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Published on August 28th, 2011 | by Christian Cawley

Let’s Kill Hitler Reviewed

In the days of the classic series, you generally knew that when the Doctor had apparently been killed by that week’s villain, he was more than likely going to turn up again in one piece by the time the adventure was over.

Thanks to the events of The Impossible Astronaut and the various other twists that have occurred this series, however, that fact is no longer assured. We already know that the Doctor (Matt Smith) dies in Utah, just as we know that time can be rewritten. it was certainly on my mind while watching Let’s Kill Hitler that our hero could be about to face a second “genuine” death, another sledgehammer from Steven Moffat to leave fans scurrying around for pieces of the puzzle.

Indeed, it was a surprise that I actually found myself thinking anything at all, given the moments of laughter, sadness, action and revelation that are littered throughout what certainly ranks among Steven Moffat’s best Doctor Who scripts. If it wasn’t the high octane opening that thrilled then it was surely watching Rory (Arthur Darvill) deck the Fuhrer or even discovering Melody’s (Nina Toussaint-White,) identity and linking things up with Day of the Moon. Throw in a cyborg shape-shifter controlled by dozens of miniaturized humans (featuring what must be the best transmat special effect in Doctor Who yet) and the surprising-but-logical news that River Song is a war criminal and you have a recipe marked “instant classic”, just the thing to bring the show back on course after the anti-climax of the mid-season “cliffhanger” (or “miss-hanger”, as I consider it) A Good Man Goes to War.

For an episode called Let’s Kill Hitler, however, it is a shame that the Fuhrer was left locked in a cupboard, almost like a scene from classic comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo. He really serves no purpose other than being the reason for the crew of the Teselecta judgement machine to be at the same location as the crash landing TARDIS, but it is somewhat amusing to see the time traveller’s reaction to coming face to face with a man who literally changed the face of the world.

Comedy is plentiful in this episode, mainly during the flashback sequences where we see young Amy (Karen Gillan), Rory and Mels interacting in a series of “Mels in trouble” scenarios, but at the heart of Let’s Kill Hitler is the much-needed River Song (Alex Kingston) “origins” story, the tale of how she comes into being, who she intends to kill, why she has to commit that crime and how she comes to love the Doctor.

Let’s face it, we’ve been waiting for this since 2008, and Steven Moffat delivers an intriguing few scenes while drip feed into our existing knowledge of River Song/Melody Pond.

But there is such a lot more to Let’s Kill Hitler than a regeneration, some Hitler decking and the origins of River Song – Steven Moffat has littered the script with several boot-strap paradoxes. These are circular events that cannot exist without being self perpetuated, such as the Doctor giving River Song a blue box diary, Mels ensuring her own conception by letting Amy know that Rory is in love with her and of course the fact that Amy named her daughter after her daughter!

Show me any other TV show that can deliver such richness while referring to a 35 year old episode at the same time (of course, when the Doctor tells Eldrad that the TARDIS interior is in a state of grace in The Hand of Fear, the implication now is that he was bluffing. Given what we’ve seen since in Earthshock and The Parting of the Ways, this seems to have always been the case).

A quick note about the use of locations, costumes and direction -  Richard Senior has done a stellar job in pulling everything together for this episode, utilizing familiar Doctor Who locations in new and fantastic ways. You wouldn’t know that the episode wasn’t shot in Berlin if you didn’t know that the overseas shooting had already been completed in Utah.

Ultimately, of course, Doctor Who is back. The waiting is over, Series 6 is back on course and we’ve got just five more weeks to learn the truth behind the Doctor’s ultimate fate.

I’ve got a few theories of my own…

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About the Author

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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+.




7 Responses to Let’s Kill Hitler Reviewed

  1. avatar Corey says:

    But the interior being in a state of temporal grace worked in Invasion of Time when Andred tried to kill the Doctor. It was after the events of Earthshock that Tegan specifically asked the 5th Doctor why the Cybermen were able to fire guns in the TARDIS and it was suggested then that was just another repair that needed to be done that he hadn’t taken care of yet.

  2. avatar ChrisL says:

    Firstly, congratulations to Steven Moffat for finding a solution to the thorny issue of The Doctor running out of regenerations in the near future. Now that River has donated her remaining lives to our hero he can probably carry on for a further fifty of our years before the problem reappears.

    However, I am having huge problems with the sudden appearance of Amy’s alleged lifelong friend.
    Yes Mels’ back story just doesn’t hold water. Aside from the fact that neither Amy nor Rory have ever even mentioned her, or the fact that she apparently couldn’t be bothered to attend the wedding of her best friends (and parents, come to that), nothing about her rings true!
    She claims to have spent a long time finding her parents in order to become their best mate, which is quite an achievement in itself for such a young Time Lady, but never mind that – let’s concentrate on practicalities.

