Sunday, May 3, 2015

Aragon vs. Anderson: Let's Kill Hitler

Author's Note: Before I put in my traditional intro to these spoofs, I should state that I believed A Good Man Goes to War and the following episode Let's Kill Hitler were a two-part story.  This was due to the "To Be Continued..." bit at the end and because Steven Moffat wrote both.  I now think I might have been wrong, but don't feel the need to change that.  Therefore, there is only one review for these two stories under the umbrella title of River's Secret Parts 1 & 2

Now that I have a few minutes free, I thought I'd go back to one of my great passions...bashing The Whorist (or as it's generally known, The Nerdist), in particular their Doctor Who reviews by one Kyle Anderson.

Mr. Anderson (now doesn't that sound sinister) in my view, has rarely if ever met a Doctor Who post-Rose story that he hasn't loved.  I don't mean liked.  I mean L-O-V-E-D, to where that particular episode is the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time...until the next episode when THAT becomes the Best Doctor Who Episode of All Time.  It's gotten to be almost a point of parody to see how Anderson rarely finds fault with a Doctor Who episode.  I don't mean just to nitpick on a few things.  I mean give a bona-fide negative review.  Even I, someone who has been vociferous in my condemnation for many NuWho episodes, do admit when I see a good one (like Flatline or Mummy on the Orient Express).  Anderson, however, will almost always find something to wax rhapsodic about, even on something as atrocious as In the Forest of the Night

I was intrigued by this, so a little research was required.  I went as far back as I could regarding Anderson's Doctor Who reviews, and the earliest one I could find was the Series/Season Six opener, The Impossible Astronaut.  What I've done is taken Kyle Anderson's review verbatim, and offered my own 'translation' to the text to see what Anderson is, in my view, really saying.  I also throw in my own thoughts as to what is being said.

I hope this will be a fun and informative journey into the strange mind of the Functioning Nerd.

I present Part 8 of The Nerdist as Whore: Let's Kill Hitler* .  My 'translations' are in red.

You have to love a show that isn’t afraid to do something different, and Doctor Who in the Moffat era certainly does things differently.
You have to hate a show that isn't afraid to destroy all that came before, and Doctor Who in the Moffat era certainly does things destructively.

Expositional episodes are a necessary evil of season-spanning arcs, but there are ways to do this in an unboring way. While some shows give you an info-dump of people talking in a room (*cough* Torchwood *cough*), others surround exposition with off-the-wall craziness.
Instead of trying to integrate exposition into the story (which a good writer would do) or go the easy route and basically tell you things (a Torchwood flaw), we're going to throw things in a clearly bonkers way.
It’s pretty clear from watching “Let’s Kill Hitler” that the Moff sat down and said, “Okay, I want to answer a whole bunch of River Song-related questions; how can I do that in the most outlandish way possible? Hmm.”
Never trust a reviewer who refers to the person he's reviewing by a cutesy nickname.  It suggest the reviewer is partial/prejudiced towards his subject, more a fan than a, what was it, 'analytical critic'.  It's pretty clear from watching Let's Kill Hitler that "The Moff" sat down and said, "Okay, I want to expand on the unimportant self-important character of River Song and make her the focus of Doctor Who; how can I do that in the most outlandish way possible?  Hmm."
And it’s true; we get all kinds of answers about River Song and wrapped up a few mysteries from “The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon,” but we also get shrink rays, shape-shifting robots, and Rory punching Hitler in the face.
It's not true; we got all kinds of nonsense about River Song and muddied up more about both her and the show, but we also get shrink rays, shape-shifting robots, and Rory punching Hitler in the face.  In short, a whole pile of steaming shit. 
Oh, Doctor Who, I sure did miss you.

Oh, Doctor Who, I sure do wish they'd cancel you.

I usually like to save the things I didn’t like about the episode for the end of the review, but since it began the episode, I see no reason not to lead with it. The whole “Mels” idea is really, really stupid.

I usually like to throw a few negative comments to suggest that I'm writing a balanced review, but since something so stupid that even I couldn't go along with it began the episode, I see no reason why not to start.  The whole "Mels" idea is really, really stupid (even for me).

