Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens

“Nothing is ever forgotten, not completely. And if something can be remembered, it can come back.”

Doctor Who

There’s nothing quite like an impromptu trip in the TARDIS, is there?

On this particular trip, Constant Reader, we’re heading to Roman Stonehenge, where a rather large box, which, according to legend, contains the most dangerous creature in the Universe, is about to open…

(And, no, it’s not the TARDIS, for once.)

The Pandorica Opens is the first of the two-part storyline that finished Matt Smith’s first series as the Doctor, and, you know, together with the second part, The Big Bang, it bears no small resemblance to his last episode, The Time of the Doctor. Consider: the Doctor’s enemies swarm in the skies in a place known through old stories and obscure hints. The Doctor talks at them to stop them blowing him and each other up, but is eventually trapped in the place for hundreds of years. Eventually, he escapes, Saves the World using space magic, dies, and returns to life in a scene of high emotion and treacle.

And, as a corollary, a supporting character is possessed by aliens after being encouraged to fight it using the Power of Humanity or whatever the hell Stephen Moffat means when he has the Doctor say “YOU ARE [INSERT NAME HERE]! FIGHT IT!”

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of The Pandorica Opens. Compared with Nine and Ten’s series finales – Bad Wolf, The Sound of Drums, even Journey’s End – it’s positively shoddy and deeply unambitious, featuring a cast of sensationally unscary aliens who look at one point as if they’re going to launch into a musical number, complete with jazz hands. Matt Smith is in fine over-acting form, bashing out one of his “Basically, run” speeches with a confidence that is deeply unconvincing, given the apparent gravity of the threat (what, you think Daleks are actually going to run away just because you gave yourself a hyperbolic meteorological name?), and all the creepy “Silence Will Fall” slogans recall just how disappointing the whole Silence debacle actually was in the end.

Two things, however, save the episode from total banality: the first is the Van Gogh TARDIS painting, a stroke of genius which always makes me happy to look at. The second is the return of Rory the Roman from his brief stint of non-existence to find that Amy has forgotten him, which may be the most heartbreaking moment in the entire series.

But paintings and miracles do not an episode of Doctor Who make (yes, I’m talking to you, Vincent and the Doctor), especially not a series finale. I’ve expressed this opinion before, but here it is again: can we please have Russell T. Davies back?

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