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Doctor Who – Ranking the Regenerations

Hello, as a Doctor Who fan who has just watched the Twelfth Doctor regenerate into the character’s first female incarnation, I thought it would be a good time to rank them in my estimation.  My rankings are purely personal, and are based on a mixture of the storylines, the performances and the whole caboodle.

14 Sixth Doctor to Seventh Doctor, Time and the Rani 1987 (Colin Baker to Sylvester McCoy)
Cause of regeneration: fatally injured in a TARDIS crash caused by the Rani

Coming in at the bottom spot, we have the regeneration from Six to Seven.  This really is pretty bad as a regeneration story.  Due to conflict between Baker and the BBC, he did not come back to film his regeneration scene or even tie up his era.  Instead we were given McCoy in a blond wig.  Awful  In addition, because of this, the regeneration story was very underwhelming.  No build up, no farewell to the outgoing Doctor.  A poor showing all round.

13 Third Doctor to Fourth Doctor, Planet of the Spiders 1974 (Jon Pertwee to Tom Baker)
Cause of regeneration: fatally poisoned by radiation

I have no strong feelings on this particular storyline.  

12 Fourth Doctor to Fifth Doctor, Logopolis 1981 (Tom Baker to Peter Davison)
Cause of regeneration: fall from the lighthouse

Again I have little to say about this regeneration.  It’s most notable for the Fourth Doctor’s final words “It is the end; but the moment has been prepared for.”

11 Fifth Doctor to Sixth Doctor, The Caves of Androzani 1984 (Peter Davison to Colin Baker)

Cause of regeneration: spectrox poisoning

The Caves of Androzani is widely considered to be one of Davison’s best performances and I agree.  This regeneration is notable for the distinctly uncomfortable feeling of the Sixth Doctor’s first words about change and not being a moment too soon.  This is clearly a new Doctor to be wary of.

10 Second Doctor to Third Doctor, The War Games 1969 (Patrick Troughton to Jon Pertwee)
Cause of regeneration: forced regeneration by the Time Lords due to breaking time lord protocol

This is an unusual regeneration storyline in that the incoming Doctor was not introduced in the regeneration episode.  I’ll be honest and say I’m not so familiar with this regeneration storyline, having only seen the minutes of the regeneration.  I don’t have much to say about it really.

9 Eleventh Doctor to Twelfth Doctor, The Time of the Doctor 2013 (Matt Smith to Peter Capaldi)
Cause of regeneration: old age

Of the reboot regenerations, this is definitely the weakest, which is a shame as I really liked Matt Smith’s Doctor.  The two big issues I found were; 1) they had a powerful storyline here with Eleven believing he was at the end of his regeneration cycle and would die for reals this time around.  They diluted that strong storyline with a whole bunch of crap.  Secondly, having Matt’s Doctor age to become an old man meant that Smith had to wear a lot of prosthetics and makeup which impacted his performance.  Still, on the positive side, his final monologue was beautiful.

8 Seventh Doctor to Eighth Doctor, Doctor Who, the Movie 1996 (Sylvester McCoy to Paul McGann)

Cause of regeneration: shot by a street gang and died due to the human doctor not understanding his Gallifreyan physiology

I’m happy Sylvester McCoy got the opportunity to say goodbye to his Doctor and I’m sad that McGann only got to play the role on screen in this movie and the webisode.  Nothing much to add.

7 Tenth Doctor to Tenth Doctor, The Stolen Earth 2008 (David Tennant)

Cause of regeneration: shot by a Dalek

This was a lovely fake-out regeneration, although it is still officially a new regeneration.  In essence the Doctor was shot by a Dalek, and started to regenerate, which was the cliffhanger at the end of part one of a two-part story.  Of course people were pretty shocked – normally when a Doctor leaves it’s announced well in advance.

