Time travel stories have been around for centuries, mostly those in our past looking into the future and speculating on what the world would be at a certain point in time way in the future. H. G. Wells' “The Time Machine” would be the most popular example of this. The “Time Traveller” went over 800,000 years into the future to meet the Eloi and the Morlocks (also see the Colin Baker story “Timelash” where they meet a “Herbert” who turns out to be the aforementioned Mr. Wells).
At some point rules came to play in time travel stories, time travel stories where the protagonists went into the past. Rules about messing around with historical happenings. In Ray Bradbury's “A Sound of Thunder” he takes on the “Butterfly Effect” literally when a group of well heeled hunters travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs while staying on a prepared trail and one of the hunters loses it and leaves the trail killing a butterfly. The hunters return to the Present to find a very different world.
Probably beginning in the 1950's when pulp Sci-fi was huge people started playing with the idea of traveling back in time and righting past wrongs, and the biggest wrong at that time was the Third Reich and Adolph Hitler's rampage through Europe beginning in 1939.
The question always seemed to be out there, “Hey, what if we went back and killed Hitler? The world would have to be a better place, right?”
The problem here is simple. There's no way to tell. OK – you go back and shoot Hitler while he's recruiting in the beer halls of Austria, killing him and you come back to the present day find that you now live in the United States of Canada and Mexico has become an Aztec stronghold, the native Mexicans having finally beaten their Spanish overlords.
Or. . . you kill Hitler and you come back to the present to find that absolutely nothing changed. 6 million Jews still died, not to mention all of the Gypsies, Homosexuals, Allied and Axis soldiers and the civilians on both sides, but this time it was carried out by a little known architect named Albert Spear.
The point in the second situation is that in 1939 there was going to be a war, if for no other reason than Germany was royally screwed by the Allied Powers after World War I. Germany had no other choice but to fight to restore themselves and their ethnic self esteem. The killing of the Jews, or any other group, was totally unnecessary. The Allies wised up, to a certain extent, with the Marshall plan, which rebuilt Germany after the war, thus giving them no excuse to start another war. And I know, all you historians out there, that this is a VERY simplistic look at what happened back then, so back off :).
It only took Doctor Who 48 years to hit on the “What if we went back and killed Hitler?” question and, to be honest, I am not surprised that it was under Mr Moffat's reign. He definitely seems like the type to do this story. He is, in my book, a knucklehead, but a knucklehead in a good way in that he's not afraid to take us on a 2 season trek to finally see what he was up to in “The 11th Hour”.
I know that is extremely frustrating to those who are used to a story being all wrapped up after 42 minutes, and I admit that I have been frustrated myself at times, but I an still hanging in and I hope you all will too. If Moffatt truly disappoints by the time we reach episode 13, I will be the first to get my pitchfork out, along with my torch, to storm Castle Moffat and demand an answer as to why I spent so much time watching this.
In response to my last post . . . .
In my last posting I put the idea out there that The Doctor was looking very sad because he had killed Melody as a way to save his own self and I was taken to task over that concept and rightfully so. There is no way that The Doctor would kill Melody, thus killing River and his future wife. He would not kill her because he is not a killer, though he has been responsible for millions (billions, trillions??) of deaths.
I think what I was really getting at was that The Doctor had done something to save his arse that would not allow Amy to raise Melody as she wished to. Maybe he was responsible for sending her to that alley in New York where she began to regenerate, thus putting her someplace that kept him safe but kept Melody from Amy.
Rest assured dear readers (all 2 of you?) The Doctor is going nowhere and the funeral we witnessed so long ago on a lake in Utah was for naught. This 11th Doctor is going nowhere, at least not this season. Not sure what the future holds for Amy, Rory and River, but The Doctor in this particular regeneration will be around for a while. This is all just a gut feeling, of course.
I hope that you, like I am, are waiting for August 27th with anxious anticipation :)