|What do you mean it’s not back until next Christmas?|
Hi all, sorry about the extended time away. Think of it as a winter hiatus, a polar opposite to, say, the summer hiatus preceding Let’s Kill Hitler. Anyways, I’m back! And I’ve six thousand words to share.
I just happened to rewatch Series 6 recently with very good friends, so it’s on my mind, esepcially Let’s Kill Hitler. It’s one of those episodes that, for me, gets better every time I watch it – it’s very amenable to esoteric exploration, and being so familiar with all its beats, I no longer notice the tonal whiplash and the jarring pace. “Plus, she’s a woman” still sticks out like a sore thumb, but still, that’s a relatively minor complaint compared to all the wonderful stuff going on in this story, and even more so in the context of its production.
For those unfamiliar with the production schedule for Series 6, many of the stories were shot or placed out of order. Black Spot, for example, was repositioned to the first half of the series, switching places with Night Terrors. Let’s Kill Hitler, on the other hand, started production after they’d already filmed The Girl Who Waited, The God Complex, and Closing Time, even though it was meant to precede those stories in the broadcast schedule. So there’s a sort of foreknowledge to the production of this story – as if it were traveling backwards in time and inserting itself into a flow of events that had, in effect, already happened.
And I think this is important to understand when decoding LKH, because the show itself seemed to fully realize its aesthetics with Nick Hurran’s direction of The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex, where the visual elemt to the storytelling is every bit as (if not more) compelling as the stories themselves. Which is not to say that Moffat’s tenure was never about visual storytelling prior to Hurran, only that Hurran really took it to a stratospheric level. And surely Moffat and his production team realized this as Hurran’s work was already done by the time they got around to making Let’s Kill Hitler. As such, I’m inclined to consider LKH primarily in terms of its visuals and aesthetics, because that’s where a huge part of the storytelling occurs, though there are many thematic layers worth exploring as well. Which we will.
The very first scene of this episode was actually the very last one shot for the entire series – after The Wedding, in fact, because the production team needed to let the wheat grow. So I’m not surprised that the visuals and aesthetics and thematics of this scene are impeccable, helping it to function as a microcosm of the episode as a whole. Consider the fact it’s filmed out of order, and travels back to be inserted at a particular time and place, which is true for LKH, but is also true for the conceit of Melody “inserting” herself into her parents’ history, not to mention how the character of Mels is inserted into the show’s mythology itself.…
|Oh shit oh shit I need a new caption joke.|
|In this scene, Clara is cleverly disguised as a frankly alarming|
|In this scene Clara is cleverly, albeit tastelessly, disguised as|
It’s April 23rd, 2011. LMFAO are at number one with “Party Rock Anthem,” while Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Adele, and Katy Perry also chart. Since Christmas, the Tunisian government has fallen, Hosni Mubarak has resigned in Egypt, and civil wars have broken out in Libya and Syria. Spring is in the air, as it were. While in the news during this story, Prince William and Catherine Middleton are married in Westminster Abbey.
It’s August 27th, 2011. Wretch 32 is at number one with “Don’t Go,” with Emelie Sand, Maroon 5, and Christina Perri also charting. In news since a good man went to war, the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, fled to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment for injuries sustained during an attack by protesters upon the Presidential Palace. The Arab Spring also progressively heated up into the Syrian Civil War, and South Sudan becames a country. In tremendously symbolic news, the Space Shuttle program ended with STS-135, commanded by Christopher Ferguson. Anders Breivik did unimaginably terrible things. And Muammar Gaddafi’s government effectively falls in Libya the week this story airs.
While on television, Doctor Who is back after its summer break with the provocatively titled Let’s Kill Hitler. It is, unfortunately, here that we must abandon any pretense that Doctor Who under Steven Moffat can be said to consistently work. By any measure, this is clearly where it goes off the rails. The reasons for this are, on the whole, complex. First and foremost, the series seems to have turned into a production nightmare at this point. Moffat, as has been well documented at this point, simply turned out not to be as fast a writer as Russell T Davies was, and found overseeing fourteen episodes of Doctor Who and three double-length episodes of Sherlock while writing six of the Doctor Whos and a Sherlock (or two) to be more than he could manage while actually ever seeing his children or breathing. It’s an understandable problem – the schedule Davies maintained was inhuman, as The Writer’s Tale amply demonstrates, and the solution come to after the botched production of this season – slowing down and not trying to maintain quite as mad a production schedule for Moffat’s two hit shows – was a sound one.
|In this image, Clara is disguised as an empty room.|
It’s October 1st, 2011. Dappy is at number one with “No Regrets,” while Maroon Five, One Direction, and several bands without numbers in their names also chart. It is also the hottest October day in history, and the day in which New York City police arrested seven hundred people during Occupy Wall Street. And it’s the day Doctor Who’s sixth season wraps with The Wedding of River Song.
The obligatory introduction out of the way, let’s start where we left off. This is, after all, an episode about answering questions. So let’s just give the answer. “By adding another twist to the A Good Man Goes to War/Let’s Kill Hitler subversion of the epic and having River heal the Doctor.” That, at least, is what the plan seems to be. We’ve already discussed the nightmare that production on Season Six turned into back with Let’s Kill Hitler, and so we don’t need to go into it here, but suffice it to say that the distinction between Moffat’s first draft and the shooting script is in this case largely theoretical. As a result, like Let’s Kill Hitler, this is an episode of television in dire need of fine tuning. To quote that post, “it’s not so much that the episode does the wrong things as it is that the episode doesn’t quite put the emphasis on the right beats.”
|In this image, Clara is not cleverly disguised as a light, but|
rather as a restoration field.
It’s June 4th, 2011. Pitbull and several other people are at number one with “Give Me Everything,” with Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, LMFAO, and Bruno Mars also charting. In news, the Arab Spring rolls on through its increasingly grim summer as civil war breaks out in Libya and grows progressively closer in Syria, with NATO forces helping out in Libya. Congressman Anthony Weiner finds himself embroiled in exactly the sort of scandal you should avoid with that surname. And World IPv6 day takes place. Rock on.
|In this image, Clara is cleverly disguised as the number 2.|
It’s December 25th, 2013. X-Factor winner Sam Bailey is at number one with “Skyscraper.” Eminem, One Direction, and Pharrell Williams also chart, as do Leona Lewis and AC/DC. In news, since Tom Baker last appeared as Doctor Who, the Syrian civil war rumbles uncomfortably on, and the official intermediate report on the Sandy Hook shooting was released. Paul Walker died, as did Nelson Mandella. Pope Francis gives his first Urbi et Orbi speech. Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi.