The Problem With the Ponds


While I enjoyed Night Terrors in a broad sense, it highlighted a problem that only gets bigger with each subsequent episode. It's becoming impossible to ignore Rory/Amy's complete passivity in scenes that don't involve the Doctor. Whenever they're left to themselves, they simply let things happen to them instead of acting to control their own narrative.

You know, if these two weren't so charming, they would have literally nothing going on. I've watched Doctor Who since the beginning, and through good companions and bad companions, there's one constant: a persistent curiosity, a desire to learn about the universe and explore and just live in a different way.

I've never seen two characters with less curiosity. Case in point, Rory's reaction to the copper pan being made out of wood: "That's stupid." It was a line that sort of worked because of Arthur Darvill's always wonderful delivery, but come on. No interest in why/how these doppelgangers exist? As in The Doctor's Wife, they are left to run around corridors and be manipulated. They lack agency.

It makes me think back to Girl in the Fireplace. Even Mickey the Idiot, while freaking out at the body parts on the ship, wanted to know why the body parts were there.

Not these two. Giant glass eye? Time to get out, despite the fact that the Doctor specifically tasked them with finding the source of the distress call. They don't know about George, so it would be reasonable to conclude that the weird house is involved somehow, and therefore they ought to stay and investigate. But they make their decision to hightail it before they find out that people are turning into dolls, before there's any palpable danger at all.

Which brings us to the next issue. Amy's plan belongs in the annals of dumb plans. Creatures that convert you through touch? LET'S BARREL THROUGH THEM! But even that's forgivable, because at least they're being proactive. What's not forgivable is that there was literally no consequence to Amy being turned into a doll. The only follow-up was a lame quip at the end.

Have the writers lost interest in these two now that they're married? I thought that at the end of the first half of the season the writers would take advantage of the renewed purpose that the Ponds had, to find their daughter. I know this episode was aired out of order, but they could have and should have shot an extra scene to convey that they still care about their missing kid.

But no. I think Kate Beaton perfectly expresses my frustration with their continued lack of reaction to their disappeared child in her dramatization of The Great Gatsby (seriously, go read the whole comic, then browse the archives):

Screen shot 2011-09-04 at 3.47.09 PM.pngScreen shot 2011-09-04 at 3.47.20 PM.png

I'm not saying they should turn into Michael from Lost (repeat after me: "MAHHH BOY!!!!!") But as they continue to behave like they don't care about their daughter, we are forced to wonder what, then, they do care about. So far, the answer is "nothing in particular, but occasionally each other." And that's disturbing.


This episode suggests two ways for their character arc to resolve itself satisfactorily. George's story has a seemingly happy ending, but what would happen if it didn't? Perhaps we'll find out through Melody. What if her abandonment by her parents causes her to turn to the dark side? What happens to George can only have happened if his parents weren't giving him the love that he needed. (This may seem like a chicken or the egg question, but George's fear of rejection must have come before those fears physically manifested, no? Which means there must have been an inciting incident, or an ongoing rejection of George).

Or, if Moffat wants to go really dark, what if their knowledge of River Song has left no space in their hearts to love their child, causing them to willfully reject Melody just as George is very nearly rejected in this story?

Remember in the previous episode, when the Doctor asks Sexy to show her someone he hasn't screwed up, and it brings up young Amy? I wonder if it somehow turns out that he feels guiltiest of all about what happens to Amy, that by taking her time traveling, he not only spoiled her youth but deprived her of the ability to even love her own daughter.

While I have general faith in Moffat's control of the River Song story arc, it would be a real shame if the Ponds' remaining storyline only exists in service to that story, which increasingly seems to be the case. They've become like post-college slackers, happy to continue on as they have been, hanging with their buddy The Doctor, but don't really have any desires or ambitions of their own. Hopefully this changes soon.


It's worth noting the lyrics to the creepy Doll Song (courtesy of writer Mark Gatiss's twitter. He wrote this week's episode.):

Tick tock, goes the clock, and what now shall we play?
Tick tock, goes the clock, now summer's gone away?
Tick tock, goes the clock, and what then shall we see?
Tick tock until the day that thou shalt marry me.
Tick tock goes the clock, and all the years they fly
Tick tock and all too soon, you and I must die
Tick tock goes the clock, he cradled her and he rocked her
Tick tock goes the clock, even for the Doctor....

