Doctor Who

Comic Review: Dr. Who vol. 1: the Hypothetical Gentleman

Comic Review: Dr. Who vol. 1: the Hypothetical Gentleman by Diggle, Buckingham, Seifert, Bond, and many more

Review by: Prof. Jenn

doctor-who-idw-2012-001-cover-topperThe Hypothetical Gentleman consists of two story arcs: the title one, and one called The Doctor and the Nurse. Both are quite different both in writing feel and artistic style, and both are quite enjoyable.

The Hypothetical Gentleman takes place in a few different time periods in London. It concerns seances, artifacts of time, and what is real and what is shenaniganry, and of course there’s a dangerous device having to do with the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey and the Doctor must save the day. Or space-time. You get the picture. There’s some wonderful Amy-Rory dialogue, and a delightful bit where the Doctor is exploring a museum, coming across some objects that any Whovian readers will recognize with a chortle (Just checking to see the mummy is deactivated. Yes). The art is elegant and full of emotion–it reminds me a little bit of the style of CrossGen’s old series Ruse, in that we get lots of character and movement, with rich color and a sort of Impressionist realism about it.

The Doctor and the Nurse is a much more whimsical storyline, and the art is more colorful and cartoony as is appropriate. It follows Rory and the Doctor attempting to have a Boys’ Night Out, ending up with a trapped Amy and many many time periods and a flood of beer. And the Silence. But they’re not the scary Silence in this one, they’re just slightly menacing–even though we get a sense of tension and high-speed action, this isn’t one of those terrifying or super-deeply-poignant stories, but rather a fast-paced Whovian romp. The comedic relief of the Doctor’s dynamic with Rory when trapped alone with him is a lot of fun, and Amy is a resourceful hero in her timeline too.

Bottom Line: Volume One is a lot of fun–the stories are beautifully drawn, and they read like good episodes of the show. Highly recommended.



Double Review: Axe Cop & Star Trek / Dr. Who Crossover

It’s another two-fer review, readers!

Axe Cop: President of the World, Part 2
If you are a regular reader, you’ll know I am already an Axe Cop fan. President of the World delivers all the strange, fresh fun and weirdness that makes Axe Cop so entertaining. It’s interesting, though–remember when I interviewed Ethan Nicholle, and asked him what he predicted would change about Axe Cop once his little brother starts getting older? I noticed two things right away about President of the World that are significantly different than older Axe Cop issues: one is, Axe Cop actually has a female best friend (she’s “one of the only girls he [does] not think of as dumb”). And she’s pretty cool, too–though she appears so briefly in this story, I’d like to see more of what the Water Queen can do.
The other most significant difference in this recent Axe Cop might just be me, but it  strikes me that this issue is much more violent than previous stories. It’s, well…kind of dark in some places. The bad guys really are working with complex psychology, and there’s lots of mass devastation, too. This is a good thing–I think the more Axe Cop evolves, the more compelling it will continue to be.
Also, it’s really cool to have Axe Cop in color.


Star Trek TNG/Dr. Who Crossover, Assimilation2 #4
Wil Wheaton is right when he shares memories of the future that Star Trek TNG is quite talk-y. This could make for a very static, text-heavy comic, even with the eccentric action of the Doctor thrown in. However, the almost-Impressionist style of art in this comic makes for much emotion and movement in every frame, even just in discussion scenes. The painterly style with its rich jewel-toned color and broad brush strokes is lovely to look at.
About the premise: does the idea of the Borg and the Cybermen teaming up terrify the bejeezus out of you as much as it does me? Also: duh, of course Guinan and the Doctor are sort of a breed alike. Actually, I’m now convinced Guinan is actually a Time Lady.
This issue is sort of a detective story, in that the crew and company are investigating what happened down on a planet between the inhabitants, the Borg and the Cybermen. So we do the classic away team and go investigate. It’s got the Star Trek and the Doctor Who tropes I want as a reader, along with the novelty of the mashup, and the story rolls along like a good episode of either. I found myself hoping Amy’s red hair didn’t make her a redshirt.
Really, when I first heard that they were going to do a comics mashup with Dr. Who and Star Trek, I thought, “Why hasn’t that happened before?” This is delivering.

