Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Incinerating Intruders for Three Centuries

The year was 1870, only five years after the Civil War had split the United States in a bloody four year conflict where relatives fought on both sides and ten years before electric street lamps appeared anywhere in the United States, let alone a little out of the way western town like Mercy.   In 1870, towns like Mercy would have barely had flame torches lighting the streets and most likely the only light came from inside of whatever buildings lined the main street. Western towns in 1870 were pretty dark places after the sun went down.

Anyway, the only actual Town of Mercy I was able to find was the town of Mercy, Texas which seems to have existed in the early 1900's and became the sight of a large oil strike some years later.

So much for the history lesson – on with the review!


This was the 6th episode set in the United States (“Dalek”, “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks', “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon” coming before), with one more to come (The Angels Take Manhattan). And what's the deal with Manhattan, we can't have an episode set in Philadelphia where maybe The Doctor is responsible for the crack in the Liberty Bell or something??? Where maybe the Doctor suggests stars to Betsy Ross to represent the new United States, maybe flies a kite with Ben Franklin or provides Edgar Allen Poe with the inspiration for “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Get on it Moffat!

Evidently The Doctor speaks horse and horses have “alternative lifestyles”, so said Susan the male horse.

Talking to Animals - Another Aspect of the Tardis Translator??
Amy - “Why would he want to kill you, unless he's met you.” Great line.

With the exception of when The Doctor was running Kahler Jex out of town to meet The Gunslinger – the soundtrack for this episode was very reminiscent of classic Western music – Murray Gold outdid himself – very nice.

Speaking of The Gunslinger, kudos to Andrew Brooke for surviving all of the prosthetics – an amazing performance considering it too 2 and a half hours to get that make-up on.

Howdy Pardner!
It was good to see that they used an actual American actor to play Sheriff Isaac, Ben Browder, whose sci-fi credits include “Farscape” and “Stargate SG1”, not too shabby.


Wow – from the Undertaker to the metal cup of coffee, to the saloon where the piano player stops as soon as The Doctor, Amy and Rory walk in, to the Preacher, to the Doctor meeting the Gunslinger at “High Noon”, I think pretty much every Western clichĂ© was covered. Only things missing was a bar brawl and an Indian raid.

One last Not Liking and that is that there are only 2 episodes left in this, the first section (can't call it a half – there are only 5 episodes), but it seems like in the next episode we get to see some of what has only been talked about (Rory leaving his phone charger behind perhaps??) Rory in his underwear and Rory's Dad again.

1 comment:

  1. What, no evaluation of Jex, or the cyborg's obvious similarity to both the Terminator and, mostly, Frankenstein's monster?

    Okay, I'll take a crack at it.

    First off, Jex. As the character (played brilliantly by actor Adrian Scarborough) said, it would be so easy to judge him if he was only an evil scientist or only a good and kindly physician from another world. That he was both really challenged the Doctor's moral judgment of him, especially when he (deliberately?) provoked the Time Lord to drive him to the edge of town past the makeshift barrier to face the cyborg.

    Jex was at once the arrogant scientist, the one who did his duty to his people and ended a bloody war that had already decimated half his world, and the remorseful doctor who heard the screams of his victims every time he closed his eyes and remembered the names of each and every one. In the end he chose to end the war not only for himself, but for his own creation.

    It would have been a brilliant character and an even more brilliant episode, if only Scarborough had played him a bit more consistently. His constant switching back and forth from the angry, arrogant, self-loathing war criminal to the meek, soft-spoken, humble physician just didn't sit well with me, and his provocation of the Doctor only to turn around mere moments later and revert to the guilt-ridden sympathetic character kept throwing me off. Overall it was a potentially great character but, as with everything under head writer Stephen Moffat's tenure, fell far short. And sorry, but climbing a mountain carrying the souls of everyone he's wronged just didn't feel like a compelling reason for him to fear death. Now if he had to do this for all eternity carrying everyone on his back, at night taking ten steps back for every one he took, something more horrible than just climbing a damn mountain, the element of fear would have seemed more real.

    Then we have the monster who wasn't a monster, the big bad cyborg out for revenge against the "evil" scientists who took away his life and made him into a killer. To be honest, the actor who played him could have been good, but we don't get nearly enough closeups of him to really show the turmoil the character is supposed to be feeling. Of course, this could very well have been the limitations of the makeup applied, because more emotive expressions probably would have damaged it.

    One thing that was implied but never really expanded upon was the circuitry that caused him to supposedly run amok and kill the ones who made him: emotional-and-memory inhibitor, most likely, that kept him from remembering what was done to him. This was in my opinion a missed opportunity to really drive home the guilt Jex feels over his actions, that the inhibitor might have been viewed as a mercy to the poor souls whose minds and bodies had been so cut up and bonded to weaponry.

    This episode had a lot of potential, but again, as with everything under Moffat's tenure as head writer it just didn't live up to it.