This story again teams up River Song with Team TARDIS but although her presence is significant and really throughout it is much less than in previous adventures and yet we find out more about her character than ever before. We finally know who she is and where she comes from. I must say the name similarity between River and Pond did make me wonder if the two characters were connected and the idea that she might be the child of Amy and Rory did occur to me but I loved the reveal nonetheless. I did not suspect she would be a Time Lord though because she was obviously human and I loved the back story behind how she became one. Personally I love getting these little tidbits of info even though it does lessen the mystery of the Time Lords a bit.
Another smaller bit of the Doctor's history was showing us his cot which did make me wonder if Susan was at one time kept in their by her parents as well.
The story itself felt a bit rushed to me and could have stood some room to breathe a bit which has been a bit of an ongoing flaw in NuWho. That's the modern fast paced short attention span TV coming into effect and sometimes its nice because you don't often get the kind of padding you found in Classic Who but sometimes some of these newer stories feel a bit overloaded and this is one of them. Partially because the Moff throws so many great characters and ideas at us in this one I feel its a bit of a shame we don't get to see more of them or expand on the ideas.
From a seemingly throwaway line in The Time of Angels, The Headless Monks with their battle chants, light sabers and very creepy concept were awesome. I want to know more about them. Although I think they will prove popular, I don't know if we will get to learn how they walk around without heads and where they get their powers from and why they are after the Doctor.
Lesbian couple Madame Vastra: a Silurian warrior with a Samurai sword who was killing Londoners in revenge for for humans destroying her people to build their city's underground areas and sewers and her Victorian maid Jenny. That's an adventure I want to see!
I want to see how Commander Strax became indebted to the Doctor and how he was dishonored into becoming a nurse.
I want to see the adventure where Lorna Bucket met the Doctor as a child see how they ran through the Gamma forests.
I 'd be perfectly happy to read about those adventures in BBC books even but supposedly the BBC has a policy which prevents them from tying in their books that closely with their TV adventures. The books can not seem to be integral to enjoying the TV series. And with those adventures in the Doctor's past, we will probably never get to see them which is a shame as they sound fascinating to me.
However I do think we will learn more about the wonderfully evil Madame Kovarian who was Amy's midwife. I look forward to that and to learning why all these seemingly independent groups: The Silence aliens, the Headless Monks, the Clerics and Kovarian have come together to declare war on the Doctor.
Again, Matt Smith does a good job but he doesn't do angry quite as well as his predecessors Tennant and Eccleston. With the hype that we are going to see the Doctor angrier than ever before, it really doesn't come off that way onscreen. He's angry for sure, but angrier than ever before? Not so much.
And that's why I liked the working title a bit better, Demon's Run. It works as part of the poem the Moff created but it doesn't have the hype of this title. It really wasn't much of a war but a battle or skirmish even. However, I really liked that battle sequence. It was done very well. And it was interesting to see the Doctor call in favors to rescue Amy and the lengths he would go to do so.
The supporting cast was all excellent including our regular companions Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill.
Really a great story but what stops it from becoming one of my all time faves is the lack of time. I really think it should have been a two-parter to allow it to develop and feature all the fantastic concepts longer.
On a side note when are we going to get an action figure of Rory the Roman? Its begging to be made!
Here's the comparison of the Doctors' sixteenth adventures from best to worst:
1) The Robots of Death by Chris Boucher
2) The Mind Robber by Peter Ling and Derrick Sherwin
3) A Good Man Goes to War by Steven Moffat
4) The Chase by Terry Nation
5) Carnival of Monsters by Robert Holmes
6) Evolution of the Daleks (Daleks in Manhattan) by Helen Raynor
7) The Awakening by Eric Pringle