A Town Called Mercy

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GenGenners:
I've been saying this for quite a few episodes in recent series, and I'm going to say it again. This episode would have really benefited from having a 60 minute runtime as opposed to a 45-50 minute runtime. It needed the extra minutes to properly flesh out some scenes and plot points.
This issue is becoming alarmingly common since the start of the 11th Doctor's run and given that this series will have no two-parters, this issue will only become more frequent.

Fun fact: The BBC has endured horrifying real money budget cuts recently, as the renegotiated licence fee wasn't as generous to them as before (whether you agree with that or not is a seperate issue), and filming Dr. Who is EXPENSIVE, which is why they've been partnering with US networks to get funding, even if it does mean having to agree to film some of it in America. This particular truth is also responsible for the last series of Torchwood being so bloody awful.

I wouldn't expect it to get better, either, as last I looked into it the upper BBC management are desperate to get rid of Moffat, having openly described him as 'a problem' on at least one occasion.

Flight:

8-Bit_Jack:
Wow, Susan. You are so impressively wrong.

I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. Generally, opinions are neither inherently "right" nor "wrong". A review, however professional, is still the writer's opinion. While I personally enjoyed the episode, I still had some mixed feelings about it (particularly the pacing).

"[on the doctor holding a gun] it didn't fit the man" Unless she is making a statement about the proportional aesthetics of Matt Smith holding the revolver, this is wrong. It does not fit TENNANT. But guns do fit the Doctor. He isn't batman. He's killed plenty of people, and not in that wretched passive "oh they didn't die onscreen therefore i'm not responsible" way either. And for the last two seasons, moffat's writers have been going BACK to that, trying to undo the damage Davies did to the show. And one show prior, he straight killed a man and laughed about it. Should Solomon get away clean? Of course not. Did the doctor need to lock the missles to him instead of throwing the ball into space and letting them track to it? no. And you can't say the device needed the ship's power to be tracked, because that is in no way stated, and would have stopped the missile lock in the first place upon being disconnected.

Opinions can be right or wrong. TASTE is what cannot be incorrect. Just like how I think the Davies era was TERRIBLE Dr. Who (in spite of, or sometimes including amazingly well done episodes), I still love it.

Bara_no_Hime:

8-Bit_Jack:
I'm glad you quoted me, I didn't realize I had made a mistake. It should read "first two seasons" The time-crack and the Silence were weak. And yes, (most) of those were good episodes, but the SEASONS were just... eh

Granted, Matt Smith's run on the show has been better than tennant's, both by ratio of quality and simply because Smith is the better Doctor, but I just don't understand why so many of you are hating these episodes. These are some of the BEST episodes Moffat-Who has had.

I just hope the series continues this way, without the pulled punches of the last series.

Ah, I see. Yes, I agree with you on the Silence being a lame group (less so the crack in time - I thought that was actually rather clever).

And I haven't seen that much hate. The first two this season were both quite good (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was particularly good). The cowboy episode was just a bit... meh. Other than Ben Browder, whom I adore.

See, my problem with the time-crack was that it compounded the New Who problem of the companions being the Most Important Being in the Universe. Everything they do is the subject of millenia-old prophecy, which even the Doctor has heard of and either holds in high regard or has dismissed entirely as a children's fable. Why can't they do something amazing WITHOUT god coming in and arranging the cosmos? Wouldn't that make their actions more impressive? And even if it didn't, doesn't it just seem statistically unlikely that the doctor constantly meets Persons of Prophecy?

Which leads to the other problem I have with New Who: saving the damn universe.
STOP IT. Or, more clearly, stop writing towards the end of the universe. Look at old Dr. Who. How many times did EVERYTHING LEAD TO THIS? But now every episode of every season is PART OF A GRAND SCHEME that will lead to the discovery and foiling thereof of a plot to destroy/enslave/repaint the universe.
Just have a wacky old alien fly around space having hijinks and adventures. If you need overarching plot, why not just save A PLANET? The threat doesn't feel real anymore. hell, you could even make a joke out of it. "good job, doctor!" "good job, is that all? I was so clever I just saved the planet sheerly through cleverness" "yeah, well, planet's all well and good, but we've helped save the Universe now, planets are chump change"

NeonWraith:
last series of Torchwood being so bloody awful

Torchwood wasn't watchable in the first place, I can only imagine how bad "bloody awful" is compared to the rest.