I recommend both of these comics, highly.   ~Prof. Jenn

How To Build A Dalek

Last Halloween, my friend Stephanie revealed an incredible costume she had been working on all year: a dalek. At first, I thought ‘How is that even possible? How will you wear it?” I underestimated the creativity, crafty skills and motivation Stephanie had behind this undertaking. It was unfortunate that New York was slammed by a huge snow storm Halloween weekend which cancelled all local parties, including the big one Stephanie had planned to show the dalek off at, and hopefully win a costume contest at. I couldn’t let this incredible costume go back into the basement without sharing it with all my fellow Doctor Who fans, so I set upon compiling all the information I could from Stephanie on how she pulled this off. Hopefully some of you will feel inspired by this to create your own awesome Halloween costumes this year!

I asked Stephanie to answer a few questions for me about the experience of building her dalek and hopefully a little advice for those of us thinking of trying this out:

Lissa: When did you first decide to take on the project of building the dalek? Was there some thing/event in particular that prompted you to do it? 

Stephanie: I started in February of 2011.  I am not sure what exactly got me into the idea, but when I found out Dalek’s stand about 5 feet tall (and that is my height), I figured it would be an excellent idea.  Then when I found the very detailed plans online, I was sold.

L: Did you have some idea at the beginning of how long it might take you to finish it, and how close was your estimate to the actual time it took?

S: I don’t think I had an idea, but I definitely did not think it would take the amount of time (and money) that it did.  I knew it was good to start early, and I’m glad I did, because I ended up finishing very close to Halloween.

L: Was it challenging to collect the materials?

S: It definitely was.  I was trying to find components that would work but be cheap and light and would make the final product mobile/portable.

L:  What were some of the changes you made (if any) from the original set of build instructions you used?

S: I didn’t make many changes, except ones to make it able for me to go inside.  Accidentally, it ended up taller than expected, but that turns out to be good because now people who are not petite like me can go inside it as well.


L: What was the biggest challenge in the project and how did you work past it?

S: The biggest challenge was making the dome for the head.  I could not find any bowls that were the right size (huge), so I decided I would use paper mache over a large beach ball.  However, I also could not find a beach ball that was the right size, despite ordering some online that turned out to be incorrectly described.  I finally had to use wire mesh and shape my own dome and then cover it with paper mache.


L: I know thanks to a big snow storm you were unable to show the dalek at  Halloween parties. Did you get to actually take it out for display to the public? Have you made any plans to display it since halloween?

S: I have not yet had a chance to bring it out to the public yet.  I do plan on attending one or two cons this year, though, to show it off.  And hopefully this coming Halloween.  Unfortunately I need a large venue to effectively display it, and that can be hard to find.  (It does not fit through a conventional doorway, except in pieces, so that also creates a challenge.  I have to put it together in one room and stay there the whole time.)


Now for the technical details:

The plans Stephanie used were found here. That site offers plans for several different styles of daleks. Stephanie chose to build the ‘New Series Dalek’, which premiered in 2005. I’m assuming she picked that model because, being fans of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, her boyfriend Dave would be happy to wear the appropriate Doctor costume.

For technical notes from Stephanie and her bio, read past the break.


Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series

Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series - Own it on DVD or Blu-Ray Today!

If you’re a Doctor Who fan, it’s very likely that you have either already bought this set (released November 22) or it is on your holiday wish list.  However, just in case you’re still on the fence, I have to say that the BBC has once again put together a fabulous series collection that is worth every penny.

