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02 July 2010 @ 04:35 pm
The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang  
I'm finding it hard to judge whether Moffat is making subtle critque's of Davies' work on Doctor Who this season or if he's just trying to provide more of the same but, because he's Moffat and not Davies, he's doing it differently.

It would be foolish to ignore the fact that Davies' season finale's were hugely successful and successful in a surprising fashion. They were often constructed like the worst excessses of fanfiction - piling on the returning characters and monsters with vast enthusiam in a way that prevailing wisdom had always insisted the general public would never put up with... and the general public, by and large, loved it.

So when The Pandorica Opens set up the Davies-esque situation: it's the Daleks and the Cyberman and the Sontarans and the Silurians and the Nestenes and... they've all ganged up!!!! followed by their almost immediate plot sidelining in favour of a four-hander with a single Dalek, that looks like a fairly cheeky signalling of "I'm going to do a Davies season ending, actually no I'm not!". It's like a dramatic rejection of the very successful format that had built up over the last five years. On the other hand, for all that, this season finale was still full of bang and sparkle, returning characters and monsters, magic devices that did whatever the plot wanted them to and big crowd-pleasing moments.

I hope what we're seeing was, genuinely, an attempt to draw a line under the "and yet more monsters!!!" arms race of the season finales. I think it's significant that the serious threat in The Pandorica Opens was a lone, broken Cyberman and in The Big Bang it was a lone, broken Dalek. People have often pointed out that one monster proving almost unstoppable is usually more dramatic than hordes of monsters which can get blown away easily and the season endings did appear to be at risk of descending into diminishing returns. I think Moffat here showed you can do the crowd-pleasing continuity overload without necessarily having to make it, in some sense, bigger than what has gone before.

For all the story revolved around a magic box, a Davies-ism if ever there was one, it did feel more coherent than a lot of previous season finales. I think maybe this is because the obvious Deus ex Machina was less inextricably linked up with the emotional story-line. Previously the emotional story that required, say, Rose to become a Goddess or Martha to summon the Doctor/Jesus/Tinkerbell used a magic device that was sprung unnanounced in the last couple of episodes. While this story had the Pandorica and it's ability to do whatever was necessary dropped on us out of nowhere, the emotional climax is Amy remembering the Doctor and, while that's frankly as much of a pull-it-out-of-your-hat as anything the Pandorica does, at leasts its been well foreshadowed, in a much more satisfying fashion than `Bad Wolf', throughout the season. We're expecting memory to be important. I'm hand-waving a little here because, structurally speaking, I don't think there is a lot to chose between any of the NuWho season closers. But I found this one more satisfying than the others.

I also loved what was done with Rory in this, and the wonderful "Actually marriage isn't the end" closing scene.

I think, in the end, this is Moffat continuing to work with the template Davies set up. I think he recognised that it was impossible, really, to go any bigger in terms of piling on the monsters and so chose the only way out, of a deliberate reset. However I don't think that was really a critique, just pragmatism. Otherwise the finale was business as usual, thrills! old friends! old enemies! big emotional moments and lots of magic plot devices. It differs in its subtleties and in the ways Moffat constructs plot and character and season but the bones of NuWho remain untouched and, to be honest, that's probably a good thing.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/10623.html.