That was awful. The doctor does not hold a gun, he disarms with the sonic screwdriver and says something witty. Learn2Write Dr. Who Steven Moffet.

Bring me Dinosaurs on a spaceship over this anyday.

Maybe I'm just a sucker for westerns but I enjoyed this one. The series seems to be taking a more blatantly funny approach going off this and the episode before. More outright jokes than the humour through witty dialogue or insane techno babble.

This season feels like a replacement Sarah Jane Adventures more than anything else. Which...isn't a good thing. In any way. The episodes seem to consist of ham-handed moral lessons, usually delivered at the end of the episode, the Doctor running around doing silly stuff, Amy reining him in, and Rory doing the serious stuff. This would be good and all - I mean it's great to see Rory and Amy developing as companions to the point where they react as unsurprised and as confidently as the Doctor...but if the exchange is the Doctor becoming a total bell-end I am just not comfortable with it. Matt Smith early on played the mix between eccentric and dangerous excellently - his flailing movements made it so easy for him to go from cheerful and curious to angry and dangerous almost seamlessly...and now what? Now he's pretending to be a cowboy and being a simpering moralist. This just isn't right. I'm hoping beyond hope that these are all fillers leading up to a spectacular conclusion.

8-Bit_Jack:
See, my problem with the time-crack was that it compounded the New Who problem of the companions being the Most Important Being in the Universe. Everything they do is the subject of millenia-old prophecy, which even the Doctor has heard of and either holds in high regard or has dismissed entirely as a children's fable. Why can't they do something amazing WITHOUT god coming in and arranging the cosmos? Wouldn't that make their actions more impressive? And even if it didn't, doesn't it just seem statistically unlikely that the doctor constantly meets Persons of Prophecy?

Huh. Um, I think the causality went the other direction - that person becomes the Person of Prophecy because the Doctor meet that person.

IE, Amelia Pond would have had a normal, boring life if the Doctor hadn't landed there while regenerating. His landing there set into motion the chain of events that led to the Tardis exploding, which led to the crack in her wall, etc.

So it isn't coincidence that the Doctor keeps running into important people - he makes them important by running in to them.

At least that was the impression I was getting.

8-Bit_Jack:
Which leads to the other problem I have with New Who: saving the damn universe.
STOP IT. Or, more clearly, stop writing towards the end of the universe. Look at old Dr. Who. How many times did EVERYTHING LEAD TO THIS? But now every episode of every season is PART OF A GRAND SCHEME that will lead to the discovery and foiling thereof of a plot to destroy/enslave/repaint the universe.

Key to Time.

Entropy (The Leisure Hive through Logopolis).

The Black Guardian (Mawdryn Undead through Enlightenment).

The Curse of Fenric.

All Multi-episode classic Who arcs where everything leads to the end of the universe and the Doctor stops it. And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Key to Time particularly is considered one of the best seasons of Doctor Who ever. It isn't all that surprising that the "Newvian" authors keep attempting to recreate that feeling.

On the other hand, I do see your point. Classic Who generally made sure that after any "the Doctor saves the Universe" arc, there was a season of "the Doctor travels around and saves a few planets without an overarching plot" to help keep things from getting repetitive.

Actually, I mentioned the Curse of Fenric because it was one of my LEAST favorite arcs in all of Classic Who. It stretched the "Doctor saves the universe" arc over three seasons, and everything that happened during those seasons was somehow connected to it. And it was terrible. I do, on occasion, fear that New Who is going to walk down that road.

Bara_no_Hime:

Huh. Um, I think the causality went the other direction - that person becomes the Person of Prophecy because the Doctor meet that person.

IE, Amelia Pond would have had a normal, boring life if the Doctor hadn't landed there while regenerating. His landing there set into motion the chain of events that led to the Tardis exploding, which led to the crack in her wall, etc.

