of thrilled squeal at how fabulous I thought that was? May I? And can I give the English two-fingered salute to the first person who calls River a Mary Sue? Why thank you so much.

I liked River last season and I was glad to see her back in this. I really like the way Alex Kingston plays River as a performer almost -- she's flamboyant in a very confident, cool way, with her laser gun, teasing, fuck me shoes and utter belief that if she throws herself off any particular building, the Doctor will catch her. That performance isn't just for her antagonists, it's also for the Doctor, some of the time. She's very like him in that respect -- the Doctor sometimes performs for audiences to get them to believe him; River sometimes performs for the Doctor so that he will help her.

Then in the smaller moments, she's no less clever or determined, but it's as though she sheds the facade, and you see someone less sure of how she's going about her tasks.

I predict that next week we'll find out what River was in prison for, but not who she is, why she's so unusual or how come she knows high Gallifreyan. I think she'll probably appear to die -- cue screaming that she's died already in season four and HOW CAN THIS BE? from the fanbase, and it's perhaps the reason for that whole speech about how history can be re-written -- only to reappear in the finale.

This is tonight's first wildly wrong guess.

Second thing I loved: Amy. More specifically, how good Karen Gillan was as Amy. From that little moment where she talks the Doctor into letting her go outside for five minutes because it's her first alien planet to defeating the Angel by hitting pause at just the right moment, Amy was amazing and Karen Gillan made her feel very quirky and real.

I've read a couple of complaints that Amy's too quick to assume that River is the Doctor's wife and to assume that she knows how he would normally be talked to, but then again, she might have known him for just a few weeks but she's imagined him for years and years. She must feel she knows him very well.

I liked Amy's reaction to River, it read to me like curiosity and interest and a tinge of hero worship/admiration: there's this woman and she gets away with teasing the Doctor and sending him messages across 12,000 years, she has a gun and can call down the soldiers of God and order them about. She has met all the doctors and keeps their pictures in a book so she can keep the timeline in order. When she gives out orders, he obeys in a grudging fashion. Who wouldn't be impressed? I certainly liked it better than Donna's hostile reaction to River in season four, which only works if you rationalise it as Donna thinking "Who are you and why are you messing with my friend's head when he says he doesn't know you?."

And again we continue with the mild taking the piss out of some RTDisms -- "oh the songs they'll sing" in The Beast Below, and tonight, "I'm not that clingy" when Amy is telling the Doctor to leave her behind. And he bit her to get her to move. (♥ the script.)

Tonight's second wildly wrong guess: that stuff River injected into Amy will have some plot significance in the next episode, and will not be what River said it was.

Third thing: the Angels were not as pant-wettingly terrifying as they were in Blink -- how could they be now that they are familiar? -- but damn, if they weren't scary again.

How many children are going to be in hysterics tomorrow morning when they wake up with a bit of sleep in their eyes and think the Angels are coming to snap their necks? How many are going to follow the logic that if you see the Angel on the telly, the Angel can escape from your telly?

When they started going on about the Aplans and their maze of the dead, and them having two heads, I did notice that the statues only had one head and thought it was a bit of a design error, only it turned out to be a clue, which I did not get until the script did. I so like it when that happens, even if I do feel a bit thick. I still don't know what the hell is going on. In a good way.

Fourth thing: Drugged Mike Skinner! That is my second favourite music cameo ever, right after Ian Brown of The Stone Roses as a wizard in The Prisoner of Azkaban

Fifth thing: I was not so keen on the Soldiers of God bit. I hope that turns out to be leading somewhere other than mere daft comedy about the verger's explosives.

Sixth thing: It looked great, from the wreck of the Byzantium to the massive Maze of the Dead. Good job there, Team Cardiff.

Seventh thing: Smiff was ace. As usual. I think he's made such a brilliant start.

Eighth thing: I have no idea what's going to happen next. I love that. And next week, we get into the business of the sinister crack in time. Yay!

What with this, and how thoroughly excellent the third series of Ashes to Ashes is, I am enjoying my weekend TV very much. Which is just as well since the week that precedes it currently is rubbish.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Hi! It is fun to read your weekly Doctor Who updates, even if I don't follow along.

Can I ask a silly American question - are they showing new episodes on Saturday or is that when you're free enough to write up your thoughts. Just wondering because TV here is an absolute wasteland on Saturdays.

Glad you're around.

Take Care
Apr. 25th, 2010 08:09 am (UTC)
Hello. Yes, a new episode every Saturday at about 6.20pm. The BBC iPlayer stream is usually up soon after that (I occasionally check stuff I misheard with the subtitles on that). There are reruns every Sunday and Friday on BBC Three.
Apr. 25th, 2010 05:28 am (UTC)
I just learned recently that the second season of AtA had aired, and need to track it down. Glad to hear S3 is good. (I actually wasn't an enormous fan of S1, but I'll pretty much follow Gene Hunt anywhere he goes. So.)

