Moffat Era Marathon #5 – “It’s a long story, Doctor. It can’t be told. It has to be lived.”

 

Okay where do we pick up from last time. The Angels are now living ideas, they are ideas that think for themselves.

In The Time of Angels, literature about the Angels is coming alive, making the episode being watched by the viewer scarier, simply due to this notion of the text being alive. He also, however, provides us with the relief that these ideas can still be escaped, simply by switching the text off – Amy escapes by switching off the screen. However, in Flesh and Stone, Moffat goes a step further, saying that you cannot switch off the text, because the Angels are in your mind – “a living mental image in a living human mind.” This still has a huge impact on the viewer – they could turn off The Time of Angels and stop the Angels from being alive, because the text is no longer there. But the viewer can’t switch off Flesh and Stone in the same way, because the text is now inside the human mind. The Angels are truly inescapable.

And this is why I don’t understand why the story is bullied so much for the Angels moving. Yes, in Blink, we couldn’t see them move because we were watching them, which is where the fear came from. However, this two-parter adds a new level of complexity to the Angels, by saying they’re not just aliens we see but ideas we experience. In this story, they transcend just being things we can see because the text is in our head.

The point of the Angels never was the quantum lock, it was that they are a symbol of how we consume stories. Because of that, they started as playing off the way we watch television, through the quantum lock. Then, in The Time of Angels, they were given a mechanism to literally come out of the text. And now, in Flesh and Stone, they can live forever in our heads. It will continue, because in The Angels Take Manhattan, they create a battery farm, and feed off the mass-consumerism of stories. But that is for later – point is, the Angels change as the story evolves. In an era about a story that must be lived, it doesn’t make any sense for the quantum lock, a mechanism that allowed a told story to become scary, to remain in place – they must grow further than that, taking on methods that allow them to become scary as a living story.

The Time of Angels starts off an allegory for mental health, which of course, revolves around Amy. And it takes centre stage in this story, as Moffat provides a vehicle for our thoughts to be truly inescapable. Again, it’s a beautiful story about mental health because it says what many people don’t understand – that people who suffer from mental illness cannot escape easily those conditions because they are in the mind, they are always inescapable. Flesh and Stone is an apt title, because the stone, the monsters, becomes part of the flesh, the body. The Angel in Amy’s head becomes a symbol for her mental illness, as a living mental image in a living human mind. But it also ends on an optimistic note, saying that while those conditions are inescapable, it’s not entirely impossible to resist. After all, they find something to hang on to. And that’s what it’s about – finding that thing, whatever it may be, to hang onto, and stop the Angels.

It’s Amy’s story, this one. All of her demons are now coming to life – everything that haunted her as a child slots back into place around her. The Doctor abandons her in the forest, and promises to come back (interestingly, he doesn’t). She becomes trapped, unable to run from her anxieties – at one point, because the Doctor tells her to stay, but on another level, because she can’t open her eyes. And of course, the crack. She can’t escape from any of it, though, because just as the Angels are functioning on a level that allows them to escape from the text, and allows them in her head, her childhood demons are taking on a similar physical manifestation, and a mental manifestation. Amy is fighting her mental illness here, right to the core – she’s fighting abandonment, her anxieties and all issues she’s developed. But also she’s fighting the physical manifestations of Weeping Angels.

And then we have the seduction scene which, brace yourselves, I’m going to defend, because I genuinely cannot understand why people are so against this. Newsflash, Amy Pond is not a perfect character. And it really bloody irritates me that in film and television, a man can have a whole freaking double life and won’t lose any popularity over it, but a woman makes one mistake, which actually is pretty understandable for reasons I’m about to elaborate on, and she gets hated for it. Some morons seem to have an expectation for Amy to be perfect and not come onto the Doctor at all – but she is a flawed character, which is what makes her so magnificent. Bear in mind as well, Amy Pond has just been forced to deal with everything that has haunted her all her life, physically and mentally, she’s been trapped, mentally, and physically in a claustrophobic spaceship – and some people expect that not to take a toll on her? Amy reacts by lashing out against being trapped, by trying to run away from reality – and that manifests itself in her trying to sleep with the Doctor. Why does she get so much hatred for this? If it’s a male character taking out his angst on an individual it’s fine because it’s the consequences of his actions, but when it’s a woman who has just suffered a hell of a lot taking that out through sex? Apparently it’s despicable.

