SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who? The Wedding of River Song

Like last year’s season finale, The Big Bang, Doctor Who ended the season by resetting the universe and with a wedding. The Wedding of River Song mostly answered the questions raised over the past season of Doctor Who. Earlier episodes of the season provided two possible ways in which there could be a replica of the Doctor who might be the one to die at Lake Silencio. A two-part story  earlier in the season (The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People) dealt with doppelgangers, including one who had replaced Amy Pond. Let’s Kill Hitler introduced the Teselecta, a time traveling ship with miniaturized people which takes the shape of a person. I thought that the Gangers were a more plausible explanation for who took the Doctor’s place, believing that a Ganger would be more likely to go into a regeneration cycle than a Teselecta if shot, but apparently Steven Moffat didn’t see it this way. I imagine that the Doctor, knowing that the Teselecta was going to simulate his death, managed to develop the appropriate special effects to make the death scene look convincing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqFB7I14VIY&feature=player_embedded

In order to create the drama for this season, as well as to prevent the Doctor from changing history to solve other problems,  the concept of a fixed point in time was established. The Doctor revealed in The Fires of Pompeii that he couldn’t change the events of history as this was a fixed point. Similarly the destruction of the base in The Waters of Mars was a fixed point in time which could not be changed. But what happens if a time traveler does change the events of a fixed point?  The Wedding of River Song showed what happened when River Song did change a fixed point by initially failing to kill the Doctor. When River failed to kill the Doctor, there was a bizarre traffic jam in time, in which events from a variety of eras got lumped together:

The description of a time traffic jam in the above video is preferable to the description given by Winston Churchill of all of history happening at one time. Even though the clocks did not move, there was obviously a concept of time as events were occurring. We saw Charles Dickens being interviewed about his upcoming Christmas story despite the fact that the calendars were not moving towards December 25, and we saw the Holy Roman Emperor (Winston Churchill) seek out the Doctor, who had previously been imprisoned. All of history could not have been happening at once or we would have seen every British leader in history, along with everyone else who has every lived in London.

Seeing time getting messed up made for memorable scenes, regardless of whether it made sense. Additional highlights of the episode included an homage to Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier) while an off-screen homage to Elisabeth Sladen started the season, the homage to the Indiana Jones movies, River seeing the Doctor in the eye of the Teselecta, and “Pond, Amy Pond.” It seemed totally consistent with her character to have Amy remember the Doctor as opposed to wasting time in the episode finding a way to restore her memory, but I wonder what the people around her thought of all the weird pictures on her wall. In other revelations, the eye patches turned out to be “eye drives,” a way in which to store memory of the Silence, and there was more foreshadowing of the Doctor’s future. Some questions have not been answered, such as where the picture of Amy holding Melody in the orphanage came from.

Some of the key events of the episode, such as the wedding of River Song and the death of Madame Kovarian, occurred in an time line which was reset. It appears likely that the wedding remains real based upon events in other episodes.  The major change to occur in this episode is that, after becoming too prominent a hero in earlier episodes, the universe must now think that the Doctor is dead. One possible explanation is that the Doctor can cheat the fixed point in time as he did  by remaining alive, but the history books must still record that he died at Lake Silencio. Presumably, if the Doctor could later reveal it was all a trick and he is alive he would have done so to save River from going to prison. Instead River must spend her days in prison and nights traveling around the universe with her husband, the Doctor. There is another possible interpretation below. More on River Song’s story was reviewed on Doctor Who Confidential, with a copy of the video posted here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXR3Jw4U0s4&feature=player_embedded

The God Complex gave the Doctor reason to question the prominence of his role. This episode caused him to realize that, “My friends have always been the best of me.” Besides changing the character of the Doctor into a hero who must act behind the scenes, the episode seems to foreshadow the Doctor’s future. Presumably talk of when the Eleventh will fall refers to the Eleventh Doctor, while the question in plain sight has been asked before: “Doctor Who?” Does this foreshadow the next regeneration, or just another moment in which the Doctor must cheat destiny and prevent his fate from taking place? Perhaps the survival of the Doctor ensures that it is the Silence who will fill at the fields of Trenzalore. The Doctor pretended to be trapped in order to surprise the Silence in Day of the Moon. I wonder if the real reason the Doctor must now appear dead is to once again surprise the Silence, to ensure that it is the Silence who fall and not the Eleventh.

