Doctor Who 6.06: "The Almost People"

A column article, Shot For Shot by: The TV Squad
Paul Brian McCoy: So where were we? Right: 'Gangers pounding at the door. Humans cowering in fear. Rescue shuttle waiting for passengers. And, oh yeah -- 'Ganger Doctor. I was a little disappointed with where this episode went.

Danny Djeljosevic: You mean that it was essentially Moon but with two Doctors in it?

Paul: Not so much that as the red herrings were just so absolutely ignored this time out. The way this all played out, kind of cheapened the first part, which I enjoyed.

Danny: I thought the first part was pretty much an average Doctor Who episode, so I wasn't even all that excited for the thrilling conclusion. But I liked this episode well enough for all the effect it had coming out of the first episode's cause.

Paul: Instead of some nicely canonical bit of rejiggering, it was instead a substandard "bigotry is bad" episode. The whole two hours(ish) was really all just to set up the final few minutes. I appreciate that those last couple of minutes were excellent, but I don't think we really needed two episodes to get there.

Danny:This would have made a decent single episode, but I feel like the writer wanted to keep all the emotional beats and character bits, so he decompressed it instead of cutting anything.

Paul: Especially given the fact that The Flesh was only barely sentient and it was the Solar Tsunami that made the 'Gangers individuals. It was nice to hear Tom Baker asking about a jelly baby, though. If they weren't going to bring in a stunt Doctor, that was at least cool.

Danny: Whoa, I must have missed that.

Paul: It was during the 'Ganger Doctor's opening moments, as he's struggling with his form. It was quick, but appreciated.

Danny: This show has never been afraid to refer to previous ones, so I'll believe it.

Paul: That's really come to the forefront since Moffat took over (for the new series, anyway). What won me over to Matt Smith was the closing scene in his first episode, where he shows those big eyeball aliens all the Doctors and then steps through the hologram at the end. I got giddy. Dr. Girlfriend was not impressed, however. She still hasn't warmed to Smith.

Danny: I warmed up to the guy immediately. It helps that I was a little sick of Tennant in what little I saw of Season 4. Plus, I like bowties.

Paul: It seems the ladies are a little clingy to Tennant for some strange reason. And I liked the guy, but he wasn't My Doctor.

Danny: I liked him at first, but he started to irritate me after a while. I chalk it up to all the yelling.

Paul: There was a lot of yelling. Tom Baker was always my Doctor, although I do enjoy the Judo-Stylings of Jon Pertwee. Matt Smith has moved up into my top three. Especially after the mid-season finale! Oops. Shouldn't talk about that yet.

Danny: Baker and Smith are in my top three. #3 is a position waiting to be filled. You mean next week's episode for the US?

Paul: Um, yes.

Danny: I find it hard to muster very much to say about this episode.

Paul: There really wasn't much to talk about with this one. Other than those final moments.

Danny: All the 'Ganger stuff is pretty predictable. Someone's been a 'Ganger all along, somebody has switched themselves to prove a point. Yadda yadda.

Paul: When it turns out this wasn't the origins of the Autons or the Sontarans. But the origins of the 'Ganger in their midst.

Danny: Nope, just a completely separate goopy race.

Paul: I did enjoy the fact that we got an interesting explanation for the shifting pregnancy scan.

Danny: That was a nice blindside.

Paul: With Amy in a pod growing and growing, ready to pop, while her 'Ganger had adventures and intimate moments with Rory. It took me a while to realize just what was happening, though. I thought she was another sentient 'Ganger, when she was really just another standard model, operating through the connection with the pod and the original Amy. For a minute there, it was like "Oh, 'Gangers are people too, but I'm gonna melt this one anyway!" WTF?

Danny: Great twist. I especially like the potential for a Doctor/Rory adventure in the next episode. I'd like to see how that pair do without Amy Pond.

Paul: Oh heheheheheh.

Danny: Ominous!

Paul: You don't know how much I want to talk about that episode instead of this one.

Danny: I can't wait to find out.

Paul: It made me all nostalgic for shows like Farscape, where the imagination just jumped off the screen. I'm so sick of TV and movie sci-fi that thinks it has to be all gritty and "realistic". That aliens and imagination mean shlock and silliness. That's what killed Stargate: Universe. Lack of imagination. Lack of adventure.

Danny: It worked great for Battlestar Galactica, but not everything should be like that.

Paul: Yeah, but even BSG took itself so seriously that there was no room for wonder and imagination. And the only outlet for that impulse was in religion and mysticism. Always grounded in the "world outside the window."

Danny: I can accept that for BSG, but if we're talking a show like Stargate, where people go through portals to other dimensions, then yeah -- imagination is sorely needed.

Paul: Not SCA village of the week. That's what's so refreshing about Doctor Who. Aliens! Monsters! Adventure! But it's still grounded in an emotional realism that makes it all work. Especially in moments like the end of this episode, where the Doctor tells Amy they're coming for her just before he breaks the connection with her 'Ganger.

Danny: Would you say that "The Almost People" was the opposite of that, then?

Paul: No, just a boring and unimaginative use of the material. Especially when they set up the end with no duplicates surviving -- no real emotional or moral conflict. The characters that "need" to, sacrifice themselves. And what started as an interesting moral conundrum turns into a raging spider-like monster.

Danny: Yeah, it's all so telegraphed, you can see where every character is headed. Mathematical formula instead of science fiction.

Paul: Exactly. If the cable had cut out five minutes early it would have been a two bullet episode at best. Next week is epic, though. Everything I want in TV sci-fi.



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