Saturday, 23 April 2011


Doctor Who
31x12 The Pandorica Opens [2nd watch]
31x13 The Big Bang [season finale; 2nd watch]
32x00 A Christmas Carol [2nd watch]
32x01 The Impossible Astronaut
Read my latest thoughts on The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang here. A Christmas Carol, meanwhile, is probably the most Christmassy-feeling of all the Who Christmas specials, so watching it on a super-sunny day in the middle of April feels wrong. It's properly brilliant though.
As for The Impossible Astronaut... well, I'm not quite sure yet. It was definitely quite good and had some very good bits -- the aliens are scary (the bathroom scene in particular), a lot of quotable and amusing lines -- but it felt less than the sum of its parts somehow. I think that, unlike some nuWho two-parters, it really needs its second half to assess its quality. So we'll see next week.
[Watch The Pandorica Opens, The Big Bang and The Impossible Astronaut (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who Confidential
6x01 Coming to America
Despite revamped graphics and a slightly revamped format, Confidential seemed to struggle to fill its length. Perhaps a return to a tight, fast 30 minutes would be better now?
[Watch it (again) in HD on iPlayer.]

My Sarah Jane: A Tribute to Elisabeth Sladen
A short but poignant tribute to the greatly-missed Elisabeth Sladen. Well done CBBC/Confidential.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]

The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins
4x01 (23/4/11 edition)
Assumed this had been dropped, but no, it's back for a fourth run! Considering most Lottery shows are cancelled after just one series, that's impressive. It may be irritating in places -- step forward Nick Knowles -- but the simplicity of its format is addictive.
[Watch it (again) on iPlayer.]


Graham Norton
(23/4/11 edition)
Managed to tune in for some of today's Steven Moffat interview, and caught the rest just now. If that's what you're after, it begins just under halfway through.
[Listen (again) on iPlayer.]

Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang

Normally I'd just attach this little slice of my thoughts to tonight's TV post, but with a new Who to talk about then it might get a little crowded. I wish I hadn't left my season five catch-up to the very last minute, basically. But anyway, here they are.

Firstly, though, a couple of links: my thoughts after the broadcast on The Pandorica Opens are here and on The Big Bang are here. This is my second watch of each.

Fan polls always rate nuWho season finales disproportionately strongly, I think -- I could expound on why, but my ultimate viewpoint is they have a tendency to top polls while rarely being the season's strongest story. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is a case in point. It has a lot going for it, with a lot of fun along the way, but ultimately I don't think it's as enjoyable in its own right as several other stories from season five. As a climax to the whole run it's great, but there are others that work better in isolation; as stories in their own right. I think some viewers are just too easily led by the Big Ending, Sub-plot Concluding, Mystery Revealing status of finales.

This one in particular works better on first viewing. With all its mysteries solved, the first half goes nowhere fast. There are still good bits -- the whole pre-titles; Underhenge; the Doctor's grand speech to his assembled enemies -- but without the mystery of what the Pandorica is or what's inside it you just want it to get a wriggle on.

The second half is less dependent on you not knowing what's coming, however, so the timey-wimey fiddling is still entertaining. The fact the loop never begins is a distraction though; it bamboozles you by rushing along, hoping you won't notice this impossibility. Of course, if it owned up to it, we'd still just be offered "wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey" or "the miracles of the universe" as an explanation, so perhaps the point is moot. But it would be even more satisfying if it wholly worked rather than mostly working.

I do love how brilliant Rory was made to be in The Big Bang though, and Amy's "something borrowed..." recital at the wedding is less uncomfortable and more awesome when you know it's going somewhere and she's not just some barking girl. I'd've shot and edited it slightly differently, but hey, that's a niggle. And the two effects shots of the Doctor flying the Pandorica into the exploding TARDIS are stunning.

All-in, I think I'd rank The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang somewhere around fifth for this season (out of the ten stories). As I've said previously, this is a particularly strong set of stories, so that pushes it (perhaps disproportionately) low -- indeed, everything I've ranked above would be a personal contender in a Greatest Doctor Who Story Ever list, so to be beaten by them is nothing to be sniffed at.

[You can currently watch The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang in HD on iPlayer.]

P.S. If you were curious about how I'd rank the stories in the wake of my re-watch... well, this list is very rough, and a couple are interchangeable depending on my mood, but here we go:

1) The Eleventh Hour
2) Amy's Choice
3) The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone
4) Vincent and the Doctor
5) The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang
6) The Beast Below
7) The Lodger
8) The Vampires of Venice
9) Victory of the Daleks
10) The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood

At any of those links, click the episode title for my original thoughts on broadcast (some of which are longer/more significant than my re-watch thoughts. If you care.)