This mid-season break has really thrown off my timing, hence the lateness of this review (in my defense I’m not one of those ‘legitimate’ TV critics who get to watch and write about this stuff in advance, I wish I was though as it would mean that I’d be getting paid for coming up with this nonsense). Although it did provide me with the opportunity to blog about a series that turned out to be a massive waste of time, and catch a few episodes of the new run of Torchwood, which proved to be a handy reminder of Russell T. Davies’ worst traits when he was in charge of Doctor Who. Compare Miracle Day’s over-serious take on ridiculous characters and subject matter and its stretching things out much further than they should go with Steven Moffat’s run on Who which has, in many ways, the complete opposite approach, in particular his tendency to squeeze about three episode’s worth of story into each one. Don’t get me wrong, I did love Davies’ take on the show when it started, but it did get very dreary towards the end, and am still finding the mad inventiveness of Moffat’s Who quite refreshing (I expect Moffat didn’t have his own sci-fi show before this as TV commissioners took his complicated plot-lines for the ramblings of a mad-man).
And Let’s Kill Hitler was a very Moffat episode – whirlwind to the point of exhausting, but so stuffed full of events and one-liners that even when one fell flat, there was another one along in a minute. So much so that I had to watch it twice before even starting on this review, and I still feel like I should have given it another run-through, but there’s not really enough time, so feel free to mention your favourite bits, or the worst bits, that I’ve inevitably forgotten about, in the comments section
The sheer energy of the episode did help though as it could have been controversial if it had taken itself a bit more seriously – mainly the Third Reich setting (I liked River’s ‘I was just on my way to a gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled’ line), and the use of Hitler as a villain (I liked the fact that it turned out he was mainly included to provide a ridiculous title rather than do much – I think we’ve all had our fill of dramas featuring him for a while). I would have thought that the Doctor’s ‘You big ginge’ insult would have drawn a few complaints, but apparently the only one the press dug up was something about one of the German lines apparently sounding like ‘fuck’, which I didn’t notice either time I watched the episode.
Of course it was also a very River Song episode (despite the name, I actually didn’t twig instantly that Mel was in fact Melody/River) which is, in my opinion, a very good thing – I’ve spotted some sniffy comments about the character and Moffat’s fondness for her here and there but I’m still enjoying both her character and Alex Kingston’s obvious enthusiasm for a playing a kick-arse role. In fact I’d gladly watch her own spin-off series if there was one, even though we know the most important parts of her story now – we’ve now covered how it starts and how it ends, so there should only be a few key details to be filled in (in particular does she marry/kill the Doctor?) which I expect will happen by the end of this season (I expect the rather clumsy reminder about her being the little girl in spacesuit in the opening double bill – ‘the last time I did this I was a girl in New York’ – was Moffat attempting to draw us along that line of thinking again, as was the more obvious questioning from Amy at the end of the episode about why the future River was locked up at the end of the episode, it’s not going to be that obvious though, surely?). Either way, it’s been fascinating to see the progression of the character, from a guest role in season four, to this. You do wonder if it’s all been planned by Moffat since introducing her in the Silence in the Library, but while he obviously had a basic idea of who/what she was before taking over as showrunner, I expect he’s only been filling in the details as he’s been going along – otherwise Mel would have featured in an earlier episode. On a related note, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Amy and Rory would leave at the end of this season to take care of their daughter, but will this be ruled out now – as they only became a couple thanks to the influence of the older version of their daughter, wouldn’t it be too much of a paradox to have them then go back and rescue her as a baby/young girl? I’m hoping that Moffat isn’t going to do what Davies never had the courage to and actually kill a companion (or two) off – yes, it should happen sometime, but I’d rather it didn’t have to happen with the still very enjoyable Amy and Rory. I can see it happening in a few weeks though, and am kind of dreading the thought of it.