First off, a synopsis of the DVD set:

The 6-disc set combines all 13 episodes of the new season from award-winning lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat (Sherlock, The Adventures of Tintin), along with the 2010 Holiday Special, A Christmas Carol, starring Harry Potter’s Michael Gambon, plus hours of bonus features. The series follows the adventures of the Doctor, a mysterious traveler who journeys throughout all of time and space, picking up companions along the way. ©BAFTA nominee Matt Smith (the Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory) and Alex Kingston (River Song) are back when the Doctor faces his date with death and learns a lot more about the mysterious River Song. Guest stars include Mark Sheppard (Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica), Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill), supermodel Lily Cole (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), James Corden (Gavin & Stacey,The History Boys), and David Walliams (Little Britain, Come Fly With Me). Catch a surprise appearance by NBC’s Meredith Vieira in the series finale as well as Michael Sheen (The Twilight Saga, Midnight in Paris), who voices a character in Neil Gaiman’s episode and Imelda Staunton (Cranford, Vera Drake), who voices a character in Tom MacRae’s episode. Executive producers are Piers Wenger (Upstairs Downstairs, Ashes to Ashes) and Beth Willis (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes). Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1, Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 2 and Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol are also available for purchase separately on DVD and Blu-ray.

The synopsis reminds you about all the awesome guest stars/writers they had throughout the sixth series, but it doesn’t elaborate on all the great bonus features in this DVD set.  Not only does the DVD set contain all of the Doctor Who Confidential episodes for series six, but it also provides plenty of commentaries, prequels to specific episodes, four different “Monster Files” that aired throughout the season, and two Comic Relief sketches.  Basically, almost every Doctor Who special that aired on BBC over the last year is present in this DVD collection.  Just in case re-watching all of the episodes wasn’t enough of the Doctor for you.

My favorite special is the Doctor Who Confidential for last year’s Christmas episode.  It’s longer than your average Doctor Who Confidential episode (almost an hour), and it offers us (amongst other things) a glimpse of the table read for “A Christmas Carol.”  I love seeing the giddy excitement on Matt Smith’s face when he reads with Michael Gambon, and hearing Steven Moffat read his own stage directions.  I’m a sucker for “behind-the-scenes” footage, and the Doctor Who Confidential episodes provide plenty of it.

Series Six of Doctor Who was full of awesome, including Neil Gaiman, Mark Sheppard, and a wonderfully intricate overarching story-arc involving the “death of the Doctor.”  Steven Moffat yet again drives us crazy with twists and turns throughout the series; providing some answers to long-standing questions and, of course, posing new ones.  Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and Alex Kingston have great chemistry as a whole and compliment each other (and the scripts) perfectly throughout the season.  Needless to say, I can’t wait for the next season to start.  In the meantime, I strongly recommend that every Doctor Who fan checks out this DVD/Blu-Ray series, if for no other reason than to watch out the awesome bonus features.

In case you need just a little more convincing, here’s the trailer:

Review – Doctor Who 6×13: The Wedding of River Song

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Warning: Spoilers, sweetie.

The fifth and sixth series of Doctor Who represent storytelling as a long game. I’m not willing to say that we’ve seen that game fully played out, but the sixth series has certainly gone out with a bang. It’s how we get from the Doctor running from his death while River is kidnapped to inhabit a spacesuit at the end of “Closing Time” to a wedding and what it means for the Doctor to die, that makes all the difference.

I’ll say up front: “The Wedding of River Song” does what it says on the tin. What Steven Moffat has written, is the cherry on the top of the meta sundae that this season has been. Time folding in on itself, history happening all at once, self-referential humor and even more questions when we come to the end of it. Silurians and Pterodactyls and Holy Roman Emperor Winston Churchill. Amelia Pond with an office on a train. There is no shortage of familiar faces in unfamiliar surroundings to bring the point home: the Doctor’s death is a fixed point, and reality is disintegrating. Amy Pond remembers, as she’s done before. The crack in the wall poured the universe into her head and that means she can see more than the average bear. Moffat ties this episode to “The Big Bang” on multiple levels: “Every explosion has an epicenter,” in TBB, it’s the TARDIS and here, it’s the Doctor and the fact that he hasn’t died. The drawings and figures that littered young Amelia Pond’s bedroom have their echo in the illustrations and model of the TARDIS that litter the adult Amelia Pond’s office. Amy stares down Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber) who is begging for mercy, and delivers the most chilling line in the episode, “River Song didn’t get it all from you, sweetie.” A duck pond that isn’t a duck pond, an eyepatch that isn’t an eyepatch. . . nothing is ever quite what it seems. Not every question is answered, yet Moffat manages to pack in references not only to Classic Who and Indiana Jones, but also display savvy humor towards media and fandom speculation.

