Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pound Of Flesh

You know how when you bounce a rubber ball, subsequent bounces will fail to reach the same height as the first? We got to see the same principle in operation with The Almost People, this week’s Doctor Who. It basically does much the same thing as the previous episode, but with some loss of its initial energy.

What it needed to do was to expand in some way, take us in an unexpected direction, or pretty much just do anything to justify its two-part stretch. But the main impression I’m left with is that it dished up more of the same. More running up and down corridors, more rubbery CGI, more crying about human rights for mannequins, more ham-fisted hogwash. Worse, it seems riddled with contradictions and character motivations in constant flux. Even its most dramatic, shock moment managed to cheapen and undermine the entire principle it had been flogging us with throughout and ultimately all we’re left with is a molten puddle, but – unfortunately - the molecular memory remains.

As far as I understood it, the battle lines had already been drawn and the gangers were already ganging up on the humans, and yet this week we have Jennifer 2.0 turning up to whip the gangers into a war against humans. This turns into the most pitiful war in history, as it lasts for about six minutes before everyone’s changed their minds. Naturally, I can understand anyone losing their appetite for such an ugly, horrific business, but this particular war never really got as far as the ugly, horrific part. Nothing much happened.

This change of heart is nothing compared to the Doctor’s u-turn on Fleshly Rights, as he – both of him - embarks on a personal mission to convince all of us – and Amy in particular – that gangers should be treated as equals. The dull-dad ganger is good enough to take the place of the dull dad, the copy-Doctor is still the Doctor etc. But as soon as he concludes that Amy is a copy, he insists Rory stands back so he can disintegrate her. And Rory isn’t nearly as insistent about protecting her as he was about the Jennifer clone.

While a measure of hypocrisy is perfectly human, I just didn’t buy it here after the message was so heavily hammered home again and again throughout this dismal two-parter. I get that the writer wanted to deliver a shock (ooer, Rory and Amy have been rubbernecking all this time?) – and one that brought us back onto story-arc territory with a bang – but there were other ways of handling that reveal.
The implications are intriguing, of course, but the revelation generates more interest in and reflection on past stories than any prolonged contemplation of this one. I had thought that Amy might have been replaced when they rescued her from the Silence in Day Of The Moon, but I’m reminded that she saw eyepatch woman peering through a hatch as she searched the orphanage. So it would seem she was duplicated at some point during the season break, which would be a bit of a cheat, since I do like to at least feel like I had a chance to spot the clues.

Also, this story doesn’t quite remove the possibility that the Doctor we see get shot is a copy. (That line about the molecular memory enduring does hint of a potential return.) But I rather fancy that’s a red herring, since temporal jiggery-pokery is much more Moffat’s style. But anyway, I might save any further speculation for after the mid-season finale of next week’s episode. The decision to split this season in half strikes me as a poor one – a mid-season break didn’t do Flashforward any favours – but a strong halfway point should pique audience interest enough to keep them going through the summer. I just worry that the next half will have to be preceded by a massive Previously On... – the like of which tends to be attached to every episode of Fringe, Season 3.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, The Almost People.

Positives. Erm. I’ll try.

The pile of discarded Flesh was a genuinely disturbing and horrifying image.
The Doctor and Doppeldoctor were well-played by Smith, and he’s genuinely scary when he throws a complete wobbly at Amy and shoves her against the wall. The comedy double act, like a lot of the comedy in this one, is variable, ranging from amusing to the teeniest bit annoying. A touch too smug – like a Jimmy-Carr standup routine. And the whole past-regeneration schizophrenia skit was over-egged, with the dubbed-in Tom Baker voice really not working at all. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill excellent as ever, although with similar provisos to last week’s: Rory’s devotion to Jennifer seems even more obsessive and poorly founded, Amy again has little of note to do, beyond doubting the copy-Doc.

Commander Kinko knew her original so well, she knew the chosen code word, and yet the Commander herself never seemed to be able to guess her copy’s thought processes. The wall with eyes was a bit pointless. The way in which characters were killed off to ensure there was only one of each by story’s end was corny and predictable. And the sequence with the holo-call between father and was pure Tate & Lyle. I’d rather wade through acid than that much syrup. And the shuttle that was presumably hovering above or even landing in the courtyard when the castle blew up was conveniently forgotten so we could skip ahead to the happy ending of peace on Earth and goodwill to all rubbers.

