Doctor Who 607 2011
Doctor Who 6.7 A Good Man Goes to War – Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) & River Song (Alex Kingston) © BBC 2011

Now that the Doctor has revealed that the Amy who’s been travelling with him this past season was just a Flesh copy, the hunt is on to find her, and her baby. The Doctor calls in some old favours as he draws his forces together…

Doctor Who 6.7 A Good Man Goes to War – Frances Barber
Getting ready for the Doctor… – Kovarian (Frances Barber) © BBC 2011

For nearly all of this episode the pace has been relentless, with barely a dull moment, and I’m sure for the children in the audience it has been a rip-roaring ride with a frustrating “to be continued” ending. It was a good ride, although here, atfer the 50-minute extended episode, it doesn’t feel as if very much actually took place after all that.

If we were in the days of the shorter multi-episode stories much more could have been made of the “He is coming” tension being built about the Doctor coming for Amy. I’m still not exactly sure why the Doctor needed all this help. He could have taken Rory to Earth, then searched for however long it took and then when he found out where she was went back and picked up Rory moments after he left him and then they could then land in the room where Amy was, grabbed her and left. No need for all the help, and all the theatrics.

Doctor Who 6.7 A Good Man Goes to War – Matt Smith and Alex Kingston
The Doctor (Matt Smith) is pleased to learn the identity of River Song (Alex Kingston) © BBC 2011

But then, as I have said more than once, that wouldn’t make good tv.

My highlight was River Song telling off the Doctor for turning into an avenger, departing from his intention to explore when he left his people and stole the TARDIS. I also like the symmetry of the whole sequence of events being caused by a fear of the Doctor. It also gives me hope that the series may yet move towards the Doctor being an explorer in a vast universe of mystery. What doesn’t sit well with me at all this destructive side to the Doctor. I find it very difficult to believe that he would blow up Cybermen spaceships to make a point – and never mind what they were doing in our universe in the first place.

There were too many down points, though, to make this the amazing much-hyped episode we seemed to be promised. First off, was this really the Doctor’s greatest moment? And if this was “his darkest hour” I must have blinked. I’ve seen him in much more hopeless situations.

The also much-hyped revelation of River song was interesting , but why all the mystery surrounding it? What was the reason for the Great Secret all this time? And we still don’t know why she was in prison; no doubt the second half of the season will tell us. Well, maybe…

I groaned at the appearance of the spitfires, and smiled. I couldn’t help thinking that these had been brought back simply to make the point that the production team really wasn’t embarrassed by such an awful idea. Such effrontery! I also wondered how a Siliurian was wandering around Victorian London, or indeed how others popped up, when they were all meant to be in deep hibernation. Perhaps this is all to do with the Doctor re-booting the universe.

Doctor Who 6.7 A Good Man Goes to War – Dan Starkey
Not quite Nurse Jackie, Commander Strax (Dan Starkey) © BBC 2011

A surprising plus point was the Sontaran nurse – yes, nurse! He was an interesting and credible character – the best by far. Not far behind was blue-skinned Dorium Maldovar, who sadly ended up for the chop. He also made a good scene in the episode’s prequel. Least interesting was Frances Barber as the eye-patch woman. She really didn’t do much, apart from trying to sound sinister. I wasn’t convinced.

But where does this leave us now? Well, not really much further than before. We still don’t know why the Doctor was shot by the astronaut at the start of the season, or whether or not there are two Doctors. The Doctor gave a strange look on this subject this week. Now we have to wait some months before we start the next round of clues, questions and conundrums, but I’m sure that if nothing else it will be interesting…

[Rating: 4]


Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online