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The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
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lil_shepherd
I have been hesitant to write about the Dr Who season finale. I enjoyed it (them?). I really did. But I felt I didn't ought to have because I hated all TBO RTD finales and I couldn't figure out why I should have enjoyed something that followed that mould, end of the universe (oh, come on, this isn't a spoiler - it's a tradition) and all.

There are, of course, differences. There wasn't actually a big bad, just a combination of all of the Doctor's enemies. I can't help feeling that this was, in fact, a dig at earlier season finales. It's the Daleks! No, it's the Daleks and the Cybermen! They're at war! Here, Moffat has them collaborate to pen the Doctor inside a box that is not so much bigger inside than outside as impossible to open from the inside and easy to open from the outside. What's more, their plot is little more than a sideshow, and leads to their destruction by the end of the first episode and, oddly, the saving of the universe and the Doctor.

In some ways, the two episodes fit together like a glove over the fingers of the rest of the series. In others, there is a lot of handwaving - and sometimes not even that - covering plot holes. The timey-wimey stuff works excellently, but the Pandorica is, indeed, a magic box which can do "whatever the plot needs."

But, but, but... The reason this episode succeeds is because it doesn't, for all except a couple of shots, do 'widescreen' end of the universe. Indeed, it is ending with a whimper - though the TARDIS is exploding all the way through space and time, the effect is that things softly, silently vanish away... The TARDIS has turned into a boojum and, unless I've missed something important, we still don't actually know why. It narrows everything down to a small group of people in a single building, with things vanishing around them. It's why the worst shot in the whole two partner is that of the Roman camp. (Incidentally, Rory is not a Centurion or the Autons got it wrong - his helmet crest goes the wrong way.) The whole effect is narrowing closing in on what matters, and what matters is the Doctor's cunning and his relationship with a young woman/little girl.

There is no personified villain here, no Master, no Davros. Oh, someone is behind all this, but that is going to be left for next season, when silence will fall. I'm looking forward to it. It is the Doctor and Amy and Rory and River against time and space (and the relative dimensions therein.) Those characters are true to themselves, all the way through. Amy is intelligent and quirky and quick thinking and sexy. Rory is steadfast and straightforward. River is imaginative and ruthless.

And, as always with Moffat, the wit makes the episodes work, even and above the clever timey-whimey stuff. River Song wins the prize for best intimidation of a Dalek, and best prison break cartoon. Rory for the best remark you can ever make to your mother in law. Amy wins the prize for best way of working out what year it is, and for collaboration in destruction of a fez.

And the Doctor is alien and ancient and very, very cunning.

I hate TV wedding episodes. Like Christmas episodes, they should be banned. (The Runaway Bride qualifies for banning on both issues.) When Amy woke on her wedding day I was sure I was going to hate the whole ending. I was even more sure of it when we got the Reception. (If any Americans on in the various Brit picking communities want to know what British Weddings are like we can now refer them to this.) Then River delivered her diary (adding yet another PLOT HOLE) and the Doctor's cunning was revealed. There was Amy's awesome summons, Rory's comment about being plastic, the Doctor showing just how bad a dancer he is, River telling him that "everything changes" next season - assuring us that she, too, will be back - and, finally, and joyously, Amy and Rory, in perfect accord, saying "Goodbye" - not to the Doctor, but to their families and friends to go travelling in a dangerous universe.

Oh, yes! I know I was having my buttons pushed but, in this case, it was clever and surprising and funny enough so I don't care. So there.
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Yes, we liked it too, though we had the same niggles that you did. And I think Amy is still too mean to Rory, who is a sweetheart. Which makes me wonder if she is that bright.

She is, I think, impatient with Rory, who seems to be content to follow her lead, so long as he can be with her; there is no doubt who is the leader in that relationship.

She's thoughtless, too -- repeating trying to kiss the doctor at her wedding, for instance. I tend to want to shake her.

I think she has a very ... er ... modern attitude to marriage.

The Doctor has spotted that, too - "Mr Pond"!

I thought the whole threat / release thing - big build-up to the Doctor being locked into the Pandorica followed by his immediate liberation, Amy's death and very rapid resurrection, End of the World which has been building all series followed by 'And then Amy woke up' - deliberately threw away any emotional weight the episode (and the series) might have had, in favour of it all being a bit of fun. Well, quite a lot of fun, actually.

There's another, darker story in there (in which all the Doctor's concern for Amy is about priming her to remember him, as she didn't remember Rory) which I might have found more interesting, but failing that I'll settle for fun.

I think what I liked most of all was the lack of angst.

