Doctor Who series 6 episode 13: The Wedding Of River Song

Did the season six finale answer all the questions we wanted answering? Or did it end up hurting our little heads even more?

 

4 stars

 

 

Air date: UK 1 Oct, 2011, BBC One

 

Doctor Who: The Wedding of Rier Song

Whereas last year's Doctor Who finale, The Big Bang, ended a relatively simple series with a head-rapingly complex resolution, this year's series, with all its topsy-turvy, sidey-widey plotting climaxed with an episode more straightforward than we'd ever expected.

 

In fact, all the fan theories were spectacularly more out-there than the simple doppelganger idea that we had in this episode. And if the episode is indeed a reboot, it's a subtler one than the overly conceptual reality restart from The Big Bang.

 

This is the Doctor reborn as a shadowy traveller, without all that RTD-favoured notoriety. What this means for the series after this we can only guess. What's he going to call himself now? (Surely, if an alien asks his name, and he answers "the Doctor" the whole game's up) Is he going to bin the tweed and bow-tie? Who else is butter-mouth River Song going to tell? And is his real name something really embarrassing like Sasquatch or Piers?

 

The Doctor reads a book on girl's knitting

The episode's pre-title sequence must rank among the show's most eye-teasingly beautiful. But after this brief orgy of helicopter shots and CGI grandstanding, it was back to the dark indoors again. Whereas Russell T Davies' Doctor Who was bright and seemed to be always inhaling fresh air, Moffat's Who, especially this season, has been stubbornly studio-bound, like the series has suddenly developed a crippling sense of agoraphobia. If that's where the budget cuts are going, it does mean a series which was a little visually monotonous this year.

 

The idea of all of history happening at once is such a juicy sci-fi concept, it's a shame the whole story wasn't built around it. Having Churchill talk of downloads and Roman centurions waiting for the lights of change was all so goofily clever, and exactly the kind of mad, leftfield SF that's in Doctor Who's DNA.

 

Doctor observes Silence

After all the build up of the Silence for the past two series, they were a pretty banal threat in the end. They looked fantastic (even if their style was slightly cribbed from Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Hush) and moved with balletic grace, but they failed to live up to the sky-high hype. Wanting to kill people is so dull isn't it? So, despite their snazzy Reservoir Dogs suits and sex toy fingers, they're only as threatening as the Daleks, Cybermen and the Abzorbaloff.

 

A lovely touch in the episode was the scene where the Doctor learns of the Brigadier's death. Though what a natural mortal death should ever mean to a time-traveller is a bit of an open question. He could travel back and meet the Brigadier at 21, 41 and 81 in an instant and he could have visited his grave at any point in his 900-plus years. But forget all that - this was about acknowledging Nicholas Courtney, and it was a sweet dramatic gesture on Moffat's part that was beautifully pitched by Matt Smith.

 

The Doctor wearing the Silence patch

The Wedding of River Song (and that's a point, are they properly married now. Is it all legal?) finished off a bumpy series on a high. While we may have been able to see the shape of season six's arc by the series' end, it was a hard slog to get there. Not everybody has the patience for a 200-piece jigsaw puzzle.

 

But from what Moffat's suggesting, the next series - which is a whole year away now - will be going back to standalones. Moffat may be able to defend his brand of Doctor Who against criticism of deserting its younger viewers by virtue of having children, but it would be nice to include the thickies again. Doctor Who is for everyone, not just the swots.

 

Callum Smith

 

 

Doctor Who: The Wedding Of River Song
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