Amy’s Choice bucked the trend for television over the weekend, with the latest episode of Doctor Who attracted 6.2 million viewers, 5.9 million on BBC1 and 0.3 million on BBC HD, according to overnight audience figures.These will likely be enhanced with good figures from delayed viewing services such as BBC iPlayer and Sky+
Audience figures across all channels were down on the previous week, so its good to see Doctor Who remaining strong and pulling the same audience as the week before.
The directionâ€™s a little squiffy you see, never quite striking the right balance between absurdist humour (Grannies with lawnmowers!) and sinister nightmare. Add to that a Despair Squid-style â€œitâ€™s all a dream/hallucination endingâ€ and it all starts feeling a little Red Dwarf. The laughs come thick and fast, including a satisfying running gag about Amyâ€™s ample belly, but moments of despair â€“ such as Roryâ€™s â€œdeathâ€ â€“ or abject horror â€“ such as a playpark full of vaporised kiddies â€“ never shock in the way you might expect. The camera work, too, is a little flat.
Once again, the Telegraph utilise the services of Gavin Fuller, who in 1993 was Mastermindâ€™s youngest ever champion with Doctor Who chosen as his specialist subject. He was singularly impressed with the script, from Men Behaving Badly creator Simon Nye.
Nye certainly came up with the goods here, with probably the strongest all-round script we’ve had this year, chock full of good lines, particularly about the Doctor and his attitude to/relationship with his companions, although Amy’s line about the prospect of facing death when dressed as a Peruvian folk band was possibly the highlight.
Describing the episode as “the cheap one” meanwhile, The Guardian also highlight the comedic/surrealist moments from Amy’s Choice, before turning attention to the Dream Lord:
…these two realities both turn out to be dreams, and the magic-realist state of a dream can support even dafter images. Both an army of marauding pensioners, and Amy donning a poncho and telling her boys “if we’re going to die, let’s die looking like a Peruvian folk band” can be completely plausible.
The Dreamlord really is deliciously mean, calling him out on his every character flaw; his love of showing off, his clothes, the way he turns people into weapons (to quote Davros), the way he leaves people behind. It’s pretty heavy stuff… at the mid-season point
Den of Geek however aligned themselves with SFX, describing Amy’s Choice as “underwhelming, while paying attention to the Dream Lord…
Weâ€™ve had the immense pleasure of seeing Toby Jones on stage, and heâ€™s genuinely an outstanding actor. But here, he gets a role that never quite falls the right side of slightly annoying (not helped by the overuse of him cutting in and out of scenes in different places). Certainly the script does him few favours, and by second half of the episode, we felt that the Dream Lord seemed to have outlived his welcome, if not his purpose.
The Dream Lord, weâ€™re told, is actually the Doctor. Which explains why the two characters knew each other so well.
(Incidentally, many fans online have speculated that the Dream Lord might be the birth of the Valeyard, the evil incarnation of the Doctor revealed in 1986’s Trial of a Time Lord season.)
So – Amy’s Choice was a mixed bag, just as we expected. If you enjoyed the episode, the BBC’s Official Doctor Who website has a selection of extras, such as a new panoramic of the inside of the new TARDIS!