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45 Responses to “ The Problem With the Ponds ”

  1. Even if the real reason it seems like Amy and Rory are utterly unconcerned about their child IS down to poor writing, I submit to you this:

    As a human from a time where we don't have time travel and things tend to progress in a pretty normal way, I am having a horribly difficult time trying to connect adult River Song(s) to the tiny baby in the cot. And I don't think THAT is because of rubbish writing, it is because even though it is easy to intellectually know they are one and the same, how can anyone emotionally connect a relative stranger to a baby?

    It's like when you have family friends you meet when you and their kids are really young then 15 years later you all meet up again and the kids you played with have become PEOPLE and you have to get to know them all over again, albeit with that weird feeling of obligation because of the fact you played together as babies.

    Although Amy and Rory *know* full well who River/Mels are/were (timey wimey) in their heads, I'm not sure there's any easy way for them to ever feel ('in their hearts' as it were) that she is their daughter. People just aren't really wired that way!

    Which if a possibility is actually really horrible and dark (and therefore unlikely), but explains Amy and Rory's reactions in Let's Kill Hitler.

    Also I therefore totally support your accusation that team Pond should be more distraught because I don't think the Doctor's reassuring 'don't worry she'll be fine you know who she grows up to be' is in any way reassuring at all. But I do buy that the Doctor as a timelord WOULD find it reassuring in their position, because he and his race are much more deeply OK with wibbly wobbly shenanegins...

  2. A++ use of the Kate Beaton images!

  3. completely agree, my friend. I think the main problem is that it is extremely difficult to have a standalone episode in this arc heavy season. Maybe the BBC needs to reconsider the short seasons and move to a more American 24-26 episodes? I only could wish.

  4. You make an excellent point. The companions' relative passivity has always been potentially problematic in Who, although I would argue that the trouble here isn't with the Ponds, as much as it's just with Amy. Rory has the only thing that matters to him, and he puts up with the Doctor's adventures because it's the only way he gets to be with the girl he has always loved. That doesn't make for the most thrilling protagonist, but it's completely consistent with his earlier portrayal and story. Amy, on the other hand, wants... nothing. Last season, she had motivation and traversed a rather beautiful arc; this season, she is static, which considering that she has been both Flesh and pregnant in the space of seven episodes is ridiculous.

    When it was Amy who was transformed into a doll in Night Terrors rather than -- more predictably -- Rory, I wondered if that was tacit acknowledgement on the part of the show that Rory has become a more interesting, developed and sympathetic character than Amy.

    I suspect that Amy's story isn't done, but it has certainly stalled. Melody's story should be temporally balanced, fueled by our concern for the child, as seen through the prism of Rory and Amy, and for the adult, as seen through the Doctor. As it is, the adult story is working rather beautifully, but there's an emotional vacuum on the other side, and it's throwing the whole thing a little off-balance.

    That said, of course, the show could easily reverse everything next week -- The Girl Who Waited, indeed -- and we can write this whole thing off as a problem with the scheduling of Night Terrors.

    Fascinating thoughts, and I look forward to reading more of your work. Thank you for the link!

  5. @Tom i totally see your point. IN fact, I'd love to see that disconnect play out on screen, where they admit that intellectually speaking, she's their daughter, but they can't quite accept it. Because as it stands, we haven't been given that satisfaction. They don't seem to question that at all!

    I think the Doctor is lying to them and to himself. Remember, he lived a linear, non timey-wimey life for about 700 years, far and away the bulk of his lifetime. In that time, he had family and children of his own.

  6. @oddrid I love Kate Beaton beyond all human decency.

    @DocRed that's a great idea. I fully support 24-26 episodes of Doctor Who a year! Moffat can do it!

  7. @Alastair That's an interesting point about Rory, actually. Which is perhaps why I still find him sort of entertaining while Amy just seems to be...there.

  8. I 100% agree that we need to have some emotional scene with Rory and Amy. They touched on it a little in When a Good Man Goes to War, but honestly, it now feels like business as usual. I know Who is a kids show, but if they're going to do such a f'ed up story in the first place, you've gotta show the emotional impact it has. It also bugs me that River is continually obsessed with the Doctor but doesn't seem to give a fig about Rory & Amy, her parents.

  9. On the point about the Ponds not showing much emotional involvement with George's story despite having recently 'lost' their child, I didn't find it much of a problem because they never met him, nor did they get any hint of the depth of his problems. A missed opportunity (albeit one that would have required extensive reshooting, so forgiveable in my opinion) but not really a big problem as far as this enraptured viewer was concerned.

