« More guilt! Come on. There must be someone left in the universe I haven't screwed up yet.»
Doctor Who is more popular than ever under showrunner Steven Moffat's tenure. The programme has healthy ratings, conquered America and is commercially at the top worldwide (1). Moffat even gave the BBC another global hit: Sherlock, "re-imagined" with Mark Gatiss. So no matter some old and loyal fans may choose to leave in the process. His narrative approach is supported by a majority of Whovians, seduced by the Grand Moff's high concept soap story arc conundrum.
One year ago, Who's supremo announced at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh TV Festival that the current 13-episode series would run for seven episodes "building to an Earth-shattering climax" at Episode 7, an "enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything". And then would come back in the autumn after a hiatus for another six. « The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate series, » as he explained, referring to the second block as « what would be in fact Series Seven. » (2)
Too bad but Earth survived A Good Man goes to War, Steven Moffat's space operetta mid-series finale and its Empire Strikes Back cliffhanger. Series Six (not Seven finally) of Doctor Who returned on BBC One and BBC America last saturday from its two-month hiatus with Let's Kill Hitler, written by the man himself and directed by Richard Senior. Given that when it comes to dramas genius is an overrated notion since Torchwood: Miracle Day, and that the expectations of a minority of us have been seriously lowered with this sixth series, this premiere is surprisingly enjoyable.
« Thank you. Whoever you are. I think you have just saved my life.
- Believe me. It was an accident. »
« You've got a time machine, I've got a gun. What the hell? Let's kill Hitler. » Of course the Doctor didn't stop Hitler (Albert Welling). Moffat warned from the very title, the famous sci-fi cliché is intended only as a fuse for the firework material which relaunches his machinery. Too much material, worthy of a 90-minute special but reduced to 48 minutes, the way the tiny bureaucrat folks are compressed in the Meet Dave walking death sentence. « We're in a hurry. We're not trying to win an award. » No Writer's Tale necessary for Steven Moffat, the anecdotes are IN the episode.
The Moff has a knack for fast-paced adult comedy and a taste for superbly crafted lines (« I'm trapped inside a giant robot replica of my wife. I'm really trying not to see this as a metaphor. ») Let's Kill Hitler offers both generously, provided that you forget its flaws. « Then why don't I know you? I danced with everyone at their wedding. The women were all brilliant. The men were a bit shy. » One of these flaws is Mels, the never seen before "childhood" pal, in spite of a fine but de facto frustrating performance by Nina Toussaint-White. "Mels" is another narrative trick in Moffat's big timey-wimey scheme. Like the continuing devaluation of regeneration, a trend initiated by Russell T. Davies (who has devalued more than that since).
« Well. I was on my way to this gay gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, "Gosh. The Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Fuehrer." Who's with me? »
On a scale where the quality level has been raised sky high by Neil Gaiman's The Doctor's Wife, Let's Kill Hitler is an absurd but absolutely fun escapism and the best opener since The Eleventh Hour. « I love it! I'm all sort of... mature. Hello Benjamin. » Steven Moffat pleasantly revisits The Curse of The Fatal Death with Alex "Mrs Robinson" Kingston as Jonathan Pryce. Matt Smith (nice coat, by the way) and the cast serve the script brilliantly, and it's nice to see Caitlin Blackwood again as young Amelia - but also as the no-nonsense Amelia voice interface (« You will not die now. You will die in thirty-two minutes. ») The production values look more than decent, the direction is excellent, and Cardiff's Temple of Peace is smartly used.
« Rory, take Hitler and put him in that cupboard over there. Now. Do it. » Why would we deny ourselves such a treat? Torchwood: Miracle Day surely delivers a worse "tingling sensation" than the Antibodies of the Teselecta. « Right. Putting Hitler in the cupboard. Cupboard. Hitler. Hitler. Cupboard. »
« Glücklich zu sehen, je suis enchanté. Happy to see you. Bleibe, reste, stay. »