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Doctor Who XXXII.13: The Wedding of River Song

October 2nd, 2011 (11:39 pm)

Part of a review only, I'm afraid - given current circumstances: that is, imminent holiday, packing and associated freneticism.

'The Wedding of River Song' is about history: history as perceived by the makers and viewers of Doctor Who, history perceived through Doctor Who, the history of Doctor Who both within the narrative and as a broadcasting institution, and making history within the narrative of Doctor Who. These views of history act as sides of a prism refracting light from the biographical enigma of the Doctor: the result is colourful, but the definition of the image is misleading and fleeting.

The opening shot of the Gherkin pierced by a railway tunnel mid-structure, surrounded by cars held aloft by Montgolfier-era (or Wizard of Oz?) balloons, does not only introduce the idea of time (here as good as syonymous with history) folded in on itself into one point, but also makes a nod to futurescape conventions from Metropolis to the perhaps more significant BBC TWO ident Zoetrope. If time has collapsed in on itself and become one point, then the passage of time in this world must be an illusion, just like the movement the viewer of a zoetrope perceives. The idea of causality being non-linear, that a sequence or even paradoxical loop of events can be one event and spark diffuse effects which can't necessarily is at the core of Moffat's theory of timey-wimeyness.

The history we see is both Doctor Who-centred and Doctor-centred; the elements are assembled from periods recently visited by the Doctor and which will be familiar to viewers. The inclusion of Simon Callow as Charles Dickens is welcome and continues the sense from 'Closing Time' of an era of Doctor Who completing a circle, commenting on itself as it does so. Otherwise the Doctor's friendship with Winston Churchill is revived with mediaeval Europe and imperial Rome becoming confused with wartime Britain, Churchill ruling from a senate house in Buckingham Palace as Holy Roman Empire, while a Latin-titled newspaper reports on the Wars of the Roses, a naming which is legitimate in a world where everything is an anachronism. As for the visit to 1969, it is represented by the Silence themselves. Among the many absences from the pre-Matt Smith era are the priestesses of Pompeii; but Karen turning up as an eyepatched Amy swathed in red robes would have been just that too self-reflexive.

More, perhaps, later.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/455127.html.


Posted by: GaramondBophin (garamondbophin)
Posted at: October 2nd, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
Orang-utan in fez with Jammie Dodgers

I await with interest your comments on the "Doctor est machina" aspect...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)

Sensible, but not handled well in terms of dramatic impact.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: October 2nd, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
Radcliffe Camera

Interesting. I thought the exact opposite; to me, this was a postmodernist story about the absence of history, about history being a collage of images, not a narrative.

Have a good holiday!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)

I don't think your interpretation and mine are that far apart, really!

Posted by: Matthew (emperor)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)

So, do you think dreadful cop-out or not?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:55 pm (UTC)

Not a dreadful cop-out, but certainly dramatically underwhelming.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: October 3rd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee


great ride, pity about the p(l)ot-holes.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)

There is a lot which we have to imagine for ourselves, but it made sense to me.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: October 9th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
Liz & Pertwee

it's slowly beginning to make more sense, but I'm not convinced (yet) that all of it works..
I think I'll have to re-watch the Impossible Astronaut some time.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 9th, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)

Yes... I was enthusiastically defending the programme again, and remain doubtful about the whole River-in-spacesuit-underwater scenario.

Posted by: gwydion_writes (gwydion_writes)
Posted at: October 4th, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)

It made me wonder if the time problem was spreading out to those who had crossed lines with the doctor particularly as the locus, though it could expand outward from there. Or just a feature of narrative to focus on the fan familiar- would produce the same result.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: October 6th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)

I was reminded of 'Rise of the Cybermen', where the variables in the parallel universe relate most directly to Rose and Mickey, as if their presence aboard the TARDIS affects its navigation through the break in the timestream.