The Almost People was the second episode of a two part Doctor Who adventure that attracted 5.0 million viewers at the weekend according to unofficial overnight figures. Not only did it continue and conclude the previous week’s proceedings, but it also finished on what was (and had been hyped up in the press and online) something of a major ‘to be continued’ cliffhanger, that will inevitably change how the rest of the series develops from here on in. Was it a case of double the fun, or did it become one of the many almost rans?
I found The Almost People to be quite flawed in many areas, and didn’t enjoy much of the plot or contents very much at all. For me it was possibly the weakest episode since the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat era began, and also uncannily similar to last year’s The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood two parter in many ways, which I didn’t like for the same reasons that I shall attempt to explain later.
Last week’s The Rebel Flesh was a pretty average ‘base under siege’ story (something the show has done many times over the years), with a small group of characters that I found difficulty in warming to, or caring about. The thing that pervaded to me the most throughout though was, what is this exactly about? What’s the central premise of it? Where is it going towards? The surface plot elements, such as the idea of what it is to be ‘human’, have of course been done before. Bladerunner, for one, and more recently in sci-fi by the remake of Battlestar Galactica with the ‘human’ Cylons.
Still, the cliffhanger of the ‘flesh’ Doctor gave me enough hope that this week’s would have enough to get it going, and for a central story to emerge that would entertain me. What we got though was just more random plot elements and motives thrown in, that seemed to me to be just getting in the way, and also a little bit irritating. First we have a pile of flesh bodies. Then we get a character who all of a sudden has a blood clot (and I’m still not sure why someone else kept sneezing last week). Oh wait, a ‘wall of eyes’, that’s creepy, but was it for? These were still being dropped into the plot with only fifteen minutes to go. Not to mention the entrance of a CGI monster.
And some of the better elements of The Rebel Flesh get buried somewhat this week. Rory, who’s growing relationship with Jennifer had been quite interesting to me, disappears from the action and is barely seen for the first twenty minutes. And what was with the snowglobe last week that the Doctor kept bringing out? Did that ever get explained?
It’s only when we get to ‘that’ cliffhanger, that I realise the point of the previous two episodes, to get to this point. To give us a moment where Amy lets slip the secret of the Doctor’s death to him (and I’d guessed at the start that the two Doctors would swap places), as well as dangle a big carrot of a ‘second’ Doctor who can return later in the series to be the one that dies at the start of it.
It was a big cliffhanger though. The Amy we thought we know is revealed to be a flesh copy, and destroyed in front of our (and Rory‘s) eyes by the Doctor inside the Tardis. She is then revealed to be seen waking up in an unknown location, pregnant and being held captive (unconscious) by the Eye Patch Lady, the mysterious figure we have been seing brief glimpses of throughout the series. Thus explaining the results of the pregnancy scan the Doctor keeps performing on her that constantly flips between positive and negative.
So that was why I didn’t enage very much with this pair of episodes. In the same way that The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood from the previous season seemed a long way round to get to the cliffhanger of Rory‘s (first) death, I couldn’t help but feel that these two had wasted my time in trying to care about them.
I’m hoping (and expecting) for better from next week’s mid-season finale A Good Man Goes To War, as we will see the search for Amy begin, and from what we’re led to believe, finally get to the origins of the character of River Song and her relationship with the Doctor.
The next episode will air on BBC One and BBC One HD next Saturday 4th June at 6.40pm.
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