Other than the Christmas episode, which has started filming, we will probably have to wait around a year for more new episodes. Doctor Who Confidential will not be around when the series resumes, having been discontinued due to BBC budget cuts. There is this one brief episode of Doctor Who to watch. The winner of a writing contest held among school children was filmed as a mini-episode, Death Is The Only Answer:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who–“The Almost People” Review (Spoilers) and Speculation About “A Good Man Goes To War”

Doctor Who The Almost People

The Almost People aired in the U.K. this weekend but BBC America decided not to show this week’s episode of Doctor Who because of the Memorial Day holiday. Between those who watched on BBC and those who found other ways to download the episode, I assume that a substantial proportion of fans have now seen it. Warning, there are major spoilers here for those who plan to watch on BBC America next week.

The second part of this two-part story was better than last week’s episode, The Rebel Flesh (reviewed here). The story took advantage of the set-up in the first episode, although this might have worked better if they could have had an extended full hour episode to tell a slightly condensed version of the story in a single sitting. The fight against the Gangers and ultimate conclusion made a good story, but far from a great one. Plot wise, the high point was Jennifer’s deception of Rory with a second Ganger, which I had already anticipated. The best parts of the episode involved the Doctor’s Ganger, and of course the final couple of minutes (video below).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isnaYwhcuL8&feature=player_embedded

Steven Moffat has added so much to the series with references back to the early years of Doctor Who. The Ganger of the Doctor was amusing as it went through the previous regenerations of the Doctor. This included the third Doctor (originally played by Jon Pertwee) saying, “”reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.” While Pertwee became known for this phrase, he had actually only said it once.

The conclusion progressed the story arc involving the Schroedinger’s pregnancy in Amy, but I suspect that other events of this week’s story are also important to the entire season. The episode ended with learning that the Amy who has been with the Doctor is a Ganger while Amy is actually having a baby. As most already predicted, the woman with the eye patch was involved with the delivery. Seeing the Doctor “kill” the Ganger (or actually sever the link) now gives Karen Gillan two scenes this season in which she appeared to die. Rory retains his lead in overall appearances of getting killed.

Doctor Who A Good Man Goes To War Amy Pond River Song

One question is when the switch took place. It might have been when the Silence held Amy captive, but I suspect it was sooner as there had already been a scene showing the woman in the eye patch earlier in the episode. It could have happened during the gap we did not see between The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. With the Doctor saying Amy had been gone for a long time, the switch could have occurred even earlier, such as before Amy came out of the Pandorica in The Big Bang. Adding to my suspicion that the events of last season play into this, including the unexplained source for the destruction of the universe, are the promotional pictures for next  week’s episode in which Rory again appears Roman (such as above). The episode also contains multiple old enemies, as were seen in The Pandorica Opens.

This might suggest that Amy was impregnated by someone or something other than her husband. If Rory is the father, my suspicion is that it did not happen  before their wedding. After all, this is technically billed as a  children’s show. If the baby is the child seen at the end of Day of the Moon, the father might be a Time Lord, unless living in the Tardis was the cause.  This also raises a question of whether the picture of Amy holding a baby in the orphanage  in Day of the Moon was the real Amy or a Ganger.

Ever since The Rebel Flesh, there has been speculation that the “future” version of the Doctor who was killed is really a Ganger. That would certainly solve the problem of having more regenerations before the Doctor dies, regardless of whether it is in two hundred years or much further in the future. I became more convinced of this possibility after both watching The Almost People and going back to the Doctor’s death scene in The Impossible Astronaut. For a few seconds, the Doctor’s face reminded me of the faces of the Gangers before they fully established human form–something which would not have meant anything to viewers at the time the show first aired.

Events in The Almost People add further to this possibility. Having a Ganger of Amy which was present for some time makes it more likely that other Gangers  could be present in other episodes. The Doctor was concerned in The Almost People with finding out whether a Ganger of himself could fool others, also suggesting he had a plan involving another use of a Ganger.

