Adventures with Netflix: Doctor Who Series 6

It’s been ages since I watched this! Hope to get Series 7 up soon. Series 5 can be found here. Spoilers!

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith in 2011 (Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith in 2011 (Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons)

So when we last left the Doctor, Amy and Rory, there’d be a big huge crack in the universe, which they managed to patch up. The story arc in Series 6 is about the death of the Doctor himself, and horrifically creepy aliens called the Silence.

Firstly, there’s a gloriously enjoyable Christmas special (‘A Christmas Carol’). You already know the story, but this Scrooge (played by Michael Gambon) is hoarding days rather than money (he hoards that too). It’s set in a wonderful steampunk planet with flying fish in the sky, and it’s fabulous festive fun.

The series pays tribute to its 60s origins (in fairness, it was the era when space was a massive deal) in the opening double bill, ‘The Impossible Astronaut/ Day of the Moon’. Amy, Rory, River Song and an elderly American gent named Canton Everett Delaware III receive an invite from the Doctor to a desert in Utah. There they witness the Doctor being shot by a mysterious figure in a spacesuit. Now getting shot is not nearly a big a deal for the Doctor as it would be for us mere mortals, but this time, he doesn’t regenerate. He’s dead for good, and following a Viking funeral, Amy, Rory, River and Canton retreat to a diner where they are met by the Doctor (an earlier version of himself). He brings them back to 1969, to the eve of the Moon landings.

President Richard Nixon (how Steven Moffat must have wished a more glamourous or noble President had been in charge at the time) is being tormented by phone calls from a terrified little girl. He can’t understand how she got his phone number, and a young CIA agent- Canton Delaware- is put in charge of finding her and getting her to safety. The Doctor lands the TARDIS in the Oval Office, which understandably causes a bit of a stir, and finds himself carted off to Area 51.

Silent

Meanwhile, Amy witnesses a strange and terrifying creature in the bathroom. It’s one of the Silence, creepy crosses between Buffy‘s Gentlemen and the Slenderman. These creatures have been on earth for millennia, interfering with human affairs; but we forget them as soon as we see them. The opening episodes have their fair share of creeping horror, such as the orphanage Amy finds herself in, including the first appearance of Madame Kovarian, a mysterious lady wearing an eye-patch. The conclusion, and how Canton, Amy and the Doctor outwit the Silence is extremely clever.

Next we’re on a low budget Pirates of the Carribean adventure; ‘The Curse of the Black Spot’ sees a pirate ship being tormented by a killer mermaid. But she’s really a hologram, and her intentions are good. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the sci-fi spaceship and the pirate ship. It’s followed by ‘The Doctor’s Wife’, an extremely clever episode bringing the TARDIS literally to life.

Replicants and clones have been done before, including in Doctor Who. ‘The Rebel Flesh’ and ‘The Almost People’ do not bring anything too new to the genre, but it is enjoyable. At the end of the ‘The Almost People’ we discover Amy is in fact a ‘Ganger’ or clone. The real Amy is very pregnant in a spaceship, her labour overseen by Madame Kovarian. As the baby was conceived in the TARDIS, it has Time Lord DNA, and the Silence and their allies, the Headless Monks, plan to raise the baby to assassinate the Doctor.

The scene where Amy wakes up to find herself suddenly nine months pregnant has become a recurring nightmare for me ever since. Thanks a lot, BBC.

The Doctor raises an army to rescue Amy and her baby, and then River makes her revelation; she is baby Melody Pond; Amy is the Doctor’s mother-in-law. She is the one programmed to kill him, but this can be changed, by rescuing Melody before she’s indoctrinated.

There’s always a World War II episode and this time around our intrepid trio get to lock Hitler in a press and shout ‘Shut up!’ at him. Apart from that, and River Song’s wonderful line about being on her way to a gypsy bar mitzvah, the setting hardly features, more’s the pity. It’s still a fun episode, progressing the story arc along.

‘Night Terrors’ takes us out of the story line. Like ‘Fear Her’, it’s about a terrified child haunted by monsters. George is frightened of everything, and he’s not a normal little boy. An alien child, he has created a dollhouse where he places his worst fears. Amy, Rory and the Doctor get sucked into this world, and George must confront his fears to free them. It’s a creepy episode, but the conclusion is heartwarming.

Madame Kovarian (via TARDIS Wiki)

Madame Kovarian (via TARDIS Wiki)

The next two episodes are the strongest of the season. Amy gets accidentally left behind on a hostile planet in the ‘The Girl Who Waited’. Time moves differently there, and by the time the Doctor gets back to her, she has aged 36 years. Bitter and angry, she refuses to be rescued, not wishing to become in thrall to the Doctor again. It’s a complex episode, with a heartbreaking conclusion.

My favourite episode of Series 6 has to be ‘The God Complex’. Our heroes find themselves in a creepy hotel, which owes a huge amount to the Overlook from The Shining. There are others there, and in every room, you have the chance to encounter the thing you most fear. When a person finds their fear, they start to worship the Beast (a minotaur) which roams the hotel- then they die. The hotel, is in reality, the minotaur’s prison. A former god, the minotaur feeds off faith, fear, and blood sacrifice, but he is ancient, and wants to die. It’s a very clever concept. Personally, I appreciated the fact that Rory’s lack of faith enabled him to be saved.

The Doctor is now convinced that he must travel alone, having put Rory and Amy in too much danger. He leaves them with a fabulous sports car and then bumps into his old friend Craig (James Corden) from last season. He’s left alone with his and Sophie’s baby son for the weekend, and there are strange noises in the local department store- Cyberman like noises.

The Doctor is captured by the Cybermen and in the season finale, time is all wrong. It’s great fun to see Zeppelins and Churchill and the Holy Roman Empire all in one place, but it’s wrong; time is stuck, dying, and the only way to resolve it is the Doctor’s death…

Series 6 shows Matt Smith hitting his stride as the Doctor. His performance never flags and he’s funny, quirky and fun to watch. Amy and Rory too, have progressed. Rory is much more self-assured (he also looks surprisingly well in a suit) and Amy is a kinder, less demanding person. It’s more even than the previous season, and every episode has something to recommend it. Roll on Series 7!

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