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Bookmark and Share The Wedding of River Song: Press Coverage

10/03/2011 08:46:00 pm - Reported by Chuck Foster

The following are quotes from the initial UK and International media reviews for the broadcast of The Wedding of River Song over the last couple of days; click on the link for the full reviews. Note that reviews will contain spoilers for those that have yet to watch the episode.

United Kingdom

Patrick Mulkern of the Radio Times:
And thus Steven Moffat is pressing a reset button. He said in April, “We’re putting the Who? back in the Doctor.” If this promises less Last Gallifreyan grandstanding, the Doctor playing on a smaller stage like it was in the old days, I’ll be delighted.

So where does he go from here? I’m happy to see many more years of Matt Smith’s Doctor – up to the 50th anniversary in 2013 and beyond. But, much as I like Amy, Rory and River (and the actors who play them), I reckon their work is done. It’s time for some new playmates.

Dan Martin of the Guardian:
Not only does The Wedding Of River Song tie almost everything up, it moves along the bigger, 50-year story and effectively reboots the show. After seven years of saving the Earth/universe/future of humanity, The Doctor was in danger of becoming ubiquitous. Now, with everybody thinking he's dead, things will be different. Next year we will presumably be back to covert operations under cover of darkness. And that gives us somewhere new to go.

Neela Debnath of the Independent:
... there has been an argument running throughout the series about whether it is too complex for children (let alone adults) to understand. It has certainly been challenging to watch and there are times when the narrative becomes hard to follow. Moffat wants to make it more than just a show about a man with a blue box. But the next series must allow the viewer a moment to pause and catch up with what is going on. It could prove detrimental to continue at this break-neck speed which is already leaving some viewers feeling alienated.

As series finales go, it felt underwhelming in terms of drama yet it was overwhelming in terms of information. Maybe if it had ended on the same cliffhanger note as ‘A Good Man Goes To War’ it would have had more of an electrifying feel. Or if there had been more resolution, it would have worked in the episode’s favour.

Generally this series has been an interesting watch. The Doctor’s dark side has been shown along with the moral responsibilities and dilemmas he has in relation to his companions. The themes and character development has added a richness and depth that the show was lacking before. Sticking with the same characters could have proved to be a fatal error and made the series feel stale but instead it has made the programme feel more multi-layered. In some ways the show has felt more adult yet catering to the needs of the average 10-year-old. Aesthetically, the cheaply-made feel has vanished, now there is a cinematic quality to it which befits the series.

Rachel Tarley of the Metro:
As ever, the script was snappy and witty throughout, but the episode had its eery and touching moments where necessary, too. The Doctor certainly knows how to bow out in style. This was a finale that will have us waiting on the edge of our seats for the next series to begin.

Jim Shelley of the Mirror:
All the hokum about time “dying” was like a bad concept album from the 70s with Hipgnosis artwork.

Gavin Fuller of the Telegraph:
In all it was an uneven ending to a slightly uneven series which at times has been in danger of overcomplicating itself, but still has been one of the most creative and distinctive series on television.

Dave Golder of SFX:
With the final bite you’re expected to swallow something that makes you splutter: the final revelation that it wasn’t the Doctor that died by the lake, killed by River Song in an astronaut’s suit, it was a Teselecta double.

Initially – the first time River reveals what the Doctor really whispered to her (“look into my eye”) – it seems like a cool twist – the doctor in a doctor suit. And it’s certainly refreshing to have a denouement that’s based on good old-fashioned scripting sleight of hand rather than technobabble (there is technobabble, but it largely ends up as a red herring). Your great aunt Mabel who’s been moaning she can’t follow the show any more can’t fail to grasp this one, can she?

But it does mean the whole episode is just an elaborate version of the classic Star Trek: Voyager alternate timeline shtick complete with reset button. And while Moffat may have wrong-footed us by making us think it would be the Flesh Doctor on the beach, it’s still in essence the same get-out clause – a double.

(I’m just being a cynical, gnarly old SF hack who’s seen it all before and letting the clichés that 99% of the audience won’t be familiar with worry me too much.)

Simon Brew of Den of Geek:
The Wedding Of River Song was a bumpy mix. It was puzzling, yet ultimately straightforward by the time the credits rolled (although you really had to pay attention). It promised to answer questions, yet left some dangling (which isn’t something I have a problem with, it just feels that some have been dangling for a while now). And it wrapped up one of the strongest series of the show to date just a little below the peaks that it’s been hitting for my money.

It proved to be a cocktail of what makes Doctor Who brilliant, yet sometimes frustrating. But it sets things up in a strong position to take Doctor Who, with its next series, towards the kind of birthday that shows like these aren’t supposed to get to.

International Coverage

Samantha Holloway of The Examiner:
This was remarkably satisfying. I was concerned, going into the last episode, that there wouldn't be enough time to wrap it up, but once again, the Moff pulled it off, and he didn't even need a two-parter to do it. We got the question that can't be asked and the name of the place where it'll be asked anyway, without any indication of time so that we can still have as many seasons with Matt as he wants to do. We got the return of the Silence and an answer to what Madam Kovarian was. We got another alternate world, and this one was all sorts of interesting and wild. We got the headless monks back. We got Amy and Rory falling in love again. We got several injokes. And we got a nice, clean ending so that next season can be its own entity. In fact, it was wrapped up so well that it's not much of a horror that it's so long before we get another episode. A small horror, but it's not a cliffhanger. It's an ending, and it makes sense.

Charlie Jane Anders of io9:
In a lot of ways, "The Wedding of River Song" was pretty similar to last year's finale, "The Big Bang." There's a new alternate universe, in which Everything Is Wrong. Only Amy Pond (and River Song) fully remember the original universe. Amy and Rory find each other all over again. The Doctor meekly surrenders himself to oblivion to save the universe — except that he figures out a last-minute loophole. And there's a wedding. Except that "The Wedding of River Song" was a much stronger episode than "The Big Bang," in at least a few major ways: 1) We got answers; 2) No cheating; 3) More fun; 4) A very clear thematic resolution.
The last time we were told to ask who the Doctor really is was on the show's 25th anniversary, in the dreadful "Silver Nemesis." And now, it seems likely that the show is finally going to give us the answers it hinted at back then — just in time for the 50th anniversary. Let's hope the show leaves some big revelations for the 75th and 100th anniversaries, though.

Matt Risley of IGN:
What really excites though is the potential inherent in the massive thematic reboot button that's just been pressed. With the Doctor's faked death essentially giving the show the opportunity to explore a tantalisingly fresh 'black-ops covert' angle and dial the bombastic-asity back, things would be interesting enough as they were.

But throw in the revelation that the show's title is now linked to its very being ("Doctor WHO?"), and you've got a whole raft of new possibilities conveniently laying the groundwork for 2013's 50th anniversary celebration.

Chris Pritchard of On The Box:
Overall, I thought this series was sizzling hot. The suavely dressed Silence deserve applause as one of the best monsters ever created. And Episode 4, The Doctor’s Wife written by sci-fi extraordinaire Neil Gaiman was among the highlights as Idris (who was actually the TARDIS) partook in some brilliant verbal sparring with the Doctor.

But now The Doctor has another wife – good old River Song. The time will soon come when the last notes of her song are sung in a forest of books with David Tennant, and the time will soon come for ‘the fall of the eleventh’, as prophesised by fatty-blue head Dorium, who no doubt heard such things on the internet with his ‘excellent wi-fi’. With Stephen Moffat in control, we are in the hands of a master story-teller, and I for one cannot to see what happens next. Doctor Who?