6 War Doctor to Ninth Doctor, Day of the Doctor 2013 (John Hurt to Christopher Eccleston)
Cause of regeneration: similar to First Doctor, body growing old after the trials of the Time War

I liked this regeneration because it filled in the missing gap.  As Ecclestone was involved in the series reboot where his Doctor was already in place we never got to see his regeneration until eight years later.  I would have liked to have seen more of the Ninth Doctor’s first moments, but this is what we got.

5 Ninth Doctor to Tenth Doctor, The Parting of the Ways 2005 (Christopher Eccleston to David Tennant)
Cause of regeneration: absorption of the Time Vortex

This is of course the first regeneration of the new reboot.  They did some nice effects for the regeneration which continued into the other regeneration scenes in the show.  I enjoyed the storyline which is a typical Doctor sacrifices himself to save his Companion.  Nothing much else to add.

4 Tenth Doctor to Eleventh Doctor, The End of Time 2009 (David Tennant to Matt Smith)
Cause of regeneration: radiation absorption

David Tennant was one of the most popular Doctors of the modern era, and they made a big deal out of his departure.  Tennant’s last series was a collection of specials and his departure storyline was threaded through all of them.  I did feel though that they did milk the departure a little too much with a rerun of Ten’s greatest hits so to speak.  It was a regeneration specifically crafted to tug at the heartstrings.  It did have a beautiful score by Murray Gold – I adore Vale Decem.

3 Twelfth Doctor to Thirteenth Doctor, Twice Upon a Time 2017 (Peter Capaldi to Jodie Whittaker)

Cause of regeneration: electrocuted by a Mondasian Cyberman

Coming in at number 3 we have Twice Upon a Time, the most recent regeneration story.  Of the modern era (post 2005) this is my favourite, perhaps because I saw it so recently.  I loved the interaction between the First Doctor and Twelve and their common theme of rejecting regeneration.  I would have liked to have seen that given a bit more emphasis rather than the Testimony, but whatever.  Capaldi’s last monologue as Twelve was beautiful – moving, appropriate and the delivery was perfect.  “Laugh hard.  Run fast.  Be kind.  Doctor, I let you go.  “  A fitting end to Capaldi’s time on the show.

2 Eighth Doctor to War Doctor, Night of the Doctor webisode 2013 (Paul McGann to John Hurt)

Cause of regeneration:  assisted regeneration after a starship crash.

Eight’s regeneration into the War Doctor comes in at my number 2 spot.  McGann’s inclusion in the fiftieth anniversary celebrations in the webisode The Night of the Doctor was unexpected and wonderful.  I loved this regeneration story for several reasons.  First, we got to fill in a gap in Doctor Who lore; seeing Eight’s regeneration.  Secondly, in Eight’s salute to his companions from the Big Finish audiobooks confirms his stories as canon which is excellent.Thirdly, I loved the concept of assisted regeneration and the fact that the Doctor got some say in his next incarnation.  

Mostly though, I loved it because of seeing the growth in Eight’s character.  When we last saw him on screen seven years previously in the Doctor Who movie, the Eighth Doctor was a lighthearted alien who danced with joy because his shoes fitted so perfectly.  Here in the webisode we see a time lord beaten down by the struggles of the Time War, who still clung to peace and wanted to do his best for everyone, even those who hated him.  This really intrigued me and I was very motivated to learn more about this character and what brought him to this place.  This was the point at which I started listening to the Big Finish audio productions.  If you aren’t familiar with them, check them out.

1 First Doctor to Second Doctor, The Tenth Planet 1966 (William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton)
Cause of regeneration: Original body getting old

At first glance, this isn’t a particularly exciting regeneration story.  The Doctor has been in his original incarnation for a while and his body is wearing a bit thin.  There is no dramatic conflict imperilling his life.  1960s special effects mean that the regeneration scene itself is pretty basic.  In actual fact, we only have a few moments of it as the episode was lost due to the BBC purge of videotapes.  

