Review: Doctor Who – 6×6 – The Almost People

The Almost People

In the UK: Saturday 28th May, 6.45pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Saturday 28th May, 9pm/8c, BBC America

Hey ho. Another episode of Doctor Who has aired. Can you tell I wasn’t enthused by this episode either? Let’s face it: it’s basically a tribute two-parter to the movie Moon, isn’t it? And that’s probably the best that can be said for it.

While Matt Smith playing himself twice was fun, the whole thing didn’t make a lick of sense (when did the Doctors swap? Which Doctor went mental on Amy? If the real one, why? If the fake one, doesn’t that disprove the entire rationale the Doctor gave for why he was doing what he did? And why did the Doctor then go and kill (spoiler)fake Amy if the gangers are real and conscious, etc?). Any kind of interesting moral issue as to who has ownership of a life was swept under the carpet by having only one person from each pair remaining by the end. Having the TARDIS just magically stabilise the gangers was a time-saving cheat. Rory was a moron. Amy looked suspiciously bigoted. There was no real tension. The CGI was awful. The photography was very flat and washed out.

Not the worst episode or two-parter of Doctor Who ever, but really just not worth the effort.

However, the last 10 minutes was at least interesting, given that it finally gave us an explanation for what has been going on with Amy the whole season. I’m wondering if the Cybermen have a baby-creation programme. That might be entertainingly bleak. No sign of the Silence though. Although I might have forgotten if there were.

Your mileage may vary so leave a comment below or a link to your own review

  • Chris

    I thought the swap was obvious – as soon as amy told him that she watched the doctor die. The real one went mental at amy in order to make her think he was not the real one. Killing character seemed to be about severing some form of realtime link, which wasn’t there with any of the other gangers. (Pregnant/Not pregnant etc, Frances Barber in the wall)
    What I didn’t understand was WHY they swapped – he needed to learn something about the flesh so had to trick amy in order to do it?
    The real question for me was.. is it possible that the doctor which died in the original episode, was in fact flesh…

  • MediumRob

    “I thought the swap was obvious – as soon as amy told him that she watched the doctor die. The real one went mental at amy in order to make her think he was not the real one.”
    So the real Doctor was acting like a complete sh*tbag in order to make the fake telepathically linked Amy think he was the fake Doctor so he could find out whether gangers could be good, based on whether fake Amy could be confused into thinking the ganger Doctor was the real Doctor, and then so he could kill the probably different fake Amy.
    Hmm.
    Someone posted this on a mailing list I’m on and I pretty much agree with it:
    I think dramatically it’s horrifically botched. A little thought reveals that the Doctor probably isn’t flagrantly breaking the moral rule the previous two episodes have painstakingly set up, but even so that’s the immediate appearance, and it distracts from the conceptually rather brilliant reveal which follows.
    It’s particularly problematic because Graham’s script has spelt out the “gangers = humans” message with such painful earnestness that even the most stupid or distracted viewer will have taken it in, but it takes an intelligent and vaguely engaged viewer to see why, in the light of that, the Doctor’s not being a sadistic murdering bastard. Giving a proportion of the audience that impression, unless you mean to, needlessly undercuts the drama.
    You can sort of see how it happened:
    * * *
    STEVEN: Matthew, I need a two-parter to lead into what I’m irritatingly going to call my “mid-season finale”. It needs to be about evil duplicates replacing people. Can you do that?
    MATTHEW: Sure. But, hey, I’ve just thought of a really clever twist! What if they’re not evil, but are actually just like the people they’re replacing? Except for turning into monsters, a bit, because that’s always cool. Can I write that, Steven? Oh please go on say I can.
    STEVEN: Er… OK. The Doctor has to kill one for my bit to work, but making that look a bit morally ambiguous wouldn’t hurt. Just make it subtle. I’ll be over there, writing Sherlock.
    MATTHEW: Subtle, sure. Right. I can do subtle.
    [Types: “EVIL DUPLICATE JENNY: Oh dear, I’m a poor helpless littlle girl who needs sympathy and protection. I’m not evil! I’m exactly the same as you! All I want is LOVE! Don’t you understand, you heartless unfeeling bastards? Except for the monster thing, I’m EXACTLY THE SAME!”]
    [Later:]
    STEVEN: Matthew, this is exactly the opposite of what I asked you to write, and I’ve been too busy with Sherlock to edit it. What the hell are we going to do?
    MATTHEW: Oh, just put in some line about how my poor helpless duplicates aren’t the same as your evil ones. I’m sure everyone will get it, after their brains will have been stretched by my challenging exploration of the nature of identiticity.
    STEVEN: Oh, I guess that’ll work. All of this is only there to lead into my clever bit, after all.