The darker undertones are there. "The Doctor lies" after all. (And so, we may be sure, does River.) However, this is a family show, and the undertones are just that, undertones, and the proper ending for a fairy tale is a wedding and "they all lived happily ever after."

But what the Doctor said the Rory about Amy not mattering in the scheme of things would have been true, if she had been anyone else. Which is what the Doctor did not say, but is still there and still true.

OK, I confess - it's taken the best part of a season but I'm finally coming round to Matt Smith. From the vincent episode onwards this has been a great endking to a season i felt was a little lacklustre at the beginning. Now I know the new doctor I'll go back and watch the earlier episodes with interest. And just for the record, I love Rory. I do home he's permanent now. I mean, how many times can they kill him without it getting to be like South Park? (Oh my God, they just killed Kenny!)

So long as it doesn't get to be like killing Jack Harkness (or whatever his name actually is.)

(I grew up on super-hero comic books, where people just don't stay dead. It sort of inures me to the TV versions.)

The thing I liked best about it is that…well, I was going to say it didn't end with a deus ex machina, but I suppose it really sort of did. In fact, you could say it involved at least three of them (the alliance of the Doctor's enemies getting frozen by the destruction of the universe, the Doctor flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS, and Amy rememberrecting the Doctor). But for some reason they weren't glaring the way past deus ex machinas (like the great Cyberman/Dalek vacuum cleaner) were. They were better-integrated, I guess.

This has definitely been the best season finale since the show was first revived.

Yes.

That was what I was trying to get at. It was Total Bollocks Overdrive but somehow didn't push the total bollocks in your face. It had enough bits that made sense so you didn't notice the plot holes until afterwards.

And it pushed your emotional buttons without hitting all of them at random in the hope of getting some sort of reaction.

And Amy getting brought back to life by the Pandorica would be a fourth, come to think of it.

One thing I rather liked was the way the opening of the Pandorica right before the titles built up and then subverted audience expectations. "This is where things get complicated" indeed. And also the way the Doctor kept blipping around with the vortex manipulator.

And the way that the "continuity error" in "Flesh and Stone" turned out not to be one after all.

And the "Something old, something new…" line. Which should have been incredibly cheesy, but was just such a well-set-up punchline that it made me grin.

(Though I must confess that after what happened at the start of the season, I was a bit worried when the Doctor said he was going to move the TARDIS, halfway imagining Amy and Rory waiting for him to return, looking at each other, shrugging, and going, "Guess we'll see him again in a year or so.")

Ditto for "I guess this is goodbye." It's nice to have a safely-married female companion in the TARDIS. The Doctor just can't keep having unresolved romantic tension with his fellow travelers, it just gets old.

I just hope they resist the temptation to pull a Joss Whedon on it.

Edited at 2010-06-28 05:29 pm (UTC)

I have enjoyed the whole season. I think it may actually be the first time I've enjoyed a whole season of Dr Who since I became an adult (which basically means everything after about mid-Pertwee ...). And I fully intend to buy the DVD set when it's out and watch the whole lot again, which I have never done before with Who. I'm really impressed with Matt Smith, and with the way Moffat has thumbed his nose at RTD's excesses - even Amy throwing herself at the doctor seemed to be just to ellicit the response I always wanted him to have to Rose - "No, we're different species, I'm *way* older than you, you'll age and I won't ..." I thought Moffat might ruin it in the last ep, but he didn't.

I haven't enjoyed Saturday evenings so much in a long time!

Who has always been very up and down. I was never in love with it, but, after Hartnell and Troughton I was very fond of Davidson and occasionally McCoy, whose relationship with Ace is echoed in Smith's with Amy.

As for NuWho - I hated everything RTD wrote, and the series sank to awful depths in episodes like Love and Monsters. I loathed chav-Rose, and Tennant gurned and emo'd far too much, and last season I stopped watching (except for the Moffat episodes.) I did see a couple of others, for which Ina is to blame, and am still seething over the picture of the Romans in Fires of Pompeii.

There are episodes from this season on the hard disk that we have no intention of wiping until the full DVD box set appears.

I liked the way stuff seemed to slot together. I haven't thought it through enough to see through all the handwaving, but stuff like the sun (which I wondered about at the start) turning out to be the TARDIS was a nice touch.

And I loved the fez. That scene early on with fez and mop Matt zipping to Rory and back was brilliant.

PS: What was the "best way of working out what year it is"? I've forgotten.

Measuring Amelia's height and hair length...

Oh yeah, that was great. Imagine being Amelia as big Amy came out! Although, she doesn't seem to be particularly easy to scare..

She's lived with the crack in her wall for a long time.

Not that Amy is easy to scare, either.

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