The reason this is my number one pick is because of what it started.  Without this story and concept, Doctor Who would never have survived to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The concept of regeneration to replace a lead actor with someone who looks and acts in a completely different manner is nothing short of brilliant.  And in a time without the internet and spoilers, can you imagine the shock value?  This gives the show a fresh perspective every few years and I believe that has contributed to the show’s longevity.  1960s showrunners, I salute you.

There you have it, my ranking of the Doctor’s regenerations.  How would you order them?  Let me know in the comments.

We have a female Doctor Who!!!!!

Congratulations Jodie Whittaker, our 13th Doctor.  Here’s the video of the announcement.  As a Brit, Doctor Who is part of my cultural DNA, and the casting of a new Doctor is a national event.

I am so, so excited about this.  I was so happy when I saw the hand taking the TARDIS key and knew we had a woman! 

First, I’m just really happy it’s not Kris Marshall.  No disrespect to Kris – I’m sure he’s a very fine and talented comedic actor, but I don’t think he was at all the right person to fill Capaldi’s shoes.

Now I’m even more excited for the Christmas special with the First Doctor.  Regeneration is bound to be a major theme given that both Doctors are within hours of their respective regenerations.   As an older gentleman product of the Sixties, the First Doctor is very patriarchal.  I really hope we get to see his horror at the prospect of turning into a woman!

I’m not familiar with Jodie Whittaker’s work personally, but I understand she’s handled some really tough storylines on Broadchurch so I’m satisfied.  I don’t think Who has ever miscast the Doctor.  Even poor Colin Baker only played the Time Lord as he was written.

I’m a little concerned at Chibnall’s comment that “13 was always going to be a woman.”  I’m hoping that means he has some ideas for interesting ways in which the gender swap will come into play, not just because he wanted to make his mark on Who by making the Doctor a woman purely for shock factor.  Clearly, Moffat was asked to prepare this.  The Master becoming Missy; the other Time Lord regenerating into a Time Lady; the Master’s snarky comment about the women taking over.

Speaking of gender swap, I hope they don’t drag the issues on too long.  The Doctor is a woman; get over it.  Let’s find out what kind of Doctor she will be.

The gender swap is more impactful than a racial swap.  It’s been shown time and time again that race has no meaning in the Whoniverse.

I wonder if that’s why Bill had to go?  Whittaker is a similar physical type to Heather, Bill’s love interest.  Maybe a Sapphic vibe between the Doctor and her companion was a step too far for Auntie Beeb?   Now I’m wondering about Companions!  Male, female?  How many?

Oh, please let us have River meet 13!  I think she’d be totally down with being married to a woman!

My top three fictional relationships

Today I thought I’d tell you about my top three fictional relationships.  While I do not consider myself a hard core shipper, there are a few pairings in which I am super invested, and here they are.

The Doctor and River Song (BBC, Doctor Who)

Perhaps I should provide some background here for those readers unfamiliar with the BBC series.  The Doctor is a space and time travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey who has a special fondness for Earth and who is frequently called upon to use his smarts and trusty sonic screwdriver to save the world.  As a Time Lord, he has the unique trait that, when he is severely injured, his body regenerates, giving a whole new look and personality to the character.  River Song is a slightly-more-than-human time traveller whose timeline collides on a regular basis with that of The Doctor.

Showrunner Russell T Davies, who introduced River to the show, has said that his inspiration for the character was Audrey Niffinegger’s novel The Time Traveler’s Wife in which a time traveller’s relationship with his wife is complicated by his meeting her at different points in her life.  The first time we – and The Doctor – meet River is shortly before her death when it’s clear she has already enjoyed a long and event filled relationship with The Doctor, one of which The Doctor is unaware.  Her devastation that her Doctor doesn’t know her is beautifully and poignantly played by Alex Kingston.

Throughout the following series, we learn more about River and her relationship with our favourite Gallifreyan.  Not only is their relationship complicated by jumping in and out of each other’s timelines – their first action upon meeting is to compare diaries to pinpoint where they are in their timelines – but also The Doctor’s changing personality due to his regenerations.  

