Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Doctor Who - Let's Kill Hitler - Review (warning: spoilers ahead)

I was very excited about the return of Doctor Who. Lots of unanswered questions out there, and lots of things to be revealed. I couldn't wait to find out what Moffat had in mind. So I should have been thrilled with Let's Kill Hitler, but it didn't quite come together for me.

I think most long term fans of Doctor Who like to try and figure out what is going to happen next, and how the various paradoxes can be resolved. I certainly have my own theories, and it can be quite fun to discuss with others, and compare with what actually happens.

I also have a reasonable feel for the story and how things sit, so it doesn't sit right when new characters are introduced all of a sudden, and retrospectively revealed to be really important. At the start of Let's Kill Hitler, we meet Mels* (which it later transpires is short for Melody). She's annoying, loud, constantly in trouble and deeply irritating, and is apparently Amy and Rory's best friend (and is in fact the cause of them being together).

My thought at this point in time was that she was some kind of mind reading alien who'd inserted herself into Amy and Rory's life to get access to the TARDIS. Alas, I was wrong.

So, thanks to Mel's shooting the TARDIS (for no real reason - just because... And that's always a bad reason for something to happen in a tv show) the gang manage to accidentally save Hitler from a time travelling shape-changing justice robot, manned by a bunch of miniaturised people (who incidentally seem to have bugger all idea how to run a military operation - and if it wasn't a military operation, it should have been).

Along the way, Mel gets shot and regenerates into River Song, but it's not the cheeky, flirty, funny River Song that we know. It is instead a River Song that acts like a spoilt teenager. I gather that was probably what they were aiming for, but someone hasn't done the maths (or possibly there's something else going on - we can hope) as they left the kid in 1969 (where it appeared 10ish?), Amy is around 23, so started school (age 5) in 1992ish? So the kid would have had to grow up from 1969 to 1992, then regenerated to be about 5. That would have meant (assuming age 10 at 1969) a total age of 33 when she looked 5. By the time she's grown up again to age 23ish, she'll have a real age of 51 - so why act like a stupid kid? It just grated - I like River Song, but didn't like this character that looked like her. Maybe that's the point.

Anyway, back to the title of the show. Let's Kill Hitler! Apart from one throwaway line at the start of the episode and saving Hitler from the aforementioned time travelling shape-changing robot, he gets shut in a cupboard and left there. The title is completely misleading. The episode has the great backdrop of Berlin 1938 and does nothing with it. Hitler and the question of his crimes (which he hasn't yet committed) are ignored. Hell, even the shape-changing time travelling robot is nothing more than a gimmick, as we never find out where it's from, who built it or where/what the "mothership" is. It seems like it's just there to pad out the episode a little bit.

This episode has three main strands: Hitler, the shape-changing time travelling robot and River Song, and really each one of them could easily fill an episode. It seems a shame that the first two are neglected in order to develop the River Song story, perhaps a bit quicker than necessary**. There is some joy in leaving some things unknown.

Overall, I'm glad Dr Who is back, but don't really feel like it's back yet - if that makes any sense. I'm hoping that the bits that were overlooked in this episode are revisited later in the season, and that next weeks episode is better.

* I know that technically she's not a new character, but this aspect of her is new - she was a big part of Amy's past, and has never been mentioned, or referred to. Like the Doctor says, she wasn't at the wedding (and yes, we know why she couldn't be there, but she couldn't have known that her older self would be there, so why wasn't she?) - surely Amy would have mentioned if her best friend couldn't make it?

** And does anyone else remember River Song describing the first time she met the Doctor? She says something like, "Here was this man that I knew nothing about, but he knew everything about me." Doesn't sound all that much like what happened... I'll have to re-watch and look up the quote

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