So it isn't coincidence that the Doctor keeps running into important people - he makes them important by running in to them.

At least that was the impression I was getting.

Therein lies the problem with looking at causality in a show about time travel. He met her because IT WAS DESTINY and destiny happen BECAUSE HE MADE HER SPECIAL. Point is, they ALL become mythical figures

Key to Time.

Entropy (The Leisure Hive through Logopolis).

The Black Guardian (Mawdryn Undead through Enlightenment).

The Curse of Fenric.

All Multi-episode classic Who arcs where everything leads to the end of the universe and the Doctor stops it. And these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Key to Time particularly is considered one of the best seasons of Doctor Who ever. It isn't all that surprising that the "Newvian" authors keep attempting to recreate that feeling.

On the other hand, I do see your point. Classic Who generally made sure that after any "the Doctor saves the Universe" arc, there was a season of "the Doctor travels around and saves a few planets without an overarching plot" to help keep things from getting repetitive.

Actually, I mentioned the Curse of Fenric because it was one of my LEAST favorite arcs in all of Classic Who. It stretched the "Doctor saves the universe" arc over three seasons, and everything that happened during those seasons was somehow connected to it. And it was terrible. I do, on occasion, fear that New Who is going to walk down that road.

I never said it didn't HAPPEN, my point was that it happened RARELY. Unlike the last seven seasons, where it happened for almost all of them. What we have now are "the universe will need saving one episode in, and EVERYTHING IS SO IMPORTANT OMGWTFBBQ and we finish saving it by episode 13

Blarg. I haven't hated a show I like so much since Naruto

8-Bit_Jack:
Therein lies the problem with looking at causality in a show about time travel. He met her because IT WAS DESTINY and destiny happen BECAUSE HE MADE HER SPECIAL. Point is, they ALL become mythical figures

That did tend to happen to some of the Classic Doctors' companions as well.

Sarah Jane, Lela, Romana, Nyssa, and Turoulogh (sp?) all ended up as mythical figures as well (and that's just looking at the 4th and 5th Doctor's runs). Adric did too, technically, even if no one realizes it.

Tegan is one of the only companions to just... walk away. It's one of the things that made her special. Sarah Jane did something similar, but then she became a crime-fighting spin-off. Twice.

I never said it didn't HAPPEN, my point was that it happened RARELY. Unlike the last seven seasons, where it happened for almost all of them. What we have now are "the universe will need saving one episode in, and EVERYTHING IS SO IMPORTANT OMGWTFBBQ and we finish saving it by episode 13

I think you may be blowing things a tad out of proportion. Let's take a look.

Season 1 - Daleks trying to take over Earth. Technically only saves Earth.
Season 2 - Cybermen trying to take over Earth. Again, technically only Earth.
Season 3 - The Master trying to take over Earth. Again, just Earth.
Season 4 - The Daleks steal Earth and a bunch of other planets. Earth and a bunch of other planets, although a full-fledged Dalek fleet would have been a universal problem as well.
Season 5 - Crack in Time, Universe Exploding. Yup, saves the Universe.
Season 6 - The Silence/Devil's Run. Really just saves himself and screws over the Silence, which sort of saves Earth, except there wasn't much indication that the Silence was doing all that many bad things to Earth.

... so the only season where he saves the universe is season 5. You could argue that the Daleks represent a threat to the whole universe, but really I don't think that counts or "the Victory of the Daleks" is the Doctor failing to save the Universe. And anyway, Asylum of the Daleks firmly establishes the Daleks as back and... not doing much, really. Just sort of sitting around. So again, that means that seasons 1, 2, and 4 did not constitute universe savings - just Earth.

Now, last season they made a whole "great question" lead up that makes it sound like this season is going the Universe saving route again. But so far they haven't touched it.

Anyway, looking at the above, I'm sort of wondering why you think that the new series is constantly dealing with the Doctor saving the entire universe. He only did that once with the crack in time.