Why I love this relationship.  In spite of the time travel and fantasy elements, there is a lot of human in this relationship, particularly the fear that a loved one will no longer be able to remember you or share in the memories of events you’ve experienced together.  That is the aspect of the relationship that touched me the most.  I’ll be perfectly honest here and say that much of my investment in this relationship comes from Alex Kingston’s performance as River.  it has to be said, she has some very cheesy lines: “I live for the days when I see him, but I know that every time that I do he’ll be one step further away. The day is coming when I’ll look into that man’s eyes, my Doctor, and he won’t have the faintest idea who I am. And I think it’s going to kill me.”  Kingston delivers those lines with such truth you can’t help but feel for her character.

Fitz and The Fool (Robin Hobb, Realm of the Elderlings)

Again, perhaps some background might be necessary here.  Fitz is the protagonist of Hobb’s Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies.  These are typical epic fantasy novels in which  the Fool prophesies a dire end for the Six Duchies unless he and Fitz can work together to prevent it.  Their adventures together creates a very strong bond between them, and it is a joy to watch their friendship develop.  

What makes this relationship very different in epic fantasy is the Fool’s gender fluidity.  At some points in the narrative he (I’ll use the male pronoun just for convenience) presents as male, at other points, he is female.  Throughout the series the Fool is extremely careful and adept at avoiding situations which may reveal his physical gender – he avoids bathing in public and refuses medical attention.  There are moments where Fitz could ascertain the truth of the situation but out of respect for his friend he refuses.  At this point I wonder if the Fool’s physical gender will ever be revealed – and more to the point, what difference it would actually make.

His gender has absolutely no bearing on the Fool’s love for Fitz; as far as he is concerned, Fitz is the centre of his world, his other half.  Fitz, on the other hand, views things differently.  For him a physical relationship is an integral part of a pair bond, something he struggles to accept with the Fool, given that he views him as male.  The Fool’s comment on that is very astute;  “You are confusing plumbing and love again.” I believe though that Fitz is lying to himself about the depth of his love for the Fool.  This central conflict between the pair has yet to be resolved – there is one more book to come in the Fitz and the Fool series – and I am so impatient to see how Hobb has the pair overcome this hurdle.  

As far as I am concerned, Fitz and the Fool is endgame.  Hobb all but confirmed it when Jinna the hedge witch reads Fitz’s palm and says “By your left hand, I’d say you had a sweet and true love in your short life. A love that ended only in your death. Yet here in your right hand, I see a love that wends its way in and out of all your many years. That faithful heart has been absent for a time, but is soon to return to you again.”  The very next chapter it’s not his previous love, Molly, who returns to Fitz’s life but the Fool.

Why I love this relationship.  The depth of the connection between Fitz and the Fool is so movingly written.  Both would happily give up their lives and/or happiness to ensure the other’s wellbeing.  I am so invested in the relationship and am keen to see how it develops.

Tessa Gray, Jem Carstairs and Will Herondale (Cassandra Clare, The Infernal Devices)

Generally I am not fond of love triangles, especially in young adult fiction.  All too often, it’s very clear from the beginning which couple the author intends as endgame (did anyone seriously expect Bella to end up with Jacob?)  and the third party serves as little more than a temporary roadblock on the way to true happiness.  Bleugh.  I’ve read that scenario far too often now for it to be remotely interesting.

The love triangle between Tessa, Jem and Will in The Infernal Devices is different.  The triangle is perfectly balanced in that both Jem and Will are written as valid partners for Tessa.  Clare does not make it clear which couple is endgame.  Jem and Will also have a very strong pre-existing bond and they love and respect each other as brothers.  Both are willing to sacrifice their lives and happiness so that the other may be happy.  I was genuinely upset that one of them had to step aside, and I couldn’t decide which Tessa should choose.

