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17 September 2015 @ 08:44 pm
NuWho Rewatch: The Wedding of River Song  
Ugh, yes, this season's arc is a real mess. The Wedding of River Song is, in many ways, a typical season finale. We have a great deal of spectacle, particularly the establishing shots of a temporally mashed up Earth with its steam trains, roman legionaries and pteradactyls, emotion and tears as the plot strands surrounding River, the Ponds and the Doctor are resolved and, of course, the answer to the season's opening question "how will the Doctor get out of that?".

A lot of it is very good in season finale terms, though we are measuring against The End of Time here which is one of the few NuWho stories that I actively dislike. But I can't help feeling that very little in River's background actually makes sense. The astronaut suit is on automatic, so basically River doesn't need to be in it, there's nothing about River's special timey-wimey background that is remotely necessary for killing the Doctor. The implication that she's been brought up to be some kind of psychopath is equally unnecessary. Madame Kovarian's plot makes no sense. Unless I'm missing something, but I don't think I am. Once you pull at that thread an awful lot of the season's plot arc crumbles. It's pretty irritating, especially for a Moffat constructed plotline.

The ride itself is pretty fun. I had to explain the eye-patch joke to NLSS Child and I'm not sure about the wisdom of constructing a plot point around an in-joke even if the plot stands on its own just fine without knowing about the joke. Churchill and the world where time has stopped is a lot of fun. Rory, Amy and River and their relationships in the messed up world work nicely to re-establish their dynamics (particularly given the show has obviously decided not to confront the issue of River's abduction head on). I particularly like the scene at the end where River comes to visit Amy. I think it's the only time Doctor Who ever shows them relating to each other as family. I'm not sure about the actual wedding, mostly because it feels like the show is trying to have its cake and eat it by suggesting that the marriage both is and isn't real, or at least that the Doctor both is and isn't in love with River. I would have been happier if there had not been a suggestion his hand was forced here, and if the wedding hadn't taken place in a parallel universe that immediately ceased to exist.

NLSS Child proceeded to ask some very searching questions after the episode was over, about quite who knew or remembered what and who was lying or bluffing and about what. Answering them wasn't as easy as it should have been.

I don't dislike The Wedding of River Song, it has a lot going for it and some nice moments, but I do think the over-arching plot line through season 6 makes precious little actual sense and is probably the weakest of Moffat's confections and I do hold that against the finale a bit.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/170537.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on September 17th, 2015 11:36 pm (UTC)
I actually agree with a lot of what you've written here. I've never fully understood the arc and I was disappointed by the Doctor's means of cheating death. The wedding seemed ambiguous, but Angels Take Manhattan would suggest that he does love her and they are married, which annoyed me a bit.

But somehow I enjoyed this, both at the time and subsequently. At this point, Moffat could do no wrong for me (this would change over the coming years) and was giving me the best new Who I could expect (which is not always quite what I would have liked, but I'm realistic).

I think you are right about the arc not holding up well, though. I recently read About Time 7, where Tat Wood points out that even though Moffat has more complex arcs than Davies, it's the latter who gave clear guidelines to writers about what to write, Moffat being more open to unsolicited ideas (apparently The Girl Who Waited was one). Perhaps that is a fault.
londonkds on September 18th, 2015 08:43 am (UTC)
Yeah, the method of cheating death is one that even Silver Age superhero comic readers quickly decided was a corny cop-out.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2015 09:13 am (UTC)
I think it works in a way, if only because it is sort of obvious - though I think at the time I, like most people, assumed it was going to be a flesh duplicate not a robot duplicate. Of course, it does rather highlight that the whoever it is who locked River up didn't exactly do due diligence on establishing the facts of the matter.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2015 09:11 am (UTC)
Hmmm, it's hard to see Moffat being more open to unsolicited ideas as a weakness per se - there's nothing in The Girl Who Waited that causes trouble for the River plot line. I have a suspicion that the large scope required of a multi-season arc (which is essentially what Moffat was attempting) means its harder to spot when you have failed to suitably justify a plot point. If you remove the whole abduction and indoctrination of River bit, then Madame Kovarian's plot makes sense - well she doesn't really need a plot, just needs an astronaut suit and a way of luring the Doctor to it (Demon's Run, in all its complexity, is entirely unnecessary). It's just about possible, I suppose, that she needs River in order for Lake Silencio to become a fixed point - since the Doctor is lured there not by anything Madame Kovarian does but by the timey-wimeyness of his companions witnessing his death while still travelling with his younger self which witness he engineered himself - so its a self-bootstrapped time loop and maybe you need someone like River to bootstrap something like that. However this isn't anywhere in the show.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on September 18th, 2015 12:01 pm (UTC)
To clarify, I don't have a problem with unsolicited ideas per se, but I think perhaps they need to be integrated better into the whole if a big multi-season arc is intended. Your retcon makes sense, and probably should have been in the finished programme...
parrot_knightparrot_knight on September 17th, 2015 11:55 pm (UTC)
I like to think the arc is really about the contestable nature of conclusions drawn from historical evidence, when you don't know what the evidence actually means because you are missing part of the context. I am not convinced that this is what Steven Moffat thought, however.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on September 18th, 2015 09:14 am (UTC)
Yes, it would be nice to think the very partial information we get is deliberate, but that doesn't feel like the kind of theme Moffat is particularly interested in. He likes the "oh so that was what it was all about!" reveal too much, I think. It's just on this occasion the reveal does not survive more than the most cursory examination without raising a whole load of questions I suspect he didn't want asked.