Edit: Speaking of which - When exactly the fuck are we going to get an answer about why the Tardis randomly blew up and cracked time? The end of season 5 suggested that that was a fairly major plot point, but season 6 promptly forgets about it and moves on. I'd much rather know why the Tardis blew up than learn the Doctor's real name.

I mean, it's just "Petridadrovlatunonden" or something equally blather-tastic. We know from the final episode of Key to Time that the Doctor's real name can be foreshortened to "Pete" - and that a fellow Timelord calls him that. We also know that many Time Lords use short names (ie the Master, the Rani) and that full galifreyan names are long as crap (Romanadaveratnalunda) so the obvious assumption has always been that the Doctor's name is just to unwieldy and difficult to pronounce to make it worth anyone's while.

Bara_no_Hime:

Season 1 - Daleks trying to take over Earth. Technically only saves Earth.
Season 2 - Cybermen trying to take over Earth. Again, technically only Earth.
Season 3 - The Master trying to take over Earth. Again, just Earth.
Season 4 - The Daleks steal Earth and a bunch of other planets. Earth and a bunch of other planets, although a full-fledged Dalek fleet would have been a universal problem as well.
Season 5 - Crack in Time, Universe Exploding. Yup, saves the Universe.
Season 6 - The Silence/Devil's Run. Really just saves himself and screws over the Silence, which sort of saves Earth, except there wasn't much indication that the Silence was doing all that many bad things to Earth.

Season 3 - The Master uses a Paradox Machine to conquer earth in order to destroy/conquer the rest of the glaxay. Technically only saves the galaxy, then
Season 4 - The Daleks steal Earth and a bunch of other planets in order to power a "Reality Bomb" that will obliterate ALL EXISTENCE (including the Daleks). Saves the Universe
Season 6 - Silence/Devil's Run is not the end of the season. The Doctor fights the Silence because of causality and has to be shot: Has to convince River to finally just kill him, or else the universe will implode. Saves the universe.

So yeah... 4 of the six seasons. And all of those CONSECUTIVE.

As for his name, that thing about pete, did it come from an episode or one of the other Dr. Who media? If it came from an episode, it MIGHT hold up, but if it came from a book/comic/etc they will ignore it entirely.

When I heard the horses name I imagined you grinning at the idea of the horse sharing your name.

I liked it enough. I've seen less than 100 episodes of Doctor Who, ranging from VHS tapes from the 90s to watching the ones being played on TV now, so my frame of reference is limited and inconsistent. I just like to watch the interactions more than anything else, similar to Bioware games.

8-Bit_Jack:

Flight:

8-Bit_Jack:
Wow, Susan. You are so impressively wrong.

I'm sorry, but I must respectfully disagree. Generally, opinions are neither inherently "right" nor "wrong". A review, however professional, is still the writer's opinion. While I personally enjoyed the episode, I still had some mixed feelings about it (particularly the pacing).

"[on the doctor holding a gun] it didn't fit the man" Unless she is making a statement about the proportional aesthetics of Matt Smith holding the revolver, this is wrong. It does not fit TENNANT. But guns do fit the Doctor. He isn't batman. He's killed plenty of people, and not in that wretched passive "oh they didn't die onscreen therefore i'm not responsible" way either. And for the last two seasons, moffat's writers have been going BACK to that, trying to undo the damage Davies did to the show. And one show prior, he straight killed a man and laughed about it. Should Solomon get away clean? Of course not. Did the doctor need to lock the missles to him instead of throwing the ball into space and letting them track to it? no. And you can't say the device needed the ship's power to be tracked, because that is in no way stated, and would have stopped the missile lock in the first place upon being disconnected.

I read that statement as more of a "The Doctor generally tries to find a better way, so it doesn't seem to fit him" sort of thing, myself. And the Doctor does, in general, try to be a man of peace, so when he picks up a gun, it doesn't seem to suit his ideals. The Doctor doesn't always live up to them, true, but weapons do not seem to fit with the man he tries to be.

8-Bit_Jack:
Season 6 - Silence/Devil's Run is not the end of the season. The Doctor fights the Silence because of causality and has to be shot: Has to convince River to finally just kill him, or else the universe will implode. Saves the universe.

