Thursday, 3 September 2015

Hold back (the) River!

I feel so sorry for Alex Kingston because she's amazing actress,
given suchterrible stuff to work with. But hey, it pays the bills.
Image from The BBC
In recent news, River Song is coming back to Doctor Who. You'll know if you followed my reviews of the last season that I've really given up on being excited about new stuff from this show, prefering to be pleasantly surprised by any good stuff that manages to slip through Moffat's tight grip. While Series Eight was messy in places, had a lot of flawed relationships and had a worrying theme of "faith defying science", it did seem like it was trying to have some fun ideas and concepts, and I often found myself enjoying it despite its silliness.
     One of the things that made Season Eight bearable was the absence of River Song, once an interesting and promising concept character who now stands as the personification of everything wrong with Steven Moffat's writing. I went into detail a bit with this in my article "The Best Laid Schemes Of Mice And Moffat", but I'll recap here. River Song was initally presented in her "final" episode, as a potential future friend/love interest of The Doctor. What that turned into was River being a "psychopath" assassin essentially kidnapped from Amy Pond's womb as a baby, raised specifically to murder The Doctor, who nevertheless falls in love with him upon first meeting him because of how cool he is. She is then forced into an Astronaut suit to kill him anyway (which is ridiculous, because why train her to be a willing killer if she's forced into it anyway, anyone could have manned that suit) and "kills" him. Except she doesn't, because it's just a robot facsimile of him. Despite this, The Doctor (and the Universe, and herself) insist that she spends the majority of the rest of her life in prison for killing The Doctor. The Doctor treats this prison as her home, picking her up and dropping her off here, even though she apparently has the ability to come and go as she pleases. And at one point we meet her ghost. Huh.
     Suffice to say that River Song is a total mess. Her concept was robbed from the character of Bernice Summerfield in the Expanded Universe (a tactic Moffat uses a lot), her dialogue is filled with bizzare non-speak and cliches designed to make her "mysterious" or "sexy", while her behaviour is informed by some insulting concept of what Moffat defines as a "psychopath" (see also Mary Morstan in Sherlock) and her character really exists for no other reason than to loosely tie together Moffat's stories. Seeing as that particular brand of ridiculousness belongs back in Eleven's era, and the show did seem to be trying to move away from that, I think that it's a huge disappointment to see her character return yet again. Nothing good is going to come of this, I'm telling you.


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