'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 8 - 'Let's Kill Hitler'
Written by Steven Moffat - Directed by Richard Senior
After a miserable few months and only the tremendous 'Torchwood: Miracle Day' (I love it, although many don't)to keep fans going, our beloved show finally returns to brighten up our Saturday nights. For those who follow the site, you will be aware that I felt a little disappointed by the mid-series finale, 'A Good Man Goes To War' (which I re-watched again recently and sadly still felt the same), but let's not moan over spilt milk, let's kill Hitler instead!
The TARDIS travels from Leadworth to Berlin in 1938 where The Doctor, Amy, Rory and 'Mels' meet Hitler at the rise of the Third Reich, but meeting the Fuhrer is the last of their problems when they discover more hidden truths about River Song/Melody Pond and her relationships to the group.
Like many, I was expecting 'Let's Kill Hitler' to be a 'romp' episode, much like 'The Curse of the Black Spot' - It would have been a good idea after the emotional impact of episode 7 to give viewers a fun, witty and entertaining ride to ease them back into the series but in rather typical Moffat fashion, the title misleads fans in more departments than one and makes this episode a heavy character study which seems to slightly forget it's footing.
There's no denying that this episode was fun and indeed enjoyable; it had witty dialogue, some brilliant CGI effects and it was a sheer pleasure to see the gang bursting from my box once again, but something wasn't right. For starters, 'Let's Kill Hitler' as a title is terribly out of place - Adolf is in the episode for the sum total of 2 minutes and utters perhaps 4 lines of brief dialogue, the task of actually killing him isn't even established which makes it all the more contradictory, and then we get a tyrant of muddled information about River Song/Melody Pond which is even confusing loyal 'Who' fans - I dread to think what newcomers are trying to make of all this. SPOILERS! Here is a list of everything involving River/Melody in this 45 minute episode:
River Song is not River Song, in fact she is an old school friend of Amy and Rory's called 'Mels'
'Mels' then regenerates into River Song but she is unaware of who River is
As we already know, River/Melody is Amy and Rory's child
River poisons The Doctor by kissing him
River is then shot multiple times by Nazi officers and but part-regenerates to avoid death
River flies the TARDIS to save Amy and Rory from certain death inside a robotic replica of Amy
River then part-regenerates again to save The Doctor even though her 'primary mission' is to kill him
River then finds out who River actually is and knows why The Doctor cares for her
Future River is at the Luna University wanting to become an archaeologist
Although River is probably my favourite character and I love every moment of screen-time with her, it seems that Moffat was either making up everything as he went along, or has given viewers a bombardment of information in one go meaning we won't be seeing much more of the character until obviously the final two episodes. Amongst all this was the episode's plot which was based around replicating a person to gain information and capturing the 'real' person by shrinking them and placing them inside the robotic version in order for them to be disposed - imagine a concentration camp for The Borrowers with alien jellyfish as security. As ludicrous as this all sounds, this was the episode's strongest point along with it's performances - this is the adventure we wanted and needed, it felt tongue-in-cheek and bubbly; perfect Saturday night television. Don't get me wrong, I adore the darkness that's leaked into the show over the last two years, but this was the silly yet engaging Sci-Fi I wanted and it was a slight shame to weigh it down by the double-crossing character narratives.
As previously mentioned, the performances were all fantastic, especially Smith who gives one of his best as The Doctor so far here. He embodies everything that defines the character; from the zany humour, to the darkness that sometimes gets the better of him. After he had been poisoned and was slowly dying, Smith's gun came out a-blazing and he acted his socks off. It was a naturalistic, effecting and often funny portrayal and he deserves a great big pat on the back for it. Tremendous stuff. Gillan and Darvill were also both excellent and opened the episode with a hilarious bang as they race through cornfields to find The Doctor. Kingston was great too and spoke an utterly wonderful line of dialogue to the Nazi's; I won't spoil it as it's that funny.