Silent: (to Rory) “Rory Williams, the man who dies and dies again. . .”
River: (to the Doctor) “There are so many theories about you and I, you know? . . . Am I the woman who marries you or the woman who murders you?”
TV Presenter: (to Charles Dickens) “So, do you think you can top last year’s Christmas special?”

Director Jeremy Webb has delivered an episode that is pure romp on the surface, but weaves together the threads of the past, present and future of the Doctor and his companions. While Amy, Rory and River may be the present and future, the Doctor hasn’t forgotten his past. Not merely the recent past of Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness, but Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge-Stewart, (providing a fitting and graceful tribute to actor Nicholas Courtney who passed away earlier this year.) The Brig is the reason the Doctor recognizes that there are some things he can’t outrun. It’s a lovely moment and Matt Smith plays it with the weight it deserves. Alex Kingston gets to let the arch mask River wears slip, just a little. There is a cost to being River Song. Just as there is a cost to being Amy, or Rory, and especially to being the Doctor.

I’m not going to give everything away. If you’ve followed the trail of breadcrumbs Moffat left through the series, you’ve got everything you need to know. Looking back over this series, I’m intrigued by how much faith Moffat has placed in the audience to do just that. Delivering the payoff in the finale usually involves some over-the-top theatrics, TWoRS is no exception to that rule. When you’ve got all of time and space at your fingertips: isn’t that kind of the point, though? Everything can be at stake and therefore everything is at stake.

It may not have been as much fun as “The Big Bang” but “The Wedding of River Song” has the titular wedding, a funeral, flesh-eating skulls, an awful lot of non-linear time and Dorium Maldovar’s big blue head in a box.

What more could we ask for?


Doctor Who 6×12: Closing Time – Review

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Warning: Contains Mild Spoilers

“Closing Time,” is a comedic romp masquerading as the Doctor’s existential crisis as his death draws near, or it’s an existential crisis masquerading as a comedic romp. Either way, it works.

Oh, and there are Cybermen.

Writer Gareth Roberts picks up the awkwardly charming friendship between Craig Owens (James Corden) and the Doctor (Matt Smith) where he left off in last season’s “The Lodger.”

Craig and Sophie (Daisy Haggard, appearing all too briefly) have indeed added to the human population with baby Alfie, aka: “Stormageddon, dark lord of all,” (the Doctor still speaks baby).  While Sophie’s off on a holiday weekend, Craig is surprised by the Doctor’s return. Moping about on his, “Farewell tour,” and determinedly, “Not noticing that… I’m done saving them,” the Doctor’s curiosity gets the better of him. Shenanigans ensue.

Directed by Steve Hughes, there are plenty of laughs and more than a few chills in this episode. “Closing Time” also presents the audience with further clues that the timeline we think we’ve been on might not be quite as linear as we’ve been led to believe.

And Cybermats, which I’m told haven’t been seen in a very, very long time.

The last few episodes have been about everyone except the Doctor. Seeing the focus brought back around to him, in the company of Craig and Stormageddon, is a relief. There’s a brilliant playfulness between Corden and Smith that not only provides a nice counterpoint to the direct threat of the Cybermen, but lightens the sense of impending doom. This opens up an entirely new shading of Matt Smith’s performance as the Eleventh Doctor similar to the way Suranne Jones’ did as Idris in “The Doctor’s Wife.” Here, Smith carries the weight of the Doctor’s appointment with death in a way that’s visible in the set of his shoulders and the tilt of his head while also being incredibly gentle with the people around him. It’s a double-act, though: Craig’s haplessness should be pathetic, but Corden makes him the heroic heart of the Everyman that represents humanity’s pull on the Doctor.

