05 – Series Five – Matt Smith

The Eleventh Hour

The new Doctor, played by Matt Smith, meets up with a young girl named Amelia, who is oddly accepting of his bizarre behavior. And she mentions that there is a crack in wall of her bedroom that disturbs her because she can hear voices through it. The voices are saying that “Prisoner Zero has escaped”. But before the Doctor can figure it out, the cloister bell tolls in the TARDIS and he runs to take care of the problem. He needs to take the TARDIS away to fix the problem, but promises to come back in 5 minutes. And he does come back: twelve years later. He knows there is danger in the house, and runs in warn Amelia to get out when he is bashed on the head. It turns out Amelia is now a woman, and evidently prepared to take on people who break into her house. And she is wearing a police uniform of sorts, though it turns out that she is just into fancy dress. And we learn that Prisoner Zero has been in her house this entire time. And the people who imprisoned Prisoner Zero are coming and they plan to just incinerate the entire planet. But the Doctor saves the day, as we all expected.

This is a great story, and Matt Smith is extremely energetic in the role. And there is a mystery set up that might be revealed later. Prisoner Zero escaped confinement through the crack in young Amelia’s bedroom. But when the Doctor accuses the Prisoner of creating the crack in order to escape, that is denied, and Prisoner taunts the Doctor that the Doctor doesn’t know who created the crack.


The Beast Below

The Doctor takes Amy out into Space, and apparently far into the future because they encounter England on a spaceship. We know it is England and not Britain because Scotland has their own spaceship. But almost immediately the Doctor senses something is wrong. He emphasizes to Amy that she needs to pay attention to the details and look for the things that don’t make sense. The ship is moving, but there is no vibration at all. And people are all afraid of something. A mysterious lady in a red cape and a face mask tells the Doctor he has to help them because he is their only hope, which the Doctor kind of hears a lot in his travels. He sends Amy off on her own, in a nightgown because she joined him at night and still hasn’t managed to find clothes, to interview a young girl who they found crying. And what the Doctor observed is that children often cry loudly to get attention, but this girl was crying quietly, and he said this means she just couldn’t help crying. And he then points out that none of the adults passing by in this public area are paying any attention to this girl, and that is odd. And indeed it is a clue to something, because normal human empathy is for adults to try and comfort children. And if they are not paying attention it is because they know why she is crying, and know they can’t do anything about it. And the whole solution to the mystery revolves around this.

In addition to the significance of crying children, the Doctor accuses Amy of putting him into a “no-win” situation, and says he will have to change his name after he does what he thinks he he has to do, because he will no longer deserve to called the Doctor. But then Amy notices a detail, thinks it through, and saves the Doctor and everyone else from a tragic mistake. And in so doing, she shows that maybe she knows the Doctor better than he knows himself. Overall, this has some nice parts to it, and Karen Gillan is great, but I can’t rate it above average, which is a letdown coming after The Eleventh Hour.

BTW, Amy is supposed be getting married the very next day, and has not yet told the Doctor this. I am thinking this could turn into a tangled relationship story as the season goes on.

Watch for the crack at the end. That is the mystery box. And for the Easter Egg enthusiasts, Magpie Electrical appears yet again (first seen in The Idiot’s Lantern).


Victory of the Daleks

At the end of The Beast Below the Doctor got a phone call in his TARDIS from Winston Churchill. When he arrives in wartime London, it turns out he is a month late. Given the number of late arrivals he makes in the The Eleventh Hour it seems like this might just be a trend with this Doctor. But now Churchill has a new secret weapon to use against the Nazis: Daleks! Only he thinks they are “Bracewell’s Ironsides”, created by Professor Bracewell. But of course the Doctor knows that cannot be true. They are clearly Daleks, and we all know where they came from. In an echo of The Power of the Daleks, the first story of the second Doctor, the Daleks claim to be servants of the British, even doing things like bringing a nice cup of tea. If you ever saw The Power of the Daleks you would know that this is just a masquerade until they are ready to reveal their true intentions. And it does come when the Doctor pushes back. Meanwhile, the new Technicolor Daleks are revealed, but in later episodes they get dropped in favor of the kind of Daleks we all know and love.

