Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doctor Who - The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People


At last I've gotten the chance to write this review.

Matthew Graham redeemed himself quite a bit with this two-parter. Although one of the weaker stories this series, it was still rather good. MUCH better than his previous story Fear Her which was the first story I really haven't liked since Ghost Light in 1989.

A big improvement on that was The Rebel Flesh. I've decided that to be the overall title as far as I'm concerned. I really like both titles but I feel that title fits best especially since The Almost People had the rather bland original title of Gangers. That makes The Rebel Flesh the title that stuck around so I'll give that precedence.

Arthur Darvill is again in fine form as Rory and it was very cool to see him have another girl pining after him after Amy's pre-marriage shenanigans last year. I don't think she liked that another girl was interested in her man. The good news is though that with every episode its more and more apparent that Amy has learned to appreciate her husband after taking him for granted for so long. Aside from that and the rather shocking reveal that Amy herself was a Ganger, she really doesn't get that much to do in this two-parter.

Matt Smith, however, gets twice as much to do as both "real" and ganger Doctor. As I've recently begun to realize, I prefer Smith in stories like this that are largely removed from the arc. I think these are the stories where his performance shines because he can mostly be the goofy hero which is so much fun to watch. I love the arc stories but Smith seems less confortable to me in those episodes.

The supporting cast is all really good with Sarah Smart and Raquel Cassidy in particular standing out. The only character that was a bit underdeveloped was Leon Vickers' Dicken. Other than that this two-parter really gave the story room to breathe and allow us time to get to know the characters better which for me personally makes me care just a little more when the body count starts to mount up.

I loved the idea and presentation of the Gangers. They were very creepy but you could also identify with their predicament. Great CGI. Especially the part where Jennifer's Ganger kills human Buzzer with her gaping maw was really well done and creepy.

There were quite a few issues I had with the story however:

1) For one thing, it became really confusing very quickly which Doctor we were supposed to think was real and which the Ganger was so the reveal that they actually switched places was a bit muddled. I think choosing different shoes to tell them apart was a mistake since we rarely see the characters' feet. Changing the bow tie or jacket would have worked much better.

2) I found it a bit odd they never told us why the heck they were mining acid in the first place. Is it used to make Ganger soup? What the hell was it for?

3) The Doctor pretty callously destroyed Amy's Ganger after spending two episodes fighting for Ganger rights. I realize she wasn't imbued with sentience like the others were but there were indications in the episodes that the Gangers on some level were always aware of the multiple deaths they experienced. Hypocritical much Doc?

4) The cliffhanger ending of the first part was way too telegraphed to be effective. Hearing the goop say "trust me", one of the Eleventh Doctor's catchphrases, totally eliminated any shock value. It could have been handled much better.

5) Why did Cleaves' Ganger and the Ganger Doc have to sacrifice themselves? Couldn't they have escaped in the TARDIS with the others? Or couldn't the real Doc have used his screwdriver on the crazed Jennifer Ganger while the rest were safely in the TARDIS? It seems like they sacrificed themselves only because it was in the script to do so.

Other than those complaints though I thought overall it was a very good story and I liked it. Its been a very strong series overall so even though most of the episodes were better than this, that's not really knocking it very much.

List of fifteenth stories from each Doctor from most to least favorite:

1) The Three Doctors by Bob Baker and Dave Martin
2) Warriors of the Deep by Johnny Byrne
3) The Face of Evil by Chris Boucher
4) The Rebel Flesh (The Almost People) by Matthew Graham
5) Gridlock by Russell T. Davies
6) The Dominators by Norman Ashby (pseudonym of Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln)
7) The Space Museum by Glyn Jones

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