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Doctor Who swallowed by a Black Hole of Confusion?

8th September 2011

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After a mid-series break, Doctor Who made an explosive return to Saturday night TV on the 27th August with the intriguingly titled episode “Let’s Kill Hitler.” Within minutes, the show’s successful recipe of action packed plots and captivating dialogue became overwhelmed by the reappearance of an unwelcome ingredient: confusing storylines. The episode left my family, friends and I completely mystified.

Last Saturday’s episode, “Night Terrors,” saw the show revisit its more traditional format; an absorbing opener was followed by a major crisis, a shock twist and a neat resolution. It provided relief from the intellectually intense episodes of series six so far. The show had previously spiralled off on an arc of confusion surrounding the unsolved enigma of River Song. The flirtatious character had conveyed streams of rumours, speculation and unlimited possibilities since she first graced our screens back in 2008. Since then, River has made several appearances which have left us viewers with countless questions and few answers.

On one hand, River’s character brings a whole new dynamic to the show. Not only does Alex Kingston, who plays the illusive character, bring a humorous and flirtatious element to the TARDIS but her character is also the source of many shockDoctor Who and River Songing revelations, such as the discovery that she is in fact that child of the Doc’s companions, Amy and Rory.

This major plot twist is the source of all the confusion. Timelines and chronological structures have become irrelevant, making it difficult to understand what’s going on and when. I appreciate that, in the words of the Doctor himself, time is a ‘wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey’ thing; however, this storyline portrays time as a shattered entity that the show’s writers can reconstruct into any pattern that they desire, resulting in positively insane storylines.

Let me try and summarise the perplexing storyline. River first met the Doctor when he knew nothing about her, yet she knew everything about him. Series six revealed that she is the daughter of the Doctor’s companions, despite her being older than them both when they first meet. She was conceived in the TARDIS, giving her Time Lord-like abilities, despite her parents being human. River flirts with the Doctor but is actually meant to kill him after she was abducted as a baby and trained to be his killer. River is named after Rory and Amy’s best friend, Mel, (bear in mind here that the child was born Melody Pond, which in Gallifreyan translates as River Song) despite Mel later being revealed to be River herself in a different reincarnation. Throw into this a whole array of times, eras, planets and dilemmas and you can see just how confusing it all is.

Doctor Who is a timeless TV classic and a show that people of all ages can enjoy. Despite this, series six has seen it descend into a black hole of confusing storylines. I thoroughly enjoy the show, yet I do miss the days when I could relax on the sofa and watch the show instead of having to opt for extreme concentration in order to understand what’s going on. This much loved show still has a solid place in the hearts of fans worldwide, but miss just a minute of an episode and you could risk the chance of completely losing the plot.

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