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Review of Doctor Who ‘The Wedding of River Song’

Neela Debnath

Doctor 9 300x204 Review of Doctor Who ‘The Wedding of River Song’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 13, series 6/32 of Doctor Who

A finale that refused to tie up the loose ends neatly and reiterated the point that in the Who universe there are now no hard and fast rules when it comes to time travel.

The climax to this series proved to be brainteaser, with so much going on that it was easy to get lost in the melee. The Doctor didn’t really die instead he was inside the Teselecta which River shot, so he was actually fine. Surely, if the Doctor does not die, it changes a fixed point in time? Apparently, the universe now thinks he is dead, although once he starts turning up the save the day, won’t people will start to realise that he didn’t die? And in a ceremony quicker than a Vegas wedding, River and the Doctor tied the knot but only because it was the only way she would obey him and return to said fixed point in time.

There were also many ominous new riddles from the head of the decapitated Dorium Maldovar (Simon Fisher-Becker). The Doctor learns that on the fields of Trensalor at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a question will be asked, a question that must never ever be answered. The Silence must fall when the question is asked. The Silence are determined that the question will never be answered and that the Doctor will never reach Trensalor which is why they have been trying to kill him. All of this was mind-boggling and took a while to comprehend. Does the Eleventh refer to the eleventh doctor and is the oldest question going to be: what is the Doctor’s name?

From the multitude of questions thrown up by this enigmatic explanation, it is clear that Steven Moffat is trying to return to the epic story-telling quality that ‘Doctor Who’ once had. In the older series, there were plotlines that would be spread out over several episodes. Moffat has now taken this a step further with tales that span over several series in order to create longevity and maintain momentum. During Russell T. Davies’ tenure as showrunner, the end of each series would be neatly wrapped up and there would be no real momentum to move to the next series. The sense of foresight is important and in fact strengthens the show, building up a sense of continuity in terms of characters. River’s story is intriguing and watching it play out is thoroughly enjoyable.

However, there has been an argument running throughout the series about whether it is too complex for children (let alone adults) to understand. It has certainly been challenging to watch and there are times when the narrative becomes hard to follow. Moffat wants to make it more than just a show about a man with a blue box. But the next series must allow the viewer a moment to pause and catch up with what is going on. It could prove detrimental to continue at this break-neck speed which is already leaving some viewers feeling alienated.

As series finales go, it felt underwhelming in terms of drama yet it was overwhelming in terms of information. Maybe if it had ended on the same cliffhanger note as ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ it would have had more of an electrifying feel. Or if there had been more resolution, it would have worked in the episode’s favour.

Generally this series has been an interesting watch. The Doctor’s dark side has been shown along with the moral responsibilities and dilemmas he has in relation to his companions. The themes and character development has added a richness and depth that the show was lacking before. Sticking with the same characters could have proved to be a fatal error and made the series feel stale but instead it has made the programme feel more multi-layered. In some ways the show has felt more adult yet catering to the needs of the average 10-year-old. Aesthetically, the cheaply-made feel has vanished, now there is a cinematic quality to it which befits the series.

We will next see the Doctor in the Christmas special which will feature Bill Bailey, Claire Skinner, Arabella Weir and Alexander Armstrong.

Image credit: BBC

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  • Martin Gradwell

    “Generally, the Doctor consistently maintained that Susan was his biological granddaughter — or at the very least that it was likely, because he had a family in the sense that humans would understand.” – http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Susan_Foreman
    So: He maintains she’s his biological granddaughter, and she calls him grandfather – and we’re supposed to consider them unrelated? On what grounds?

    However, if she was a Time Lord, surely the Doctor would have returned her to Gallifrey rather than abandoning her on Earth, where she would be the sole Time Lord on a planet full of humans.

    The question of how a Time Lord could have a biological granddaughter who is human has always been a puzzle, but now it is a puzzle with a solution. River is human, with two biologically human parents, but she nevertheless has some Time Lord DNA, presumably enough to make her and the Doctor biologically compatible. And her wedding to the Doctor was not a sham. If I remember correctly she proclaimed her undying love for the Doctor, saying that she would rather see the universe fall apart than shoot him dead. Do you think he would go through with a sham wedding with her after such a proclamation?

    There have been attempts to resolve the puzzle before, e.g. the episode “the Doctor’s Daughter”, but that always looked wrong to me. Jenny may have the Doctor’s DNA, but he had no hand in her conception and he knows nothing about her. I don’t think she is really his daughter in any meaningful sense. I’m assured that I share something like 98% of my DNA with a chimp, but that doesn’t make me a chimp’s son.

    About Lungbarrow, you said all that needs to be said. It’s non-canon.

  • Martin Gradwell

    p.p.s. the reason I wrote p.s. was that I did reply about the question of whether the Doctor and Susan were biologically related (they were, or at least the Doctor maintained as much) and whether or not she was human (she was, I think, otherwise why did the Doctor abandon her on Earth instead of returning her to Gallifrey?), before I wrote the p.s. However, that reply is awaiting moderation for some reason. Hopefully it will appear eventually.

  • Dodo56

    There’s some serious geekery in here.

  • http://twitter.com/Derooftrouser Derooftrouser

    Mankind has been fooled!

    And all it took was a TV program called Doctor Who, made by the BBC, using the Doctor Who theme tune, featuring a main character called The Doctor, who travels in a TARDIS, fights enemies previously seen in Doctor Who, and refers to things from the history of Doctor Who.

    How can we have been so blind?

    Or have you perhaps confused ‘notWho’ and ‘notWhoIlikeandhavedecideddoesnotcountdespitethevarietyoftheshowbeingoneofitsbestfeatures’?


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