Why I love this relationship(s).  That ending.  Wow.  The way Clare resolved this triangle was just so beautiful and heart wrenching at the same time. She clearly did her work well to evoke such a reaction in me.

So there you have it, my top three fictional relationships. What they all have in common is that the love between the pairs is selfless – they would all give up their lives in a heartbeat to ensure their partner’s happiness – and that they all have interesting obstacles to overcome.  Let me know about your favourite fictional relationships in the comments!

In Celebration of Doctor Who

As I may have mentioned a time or two recently, the 23rd of November was the 50th anniversary of the British sci-fi show, Doctor Who.  The BBC released a significant number of documentaries, interviews and special episodes to mark the event.  For me, three highlights were An Adventure in Space and Time, The Night of the Doctor minisode and the multi-Doctor Day of the Doctor 50th anniversary episode.

Day of the Doctor written by Stephen Moffat
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: iTunes Season Pass, Blu-Ray DVD
Starring: Matt SmithDavid TennantJohn Hurt
Length: 75 minutes Buy from Amazon • iTunes

There are full spoilers below for all three, so please join me after the cut.


Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013

Reading Roundup – 15th November 2013State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine
Format: ARC
Pages: 254 pages
Genres: Mystery
Buy from Amazon
Evelynne's rating: four-stars

One of the books I read this week was one I was given free to review by the author, State vs. Lassiter by Paul Levine.  This is a legal mystery/thriller in which trial lawyer Jake Lassiter sees court from the other side as he is framed for murder.  This is the tenth in the Jake Lassiter series, but only the first one I have read.  Not having read the others didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book; State vs. Lassiter is quite capable of working as a stand-alone.  Legal thrillers is not a genre I read a lot of although I do enjoy it.  In this one I particularly appreciated the way Levine, a former trial lawyer himself, was able to express complex legal aspects clearly and succinctly to be easily understood by a layman like myself.  

The narrative style was fresh and engaging and each chapter ended on a cliffhanger to keep me reading more.  One aspect I didn’t appreciate so much was the way women were depicted in the novel.  For me a little too much focus was placed on their sexual allure rather than their mental acumen.  Despite that, I enjoyed the book and gave it four stars out of five.

This week a new trailer was released for the Divergent movie starring Shailene Woody and Theo James.  From what I’m seeing this looks to be a great adaptation of a fantastic book.  There have been some great casting coups – I’m particularly looking forward to Oscar winner Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews.  

This week, too, I’ve been sucked into the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary buildup.  Having watched some interviews with David Bradley, who plays William Hartnell, and writer Mark Gattiss, I’m particularly excited by An Adventure in Space and Time.  This is a docudrama about the origins of Doctor Who.  Both Gattis and Bradley come across as very passionate about the project and also very sensitive of the place the program occupies in British culture.  Reviews from the prescreening at the BFI have been positive.  Go and take a look at the trailer.

It’s not often in these days of the internet that show runners are able to pull off a major surprise, but it appears Steven Moffat has succeeded in keeping the secret of the prequel The Night of the Doctor.  Much fangirl squeeing and running off to check out Big Audio Finish’s selection of Doctor Who full cast audiobooks ensued.  Judging from the Twitter frenzy, most of the fandom seemed to agree with me, which was lovely to see.  What a wonderful birthday gift for PM.  

A rather interesting exercise I undertook this week was to watch the very first episode of Doctor Who first broadcast almost 50 years ago, An Unearthly Child, and follow it up with the most recent episode of the reboot, The Name of the Doctor.  It’s interesting to see how much it has changed – and what has stayed the same.  The Doctor’s personality is different, understandable, given how it changes with regeneration.  However, the focus was more on exploration than saving the planet from destruction.  The police box and signature tunes have remained though – ware the show runner who messes with those icons!