There was some, er, lovely irony in the way Jennifer who so strongly protested that she wasn’t a monster ultimately transformed herself into a weird-ass monster.
Except by lovely, I mean lame, of course. Sorry, I was meant to be trying for positives. What can I say, I failed.

Like the path of a bouncing ball, it was predictable.

In a word, rubberish.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Towel Day

"Sass that hoopy frood Ford Prefect, there's a guy who really knows where his towel is."

Ford Prefect is, of course, one of my heroes. As is the late great Douglas Adams, so I couldn't let Towel Day (25th May) go by unmarked.

In honour of the occasion then, I've decided to offer all ebook versions of my very own Evil UnLtd Vol 1: The Root Of All Evil for a mere 99 cents (or 70p in the UK!). For a limited period only, you can obtain this book - a book not quite but almost entirely unlike The Hitch Hikers Guide - for the sort of price only mad professors could conceive of from:
For the Kindle
For the Kindle (Enter coupon code RA62R)
For all other ebook formats

Offer ends this Friday (27th May).

Happy reading and here's to DNA. Certainly an essential ingredient of who I am.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Paceless Ones

As the title sequence ran on this week’s Doctor Who, I was hurriedly putting the finishing touches on Saturday evening dinner so I missed the bit where they flag the title and the writer who was to blame. As the story unfolded with all the haste of a an origami sloth coming undone, I honestly thought it must be the work of Chris Chibnall – you may remember him from episodes such as last year’s Silurian waste of time and space. The Hungry Earth and – the other one. I then mistakenly thought it must be by Matt Jones, the guy who gave us The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit . The clues were there in in that scene where everyone stands around and makes introductions and explains the basic set-up. But turns out this hailed from the pen of Matthew Graham, who previously brought us Fear Her, a dull and unimaginative reworking of Paperhouse, with a silly bit about the Olympics tacked on at the end.

It’s a minor distinction, except it’s Chibnall who I get the impression spells plotting with a double d. Matt Jones' The Impossible Planet does at least build suspense to a terrific three-way cliffhanger – which it then blows in the second half, but never mind. While this has barely enough going on to warrant a single episode let alone two. Seriously, the biggest surprise for me came as I was waiting for the thing to gallop towards some sort of climax, then the end music struck and I suddenly realised this was going to be a two-parter.

I groaned. I actually groaned.

But hey, who knows, maybe this one will buck the more traditional trend of second halves not living up to the first. As I’ve said before, one approach is to make the first part tedious. So far, so promising.

For now, part one was a Chibnall-level case of Drudge Dread. A special brand of horror, with nothing added and all the interest taken away. The Rebel Flesh may have been alive but the story was lifeless. (Compare and contrast with last week’s Gaiman-penned episode!)

Slavishly adhering to the principle of predictability, it managed to be a singularly poor example of something that had been done a hundred times before. I mean, the whole point of doppelgangers in a horror tale is to play with identity, the tension and suspicions (see The Thing) and yet we’re never in any doubt as to Who Goes There? Sure, on top of the horror there’s the mawkish “we’re people too!” cry of the ‘replicants’, but even that’s handled obviously and clumsily. It gave me more cause to suspect Matt Jones' involvement, with the same Impossible Planet-style pat character backgrounds thrown into proceedings in butterfingered expositional manner.

Would sir like any more ham on his fist?

Likewise the way the story revealed the Doppel Doctor like it was meant to be a major shock/revelation, well, if you didn’t see that coming as soon as he touched the liquid plastic in the tank you really need to invest in a pair of One-D glasses. Everything’s telegraphed and there’s never any sense that this story has any secrets hidden up its sleeves.

And I just didn’t buy how readily Rory warmed to Jennifer’s tearful speech *after* her Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl moment in the toilets. That might have worked better the other way around perhaps, the compassion then the horror. Who knows, who cares. Darvill pours in a brilliant performance, but his actions just aren’t convincing, Over the course of a properly paced two-parter there ought to have been room for a credible bond to form between Rory and Jennifer, but it’s far too emphatic here for such a brief acquaintance. Still, I do have to applaud the fact that he’s given a more active role, since I’ve been harping on about that for a while now. And, hey, they haven’t killed him. Yet.