So yeah... 4 of the six seasons. And all of those CONSECUTIVE.

As for his name, that thing about pete, did it come from an episode or one of the other Dr. Who media? If it came from an episode, it MIGHT hold up, but if it came from a book/comic/etc they will ignore it entirely.

I dunno, the only way Season 6 would be a threat is if he didn't get shot. He didn't seem particularly concerned about that point - he was all Zen about it, at least until he had the cunning idea for a way to trick destiny. I got the impression that a fixed point simply couldn't be changed, not that he had to play along or the universe would unravel. Ah well, I think that comes down to a matter of interpretation.

On season 4 - you're right, I forgot the details. I'm not a fan of Donna, so I don't watch that season often.

As for Pete - that's from the Key to Time season. It's in the season closer. "Pete" is clearly a nickname of some sort, but then so is "Romana" so it doesn't rule out it being a shortening of his real name.

Also, the Doctor was apparently in a Frat that begins with the Greek letter Sigma. The guy calls him "Pete, from Sigma" - which could be a planet until the guy identifies himself as a "fellow Sigma" which implies a fraternity. He was apparently a college buddy of the Doctor's, before he was called the Doctor.

8-Bit_Jack:

NeonWraith:
last series of Torchwood being so bloody awful

Torchwood wasn't watchable in the first place, I can only imagine how bad "bloody awful" is compared to the rest.

The problem it had was Torchwood was meant to be an adult-oriented Dr. Who: Darker, violent, and more pessimistic. What the first series ended up as was Dr. Who as a 13yr old, giggling to itself that it was allowed tits, swearing and violence. That being said, there was ONE really good episode in the first series, and I still think Children Of Earth is the best thing to come out of the new-Who stuff.

Bara_no_Hime:

I dunno, the only way Season 6 would be a threat is if he didn't get shot. He didn't seem particularly concerned about that point - he was all Zen about it, at least until he had the cunning idea for a way to trick destiny. I got the impression that a fixed point simply couldn't be changed, not that he had to play along or the universe would unravel

Then you weren't paying attention. He not only says it will, but even uses the word unraveling, exactly as you do.
And yeah, the pete thing could go either way.

NeonWraith:
The problem it had was Torchwood was meant to be an adult-oriented Dr. Who: Darker, violent, and more pessimistic. What the first series ended up as was Dr. Who as a 13yr old, giggling to itself that it was allowed tits, swearing and violence. That being said, there was ONE really good episode in the first series, and I still think Children Of Earth is the best thing to come out of the new-Who stuff.

See, I watched the first season, and tried several episodes of various other seasons... I quit once I saw Jack make out with his namesake for 10 minutes. Stupid idea, and completely nonsensical in its execution.
Plus, I just hate the Scot. I hope she died

I wasn't terribly pleased with that episode either. The moment that really stung was when the Doctor shoved Jex out of the town then grabbed the gun and threatened him with it. I thought, "This isn't right, the Doctor doesn't use guns." (Well this Doctor doesn't, he's even outright said so) On the other hand, the scene where the Doctor declares that he speaks horse was hilarious as well as the one where he's having a conversation with the horse.

NeonWraith:

GenGenners:
I've been saying this for quite a few episodes in recent series, and I'm going to say it again. This episode would have really benefited from having a 60 minute runtime as opposed to a 45-50 minute runtime. It needed the extra minutes to properly flesh out some scenes and plot points.
This issue is becoming alarmingly common since the start of the 11th Doctor's run and given that this series will have no two-parters, this issue will only become more frequent.

Fun fact: The BBC has endured horrifying real money budget cuts recently, as the renegotiated licence fee wasn't as generous to them as before (whether you agree with that or not is a seperate issue), and filming Dr. Who is EXPENSIVE, which is why they've been partnering with US networks to get funding, even if it does mean having to agree to film some of it in America. This particular truth is also responsible for the last series of Torchwood being so bloody awful.

I wouldn't expect it to get better, either, as last I looked into it the upper BBC management are desperate to get rid of Moffat, having openly described him as 'a problem' on at least one occasion.