Stand-alone episodes in this series have suffered somewhat with the weight of the series and character arcs. Fortunately, “Closing Time” is bubbly without ignoring the big picture, just scary enough, and gives us a companion whose relationship with the Doctor isn’t yet fraught with the vagaries of time and enemies that spring up out of nowhere. “The Lodger” took a while to grow on me; here, the respite and gentle hilarity are exactly what were needed in the penultimate episode of the sixth series.

Review: Doctor Who 6×11: The God Complex

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Warning: contains mild spoilers

With “The God Complex,” writer Toby Whithouse and director Nick Hurran have delivered an episode that is as visually minimalist as Hurran’s previous episode “The Girl Who Waited” and, for that minimalism, is incredibly sophisticated. There is a claustrophobic menace to this innocuous-looking hotel from the first frame.

There’s also plenty of surface horror to go around. From Weeping Angels to sad clowns and ventriloquist’s dummies, Whithouse and Hurran are pushing all the creepy buttons. It’s an And Then There were None scenario, with Hitchcock-style forced perspectives and more than a little borrowed from The Shining.

I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that nearly all of the dialogue is superfluous. There are points made so subtly and points made on a purely visual level that works, but it’s also a little hollow. The episode is all about the last ten minutes. There are interesting questions raised about the nature of faith and fear. Treating belief as a double-edged sword when it’s Amy’s belief in the Doctor that allowed the universe to be rebooted (“The Big Bang”) and when that belief must now be fractured in order to save Amy herself, is more than a little mind-bending.

Doctor: (to Amy) “I’m not a hero. I really am just a madman in a box. And, it’s time we saw each other as we really are: Amy Williams, it’s time to stop waiting.”
Rory: (to the Doctor) “I’d forgotten that not all victories are about saving the universe.”
Amy: (to Rory) “He’s saving us.”

I’ve had a strong impression from the beginning of this series that context within the story arc is paramount. We’ve got two episodes to go and the thematic pingbacks are becoming stronger as we go along. “The God Complex” plays its part in this well of echoes, but other than beautifully frightening visuals, that’s all it does. All the momentum in the second half of the series seems to be driving towards the Doctor’s return to Lake Silencio in episode 13.

Until then, all I can say about “The God Complex” is that it is gloriously cinematic and I wouldn’t watch it with the lights out.

Doctor Who 6×10: The Girl Who Waited – Review

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“The Girl Who Waited” is a sublime piece of television. Writer Tom MacRae and director Nick Hurran have taken what can be seen as a, “Doctor-light,” episode and made it into an extraordinary story about the companions, particularly Amy Pond. Utilizing the barest sets possible and putting Murray Gold’s score, especially new settings and variations on what are effectively the “Amy Suite” from the fifth series in the forefront, this is an episode that is easily one of the best of the sixth series.

There are echoes of “Amy’s Choice” and Rory’s wait as “The Lone Centurion” but there are further, deeper parallels to be made as well.

Landing on the holiday planet Apalapucia, Amy is separated from Rory and the Doctor and placed in an alternate timestream quarantine. Humans are immune to Chen7, as it only affects two-hearted species. Thus Rory must venture out into the quarantine zone to find Amy on his own.

For as stark and emotionally complex as this episode is, there are a lot of light moments as well:
The Doctor states that Apalapucia is the number two planet holiday destination and Rory wants to know why they can’t go to the most popular planet, the Doctor says, “Everyone goes to number one: Planet of the Coffee Shops.” There’s a giant magnifying glass that’s not a magnifying glass and in order to observe without leaving the TARDIS, the Doctor outfits Rory with his own hipster glasses as a, “Rory-cam.”

