In short, I really enjoyed that episode of Doctor Who. I was concerned that an adventure would be had with Hitler, but he was an incidental character, treated with contempt by all of the cast – and was swiftly dispatched from the script, having been [spoiler]locked in a cupboard[/spoiler]. [spoiler]River’s[/spoiler] line about going [spoiler]to the gay, gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled[/spoiler] was great – wonderfully taunting of the Nazis in front of [spoiler]her as well as emphasising that all of the main characters were against these guys, even whilst they squabbled amongst themselves[/spoiler].
It’s perfectly possible – and important to our understanding of the human condition – to find that amusing, to laugh at the goose-stepping, the shouting and the pomposity, while simultaneously holding in our heads the tragic murderous consequences of Nazi power. That’s what makes the joke bite and also what reminds us that the massive disaster was human.
For me, "Let’s Kill Hitler" was on the right side of this line, and if he’d taken an active part in the story, then there were many places to fall afoul of this – but he wasn’t, the story wasn’t about Hitler. It was set in Germany, but it was the stage for something more akin to ‘The Great Escape’ in tone.
I appreciated that the BBC followed the programme with a documentary about Hans Litten on BBC2. I do hope that a significant fraction of parents allowed their children to watch this in order to underline who this man was for their children.
(Serious spoilers follow)
We are [spoiler]introduced at the start of the episode to Mel, and this seemed very, very clumsy in a ‘who she?’ kind of a way. We have a flashback of her life with Amy and Rory – featuring young Amelia Pond[/spoiler]. It all seemed very cack-handed, until we learn, [spoiler]as Mel is shot in Hitler’s office that Mel is short for Melody[/spoiler]. I should have seen that coming, I really should – but it took up until the wound was revealed for the penny to drop.
We also learned beyond reasonable doubt that [spoiler]the Child in ‘The Impossible Astronaut’ was River (but not why she was there). I can only presume that her programming was not yet completed at that stage[/spoiler].
Everything is pointing to the occupant of the spacesuit that shot the Doctor [spoiler]being Melody Pond, but at what point in her timeline? The young girl (as seen in the season six opener), Mels? River Song?[/spoiler]
The Sherlock-like out-guessing that [spoiler]Melody and the Doctor undertook with guns and bananas was good fun, though it has been pointed out that it had tones of Rowan Atkinson[/spoiler].
The [spoiler]Tesselecta[/spoiler] was an interesting fictional invention in its own way – [spoiler]not changing history, but punishing people at the end of their established timelines[/spoiler]. This seemed to be applied inconsistently though, they would [spoiler]’leave Hitler for later in his timeline’, but Melody Pond would be dealt with at the start of her timeline[/spoiler]. The [spoiler]miniaturised people[/spoiler] inside could have been rather silly – but it didn’t veer into that territory for me (though my scientific brain would have rather had [spoiler]the machine bigger on the inside to avoid all sorts of issues like diffraction of light in the eyeballs of the little people and biological processes going awry, like respiration[/spoiler]).
The [spoiler]bait-and-switch was great[/spoiler], we [spoiler]were expecting a plot about in dubious taste about trying to kill and/or save Hitler – but that was a giant smokescreen for what was to follow[/spoiler].
There are some plot areas to address, we see [spoiler]River save the Doctor – presumably this addresses the regeneration limit[/spoiler], however, we later see [spoiler]River taking up Archaeology in order to track down the Doctor – if her programming is still active, why did she save him[/spoiler]?
It looks like we will now be [spoiler]moving forward in River’s timeline[/spoiler] – I wonder if it will ever be possible to see the [spoiler]story in ‘River order’, given that in some episodes we see both an early, and a late, River[/spoiler].
We have see the [spoiler]book being given to River – so it looks like her diary isn’t just a diary, it’s research – this is why the Diary has pictures of incarnations River has not seen[/spoiler].
It was nice to see some [spoiler]earlier companions appear to use as the voice interface[/spoiler], but there was a missed opportunity, we saw [spoiler]Rose, Martha, Donna… why not include earlier companions, such as a colourised Susan (he abandoned her, after all)[/spoiler]
Dear, dear BBC – you really do need to liaise with a quality notebook manufacturer and sell those ‘River Song’ notebooks – nice and thick, quality paper, plain pages, please (not a cheaply produced thing that’ll fall to bits).
Oh, was the hiatus purely so we would have time for the corn to grow? – or was it to intentionally allow time to elapse where the Doctor searches for Melody? (How did Amy and Rory get back to Earth given the Doctor went off in his Tardis at the end of the previous episode?)
Will we now see a permanent return to autumnal ‘Who’?