Some of the best of the series
, 28 Oct 2010
This volume features some of the best episodes of this series. Both Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill continue to get better and more likeable, leading to not one but two tear-jerking and shocking moments (I won't spoil them for you!).
Firstly, 'Amy's Choice' is a mind-bending tale that keeps you guessing throughout about what's real and what's a dream. Guest star Toby Jones is a definite boo-hiss villain and, in my opinion, wanders dangerously close to the classic series type of pantomime villain. But he's still a great villain as the Dream Lord, constantly taunting our three heroes. A definite special-effects highlight of the episode is the iced-up TARDIS, as the ship drifts constantly closer to a Cold Star. The special effects department really did something special in covering the entire set in fake ice, making it truly believable. It actually reminded me of the Star Trek Voyager episode, 'Timeless', when they did a similar thing to the Voyager sets.
Next comes a two-parter featuring the return of classic villains, The Silurians (albeit with a new look). The story is set in a little Welsh mining village, instantly bringing to mind various classic Jon Pertwee episodes. A new drill experiment begins to cause random holes in the ground, missing people and blue grass everywhere. Straight away I just want to mention how guest star Samuel Davies (who plays Elliott) is really good and one of the most likeable child actors I've ever seen. I'd previously seen him in another welsh drama, 'Framed' (with fellow co-star Robert Pugh) and he was good in that too. Instead of being the typically brattish or scared child, his character actually comes across as very smart, inquisitive and brave. A definite highlight comes when the Doctor asks him to draw a map of the village, but Elliott tells him he can't label it because he's dyslexic. It's shocking how much this little scene makes you realise how little dyslexia is highlighted on TV or in films. I work with a lot of dyslexic children myself and so this really made me smile. It's a credit to the episode's writers that they not only make a reference to it but make a big thing of it and how you can still do really well (Elliott goes on to make a really excellent and detailed map, leading to the Doctor referencing various famous historical people who were also dyslexic but made great accomplishments). The fact that this show is watched by hundreds of children has no doubt meant that they now have more tolerance and understanding of the condition. I really hope someone on the show gets an award for this!
The Silurians themselves are made more human-looking this time round, which is a good thing considering the terrible rubber suits, bubbly voices and flashing head-lights of the classic series. It's actually a good bit of costuming/make-up that the initial more-alien look of the main Silurian turns out to just be a mask (similar to the Sycorax from 'The Christmas Invasion', David Tennant's first story). The use of one actor to play two of the Silurians from the same family I'm not sure whether was a good choice or not though. However, the reptilian movements and speech patterns of the warriors are very effective. I also noticed how the lead guest actress' native accent crept creeping in at various points. While it was probably by accident, I actually thought it was better and made the character of Alaya more menacing.
As for the rest of the story, it's good drama rather than simple alien-invasion stuff. Entire scenes are dedicated to a diplomatic approach versus a more aggressive approach and how one can hurt the other. This is another good message to send out to kids, a fact that's again highlighted with the use of Elliott.
Finally, there's a continuation of the series-long story arc of the cracks in the universe right at the end of the story, leading to not one but two shocking twists. Watch the episodes to find out what they are!
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