Saturday, 4 June 2011


Doctor Who - The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People (Series Six, Episode Five & Episode Six). The Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) arrive on an island where the personnel of a futuristic factory, established in a monastery, use a self-replicating fluid called the Flesh to create exact "Gangers" of themselves who deal with a highly corrosive acid.

Directed by Julian Simpson, this two-parter is written by Matthew Graham (Ashes to Ashes). It was a matter of common sense to have moderate expectations about any episode following The Doctor's Wife, Neil Gaiman's instant classic, and Graham's previous stint on Doctor Who - Series Two's Fear Her - wasn't precisely an invitation to enthusiasm.

The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People is a variation on the traditional base under siege plot, with its post-industrial premise and its Hammerian medieval setting. There are shades of 42 or The Waters of Mars in this workplace nightmare whose make-up effectiveness is almost ruined by unnecessary SFX (Sarah Smart as Stretch Armstrong, Spidey and Hangover Lazarus).

« This is insane. We're fighting ourselves. »

They are called "Gangers" but basically the besieging creatures are clones. And clones have become the narrative device equivalent in genre television of "the dog ate my homework" excuse. Clones are a trick, that blob on the floor of the TARDIS (ex machina), they are "un-cool". Otherwise the cast is solid, particularly Raquel Cassidy as Miranda Cleaves. But too bad Marshall Lancaster is so underused as Buzzer.

Anyway we know it's all about Steven Moffat's big scheme and THAT pregnancy. Ask the raniesque Stefano DiMera played by Frances Barber. So are the days of their lives, and in the end you can't reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

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