Added to my library this week

In keeping with my mania for all things Who, I’ve added a couple of audiobooks to my collection,  The Ultimate Foe and the Eighth Doctor’s Dark Eyes.  I also added a couple of the Best Of the classic Doctor collections.  Amazon and iTunes already have preorders up for The Day of the Doctor, and I chose the iTunes season pass.  As well as the forthcoming Day of the Doctor and An Adventure in Space and Time, it includes the Doctors Revisited documentaries for Doctors Eight to Eleven.  

Also this week I took advantage of the Whispersync for Voice deal to pick up Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas from Audible for $4.

Since I loved The Darkest Minds so much, I added the novella, in Time to my Kindle collection.

Are you excited about the Doctor Who anniversary?  Let me know in the comments.


Reading Roundup – 25 October 2013

doctor who

I think my reading of House of Hades must have infected me with some demigod ADHD because I am trying to read no fewer than four books at the same time.  Sigh.  So many great books, so little time.

I couldn’t decide what audiobook to listen to at work so I used a random number generator to help me choose.  The selection landed on The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March.  For those of you who don’t know, this is set in the same world as Finding Colin Firth but written and set earlier.  So far I’m enjoying it – I loved the setting and the characters are relatable.   A full review will come shortly.

After listening to a few chapters though I realised I was more in the mood for some YA dystopia, so I picked up Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds.  I’d been hooked by the preview on Bracken’s website and I am continuing to enjoy it.  Ruby seems an interesting, if damaged character, and I look forward to reading more of her story.  Again, expect a full review soon.

I had been asked to review Paul Levine’s State vs. Lassiter so I have added it to this week’s TBR.  I’ve not yet started it, but I will of course share my thoughts with you.

This week is Allegiant week of course, and I have added it to my library.  I’m hearing that this doesn’t follow the usual YA dystopian mould, which has angered some fans.  I have this in both Audible and ebook formats, but will primarily read it rather than listen to it as I’m really not fond of the narrator for this series.  However, the audio format will allow me to continue to follow the story while I wait for tickets to come in at work.  You can expect my review in due course.

Reading Roundup – 11th October 2013Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat
Series: Doctor Who
Genres: Sci-Fi
Format: Blu Ray DVD
Starring: Matt Smith, David Tennant, John Hurt
Length: 75 minutes
Buy from Amazon

However, my one big obsession this week has been Doctor Who.  The trailer for the 50th anniversary special, Day of the Doctor, was released and looks absolutely stunning.  I really can’t wait to see this, although as I am working, I will not be able to join other Who fans in the cinema.  David Tennant and Matt Smith are both very easy on the eye, and are both wonderful actors.  Add John Hurt into the mix as an intriguing new “Doctor” and this is made of win.

Now, while I am not a dyed in the wool Whovian, I do love the show – it’s one of the few for which I have bought all seasons on iTunes (at least for New Who – from the 2005 reboot on).  I love its mixture of scary, funny and touching, and the writing and acting are usually excellent.  I am particularly invested in the Doctor’s relationship with River Song, thanks to the acting talents of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston.

Despite adoring New Who, I’ve not really paid much attention to Classic Who since hiding behind my parents’ sofa from the Daleks as a child.  Like most Brits above a certain age, I strongly identify with one of the Classic Doctors; for me Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor) was the Doctor, he of the long scarf and toothy grin.  As part of the tributes to the show for it’s 50th anniversary year BBC America and Space in Canada are showing half hour documentaries focusing on each of the Doctor’s incarnations  which is then paired with a classic episode from that Doctor’s era.  I have watched from the First to the Ninth Doctors and it is fascinating to see how the character has developed.  Tor also has an excellent series on each of the Doctors and their best episodes.

I’m also looking forward to An Adventure in Space and Time, a documentary behind the creation of Doctor Who in which David Bradley of Harry Potter/Game of Thrones fame takes on the role of William Hartnell who played the first Doctor.  That sounds as if it will be a great insight into what went on.