Next week, in A Good Man Goes To War, we  presumably will see the birth of Amy’s child, and it is rumored that River Song’s identity will be revealed at the end of the episode. It has long been suspected that there is a connection between Amy Pond and River Song beyond having a body of water in each of their names. One possibility is that River might be Amy’s daughter.  Promotional material for the upcoming episode  reports (another possible spoiler) that Amy will have a daughter named Melody. Perhaps River Song is the daughter of Melody Pond, using both music and water in the names, if not Amy’s daughter.

The trailer for A Good Man Goes to War:

The prequel to A Good Man Goes to War:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JiB3SdlQ6sI&feature=player_embedded

Update: A Good Man Goes to War is reviewed here.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who–The Rebel Flesh; The Doctor’s Wife; Torchwood; Alcatraz; Star Tours Reopens

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen as much disagreement about an episode of Doctor Who as in the reviews to The Rebel Flesh. The underlying idea is that artificial doppelgangers are used to do the dangerous work under the control of their human counterparts. A solar storm turned them into self-aware autonomous beings. The Doctor tried to have them all get along, but of course something went wrong and the first part of this two-part story ended with the two groups at war. This was all predictable very early in the story, as was the eventual cliff hanger. As was foreshadowed throughout the episode, the first part ended by revealing a doppelganger of the Doctor. Of course the episode showed that Amy Pond is/is not pregnant and had a scene showing the lady with the eye patch. In contrast to many other recent episodes, Rory did not die.

I really don’t think it is possible to review the episode alone. If the second part turns out to be a great conclusion, many will believe it worked out well to use the first part for setting all of this up, leaving a full episode to work out the consequences. A doppelganger version of the Doctor certainly does open the door for  a more interesting second half. However, if the second half goes nowhere, this week’s episode will be seem pretty  pointless.

American audiences who wait for the BBC America showing will have to wait two weeks to find out how this turns out. BBC America has decided against showing the next episode on Memorial Day weekend when fewer people will be viewing. This certainly defeats the plan to air the same day internationally to reduce piracy.  Many fans will download the conclusion next week to satisfy their curiosity about the ending and avoid spoilers. Maybe this episode wasn’t so compelling that American viewers could not wait, but with Moffat promising a huge cliff-hanger to conclude the spring episodes it is hard to see hard core fans being willing to remain  a week behind.

Neil Gaiman had a live question and answer session about The Doctor’s Wife with full transcript available here.  While it is really not up to Gaiman to resolve this issue, he was asked about his view of the limitation to thirteen regenerations:

Question:  If there are dozens of new control rooms that the doctor hadn’t even seen, does this mean that the plan is to just keep going with the regenerations and ignore the rule of 13 bodies? @Acey90

Gaiman: It’s interesting, that rule. It was obviously bendable to begin with (the Time Lords gave the Master a whole new round of regenerations). So I’ve always thought that it was more a law like a speed limit is a law than like Gravity is a law.

And if there are no longer any police to make you observe the speed limit, you can drive as fast as you like. Although it’s a lot more dangerous.

And that’s my opinion. As to what Mr Moffat thinks, he may either have a plan, or he may figure it’s not his problem, but is one for eight or ten years down the line.

Doctor Who’s top eleven catch phrases for the eleventh Doctor are presented in the video above.

[The Torchwood video previously posted has been taken off of You Tube. The trailer can still be seen at the Starz site.]

Torchwood: Miracle Day premiers on July 8. Trailers started to get released last week, and I’m sure more promotional material will become available.  Episode names have been released (subject to change).  Star Trek fans are also expressing interest in the series as it includes former Star Trek actors John De Lancie and Nana Visitor. There are also reports that Eliza Dushku will be staring in a web series entitled Torchwood: Web of Lies to coincide with Miracle Day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_jAlFqvASU&feature=player_embedded

Many additional trailers for upcoming series were made publicly available, and others with private links were distributed to bloggers. I’m sure I’ll be talking about upcoming shows more over the next few months. Above is the trailer for the J.J. Abrams show, Alcatraz. Abrams discussed the show further here.  It looks like Alcatraz is to the conventional prison shows  as Lost was to island shows such as Gilligan’s Island.

Star Tours has reopened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Above are some highlights of the grand reopening.