Can’t fault Gillan – can I ever? - although I struggle to recall anything significant Amy Pond did, other than experience another glimpse of eyepatch woman. Which is fine and subtle enough, but the other story-arc stuff – the TARDIS pregnancy scan shtick is really being heavily laboured every week now. Are we to believe the Doctor spends every spare hour in the TARDIS standing in front of that screen and pondering the mystifying readings? Cos, if so, it’s plain dumb. Especially as he appears keen to keep Amy from finding out –the more he stands in front of that screen, the more likely she’s going to spot something over his shoulder, non?

Smith in this episode is also fine, doing his best with some variable material. The jokes are a bit hit-and-miss, as though the writer’s trying too hard to be funny.

The setting, now that I think of it, is the best thing this story has going for it. A beautiful old castle dressed up with CGI. Lovely and full of dark, shadowy passages ideal for all that pointless runaround and nicely incongruous with the, er, acid-mining operations. Huh? Don’t worry about it, they were always mining or drilling for odd resources and what not back in the days of all those Troughton Base-Under-Seige days, so there’s no pressing need for anything to make sense here. I did idly wonder why there was so much urgency to secure protective suits when they didn’t do much for the bloke who fell into the vat at the beginning, but why should we let such incidental questions spoil our enjoyment. Particularly when there’s so little else to be said for this dull escapade.

Honestly, if this is intended as Mr Graham’s homage to Fury From The Deep, say, I’d rather they just gone with the sentient seaweed. There are hints that the eponymous Flesh – the living latex – is something the Doctor’s seen before, and the notion of imprinting a consciousness in plastic inevitably calls to mind the Nestenes and Autons, but I can’t say that the possibility fires me up with any great expectations or anticipation for next week’s installment.

With The Rebel Flesh, I’m certainly not crying “More! More! More!”


Monday, May 16, 2011

Relation Ship

So The Doctor’s Wife is not actually his wife. No more than The Doctor’s Daughter was actually his daughter. The big difference is that one of those stories was so pedestrian that the TARDIS should have been a zebra crossing instead of a police box, while the other positively bubbles over with joie de vivre. Even more importantly than the vivre, perhaps, The Doctor’s Wife is full of joie de Doctor Who.


Bizarre, creative fantastic, creepy, romantic, dark, colourful, hilarious, tragic, soulful, moving and not a little bit mental.

There’s one other show this would have fit very comfortably and that would have been Farscape. I can just picture Crichton, Aeryn and Dargo having to deal with the situation of Moya’s essence transferred to a humanoid body while a sentient, ship-devouring planet seeks to take possession of the vessel. (And while Rygel ferrets through the space junkyard for anything of value.) Complete with madcap patchwork characters like Auntie and Uncle and you can safely bet that alien Nephew would have looked just as odd as an Ood. Then again, I used to say that Farscape offered good pointers on how to approach modern Who. Small wonder I enjoyed the story, in that case, but let’s assume that Neil Gaiman isn’t even aware of Farscape. (I wouldn’t know if he was aware of Compassion, the human-form TARDIS from the books.)

What we have is a story firmly stamped with his personal brand of fantasy, which marries with Doctor Who extremely well. For me, his foray into the Babylon 5 playground was not a success and last week I was hoping this would be more on a par with Stardust.

And instead of a love story with a fallen star in human form, well, we get the Doctor’s lifelong affair with something borrowed and blue. His box of delights. Invited into the Who play room, Mr Gaiman plunders the toy box and gets to work with his imagination on overdrive. Time Lords, telepathic message boxes (from The War Games), the Matrix, artron energy, auxiliary control rooms, room deletion, the original theft that sparked this special bond between a Time Lord and his ship. The question of who chose Who. And a throwaway line opening the way for transgender regeneration.

Fans will love it or be livid. All that trespassing on the sacred turf of continuity.
What it felt like to me was a celebration – of Doctor Who and more specifically that relationship that has been at the heart of the show all this time without really being explored.

Interestingly, another thing that hadn’t been explored in modern Who was the rest of the TARDIS. It’s a minor shame that the first time we see any of it, it’s just a stretch of samey corridors – albeit nicely designed ones. But it’s in the way that you use it, as they say, and the scenes where Amy and Rory are lost in the shadowy TARDIS interior and Amy’s encounters with a decrepit and a decayed Rory are utterly chilling. Enough that I could postpone my cry of They Keep Killing Rory! until afterwards.

