Stars: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston, Nina Toussaint-White, Caitlin Blackwood, Maya Glace-Green, Ezekiel Wigglesworth, Philip Rham, Richard Dillane, Amy Cudden, Davood Ghadami, Ella Kenion, Albert Welling, Mark Kileen, Paul Bentley, Eva Alexander, Tor Clark
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Richard Senior
Network: BBC America, airs Saturday nights
Original Telecast: August 27, 2011
In the return of DOCTOR WHO for the second half of Series 6, “Let’s Kill Hitler,” the rather casual chase to recover Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory’s (Arthur Darvill) kidnapped baby leads them to 1938 Berlin, where they once again run into River Song (Alex Kingston), the adult version of their daughter Melody Pond. The reunion is a bit different than usual, not least because this is a River earlier than any version they’ve met before, and her attitude toward the Doctor (Matt Smith) is also decidedly different. As robots stalk the halls of Nazi headquarters and Hitler cowers in the cupboard, the Doctor may not have to worry about that death waiting for him 2011 Utah – time can be rewritten, and his death day may have moved up by several decades.
Matt Smith is wonderful as always and I love his new coat. And there ends the positive part of this review.
The glib title is the kind of cynical attempt at headline-grabbing that it sounded like when it flashed on the screen back in June. It has no real bearing on the story, nor does Hitler’s brief appearance or the period Berlin setting. This episode could be set anywhere at any time because it isn’t a story about anyplace or anything. It’s a series of set pieces that claims to answer questions, spitefully throws out a few more, and does all this with no sense of warmth or humanity whatsoever. We have entered an era that not only eschews character for plot, it now eschews plot for “game-changers” that change no games, “shocking twists” that offer no shocks, and random visuals that are dumped on the audience as if to say, “Here, you make something out of this.” That used to be the production team’s job.
Writer Steven Moffat has said that rather than pick up directly from a cliffhanger, he prefers to move the setting, pick up from a different vantage point, and find a way back into the story from an unexpected angle. There’s nothing wrong with that strategy and it works well in past stories like “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead.” But no matter where you choose to resume, you still need to respect your audience and provide logical and emotional closure for the ending you set up in part one. In the second part of the two-part opener this year, we rejoined the story months later and got the flimsiest reprise of the cliffhanger and its denouement as if the events didn’t even matter when they were in fact crucial. This time we once again pick up months later, but last time we were given the “game-changing” event of River revealing to Amy and Rory that she was their daughter. We were left staring at their incredulous faces…
…and now here we are in a wheat field. What did they say to their adult daughter? Surely they spoke to her during their trip back home to present-day Earth? What sort of emotional outpouring took place at that most dramatic, most significant of moments? We are given none of it, not even in flashback. We are robbed of all the character-building and depth from that shock ending, because character and emotion don’t matter here at all when we could instead watch a sports car swerve into view and deposit someone that’s supposed to be a life-long friend of Amy and Rory we’ve never met before. Making things up as you go along is bad enough; making it obvious and sneering at the viewer at the same time is insulting.
My biggest issue over all, however, remains the situation with Amy and Rory and their lost baby. There is no parent on Earth who would behave as they do, regardless of whether they know she becomes an adult one day (which, given the way time works on the show, is no guarantee of survival anyway). Any parent would be holding the Doctor at gunpoint, commandeering the TARDIS when he attempts one of his condescending jokes as he tries to rush them off to a new adventure, and demanding that they find their baby NOW.
The result is we have two characters that treat the loss of a child and the knowledge that it lives a tortured, time-lost life of hatred and delinquency and psychosis like it’s a minor inconvenience. They don’t even seem at all concerned that they may never get to share its childhood, and living alongside her as a brand-new/always-there best friend is not the same as being parents to a baby.
