‘Amy’s Choice’. Right.
They should just have called it ‘Boring’s Boring’. Because it was boring, you see?
Yeah, this was an episode in which Doctor Who finally managed to cross the threshold of common sense and end up in the world of dreams. Not the good world of dreams, mind you, where anything that can happen isn’t just your everyweek Doctor Who plot involving aliens in old people. No, this is the land of boring dreams. Welcome to the land of boring dreams!
Repetition. That’s funny isn’t it. Key to comedy repetition is. Key to comedy repetition is. So it’s a good thing that we get so much repetition in here. It must be funny, right. Here they all fall asleep, here they have a conversation, here they fall asleep again, and then we’ll have that same conversation. Now repeat, through the episode. I guess it saves on them learning new lines, and it makes the writing easier when you can just cut and paste.
Honestly, is this the best we could do with two of the best concepts ever? How much of an idiot do you have to be to make dreamscapes uninteresting and the hostile takeover of the TARDIS by a malevolent force dull? Last week I said this was a Chibnall episode. It wasn’t, but God I wish it had been. Sure, Chibnall can’t write, and his plots invariably end with some stupid contrived nonsense, but at least he tries.
This was apparently written by a robot, a kind of sentient typewriter who decided that the quickest way to kill of humanity was not a rise of the machines hostile takeover, but death by meh.
I won’t walk through this bit by bit, because it’s too soul achingly boring. But here are just a few points to consider.
Great concept, trapped in dreams. Brilliant, loads of scope to play with there. You can make it creepy as all get out, with all that terrifying dream logic and weird things happeni … say what? You have to make it realistic? It has to be a realistic dream sequence? What? Why make it a dream sequence at all then? Don’t call it a dream. They call it a psychic attack (See: ‘For The Man Who Has Everything’) and an elaborate computer programme (see: ‘The Matrix’). Just don’t call it a dream, with a dream lord, unless you mean it to be a dream with dream logic.
Okay, so I get the appeal of this storyline. This is the ‘Amy has to choose between the two guys who are showing exactly who they are through their dreams plot’. Rory wants a wife, a child and a sleep village existence, which is complicated by aliens and the Doctor. Fine. The Doctor meanwhile wants, er, well, I think he wants, um, to fall into a cold star? Just guessing. Apparently we don’t need to spend much time in the TARDIS as the only thing the Doctor wants IS the TARDIS. The star isn’t a complication, it’s the plot line. To clarify, Rory has a setting, a desire and a complication. The Doctor has a complication.
Let’s go back to ‘For The Man Who Has Everything’. Probably the best Superman story ever it tells of how Superman is given a gift which sends him into a trance state where he gets his hearts desire. He’s back on Krypton, with a family. Unfortunately, of course it’s all a lie. But, he sort of knows that and is struggling to overcome the dream which gives him everything he’s ever wanted. Now imagine remaking that. A Doctor who is back on Gallifrey, with his people alive, but who knows that something is amiss, and who eventually has to choose between Gallifrey or Another Reality. Amys choice is still intact here, she is the vessel by which the Doctor can break the spell. He alone can’t make that choice, but someone else could. If you really hated the Doctor, this is the perfect trick to play.
‘For The Man Who Has Everything’ sees Superman freed from the dream and attacking the villain who captured him there. It’s a truly brutal beatdown, because Superman knows what he’s lost. Even his victory has been a loss. At one point the villain says that escaping from the paradise “must have been like tearing your own arm off”. Got to say, that would have been more interesting.
A lot more interesting than the plotline of aliens in a small village that we’ve seen so many times before, and a plotline in the TARDIS that isn’t even explored beyond them figuring out what’s actually happening. The best bit is that the ending manages to make the ‘it was all just a dream’ monumentally unsatisfying whilst also robbing the episode of its slight tension. Great, it was pollen. That was the mystery all along. Like that excellent movie ‘The Happening’.
All of which I could forgive if it wasn’t for the Cold Star.
This is, at the end of the day, a series in which an alien, who owns a Time Machine with another dimension inside, flies around solving mysteries. It’s featured living fat, homicidal dustbins, a 100 foot tall robot war machine, the Titanic in space, a plot to destroy reality and cracks to the end of time. But apparently a cold star is too far beyond the realms of possibility. Honestly? Is that where we draw the line? Sentient sun, fine. Cold sun, no.
This should have been an absolutely corking episode, instead it was just a blip. I’ve gotten angrier with it as time has passed. When I first watched it I didn’t care, but now I just think that they didn’t. When your main draw is a prosthetic pregnancy you’re probably running on empty.