    Their lack of agency is a good point, as they indeed did little in 'Night Terrors' beyond wander the house, looking scared. I wouldn't say the problem is exclusive to them, though: The Doctor is the star of the show and anyone would look a bit sluggish compared to him - he has all the knowledge of the universe and the energy of a ten-year old, after all. Most companions have tended to react rather than act, because for them to be too proactive would take away from the The Doctor's awe-inspiring nature, and the fact that they're supposed to be 'normal' people thrown into extraordinary circumstances - therefore wouldn't likely know how to act decisively to every new situation.

    The Ponds tend to get by on the actors' formidable charisma - while the writers tend to leave alone the fact that they're married, Gillan and Darvill do terrific work in conveying how deeply the two care about each other, which made Amy's transformation a painful moment because we knew how much Rory loves and depends on his missus for support.

    Fantastic blog, by the way, and thanks for the comment you left on my Who review. Consider yourself bookmarked!

  10. Yes! I really enjoy reading your views on this series. I felt last night's episode lacking as well because the Ponds were just... there. They didn't have any kind of story or purpose except that they allowed us to see the creepy dolls.

    I absolutely love the River arc and find her a brilliant character, but the relationship between River and Amy and Rory is strange. Like Tom pointed out, it would be very difficult for them to feel for River like she were their daughter. However, they still need to WANT to find her. Again, I know this was a stand alone episode, but I still think the search for Melody should have been addressed.

    Since I find River such a fantastic character, it's becoming hard for me to really enjoy a River-less episode. On the other hand, I look forward to next week as it seems a bit more exciting.

  11. I think you bring up a great point. I think, post-Pond baby drama, there is diminishing returns on these two as married companions. And don't get me wrong, I like both as companions, but I feel like it's time for something new.

  12. @IGPNikki that's an interesting point about it being a kid show. I've seen it frequently argued that Mark Gatiss only seems to be able to write episodes that appeal to kids, not episodes that appeal to kids and adults. This episode was an improvement in that respect, but it was lacking the complexity of adult emotion.

  13. @Xander it's true that everyone looks sluggish compared to The Doctor (apart from River and a couple of classic companions, namely Romana, Ace and Liz Shaw), but Amy and Rory just seem to meander through the house.

    Thanks for stopping by! You have a lovely site as well :)

  14. @julioinprogress That seems like a sad thing to acknowledge, though I suspect it may be true. As I said, I do find them quite charming, but the scope of narrative possibilities seem limited (either that or the writers are limiting them for a reason).

  15. The lack of concern for their daughter is in part due to the fact that this episode should have been something around the second episode of the entire new season. Around where the pirate ship was at.

    Hence the "Flesh" hint, the "put bad things in the cupboard" coming back around and hitting Hitler at a later time, etc.

  16. 1. Thanks for visiting my site and pointing me to your post. It's left me with a lot to think about and I think, on first go, that I mostly agree when it comes to Rory and Amy's passivity.

    Now, I don't think it holds universally, but certainly since the wedding, Amy has lost her drive to adventure. Of course, we haven't seen the real Amy much this season, and so I wonder if the problem with Rory and Amy's passivity this season isn't simply a result of Ganger Amy's presence. Rory is typically the passive one and Amy the aggressive one, but Rory feeds off of Amy, so if Amy (or Ganger Amy) is passive, Rory is likely going to be passive, too.

    The most notable exception to that, of course, was the Rebel Flesh/Almost People two-parter, where Rory was an active member of the trio, deciding to go off and save Jennifer. What this suggests, I think, is that it's not a matter of Rory being passive so much anymore as it is him needing to have something to fight for. I think you're right that he's not naturally a curious adventurer but at least he's not Tegan, constantly whining about wanting to go home.

  17. 2. In NIGHT TERRORS, then, we've got a Rory with nothing to fight for. We know from the start of the episode that neither he nor Amy really want anything to do with this adventure, which certainly speaks to your point about their lack of curiosity. But inside the doll house, I don't think Rory is necessarily passive so much as he is unmotivated by the situation at hand because there's nothing for him to immediately fight for. The plan Rory and Amy come up with (getting out) isn't the best or most active plan, of course, but Rory isn't saying they shouldn't investigate, but is arguing that they need to get outside to get their bearings first.

    The big problem with the two of them in this episode, then, is Amy. If Rory is going to argue for what he sees as the sensible plan, then it's Any's duty (looking at the episode from our POV) to argue for what Rory would consider the non-sensible plan - the blunder around in the dark and investigate.

    The writers need to give them reasons to be here other than they like hanging out with the Doctor. You'd think the motivation of their being a kid in trouble would be that motivation, but it seems that Rory, at least, needs some kind of personal connection to the person he's helping to really get up and go.

    I think it's too early to say the writers have lost interest in them, given what we know about Ganger Amy being around for a large part of this season. Amy was certainly active in ASTRONAUT/MOON. The next two eps seem to give us two mostly passive companions (other than Amy's swordplay in BLACK SPOT), but I haven't watched SPOT since the week it aired so I could be misremembering. Certainly, Gaiman had little interest in Amy and Rory being active in DOCTOR'S WIFE (though at least they got some good lines), but then we had an active Rory in REBEL/ALMOST, an active Rory in A GOOD MAN, then active Rory and Amy in HITLER.

    That said, what those episodes have in common is a reason for them to be active, and I think you're right that they're not curious, which can lead to passivity. It was certainly frustrating this time out to just see them play the scared people in a bad horror movie, and Gatiss should have given them something to keep them in that house, like having the little girl sounds being crying instead of laughter.

    Of course, what we really needed to see this time around was Amy and Rory sitting in the TARDIS and having a chat about Melody/River. I know this episode was scheduled for the first half of the series, but I don't know how that altered the episode we saw.

    I totally agree that the writers need to address Melody (even if it says bad things about Rory and Amy that they just want to put it in the past) and need to either give Amy and Rory a reason for being on the TARDIS or need to solidify their personas. Remember how Rose always connected better with the working class women wherever she was? It was a simple thing but it was a consistent thing and a very real character trait. Amy and Rory need something like that - it not only makes their characters seem more well-rounded, but it would help the writers out.

    Anyways, sorry for going on so long - great post that's given me something to look for going forward.

    Here's my review of NIGHT TERRORS:

    Looking forward to your thoughts as Series 6 progresses!

    -- Mark

  18. Also, thank for stopping by my site and helping me discover yours. If anyone else wants to check out my thoughts on "Night Terrors", you can find it here:

    Doctor Who 6.9 - Night Terrors

  19. Thanks Mark, that was very insightful! Tegan, in her defense, was essentially kidnapped though, and her aunt was killed in the midst of petty games between the Master and the Doctor.

    I think Rory does have real character traits, but you're right that Amy doesn't seem to anymore. I've been avoiding feminist critiques of Amy Pond, but it's becoming increasingly difficult not to view her through that lens. She really doesn't seem to exist as a character anymore.

  20. This episode is just a jumble, the only obvious problem is pond. The Doctor's and George's story line while not completely focused is good, but Amy and Rory are still not aware of even having a daughter. The line that seals it is the Doctor's line at the end "At least we are all back together again, in the flesh." There was no script revisions, no rewrite and I'm sure that if the Madame Kovarian scene was left in, it would have been another sliding view window. This episode is just placed at the wrong point in time and is just a little off. A problem for the season, is that Amy and Rory have been, "Just around for the Ride." The story for the season so far is River. Rory and Amy haven't really had much of a purpose besides to keep the doctor from talking to himself. At least so far, the overarching story for them this season is to save the doctor's life. We haven't seen them actually work actively on that since America. The last two episodes have dangled some info in front of us about the event, but with only 4 episodes to go this story is going to pick up. We are going to see, I'm sure, a redemption of Amy and Rory. They are going to be the two that figure out how this saving of the Doctor will work. Whether it will be creative and well done is yet to be seen.

  21. While I can understand the frustrations outlined in this blog of Amy and Rory's seeming passivity towards the events in this story, I quite like their reactions. They were completely on the back foot in Night Terrors, and in doing so, played the part of companion perfectly. By way of explanation, some companions have situations where they have abilities that come to the fore, and in some cases they're totally at a loss.

    For me, the companion doesn't always have to be feisty, go getters, or constantly questioning everything. Sometimes they're quite rightly scared. In this case, the purpose of Rory and Amy was to open up the other storyline. I don't have any beef with thatnat all, and se no harm with the traditional companion role occasionally falling back to getting lost corridors, if those corridors have a point.

    Reading this post does make me feel a little like an undemanding viewer in some ways (nothing wrong with having certain views challenged - good work!), certainly regarding the lack of coonnection with the River story arc. Sometimes I really don't care about the effect River Song is having on the lives of the TARDIS crew. While it might seem odd to go from LKH to Night Terrors with the River Song storyline in mind, it seems perfectly fine for them to carry on in this crazy time travel lark. Perhaps they're more proactive than they're given credit for, and they've suppressed it like any companion of the Doctor's would.

    After all, despite all the fun and highjinks, there's an awful lot of tragedy in their 'job'.

  22. My take on Amy is that we need to wait and see if there's a difference between Ganger Amy and Original Amy. I think what I've read of the feminist critique of Amy for this season has been pretty strong, but now that we know that the Amy we've been watching hasn't been Amy (since at least MOON, and perhaps even before that - the story suggests MOON but the producers have said the switch happened pre-ASTRONAUT), we need to see if she reverts back to how she was when she was introduced.

    I think, perhaps, we might find that Amy "not existing as a character" was Moffat's point, that not being Original Amy meant we were getting a different character.

    One thing that always stuck in my craw about the Davies run was his absurd idea that a duplicate of you was, in essence, YOU, or at least close enough to you that you could stand in as a substitute and everything would be cool. He tried it with the Doctor and Rose in JOURNEY'S END, and pulled it off with Pete and Jackie in DOOMSDAY.

    My hope is that what Moffat is doing is showing that Davies was wrong, and that, at least subtly, we've been shown that there is a difference between the Original You and any kind of Duplicate You.

    I hope we see some kind of obvious recognition from the characters that Ganger Amy and Original Amy are different characters, but we absolutely need to see a change in Amy's attitude away from the passive, only-here-as-a-fetish-piece character she's become.

    I think next episode will do a lot towards us finding out these answers because it appears to be an Amy-centric episode where she's purposely "dolled up" yet again. It's 2011 - she needs to be something more than "something for the dads."

    Anyway, I don't just want to be someone who incessantly posts links to his own blog, but since the duplicate thing has come up, if you're interested, I touched on the subject here:

    and here:

    I'll definitely be back to read your thoughts on the next episode, especially in regards to what it says about the Amies.

  23. Hi! Good analysis, and thanks for pointing me to your blog.

    It's fair to say that, with Moffat in charge, things that at first seem like lazy writing often have a payoff later - like the Doctor being so insanely violent earlier this season, then having that addressed outright as one of the central themes in Good Man Goes to War. So it IS possible that the very obvious inconsistency in how the Ponds are portrayed may be addressed in a future episode.

    However, I'm a little sceptical that even doing that can address the weakness in the characters overall. As you say, they seem to be unable to function much without the Doctor to direct them, a point I'd never really clocked until you spelled it out. They're both likeable enough, but lack the initiative displayed by, say, Jamie, Sarah, or even Melanie Bush.

    I loved, but had oft-repeated gripes about, Russell T Davies' tenure as showrunner, but he did know how to write a companion. Knowing Steve Moffat's skill as a writer from many other productions, it would be unlikely that he couldn't pick this up. So I guess I'm hoping for his long game justification of what he's doing, particularly as this time travelling team will apparently carry on for at least another year. In the end, the Ponds' credibility may come down to the oft-contested argument about how advisable it is to have a multi-season story arc which leaves so much unexplained until its (presumably still distant) conclusion).

  24. I haven't watched Night Terrors, so I can't comment on that, but yeah. I mean, even in the episode with the Space Whale, Amy's first inclination was to forget, not to help. Even Sarah Jane's companions wouldn't have stood for that crap, and they're children.


  25. Although the baby thing is all kinds of weird, I disagree about the Ponds being passive in the last two episodes. Amy has a stroke of genius in using the sonic screwdriver to disable the teselecta or whatever it was called), and although it might not have been the smartest thing, the passive/dull/dramatically unsatisfying thing for them to do would have been to stay in the room and do nothing.

  26. "You know, if these two weren't so charming, they would have literally nothing going on."

    The two really are really charming, aren't they? It's their chemistry that makes the passiveness of the Ponds a bit bearable.

    And you're right. Compared to the other companions, there is a certain lack of activeness with these two. But maybe that was the point? The previous companions we've seen: Rose, Jack, Martha, Donna and even Mickey and Wilfred were all very proactive--to the point that each one of them went on and did great, big, impossible things to save the world and the Doctor. Maybe Moffatt wanted to veer away from that?

    Then again, Amy (and Rory, in the episodes he was in) were proactive and curious in the Series 5 episodes. Maybe it's the being married thing? Or maybe Moffatt is trying to tell us subconsciously that it's time to let go of the Ponds...

  27. I think there's a lot of good points here. I have to wonder if it's deliberate or accidental that they seem not to care about anything much except themselves.

    The fact that Amy was a ganger for much of the season meant that neither she nor Rory were aware that she was pregnant. Once it was revealed, it was all over so quickly, they had little time to come to terms with the idea or to bond with their baby - so perhaps the writers are trying to show that there is a disconnect there (although that may be a little optimistic).

    I definitely think they've been sorely under-used this episode. Never mind the strange way that they were pulled into the doll house - once there they did nothing useful. I can think of literally nothing that they contributed to the episode, or to the successful resolution of the problems.

    How things have changed from the start of last season, where Amy was instrumental in resolving the problems for the first few episodes and the doctor almost irrelevant.

    p.s. thanks for commenting on my blog - much appreciated. For those interested, my take on Night Terrors can be found at

  28. To be honest, I hadn't realised Night Terrors was aired out of sequence until I read this. The Ponds' lack of believability makes a bit more sense now. Still, it doesn't change how baffled I am by how detached they are in Let's Kill Hitler.

    The Amy and Rory we got to know in season 5 wouldn't have stood there, waiting for the Doctor to reclaim their daughter for them. They would've grabbed Eleven on a journey to search the ends of the universe for Melody. They wouldn't stop until they find her.

    The writers could've shown them laying out plans to look for her or something to that effect. Lazy, but it's still SOMETHING.

  29. I've been trying to think of a classic Who companion who was frustrating in this same way, and you might be right -- I can't come up with one offhand. Then again, the problem's been worst in this episode and "The Doctor's Wife"; they weren't passive in "Let's Kill Hitler" so much as emotionally flat. As I said in my take on that episode (, you'd think the astonishing revelations about the fate of their child and the true identity of their best friend growing up would have led to some reaction, but rather than "everything we knew is wrong and one of the most important people in our lives was actually our daughter all along" it's more like "wow, what a crazy twist!" They react not like real people, but like actors reading a script involving their characters. Not that I blame Gillan or Darvill; they're terrific with what they're given. It's just that no one's thought to give them anything authentic.

    I also don't think we can blame the Ponds for Melody -- she was stolen from them just after she was born, and they don't see her again until she's grown into a young girl, regenerated, and then planted herself deliberately into their lives. Perhaps Mme. Kovarian told her she was abandoned as a child in aid of brainwashing her, but her affection for them as Mels doesn't seem like an act.

    This kind of long-term emotional trauma isn't something that ever really fit into the show's format, which might be why it's difficult for them to address it the way you would in a more serial show like, say, Battlestar Galactica or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When you're in the same setting week after week and not traveling to unusual places to explore them, it's natural for ongoing dramas to be worked out onscreen, and for flashbacks to show up when they're needed. For example, in those shows we'd probably see young Melody being brainwashed, get some insight into her personality and what might have shaped her personality. It seems unlikely that we will now, and it's hard to imagine that sort of thing fitting into a random episode (the way it could have in BSG).

    Thanks for letting me know about your blog! I love that you illustrated your point with Kate Beaton comics -- she's a genius.

  30. I addressed my thoughts on the chicken-or-the-egg thing with George's fears on my blog, but it brought up an interesting point which I haven't seen much since that episode last season where the guy was a living bomb and the Doctor thought it was just fine and dandy to let him go live his life.

    Now we have two people parenting a child who is technically not human, and the Doctor rather laughingly says he'll check back in around puberty. Ha! Ha! Because there's nothing at all worrying about the idea that any fear or insecurity this child has could potentially kill innocent people, or what other sorts of powers or abilities he may have that we--and the Doctor--don't know about. Sure, that's okay! I'm sure it will all be fine, until the day young George gets scared of bullies or a mean teacher and sends them all into another dimension.

    The Doctor seems less like someone who cares about humanity and more like an irresponsible child himself, messing things up and inviting babies into homes with exposed live wires and tracking back on his own timeline and otherwise being totally ignorant of possible consequences. And the Ponds, yeah, they're just sort of along for the ride; they make no decisions, do nothing but get imperiled, and have lost so much of the personality and fun that made them worth watching last season.

  31. I feel like Doctor Who has a problem right now not just with Amy and Rory but with emotional continuity in general; the Doctor's emotional reactions to things makes no more sense that Amy and Rory's [non-]reactions but we forgive him because he's supposed to be 'mysterious' (and Melody/River's characterisation in "Let's Kill Hitler" was all over the place too and handwaved as being the result of 'brainwashing' in a really unsatisfactory way) although the result is that there is no emotional thread being carried forward from episode to episode. The particular problem with Amy and Rory is that their relationship actually, really does not work: throughout last season we were presented with an Amy who wanted excitement and adventure and for whom the idea of settling down in Leadworth was anathema, and a Rory who wanted nothing more than to settle down in Leadworth with a wife and child and for whom excitement and adventure were anathema -- and there's no way of compromising on that, they want fundamentally clashing things out of life. And because Steven Moffat and his writing team are unwilling to address this and admit that without some character development on either Amy or Rory's side their relationship is broken in ways which can't be fixed by talking it out (because it will always be the case that one or the other of them is forcing the other party to do something they don't want to do) they're no longer writing any exploration of either Amy or Rory's emotional landscapes -- because if they explored how either one of them really felt about anything it would reveal this problem that they're trying to sweep under the rug.

