Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler Review (or “Yet Another Fucking River Song Episode”)

When I write the taglines for my reviews, they tend to focus on a certain part of the story in a – hopefully sometimes – amusing way.

But usually it wouldn’t work as the name of an episode or story beyond that.

An episode with the title “Let’s Kill Hitler” sounds like the sort of thing I’d come up with, especially since it bears no real relevance to the story beyond the opening couple of scenes.

But then I suppose they couldn’t call this story what it really is…

Yet another fucking River Song episode.

Now that’s a tagline…

Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler Review: What’s This One About?

Amy & Rory have a new long time, close personal friend of theirs that we’ve never seen. And oh my god, it turns out to be River Song.

And that just raises a lot more questions than it answers.

Thoughts: River Song – It Just Makes No Sense

So here’s what we know about River Song in the form of a timeline from the first time we met her to now.

  • Silence In The Library: River Song is an archaeologist sort who meets the 10th Doctor and dies there. They never meet each other again in spite of her being overly familiar with his appearance. She knows The Doctor but remarks that on this
    Seriously now, just bugger off

    Seriously now, just bugger off

    occasion they have met out of sequence, as she sent out a distress call to him at an earlier point

  • The Time of Angels: River – a prisoner of the Clerics for murdering “someone” (nudge nudge, wink wink) – says she and the Doctor keep meeting at different points in their own timelines. She’s never met Amy before and shows no signs of knowing her. She doesn’t want to kiss The Doctor because he’s still too young for her.
  • The Pandorica Opens: River, now knowing who Amy is from when she last met her but without any knowledge of Rory, helps the Doctor out and is established as a Time Traveller.
  • The Impossible Astronaut: River is upset to have been kissed by The Doctor because she says they keep meeting each other at the exact opposite points in their own timeline. So her last meeting with the Doctor is his first and it works from there. She has no problem kissing the Doctor who doesn’t seem to have aged a day since The Time of Angels. Meanwhile, a little girl in an astronaut suit has no idea of who The Doctor, Amy or Rory are and regenerates in 1969.
  • A Good Man Goes To War: River is revealed to be Amy & Rory’s baby, and that baby has been stolen by the Silence and trained to kill The Doctor. And that – remember – is in spite of her being that little girl in the space suit in 1969 who had no knowledge of, nor serious inclination to kill The Doctor. At the beginning of the episode, River looks at Rory (who is wearing a Centurion outfit) like she’s seen a ghost. Now it seems – and bear in mind by her own logic this is before she referred to him as “that Centurion” in The Pandorica Opens – she is well aware that he is her father. Oh, and she’s also now part Time Lord.
  • Let’s Kill Hitler: River – having regenerated into “a toddler” in 1969 is of the age to go to school with Amy in the 1990s and ages at exactly the same rate as her and Rory. So she must have remained a toddler for the whole of the 70s and 80s. This particular version of River knows exactly who The Doctor is and that she has to kill him (yet she never tried to do it before this point) and is also aware of Amy & Rory being her parents. As a childhood friend of hers called Melody, she wasn’t at their wedding and has never been mentioned at any previous point in the story. Now, as the newly regenerated River we know, she immediately – and successfully – kills The Doctor. Later in the episode she becomes a good person – in spite of years of brain washing by the Silence – because she’s asked to. Bear in mind that since The Doctor is present for her birth as “River Song” rather than Melody, this should be the final time their paths ever cross. But of course it’s not.

Now read that and tell me it makes sense?

It doesn’t.

River Song is a poorly conceived and terribly planned out character. I can let her first appearance slide because – as I just read on Wikipedia – that was originally intended as a one-off deal.

Look everyone, it's Amy & Rory's best friend Mels, who has never been mentioned in the programme even once before

Look everyone, it’s Amy & Rory’s best friend Mels, who has never been mentioned in the programme even once before

But I can’t let the appearances from Time of Angels onwards go. There’s no consistency with her storyline at all. It’s as if every time Moffat writes for her, he forgets what he’s written the last time. Or, failing that, it’s as if he doesn’t think people will notice the inconsistencies or maybe he just doesn’t care.

If I was going to write a character like River, I’d have planned it long in advance. There’s no planning here; none at all.

