Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Doctor Who - The Big Bang (Series Five, Episode Thirteen). As anticipated, the second half of series five's finale didn't live up to the expectations sparked by The Pandorica Opens. An episode mostly enjoyable though, thanks to an amazing Matt Smith one man show and some other elements.

American illusionist David Blaine will surely order a Time Vortex Manipulator and a sonic screwdriver. They'll be useful the next time he'll try to get out of something. And we can bet Pandoricas will replace street defibrilators once the problems of size and volume will be resolved. Even science fiction cannot justify all this surprising self-indulgence from Steven Moffat, who gave us some of the finest hours of the show as a writer. Particularly after the dramatic intensity of The Pandorica Opens's last 20 minutes.

The Big Bang is another low-key episode and another example of a budget arbitration which definitely weighed on all series five's content. It didn't show as much as in Amy's Choice and The Lodger but the last time some characters from a BBC Worldwide franchise chased anomalies in a museum things ended up very badly. « Budget cuts are tough: I don't like them, but they force you to be creative, » explained Moffat to BBC News.

At least the script is a festival of fun one-liners (« Come along, Ponds!», « Hi honey I'm home », etc.) Matt Smith steals the episode with a fez (« Fezes are cool »), a mop and a bedtime story. There are nice ideas: Rory as the devoted centurion who keeps the Pandorica through time, River Song's reputation which apparently terrorizes the Stone Dalek to the point the poor thing screams "Mercy!" Steven Moffat must have an issue with Daleks (remember The Curse of Fatal Death).

The story arc's resolution is unconvincing and deliberately partial as it seems that it will continue with series six. Moffat reinvented Stevenson's Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with absolute genius but is Doctor Who the right vehicle for a "dark fairy tale" approach and an ambitious multi-series high concept story arc? And, finally, will Steven Moffat have a budget decent enough to fulfill his narrative ambitions past the mandatorily lavish Orient Express Christmas special? To start the Moffat/Smith era with a story arc around "cracks" could be retrospectively ironic.

The Big Bang is an enjoyable but uneven conclusion to an overall entertaining fifth series which reinstalled the franchise, in a spirit of invention and tradition, after an almost two-year hiatus between series four and five. And revealed to a global audience the talents of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and even the young Caitlin Blackwood.

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