I am debating waiting to watch both parts of the the Who two parter all in one fell swoop. We'll see if I have that much self-control; it helps that I'm barely home this week.
Apr. 25th, 2010 08:14 am (UTC)
I didn't even watch Ashes to Ashes season two -- I'm going to go back and watch it later -- but as long as you watched season one, you're okay. They're tying everything back to Life On Mars with some nods to the fans [Alex wrote Gene/Sam on her notepad on Friday]. So far, it's treading just on the right side of the Gene Hunt-as-hero* line for me, and I am hoping that continues.

[* I know he's the most popular character and often enjoyable, but the show should acknowledge that he's a git, and sometimes it doesn't]
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:42 pm (UTC)
but the show should acknowledge that he's a git, and sometimes it doesn't

Totally agree. Pointing that out was a purpose Sam served in LoM that I didn't get so much in AtA. (Also, the way Alex was written often made me clench my jaw. Sam did his share of boneheaded things, but Alex... oy.)
Apr. 25th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
Alex is written fairly smartly in the episodes I've seen so far, mentoring Shaz, keeping Chris on the straight and narrow as far as possible, almost befriending Ray and striking sparks off Gene Hunt. I like her a lot.
Apr. 25th, 2010 08:28 am (UTC)
It was my favourite episode yet of S5 for sure! I loved River in S4 and was really excited about her coming back. This was even better than I'd hoped for! So many new questions and mysteries about River. As much as I've been enjoying this series and like Amy and Eleven, this is the first time I've felt like I really need to go and read some S5 fic. :D

I actually thought the Angels were even scarier in this one than in Blink. But I still don't get why the alpha Angel killed people instead of sending them back in time.
Apr. 25th, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
I can only imagine that the alpha Angel killed the people to take possession of their voices. It's not a retcon because the Doctor remarks on how odd it is, so it is obviously A Thing Of Significance we will find out about next week.

It's not quite my favourite episode yet (I liked The Eleventh Hour very much) but that could change with part II.
Apr. 25th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
I know this makes me sound like a grumpy old lady but it drove me bonkers because I was really looking forward to this one, but I could only make out about 30% of what anyone was saying. I've had the same problem since the new series started - I know it's not just me because Steven was watching it with me last night and got really pissed off about it too, and I know it's not just our telly because I had the same problem watching the first episode at my parents' house. It all just seems to be mixed really weirdly with the music and the FX incredibly loud and the dialogue buried underneath and it's now starting to drive me crackers.
Apr. 25th, 2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
You got that too? I have a new but second-hand TV, and sort of assumed that the previous owner -- a techy friend who updates his TV every year -- had switched the settings to some sort of dynamic sound nonsense that only works when you also buy expensive speakers.

It seemed fine when I watched it on iPlayer to see the subtitles. Perhaps the sound is being designed so it works well when played on those super-smart TVs with the dynamic sound settings and when compressed down on iPlayer but not for anything in between.
Apr. 25th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
I would second this, because the .avi file I watched had no sound problems: I was able to follow everyone just fine.
Apr. 26th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
I've wondered for a while if they're making the assumption that everyone nowadays is watching on an HD ready TV with 5.1 surround sound, and are optimising the sound track accordingly.

I actually do have surround sound and it mostly sounds fine* when I'm sitting at the optimum point between the speakers, but if I don't bother to switch it on and settle for the TV's own stereo output the music completely drowns out the dialogue.

It's also fine if I watch via iPlayer on my PC with my crappy 15 year old speakers, so they likely do encode that with a different audio mix.

* Though the music generally is too loud, and really could do with being dialled back a bit in all mixes. Which is also true of a lot of other shows. Sometimes I wonder whether I should just turn on the subtitles and watch with them as a hearing aid. I understand that would also have blocked out half of Graham Norton on the BBC One transmission. Added bonus!
Apr. 26th, 2010 12:53 pm (UTC)
Hurrah! A person who knows what she is talking about! I wondered if it might be something like that. I really noticed it in the early cave scenes.

I would vote for anything which blocks out Graham Norton generally.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
It was very good, because it was cheeky and knowing without being irritating, and then also creepy as hell. I am utterly joyful at the thought of more next week. (Though I reckon it helps a lot to like River Song.)
Apr. 25th, 2010 05:08 pm (UTC)
Man, I was on the edge of my seat, it was SO SCARY. Yikes!

Also, River was right on the edge of being Too Awesome, but then dialed back again. And I loved her twisty way of not answering questions.

Cannot WAIT for next week!
Apr. 25th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
I *know*. I hope it pays off like The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances did. How great would that be?
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )