Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens

I'm away a lot this week, so the next Spartacus review will go up Thursday or Friday, and the next Doctor Who review (the season finale!) will go up next Sunday.

Spoilers follow.

After a somewhat underwhelming season, this was a pretty decent episode, though just how good it is will be revealed next week, since this is part one of a two-parter and you never know how these things are going to work out. I was expecting the Pandorica to unleash all the familiar bad guys we'd seen in the trailers, what with it sounding like it ought to be a box which unleashes all the evils of the universe and all, but it turned out to be cleverer than that. Just as I was making my customary remarks, wondering why people in science fiction insist on naming ships that fly towards the sun 'Icarus' and ships travelling long distances 'Odyssey', when they ought to know by now that that never ends well, it turned out that the Pandorica has, in fact, deliberately been named after Pandora's Box, because Amy liked the story as a child. (Though I also think that's where the logic of it fell down a bit - what sort of little girl says Pandora's Box is her favourite story?!). The Pandorica itself, meanwhile, looks exactly like Baldrick's time machine, leading us briefly to speculate that Blackadder is, in fact, the most evil being in the universe. Anyway, it was a neat inversion of the usual significant naming conventions and tied in to a nice, twisty revelation.

Said revelation also made sense of a few other things, the main one being, why would only people the Doctor met with Amy get together to warn him about the TARDIS exploding? I assume that is to do with this constructed story as well (except for poor Vincent's painting, which presumably was a genuine vision?). Liz Ten is still pretty awesome, so it was fun to see her, and River is still fun, intriguing, and a nice break from companions who haven't a clue what's going on (that's not a criticism - the companion has to be clueless so the Doctor can explain the plot to the audience - but it's still nice to see someone who knows what she's doing).

I was all on my high horse about Cleopatra being in Britain, briefly, but that was explained too, and I liked the entrance of the commander, who pointed out she's both in Egypt and (long, by this point) dead. I am a bit confused about the Romans though - are they all Autons, then? In which case, is it really AD 41, or not? Are there real Romans around anywhere? Will they turn up at some point?

I shouldn't draw too many conclusions before the final part next week, since I've been wrong several times already, but I am getting a feeling that Rory and Amy's story may involve convincing Rory he's really Rory (a la Bill Paterson in 'Victory of the Daleks'). I'm torn about this - I liked the storyline and thought it was very sad and affecting, but I fundamentally disagree with Steven Moffat, who thinks that brainwaves and memories make a person. I think there's more to a person than brain functions - as Rimmer put it in Red Dwarf, he's really dead, and the hologram that's left is a projection with his memories. This was my big problem with the conclusion to 'Forest of the Dead' (that, and the fact that the idea of basically being stuck in the Matrix forever didn't sound like much of a life to me). On which subject, having shown excellent restraint for most of the year, we also go our first dig at religion in this episode - people who believe in (Roman) gods are 'fools' and the military commander is too much a soldier to have any faith. Gee, thanks Moff.

I didn't see any Daleks while I was there...

Anyway, as I said, I should probably leave well alone until next week, except to wonder why they bothered to ride horses to Stonehenge when they have a perfectly good (not malfunctioning yet) TARDIS at their disposal. It was good fun, with some nice emotional moments, and hopefully will go down well (a friend of mine who's a primary school teacher said none of her kids have been talking about Doctor Who this year, which is a bit sad). So far this year, we've had only one real stinker ('Victory of the Daleks') but no really good, blow-you-away episodes either ('Vincent and the Doctor' came closest) so here's hoping that next week's finale will be a classic.


  1. Great review Juliette! If you can get on your high horse occasionally, surely the Doc and his posse can too!

    I'm always tickled when art is worked into my favourite shows so the whole opening of this episode was ethereal and fun! I couldn't wait to see Vincent's Vision in paint. They did a great job of that IMO.

    Looking forward to your next Spartacus romp. They really should get you to do the audio commentary for the boxset release later this year :)

    H Niyazi

  2. Yes, I loved the painting! Love all the van Gogh stuff.

    I'd love to do commentary! I remember trying to persuade my friends, when seeing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that I was proving a free service by providing commetary on the film for everyone in the cinema... ;) (Don't worry, I was persuaded to shut up, even as I watched them destroy archaeology!)


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