Bang to Rights


And we’re back in the room!
A: After the episode 12 climax I did worry about how the conclusion could possibly follow that. I suspect that the previous team might have tried to go even bigger (until we inevitably got something to do with displaced planets) but here they opted instead to change tack completely and go for something more intimate and sentimental. I think it was, once again, absolutely the right choice to make. When we finally reach the unhappy day of Matt Smith’s regeneration story, I can’t think of a more spectacular, heroic or heart-rending way for him to go out than using the very last of his life to fly the Pandorica into an exploding TARDIS and reboot the universe.

P: The pullback was probably the best thing about this story, with the first part being such a tease. It’s become a signature thing for Moffat over longer stories though, hasn’t it? Silence in the Library was about the vashta nerada, but really was about River and the Doctor. Time of Angels was River, then Angels, then the Crack. The Pandorica Opens was the Box, then the Alliance of enemies, then (thankfully) another pull back to the museum piece – the threat striped down to one petrified Dalek and the collapse of time. A great example of the budget restrictions working in harmony with the storytelling (but which came first, hmm?)

A: It strikes me is how timey-wimey Moffat has been over this whole series. Getting guest stars to record an extra scene not to be screened until episode 12 (or 13 in young Caitlin Blackwood’s case) sounds simple logistically, but the level of forward planning is undeniably impressive. I was delighted to see, too that the ‘continuity error’ from Flesh and Stone which you maintained held greater significance, and I didn’t even notice, absolutely paid off. I take my fez off to you!

P: It is very clever – production-wise it’d have been a doddle, but it’s a deft touch which makes the series look that extra bit more planned. In terms of narrative it’s almost worthless, particularly when there’s a telephone in the TARDIS to do much the same job (and potentially the Dalek Supreme at the other end with a handkerchief over his mouthpiece)

A: The Moff really show’s his four dimensional dabbling to it’s advantage in episode 13, having the Doctor work his own time stream like a Time Lord triumphant, without the anguish and pomposity. (Or maybe more like Marty McFly in Back to the Future 2?) It’s refreshingly fun. Compare the ensuing year of anguish and humiliation suffered the last time the Doctor had the tables so neatly turned on him by an enemy (The Sound of Drums), to the sheer lunacy of his popping out of thin air a few moments after his apparently inescapable doom in a fez and holding a broom under his arm.

P: Maybe it’s the body language (which i LOVE about Smith) but there was something utterly barmy about the fez and mop. They’re a bit of a cliche – the fez certainly is to a UK audience, but it works for me in a way that Tennant’s 3-D specs just didn’t.

A: Is the ‘anything that can be remembered can come back’ recurring theme a comment on the revival of the programme itself? It seemed impossible that he could ever come back, but we never forgot about the ‘daft old man who stole a magic box’. And continuing with your body language comment: didn’t Matt Smith look so much like an old man, in the best possible way, when he spoke that line? At the end of his first series, I can absolutely see why the Producers were convinced that one of the very first actors they auditioned was ‘the one’. It gives me supreme faith in their judgement for anything else they wish to do with the series, including, controversially, not tying up all the loose ends this time.

P: Yes but this is also the man who doesn’t like repeats (which is disappointing. I guess I’ll never get to see Web of Fear episode 2 now)

A: As much as I enjoyed this years ‘grand finale’, it does make me think about how esoteric these conclusions have become since the programme returned.
We’ve had Rose conveniently become a goddess, everyone in the world say the Doctor’s name at the same time, the Doctor-Donna doing ‘something’ with a Dalek computer console and now the Doctor returning from oblivion because Amy remembers him. I’m not complaining, but it seems that the Doctor used to solve problems so much more prosaically in the past. There’s something a little more rewarding in seeing the him triumph against the odds in ways that ordinary humans like ourselves could conceivably manage, through straight-forward bravery and resourcefulness – or even simple good luck.

P: There’s certainly less fluff and dodge this time than with racing technobabble and shouts of “if only… but OF COURSE!” sort of thing, but the crossing his own timestream thing is a trick that Moffat’s Doctor can surely only perform once and under special circumstances. How cool it was to see though that he didn’t squander it with just the one story but used it to revisit aspects of his recent past (and it didn’t even take seventeen minutes this time Russell!)

A: I understand that one of the scenes dealing with the power of remembrance apparently includes a quote from Robin of Sherwood, which no doubt had extra resonance for you?

P: Yeah sort of. The power of the legend, the man who transgresses bodies to become bigger than the original. ‘Nothing is Forgotten’ was the theme of Michael Praed’s departre from Robin, and continued well into the ‘next’ Robin, Jason Connery. It was a useful device to remind viewers that they were supposed be seeing the same Robin, while onscreen activities were often at pains to distinguish the two men. The Doctor is like that too, with the audience/production team tension – a sort of viewer required-doublethink. in this instance of course we’re not dealing with the new guy taking over the shoes of the old; we’re at the end of the Eleventh Doctor’s first year, so it’s onwards and forwards, so the ‘legend’ aspect of that phrase in this instance has more to do with him remaining in Amy’s mind. It’s a lovely scene, and another one on my list of ‘great quiet moments’. Very moving, the muted, occasionally cracking words of a dying man to someone with a whole new life ahead of them.

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