The Pandorica Opens

Liked it. There really isn’t a whole lot else I can say yet.

For about 34 minutes it seems pretty silly — not “The End of Time” silly, fortunately, but still “New Who Season Finale” silly: big, fast, loose, very kitchen-sink with the monsters and the gratuitous CGI.

Then River Song makes an important discovery, and everything starts to flip-flop in rapid succession. One of the cheesiest moments in the episode turns out to have been a brilliant fake-out. And even though I guessed correctly about the contents of the Pandorica very early on, it was still a thrill to see the proof.

It’s a hell of a cliffhanger. And I get the feeling Moffat knew what each of the foreshadowing moments meant as he planted them during the season, as opposed to just tossing out breadcrumbs and then following them back to their origin. I greatly appreciate that.

I’m enjoying River Song more and more, I must admit. She has kind of a “Virgin New Adventures” feel to her, that sort of female commando/professor thing they were doing for a while.

I’m wary here, because I’m remembering how fabulous “The Sound of Drums” was and how wretched “Last of the Time Lords” was. But I really think this is going to work like crazy.

P.S. How many echoes of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series did you count?


  1. Jeffrey Lampert · June 19, 2010

    From reading the synopsis, it sounds okay, but I suspect that, like The Beast Below, it’ll be better on viewing. And I worry that there may be another element of Moffat repeating himself here (in this case, the prior incident being the little girl who controls the Library).

    Curious about the HHGTG echoes, but I can’t glean those from the synopses 🙂

    BTW, was “The Sounds of Drums” really that good? Granted, “Last of the Time Lords” was utterly abysmal, but even if the plot hadn’t totally gone off the rails yet in TSoD, the Master was still pretty horrible…except for the phone chat between him and Tennant, which I loved. The End of Time, OTOH, had an incredibly ridiculous part 1 (except for the diner seen between Tennant and Cribbins), but part 2 actually made the Master interesting for the first time under John Simm’s tenure. Sorry, I seem to have gone off on a tangent…

    Can’t wait to see this!

  2. encyclops · June 19, 2010

    I enjoyed “The Beast Below” more than “The Pandorica Opens.” Like “The Hungry Earth,” this was a LOT of setup and dicking around, but at least in this case it was probably necessary in order to spring the surprises. Moffat really fucked with me, which was what I appreciated. The “ooh, Rose fights a dismembered Cyberman” bit didn’t do anything for me (though I imagine that’s going to pay off next ep), but everything else that I kinda rolled my eyes at (the Doctor’s speech to the aliens and his explanation to/of Rory, for example) were fine because of the twists. The Hitchhiker’s bit I was thinking of was River’s message to the Doctor; the rest I might have been conflating with Idiocracy, which we also watched last night.

    In most cases I’ve only watched New Who episodes once each, though I’ve started slowly to review them. So I don’t remember much about the little girl controlling the Library, but yes, I can see that being repeated here.

    Likewise, since I’ve only seen it once, I don’t remember if “The Sound of Drums” was as good as I think it was. It sounds like I enjoyed Simm’s Master more than you did in general, but I thought both parts of “The End of Time” were horrible and I’m curious what you found interesting about the Master in the second part. We do agree about the phone chat.

  3. Jeffrey Lampert · June 19, 2010

    Speaking of H2G2, did you notice that the Silurian leader was played by Stephen Moore (and yes, it is the same one)?

    Hm. While I liked the Beast Below, I wouldn’t say I loved it, so that has me a bit concerned, but we’ll see. Yeah, I’m sick of the Doctor’s speech sending people running, so the fact that it was a fake-out this time sounds much better.

    As for the Master, I appreciate that they tried to make him a foil for Tennant’s particular version of the Doctor, but I just found him too campy and annoying. [then again, maybe that’s why I like Eccleston more than Tennant] (I swear, I started wishing for Anthony Ainley at one point…although AA’s problems were mostly due to JNT) Even so, that was nothing compared to the skeletal/superpower/million-billion-duplicate Master crap in the End of Time. Fortunately, the really annoying parts of that were all in Part I. RTD works best with character moments, and Part II had that in spades. Watch just Part II by itself, and you won’t see any of the giggling, cackling Master. Sure, he gets in his gloating, but the real power is when he realizes what the drumming is. In a short span of time, you see him get genuinely excited (and not in a manic way) about bringing back the Timelords, and then the mix of horror and fury when he realizes just how they’ve messed with his entire existence. Even his gloating was more controlled and somber compared to the empty-headed cackling in part I. (Seriously, rewatch only Part II). And I love the fact that, after pining for Gallifrey the entire time in NuWho, RTD turns it all on its ear by showing us something the Doctor’s held back from Donna, Martha, and Rose…that he’s longing for a home that no longer exists in its present form. It hit me the same way the Scouring of the Shire did. You can’t go home again. We know how war changed the Doctor, but it’s nothing compared to how it twisted his home. I think that’s frickin’ brilliant. [I’ll even excuse the overwrought, overextended goodbye…hey, once again, just like LoTR, the denoument is too protracted…and the pointless bit with Donna that makes no frickin’ sense. Just trim them out of the episode and you haven’t lost anything)

  4. encyclops · June 19, 2010

    Stephen Moore: I didn’t notice, but I read afterward.

    The Beast Below: I think we’re establishing that you and I don’t completely overlap in our New Who tastes, and there are plenty of fans who like Pandorica but not Beast, so I wouldn’t worry. I just rewatched Beast this morning at the gym, and I do still like it, though I think I like its ambitions more than its achievements. As with “The Girl in the Fireplace” (a story with which Beast shares a few key tropes) I think Moffat had more story than running time.

    Simm’s Master: Since we’re never going to get Delgado back, literally or figuratively, I can accept that he’s going to be as different in his subsequent incarnations as the Doctor is in his. Given that, I’ll take Simm over Ainley any day; regardless of whose fault it was, I found Ainley’s campiness a lot more insufferable than Simm’s.

    The End of Time: See, the problem I have with that idea is that in the old show the Doctor never seemed to miss Gallifrey much at all, even before the Time War. He’d do anything to avoid going back (so would Romana, for that matter), and on the occasions he did end up back there, he left in a hurry. I can hang with the idea that he misses it now that it’s gone, but the difference between “stuffy boring place filled with bureaucrats and pedants” and “batshit crazy place filled with psychotic warmongers” doesn’t really move me much. It probably works better for people who don’t know the classic series.

    Of course, it might have worked for me too if the execution hadn’t been so horrible. Timothy Dalton chewing the scenery, the Hand of Omega as a metal Hulk hand, none of it making the slightest logical sense…it all got in the way of any emotional impact it could have had. So by the time we hear the four knocks, all I’m feeling is “fine, get it over with and die already so we can move on from this bullshit.” It wasn’t the worst episode of the RTD era, but coming at the end, its faults were magnified.

    I really can’t decide whether I like having the Master’s “evil” explained, or whether it severely cheapens Terror of the Autons (for example) to imagine that he’s suffocating executives in plastic chairs because he has a throbbing future-Time-Lord-induced migraine all the time.