Yesterday was Evil Alex and Stephen's Civil Partnership, and a lovely day it was too, but that doesn't mean proceedings in their living room didn't still come to a complete standstill at 6:25. Yep, everything has to stop for Doctor Who
, which I watched yesterday with Alex, Dave, Jan and a couple of Alex & Stephen's other guests, while everyone else stayed out in the garden, it being probably the first time all day Dave and I had let the box of chocolates out of our sight. We weren't entirely convinced by "Amy's Choice," although on a second viewing I liked it better - we were watching it on HD and Alex did
warn us that BBC HD had had a bit of a dodgy sound mix lately, and when I re-watched it at home today there were a lot of funny lines I'd missed first time. Also, I think this one's a bit like "Victory of the Daleks" for me in that it's better when you watch it knowing the episode's ultimate goal.
Unlike a lot of people I didn't really panic when I heard Simon Nye was doing an episode. Yes, having Doctor Who
written by someone previously best-known for smutty sitcom Men Behaving Badly
could be cause for concern, but I remember in 2005 when everyone was wary of having a two-parter by someone best-known for smutty sitcom Coupling
and we know how that turned out. If anything I was more concerned by a slightly dismissive interview with Nye I read earlier this week. As it turns out, a lot of people have been raving about the episode. I still don't think I'll ever view it as a classic but it does have a lot of good points. Not least of all in its guest villain, and for the second week running there's some Harry Potter
crossover as after Helen McCrory it's Toby Jones, aka the voice of Dobby, who's haunting the TARDIS with a fun, creepy performance. Obviously Jones was actually dressed to mirror Matt Smith but I can't have been the only one to think what an interesting Doctor he himself might have made?
Besides is it just me who sees the Dream Lord as pretty much a benevolent presence? I mean bearing in mind he's a manifestation of the Doctor's dark side, the only peril is imaginary and his actions aren't all that dark. In fact given that this comes straight after "The Vampires of Venice," in the episode's titular choice the Dream Lord does exactly what the Doctor was trying to do last week, i.e. cement the relationship between Amy and Rory. It is
perhaps a step too far for the Doctor himself to take but I guess this is how damaged Amy really is, she needs to see Rory actually die to understand how she feels about him. Since I can't quite warm to Karen Gillan's performance it's good to see Rory staying on as a companion at the end because Arthur Darvill has really helped the show's dynamic. Although I still worry about what'll happen to him, after all there are definite touches of the Fifth Doctor in how Moffat's season is treating the title character, and Davison did
lose a companion, and a male one at that. And one major element of the episode of course was Amy finally accepting the very Five-like fact about Eleven, that he's not always in control and doesn't save everyone.
One noticeable thing is that this story could never have been done during the RTD years for the simple reason that the TARDIS set wasn't up to it then. One of my favourite things about "Amy's Choice" is how it takes advantage of the new redesign to set much of the story in the TARDIS and use all the interesting new levels and angles available to shoot from. And although less time seemed to be spent there it was the more interesting of the dream sequences in my opinion (and yes I guessed pretty early on that both "realities" were fake.)
I did think there were a couple of missed opportunities, chief among them Rory's "death" scene. Seeing as it's the pivotal moment of the plot, was that really
the best place to save CGI money? Surely we could have lost a couple of creepy pensioner shots or even the exploding postman in favour of seeing Rory crumble into dust. (I know we got the view of Amy's reaction to seeing him die which could be seen as more important but I guess that depends on whether you think Gillan is up to the task of conveying that, and as is probably clear by now I don't think she is.)
Still, a better episode than I first thought, some decent lines (I liked the slightly edgy joke about self-harm, and Rory assuring Amy that all his parts are fine) and after having it drummed into us by the publicity that this is the mid-point of Series 5 it's interesting to have a major point of resolution in Amy's character arc here, rather than having it coincide with the finale as would have happened in the RTD years (and, following on from what I said last week about Rory being treated with more respect that Mickey ever was, I don't think any of the previous era's companions would have not
chosen the Doctor in Amy's position. It's a line that gets used specifically in this episode but the whole season for me, especially with regard to Amy Pond, seems to be about growing up and putting away childish things, including, perhaps, the imaginary childhood friend who turned out to be real.)