Michael Sheen provides House with a coldly sinister voice but it’s heavily treated such that it’s ultimately a bit of an anyvoice and I can’t help feeling if you’re going to hire an actor of that calibre you owe it to yourself and him to give him a more substantial (ha) role. In similarish respects, I did wonder why, given the body of a Time Lord named Corsair, the best House could do with it was lop off an arm and graft it onto Auntie. Auntie and Uncle themselves were terrific characters, but although they’d served their purpose for House – in a sort of Condo-Solon (Brain of Morbius) contract of employment – they could have served a fuller purpose in the story. Nephew is given more to do at least as the visible monster deployed by House to stalk Amy and Rory.

Still, these omissions leave more room and screen time for Suranne Jones to truly shine as the TARDIS trapped in the limited confines of a human mind. Might have been fun to give her a shock of white in her hair for a hint of Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein), but either way it’s a magical, heartfelt, compelling performance. The fact that she has this quirky sort of attractiveness about her lends a great charm to the Doctor calling her ‘Sexy’, that just wouldn’t have worked if she’d looked like Seven-of-Nine. Matt Smith, by the way, responds to the storyline by effervescing throughout. He’s not merely in characteristic fine form here, he’s buzzing with sheer unbridled Doctorness and the two of them are, quite rightly, the main driving force whisking us along on this emotional rollercoaster.

Laced with truly laugh out loud moments (e.g. “the pretty one?”), brilliant touches (the choice of images when Amy works the telepathic lock) and pure fantastical fantasy (the cobbled-together star-like TARDIS chasing the familiar blue box), this is brave, playful and energetic stuff. Great heart, without being saccharinely sentimental.

Like a lot of fantasies, it has a rather-too-easy ending. And why could the TARDIS attack House in the main control room and not in the other control room? Possibly there’s an answer in there I’ll catch on a rewatch. For now, it doesn’t much matter because my overriding impressions are that this story is like that big, complicated, sad word that the TARDIS struggles to remember until the end:



Sunday, May 08, 2011

Swash & Go

Now I admit I enjoyed the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies, even if the third one was a tad overlong and low in Chow Yun Fat for my tastes. But they wrapped it all up nicely and I didn’t really see the need for another one. So I’m in two minds whether to give the fourth instalment, On Stranger Tides, a watch or not.

In the meantime, we have Doctor Who’s foray into Cap’n Jack Sparrow’s territory.

First of all, what a relief there was no Captain Jack (Harkness) in this one. The trouble with immortal characters is they can quickly outlive their usefulness, interest and entertainment value. Fortunately for this adventure we have the best TARDIS team in ages.

Unfortunately, Curse Of The Black Spot is not the greatest vessel for showing them at their best. It kicks off with a nod to its Caribbean cousins, fogbound ship and distinctive medallion, and while the pre-title teaser is not the captain of all hooks it is, despite hobbling at one point on some wooden dialogue - ("We're shark bait, every single one of us, stuck on the ocean." "Until the wind changes." Ah, thanks for spelling that out for us, me hearties) - decently intriguing enough.

But most of the episode seems, like the ship, strangely becalmed in too-familiar waters. There are many things this story could have been, but it falls short of being any of them. It could have been a sort of Horror Of Fang Rock – handful of people stranded in isolated maritime situation, stalked by alien predator, oodles of fog and suspense. It could have been more of an action adventure, a more definite nod to the Caribbean series. Instead it delivered token rum rations of each while never properly coming alive as either. The storm even seems thrown in because the script was found lacking at that point.

It was fun and far from being a total, er, shipwreck – loved Amy buckling her swash -, but it was leaky at best. I’m all for two ships occupying the same point in space-time (worked okay in Nightmare Of Eden), but reflections as the gateway between dimensions strikes as a bit random. (I mean, sure, pay homage to Mirrors if you want – although I couldn’t recommend it - but why in a pirate story?) And towards the end when the Doctor talks Amy and the captain into a suicide pact, the Siren appears even though the lid has been firmly replaced on the barrel. I’m all for artificially intelligent alien medical programs who don’t have a clue about human anatomy (worked beautifully in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances), but the notion that this ambulance Siren couldn’t handle simple cuts and grazes beggared belief. The remains of the alien crew looked like they had the sort of bodies that might have been prone to minor abrasions and the like. Also, she had no knowledge of human anatomy, but was able to assume the appearance of a serenely beautiful human female - well, Lily Cole, anyway. Without, as far as I’m aware, any reference material. All this while understanding the significance of a wedding ring.

