Doctor Who Review: A Good Man Goes To War

And so we end for the new mid-series break, a concept which irritates me tremendously when it’s a standard British series and not a long American one. Fortunately this is a rather good episode, and I hope we can expect things as good or better later in the year.

Cast and Crew

Matt Smith as The Doctor
Karen Gillan as Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill as Rory
Alex Kingston as River Song
Frances Barber as Madame Kovarian
Charlie Baker as Fat One
Dan Johnston as Thin One
Christina Chong as Lorna Bucket
Joshua Hayes as Lucas
Damian Kell as Dominicus
Neve McIntosh as Madame Vastra
Catrin Stewart as Jenny
Richard Trinder as Captain Harcourt
Annabel Cleare as Eleanor
Henry Wood as Arthur
Dan Starkey as Commander Strax
Simon Fisher-Becker as Dorium Maldovar
Danny Sapini as Colonel Manton
Huge Bonneville as Henry Avery
Oscar Lloyd as Toby Avery
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Cybermen

Written by Steven Moffat

Produced by Marcus Wilson

Directed by Peter Hoar

Originally shown on the 4th of June 2011

Premise

The Doctor and Rory are looking for Amy. Once they find her, things get weird.

High Points

  • Bad-ass Rory.
  • Bad-ass 19th-century Silurian.
  • Crazy fan theories 1, sensible regular old theories 0.
  • Explicit nod to stereotyped token gay characters.
  • “Good people don’t have rules.” “You don’t want to find out why I have so many.”
  • “I shan’t be needing dinner.” Delivery spot on there.

Low Points

  • Now we have to wait until the autumn for part two.
  • Too much faffing about with writing translation.
  • Explicit nod to stereotyped token gay characters. (I have mixed feelings about that kind of thing)
  • The disconnect between River’s apprehension and what the actual reaction was. Although I suppose she might know what’s going to happen in part two.

Questions

  • What makes the headless monks’ hoods stay up?

Scores

Originality: This is not really where Doctor Who has been before, explicitly addressing how the Doctor has changed and questioning whether it’s a good thing or not. I like it, if it results in a change. Five out of six.

Effects: You can tell that it’s not made on movie budget, but there are a lot of effects shots, so the budget was probably huge anyway. They are, however, appropriate and pretty well-integrated and very much in the accustomed Doctor Who style. Five out of six.

Story: It kind of reminds me of the plot to get the Doctor into the Pandorica, but this is a more mature kind of plot and certainly rather more effective. So far, at least. I really want to know what’s going on in the bits we’ve not seen yet. Six out of six.

Acting: A lot of guest cast this week, and some very good stuff. I particularly enjoyed our friend the Sontaran nurse (Dan Starkey), and the elegant Silurian lady with the sword (Neve McIntosh). As for the regulars, I have no complaints, and I think Matt Smith was really showing his talent today. Six out of six.

Emotional Response: It’s exciting, but it’s a bit unresolved until the next part, and possibly the end of the series presumably airing in the run-up to Christmas so I’m not quite sure if I entirely care or not. The series break may be causing a disconnect in me there. Four out of six.

Production: The asteroid base looks great, and the production team did a good job producing lots of environments for short-duration shots here. Presumably at least some of them were done at the same time as using those locations for other episodes. I did like how the Cybermen had a control console they were all gathered around just as they used to be in the classic series. I found the music a little irritating though, it’s the same Doctor Who action music yet again. We need some more variety here. Five out of six.

Overall: I did enjoy it a lot. Six out of six.

In total, A Good Man Goes To War receives 37 out of 42.

19 replies on “Doctor Who Review: A Good Man Goes To War”

  1. TwistyHat says:

    “Explicit nod to stereotyped token gay characters”

    Hm? I wonder what that is, and if it can possibly be good.

    Is the pause only in america? Seems odd for the BBC to do it in the UK.

  2. Vulch says:

    Cybermen: “What is the message from the Doctor?”
    (Things go boom)
    Rory: “Would you like me to repeat that?”

  3. Jethro says:

    Badass Rory was awesome, as was the built-up to that. I honestly LOVE the relationship between Amy and Rory, and that Amy considers RORY to be her hero rather than The Doctor.

