See, here’s the thing (spoilers follow almost immediately): The Wedding of River Song is, in many ways, a hot mess.
It’s tangled and confused and, as Chode McBlob said about something else, “This is all pretty darn visually stimulating, but it doesn’t make a stitch of sense.” There’s painful chess and floating cars, pyramids full of Silence, the weird eye-things finally get explained, the nice Silurian doctor gets a comeback to nurse Churchill. Amy and Rory are having problems (again); and River is being difficult (again).
It mostly hangs together in the end but it’s as close to the ‘And it was all a dream’ cop-out as I’ve ever seen Moffatt get and that’s a deal too close: turns out the Doctor’s a huge liar (oh, that’s news, thanks) and everything’s fine after all. Uh-huh. Suuuuuuure it is.
Anyway, the episode is a lot of fun. All the actors get to play other-world versions of their characters — Amy as a kind of souped-up Agent Scully is a wondrous thing — and whoever designed the look of the ‘broken time’ world was having a lot of fun.
Wedding also has a honestly sweet nod to an old series character — Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Nicholas Courtney, who appeared in his first Who in the 1968 Troughton episode The Web of Fear (remember this title; it will be relevant again) and last appeared in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode Enemy of the Bane in 2008.
A moment of silence, please: in TV, print, or radio drama, the Brigadier met every Doctor from Troughton to Tennant, travelled in the TARDIS, fought Cybermen, Daleks, Ogrons, Gell Guards, Omega, the Master, dinosaurs, the Loch Ness Monster, Autons, Morgaine, the Bane, and even got to be his own evil universe alter ego in Inferno (fucking terrifying episode but we can talk about this another time). The Brigadier was made of solid-gold awesome.
Nicholas Courtney, who played the Brigadier in every appearance from 1968 to 2008, died in 2011. As a mark of respect to a fan-favorite actor and a grand character, 11’s phone call to the home where the Brigadier had been living and his evident pain at hearing of his friend’s death could not have been bettered. The Brigadier himself would have appreciated the quietness of it and he would have highly approved of the Doctor’s subsequent decision to face up to his responsibilities. He also would have loved Amy.
I must say that at the time I watched this, the disembodied head’s last demand of the Doctor — “Doctor who?” — struck fear into my heart. If there ever was a question we didn’t need answered in the series, that’s it. At least in the obvious sense of the question. Thank goodness that Moffatt seems to have taken a somewhat lateral interpretation of his own script and we’re not headed full-speed for some mitichlorion-like hell.
Next time: The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe. Look away if this was your idea of a fantastic Christmas special. 🙂