Together, the two-parter is magnificent, forming a rather lovely piece about how we consume fiction. It takes on a new life, not just by bringing the text to life, but also bringing the next to life in the mind of the viewer. Doctor Who is taking on a new life under Steven Moffat – it’s not just depicting reality, as it did in the RTD era. Instead, it’s depicting a story – but it is a story that has to be lived. And this theme of stories will grow throughout Series 5. It’s summarised by River at the end, when the Doctor says the Pandorica is a fairytale, and River says, “aren’t we all”.

And so The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone, and perhaps the whole of Series 5, is not something that is just told, but it is a living idea – just like the Doctor is for Amy, just as the Angels are in this story. We are now properly in the Moffat era, an era of storytelling.

Except, maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Storyliving works better.

Flesh and Stone – 9/10

Other bits:

  • I apologise for what I said about Matt yesterday, although I haven’t changed my mind XD He’s very, very good in this one, and I think it’s clear how he beds in across the course of these two stories, because he seems much more settled in now.

 

  • River is really awesome. Obviously. But I had to say it.

 

 

 

 

Moffat Era Marathon #4 – “What if we had ideas that could think for themselves?”

Okay, I’ll start with saying that this one is genius.

This is our first distinct break from the Russell T Davies era, I think. Moffat concepts are coming together, in a way they haven’t done so far – the Weeping Angels, of course, and River Song. And we really play with some Moffat-y tropes here, with the meta aspects, people surviving somehow beyond death. Also, before I get to the crux of the change, Moffat’s a serial mucker-abouter and that’s so prevalent here, as he knits together a gloriously cheeky script. The Doctor leaving the brakes on all these years is hilarious, and River, oh, River, River, River, is amazing. Deliciously naughty and stealing the limelight here – god, I love her.

But at its heart, it comes down to stories. It’s because this marks a break from realistic storytelling to storytelling. Doctor Who is now less of a real-world thing, and more of a story. This is something that grows throughout Series 5, and it starts from here, really. It’s a very Moffat-y thing, it’s grown throughout a lot of his RTD era stories, and was basically the whole point of Forest of the Dead, which is set in a bloody massive library and says that people can live on through children’s stories. It is no surprise that in his era, Doctor Who telling stories instead of telling reality is a thing, and this is where it begins.

How does he do it, then? How does Moffat turn Doctor Who from a show about reality to a show about stories – well, he plays off the greatest strengths of the RTD era, which was, rather awkwardly, the fact Doctor Who was a show about reality… but he shows that this doesn’t need to be a problem, because he makes the stories real.

The story starts with hallucinogenic lipstick. From the off, somebody is trapped in a living idea. And then, of course, we get the Angels. Already, in Blink, we have a monster that is scary because of the meta way in which it is shot, basically emphasising that every statue could be an Angel. But here, that goes one step further.

The Time of Angels shows us literature written about the Weeping Angels, and it says that this literature, these ideas, can come alive. What if we had ideas that could think for themselves? What if one day our dreams no longer needed us? When these things occur and are held to be true, the time will be upon us. The time of Angels. That’s what makes this story doubly terrifying, more so, perhaps, than any other Weeping Angel story. Because this is literally happening on screen – the Angels are thinking for themselves, in a story called The Time of Angels. This gives the Angels a new terror because the viewer becomes part of the story – just as the Doctor, Amy and River are experiencing the time of Angels with the idea of the Angels coming to life, the viewer is experiencing The Time of Angels, and the notion that the Angels could be alive is chilling. Moffat goes to such great lengths as well, because he makes the Angels animate dead people and gives dead people a voice – if they could speak, what would they say?

And so with the Angels, and the lipstick, and dead people communicating. Moffat’s ideas are creeping further and further into the real world than they have done before – ironically, by turning the show into a story, he has made it even more terrifying – because he provides the means of those stories being real, and the vehicle for the horrors of a fairytale villain to really exist.