    Once she’d tracked down Amy & Rory, where did she live?
    Who did she live with? Did she get herself adopted and if so by whom was she adopted?
    We saw her at Amy’s house but when Amy wanted to nip round to see her ‘best mate’ where did she go? Did Amy ever meet Mels’ adopted parents and if so did her ‘Mother’ have an eye patch? If so, why didn’t that ring any bells when Amy saw Madame Kovarian?

    I could continue but I’m sure you get my drift here. If Mels appeared to be a normal human child who just happened to be Amy & Rory’s best mate, who went to school with them every day, who spent all her spare time in their company etc. etc. How on earth did she pull that off without a ready made family behind her in order to complete the illusion?

    One more thing, all this “penny in the air” nonsense is exactly that – nonsense! The whole “penny dropped” saying refers to the old coin operated machines into which a coin (usually a penny) was inserted in order to make it work. Sometimes a coin would get stuck and the machine would fail to operate… until the “penny finally dropped”. Hence the saying.
    It has nothing to do with pennies being in the air, or hovering anywhere else for that matter!
    It’s only a small matter I admit, but irritating nevertheless. Pretty much like Neil Gaiman apparently not understanding that the “Pull to open” sign on The TARDIS refers to the small door, behind which is the telephone, and not to the main doors of the Police Box.

  3. avatar ChrisL says:

    And another thing.
    Who on earth would go to work in an environment in which a faulty piece of hardware, or a failed software upgrade, would result in your imminent death?
    The whole Teselator idea was ridiculous and failed on so many fronts, not only the inbuilt terminator antibodies who were unable to distinguish between the crew and a supposed interloper.

    I’m also pretty sure that the robot’s face, when wearing the brown overalls prior to copying the Nazi’s identity, was identical to the soldier who shot the fake pig/alien in “Aliens of London”.

  4. avatar ChrisL says:

    Then there’s the small matter of Amy & Rory accepting the fact that their new born baby is now a fully grown woman!
    I mean, come on!
    From their perspective Melody has only just been born, they’ve barely had time to use up the first packet of nappies. Not only has this baby been snatched from them, they learn that the annoying, troublesome, best mate of theirs was their child all along!
    Mels claim that “it all worked out, you got to raise me after all” is absolutely crass. They didn’t raise her, she was a friend. A friend who presumably returned to her own home and her own parents every evening. She wasn’t raised by the Ponds in any way shape or form, yet Amy & Rory just seem to accept this without so much as a murmur.
    How shallow and lacking in maternal feelings must Amy Pond be to accept this dreadful turn of events? She has been robbed of bringing up her baby and everything associated with that experience. Every mother I have ever met would be distraught at the mere thought of that yet Amy & Rory don’t seem the slightest bit bothered.

    Absolute balderdash!
    Come on Steven Moffat, you’re so much better than this… aren’t you?
    Perhaps you’re not, on reflection. So many of Moffat’s characters lack depth and tend to be unbelievable, unlike RTD’s creations which all had a much more rounded and tangible feeling to them.


    • “So many of Moffat’s characters lack depth and tend to be unbelievable, unlike RTD’s creations which all had a much more rounded and tangible feeling to them.”

      Um… you saw Smith & Jones, right? Gridlock? :)

      • avatar ChrisL says:

        Yeah, there will always be exceptions to every rule Christian, you know that.
        I’m not saying the RTD era was better than the current one in every aspect, or indeed in every episode, in fact I much prefer the clever “timey-wimey” plots of Moffat to most of Rusty’s offerings. There have been some outstanding episodes during the last two series, however I still stand by my assertion that during RTD’s tenure the depth of character of most of the main players was much superior to the current crop.

        Amy and Rory’s uncaring acceptance of being robbed of their child, coupled with Mels’ unrealistic back story, make them out to be shallow, unbelievable characters and the whole episode suffers as a result.
        I’m still loving the whole River Song arc, but the Mels interlude requires a lot more meat on the bones before it even approaches credibility. There are far too many holes in her story that get bigger upon even the most cursory of inspections.

  5. avatar ChrisL says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only viewer who had grave concerns over this episode. As can be seen elsewhere on this site (see “Let’s Kill Hitler” reaction), plenty of people have picked up on the plot holes and glaring inconsistencies throughout this episode and it was slightly disconcerting to see them labelled as “not fans of Dr Who”.

    Surely we are entitled to point out the rare occasions when we feel cheated or have had our intelligence insulted. Just because we expect the show to keep up it’s very high standards, and have the temerity to express our dissatisfaction when it doesn’t, does not mean we are not fans of Dr Who.
    In fact I would argue that we are the exact opposite. We point out mistakes and drops in standards because we ARE fans and care about the show’s values.
    Sycophantic support of whatever is thrown at us does nobody any favours and certainly is of no value to either the writers or the performers.

    Dr Who is a marvellous programme and deserves the best writers, the best plot development and the best performances. Thankfully we usually enjoy those high levels from all quarters and complaints from the fans are rare. However this shouldn’t mean we are not entitled to voice our discontent on those rare occasions when the usual high standards are not met. As I said previously, sycophantic praise is totally worthless and is probably damaging in the long run.

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