This has all whetted my appetite for all things Doctor-y, so I have been spending my week when not working or reading watching Doctor Who videos online.  I have ordered the Doctors Revisited DVDs so I look forward to those.

Added to my library this week

Other than Allegiant, I’ve not added anything to my library this week.

I did put a hold on a couple of audiobooks from the library. The first of these is Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.  I’m hearing this is a wonderfully sweet , beautifully written teen romance.  It’s not my usual genre, so when I saw it was available from the library, I thought I would borrow it first.  It’s not yet available for me, but once I do get round to listening to it, I’ll let you know what I think.

The second one I placed on hold was Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver.  Again I will let you know what I think.

So what has been your obsession this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Let’s Kill Hitler – Doctor Who Review (Spoilers, Sweetie)

The second half of Matt Smith's second season as the Eleventh Doctor kicked off last Saturday with an episode entitled Let's Kill Hitler. It was written by show runner Steven Moffat. Following on from my previous entry regarding spoilers I saw this episode completely unspoiled, especially the reveal that Amy and Rory's friend "Mels" was actually one of River Song's regenerations.  In this case I believe being spoiler-free added to my enjoyment of the episode.

Judging from the Television Without Pity forums, this seems to have been rather a divisive episode with some viewers turned off by what they perceived as Moffat's flaunting his cleverness in the viewer's face.  Personally, I really enjoyed it, although it owes a great deal to the charisma of Matt Smith and Alex Kingston playing The Doctor and River Song respectively.  Honourable mentions to Arthur Darvill and Karen Gillan.  I really doubt I would have enjoyed this episode nearly as much with different actors.  Alex Kingston in particular appeared to have an absolute blast playing this episode.

So with this episode we've now seen the first and last meetings between River and The Doctor from River's perspective.  We've yet to see the last from The Doctor's perspective, when presumably he gives her the sonic screwdriver seen in The Forest of the Dead.  Why do I have the feeling that'll be for the season finale?  Heck, I can see it my head now;  River casually mentions that the next day she has to go to check out a disturbance at the Library.  The Doctor realises that the next day she will die saving his life, but he can't tell her.   Darn, I can't wait to see Matt Smith play that scene.  He's going to absolutely nail it.  I swear, Steven Moffat, if you don't give me that scene I'll set the Silence on you.   I'm tearing up just thinking about it.  

Ahem, back to the review.  To be fair I can see why some viewers were put off by the constant in-jokes.  The ones I spotted included Hitler's being put "in the closet" (presumably a reference to the Fuhrer's ambiguous sexuality); Alex Kingston re-enacting a scene from The Graduate; "you named your daughter after… your daughter!"; the title's reference to a key trope of time travel fiction – would killing Hitler in the past lead to a better or worse future?  To some extent, it could come across as Moffat's being too clever for his own good.  I suspect the viewer's enjoyment of the episode depended to a great extent on how willing he or she was to overlook that.

What I liked:

The acting:  As mentioned above, Alex Kingston and Matt Smith sold this episode for me.  Enough said

The River/Doctor relationship: Again thanks to the the fantastic acting, I am now heavily emotionally invested in the River/Doctor relationship.  I love the bittersweetness of their out of time romance, and am delighted with anything new in that respect.  I could do without the complication of the Rory/Amy daughter connection.

What I disliked:

The overload of injokes:  One or two to spice things up would have been fun, but enough is enough

The too-sudden shift in River's personality:  Much as I enjoyed watching Alex KIngston play bad girl River, her sudden shift from psychopathic assassin to selfless Doctor lover didn't feel earned.  We are supposed to accept that River endured years of physological brainwashing by the Silence/Eyepatch Lady to turn her into the perfect weapon against The Doctor, a task she carried out efficiently and willingly on their first meeting.  It is rather a stretch to believe that in the course of 30 minutes something happened to break completely that mental conditioning.  No clear explanation was given and that weakened River's whole character arc for me.


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