So, here’s the thing.
How do I write a review of the new episode of Doctor Who, the Steven Moffat penned Let’s Kill Hitler, without giving away the very thing that is, for me, making Moffat’s tenure as showrunner and head writer such a pleasure? More importantly, how do I write the review without incurring the wrath of The Moffster himself, as the forthright Scotsman has made it clear in no uncertain terms that he considers the proliferation of spoiler spreading fans to be the bane of his creative existence? So.Where to begin?
Firstly, is it any good? The answer, you’ll be pleased to hear, is yes, it really rather is. Coming off the break of the apparently Moffat dictated summer hiatus, series six of the revived series very much validates his desire to break the series in two to fulfil the wish of enabling him to write two premier episodes and two series finales (and presumably take advantage of the darkening nights and worsening weather of the autumn!) . Whether Moffat’s creative desires are in fact the full story behind this series’ transmission split is debatable, but without delving into unsubstantiated production gossip, I can at least say that the spilt seems to have had no negative effects on the show whatsoever, artistically speaking.
In fact, the show seems to return in a galvanised, stronger than ever fashion. This is an episode that fires on virtually all cylinders and, whilst it never quite reaches the heights of this series’ excellent The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon two part premier, it manages to come pretty darn close and does a superb job of addressing the cliffhanger of A Good Man Goes to War whilst managing to tell an incredibly solid, if not mind blowing monster/situation of the week story. This feels confident and assured, the inconsistent nature of 2005s initial revival a distant memory.
As I’m not planning on giving specifics, lest Moffat erase me from existence, I’ll instead throw down in loose form all the little itty bits of goodness from the episode that hopefully won’t compromise the show’s full effectiveness come its premier on 27th August (Write it in your spooky, prescient blue diaries now, kids!).
* Whilst the events of A Good Man Goes To War are picked up in this episode, the story doesn’t take place immediately after- in fact, some time has gone by for everyone’s favourite newlyweds, making the summer hiatus feel quite natural, much more so than many a hiatus I’ve endured in my time (I’m looking at you, LOST season 3!)
* Matt Smith gets the chance to augment his costume a little, with a fetching new coat that is NOT a result of the episode’s period setting. Sadly, this augmentation does not extend to any new comedy gold related headwear.
* Arthur Darvill’s Rory continues to come into his own in a big, big way. He can do comedy, drama, and looks like he might yet turn into Who’s version of an action hero. Plus, as far as my preview audience was concerned, he gets all the best lines. As a character, Rory has really managed to leap way beyond a main companion’s occasional sidekick ala Mickey Smith or Wilfred Mott to a character that, if and when Karen Gillan eventually leaves the TARDIS, could easily graduate to the main and possibly sole companion role-he’s that good.
*We get to see, if briefly, the excellent Caitlin Blackwood as a young Amelia Pond. She continues to be the cutest and funniest girl in all the universe and I am delighted they keep managing to find ways to capitalise on her. I want to freeze her in time and make her my daughter. She would follow me around and screw up her face whilst being oh-so Scottish and skeptical.
*We’re introduced to a childhood friend of the Ponds that I rather suspect may have their eyes on becoming the next full time companion and if Moffat does decide to go down that route I think it’ll be an...interesting choice. Having said that, I was pretty resistant initially to the idea of Donna as full time companion and that all worked out roses. Speaking of which...
*Those of us with a fondness for past companion cameos will be momentarily delighted.
*The episode manages to juggle comedy and seriousness in a way that only the best Who’s do and ably meets the challenge of essentially being a new series premier whilst simultaneously dealing with a TARDIS-full of continuity that has, in many ways, been building gradually since 2008’s Tennant adventure (and my personal fave Who story) Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead.
* The Fuhrer hasn’t been this amusing since Inglorious Basterds.
To summarise, Let’s Kill Hitler is an extremely solid episode, one that mixes the big questions with the shows weekly format admirably and only manages to fail entering the Moffat hitlist of wonderfulness due to its continuity baggage, something that, from the perspective of a lover of long term, intricate plotting, is in fact a major plus, but barrs the episode from ever being one which you’d use to introduce new viewers to the show, despite it’s all round success.
My one area of complaint was the very slight feeling that, as in A Christmas Carol, the more slapstick, kooky elements of Matt Smith’s Doctor may, if left entirely to their own devices, become slightly overindulged and overused, but hopefully, given the steady hand that Moffat usually brings to the proceedings, these fears are probably unfounded. Only time will tell.
Get it? Time.
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