The Almost People was the second episode of a two part Doctor Who adventure that attracted 5.0 million viewers according to unofficial overnight figures. Not only did it continue and conclude the previous week’s proceedings, but it also finished on what was (and had been hyped up in the press and online) something of a major ‘to be continued’ cliffhanger. This will inevitably change how the rest of the series develops from here on in. Was it a case of double the fun, or did it become one of the many almost rans?
I found The Almost People to be flawed in many areas, and didn’t enjoy much of the plot or contents. For me it was possibly the weakest episode since the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era began, and also uncannily similar to last year’s The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood two parter in many ways, which I didn’t like for the same reasons that I shall attempt to explain later.
A Pile Of Flesh Bodies
Last week’s The Rebel Flesh was a pretty average ‘base under siege’ story (something the show has done many times over the years). It was set around a small group of characters that I found it difficult to warm to, or caring about. The thing that pervaded to me the most throughout though was, what is this exactly about? What’s the central premise of it? Where is it going towards? The surface plot elements, such as the idea of what it is to be ‘human’, have of course been done before. Bladerunner, for one, and more recently in sci-fi by the remake of Battlestar Galactica with the ‘human’ Cylons.
Still, the cliffhanger of the ‘flesh’ Doctor gave me enough hope that this week’s would have enough to get it going. Perhaps a central story might emerge that would entertain me. What we got though was just more random plot elements and motives thrown in. They seemed to me to be just getting in the way. And also a little bit irritating. First we have a pile of flesh bodies. Then we get a character who all of a sudden has a blood clot (and I’m still not sure why someone else kept sneezing last week). Oh wait, a ‘wall of eyes’, that’s creepy, but was it for? These were still being dropped into the plot with only fifteen minutes to go. Not to mention the entrance of a CGI monster.
And some of the better elements of The Rebel Flesh get buried somewhat this week. Rory, who’s growing relationship with Jennifer that was interesting to me, disappears from the action. He is barely seen for the first twenty minutes. And what was with the snowglobe last week that the Doctor kept bringing out? Did that ever get explained?
When we get to ‘that’ cliffhanger I realised the point of the previous two episodes, to get to this point. To give us a moment where Amy lets slip the secret of the Doctor’s death to him (and I’d guessed at the start that the two Doctors would swap places). Additionally it dangles a big carrot of a ‘second’ Doctor who can return later in the series. Perhaps to be the one that dies at the start of it?
It was a big cliffhanger though. The Amy we thought we know is revealed to be a flesh copy. And she is destroyed in front of our (and Rory‘s) eyes by the Doctor inside the Tardis. She is then seen waking up in an unknown location, pregnant and being held captive (unconscious) by the Eye Patch Lady. She is a mysterious figure we have had brief glimpses of throughout the series. This explains the results of the pregnancy scan the Doctor keeps performing that constantly flips between positive and negative.
So that is why I didn’t enage very much with this pair of episodes. In the same way that The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood from the previous season seemed a long way round to get to the cliffhanger of Rory‘s (first) death. I felt that these two episodes had wasted my time in trying to make me care about them.
I’m hoping (and expecting) for better from next week’s mid-season finale A Good Man Goes To War. This episode will see the search for Amy begin. And from what we’re led to believe, finally get to the origins of the character of River Song and her relationship with the Doctor.
The next episode will air on BBC One and BBC One HD next Saturday 4th June at 6.40pm.
If there was one consistent criticism of Doctor Who under previous showrunner Russell T. Davies, it was that he focused too much on “soap opera” elements. It was constantly returning to the Powell Estate and the Tyler family. This year you could be forgiven for suggesting that latest showrunner Steven Moffat has turned the show into Soap, the US comedy sitcom of the late 1970s. Soap centred around two sisters, Mary Tate and Jessica Campbell. It poked fun at the sort of ludicrous, complicated and far-fetched plotlines that had started to become a staple part of daytime soap operas at
Doctor Who A Good Man Goes To War, the mid-season finale, attracted 5.5 million viewers according to overnight figures. The long-running secret of River Song‘s true identity was finally revealed. Viewers also learnt more about Amy‘s baby, and why she is so important to the Doctor’s enemies. It also saw returns for many of the show’s monsters and allies from recent years. Above all it tells an epic tale that spanned the vastness of space and time. So did Steven Moffat’s story intentions win the war? Or did it fail to translate from script to screen, just like the Tardis
Last night’s Doctor Who The Rebel Flesh, the first of a two part story, attracted 5.7 million viewers. This was the overnight figure, before iPlayer and catch-up is included. Written by Matthew Graham (Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes), the Tardis crew land at a creepy monastery. The location is an island that is home to a small set of humans. They work there to mine acid important to the mainland. They carry out their work via the gangers (‘doppelgangers’), fascimile copies of themselves created from programmable biomatter and controlled by a psychic link. Are they more than just copies though?