Doctor Who? S6 Finale Review: The Wedding of River Song


People that are not people, worlds that are not worlds, death that is not death. In this sixth series of the re-booted Doctor Who, Stephen Moffat has taken the show to dazzling, delirious and dangerous heights. For some, the abstract adventure has been a little bit too much to handle. For others, hopefully the majority, this is some of the most entertaining television ever made. It is a marriage of lots of beautiful things.

The first five minutes of the series finale were certainly the most bizarre but brilliant opening to any episode ever. All of history happens at once as railways skirt and skate out of The Gherkin, pterodactyls prey on people in the park, Winston Churchill is the Holy Emperor of Rome, cars fly around mid-air strapped to hot-air balloons and the clocks stop their ticks and ticks forever and remain always at 5:02 on April 22nd 2011.

If anybody was actually expecting a generically hum-drum finale, then show-runner Moffat gave them the chance to jump of this high-flying train / hot-air-car / pterodactyl madness right there and then. If you jumped, you missed one of the tastiest treat on offer. Marvellous madness.

Ever since Russell T Davies accidentally included the words ‘Bad Wolf’ in more than one episode following the shows regeneration in 2005, Doctor Who has well and truly embraced the concept of a series arc. Every series, the thirteen episodes have built towards something truly epic, whether it be disappearing planets, masterful prime-ministers, four knockings, multi-dimensional universe cracks – or this series’ crazy conundrum of the doctor’s death.

However, this sixth series was severed in two, like a worm. In a literal manner, the BBC decided it would be fun to have a three month mid-series hiatus. It wasn’t fun at all. It was like giving a hungry bird half a worm and expecting them to wait a quarter of a year for the second half. Worms. As a result of the series break, Episode 7 was upgraded to series finale status – like giving a baby worm all the responsibility of a full-grown mummy or daddy worm. I seem to have mixed my metaphors, but you see what I’m saying.

Episode 7, A Good Man Goes To War, felt completely out of place. Following a weird two-parter involving an alien shape-shifting blubber called the Flesh where people were not people who were then people again, we were launched into the confused mid-series finale, where it was revealed that River Song was the daughter of Amy and Rory.

And then, and then. Three months later in Let’s Kill Hitler we were rushed through an awkward flashback where a girl called Mels intrudes on Rory and Amy’s childhood. Mels turns out to be a pre-regenerated River Song. There was a lot of rushed story-telling going down. This episode was soon rescued from its troubled beginning by the introduction of the Teselecta; a shape-shifting robot manned by miniaturised human beings. Another shape shifting clone thing, you say? But we’ve already had some of those – those fleshy gangers?! How many people aren’t people, exactly?! And what about Hitler, is he still in that cupboard?

Well done if you can remember that, by the way. The ability to recall past events seems to be quite a problems for some viewers. Some kind of despondent amnesia. And unfortunately, whenever Doctor Who plays with any idea that is slightly abstract, whenever it tries to provide an intellectually stimulating storyline, whenever it requires the audience to recall events that happened more than five minutes ago; people start tuning out.

The show has received some bad press recently about how it is far too complicated for any ten-year old to understand. Well, let me rally against this bollocks. Ten-year olds live and breathe this show – they know exactly what’s going on. Ten year old Doctor Who fans gobble-up intergalactic info for breakfast, like hungry birds gobbling down worms (I’ll genuinely shut-up about worms now.)

In actual fact, it’s the grown ups that don’t “understandâ€?, it’s the boring adults who are calling for simple standalone episode’s rather than a biiiiiiiiiig looooong thirteen episode arc. They have the washing-up to do and accounts to update, how are they supposed to remember what a Teselecta is? An example: my dear old mum is still struggling to get her head around the fact that River is older than Amy but still her child.

If anything, the Doctor needs to use his special shushing power on such matters. These shushing powers were just one comedic aspect of Episode 12, Closing Time as The Doctor and Craig Owens (James Corden) destroyed some Cybermen. This episode really highlighted the show’s ability to switch effortlessly through genre’s, from action to tragedy to comedy – and the show shines its absolute brightest when it’s funny.

It also helps to have out-of-this-world talent such as Matt Smith, who brings so much eccentric bubbling madness to the show with his bow-ties, jammy dodgers and fezs. The dialogue is so brilliantly rich that I’d love to list all of the hilarious comments made by The Doctor this series, but I’ll settle for one from the finale where The Doctor is so bereft of any kind of social understanding, he thinks that dating involves ‘texting and scones’.

Overall, I thought this series was sizzling hot. The suavely dressed Silence deserve applause as one of the best monsters ever created. And Episode 4, The Doctor’s Wife written by sci-fi extraordinaire Neil Gaiman was among the highlights as Idris (who was actually the TARDIS) partook in some brilliant verbal sparring with the Doctor.

But now The Doctor has another wife – good old River Song. The time will soon come when the last notes of her song are sung in a forest of books with David Tennant, and the time will soon come for ‘the fall of the eleventh’, as prophesised by fatty-blue head Dorium, who no doubt heard such things on the internet with his ‘excellent wi-fi’. With Stephen Moffat in control, we are in the hands of a master story-teller, and I for one cannot to see what happens next. Doctor Who?