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Operation Platinum Age: The Final Word

Speaking of which, in The Lodger we got to see the Doctor without Amy, and were treated to something so special that the idea of any permanent companion seemed suddenly superfluous. A prompt re-evaluation of the David Tennant specials reminded me that this was not necessarily the case.  Even so, this standalone episode was perhaps the best character study of the Doctor we’ve ever seen and a perfect showcase within which to restate Smith’s abundant talent.

Where the Doctor had seemed restricted by Amy (or Smith by Gillan?) in the previous episode, here he was quite off the leash.  What a joy it was to see him settling into a domestic situation with warmth and charm, popping up from behind the sofa, cooking Craig’s breakfast every day and singing ‘something Italian’ to the tune of La Donne Mobile.  I’m not the biggest James Corden fan, either, but wasn’t he just beautiful as Craig?  Gareth Roberts excelled himself with this utterly delicious episode, which was possibly the best of the season.  It’s obvious now that Roberts should take the post of ‘second-writer-in-command’ – and then perhaps that of the series’ next showrunner?

It’s obvious now that Roberts should take the post of ‘second-writer-in-command’ – and then perhaps that of the series’ next showrunner?

When the final two-parter came it was a staggering epic, full of fanboy thrills and incredible wonders.  From the various times and places of the opening sequence, it was obvious we were in for a treat.  Having watched it a couple of times since, I must admit that while it stands up beautifully as a Doctor Who movie, the plot still doesn’t quite add up.  Not really.  Fortunately, it doesn’t quite add up in a way that doesn’t quite matter and we engage with it on its own terms, but some of the sheer coincidence required to make things turn out well scarcely bears thinking about.

It’s all very tenuous.  But didn’t it look great, speeding along with a delirious self-confidence that we’ve never really seen before?  Yes, it was blindingly obvious to the attentive that ‘the trickster’ in the Pandorica legend was the Doctor (very BBC Books’ Alien Bodies), but the way in which that legend became manifest was truly shocking.  All kinds of theories raced through my mind: would the Doctor actually be in the box?  Was this his tomb?  Would it be a dead Eleventh Doctor?  A future Doctor?  A past Doctor?  Nothing prepared me for the notion that he wasn’t even in there yet.  Very Wicker Man.  And the alliance of aliens!  Wow!  I never saw that coming.  You did, though, didn’t you?  Probably because you saw last week’s Next Week trailer, or heard something on Confidential.

Take my word for it as someone who tried it this year: avoid the Next Week trailers, they never give the whole game away but they always ruin three or four potential surprises.  And Doctor Who Confidential, quite innocently, has a habit of dictating your reading of the show.  The amount of party line, agenda and prescriptive reading that comes from this wonderful little show is staggering.  If you want to feel the wonder of Doctor Who, save these up until the season’s finished.  You’ll thank yourself.

But I digress.

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Elton Townend-Jones is a journalist, playwright, actor, theatre producer and philosopher. He does ‘80s zeitgeist at www.25yearstoolate.blogspot.com.

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