    And the lack of reaction re: River comes from the desire to do shocking things on a show which, by its very nature, can never fully explore the dramatic consequences of those events; Amy in particular went through the really traumatic experience of not being herself, of waking up in labour in unfamiliar surroundings, of having her melt in her arms -- and never got to have an authentic reaction to that or talk about it because the moment there was a breather from the relentless unfolding of that plot it was time to have some standalone episodes. Steven Moffat has prioritised manufactured 'twists' over characterisation and emotional continuity this year in a way which makes it really difficult to engage with the show or any of the characters right now.

  32. In "The Beast Below" Amy chose to forget because she thought there was no way to help not because she didn't want or couldn't be bothered to help.

  33. That last comment was @Sara.

  34. Wow guys, so many great thoughts! I'll try and reply in kind...

    @peacockpete I don't know if it makes you less demanding. To be honest, this is the first episode where this stuff bothered me, because it seemed to highlight the stasis the characters are stuck in.

    @Mark that plot point about sending Rose off with Doctor #2 drove me absolutely nuts, but then, everything involving Rose drove me nuts. That actually felt a bit invasive, though I couldn't tell you exactly why.

  35. @Simon I think you've hit the nail on the head. Moffat has done really well on payoffs, but not so much on the journey. But he did that quite well on Coupling, so it's not like he's incapable. Btw, I've read some theories that suggest that at some point River regenerates into Mel (wild redhead screamers!)

  36. @serenitywomble that's a fair point.

    @blurred that does seem Moffat's agenda now...

  37. @encylops I feel that the show has moved far enough in that direction that they could in fact investigate those emotional responses. I think they should look to Angel for inspiration, as it was excellent at managing its many characters and multiple through lines.

  38. @Stacia coincidentally, Gatiss wrote the Churchill episode as well (which, good on you for finding the connection with the two extremely silly endings!)

  39. @Mary I think their relationship does work, but in order to find a lazy way of making it work, the writers have deprived them of their competing desires, as you say. Which is a shame, because there's great opportunity to add some real adult drama there (not adult as in sex and swearing, but the real stuff that people go through, the difficult choices, etc). For some reason the show doesn't want them to go there. Previous companions have all had to make difficult choices, but the Ponds aren't really given that opportunity.

  40. @theoncominghope
    Thanks for checking out my "Doctor Who" reviews. I think you make some excellent points here about the Ponds. I enjoyed "Night Terrors", but the Ponds do seem fairly reactive. In part, I think that their lack of a motivation is an inevitable consequence of writing such a stand-alone episode. Also, I thought I read somewhere that Gatiss originally conceived this episode as a companion-less story. So it would make sense that Amy and Rory feel a bit more "tacked-on" than usual.

    Why would Ganger Amy be different than Original Amy? I thought Amy was just essentially inhabiting the flesh body remotely. And for that matter, why would an exact duplicate of a person be any different than the original? The only way it could be different is if it were a flawed duplicate, unless you believe that there is more to a person than their physical form, and I didn't think that was the case in the "Doctor Who" universe.

  41. Have you been listening to eyepatch lady? Melody Pond wasn't abandoned by her parents and I don't think River ever feels that. Her regeneration into Mels gave her time to spend with her mother and father.

    I don't find Amy and Rory passive at all. Rory is rather a reluctant hero and I think he's passive my nature, yet he provides great comic relief but can also provide heart and emotion.

    As for Amy, it was her proactiveness that got her turned into a creepy doll. She wanted to take charge of the only thing they were in control of and let them in, take them by surprise.

    The thing is that this is a stand alone episode that wasn't shown in order. However, with the way that this is aired, the Ponds have no reason to be looking for their daughter. They know they grew up with Mels. Why would they risk messing that up? And as far as they know now, Melody is in the safest hospital in the Universe.

    The next episode is rumoured to be almost Doctor-free, so I can't wait to see your reaction to that.

    I really don't have a problem with the Ponds. I agree that sometimes the characterisation may be a little off, depending on the writer, yet I find that understandable.

    Actually, I rather adore the Ponds. It's good for the Doctor to have a loving couple onboard the TARDIS. Makes a change from all "guilt" that was created during RTD's run.

  42. One problem with the Ponds is that the writers gave themselves something hard: here are characters whose pasts have been rewritten, what, three times over their arc, so who are they, indeed? How would they react to anything? What would they remember? I loved Rory's "Oi, we're dead, aren't we" reaction because of this--direct acknowledgment that the usual rules weren't at play.