One interesting thing is that Amy has never seen Daleks before, and the Doctor says that is wrong. It looks like he is referring to the events of The Stolen Earth at the end of Season 4, which Amy should have lived through. But for the second episode in a row Amy helps to save the day at the end due to her empathy and knowledge of human emotions. And the crack appears at the end of the episode. It won’t pay off until the end of Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor, where it will appear to be more about the Doctor than about Amy. Moffat is not being as subtle as RTD was with “Bad Wolf” in the way he pushes the crack in front of you.


The Time of Angels

This brings River Song back into the Doctor’s life. She has etched a message into the flight recorder of the starship Byzantium, and she expects the Doctor to find it. It is written in the Time Lords’ language, and it translates as “Hello, Sweetie”. And the Doctor does find it in a museum, and steals it. This connects him back to the Byzantium, where he sees River Song who recites coordinates, which he immediately enters into the TARDIS, and arrives just in time to rescue her from the vacuum of space. While this seems somewhat implausible, it is a lot of fun, and as showrunner Steven Moffat likes to say, Doctor Who is really a fairy tale. Anyway, River tells him to follow that ship. The problem is that the ship has, in its hold, a Weeping Angel, and they want to get it before it can get out and cause trouble.

When they get there, the Byzantium has crashed, killing everyone aboard, but you can’t kill a Weeping Angel. And a company of soldiers appears, and they are linked to River song in some way. They are expecting River to provide help, and say that she promised them an army. And she replies that she promised them the equivalent, and introduces the Doctor. So they try to get to it through a cave system, but the cave system is full of statues. So they have a problem of distinguishing these statues from the Weeping Angel they are after. And at this point the whole plot starts to resemble the movie Alien, as the Angel starts picking off the soldiers one by one. One of the soldiers they captured, who is now an Angel himself, starts talking to the Doctor through his communicator, and tells the Doctor they are trapped. And the Doctor gives a classic Doctor reply:

Doctor: “There is one thing you should never put in a trap if you value your continued existence.”

Soldier: “What is that?”

Doctor: “Me”


Flesh and Stone

In part two of the story, the Doctor gets them out of the trap by shooting something on the underside of the Byzantium while telling people to jump, and somehow they are now upside down on the bottom of the hull, and that is OK because of the anti-gravity field. They go into the ship, but the Angels soon follow and they are still being hunted. But the mysterious crack reappears, and the Doctor says it is a crack in time itself. To get away from the Angels, the team goes into an onboard forest, part of the ship that generates oxygen for people to breathe. But of course the Angels follow them. Amy has started counting down from 10, and it looks like it is the image of an Angel in her brain from when she saw the Angel on viewing screen, and the only way to stop it is for Amy to keep her eyes shut. And the only way to keep the Angels away from you is to keep your eyes open and don’t blink. Bit of a poser, that.

The Doctor tries to put the pieces together and the mysterious crack is central to it. The Doctor and River go off to the Control Room, and leave Amy with the soldiers. A mysterious light has appeared in the forest, and a couple of soldiers go to see what it is. They never come back, then the other two soldiers take Amy with them, and go to investigate the light. Amy opens her eyes long enough to see that it is the mysterious crack. But the soldier guarding Amy claims the first two soldiers never existed, then his companion goes to investigate, and minute later the soldier claims that he never existed either. Amy begs him not to go, because she remembers the others, but apparently he doesn’t. And he goes, but first gives Amy a communicator. And he never comes back. But the Doctor is now putting the pieces together, and tells Amy over the communicator that if the time energy from the crack reaches her, it will be as if she was never born. River then teleports Amy onto the bridge, and the Doctor seals, for the moment, the time crack by dropping all of the Angels into it.

The crack is only temporarily sealed, and the Doctor says it is still out there. And this ties in with Amy having no memory of the Daleks, because the time stream has been disrupted. But why was the crack in the bedroom of young Amelia Pond? This is the key question that the Doctor needs to get to the bottom of. But somehow the Doctor has managed to get Amy back to her home at the right time so that Amy can explain that she is getting married in the morning. She shows him her wedding dress and engagement ring, and then assaults him for sex. Not a bad ending.