  • Stu

    (For some reason, I can’t sign in with LJ, but it’s Stu_N)
    Thing is, the gangers in the factory had become independent of their originals, and were therefore to all intents and purposes real people rather than puppets. The Amy-ganger was plumbed into real-Amy’s head (hence the pregnancy confusion and the Frances Barber bleedover) and therefore had no independent thought/free will. The Doctor was trying to find out whether anybody would be able to tell a fully-stabilised ganger from the real person and wasn’t expecting the independent-thought thing, but that had no effect on his disintegrate Amy-ganger plan. The Doctor being a sh*tbag is nothing new, surely. I always find it interesting to see how the different Doctors do sh*tbag differently. Eleven is even colder than Ten, who usually made sure his companions were out of the way at the time.
    The only one of each bit at the end was a bit over-neat, although it does give you the suggestion that the more savage characters were right (and so was Highlander) — there can be only one.
    The monster-Jennifer was very Lazarus, yes, although the CGI was better.

  • Well I liked it(-:

  • MediumRob

    @Stu
    Will investigate LiveJournal issue. Might be LiveJournal issue rather than a my blog issue.
    As for Amy-ganger, how does the Doctor know that Amy-ganger is completely dependent on real Amy and has no individual personality of her own without the link? There’s no evidence for that. In fact, when you think about it, Amy-ganger went to another universe two episodes ago and the link would still have to be maintained for that to be true – and that’s the one episode this season without the eye patch woman in it, which suggests the link wasn’t maintained and Amy-ganger was therefore at least semi-independent.
    @Jane Henry: “Well I liked it(-:”
    I think you’ll find that using science, I’ve proved that you’re wrong and you didn’t 😉

  • I liked it too: that makes at TWO weirdos Rob… 🙂

  • I also liked it. In fact, while Moff’s Who has some issues, I’m finding it a significant improvement over the entire RTD run. It’s also interesting that people I know with kids say they’re now burying their faces in parents’ laps once again, rather than tittering at the ‘monsters’ on show. They’re generally freaked out, which is what Who in part should be—horror for kids.

  • “I liked it too: that makes at TWO weirdos Rob… :)”
    At LEAST… sorry, bit distracted. Missing words sentences 🙂

  • Stu

    “As for Amy-ganger, how does the Doctor know that Amy-ganger is completely dependent on real Amy and has no individual personality of her own without the link? There’s no evidence for that.”
    There’s a bit. All nerd polyfilla, obv, as the Doctor isn’t one to sit down and explain himself, but:
    She had no knowledge of being a ganger. The self-aware gangers (including the Doctor’s) knew what they were. And why should she lie?
    The pregnant/not pregnant scans – bleedover from Real Amy and evidence that the two were linked, along with the visions of Eyepatch Lady.
    The Doctor had gone to the monastery to see whether there was any way of telling a linked ganger — the only sort there was, as far as he knew — from the real person, and whether it was possible to break the link without harming the real person. He also found out that you’d have to fully destory the ganger at the same time, or it would become self-aware and a fully viable person. But as to whether he knew, absolutely, that the ganger-Amy didn’t have any self-will? He gambled, and took an incredible risk with the lives of his friends. Which is what he’s been doing for years and years, and is the sort of thing that adult viewers notice and children probably don’t.

