Saturday, 1 October 2011

'The Wedding of River Song' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 13 - 'The Wedding of River Song'
Written by Steven Moffat - Directed by Jeremy Webb

So, here we are, the end of another series of our beloved 'Doctor Who'. It's been an incredible, complex and slightly disjointed journey and one which no fan wants to end, but hold back the tears and that sinking feeling of having to put up with mindless reality television every Saturday night from now on and let's assess tonight's finale. GERONIMO! 

Plot Outline:
April 22nd 2011 - The day of The Doctor's death. The location - Lake Silencio, Utah. The time - 5:02pm. This is the moment that has been waiting for him and the single thing even he cannot avoid. This is where 'Silence Will Fall'.

 Regular readers will know that I had quite a few problems with the mid-series finale 'A Good Man Goes to War' and indeed with having the mid-series break in general. The single thing one prayed was for 'The Wedding of River Song' not to replicate the disappointment and mistakes of episode 7 and with great relief it didn't. However, there were certainly some problems which I want to get out in the open now.

 Firstly, in regards to the series overall, it was not as consistent as series 5 and I truly believe this is because of the break. It made series 6 feel like two mini-series' rather than a complete package. It also made many episodes - amazing ones at that, seem utterly redundant; in fact the only episodes from the first half which truly impacted on the finale was 'The Impossible Astronaut'/'Day of the Moon' and 'A Good Man Goes to War'

Series 5 had a beautifully constructed continuity with the crack in Amy's wall amongst over things whilst 2011's adventures seemed fairly fragmented. That's not to say series 6 was bad, far from it - it featured 3 incredible episodes and a handful of brilliant ones, but it just didn't live up to it's predecessor.  

 'TWORS' sadly felt rushed in certain areas and did not allow enough time to build tension and momentum - this I believe is due to only issuing 45 minutes to a story which had so much heft and plot points to tie. It simply wasn't enough - it should have been a two-parter or at least an hour in length. Finally, the last complaint lies with Moffat and his 'promises'. Audiences were supposed to have everything tied up and understood; nothing left at a loose end. Yes, we found out a few things, but information regarding The Silence is still aloof as well as other important plot points. It's a real shame and a bit of a cheek in all honesty.

 So far you are probably thinking this is a one star review right? Well no, it's certainly not because despite it's flaws, 'TWORS' was a greatly entertaining and thrilling final episode which boasted fantastic performances, terrific action and beautiful dialogue from Moffat's superb script.

 The visuals were incredibly striking throughout - from the eerie hall of water tanks filled with the dreaded Silence, to the hilariously endearing futuristic London and Cairo - A pyramid with the USA flag and 'Area 52' slapped across it's side was amongst the highlights. Webb's direction was also fantastic and presented clear uses of advance camera movements and techniques. Dramatic close-ups and drifting wide angles were a-plenty here.

 Despite one's niggles with the series' linear narrative wrap-up in total, as in individual script, 'TWORS' was a success. As previously mentioned, the dialogue was excellent; "Texting and Scones" will become an infinitely quoted 'Who' line, plus the cross-cutting nature of the episode was engaging and gripping, and the big reveals were handled with great skill and tremendous execution from the TARDIS gang. Plus seeing Mark Gatiss pop up as Gantok was great and death by staving skulls was just genius.

 As the series closes, audiences now know why River Song is in prison and who she killed, and fully understood the elements to The Doctor and her's mismatched timeline - whilst he's 'dead' in one timeline, she is meeting him at the Byzantium in another. It also made use of the Teselecta from 'Let's Kill Hitler' which happened to become a major plot point - something which I did not imagine and was pleasantly surprised by. Fans also learnt about the mysterious eye-patch or 'Eye-Drive' which is a device worn when surrounded by The Silence in order for one to remember seeing them; a smart and intriguing concept from Moffat.

 As usual, Smith was electric here and gave a stunning performance. The sequences between him and River in the final moments were sublime and drenched with emotion. Alex Kingston was also fantastic and owned the screen in the scenes she featured. Gillan and Darvill were both brilliant too and had amusingly awkward chemistry. Rory's Silence Soldier referring to Amy as 'Ma'am' was funny stuff.

 So in summary, The Doctor's final outing in series 6 was a mixed bag, but I generally believe there was more sweet than sour offerings here and I'm pleased the series has ended on a higher note. With Claire Skinner ('Outnumbered') signed for the Christmas special and rumours that it will be based on C.S Lewis' 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe', there's plenty to get excited about over the next few months and the release of the new Adventure Game, 'The Gunpowder Plot' will hopefully ease some pain whilst waiting for December. Once Series 6 Part 2 is released on DVD and Blu-Ray, I'll spend a day watching them one by one and see just how much difference the break made, but at this current stage in space and time, I believe it made a significant difference and I sincerely hope Moffat does not choose to do it again...

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