The heart of the story is based on the premise that while Chen7 is a disease that kills within a day, a compressed time stream allows loved ones to see its victims live out full lives in twenty-four hours.

Left alone, Amy has to figure out how to avoid the “Handbots” whose, “kindness,” will kill her. Rory and the Doctor have to figure out how to find her.

They do. Except her time stream has advanced thirty-six years.

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill have to go to some very dark places in this episode. While the older Amy is more than capable of taking care of herself, isolation has made her bitter at Rory and most of all, the Doctor. There are delicate touches like Amy reaching for and then putting down her lipstick when she takes Rory back to her bolt-hole. It is in acting against herself that Gillan shines, though. Watch young Amy persuade her older self to help them and I dare you not to be moved. Persuade she does, saying, “Three words: What about Rory?”

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We’ve seen Rory’s devotion and faith in Amy time and again, but here we get to see just how much she’s willing to risk and sacrifice for him. Most of the interaction between Amy and Rory is played in looks and exchanges like this one:

Amy: “I got old.”
Rory: “I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together.”

Gillan takes a risk in playing the older Amy as superficially cold as she does, because it’s very easy to forget that Amy had an ‘out’ at any time. All she would have had to do is allow the robots to perform a, “kindness.” She didn’t. She waited. She waited for a rescue that came so late, because as both Amys say, “Rory’s the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.”

Without wasting a frame or line of dialogue, “The Girl Who Waited” digs beneath the surface of life with the Doctor and what it does to his companions. There is a price to be paid for the adventures and it may be too high. As Rory says, “This isn’t fair: You’re turning me into you!” In the end, there are choices and rescues and neither come easy for Rory or Amy or even the Doctor.

It’s not all whimsy and adventure and romps through space. It’s so much more than that.

“The Girl Who Waited” may be one of the few non-Moffat scripted episodes to make it into my personal top ten. Watch it, and bring tissues, you’ll need them.

Doctor Who 6×09: Night Terrors

Warning: Mild Spoilers

“Night Terrors” is true to its title, but may suffer for its broadcast after the mid-series break. Following on the heels of “Let’s Kill Hitler” there’s a sense that the episode exists outside series continuity, much like “The Curse of The Black Spot.”

Therein lies the problem. While Mark Gatiss has written a delightfully frightening gothic confection, this series of DW is not kind to its stand-alone episodes. With so much momentum in the series arc, anything that doesn’t push that arc forward is a bit of a let-down. Which is a shame, because this is objectively one of the most creepifying episodes of Doctor Who I’ve seen in a long time.

Gatiss’ script, directed by Richard Clarke, takes shadows on the wall and things that go bump in the night and makes them truly worth the gut-wrenching fear they inspire. The Doctor (Matt Smith) is making a, “House call.” George (Jamie Oram) is home alone with his dad, Alex (Daniel Mays) in their flat. While George’s chant of, “Please save me from the monsters,” may be strong enough to carry through the vortex to the Doctor, it’s the cupboard in his room that scares the Time Lord. After all, “Monsters are real.” Mays and Oram are pitch perfect but there’s really not much for them to do within the story. A scared little boy and his equally scared (for different reasons) and conflicted father take a back seat to the realm in which his nightmares live. I won’t spoil it completely, but the set design, dressing and props departments have done something very special in NT. Making a set both frightening and funny is a masterstroke.

As all companions are an audience proxy, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are here the eyes and ears within the nightmare. It’s evident that Rory is a seasoned companion from the sheer resignation as he asks, “We’re dead again, aren’t we?” I think my biggest complaint about the episode as a whole, is that there’s so little interaction between the Doctor, companions, and guests. It almost feels like the Doctor is in one episode with George and Alex, while Amy and Rory are in an altogether different episode.