Sorry, Moffat, good try, didn’t work for me. Felt like a cop out. She’s Melody Pond’s second (I’m assuming) iteration after we saw her regenerate at the end of “Day of the Moon,” and so we’re supposed to believe that Madame Kovarian & Co. spent huge amounts of time cultivating this plan, a human/Time Lord hybrid to kill their sworn enemy, the Doctor, but instead of waiting until she’s a grown up and sending her to kill him at some various point in his history, she’s just allowed to go grow up with her own parents on the off-chance that the Doctor might come back?

Sorry, Moffat, it was inexplicably bad, and if it didn't work for me, can you imagine for those who don't suck up to "The Moff"?  It was beyond a cop-out.  It was obvious, idiotic, and nonsensical. 

First, she would be Melody WILLIAMS (why do people insist on going along with this "Pond" nonsense?), and we now have to accept that humans (or human/Time Lord hybrids) can regenerate. Second, this would not be her second iteration after we saw her regenerate at the end of Day of the Moon.  The dialogue from that episode clearly states that it's happened before.  How many times before we don't know, but the little girl from Day of the Moon (who is the future River Song) apparently regenerated before (otherwise she wouldn't be conscious of the transition.)  I think I'm going to get ahead of myself, but I ask for a little leeway.

OK, let's go over some things here.  Sydney Wade, the little girl from Day of the Moon, was between nine and ten when she was on the episode.  "Mels" (how clever of Moffat to point out how close this name was to "Melody", who in turn was the Pond/Williams' own daughter River Song) grew up with her own parents.  That means that somehow, the little girl would have to a.) travel from New York, where she regenerated, to Scotland, b.) regenerate into a baby to match the ages of Amy and Rory, and c.) maintained control over her aging process as she, if we go by chronology, would have been old enough to be her own mother's mother by the time Amy and Rory themselves were born. 

Let's remember that the little girl regenerated around January 1970 or December 1969 at the earliest if we're generous (the regeneration having taken place six months after the Egg Landing on July 20, 1969).  Amy and Rory were clearly born in the 1980s, a good ten years minimum from their 'daughter's' regeneration.  How would "Mels"/Melody/River be able to control her own regeneration to that degree?  What would be the chances of her growing up with her own parents (and being a constant source of trouble for them)?  No one, not even I, Kyle Anderson, who usually happily goes along with a lot of nonsense because you wrote it,  can possibly give a rational answer as to how someone who regenerated in 1969/1970 New York could then regenerate at an unknown time from a little girl to apparently a baby in 1980s Scotland with a gap between the two where we know nothing of what came between.

OK, on the baby thing, maybe she wasn't one when she met her mother (and sperm donor), but she still would have had to have been close to their age.  She also, despite what we saw, have somehow to be conscious of the fact that she could regenerate.  It can't be a surprise to someone who by her own admission in a regeneration prior, is fully aware of it.

Or am I missing too much?       

They’re from the future, they would know exactly when he’d come back, which we saw in “The Eleventh Hour,” and she’d have been there waiting for him. But not only does she completely seem to miss the events of that episode, the one where giant EYEBALL THINGS come from the sky and say stuff about destroying the Earth, we’ve never even heard of Mels until just now, when we see a ridiculous set of flashbacks showing us she’s been there all the time, but just out of our frame of knowledge.

The Moff just forgot his own already convoluted timeline in order to give us some sort of wild twist.  He thought he could paper over things by suggesting that this "Mels" was there all along, even though she never showed up or was mentioned until now, because he thinks his audience is stupid.  Normally we are, but sometimes he goes one too far for even us to accept.   

And just because the Doctor comments on never having heard of her, it’s still not okay. Mentioning how it doesn’t make sense isn’t the same as it making sense.

And just because the Doctor comments on never having heard of her, it's still not okay.  Pointing out the obvious is not the same as providing an actual answer. 

And “Mels,” for some reason, wants to go kill Hitler… Why? Just so there can be the title line, “Let’s Kill Hitler.” End of. Explanation over. Just for the ever-loving fuck of it.

Dear God, this is too stupid even for me.  She wants to kill Hitler because...she wants to kill Hitler?  Even I, most sycophantic of creatures, can see through something so patently stupid that I'd lose what little credibility I have by not pointing out the fallacy of all this.  We don't get an explanation for something we know will never happen (here's a spoiler, Hitler wasn't killed), and this time, I'm really angry that I don't get an explanation for things. 

It would have been much more likely, and less hokey, if they’d have just accidentally crash-landed in Berlin in 1938 because she shot the TARDIS (which I rolled my eyes at, but whatever, it’s fine) and then they could have gotten mixed up with the tiny pilots of the robot people and that, which is something I thought was a neat idea.

I could come up with a better way to get Hitler into this story.  We could get something like we did back in the early days of Doctor Who, when the Doctor would find himself involved in the past by accident, like in that almost forgotten story The Aztecs (something we NuWhovians wouldn't bother with because it's in black-and-white...and no one really remembers anyway).

However, to please my Lord and Master, his little robot people was a great idea. 

I’m not just crapping on Moff’s parade to be contrary;

I'm just crapping on Moff's parade because a broken clock is right twice a day, and this is my time of day.

it just seemed like a huge convenience to explain something he didn’t feel like thinking about anymore.

Even Moffat got tired of building up this legend of River Song, a secondary character that could have worked but which he got too enamored of.  A lot of Let's Kill Hitler was extremely convenient.

I LOVE the idea of seeing Melody Pond in an earlier regeneration, and some crazy woman coming in and acting River-ish only to reveal she is, in fact, River Song herself earlier in life is fantastic.

I'm into cougars (though for me, Grandma Moses is a cougar).  I HATE the idea of seeing Melody Pond (and again, shouldn't it be Melody WILLIAMS?) in an earlier regeneration because...HUMANS CANNOT REGENERATE.  Just because she was conceived by the Power of the Holy TARDIS (aka Moffat declared it so) does not make it plausible, let alone real within the confines of the show.  Wow, some crazy woman coming in and acting River-ish only to reveal she is, in fact, River Song herself earlier in life is beyond stupid. One thing we do learn, though: River Song, regardless of whatever regeneration she is, maintains the same personality: obnoxious bitch.  I guess the idea that the Doctors change personalities a bit at each regeneration kind of goes out the window now, right Moff? 

I just think the entire “Mels” thing was a way of making it so they can stop looking for baby Melody, because, oop, wouldn’t you know it, she’s been safe and sound with her parents the whole time.

I just think the entire "Mels" thing was a way of making it so they can stop looking for baby Melody, because, oop, wouldn't you know it, it would be a waste of time and would turn Doctor Who into The Master (Lee Van Cleef version): every week they search for the girl, only to find she 'just left'.  It's already bad enough that Doctor Who has now become about The Companion, but even the eternal search for River Song would have been too much to bear. 

Anyway, despite all that griping I just did, I actually, overall, quite enjoyed the episode.

SHOCKED that Kyle Anderson liked a
Doctor Who episode!

Once the regeneration happened, I was well on board.

Once what was clearly impossible and a destruction of all Canon happened, I was well on board to continue metaphorically rimming Steven Moffat.

The idea of weird future vigilantes driving a shape-shifting robot is pretty brilliant,

The idea of weird future vigilantes driving a shape-shifting robot is pretty brilliant...even if a variation of this idea came from that Eddie Murphy vehicle Meet Dave.

and going back in time to make war criminals experience “hell” is a very interesting notion, though I don’t think I’m crazy about River being a worse offender than Adolf Hitler, implying killing the Doctor is far worse than exterminating millions and millions of innocent people.

Gee, that moral equivalency thing is getting out of hand.  However, I'm now genuinely debating whether one of the most vile, repulsive creatures in history deserves to be compared to Adolph Hitler.  However, if you want to talk about the person who killed the Doctor, I think we need look no further than the current showrunner.  OK, he's not Hitler and there shouldn't be any comparison, but he did kill the Doctor.

Hitler and Berlin itself were completely superfluous, but I guess it was worth it for me simply to have Rory punching Nazis.

Hitler and Berlin itself were completely superfluous, but I guess I won't mind so long as my avatar gets to do something we all have wanted to do.  So what if Hitler in Let's Kill Hitler had nothing to do with the plot?  Weren't you impressed with Rory Pond?
No two ways about it, Rory is a badass.

And what about Matt Smith? He’s nothing short of great.

Oh, was Matt Smith in this?  Hardly noticed given how River Song-centric Let's Kill Hitler was.  Oh, and what about Matt Smith?  He's nothing short of awful.

How difficult must it be to play like you’re slowly dying in agony for half an episode?

It isn't too hard, given the audience has slowly been dying in agony for half an episode.  Then again, I'm pretty sure a good actor can pull it off.  For the moment, we're stuck with Matt Smith, so we get what we can take.

This episode expressed all that the Doctor represents, and it’s his compassion for his friends that allows Melody/River to begin to realize that he might not be such a bad guy after all.

Well, since this is suppose to be one of the great love stories of all time, we have to get it started somehow, but now I do wonder, when exactly is her first meeting with The Doctor?  After all, isn't her first meeting his last?  How long can timey-wimey cover all this?

It also plays up the notion that the Eleventh Doctor, deep down, does not like himself,

Join the club.

as evidenced by the scene in the TARDIS where the voice interface activates using a hologram of himself. This has been hinted at many times over the last season and a half, most notably in my favorite series 5 episode, “Amy’s Choice.”

I liked Amy's Choice, and it was definitely used to great effect via the Dream Lord.  However, bet that thread will get dropped before Smith departs.   

I also liked the going-through of previous companions as holograms and his response that he feels guilty about all of them. The joke maybe only needed to be made once, but you can’t show Rose and then not show Martha and Donna, to be fair. Also, he did the “Doctor Who?” joke. Cute.

Having been a long time since we've seen River's Secret Parts 1 & 2, but I don't remember the previous Companions popping in, so I'm not going to fight this point.  However, did we see Ian or Barbara, or Polly and Ben, Jamie and Zoe, Tegan, Adric, Nyssa, or Ace?  Oh, wait, that was pre-Rose, and who really cares about that?

Also, he did the "Doctor Who?" joke.  Stupid.

The end of the episode featured River transferring all the rest of her regenerative energy (forever and ever it seems) to the Doctor to save him from the poison. That’s another big question answered: If River can regenerate, how come she didn’t regenerate at the end of “Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead?” Cuz she ain’t a Time Lord no mo’. That’s definitely also a plot convenience, but one I can live with.

The end of the episode featured River transferring all the rest of her regenerative energy (forever and ever it seems) to the Doctor to save him from the poison.  That's another big question raised: since when could Time Lords, even human/Time Lord hybrids, transfer their regenerative energy to someone else?  It does make me wonder if this was possible, why didn't the Doctor do this for the Master at the end of Vengeance of The Master Part III (The Last of the Time Lords)?  If he was so weepy about this, why not just sacrifice one of his regenerations for him?  Come to think of it, why didn't he sacrifice one of his regenerations to save Peri in Caves of Androzani, rather than go through all those hoops to get some little elixir to save her? 

Granted, it does give an explanation as to why she didn't regenerate in Forest of the Dead Part 2 (Forest of the Dead), but I think the easiest answer is usually the correct one: no one, not even Steven Moffat, considered River Song a Time Lord, or a human/Time Lord hybrid, when the episodes aired.

It is highly instructive to learn from history.  A quote from Kyle Anderson's Day of the Moon review on the potential identity of the little girl regenerating: "She’s River Song, though that seems less and less likely the more we know about River, i.e. she ain’t a Time Lord." 

How the worm turns.  Now we happily go along with something a few weeks ago, you dismissed out of hand as impossible.  We've gone from "she ain't a Time Lord" to "she ain't a Time Lord no mo'".  

Kyle, buddy, seriously ask yourself this: can River really be a Time Lord?  Does she have two hearts (I doubt she has one, but that's irrelevant)?  Did she in her current state ever give any indication pre-Let's Kill Hitler that the possibility of her being a Time Lord or human(?)/Time Lord hybrid?  Steven Moffat declaring River Song a Time Lord (or human(?)/Time Lord hybrid) doesn't make it so.  No producer can arbitrarily make a declaration that alters Canon to such a degree without providing some logical explanation.  No, being conceived by the Power of the Holy TARDIS isn't an explanation.  It isn't even logical.  Did we get any sense that River was a Time Lord or part-Time Lord in Forest of the Dead Parts 1 & 2?  No. 

Then again, even though you think it's a plot convenience, you'll go along with it because...    

Now, I really doubt her saving the Doctor will entirely undo the brainwashing done to her as a child, but now she has an inner conflict which is quite interesting.