    But having raised that timey-wimey issue, it's turned into a non-sciency-wiency device: just remember hard or love hard or something, and poof! no more doll people. How about using this to get the baby Melody back, etc., etc. At this point in my spaceship tenure, my sole goal would be to develop Flesh detectors and perception filter disrupters.

  43. If I may pose a rebuttal of sorts...

    I have watched Doctor Who for a very long time and Amy & Rory's actions and their lack of agency don't seem that odd to me. Compare them to Tegan, or Turlough, or Mel, or Victoria, or Jo, or (fill in any companion except Ace here). It's strange that people have become so demanding of Doctor Who. I have half a mind to blame Cartmel, but then again, I love what Cartmel did to the series and how Davies and Moffatt more or less picked up his ball and ran with it. For all the faults I find with Moffatt's tenure, I still enjoy it more than Davies because it seems more... Whovian. No grasp of continuity - check. Choosing random plots/genres and just going with it - check. Focusing on the Doctor as opposed to his companions - big check.

    Back in the day, no one cared so much about the companions. It wasn't until Ace that companions became in the least bit interesting. And now we place a whole lot on their shoulders. Is it fair? I don't know. Could Moffatt possibly be writing in a way that fits the almost 50 years of the series, an homage of sorts? I don't see why not. But then again, thanks to Buffy, BSG, the New Adventures, and Lost, the television and Who audience has become far more demanding. We want more cohesive plots; is that a good thing when it comes to something with the baggage of Doctor Who? I don't know. Are we being a bit unfair when demanding complex human emotions from a show about a guy who won't even say his own name? Maybe.

  44. @e8122f98493d49af8394ad5df5a78248 

    Thanks for commenting on my Night Terrors review and sorry it's taken me so long to get round to commenting here. I agree that they seem to lack agency and your frustration with their seeming lack of interest or desire to question their surroundings. It's as if they're so jaded from travelling with the Doctor and seeing so many weird things that they have no capacity for curiosity left. Furthermore, I think you raise an interesting point about the River Song/Melody Pond juxtaposition. It does feel a bit as if they've just accepted that River is fine (albeit in prison) so are completely unconcerned with what happened to her in her previous incarnations. I take @3da6c605400591d23297760612296cca 's point that they knew Mels grew up with them and that they know River Song is taken care of, but by her own admission they also know that at her last regeneration she ended up as a toddler on the streets of New York. Wouldn't that cause them at least a twinge of concern for their child?

    Also @555fab6c5978d95a083049bddd0d55fc and  @2fc977e82d9f8395a0f49e6f4958bc84 , I'd been wondering myself about the Gangers. I mean the Doctor spend the whole episode proving that there was nothing different about the Gangers, how they had real feelings and all your own feelings and memories, had switched places with his own and sent another one off to be a father (afraid I can't remember the character's name), but then, without a second thought, he liquidizes Amy's Ganger. Talk about not playing by your own rules. Are we supposed to believe that with the developments in the Flesh technology they had made it that your Ganger couldn't take on your characteristics and were really only a conduit for your own mind? If so, I think there needed to be more clarity and a greater distinction made, otherwise the Doctor simply undermines all his compassionate understanding as soon as it's his friend that has been taken over. I can see that there might be an argument that only by destroying the Ganger could he prove to Rory that this wasn't really Amy and start chasing after the real Amy, as the Ganger would understandably not want to let Rory go (what with her having all Amy's memories and feelings. However, that merely emphasises the Doctor's ruthlessness, which we see surfacing again in 'The Girl Who Waited'. 

  45. I think you have some good points, and Night Terrors definetely had some problems. BUT, I think the way Amy in particular, reacts to things is quite accurate. In "A Good Man Goes To War", she says to Madame Kovarian "just leave her," in the most desperate tone of voice, and her expression and the tears in her eyes when Flesh Melody melts in front of her is heartbreaking. I think her character is on the outside quite strong but on the inside she is very vulnerable.

    In the prequel to "Let's Kill Hitler", she begs for the Doctor to find her baby. In "Let's Kill Hitler", I think they react the way they should. Think about it. They have just lost their only child, realised that she was their childhood friend and that she is someone important to the Doctor in the future. Amy's face as she says "why would she be a psychopath?" is extremely sad. 

    That being said, I did like Series 5 slightly more, simply because it seems the Ponds have taken a slight back seat in Series 6. Series 5 was about Amy, series 6 was about River.

    But you made some excellent points and it's a great blog. :)


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