  • As you know I’m not a scientist Rob, I can’t possibly respond to that(-: However, I do like Stu’s explanation.
    The reason I did like it was because it was scarier then the previous week & I thought there were interesting moral dilemmas & while I’m not entirely sure why the Doctor killed the Amy Ganger, I don’t think he did it maliciously – he did say I’ll try to be humane. I loved the ending as well. That was great. And I’m sorry, I know you don’t, but I do like Rory. And I liked the twist that Amy being so suspicious of the Gangers turned out to be one.

  • Stu

    “I’m not entirely sure why the Doctor killed the Amy Ganger”
    He wanted to break the connection between the ganger and the real Amy, and the most humane way to do that was to disintegrate the ganger completely. Otherwise he would have created another, completely viable, self-willed version of Amy — and he’d just seen the horrendous problems that would lead to.

  • MediumRob

    “”I’m not entirely sure why the Doctor killed the Amy Ganger”He wanted to break the connection between the ganger and the real Amy, and the most humane way to do that was to disintegrate the ganger completely. Otherwise he would have created another, completely viable, self-willed version of Amy — and he’d just seen the horrendous problems that would lead to.”
    But that still gives us the problem that ganger-Amy is a semi-independent creature, capable of maintaining physical stability and sentience even when not in the same universe as the original Amy. In other words, she’s alive!
    So sure, the Doc is killing ganger-Amy in order to save real Amy, but it’s an actual murder, as opposed to a disconnection – cf the big pile of obsolete dead fleshbots in the episode as well, the fact that fake girl can remember all the previous times she died as a ganger, etc.
    Equally, why does he murder her at that moment? Why doesn’t he keep fake Amy around until he’s sure nothing bad will happen to real Amy? Is it that Amy’s giving birth at that point? Because you know, that’s the exact moment you want a potentially life threatening thing like that to happen, isn’t it? That’s more of a nitpick though.

  • Stu

    He knew that disconnecting someone from their ganger wouldn’t harm them, because he’d just met a whole bunch of people who were disconnected and they were fine.
    As to everything else, hey, we’re talking about someone who committed double genocide not long ago. Time Lord logic. I never said it was a good idea!

  • SK

    Oh, as if the Doctor’s never killed anyone in cold blood before.

  • MediumRob

    After two episodes of arguing that killing gangers is bad? That would be fatally undermining your argument. I’m not saying the Doctor doesn’t kill – I’m saying the episode is badly written.

  • SK

    Oh, the episode is most certainly badly written.
    But the Doctor is also a huge hypocrite (and he always has been). So just the very fact of him killing a being even after spending two episodes arguing that killing them is bad isn’t what makes it badly written — what makes it badly written is the fact that it mainly involved two groups of people standing in separate rooms shouting while they tried to pretend that something dramatic was happening.

  • This may be a new Toobits Award – Worst Plot Point of the Year…..

  • Mark Carroll

    I’d add, the initial killing of one of the gangers felt painfully stereotypically third-doctor-era liberal-vs-conservative-viewpoints, and Flesh-Jennifer appeared to be a bit too unstably barking mad to be plausibly persuasive, though the trick with a couple of her was a nice touch. Largely it veered between predictable and implausible. The difficulty with the TARDIS was rather with a single bound Jack was free and we seemed to set up an interesting tactical situation and then explore approximately no interesting aspect of it whatsoever.
    I also couldn’t really keep track of the layout of the place nor what was really going on. I’d see corridors and rooms but really have no concept of how they related to one another, making it hard to tie it together into a coherent situation rather than a series of less-connected excerpts. Perhaps that was just a casualty of editing.

  • Mark Carroll

    My wife liked “classic” Doctor Who partly because it explored things in a more leisurely way. She liked this story too partly because it didn’t feel too rushed and more because it wasn’t as confusing as some of the other stories.

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