Doctor Who 606 – Sarah Smart
Doctor Who 6.6 The Almost People – Jennifer (Sarah Smart) © BBC 2011

In Doctor Who Season 6 Episode 6 the duplicate Humans, the Gangers, are desperate to be accepted as alive and to be ‘real’ people. But for the Jennifer Ganger, memories of the destructions of previous copies threaten her sanity. And then there’s the matter of two identical Doctors…!

The first problem we had to deal with after last week’s ending was to see if the duplicate Doctor turned out to be a good or bad copy, since we had seen both end results. He turned out to be good, and so followed some witty banter between the two versions, and there was no way to tell them apart. Ah, but we knew the ‘real’ Doctor had lost his boots after he had been copied. So did we get views that particularly showed his feet? No, because we weren’t meant to be thinking about that – or at least I think we weren’t.

Once again there’s lots of shouting, sound effects and music (some really lovely moody stuff this episode), so it’s still not always easy to hear what’s being said without a rewind. And that made me ponsder the nature of the series as it is now…

Doctor Who 6.6 The Almost People – Matt Smith
The Doctor (Matt Smith) Or is it? Or is it now, but not after next week…? © BBC 2011

It strikes me as being very much a series for the 21st Century, as it sems to rely rather heavily on the viewer having done two things…. 1) The episode has been recorded 2) The viewer is prepared to keep that recording for a few weeks and be prepared to go back and have a look at some scenes or moments when suddenly they gain importance some episode later. And I wonder just how many viewers actually do that?

Quite a few reviews of the series these days will refer you back to something, but is that right? On the one hand it means that there’s a lot to get out of one episode since the progressing season changes the way we view what seems to be happening before us. And for anyone who has reached the end of this episode, the earlier part of this season is now seen in a very different light. Clever stuff, but will it alienate the causal viewer?

This was cetainly a step up from last episode, with the actions making a bit more sense. and although I like Matt Smith’s Doctor a lot I really do not like the way he is such a know-all, even to being able to rig up something as mundane as a phone call. I still feel that anyone, no matter how old, wouldn’t know the nitty-gritty of every time period, on every planet. That’s just too much. But then, people just shouldn’t know about the Doctor so much as they seem to. Space just isn’t as big as it used to be…

Doctor Who 6.6 The Almost People – Karen Gillan and Matt Smith
There’s something nasty in the corridor, and it’s coming for you… – Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) and The Doctor (Matt Smith) © BBC 2011

The story works on the whole, but I just don’t believe the huge lump of ‘cast-off’ Flesh dumped in a corner. If these were mediaeval times I could accept that they would just be lumped in a corner. But considering the whole Health and Safety drive we have now, would some sort of biological matter really be allowed to be dumped like that? Wouldn’t there be regulations? And wouldn’t there be some sensitive soul at some point on all of Earth who would have put a picture of one of these lumps on the Internet? That’s another reason why this story would have made more sense if it had been set on another planet.

Of course, the reason why the lump appeared is that it is a striking image, and has probably lingered in the mind’s eye of many children for some nights following. The same goes for the eyes stuck on the wall. Yes, very creepy and all that, but how long does Flesh last for, and where did the eyes come from? Did they roll off the lump because “they are the last to go”? Yes, a slightly picky point, but it seemes to be a scene for no good reason.

Doctor Who 6.6 The Almost People – Behind the scenes with Matt Smith
Behind the scenes with Matt Smith © BBC 2011

Then we come to the end of the episode. But wait! It’s not the end of the story as “TO BE CONTINUED” flashes up on the screen, and no preview after. Gosh! I was still reeling from the fact that Amy and Rory had shown some affection when the Doctor demanded that Rory “step away” (why?) and dealt with the current problem, thus completely changing what we thought we had seen the Doctor thinking about Amy’s pregnancy throughout the season. Oops! There I go, referring back – it’s catching!

This has certainly given rise to lots of discussion about what’s going to happen next, and that’s a good thing that the series is making people think. Let’s see what the end of next episode brings us…

[Rating: 3.5]


Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online