So here’s the deal. (RAYOR: mild spoiler-ish type things ahead.)
I really didn’t enjoy either The Rebel Flesh or The Almost People that much. And despite having my DVDs of the first half of the season back in hand now — and having had them for the best part of two months now, I think — I really can’t be bothered to watch them over again. I sort of have the same relationship with them as I did with The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood in season 5. Yes, they’re good; yes, they have some interesting things to say; but they boiled such complicated, interesting conversations down into such Manichean dualities that I got very irritated.
This isn’t to say that I wanted to use the discs for Flesh/People like Frisbees as I did for Earth/Blood. No, there wasn’t anyone like Ambrose (*fists of rage*) in these episodes and I didn’t want to kill anyone. I mostly felt sorry for everyone involved, particularly Jennifer who was so badly used by the whole storyline.
And then, of course, all sympathy gets diverted to Rory ’cause man does he get a rough deal. Just…really really awful.
But I’m a) not sure why this story had to be a two-parter; and b) not sure…well, I’m just generally not sure.
If the whole point of the ‘ganger storyline is to convince us that gangers are people, too, then why does the Doctor dissolve the ‘ganger Amy? It’s no more her fault she’s a ‘ganger than it was…any of the other ‘gangers! Why doesn’t she get a chance to do her own thing like the others? If nothing else, wouldn’t she be a valuable link back to whoever has the real Amy?
And what’s with the ‘gangers anyway? Are we supposed to cheer their political and personal emancipation? or worry that they’re all going to turn out crazy huge blobs like Jennifer? And just…what…really was the point of all that?
Well, clearly, the point was to get us to the last ten minutes of The Almost People: that is, really, the only part of the show that advances the story arc at all.
Yes, there are some nice character moments outside of that — Rory and ‘ganger Jennifer; Amy and the ‘ganger Doctor or the Doctor at all, really; the Doctor and Cleves — but they’re all rather brief and not enough to sustain the whole story.
And, yes, the thing with Jennifer-the-Blob at the end is…really quite unsettling. But I’m not sure it deserved to spark a conversation in the Guardian about whether Doctor Who was getting too scary for kids! After all, that’s a conversation that’s been going on since…oh, probably about…the end of December, 1963? and it’s not very interesting. Mary Whitehouse proved just how uninteresting it could be!
Really, I feel that Flesh/People just kind of mark time to get you to the real meat of the season: A Good Man Goes to War.