Monday, May 17, 2010

Doctor Who 5.07 Amy's Choice Review

''So here's your challenge. Two worlds: here in the time machine and there, in the village that time forgot. One is real, the other is fake. And just to make it more interesting you're to face in both worlds a deadly danger but only one of the dangers is real. Tweet tweet! Time to sleep! Oh, or are you waking up?'' - The Dream Lord

Amy living the life, baking cupcakes in a charming country home.

The Doctor pops up for a visit. It's not the only thing that's about to pop.

Written by Simon Nye (of Men Behaving Badly fame), Amy's Choice marks the second half of series 5 of Doctor Who. Well plotted, well written, the episode was definitely an attention grabber and it left me scratching my head more often than not.

The Doctor making sure Amy's not pregnant in that reality.

The episode aptly goes back and forth between two realities. One is a dream and the other is supposed to be real. One is the super idyllic – yet incredibly dull - village of Upper Leadworth (the village that time forgot) and is set 5 years into the future. The other is in the Tardis, in what would be the present. The village is overrun by alien-possessed elderly people; the Tardis is slowly advancing towards a cold star and our intrepid trio may freeze to death.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory are being visited by an undesired guest.

The Upper Leadworth reality has Rory sporting a rather horrendously funny ponytail - cudos to the hair and makeup department - and living the life he always dreamt of with Amy, now his wife. Amy is pregnant and it elicits quite a few one-liners about her size. Our good Doctor pops in for a visit (by mistake of course) and of course, as quickly as he's arrived, trouble ensues.

Call me the ''Dream Lord.''

The back and forth between the two realities goes on for the entire episode at a good pace right up to the end. The clever use of birdsong marks the transition from one dream to the next as they fall asleep in one reality and wake up in the other. I really liked its use as it gave the episode a very lovely, poetic and definite dreamlike quality.

Nope, that doesn't look good at all I must say.

Worse. Sweater. Ever!

I had set myself to task to be particularly observant while watching Amy's Choice, trying to guess which reality was real and which was the dream. I admit it was not an easy one, and didn't manage to guess until the last few minutes, when the Doctor reveals the truth by self-destructing the Tardis: both worlds were dreams, and the Dream Lord is actually a manifestation of his innerself brought upon by alien psychic pollen! Ta-DA!! No wonder I couldn't guess. Both realities were big, fat fakes conjured by the Doctor's mind.

Amy, what am I doing in the park, staring at something?

The revelation that the Dream Lord was truly the Doctor's dark innerself of course raises some deep questions. Earlier in the episode the Doctor said (now obviously to himself ) ''there's only one person in the Universe who hates me as much as you do.'' It's certainly true that at 907 years of age, he ''had a lot to go on.'' Therapists would probably have a field day trying to psychonalyse the Doctor.

A view from the Tardis.

Evidently, our Doctor has some heavy baggage on his shoulders. A baggage that was significantly added to in last week's wonderful episode The Vampires of Venice. It makes me wonder if it will have a huge role to play by the season finale after all.

Uh Oh! I've got something in my mouth!

Though some may have been disappointed by the lack of appearance of brand new alien creatures as of episode 7 (and by brand new I mean completely whole alien species such as the Slitheens or the Weeping Angels), I was fine with the idea of having this week's aliens only appear as green scary eyeballs inside the mouths of possessed old people. There is something inherently creepy about that don't you think? Our sweet grandparents turning out to be deadly aliens. The effects were not particularly impressive but tolerantly well executed. On the other hand, the view of the cold star and the Tardis floating in space was magnificent. The Mill certainly outdid themselves with these FX shots.

Does plaid make you look fatter or leaner?

The Tardis definitely heading for mortal peril.

As guest-stars go this season, Toby Jones as the Dream Lord was simply fantastic. He is a strange and fascinating villain as the Doctor's inner-self. I am just amazed that the Doctor Who production team managed to get Capote on board the Tardis! What a solid performance. The actor also got to have more wardrobe changes than a runway model. My favourite? his ''seductive'' open shirt. Brrrrr ha ha!

Hmmm which to choose Amy, which to choose . . .

I'm too sexy for my shirt, so sexy it hurts!

Matt Smith was again in glorious form, and every week I look forward to seeing his performance. His quirky manner, the way he uses his hands, his facial expressions, everything about him screams the Doctor. By what is now the second half of the series, I feel that he really has made the role of the Time Lord his own, and Smith definitely thrives in this episode.

Where's Ash from Evil Dead when you need him?

I actually really liked Karen Gillan in this episode. I know she's good - and I've said so before - but I've never felt as close to Amy as a companion as I have with Rose or Donna. But now I feel I finally identified with her a bit more. I wonder if the welcome addition of Arthur Darvill as her fiance Rory has anything to do with it. But I absolutely like him in the Tardis and it brought out a certain rivalry streak between the Doctor and Rory for Amy's ''attention'' which is rather amusing to watch.

A poignant moment between Amy and Rory.

Amy has made her choice.

There were funny quips and one-liners aplenty, as well as an amusing reference aimed at Amy pertaining to the Doctor having married a redhead, that redhead being Queen Elizabeth the First (The End of Time). I definitely continue being happy that they keep referring to previous series. On the funny side, I have to say that seeing an alien-possessed grand-mother wielding a lawnmower in the air, much like Ash from the Evil Dead series wields a chainsaw, is a sight to behold and can give you a funny pregnant pause (pregnant pause, get it?).

