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Monday, 19 September 2011

The God Complex

Okay. Let's get what I didn't like out of the way first, then I'll tell you how much I enjoyed the latest episode of Doctor Who. This one felt a bit rushed. And yet, at the same time, lacking in reach. It felt that they rushed through so much that it left a large hole in the middle of the episode. But, as I shall explain, The God Complex redeemed itself. Luckily.

Let's accept this one for what it was; nothing spectacular, but nice all the same. The idea was lovely - a sort of modern take in the Minotaur in the Labyrinth... And an effective one! I almost wish they'd not bothered with the "fears within rooms" thing though. What would have been wrong with a spacey prison, floating about keeping its Minotaur inmate out of harm's way, yet picking up the odd snack for him while it did so? Yes, there would have to be a reason, a method of selection for these snacks, but that would be worked out...

The Minotaur looked great, it worked well as a "chase" villain. I wish it was the Doctor and a group of people running away from a big monster. Something that simple would have worked very well.

That's not to say this episode didn't work as it was. As I've mentioned, the idea was good! They missed a trick not including some seriously creepy fears (the nerdy blogger afraid of girls, the clever would-be companion afraid of being a disappointment, they all seem a bit by-numbers for my liking) within the rooms and, given time, the whole "Rory not having a room" thing could have been explored in far more interesting ways. It was basically overlooked in the episode. Such a shame!

But what really did work well here was the tone. It was well-lit (as in bright) and it was familiar. The Muzak was a lovely touch and the ventriloquists' dummies were wonderfully creepy. As was the clown. It seemed that the forgotten fears, left behind long after their hosts had died, were worse than those of our survivors. Another shame.

Aha! Now, our survivors! There's a thing! I won't talk about the obviously meant-to-have-been-thought-as-the-next-companion Rita - everyone's talking about her, so I won't. I will, however, talk about Gibbis. Yes, I know everyone's talking about him too, but I want my say. I thought David Walliams' performance as the alien afraid of everything was wonderful. You could tell it was Walliams, but you never felt - or at least I never felt - as though it was a parody character. I think we all expected "a funny, cowardly alien" and what we were given, subtly, was a back-stabbing swine who would sacrifice the lives of anyone else, willingly, in order to survive himself. Now that's about as dark a character as we're likely to get on a Saturday tea time. Truly chilling, especially as most of Gibbis' darker, more selfish lines were delivered with a knowing smile behind the eyes.

Visually, this one was a treat. I thought the direction was faultless and the performances across the board were incredible. I also think that the monster of the week was one of the better we've had. I just wish it was all about him.

I can't say I DIDN'T enjoy this episode because I really did! I scored it 7/10 on the Gallifrey Base Rate and Review thread. But it gained a whole point for the last ten minutes. Yes, boys and girls, it would seem that for once we have a happy departure from the TARDIS. So far, just since 2005, companions have been fired, abandoned, lost in parallel universes, neglected, mind-wiped, dropped into burning engines and - in the case of so many would-be companions - completely overlooked before the adventure had a chance to begin. But with Amy and Rory it seems the decent thing has been done; before their lives can get any more fucked up the Doctor has bought them a house and a flash motor and allowed them to live happily. This obviously means that sometime in the near future something terrible will happen to them. Allowing companions to just leave is against everything Doctor Who holds dear. We shall see.

Anyway, bottom line: not a bad episode, by any means. Exciting enough, full of ideas and a fine example of the show looking as good as it ever will. But there was something lacking this week. I just don't quite know what. That last Goodbye scene saved it from a far smaller place in my memory. So, once again, the Ponds make Doctor Who for me. Awesome. 

OH! And next week we have Cybermen. I love Cybermen. I have one in the title-bar of this very blog. I can't wait :)