But despite my slight quibbles, I was engrossed, entertained and satisfied by our favourite Time Lord's return - 'Let's Kill Hitler' had tremendous momentum and laughs-a-plenty. Roll on 'Night Terrors' which looks pretty darn scary.
'Torchwood: Miracle Day' - 'The Categories of Life'
Written by Jane Espenson - Directed by Guy Ferland
Sorry once again readers for skipping the review for episode 4 which by the way was brilliant - I've been totally swamped with things to do and unfortunately the review slipped under the radar, but fear not, here's my thoughts on the half-way point of the so far exquisite 'Miracle Day'...
Going undercover, the team go to the ‘Overflow Camps’ where they find a shocking revelation to those marked categories 1 or 2. Meanwhile, Captain Jack attempts to convince Oswald Danes to expose PhiCorp’s advanced knowledge of the ‘Miracle’ in front of a live and televised audience.
After 4 episodes that focused predominately on building tension and developing an impeccably strong narrative arc, 'The Categories of Life' combined these elements and adds them to a mixture of high-octane investigation and action, along with further establishing the identity of PhiCorp and the role they have played in regards to the 'Miracle', and in doing all this, produced one of the most gripping 60 minutes of British/American television one has seen for a particularly long time.
Everything was executed perfectly and has proven the mass potential this series has to offer in it's closing 5 episodes. This episode had two greatly shocking moments which I will not note due to spoilers, as well as visually addressing the 'Overflow Camps' which were hindered at during the fourth episode. It's clear that the idea behind the camps was taken from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, but rather than being painstakingly obvious in their cruel ethos and mistreatment, the 'Overflow Camps' bear a presentable façade and are constructed upon a false but positive image which is cracked by the Torchwood team; particularly through the nose-poking of Dr. Vera Suarez (Arlene Tur).
Sadly this series has received a bit of hate from fans who believe the Atlantic move was a bad idea but hopefully they were more pleased by this entry as it had a decent and constructed balance between Wales and California. Personally I think the move was a fantastic idea and people should be relishing the fact that more people are able to access this wonderful show. 'Miracle Day' may not be complete Sci-Fi through and through, but it is certainly powerful and thought-provoking drama laced with wonderful performances and the best writing the show has ever had. Apart from 'Children of Earth', the first two series were plagued by the odd episodes with dodgy writing and poor dialogue, but now the show is getting experienced and knowledgeable writers who are helping to dramatically boost this series' potential. Jane Espenson's script was flawless here and performed with great skill. Oswald's speech sequence was a thing of scripting beauty; his dialogue felt so real, so articulate, as was Pullman's impeccable delivery.
In regards to the action/thriller elements, Gwen's return to Cardiff to find her father made utterly gripping television alongside the brimming news of the camps state-side, and consequently made each cut from place to place intense and entertaining - a mere moment was not still in this episode due to it's fantastic pacing and persistence, and it's performers. Thankfully, 'Miracle Day' hasn't plodded along and has been bursting with energy and excitement, but this episode was explosive, rich and deeply satisfying for it's consumer.
Realistically, Jack was slightly side-seated in this episode and only really came out to play before Oswald's big show, but that was a good thing. It's better to get further and stricter understanding of those characters who could perhaps become underdeveloped. We all know Jack and Gwen, and why Torchwood was formed, so it was wise to give the majority of the drama to the other characters. Yes, Gwen did have an important role here and she is included one of the shock moments so maybe my last comment was slightly contradictory, but overall, episode 5 allowed viewers to completely unlock the US arrivals, and I for one thought that was marvellous.
Now I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I cannot wait for next Thursday. Not many shows leave me completely reeling and desperate for more but 'Miracle Day' is. Russell T. Davies has certainly got his game-face on with this series which is making me think one thing - I hope the second half of 'Doctor Who' is as good as this... 'The Categories of Life' was simply fantastic.