As is a running theme through Series 5, stories are real. The fact the concept of the Angel being a living idea is first shown through Amy is evidence of this. From Amy’s perspective, her story of the Doctor came to life. As the companion she is our surrogate and as she experiences stories coming to life, we are too. But it’s exemplified through the fact Amy’s whole arc is based on her turning to stories to run from her anxieties, and those stories that Amy has run to are coming to life. And now, specifically the villains of those stories are coming to life as well. Interestingly, for Amy these would be doubly terrifying, because the Weeping Angels cannot be run from, and they are now living stories – and because Amy’s route of escape is through stories, she is trapped. The Angels will always be able to get her.

Let’s talk about mental health. Because Amy suffers from mental health issues, obviously, and so it’s fitting that Moffat puts to bed the stigma against it – or at least starts to, because he builds on it throughout Amy’s time on the show. I mean, if anyone was moronic enough to say that a mental health condition is not real, Moffat is making the mind come alive – he is literally saying that what goes on in your head is just as real as what’s going on around you, and that if you have a mental health condition that it is just as real as a physical one. And it’s interesting that Amy is affected by this – because her hand turns to stone and she becomes physically trapped by this living idea in her mind – her mental health is trapping her, and that’s a glorious piece of awareness to raise, and I’m hella looking forward to watching it extended further in Flesh and Stone.

All of it culminates in a terrifying story. Perfectly paced, claustrophobic, gritty, and yet hilarious and cheeky at the same time. Moffat tackles a genre of episode he hasn’t tackled before, and it gives him a chance to explore the way he can tell a story. Of course, as always, he does it deftly, putting his unique spin on it.

A spin so unique, that he actually makes the episode alive. In 2009/10, just before this episode was broadcast, 3D cinema hit its peak with Avatar, and there’s always been this thing about what the next big way of experiencing television will be – HD and 4K and all that. Moffat shows that stories can be written in such a way that immersion in television and film doesn’t rely on the technology, but in fact, on the story. What if we had ideas that could think for themselves? What if one day our dreams no longer needed us? When these things occur to be true, the time will be upon us.

The Time of Angels.

The Time of Angels – 9/10

Other bits:

  • Moffat militarising the church is so clever I love him. What if evangelicalism got so far it was an almost military-like process? Amazing stuff.

 

  • It was very clever of them to do a sequel like this. The danger was, of course, to do another Blink, but Moffat was clever and decided to go completely the other direction, and it certainly paid off.

 

  • Karen is on brilliant form – I sort of feel like she took to the show slightly better than Matt did, because she doesn’t struggle at all, whereas I sometimes feel with Matt it’s a bit of a, oh, hello, it’s a new actor. But I feel mean having a go because this was a huge role for him, and he does do very well.

 

  • While on the subject of Karen, you can tell that Amy and River are mother and daughter, which is very well done.

 

  • I feel like I can’t talk about this one hugely well until I’ve rewatched the next one, so we shall see what Flesh and Stone holds…

Moffat Era Marathon #3 – “Ever fancy someone you know you shouldn’t?”

There is, unfortunately, a bit of whiplash.

We go from a story that is very critical of British attitudes to one that is embracing them, and isn’t going to critique them once. We even get a shot of the Union Jack waving in the wind, and not in a ‘this is just the setting of the ep’ kind of way. It dominates the whole screen and it’s a clear statement that this is a deeply patriotic story with a patriotic message, and that feels a bit odd. I mean, if a story is patriotic, that means very little to me, so I wouldn’t have minded if it was just mildly there as a potential interpretation – but no, we get the British attitudes that Moffat shunned in The Beast Below.

I’d have been more welcoming of Gatiss’ full on approach if he’d also included some critique in there. But there is none. This is no secret – Churchill was not squeaky clean in real life. There’s a blatantly obvious critique to be made there. And that can be exemplified hugely by the fact that in this episode, he literally creates fascism… to defeat fascism. I suppose that’s actually quite a Churchill thing to do, and Gatiss misses a huge trick in playing off this and making something interesting of it. One can argue that Churchill’s use of the Daleks, in itself, is a criticism of his attitudes, and it is, and I love it, I really, really do – but what I don’t love is the fact it’s forgotten about by the end – there’s no acknowledgement from the Doctor that Churchill employed fascists, because they’re back to jovial banter in five minutes. It really needed that, just to hammer home this criticism of Churchill’s attitudes. And… the patriotism drastically needed to be toned down, because it’s so potent to the point of unpleasantry, here. Interestingly, he improves by the time we get to Empress of Mars. But until then, here we are.