The main problem is a lack of emotional realism, which is important even in the most fanciful storytelling; arguably it’s more important since it provides the grounding for your characters and therefore your audience while the rest of the unrealistic adventure swirls around them. But these characters are so cold and unrealistic, they don’t care about anything. No, I don’t want them weeping their eyes out every five minutes, but these people are not believable as parents; they aren’t even human. So why should I care about anything they do? Speaking of which, I’ve said this year Amy has improved, but when the Doctor and Rory show appropriate loathing for history’s greatest war criminal, why does Amy rush to cuddle what she thinks is another wounded Nazi officer and ask him if he’s all right? Our Amy, so lovable. I guess we should be grateful that when facing death Amy’s first thought is to tell Rory she loves him. They don’t kiss though, but that can wait. They’re only married and have a daughter.
As for River, she’s a device that has succeeded in reducing the titular Time Lord to a guest star in his own show. Maybe that’s why the Doctor changes his clothes for no real reason late in the story – he’s desperately trying to wrestle back the title that he should hold by default – “coolest person in the room.” As for Mels, apart from the fact she’s River, she’s another collection of cheeky mannerisms in place of a character.
River’s arc – which is all the show is about nowadays – is particularly problematic here. For most of the episode she’s a crazed killer and then the moment she accomplishes her task she gives up lifetimes to save the man she’s been trained to kill from babyhood. Why? Did the programming switch off the moment she accomplished her goal? Was it the thing he whispered to her that changed her heart? If so, the show did not reflect that in her dialogue and performance, or in the editing and direction. She does what she does because the story says so and this will presumably remain another vague but important plot point left for us to figure out for ourselves. It isn’t “clever” to leave everything up to the audience; it means you can’t be bothered to write anything that makes sense, or maybe you didn’t have an idea in the first place.
And when all other avenues at padding the story with gimmicks and visuals instead of logical story-telling are exhausted, you can kill five or ten minutes by having characters repeat the same phrase over and over. “I am not Amelia Pond, I am a voice interface.” “You are unauthorized, your death will now be implemented.” “Hey, who turned out the lights?” Wait, that last one is old, never mind.
The robot and its STAR TREK-inspired crew? It seems like a cute idea but examine the notion for five seconds and it all falls apart, especially the insane security system that could kill any of the crew at the drop of a hat unless they remember to keep their wristbands updated. MEET DAVE already proved this idea had no legs, and the only amusement to be had is that the antibodies sound like the Loc-Nar from HEAVY METAL. Yup, that’s how far I have to reach.
I have lots more (like why the TARDIS didn’t offer Idris as the most logical default voice interface instead of painfully obvious BBC photos of past companions), but why bother? Ultimately, the saddest thing about this as a long-time fan that still loves this show in general more than any other single piece of pop culture in history – and yes, that means just about all eras of the show, not any one era or show runner or Doctor – is that I think this episode and much of the story arc of which it is a part is not just bad DOCTOR WHO, it’s very bad television with a total lack of respect for its own audience.
Since DOCTOR WHO is like Baltimore weather (“If you don’t like it, wait five minutes”) I’m sure this too shall pass. In the meantime, for those of you screaming “well stop watching then,” thanks but no. I’m going to stay right here, because like I said – I love DOCTOR WHO, and I want to see it shine again. For those of you enjoying it right now as it is, that’s wonderful. One day I hope to be back on that side of the sofa with you.
Next time, we visit a little boy with nightmares. He probably watched “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
Click on link: AX’s DOCTOR WHO – Series 6 – “Let’s Kill Hitler” – Review #2 (positive review)
Click on link: AX’s exclusive interview with DOCTOR WHO showrunner Steven Moffat
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Click on Link: For Steven Moffat says DOCTOR WHO is “against Hitler”
Click on the link for AX’s review of DOCTOR WHO episode “The Rebel Flesh”
CLICK HERE for AX’s List on “THE FIVE QUESTIONS WE HOPE DOCTOR WHO – SERIES 6 ANSWERS”
CLICK HERE for Neil Gaiman talking about scripting his Season 6 DOCTOR WHO episode
CLICK HERE for brand new photos from DOCTOR WHO – Season 6 – including new poster
CLICK HERE to view the new EXTENDED SEASON 6 DOCTOR WHO trailer
CLICK HERE for Actor Mark Sheppard talking about his role in a Season 6 episode of DOCTOR WHO
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: TV Review: DOCTOR WHO – Series 6 – “Let’s Kill Hitler”