The Vampires of Venice

The Doctor is either very alien, or just mentally different. As this episode opens, Rory is having a bachelor party because he is getting married in the morning. (Remember that?) Then a large cardboard “cake” is wheeled in, and out pops…the Doctor! Who then proceeds to tell Rory, in front of all of his friends, that his fiance Amy was just kissing the Doctor last night. He seems to realize that was a mistake, though, and comments that it sounded better in his head before he said it. But to make it up to everyone, he proposes to take Amy and Rory on a romantic vacation to Venice in 1580. The fact that he actually succeeds in doing that makes us think he may actually be learning how to drive the TARDIS.

In Venice they discover that a school for girls seems to be turning them into Vampires. And the Doctor is less concerned with Vampires than with the idea that the Vampires are hiding something even more sinister. And of course they are; they are actually aliens, and they recruit the girls to become brides for the alien men. Rory defends Amy against one of them, and gets his reward in the kiss of a lifetime. It looks like Amy just gets turned on by danger, and fortunately her future husband is the nearby man. But when will they get married, I wonder? And the aliens tell the Doctor that it all started with cracks appearing, and then they mention the Silence. We don’t know what that is, exactly, but as they are leaving Venice the Doctor calls Rory’s attention to the fact that Venice is unnaturally silent.

The location of Venice is well done, and may be the best part of this episode. The plot has so many holes it resembles Swiss Cheese. It succeeds in filling a much-needed hole in the schedule.


Amy’s Choice

This is a very interesting puzzler with a psychological twist. Amy and Rory are living in their quite little English village, and Amy is very pregnant, due almost any day now. Suddenly the sound of the TARDIS is heard, and it lands in the garden of their little English cottage. The Doctor apparently has not seen them for 5 years, and is delighted to see them again. They go for a walk in the village, and sit on a bench, where the Doctor asks what they do here to stave off boredom, and Rory answers that they live their lives here. Then suddenly they fall asleep, and in the next scene they are all in the TARDIS, Amy is not pregnant any more, and when they compare notes they discover that they have all had the same dream, about Amy being pregnant, living with Rory in an English village, and so on. Then a scary little man shows up, calling himself the Dream Lord. He explains that he is in charge, and that one of these states is in fact a dream, and the other one is reality, but they have to figure out which one is which. If they die in the dream, they wake up in reality. But if they die in reality, they are dead.

This is a great setup for the choice Amy has to make, which is where the psychological aspect comes in. We know that Amy and Rory were just about to get married, but is Amy really in love with Rory, or does she really fancy the Doctor? In the end, she chooses. And that is not the only time in this era of the Doctor. This can be seen as foreshadowing. This is a really good episode, and it is nice that it comes right after the clunker of Vampires of Venice. Look for the relationship of Amy and Rory to be a key subplot of the 11th Doctor’s run, at least until Amy leaves. And I think this is the first episode so far with no mention of the mysterious crack in time.


The Hungry Earth

A drilling into the Earth is taking place and has just reached a depth of 21 kilometers when something odd happens. A hole opens up in the mining complex, and a mining engineer is pulled down into the hole. Then the TARDIS arrives, in what was supposed to be Rio de Janiero, but is obviously Wales, and the Doctor remarks on some odd blue grass that is not supposed to be there. He and Amy go to the mining complex to se what is going on, and while investigating Amy also gets pulled into a hole. The Doctor has realized that something under the Earth is coming up, and starts to prepare defenses. Then the son of the engineer gets caught outside and taken by a some creature, and the Doctor goes outside wearing sunglasses that are actually infrared-viewers and sees that the creature is cold-blooded, and they capture it. It turns out to be a Silurian warrior and they are out to wipe out all of the “apes”. The Doctor’s plan is to exchange hostages now that they have captured this Silurian.