I feel like, therefore, Gatiss asks a lot of very, very interesting questions, which creates an interesting premise – however, he doesn’t answer those questions, leaving the episode feeling much looser and shakier than it could. As I said, I’m a Gatiss fan, and I think this is something that he will learn from, starting with The Crimson Horror, and culminating in Empress of Mars – though we’ll talk about that later, of course. But now, it’s clear that as a writer, he still has things to learn, and he still shouldn’t be afraid of providing answers to the fascinating questions he poses. It will come, though. All in good time.

I don’t like being mean to an episode I deeply enjoyed, however.

I’m going to talk a lot about Mark Gatiss’ approach to the show with later Gatiss episodes, but needless to say, as a writer of Who, I am a big fan. I think it’s down to the sheer adoration that shines through in every Gatiss script. He loves Doctor Who, and it’s always evident – and that’s something that is lacking, actually, in some writers. That love always gives his script their own distinct charm and Victory is no exception – you can tell Gatiss was having a blast at writing the Daleks.

And through that, there’s something lovely and classic about Victory of the Daleks. It’s sort of nonsensical and contrived, and suddenly, Bracewell is a bomb. It’s mad, it’s sort of runaround-ish like Classic Who, with the villain pulling out something new every time the Doctor foils them. Normally I’d be bored to tears with that approach but strangely it works here, because it’s so obvious it becomes almost a point. And the dressed location for the Daleks’ spaceship is lacklustre, to say the least. But it doesn’t feel wrong, it works in accordance with this idea of the Daleks reinventing themselves – through the revival of the Daleks, we see a revival of the stories that they’d have starred in back during the 60s and Pertwee years, right down to the run-around structure and the slightly dubious spaceship set. As the Daleks make themselves purer, arguably we see a return to purer Dalek stories – albeit, purer Dalek stories goes hand in hand with ‘less interesting’ Dalek stories. Although, I would call the majority of Dalek stories not-very-interesting, so the fact this episode is almost a pastiche of that dullness makes it deeply fun.

It’s ridiculous, basically, and I love it.

Also, give massive praise to Gatiss for the history in this one. Give the man a historical setting and he will bring it to life with a stunning depth and richness, and realism. I mean, I am ignoring some rather horrendous comments about the casting of a black man in Empress of Mars – but ignoring Gatiss’ views on realistic casting in an episode I’m not even talking about, his scripts are gloriously vivid. The dialogue is perfect, and all the characters he creates are fantastic at bringing their historical period to life. Of course, the cast do that brilliantly as well, and Iain McNeice is superb as Churchill.

On Amy-watch this episode (which I’m calling it, because she’s one of my favourite companions ever and I like to look at how she grows and changes each episode), we don’t have much to look at. She’s sort of sidelined as ‘generic Who-girl #29’ or whatever. But there’s one lovely little line, when Bracewell is feeling sorry for the fact he’s a robot, and she says “I understand. Really, I do.” Amy has a grasp on Bracewell’s situation, and throughout the whole story – she’s the one who saves him from exploding the whole planet. And Amy relates to Bracewell in a way no other character does – and it’s not because they’re both Scottish. I think it’s because she knows what it is to feel like you are not you, to feel detached from yourself. To not know herself – and it’s another interesting sign of her mental illness, the way it detaches you from yourself and makes you feel as if you are someone else. So, that was brilliant.

There are some Gatiss episodes that I genuinely think are brilliant stories. This, I don’t think is one of them. It has some brilliant moments, but it has big problems as well. I shouldn’t love it as much as I do, but I must credit its enjoyability, of which it has in the bucketloads.

