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Doctor Who XXXIII(7).3: A Town Called Mercy

September 16th, 2012 (10:02 am)

My review is up at Doctor Who Reviews. I'm tempted to write a second piece dealing with the Doctor's character - and I didn't pick up on the issue of the Doctor carrying a gun at all (which has outraged Stuart Ian Burns), though should have noted that there was something vaguely disturbing about the Doctor's last finger-pistol fight with Dockery. Dalek nanogenes? Compromised by the Angels? Cynical characterisation? Hm.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/541111.html.


Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 10:10 am (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Are you to be a permanent fixture on Doctor Who Reviews?

The gun thing just illustrates a view I've held since The New Adventures that the Doctor simply isn't a character who can grow or develop in certain ways i.e. to let him grow morally, you have to let him deteriorate in a way that seems unbelievable and out of character. Don't accept that he's a pacifist, though, far too much evidence against that (rather, certain fans like the idea that he's a pacifist and state it as often as possible to try to make it so).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 01:56 pm (UTC)

I'm not down for another this batch.

I think that the Doctor's uncertainty over the right course of action worked; it's his playfulnesss with the gun (however imaginary) which I find awkward.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 11:39 am (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Having now read your review, I basically agree for once! I certainly think the Doctor (in most incarnations) is more Norman Wisdom or Eric Morecambe than Lonely God, Doctor Manhattan, battle-scarred war hero/criminal or any of the other roles forced on to him in the couple of decades (I'd also add Harpo Marx - aside from the visual similarity to the fourth Doctor, there's a childlikeness, challenging of authority figures and a habit of pulling unlikely objects out of improbably deep pockets). That said, Hartnell ordered a glass of milk in a western saloon in The Gunfighters and was seen drinking it later, while Red Dwarf did a similar joke and the Doctor certainly isn't Rimmer!

it also reminded me of The Prisoner episode Living in Harmony. That's probably just because it's one of the few westerns I've seen, but there are certain similarities in the Doctor being forced to wear the badge and carry a gun while rejecting violence. Of course, the Prisoner ends up carrying the gun after all and the whole thing ends tragically for all concerned and there the enemy is internal corruption rather than an external threat. Still, there's a Prisoner episode called Dance of the Dead inspired by the Day of the Dead, so perhaps there is a connection.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 02:27 pm (UTC)

I remember saying in a late night conversation that the Doctor was not a comic turn, and then having it pointed out to me that that was exactly what he was. I don't think Matt Smith's debt to a particular generation of comedians is acknowledged enough.

My Prisoner knowledge is rusty, and I'd not thought of the parallels. Thank you.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 02:55 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

To be fair, I think Verity Lambert would probably be shocked by the idea of the Doctor as a comic turn!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)

I think it depends on what your expectations of the term are - it wasn't intended as disparagement, though it's open to interpretation as such.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 16th, 2012 07:33 pm (UTC)

That's the sort of blokeishness with which I have always had trouble reading, but I think you are right.

Posted by: firin (firin)
Posted at: September 17th, 2012 02:25 pm (UTC)

Toryin and I weren't overly impressed with this episode, I have to admit.

In the first season with Amy, Matt's 'Pond Girl', it seemed always to come down to her to find the fix for the majority of the situations. Now we've moved on, she has apparently become his conscience as well. I don't have an issue with the Doctor finding it hard to come to a decision, but that's not what we saw. We saw him utterly convinced that the right thing to do was to sacrifice the alien doctor...until Amy pointed a gun and yelled at him. Then he changed his mind. That was a little improbable and thus hard to swallow.

I really dislike the Doctor's descent into belligerence in this season and don't particularly enjoy the more slapstick elements of humour. I was 8 when I last found Norman Wisdom amusing, though, so that might explain that.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 17th, 2012 09:13 pm (UTC)

I don't find the Doctor's loss of moral compass incredible. Though the Time War isn't brought up, the parallels between the Doctor's activities there and those of Kahler-Jex are implicit, and the Doctor is entitled to be thrown by them. Amy recalls him to himself; her not being very good with a gun will be intended metaphorically too, I expect.

Unfortunately there is some more awkward slapstick to come... I'm intrigued though by the forthcoming reinvention of the eleventh Doctor, promised by Steven Moffat for the post-Pond era.