The Doctor and a woman they met get into the TARDIS just before it too is taken underground, and they get ready to meet the Silurians.


Cold Blood

The engineer who was dragged underground had a father-in-law, a wife, and a son, and they are all in this story. The son is now underground, but the Doctor promises he can get the boy and the engineer back, as well as Amy. His plan is to exchange the Silurian warrior for the humans. But in the original fracas the father-in-law was stung in some way by the Silurian warrior, and has green blood vessels on his upper chest. He tries to hide it, but his daughter (the engineer’s wife) finds out, and goes to the Silurian warrior to get help for her father. But the warrior wants him to die, and tells this to the woman, who then kills the warrior. So much for the Doctor’s plan.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and the other woman, a geologist who has fallen in love with the father-in-law, enter the Silurian city, where they are captured by other warriors. They are about to be executed when a higher ranking Silurian interrupts and calls it off. The Doctor then tires to get the two sides talking to each other, and it seems to be making progress when the Silurians send for the remaining people above ground as well as their own captured warrior. But now that the warrior is dead, it goes very bad very quickly.

At the end, the mysterious crack appears yet again, and the Doctor just has to reach inside and see what he can get. He does grab something, and then the sister of the slain warrior comes in and kills Rory. The light from the crack is coming out now and reaching, so the Doctor has to get Amy back into the TARDIS lest she cease to exist. But it does get Rory, and within a few minutes Amy has forgotten he ever existed. At the very end, the Doctor takes a look at what he pulled out from the crack, and it is a piece of the TARDIS.

This story is not one of the better ones. The plot is full of holes and things don’t bear close inspection. You have to go into it knowing that, and just go along for the ride.


Vincent and the Doctor

Ah, one of the best ones. This has been a funny season so far with definite ups and downs, and after a low in the previous two-parter we get this gem. The Doctor and Amy are visiting a museum (the Musee D’Orsay in Paris) to look at paintings by Van Gogh, when the Doctor notices something in one of the paintings that he instantly declares is evil, so he asks the Docent there to tell him exactly when this painting was painted. Then he and Amy go back to the south of France in 1889 to look up Van Gogh. What they find is that there is a monster on the loose, but only Van Gogh can see it. Why can he see it? Well, it may be related to the fact that he sees things differently to how other people see them. Van Gogh is immediately attracted to Amy, and asks her about her sadness, which she denies, and he then asks “Then why are you crying?” There are echoes here of the loss of Rory, and in one scene the Doctor calls out “Amy! Rory!” when talking to Amy and Van Gogh. But no sign of the crack in this one.

Van Gogh’s madness is not avoided, but handled with some sensitivity. The real monster in this episode is not the one they are fighting, but depression. And you have to wonder if Van Gogh’s genius was fueled by his depression, and if so, was it really worth it? And after the monster is killed they take Van Gogh back to the Musee D’Orsay in 2010 and get the Docent to talk about the greatness of Van Gogh. If that does not bring a tear to your eye you are probably already dead. But it highlights the issue that during his lifetime, Van Gogh was, and saw himself as, a failure. And in this episode he is literally battling a monster that no one else can see. So far this is the one episode from Season 5 that should go an the all-time best episodes lists.


The Lodger

The TARDIS lands and the Doctor gets out, and then the TARDIS immediately takes off again with Amy. This is not supposed to happen, of course, and both the Doctor and Amy are quite surprised. Then the Doctor in the next scene shows up at a house owned by Craig, played by James Corden, and says he is here to be the new lodger, and is reading from a card with the address. There is an upstairs tenant as well, and something very odd is going on with this tenant. As people walk by on the sidewalk outside they hear someone calling them to come help. Sometimes it is an old man, another time a young girl. Lights flash, loud thuds are heard, and a stain is appearing in Craig’s kitchen that seems linked to the upstairs. And whatever it is, it seems to be causing the problems with the TARDIS.