Victory of the Daleks – 8/10

Other bits:

  • Gold’s soundtrack is superb, as always. I may reject the patriotism of the episode, but I must admit, I adore the way the soundtrack plays off that patriotism.

 

  • The Daleks’ desire for racial purity was rather neat as well. The fact their Nazism has got so far to the point of eliminating themselves is nice – and I was glad that Gatiss didn’t avoid the opportunity of touching upon the Daleks’ need for racial purity

Moffat Era Marathon #2 – “We all depend on the beast below.”

I love how the first thing that Moffat does, when running this show, is by completely laying into Britain and British attitudes.

Although there are unfortunately all too many who will say otherwise, Britain has got a dark history. They often say history was written by the winners, and that’s all too true – Britain won a lot of stuff over time, hence why we get away with a whole lot of shit we really shouldn’t have done, and hence why there are way too many people who glorify our past. But Moffat isn’t one of them, and he lets rip here. Amongst many of the worst people the UK has churned out, a philosophy has sort of developed, which involves pushing your Britishness onto as many people as you can possibly find. Moffat makes that toxic philosophy extremely relevant here, because not only does Britain enslave a Star Whale, which is a parallel in itself, Britain literally forces itself on the back of it.

Moffat builds this rich critique of Britain and ‘British values’, right down to the education system (the people who don’t do well are chucked out), our treatment of the rejects of society, of those who have suffered because they haven’t had good upbringings, our treatment of criminals – all are chucked out of the spaceship to be eaten! And there’s something delightful in the irony of the fact the children who are rejected by society, when they come together, they actually liberate the ship from that toxic Britishness. I’ll come to “very old and very kind” in a minute, but Moffat builds a resolution partly on the optimistic note that regardless of whether change is incoming or not, it will eventually happen – because one day, society’s rejects, society’s slaves, the kids and the Star Whale, will realise their errors, as they do here, and they will stop and they will change things. It’s very hopeful.

Moffat also isn’t going to hold back on the royal family either, because it’s Liz 10, the embodiment of royalty, who allows this all to happen. He’s very gracious, actually, in making Liz 10 such a lovely and awesome character, because he needn’t have to get his point across. But it is royalty, the traditional representation of our British values, and therefore of our horrendous history of colonialism, that is, as they always do in history, forcing Britishness onto the Star whale.

There’s also a few subtle notes on race. Britain is full of racists and it’s prevalent here – the Queen’s mask is white, to hide the fact she’s black. Also, there’s a black Winder, whose face turns and the Smiler side is white. That racist element of British society has slithered onto Starship UK, and it’s still there, subtly hiding away, as it always does.

It’s so clever in the way it deconstructs the nastiness of British society and of British attitudes. Because of that, it is a script that now, in 2017, is arguably even more relevant than it was in 2010. The abhorrence of British society and British values has been exemplified by figures such as Nigel Farage – actually, the entirety of UKIP – actually, the Tory party as well. And it all culminated last year in the Brexit vote, the shadow of which now, is all the more prevalent – because that icky aspect of our society is even more open than it ever was before.

But let’s not forget the relevance of this script in 2010. Here we have a government, on Starship UK, that cannot be held to account, because everyone chooses to forget about it – but let’s be honest, they don’t really have a choice, unless they want to be eaten. But that is a governmental system that is held to account by the end, and Moffat is telling us that we don’t have to forget the icky actions of the government and we all should be protesting against them. We should all be pressing protest instead of forget. Eg. The vile actions that led to the Iraq war. In 2009, the Iraq Inquiry begins collecting evidence and that continues throughout the first two years of the Moffat era. Accountability for the Iraq War is beginning to happen.

And let me be clear, this isn’t a script telling people to hold governments to account by ousting them. Eleven says “let’s bring down the government!” and he eventually realises that isn’t going to work. In 2010, that would mean ousting a Labour government to be replaced by a Tory one, which I can imagine Moffat would rather die than write. It’s a script that, before the General Election of 2010, is saying that we need to have an end to this politics of acceptance and we need a new kind of politics of accountability.