Add to that the fact that the most sophisticated method of sterilisation this advanced alien medical AI has at her disposal is flame and, well, you can easily run out of digits trying to plug the leaks.

It never helps either to be thirty minutes ahead of the Doctor in solving the mystery, and I’m afraid the alien nurse theory came to me very early in proceedings. But when we encounter the scene (straight out of Coma) of all the pirates plus Rory laid out in the alien sick bay, the Doctor is still seen hurrying to piece all the clues together.

So to the good. We’ve already mentioned Amy and her swashing buckles – and she really should dress up as a pirate – or WPC, or let’s face it, pretty much anything – more often. Less superficially, she once again proves her acting chops here being perfectly at home larking about with cutlasses as well as absolutely pouring out the heartache as she believes she has lost the battle to save Rory. But even here I have to detour into gripe territory, because although Darvill is as fine as always, Rory is once more reduced to victim status. It’s getting to the stage we should have an episode called They Keep Killing Rory. I knew he was going to get cut and that, along with my alien nurse theory, was one time when I would have liked to have been disappointed. Throw in the drowning and you really have to wonder why too many writers can think to do with him is to make him suffer like the female companions of old. It’s some sort of penance, isn’t it, for all that sexism of the past. Even if some writers think of the guy as a tool, that’s just more reason to actually make use of him.

Matt Smith is on good form, bumbling his way through in hyper-Troughton mode, but as I say his Doctor seems to be dragging his mental heels just too much on this one. Hugh Bonneville makes for an oddly sympathetic captain, especially given his foolish greed and the fact that he abandoned his wife and kid. But he’s the only real character among the crew. Obviously pirates pre-dated the Star Trek red shirt syndrome, but there’re none of the standout scurvy knaves of the Caribbean series and I tend to think that even if – or possibly especially because - your story is going to be killing your characters off one by one, then you owe it to them to make them as colourful and individual as possible.

Not much to do with this particular story, but as a side note I am enjoying the little and genuinely "What the-?" appearances of the strange woman in the sliding panels who keeps cropping up to speak to Amy. (She’s this year’s crack, I guess, if she’ll pardon the expression.) And of course the ongoing pregnant-not situation, although I hope that’s not going to be laid on quite as thickly every week.

All in all, there’s probably more I could say of the Black Spot, but I think we get the picture already. It’s almost certainly not as poor as this review makes it sound – it’s just unfortunate that the positives all appear to be qualified with countering negatives. With a Gaiman story to look forward to next week – and let’s hope it’s more Stardust than Day Of The Dead (his Babylon 5 episode) – I can imagine the Spot being one of the less memorable episodes of this season. I currently have a bruise on my foot that’s similar. Must have been some impact at the time, but I can’t recall for the life of me how I got it.

As a fantasy concept, I did like the idea of the Siren’s song as an anaesthetic, although the stricken crew launching into a chorus of Cabin Fever from Muppet Treasure Island would have brightened things considerably. Just one of a number of other pirate tales on which this was not a patch. Yo ho ho.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Moon Zero Two

Doctor Who two-parters can be such a let down. The resolutions are often sloppy and hastily cobbled-together, the end results riddled with plot-holes and, more often than I’d like, culminating in a Big Undo. (I’m not a fan of all this ‘Time can be rewritten’ malarkey – that way lies unwriting. Which is fine for unwriters, but Steven Moffat is better than that.) Anyway, second episodes can easily fail to live up to the promise of the first.

It seems to me there are two keys to avoiding this disappointment. 1) Make sure the first episode isn’t any good. 2) Defer much of the actual resolution in the second episode until later.

Since The Impossible Astronaut failed so spectacularly at Option 1, Day Of The Moon took a stab at Option 2 and, I thought, succeeded brilliantly.

From the beginning, it’s big and bold, moving us three months on from last week’s incredible cliffhanger and incidentally ticks off two items on my wish list in the process: more (and beautifully grand) use of the American setting and more significant involvement for the character of Canton Everett Delaware III. The Hollywood-style action and breathtaking visuals command our attention while our minds are duly flooded with a hundred more questions.

What are those strange markings on Amy? Did she hide out in a tattoo parlour while on the run from the FBI? And, out of idle curiosity, where else on her body does she have these markings?

