Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Review - "Doctor Who: Oswin's Big Break"

While the return of Clara Oswin Oswald was beyond obvious in both conceptualisation and execution, this latest episode of Doctor Who provided plenty enough evidence that being obvious isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Moreover, more evidence was provided towards the idea that Steven Moffat is clearly much more comfortable writing The Doctor than he is any of his companions. Amy centric episodes tended to weary in the middle, and Rory centric episodes wore off somewhere around the middle to settle back on Amy, so Christmas specials and their innate focus on The Doctor himself under Moffat makes a welcome change.

The character of Oswin, presented in this episode as the new companion, is worthy of a lot of attention. Practically every companion since Rose Tyler has been particularly loud, balshy and confident in order to fit the modern stereotype of women. None were more so than Amy Pond; a character with precious little purpose than to ask questions loudly and blatantly, to the Doctor’s face, that the audience are undoubtedly curious of.  In the vast majority of ways, Oswin continues to fit the mould of the modern woman, despite being introduced in Victorian Britain. Instantly, there are questions raised over whether or not she fits in that world and rightly so. She doesn’t. She’s a modern female stereotype amongst a world of the downtrodden service centre that was Victorian females.

The evolution of The Doctor as well is not intrinsically logical. Where is River Song will also be a question raised, though I am extremely glad to see exactly none of her personally. Firstly, it’s very different, and very welcome, to see The Doctor with friends who care about him, though I’d have rather not seen Sherlock Holmes compared with a Silurian woman. It just seemed rather pointless and unnecessary. That said, the Silurian, the Sontaran, and the Human are all pleasant characters who enhance the story and add their own personalities to it. The only real question is the reasoning behind the Sontaran’s presence.

A question raised in the story, probably another one raised purely to answer, is to the nature of The Doctor’s renewed apathy, but fans of the series are unlikely to wonder. Even so, it’s answered later on. This is an interesting, if expected part of the story. Unnecessary answers are given to questions only the characters ask, but a Christmas special is a very good opportunity to attract new fans, so it’s vital to the story. What matters most of that The Doctor’s innate character comes out in his sense of curiosity and his methods by which he masks himself. To live on a cloud is nothing short of genius.

The plot itself missed only a proper conclusion. A section at the end seemed rather tacked on, like the Arthur Conan Doyle discussion, to make up for time. It could have ended earlier, or at least had a more sensible victory section, but it was a momentary blip on an otherwise enjoyable performance by all comers. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Oswin, but I think everybody is looking forward to that.

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