The lovers reunited. Awwwwwww.

However, gone this week is the overreaching arc about the famous crack or the incoming silence. Because of this, Amy's Choice is almost a true stand-alone episode, even more so than the the previous week's fun romp The Vampires of Venice. And I don't think that we've seen Future Doctor in this episode at all. If someone else thinks he popped up, let me know.

And this was the cause of our troubles!

Compared to last week's Venice setting, this week's episode was a lot less luscious and glamorous. Upper Leadworth is definitely no Renaissance Italian city. But it did give us a chance to see a bit more of the new Tardis interior, which is bloody fantastic. I love the new set a little bit more every week and it was fun to see more parts of it, even if at one point it was all covered by what passed as snow and icicles.

Can you believe such little things can cause so much trouble?

Ultimately, though, Amy's Choice is not only about Amy having to decide which reality is a dream and which isn't (hence the title), it's also about Amy choosing which man she wants. Does she want Rory or does she want the Doctor. The question is nicely resolved here once and for all, but the decision was forced upon by the Doctor's subconsious Dream Lord self.

The Doctor is apparently a third wheel here.

In conclusion, Amy's Choice was another great episode. Will it go down as one of the best? Maybe not, but it is definitely worth a few repeat viewings. Based on what I saw, I really hope Steven Moffat will ask Simon Nye to write another Doctor Who script in the future.

The Doctor's inner reflection.

Wondering what was written on the black box underneath the Tardis? Here it is:

TARDIS: Time And Relative Dimension In Space

Build Site: Gallifrey Blackhole Shipyard

Type 40 Build Date: 1963

Authorised for use by qualified Time Lords only by the Shadow Proclamation.

Misuse or theft of any Tardis will result in extreme penalties and possible exile
[Life, Doctor Who and Combom]

Next week: The Hungry Earth marks the return of a Doctor Who classic monster - the Silurians

My grade for this episode: 8.2/10

Some Favourite Quotes:

The Doctor: You swallowed a planet!
Amy: I'm pregnant.
The Doctor: You're huge!
Amy: Yeah, I'm pregnant!
Doctor: Look at you, when worlds collide!
Amy: Doctor, I'm pregnant!
The Doctor: Oh look at you both, 5 years later and you haven't changed a bit apart from ageing, and size.
Amy: Oh, it's good to see you Doctor.
The Doctor: Are you pregnant?

The Doctor: What? Oh! You're OK! Oh Thank God! I had a terrible nightmare about you two. That was scary. Don't ask you don't want to know. You're safe now, that's what counts.

Amy: Shall I get the manual?
The Doctor: I threw it in a supernova
Amy: You threw the manual in a supernova? Why?!
The Doctor: Because I disagreed with it. Stop talking to me when I'm cross.

Amy: Can we not. . . do the running thing?

The Dream Lord: You can't fool me. I've seen your dreams. Some of them twice Amy. Blimey, I'd blush if I had a blood supply, or a real face.

The Dream Lord: If you had any more tawdry quirks you could open a tawdry quirk shop. The madcap vehicle, the (coo coo many?) hair, the clothes designed by a first year fashion student. I'm surprised you haven't got a little purple space dog, just to ram home what an intergalactic wag you are (in fact he does have a dog called K-9 which has now been with former companion Sarah Jane Smith for many years: See The Sarah Jane adventures).

The Doctor: Is anyone going to mention Rory's ponytail?

Rory: Hey! he'll be fine. You know the Doctor, he's mister cool!

The Doctor: I don't know but I can't feel my feet and . . . other parts.
Rory: I think all my parts are basically fine.
The Doctor: Stop competing.

Amy: Oh my boys. My poncho boys. If we're gonna die, lets dies looking like a Peruvian folk band.

The Dream Lord: Friends? Is that the real word for the people you acquire? Friends are people you stay in touch with. Your friends never see you again once they've grown up. The old man prefers the company of the young does he not?

Amy: Save him. You save everyone you always do, it's what you do.
The Doctor: No, not always . . . I'm sorry.
Amy: Then what is the point of you.

Rory: Was it something I said? Could you tell me what it was so I can use it in emergencies and maybe birthdays?

The Doctor: No, no, sorry wasn't it obvious? The Dream Lord was me. Psychic pollen, it's a mind parasite. Feeds on everything dark in you, gives it a voice, turns it against you. 907, had a lot to go on.

The Doctor: So, well then, where now? Or should I just pop down to the swimming pool for a few laps?


  1. TARDIS black box? Where? I didn't see that!
    As for liking Amy as a companion, I can say that I loved Rose, hated/tolerated Martha, laughed with Donna and I think Amy's OK. Karen's not YET a good actress so she's almost always "poker faced", I mean, she's expressionless.
    Off to rewatching it! (what blackbox???)

  2. The black box underneath the Tardis. Where he picked up the tools to make his little generator :)

  3. Awesome episode! i just read all the reviews, i think they sum up the Episodes really well! I really like Matt Smith, although David Tenant was cool. Amy is brilliant! Thanks for telling me what was on the black box because i wondered. The box underneath the Tardis Control room.