This is not an epic story, but you have to always bear in mind that for Steven Moffat Doctor Who is really a fairy story, and this is the type here. Something scary is upstairs, and we don’t know what it is. The Doctor is not using the sonic screwdriver because it would alert whatever is up there, but we don’t know how he knows that. When Craig’s girlfriend is lured upstairs, he and the Doctor go up and enter the room. And the solution involves Craig confessing his love for his girlfriend, who clearly reciprocates, and Amy shouting over the communications link from the TARDIS “Kiss the girl, you fool!” Later when the Doctor gets back to the TARDIS he tells Amy that she needs to take a card and write the address on it, and to be sure to use a red pen. This is of course the card the Doctor read from when he first approached the house to get a room. But then, it is all wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey, isn’t it? But as Amy reaches into his coat she pulls out the ring case with the engagement ring from Rory, and stares at it. Then the crack appears yet again, and the light from it illuminates her face.

While the ending with Amy is a setup for the two=part finale, the rest of the episode is light, but very nice. Give it a watch, your time will not be wasted.


The Pandorica Opens

Vincent Van Gogh is having a fit of madness, but while he is raging the people with him discover a painting that is bizarre. It is of the TARDIS exploding. Then Winston Churchill sees the painting, and calls River Song to tell her that she needs to deliver a message to the Doctor. She then goes to the future England in space to steal the painting, and is caught by Liz 10, but she explains that she needs to show it to the Doctor and Liz understands once she looks at it. So this final two-parter starts off with a reunion of many of this season’s characters. The Doctor finally catches up with River who is with the Roman Army in Britain, pretending to be Cleopatra. They seem to have worked out that all of this somehow involves the Pandorica, which is found to be underneath Stonehenge.

River goes back to the Roman camp to look for assistance, and a certain volunteer steps forward: it is Rory! He and some other soldiers go back to the Pandorica, which is waking up and opening. A Cyberman is there, however. Initially only an arm and a severed head, but capable of taking action. River goes to the TARDIS and flies back to Amy’s house, and realizes that everything they are seeing comes from Amy’s childhood books. And then the combined war fleets of Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, Judoon, as well as the Nestene Consciousness, the Silurians, and how knows who else are there and they lock up the Doctor in the Pandorica because they claim the cracks are because of him, and this is the only way to save the Universe. How will he get out of this one?

The Roman soldiers, including Rory, are all creatures of the Nestene Consciousness, i.e. Autons. And while Rory is able to get Amy to remember him, he cannot resist the commands the Nestene Consciousness is giving him, and kills Amy. Can this be the start of a beautiful relationship.


The Big Bang

And in the thrilling conclusion…Did I mention wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey last time? Well it happens in spades this time. Little Amelia makes a painting of the night sky with the moon and stars. But the people around her take her outside and show her that there are no stars. And there aren’t. Then a flyer is put through the mail slot in the door telling her to come to the exhibit of the Pandorica at the museum. She comes, and finds a note addressed to her telling her to stick around, so she does. She touches the Pandorica, and it comes to life, which is very reminiscent of the story Dalek when Rose touches the Dalek and it comes to life. Turns out this matters. Rory is sitting sadly with body of Amy when the Doctor suddenly appears, wearing a fez. He gives Rory his sonic screwdriver, and tells him to come down to the Pandorica and use it, then he disappears. It opens the Pandorica, revealing …the Doctor!. He is released, and they put Amy in. The Doctor tells Rory that she will be fine, but she will be in there 2,000 years. Rory says that in that case, he will stand guard for 2,000 years, and he does.

Meanwhile, the Pandorica opens in England 2,000 years later and Amy is fine because the touch of young Amelia gave the Pandorica the genetic information needed to finish patching her up. Then lots of people going back and forth in time while the Doctor is figuring out what the problem is. The stars are all gone, most of the Universe is gone, but the Doctor needs to reboot the Universe. He can do it, but it means he won’t be in it any more. It will be like he never existed. But he tells Amy it is up to her to remember. because she can bring him back. A theme this season is the idea that if someone is remembered they can never really be gone. This is very like the moral of a fairy tale, isn’t it? And you know what, Amy does bring the Doctor back. An wonderful two-part story concluded. Also, Amy and Rory finally get married.


Review of 2010 Season

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