Sunday, 15 May 2011

Review - "The Mad Man's Box"

So, this weeks episode of Doctor Who was a bit of a nostalgia trip, though in a backwards sort of way, which managed to make a lie out of everything Russell T. Davies wrote about The Doctor being lonely and yet, still, managed to completely eclipse Steven Moffat.

While The Doctor's generally renewed Colin Baker-ness is in full swing, and he lets another creature find its way to death in this episode, the audience were treated to a far more important piece of characterisation: the TARDIS, in human form.

The set, as usual much darker than those in previous series', was a scrapyard this week, containing broken bits of TARDIS and, chameleon circuits in a state of full repair, less recognisable broken bits of TARDIS. The characters of Auntie and Uncle were strangely likeable, despite there being very little time with them.

Amy and Rory, in this episode, largely seemed there as an afterthought. It seems to me as though the writer, Neil Gaiman, was not altogether interested in them, but they did serve to add the right amount of additional peril. When trapped together, their minds being played with, Rory in particular is forgotten because he's not actually targeted by any of House's tricks. He might be in Amy's head, but Rory just keeps running.

The interior of the TARDIS was a perfect throwback to previous generations. This surprised me, considering how Moffat has chosen to re-invent the Doctor as a much more America-friendly character of late. When hearing that we, the audience, were being taken to a previous control room, I was quite excited. However, I'll admit to being a little disappointed with the control room that they chose.

Nephew, the Ood, seemed like a one-trick pony. His job could have quite easily been taken up by a dodgy radio, and he adds little peril to the dying moments in the TARDIS. House himself, though obviously capable of causing great harm, had an entirely monotone voice, which ruined the 'fear me' line for me personally. The Doctor himself had no power in his voice for his rebuttal, and the music barely emphasised the moment.

Now, dialogue, and here, I think, we're onto a winner. We had a bit of a false start. (I don't know why Moffat insists on almost all scripts containing 'basically, run' in them) Thankfully, after our dear TARDIS and Suranne Jones appeared on the picture, that all changed. ("Biting's like kissing, but with a winner," "I stole a Time Lord and ran off" etc.) Not only did her presence encourage The Doctor to become more like The Doctor than he's been since the Big Bang Two, but it also earned similar responses from the other characters. (Amy: "Did you wish really hard?")

I will compliment Suranne Jones most certainly. Everything from her accent, through posture, to her grace made her much more interesting than any role I've seen her in previously. Portraying the TARDIS itself must be increasingly daunting, but she rose to the challenge spectacularly.

That said, this is a woman who is capable of matching the Doctor's wit and intelligence because she's a technological device that's been with him for seven hundred years, and she couldn't last long. She was a character. River Song remains a complete Mary-Sue.

Finally, the 'soap-bubble' theory actually checks out quite well, annoyingly.

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