    There was also an upwards-angle shot of the headless monks which clearly showed some kind of bracing in the hoods. Though I suspect that it’s usually the extra’s actual heads (;

  4. Jethro says:

    Oh! One thing that bugged me is we really have no idea when Amy was taken and replaced with the replica. Has to have been between seasons, when we weren’t around!

    • bsm117532 says:


      Which means that the Amy that witnessed the doctor’s death was a Flesh copy. Amy and Rory are being played by this one-eyed witch too! It seems likely that that entire opening scene for the season was orchestrated by queen one-eye. Or, perhaps the Doctor cleaning up the mess she made.

      And since it seems the occupant of the space suit was River, that means River killed the Doctor (or his doppelganger).

      How long do we have to wait for the rest? :(

      • Kiersten says:

        River still would have had to recognize herself after killing the Doctor. She fired shots at herself in the spacesuit? That doesn’t quite make sense.

        Wonder what will happen now that the Doctor knows that everyone was invited to his own death. Is that why he went alone?

        Fascinating how the meaning of the Doctor is changing. Rather like with the Pandorica, he’s becoming his own worst enemy. No longer a healer. What ARE his rules now?

        Also loved the warrior becoming nurse, nurse becoming warrior interchange.

        Brilliant Season thus far!!!

        Much rather wait 3 months till September than finish in July and have to wait until Christmas…

      • Vulch says:

        Though the girl from the suit (probably) regenerated, and we’ve seen River die…

        • Kiersten says:

          Ah, but remember? She knocked out 10 (loved that moment) because there was a chance HE wouldn’t make it either. The regenerative process may not have been an option, however, putting her mind in the computer.. (Cal)

          Which I wonder, is that why the Doctor gave Ganger Doctor the Sonic, so that his mind (and hers) would be saved and he would come back later and put them both into Cal?

          • madhack says:

            I’d just like to point out that *we* never saw who was in the suit when the Doctor was killed.

      • Jethro says:

        Here’s my thing about that… doesn’t that mean River crossed her own timeline? Isn’t that a no-no?

        • Kiersten says:

          She didn’t cross it, that’s why she had to wait until the baby was “elsewhere”, that’s why she couldn’t come to help when the Doctor first needed her.
          “I can’t be there until the end” she said (or something along those lines.)

          • Jethro says:

            She didn’t cross it THIS time, but she was there when the kid/astronaut suit were there.

        • Dark Nexus says:

          Pretty sure we’ve seen people cross their own timeline before, they just couldn’t (knowingly) cross a future timeline, and couldn’t interfere in their past timeline.

          • JD DeLuzio says:

            The Doctor (in the original series) crossed his own timeline many times, and has done so at least once in the revised series.

            (He also must have had children, since he had a granddaughter. They were ambiguous when that question came up, which is odd. Continuity has always been a loose thing in Doctor Who, but that’s a fairly major point that has no real impact on the story, so why not just say it?)

    • Dark Nexus says:

      I think the Doctor mentioned “she must have been taken when we were in America” or something like that. I think he was referring to the time in between the first 2 episodes of the season.

  5. rsilvetz2 says:

    Did anyone notice the translucent sign that had an image of the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver with (1) It is not sonic and (2) It is not a screwdriver. ROTFLOL!

  6. hossman says:

    I can not fathom how ‘”It’s my birthday”‘ and/or ‘”Not unless there are two Doctors”; “Oh no that’s a completely different birthday.”‘ didn’t make the High Points.

    (note: I may have the wording off, going from memory from a week ago — but come on, the whole birthday / two doctors bit was just perfect foreshadowing of the reveal)

    As for this low point…

    The disconnect between River’s apprehension

    I don’t think you are looking at it quite right. Her apprehension was from knowing that everything about their relationship, from the perspective of the Doctor, is about to change drastically. I took it as a general fear of change (or the unknown). Not to mention preparing for moment when her parents find out who she is

  7. My personal high point was Amy’s speech to Melody: “You’re going to have to be brave, but not as brave as they will.”

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