I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’ve been overdosed on River Song. Maybe it’s because I REALLY NEEDED a dose of Space Western. Whatever it is, this week’s Doctor Who really hit the spot.
This week’s Doctor Who episode ‘A Town Called Mercy’ is by all accounts quite a by the book sort of episode. Doctor comes to familiar yet kind of weird environment (Wild West with Cyborgs), Doctor finds out place is not what it seems. Doctor gets a shiny new hat (one of these days I want to see Matt Smith in Jayne’s beanie). Moral quandaries abound, tempers flare, impassioned speeches get made and we (usually) find out the world is better for humanity being… well… human.
To be honest, I kinda felt a bit meh about last season’s Doctor Who. I was never a big fan of River Song (I feel she ended up being overplayed by Moffat the same way Rose was overplayed by Davies), and last season was like… all River all the time. It feels like Moffat tried to do a big reveal like what he did two seasons back, only this time it was a little bit more of a let down than the season before. I really liked the season before.
It didn’t help that they kind of meh’ed up the Angels either. They were the scariest things I had ever seen in Blink, but time of Angels kind of diluted them and made them into B-grade villains. The Silence were also pretty creepy at the last of last season, but then I think (like all Unknowns) the more you find out about them the scarier they are.
I feel like this season seems more like a return to form (or at least thats what I get from the first few episodes), which makes me a very happy TARDIS camper. Last episode was so-so (dinosaurs aside), and the first episode Asylum of the Daleks was a little bit kludgey here and there, but I especially liked the whole ‘turning the dalek thing on its head’ in the last few minutes, and the incredibly amusing Dalek chant (Doctor… WHO???? /dalek) was well worth the time spent.
And this week… I think that the Western thing really made it work for me. First up, I like the fact that BBC is making use of the whole ‘filming bits in America’ bit. Last season’s Americans didn’t work for me. Or maybe it’s because Firefly has left a gaping hole in my heart that I’m constantly trying to fill. Or maybe it’s the fact that I love the homage to Yul Brynner’s cyborg in ‘Westworld’. (I’m not sure if the gunslinger is anything LIKE Yul Brynner, but I seriously got a westworld vibe there.) Whatever it is, SPACE WESTERN YAY.
Besides, Doctor Who (and really almost all Sci Fi) truly comes into form when it waxes philosophical, and we get that in this week’s episode. How do you treat a war criminal? Is someone even a war criminal if he kills hundreds to save millions? And isn’t all this anger (righteous or not) kind of hypocritical?
These are questions that I liked being asked in my Doctor Who episode. And even if the resolution is semi handwaved, I’m ok with that, because I would rather have the audience think about what happened rather than have the Doctor decide for us. If the past few episodes are any judge of this new season’s Doctor, then I’m pretty excited.