While the Doctor puzzles it out, referring to George as a, “cuckoo,” the resolution of the episode peters out. It’s too easy a resolution, and the audience already knows that there’s not really anything at stake as the malevolence of what we’ve seen lurking in the shadows is undercut by knowing the cause of it all. Lacking a real villain, unlike Gatiss’s previous scripts “The Unquiet Dead” and “The Idiot’s Lantern,” the first half of the episode ratchets up the tension and the second half lets it crumble.

I wound up being disappointed with the episode as a whole, and yet. . . One thing I’m prepared to swear: if Mark Gatiss ever writes a horror script that doesn’t pull its punches, I won’t sleep for a week.

Doctor Who 6×08: Let’s Kill Hitler

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Warning: Spoilers, Sweetie.

Doctor Who returns from the mid-series break with what seems at first glance to be nearly a Mel Brooks-style romp. “Let’s Kill Hitler,” opens with crop circles as a means of communication, stolen cars, the Doctor at gunpoint and what comes down to a timey-wimey extravaganza of answering questions that still leaves the viewer scratching their heads.

While the Doctor has been off in search of baby Melody Pond, we learn about her namesake. Watching Amy, Rory, and best mate Mels (played by Maya Glace-Green as a child and Nina Toussaint-White as an adolescent and adult,) grow up, is interesting. Mels, (who seems to have taken up the role of rebel in this timeline where Amelia Pond might not be biting her psychiatrists, but also thinks Rory is gay until Mels sets her straight,) is the embodiment of flirty, cheeky and dubiously moral. It’s a nice glimpse into the rebooted universe, but is later revealed to have implications that are both strange and hilarious.

Meanwhile, in 1938 Germany, an attempt is made on Hitler’s life by tiny life-forms in a robotic, shape-shifting body. Foiled by the appearance of the TARDIS, there’s a bit of uncomfortable notice of the importance of timelines and how rewriting history isn’t always something that should be embraced. I suspect this will be important later in the series.

The zippy dialogue soon gives way to River Song before she’s River Song. As the Doctor calls her, “My bespoke psychopath.”

River, meanwhile, gives us, “It was never going to be a gun for you, Doctor: The man of peace, who understands every kind of warfare except perhaps, the cruelest.”

Yes, hijinks ensue. Steven Moffat is determined to fill every second of the script with digs both subtle and explicit. Shoving Hitler in a cupboard, and River’s reply to an SS officer, “Well, I was on my way to this gay, gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought, ‘Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish, I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer.’ Who’s with me?”

Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan manage to show us that Amy and Rory are both the madcap companions and a couple tempered by the loss of their child.  They’re also parents who have to figure out how to parent a child who isn’t one. Investing the slapstick and banter with necessary gravity. In fact, it seems we’ve finally got an Amy and Rory who are on completely equal footing. Rory’s journey from insecurity to centurion in the first half of the series has paid off.

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The robot/vehicle, the Tesalecta, is on a justice mission and, as such, isn’t so much a villain as an obstacle. Yet its eventual role in bringing the timeline to something resembling equilibrium is critical. Revealing that the Silence are not a species, but a, “religious order or movement,” and that there is an unknown but, “hidden in plain sight,” it is, “the oldest question in the universe.”

Threads are coming together, and the sense that Moffat is playing a much longer game, reminiscent of the arcs seen since the beginning of Doctor Who, is certainly reinforced in LKH.

For anyone who has complained that River Song is too arch, too meta, here we see River as both weapon and a vulnerable fledgling. This is her beginning, where the Doctor is the one saying, “Spoilers,” rather than the other way round. Now we get to see that the perils of opposite timelines go both ways. Melody Pond kills the Doctor at Lake Silencio in 2011, and that is, as the captain of the Tessalecta says, “Fixed.” The Doctor knows this and yet he’s still trying to protect River, protect Melody, protect Amy and Rory even if it costs him his life.

We’re still left with mysteries aplenty about how the series arc is going to tie together, but “Let’s Kill Hitler,” is certainly starting the second half of the series with a bang.

While leaving Hitler in a cupboard.

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