Gun to my head, the sole problem – and this is still relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, is the heavy handed-ness with which Moffat handles the parallels with the Doctor and the Star Whale, when he strays away from the usual delicacy with which he works with themes. It’s a bit strange because this is the one time he does it – he gets progressively better at it, of course, but here it is a bit insistent with Karen having to say the same line over and over again. Having said that – I’m not sure I can blame Moffat for letting that be the case, considering half the stuff he does nowadays goes over a lot of heads. However, the lack of gentleness is obvious.

Personally, what makes my little heart swell are the parallels between Amy and Mandy, the little girl. Both reach out to their respective old and lonely creatures to save the day. It is Mandy, reaching out to the Star Whale, that causes Amy’s revelation, and it is Amy reaching out to the Doctor afterwards that causes our new TARDIS crew to continue on their journey. The narrative can progress, because a sad girl reached out, and not because it is being repeatedly tortured by the BBC for another ten episodes until the series is eventually finished.

And so we’ve got something deliciously meta going on here, as not only is the Doctor a parallel to the Star Whale, but the Star Whale is a parallel to Doctor Who. It’s a very old show, and it’s not only the last of its kind, it’s basically the only one of its kind *ever*. Just as the Star Whale swooped down from the skies to save a dying society and then keeps them alive on its back, that’s what Doctor Who does – it keeps our forever-damaged society by supporting it and guiding it through. Not only that, but it’s hated by those at the top – it’s no secret the BBC, and hell, several political parties, don’t like Doctor Who, perhaps because it’s left wing, perhaps because it’s very anti-establishment, who knows. But the government in The Beast Below don’t like the Star Whale, just as important people in our society don’t like Doctor Who.

And crucially, this is our first routine episode in a while, and it’s a key indication of Doctor Who breaking away from the narrative the post 2005 show has developed. Just like the Star Whale broke away from its routine of torture, Doctor Who is breaking away from its routine – Doctor Who is breaking away into the Moffat era.

But there’s something so stunning about the thought of Doctor Who not just being a mechanical spaceship, but a beautiful living creature that wants to help.

As Amy reaches out to the Doctor, I reach out to Doctor Who, all the kids back in 2010, like me, reach out to Doctor Who. And just as Amy’s fairytale can continue, my fairytale of Doctor Who can continue. Just like the Star Whale kept flying to keep the children safe, Doctor Who kept progressing to keep me safe.

All to stop a child from crying.

The Beast Below – 9/10

Moffat Era Marathon #1 “Goodbye Leadworth, Hello Everything.”

As I write this, The Doctor Falls aired two days ago. In fact, two days ago, we were 15 minutes into the episode (and it was amazing – but more on that in good time).

I’ve got a mega-summer this year, following the torment of exams, so, I decided that now would be the perfect time to begin a Moffat era marathon, running throughout the summer and into the Autumn, so I can watch The Doctor Falls on Christmas Eve, before the Christmas special airs on Christmas day.

This has been an era of the show that a lot of my growing up has happened under, and so I am very much looking forward to looking back over it from a critical point of view, and more importantly a personal point of view, before it all ends this Christmas!

So, back to the beginning, with The Eleventh Hour…

It’s really, *really* good.

And you’ve got to admire the fact they actually pulled this one off.

I mean, Moffat basically is Eleven in this scenario, and his team are Eleven’s team. You’ve got to remember that the show faced cancellation at the end of Russell T Davies’ era. Moffat was lucky to get a go in the first place. And so this whole scenario is a new era facing judgement. The BBC and the Viewers, or the Atraxi, is looking at the show, or humanity, and is going to judge it for whether it’s good enough or not.

Moffat turns up with nothing, apart from Matt, Karen, Arthur, Piers and Beth and the rest of the crew, and he has to make this show good enough for the judgement of the BBC and the Viewers. Eleven has no sonic, no TARDIS, nothing apart from Amy, Rory, Jeff, Patrick Moore and his gang, and he has to save the world from the judgement of the Atraxi.

And they both pull it off. Moffat pulls it off spellbindingly, delivering a perfect script, I mean I am in awe of how sleek and tight a script it is. The cast do it magnificently. Murray is astonishingly good, as per usual. Adam Smith’s direction is fast paced, clever, quirky. Meanwhile, Eleven concocts the perfect plan, Rory’s got his camera phone, Amy dreams of the Atraxi to unmask it, Jeff is on his laptop and talking to Patrick Moore so they can send the computer virus – they all come together to win.