Now, I really doubt we'll touch on much of anything having to do with her brainwashing, a plot point which is now hopelessly in tatters.  Let's see: she grew up with Amy and Rory as an obnoxious and crime-prone black girl (no subtle racism/sexism there) while also being controlled for decades by Madame Kovarian and the Silence simultaneously.  I say "simultaneously" because even accounting for regeneration, can you really go back to being the same age in two different time periods in two different places at the same time?  Remember, "Mels" grew up with Amy and Rory, so it stands to reason that she would be their age, including nine.  Nine is also around the same age the girl in the spacesuit is when she calls for the Doctor and Richard Nixon's help. 

Every time the Doctor has regenerated, he may look younger (or older) than his predecessor, but the ageing process continues (i.e. he doesn't get younger but older).  He isn't Merlin (probably).   If Regeneration A was 456 when he stared, when Regeneration B comes around five years later, he's now 461.  If we accept that the regenerating child in Day of the Moon and Mels are one and the same, then we also have to accept a lot that doesn't hold up.

We have to accept that River is so powerful she can freeze and control the ageing process (even though she herself is not fully aware that she is part-Time Lord, at least I think she isn't aware). 
We have to accept that River can be abducted as a child by a group of aliens plotting the assassination of the Doctor and that she is growing up with her parents at the same time, putting a character in two different places at once.
We have to accept that Time Lords can be created by two humans having sex aboard a TARDIS.    

The sad thing is, though, River has now completely lost all of her mystery.

The sad thing is, though, we won't be able to make up a sensible backstory for River.  She's used goods, and all that fanfiction, not to mention the idea of a sensible explanation for things, kind of went out the window with this nonsensical stab at spectacular. 

We know everything about who she is, where she came from, how she knows the Doctor, and why she’s a criminal. The only thing we don’t know is if she is the person in the astronaut suit who kills him. My instincts say that’s still too easy. We’ll see.

Always listen to your instincts.

“Let’s Kill Hitler” brought Doctor Who back with some continuity-thrashing revelations and some crazy-weird ideas, but for the most part, it was a solid 48 minutes of fun.

Let's Kill Hitler brought Doctor Who back with some continuity-obliterating nonsense that makes a mockery of not only established Canon from the 1960s, but from the revived series as well.  For the most part, I was pleased with 48 minutes of blanket stupidity.  Then again, I would be pleased with 48 minutes of the Indian-head test pattern if it had Doctor Who in the place of Sitting Bull, which in reality would have been better television than Let's Kill Hitler. 

Really glad Doctor Who is back on our telly screens and we can watch and talk about a show that consistently entertains. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have Friday’s Torchwood to watch…

Really depressed Doctor Who is back on our "telly" screens (don't I sound so British) and we can watch and talk about a show that consistently enrages and disappoints.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I still have Moffat's check to cash...


  1. Real Time Lords (within the show of course. lol) Can Transfer their Regenerations. or At least the High Council can. Remember 'The Five Doctors' where the High Council told the Master that if he went and rescued the Doctor in the Death Zone, They'd give him a Brand new Set of Regenerations. I took that to mean another 12.
    Then during the trial of 'Trial of a Time Lord' Part 4 The Master reveals that the Valeyard was promised the Doctor's Remaining 6 Regenerations. So yes, it's possible. Which would create something of a time Anomaly wouldn't it? I mean if they make it so the Doctor could no longer Regenerate, that would most likely Change the Valeyard's past and could potentially prevent him from coming into existence at all.

  2. In the case of "The Five Doctors", I always thought the offer of more regenerations came from Time Lords being able to create the regeneration cycle somewhere/somehow and offer a new series to those who became TLs. We should always remember The Master had stolen Tremas' body, so whether he could have regenerated in a stolen non-TL body is a subject of more debate.

    I also thought that the Valeyard could have taken the remaining regenerations from the Doctor after the Doctor would have been executed because TLs still have them w/in them after their premature deaths. Maybe not, as we never heard of the Castellan regenerating after getting killed (should have gone with the Mind Prove, Casty).

    That point is a bit muddled, but still, can someone like River Song (whose status as an actual Time Lord is not settled)so easily and freely transfer regenerations to someone of her choosing?


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