Oh yeah, and why is CED III chasing down Amy, Rory and River? Why’s the Doctor being held in an Area 51 hangar? What’s the story on the little girl astronaut that Amy shot? Etc, etc, etc? What the hell, in short, is happening?

It’s brave, it’s exciting, it’s sit-up-and-pay-attention TV. It’s a terrific hook. When you realise it’s all a scheme to bring the Doctor and friends all together in the secure confines of a dwarf-star-alloy-walled cell, free from eavesdropping aliens (it’s not too far removed from the Doctor’s ploy to have his Time Lord presidential office in Invasion Of Time lined with lead to keep the pesky Vardans out) - well, rationally, part of you asks where and when they had a chance to concoct this plan without said aliens overhearing, but it’s pulled off with such chutzpah and pizazz that it’s one question that’s easily overlooked until after the show.

It’s sort of like a stage magician, encouraging us to look at his pretty assistants while he exercises some sleight of hand to wow us with an illusion, and it’s not until after the show our sense of wonder is replaced with a sense of wondering how the trick was done. During the show, there’s no time for scrutinising every trick, because the magician’s already moved on to pulling rabbits (thankfully no robot hares!) out of hats and sawing ladies in half. Or, in this case, more of the Grand Moff’s beloved temporal shenanigans.

The dazzling trickery here is matched (and possibly even outshone) by the mesmerising mystery as the leads embark on their fascinating investigation of an alien species who are instantly forgotten the moment you look away. Ironically, in conjuring up these beings, Moffat has created – once again – one of the more memorable races in modern Who. It’s a great concept and serves up a deliciously creepy sequence in an abandoned orphanage, where CED III and Amy get to play Mulder and Scully – complete with (pregnant) Scully’s, I mean Amy’s, abduction - and I’m personally rewarded with the satisfaction of being entirely spot-on with one of my theories from the previous week. Namely, the relationship between Amy and the little girl astronaut. Similarly gratifying was the confirmation that these strange smart-suited beings were more than simply related to the Silence and were in fact said Silence. (Evidence enough to my mind of the passing Hush-homage, and I especially liked the shot of one of them gliding along like the Gentlemen from Buffy.) To all the kids who must surely have been given nightmares by the creatures and this episode as a whole, I can only offer this message of scant comfort: you are not alone.

The mood of that orphanage scene is so pervasive that it’s surprising how well it marries with the bolder, brassier elements. The gorgeous shot, panning back from the Doctor in the nose-cone of the Saturn V rocket must have been one of the most expensive gags in Who history, but so it should be. It was priceless. And like the episode’s wham-bam opening moments, the climax is a captivating action-packed blastathon that only gives rise to a niggly question or two after the fact.

For instance, I am obliged to query just how River (as supremely wonderful and undoubtedly talented as she is) can take out quite so many aliens arrayed around her when as soon as she looks away from any one of them she (allegedly) forgets they were there. Lightning reflexes, naturally, but if the aliens cared to move a bit more, they could have made life that little bit tougher for the sharp shooter.

By story’s end I still felt that Rory warranted better treatment as a character and a more active role, but he is very much at the emotional core of the story if not at the heart of the action. And the spelling out of CED III’s sexuality in his closing exchange with Nixon struck me as a tad clumsy next to the deftness of last week’s allusion, but more importantly I still don’t know what purpose his (older) presence served at the Doctor’s lakeside death. But perhaps we’ll get our answers there.

Because the bulk of the quibbles and/or questions we’re left with though are deliberate and the clear message that this is far from over furnishes a sense of promise and anticipation more commonly associated with a first episode in a two-parter. Which sort of leaves the true measure of this story largely dependent on another future episode because at some point the Grand Moff will have to wrap all this up satisfactorily – including the Silence and the consequences of their removal from human history, Amy’s daughter, the River-Doctor relationship, the future-Doctor’s death (surely prime target for a Big Undo?). Etc etc etc.

Even if I do wonder why the mere fact of Amy being pregnant while travelling in the TARDIS would give rise to a Time Child and even if I saw it coming, ending on the regeneration of the young girl was a master stroke.

Hooks, as it turns out, make for as effective endings as they do beginnings and there’s nothing in this two-parter that at this stage gives me anything but confidence in Moffat’s ability to ultimately deliver. Stage magician he may be, but it’s smart, clever, entertaining stuff. So don’t be surprised to learn that I’m currently sitting in the audience, applauding and calling for an encore.