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Published on May 15th, 2010 | by Christian Cawley

Amy’s Choice – Modern Classic?

Quirky, oddball, psychological – three great words that do no justice to an excellent episode of Doctor Who. Amy’s Choice was a rarity – an episode that felt quite different to anything that had gone before, despite minor similarities with 1968′s The Mind Robber and 1964′s The Edge of Destruction.

Doctor Who - Amy's Choice features the Dream Lord, played by Toby JonesWe’ll have a full review up later this weekend – but I just want to reflect on an episode that personally took me by surprise. I was personally underwhelmed by Vampires of Venice, an obvious retread of many of the same concepts as 2006′s School Reunion. On first glance, this shouldn’t be a surprise, as both episodes were written by Toby Whithouse – yet he’s the creator of the popular Being Human. There really isn’t any excuse for a blatant reuse of an earlier script idea.

In sharp contrast, Amy’s Choice came from the pen of a man who hasn’t worked on Doctor Who before, is best known for his long-running “New Lad”  sitcom Men Behaving Badly (starring Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Caroline Quentin, Leslie Ash and Harry Enfield at various stages of its long existence). As a fan of this show, I was heartened when I heard that Amy’s Choice featured “dream sequences” – a couple of episodes of Men Behaving Badly feature short, hilarious dream sequences, a theme that Nye has of course developed in the remake of the Reggie Perrin story.

However I had no idea that the latest episode of Doctor Who would be quite that good. It wasn’t quite Blink or Human Nature – but it is a superb story, with excellent performances from the principal cast of Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and guest Toby Jones, and is certainly a highlight of this current series. We’re halfway through the run now. While things haven’t been as thrilling as the 2007 run (The Face of Boe! The Master! Blink! Human Nature!) – which long-running readers of this site will know we regard as the finest of all – there is still a feeling of something devastating waiting in the wings at the end. With no obvious crack or silence in the episode this week, it was also good to get a break from the series arc/threat…

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About the Author

A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.




6 Responses to Amy’s Choice – Modern Classic?

  1. Hyncharas says:

    There are people on the Tardis Wikia who say he’s the Valeyard, but I think it’s far more likely that The Doctor’s pep-talk to Amy and Rory was a lie… finally the Toymaker is back!

  2. krumstets says:

    This story had the makings of a very good episode and started to go that way.
    Once again the story revolves around the companions and becomes EastEnders in space.
    If only the Dreamlord had been an entitity like `Q’ in STNG…but no! It was some physic seeds..er ..what?
    And all of this so Amy could see she really loves Rory after all.
    This was so sweet I felt quite ill afterwards.
    If Rory HAD died and the Dreamlord was a nasty entity like the Celestial Toymaker this would have the makings of a classic.
    Unfortunately, Rory is still with us and the dreamlord was just and imagination.
    zzzzzzzz
    BTW why can’t we see some other parts of the Tardis?
    Everything happening in the console room has become tediuos now.

  3. Carn says:

    I wasn’t all that impressed with the 2007 run. Apart from Human Nature (the finest story of the modern run) and Jacobi’s Yana/Master (I loathe the Simm version and wish we’d had Jacobi continue the role, he deserved way more than one episode) nothing else really stood out for me plus it had the single most annoying companion of all time as far as I’m concerned…whiney Martha Jones.

    Why are people having a go at Toby Whithouse for re-using elements when Moffat does it pretty much all the time (Silence in the Library with the people turning into ‘faceless’ monsters that spout a catchphrase over and over very much like The Empty Child for example)? I really enjoyed the Vampires episode and Helen McCrory was one of the best acted and most interesting villains in recent times. Superb fun too throughout.

    I’m a bit undecided on this one. I liked it but then I’ve really enjoyed the current season far more than any other of modern Who. And I do find bits that were perhaps upsetting or disturbing (the kids being piles of dust, or Rory getting killed too) are rendered ineffective when it turns out to just be a dream. And maybe Amy seemed really sure it was a dream because she never showed much care for her unborn baby, complaining about it stopping her running more than anything else. Certainly not like Donna’s reaction to her children in Forest of the Dead.

    I’m gonna watch it again like I do with every episode. I just love watching the main cast. They’re superb whether individually or all together. It’s right now not among my faves of the season but I respect the different feel of it and do enjoy it but I don’t see it as one of the best yet.

  4. Leosw4 says:

    I gotta partly agree with Carn here. Series 3 did not do it for me really (excluding Human Nature two parter, Utopia and Gridlock which I thought where excellent-I’m not a fan of Doctor lite episodes so Blink did’nt quite hit home for me). The rest where either hum drum and the least said about the nadir of the Dalek and the Simm Master episodes the better.
    Series 5 is running like series 3 for me unfortunately, saved only by the amazing, and I really do mean amazing Matt Smith.
    Last nights episode I thought was utterly astonishing though and has given me a real buzz again.
    Overall since 2005, the original material episodes seem to be delivering better than the ones where monsters or vilians from the Doctor’s past are making a return, and I am not sure what is going wrong in some of these instances. The JNT era seemed to suffer the same problems. Lets hope next week does’nt suffer the same fate.

  5. Rick714 says:

    I think it’s a bit unfair to constantly rank each episode in comparison with older eps and seasons versus seasons. You tend to over scrutinize and that puts more and more pressure on each new episode. I’m finding it very easy to embrace this whole new fresh start for DW and after the last two eps, I’m also feeling a lot better about the stories that Moffat isn’t writing. After that early, shaky Gatiss script, I was nervous about anything without Moffat but no longer.
    And I liked many things about season 3 but it had as many ups and downs as the other seasons. Each episode hits people differently and for different reasons. My favorite cluster of Tennant episodes was Tooth and Claw, School Reunion and Girl in the fireplace, but each season has had magnificent clusters as well like Human Nature/Family of Blood/Blink and then Turn left/Stolen Earth/Journeys end. I think it’s also fairly telling that the majority of those eps had all new and original villains/threats.

  6. castellanspandrell says:

    I think the ‘Saxon’ arc and how it played out (except, for many people, in Last of the Time Lords) is the main reason why S3 is highly-regarded by some.

    The whole concept of the fob watch and the Face of Boe’s final words/the Professor’s surname was brilliantly done, as were the cliffhangers involving Francine Jones colluding with Saxon’s people.

    But arguably 2 stories really stood out compared with the rest that season, if we exclude Utopia, which is mainly remembered for its last 10 minutes.

    On the other hand, S2 had Tooth & Claw, School Reunion, Girl, Impossible Planet, Army of Ghosts, but it also had a few stinkers which lower perceptions of that run of stories, as does the way Rose’s character had developed at that point.

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