And in this story, the lack of planning and foresight is just beyond the pale.

The way Melody is written into the lives of Amy and Rory is daft. It’s daft for the viewers, it’s daft for Amy & Rory and it’s daft for River Song. The Doctor makes a comment about how he’d never met her before that is just brushed off. And it’s not like she’s just been placed  in time out of sequence either as some sort of Moffat twist. Amy & Rory named their baby after her, meaning that she has been a part of their lives all the time.

Melody reminds me a bit of Poochie from that Simpsons episode, Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie. We’re just supposed to accept she’s there and not question it.

Argh

And Another Thing

The other thing concerning River, but also concerning Doctor Who as a going concern, was the reintroduction of the idea of a Regeneration Limit.

Now sure, considering they killed River off already, they had to explain why she didn’t regenerate in a more suitable way than “We hadn’t thought about that” (as if that’s stopped Moffat before), but to reintroduce the concept of a regeneration limit just seems bonkers. It means that now, especially considering John Hurt is playing a version of the Doctor that is technically his 9th self, it means that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor is – within the narrative – the final Doctor.  (Editors Note 2014: or so I thought).The RTD era seemed to sort it out, but now Moffat has brought the question back to the table.

Knowing him it just won’t be mentioned again.

Frustrating.

It can be sorted, but it shouldn’t have to be.

River Song is not the most important part of Doctor Who.

But What About The Rest Of The Story?

All those issues aside – not that they can be ignored – Let’s Kill Hitler is ok.

Least convincing teenager ever

Least convincing teenager ever

The stuff with Hitler at the start was funny while it lasted, but it didn’t last too long, and I must admit I thought the idea of miniaturized humans living inside that shape shifting robot was cool – a bit like The Numbskulls from The Dandy – even though they seem to have a ludicrous defence system and a very sketchy idea of justice.

And this must be one of the only pieces of Western TV where the Nazis are almost portrayed as sympathetic characters.

Where it excels most though, as far as I’m concerned, is in Matt Smith’s take on a struggling Doctor. He played near death quite well. At times it was a bit ludicrous, but it shows he has the potential to make his real final scenes into something quite emotional. We’ll have to wait and see.

Random Observations

  • Did River/Melody carry killer lipstick with her everywhere she went in the hope of meeting the Doctor?
  • I was amused by the way he felt guilty towards the his recent companions when asking for an image of someone he liked as Voice Interface, although I was disappointed the show didn’t use any old companions. After all, it’s not like he emotionally damaged the likes of Ian & Barbara.
  • I’d have applauded if Adric had come up as a choice though; there’s one he really should feel guilty about.
  • Apart from not liking her character, I now have a passionate dislike for Alex Kingston. She was annoying, she’s now insufferable. What demographic is her character supposed to appeal to?
  • Rory’s reaction to both the regeneration and Hitler is great.
  • If the Doctor was dying, why did he go to the trouble of changing his outfit?
  • This is the second story in a row where the Doctor has remarked about how “Vampires in Venice was fun”. He’s clearly deluded.
  • Are we supposed to believe that The Doctor reads every issue of the local paper from Amy’s village? Maybe he took a trip to The Gogglebox (see Big Finish)
  • You’ll notice the girl who plays Young Amelia is unfortunately at an age where she can no longer be classed as “cute” and instead is one of those awful early teens that is pretty much the exact opposite.
  • While Amy and Mels manage to convincingly look like school kids/teenagers, Rory doesn’t. Not in the slightest.
  • DWM Mighty 200 Ranking: N/A

Doctor Who – Let’s Kill Hitler Review: Final Thoughts

My brother said to me tonight “I take it you enjoyed Let’s Kill Hitler then? You enjoyed it when you first watched it”.

Maybe that’s true. and you know, it’s not like I watched it and didn’t like it; it’s a decent enough 45 minutes of Who with some amusing lines and an interesting theme.

But looking at it critically, I have to say that the River Song stuff is – to be blunt – bad. It’s poorly conceived and written with absolutely no forethought or consistency.

And she’s annoying too.

So that drags an otherwise fun episode waaaaay down.

Hmmm, it seems to be that this season is better when they avoid the tiresome story arcs.

Funny that…

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