They both turn this nothingness they’re faced with into something magnificent. They both pull it off, and they both do it perfectly. And I mean perfectly.

I’m gonna talk about growing up in a minute but I love how Moffat has made this story feel sort of half-cooked. I love that Moffat deliberately writes Eleven as Ten at times – “you’ve got some cowboys in here”, and Eleven does several Ten-esque stunts (elegantly jumping over fences – unlike Eleven, who would be stood around fumbling before falling over them). It provides a new spin on regeneration that we haven’t really seen before – because we have a Doctor who isn’t going through a crisis or anything, but we have a Doctor of which the ghost of the previous incarnation is shining through, until the climax when we definitely know that this is the Eleventh Doctor now, basically, run. And the story is similar, in that it’s simple, RTD-esque, 20 minutes to save the world. Except it’s warped, we’re looking at that RTD narrative from a new angle. We’re looking at it from an angle where the companion has met the Doctor as a kid, where the setting is a small village. In one of his Eruditorium pieces Sandifer refers to Series 5 as a cracked mirror of an RTD series and I agree with him, especially here. It’s an RTD era story, an RTD era opener, but warped. It’s great.

Now, as I’ve grown up, this is a story that has come to mean a lot more to me I think than it ever did on first broadcast. Because this is a story about growing up and the demons of that – Amelia is just a kid at the start, and not only do demons literally slither into her house in the form of Prisoner Zero, but she’s forced to grow up. She’s dragged into the grimness of the real world, told that stories and dreams aren’t real, and made to conform. Amy’s story has had a lot of resonance for me for a multitude of reasons which will become clear over the course of this marathon, but one of those aspects I’ve always related to, several years down the line of first broadcast, was her troubles in growing up, and that difficulty of finding contentment in reality.

It’s especially powerful because I originally saw this as a kid, and experienced it as Amelia, with eyes full of wonder and a love for fairytales. I even planned out my own Doctor Who series as a kid! I wrote stories about it (never really grew out of that one), I drew pictures, did comics, etc. I had this whole fictional universe in my head that I could escape to. Amelia a child experiencing Doctor Who. And now I experience it as Amy, as someone who has been turned deeply cynical and miserable at the world and the horrors that come with it. Someone who has been forced to conform, but with reluctance and still with that refusal to conform completely.

The key comes in the fact that Amy is still Amelia at heart, she may have lost that innocence and naivety, she may now be cynical, but she’s now an adult experiencing Doctor Who. She hasn’t given up on hope or optimism yet – she hasn’t given up on Doctor Who. Even when she thinks the Doctor (the show) left her behind, she always, always hopes, even when it’s buried deep inside her and it seems as if all hope has been lost. Those intrinsically Who-ish qualities that Amelia learned about still live with Amy, albeit in a very different form.

And Amy turns to stories. The story of Doctor Who. She resents the cynicism and conformism that was imposed upon her and runs from her adult life and all her responsibilities, back into the hope and optimism she had as a child, and now it burns as brightly as it did back then. Because at this point, Amy hasn’t learned to reconcile her anxieties with fairytales, and so she does the only thing she can and she flies into her own, real life fairytale.

Amy’s childhood through adulthood is unconventional in that it’s also the transformation of a younger viewer to an older viewer. And her fairytale is being able to fly with Doctor Who, and she gets to live that. And isn’t that the fairytale of all Whovians? And that’s why it has doubly resonated with me, because not only does she run from her anxieties, she runs from her anxieties to a fairytale that she loves and that I personally love as well.

As I say – that’s something that I’ve come to realise as I’ve grown older. And I feel more connected to this tale than I did as a kid. Because I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the action, the monsters, the music, the Doctor being epic, ever since I was a kid. But watching it now, I have that new angle. I have Amy’s angle, not just Amelia’s. I’m seeing it from Amy’s eyes.

And as this marathon progresses, I look forward to running from the world with them all, in this most wonderful fairytale.

The Eleventh Hour – 10/10