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18 July 2015 @ 06:22 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang  
Yes, I know I've missed out the Christmas Carol. I'll get to it next, but I've written this now and it seems a shame not to post.

The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is the finale of Moffat's first season at the helm of Doctor Who. It's an odd two parter with two distinctly different episodes, the first being a somewhat Davies-style, throw-all-the-monsters-at the screen in which a massive plot between just about everyone is revealed to trap the Doctor in a box, and then a part two which is much more of a chamber piece focussing in on the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River. The whole thing ends with a handwave which, in retrospect, is Moffat arbitrarily rewriting the Doctor Who universe so that he can ignore any past continuity that might prove inconvenient.

When I first saw this two parter, I quite liked it (judging from my review back then) and felt it was more coherent that Davies's season finales had been (admittedly not a high bar to clear). I think, in isolation, it probably is more coherent but its is very heavily embedded in Moffat's ongoing plot about the Silence, Demon's Run, River Song, the Death of the Doctor, the Name of the Doctor, etc., etc., which to be honest, I felt became less coherent the further it progressed. I actually strongly suspect it all makes a fairly tightly plotted kind of sense, but it was revealed in such dribs and drabs and involves so many disparate elements that I'd sort of lost interest in it before it was resolved and so, in my mind, its all kind of blurred into "names and stuff". In retrospect, therefore, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang suffers from being so reliant on some continuity I'm rather bored of.

What I liked about this two parter, on rewatching, was mostly Rory. Having spent most of his earlier episodes reprising Mickey's role as unwanted fifth wheel (albeit rather more sympathetically portrayed), Rory here slips easily and dramatically back into the team so that, by the end of the story, he is clearly a companion in his own right. Some of the best moments in the two parter are those between the Doctor and Rory, or Amy and Rory and while his wait as the lone centurion through the centuries is necessarily somewhat under-examined, it is a captivating idea.

It's a NuWho season finale and they are what they are. While they all have distinguishing features, they probably have more similarities than differences even across the divide between show runners. The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is, at the end of the day, fairly typical. It's not the worst by a long shot, but there is a lot of NuWho I like better than this.

metanews coding: <a href=http://louisedennis.livejournal.com/304211.html>NuWho Rewatch: The Impossible Astronaut/The Day of the Moon</a> (LJ) <i>Discussion of the sixth series opening two-parter</i>

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/164804.html.
Susanlil_shepherd on July 18th, 2015 08:05 pm (UTC)
I won't say that last sentence is wrong, but I can't think of a single New Who finale that I liked better than this one.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on July 19th, 2015 08:23 am (UTC)
I think I'd have to compare it to the most recent finale, but its certainly one of the better ones. I just don't think I like the season finale much as a story style.
Susanlil_shepherd on July 19th, 2015 10:04 am (UTC)
To be honest, we gave up on the last season(s) because we didn't like Clara and found Capaldi incoherent.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on July 18th, 2015 10:37 pm (UTC)
I liked this a lot at the time, especially the gear change halfway through, which was the reverse of Davies, who tended to ramp things up and up and up. I prefer small scale, as you know. I haven't seen this for a couple of years, though (before The Time of the Doctor, and am looking forward to revisiting the eleventh Doctor's era in toto at some point in the not too distant future to see how it holds together.

I like Steven Moffat more than most fans seem to (internet fans, anyway), but you may be right about long term plotting. I embraced the idea a few years ago, but now find myself a little bored by long term arcs. Maybe Doctor Who simply isn't suited to them? Why that might be the case is another question. Perhaps to make big arcs work you need to go down the Babylon 5 route of turning the whole thing into one great big coherent story, which Doctor Who with its early evening family audience simply can't do? Or maybe there's an inherent difficulty in telling one story over three years, especially with seasons that are so much shorter than those in US dramas?
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on July 19th, 2015 09:29 am (UTC)
I think the difference between something like Doctor Who and Babylon 5 is that it was very easy for Babylon 5 to have something related to the ongoing arc occurring in each episode, even if it was only a reminder of what the various factions and their motivations. While Doctor Who has tried various things from recurring words and phrases, to the Missy tags at the end of the episodes in the last season, I don't think those are nearly so successful in terms of building a general audience awareness of the setting and key players.

It was much easier to follow the arc of the Doctor's relationship with Amy and Rory for instance just because the major players are in nearly all the episodes.

I also think Moffat can be accused of failing to show enough of his working. Obviously, he's treading a fine line between hammering all his points home with a sledgehammer and leaving everything too opaque, but I think the fact that he had to explain so much post The Angels take Manhattan for instance, because it just wasn't there in the script. Similarly, even on second viewing, it wasn't clear that Amy re-remembering the universe in The Big Bang was intended to effectively wipe all the Davies era Earth invasions from history which, IIUC, was part of the point.