The Doctor is on a mission to find the baby River Song, aka Melody Pond, but the anxious parents leave a big message for him to get in contact.
Hey, it’s another fun moment with Rory (Arthur Darvill) and wife Amy (Karen Gillan) go careering around a field to leave a message. But, wait a minute, the Doctor can travel in time, so surely when he found the baby he would just go back to when he dropped off the dopey couple in the first place.
That means, of course, that this scene shouldn’t be happening.
Oh well, never mind. It’s one of a constant stream of amusing little moments that make up this episode. I can’t really say “story”, as there isn’t one. Not really. It’s more a series of one-liners and back-references tying up some of the questions that the preceding episodes of the season posed, and even ideas that have cropped up throughout the series’ long history. Take away all those, and what are you left with? Not much.
Thankfully, Hitler is just a bit of propaganda to make a good episode title and add a bit of publicity. He’s soon shoved into a cupboard and forgotten about. Strange how no-one reacts to the noise of the Police Box crashing into Hitler’s office. What we saw of Hitler’s Germany lacked any atmosphere, and was about as convincing as the London during the Blitz we saw last year.
I don’t mind the references, but they really shouldn’t be the superstructure of the narrative, and certainly not required knowledge before viewing the episode. For instance, we get a close up of River Song’s “Police Box” diary when it’s put by her bed. In the language of tv drama this is saying, “Look this is important”. Sure it is, if, and only if, you’ve seen other episodes, otherwise, in the context of the episode it’s a meaningless point to make. The production team seems determined to alienate casual viewers. Doctor Who seems to have given up being a sum of individual episodes and is now one ongoing epic that demands full attention, all the time.
By far, though, the most flippant part of the episode is the supposed imminent death of the Doctor. We have seen this situation before in the series, and each time it has been a powerfully dramatic moment. Here, it’s just a jolly romp, with completely inappropriate music and is treated incredibly causally. Madness!
Then there is the character of River Song. We now see her as a juvenile, ignoring authority, and even stealing a car. Yet, is she chastised, told she is doing something wrong? No, she is made out to be some kind of loveable rogue. This does worry me a bit, with its present-day setting, in view of the recent riots in England. These were said to be people who had no qualms about flouting authority, who did what they wanted and weren’t bothered about the consequences. Hmm, sounds just like River Song. A bit worrying that… (And even when River has been imprisoned she seems to leave prison whenever she likes!)
I know this series is pure fantasy, but at one time the Doctor would have serious moments of morality. Those seem to have long gone…