Hello fellow internet dwellers! I’m gonna be writing some awesome tv reviews about old and new (mostly) geeky tv. I usually don’t read my opinions in other reviews, so it should be fun and a bit different. Enjoy!
Doctor Who and Torchwood
“Rory, go put Hitler in that cupboard.”
After a summer of waiting for fans on both sides of the Atlantic, Doctor Who returned with the madly titled “Let’s Kill Hitler,” meeting and perhaps exceeding all expectations, while its little brother Torchwood continued its downward spiral into a contrived excuse for a show. Where Doctor Who fixed all the problems of its last dark, over-hyped episode not a moment too soon, Torchwood compounded its problems right in time for the climax of what is sure to be its last season. Spoilers Ahead!
In Britain, it’s been all summer since River Song was revealed to be the Time Lord child of the Ponds (a twist that half the internet had already guessed). The show begins with Rory and Amy making, of all things, crop circles to get the Doctor’s attention. The Doctor may be a sort of God, but the best way to get his attention is definitely to do something absolutely nuts, as Melody Pond did by hitting him with a car. As my neighbors will attest, the moment Mels, the Pond’s childhood friend, was introduced I started shouting at the screen that she was obviously River, but the characters never listen to me.
As the episode unfolds, Doctor Who blends its trademark recipe of hysterical marvelousness with deep poignancy. The writing was absolutely brilliant, with gems like “I was just on my way to this gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I thought “Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish, I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer.” Although the greatest war criminal of them all featured only for a few minutes, proving the title to be a bit of a cop-out, I think the choice to limit Hitler’s screen time was perfect: the Holocaust does not belong on Doctor Who; it should be left for Torchwood.
Alex Kington’s Melody Pond here was incredible, a resolute psychopath rather than the older, wiser incarnation we’ve been dealing with since season 4. She sold a potentially disastrous development perfectly and somehow clung to her awesomeness straight through it. Yet the real prize goes to Matt Smith, who ricochets from wrath when Hitler approaches the Tardis, to fear at dying, to smarminess and flirtatiousness dueling with River. As what he believes are the final minutes of his life unfold, the Doctor’s mixture of pain, determination, terror, desperation, love, and betrayal are perfectly etched on Smith’s face. Tell me again, why didn’t he win the BAFTA?
The episode also rewards long-term viewers, featuring a reversal of the episode in which River Song was introduced. Then, she knew more about the Doctor than he did, and was clearly in love with him, where he had no idea who she was. Now, the Doctor knows her name, and she doesn’t, and he is in love with her while she tries to kill him. The episode also includes callbacks to previous companions and the return of that wonderful line “Fish fingers and custard.”
In contrast, Torchwood threw its long-term viewers a single bone, mentioning for only the second time Ianto Jones, a character so popular that his death resulted in the building of a shrine in Cardiff bay. The fact that the main character killed his grandson last year still has not been mentioned, and we’re coming up on the finale fast.
All the promise of the premise that the human race can no longer die has been wasted; frittered away in ham-fisted metaphors about how faceless government agencies are evil and throwaway lines about once-interesting cults and politics. A character the show spent the entirety of the last episode introducing never utters a word before being shuffled off. The plot continues to meander, and it has become clear that most of this series is about filling in time with circular writing, wooden acting, and inexplicable illogical twists.
Both of these episodes put the lead, an unkillable character, in mortal peril, as Jack Harkness is shot and the Doctor is poisoned. I spent Doctor Who on the edge of my seat, terrified the main character on a show that never kills regulars would die. When Jack was shot, I’d gone on Facebook out of boredom. The difference is clear: one show makes you feel, one show makes you bored.