Really? Any particular reason why they don't like Moffat? (Besides the obvious fact that he doesn't know what 'pacing' and 'consistency' are)

Well, at the time of him being described as 'a problem' there was one of the big American studios wanting to do a Dr. Who film, which the BBC higher ups thought was an excellent idea due to the oceans of cash it would let them swim in. Moffat, however, was not massively keen on the idea and wants various concessions on the film, like having some form of veto on the script so they don't ruin the TV series (this is just a rough idea, the specifics elude me as the article about this was from a while back), and he's enough of a famous influential sod that they can't really say no. (there may also be contractual issues, again, not sure).

Also...who on Torchwood was Scottish? O.o

Susan Arendt:

TimeLord:

Susan Arendt:
The Doctor uses force when necessary, certainly, but the whole visual image of him in an Old West-style shootout really just plain isn't him at all. He doesn't delight in going on the offense, he doesn't make it theater.

If you are talking about what I think you are i.e the confrontation with the crowd outside the jail where he shows off his gun to ward them off, I would argue that he had to do that to 'act the part' as it were. The people of the town would react to what they were familiar with and the Doctor played to that.

If you mean the 1 on 1 with the Gunslinger in the middle of the town. Well that's just good television. Especially since he took out his sonic instead of drawing his gun.

I meant the former and...ok, I'll perhaps concede that idea, though I'm still not entirely convinced.

I've always viewed the Doctor as a 'guns are a last resort' kind of character. He tends to use them either when every other plan has failed (see Dalek) or when things go horribly horribly wrong extremely quickly (Doctor's Daughter and Time of Angels) as opposed to Jack's 'shoot first policy'. Personally, the wild west shootout would have been a much better fit for Jack.

I thought the episode was pretty average, definitely not the worst I've seen. I just sort of see it as a means of showing how The Doctor has changed since he's been by himself. I mean, he's gotten darker and he's got a whole lot less mercy than before. It just sort of felt rushed to me as it could have been a really good episode.

Susan Arendt:

On a completely different note, I'm curious - do you guys feel like they're setting Amy up to be in some sort of spinoff? The recent episodes seem intent on proving how capable she is without the Doctor.

I get the feeling that they are leading towards her dying, Rather then showing how capable she is I think it is showing how much the Doctor has been relying on her and that when she eventually leaves the show (I think it was two episodes from now or so) how it pushes him or affects him.

That alongside a theory I have that I wont go into now for spaces sake make me worry for her and Rory

I don't know if this has been pointed out, since I don't care to read 93 other responses to this column, but...

A TOWN CALLED MERCY IS NOTHING MORE THAN A REWRITE OF FRANKENSTEIN!!!

That's it. That's all it is, basically. And, yes, the Doctor should not have been handling a gun. Tennant/Doctor would never have done that. Smith/Doctor is getting closer and closer to being the Valyard with each new episode. Heh, yeah, we all see that coming, don't we?

Good review. I agree this was probably the worst episode of the 11th doctor (maybe even of the whole new series, but I would have to really think on that), however it did have one good aspect (well two, I did enjoy Ben Browder's role, but it needed more John Wayne references).

Matt Smith has never pulled off the dark doctor, and this was the first episode with him where I finally saw the rage that underlies the doctors comic front. As Jex is describing what he has done Smith's face takes on a dark cast and suddenly he pulls Jex out and plans throws him out to be killed. Only it isn't Jex the doctor is condemning, but himself.

The doctor has done many terrible things in the name of the greater good, and he hates himself for it. Hearing Jex's story might as well have been hearing how the doctor killed all the timelords and Daleks (well for a short time at least, the Daleks seem to be like cockroaches).

I loved how David Tennent could go from whimsical to rage so well, but Matt Smith has never been able to do that. In A good man goes to war that is what we should have seen, but instead he just joked around with everyone. He almost got mad at River, but not quite.

So while the episode overall was terrible, it was nice to see matt Smith improve his range as the doctor, and I hope we will see more of it.

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