Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song review

It’s interesting that the finale of Doctor Who series six dealt with alternative realities. I imagine that somewhere out there, in some far-off universe, series six ended with a truly satisfying story that appealed to both fans and casual viewers.

Doctor Who: Wedding of River Song

It’s interesting that the finale of series six dealt with alternative realities. I imagine that somewhere out there, in some far-off universe that’s like, but at the same time unlike, our own, a distant, magical land where they still bother with narrative and plot, series six ended with a truly satisfying story that appealed to both fans and casual viewers.

Sadly, those of us who managed to stick with the version offered in this reality had to make do with one of the worst, most self-indulgent, illogical, incoherent, annoying and – let’s face it, kids - badly-written 45-minutes of television ever put together. And I’ve seen Steven Seagal’s True Justice.

In fact, about 15 minutes in – and the fact my eye was wandering from the screen to the clock gives you an idea of how bored I was – I started mentally drafting a letter to Russell T. Davies.

“Russ,” I wrote. “Matey, you know how sometimes during your tenure as the Grande Fromage of the Whoniverse, some people – me among them – accused you of, you know, being a bit self-indulgent, and of letting the programme get a bit, you know, silly. You know how we said that when you included moments such as the Tardis towing the earth back into place, or turning the entire population of the earth into The Master, you weren’t so much making the programme jump the shark as pirouette camply over a whole sequinned chorus line of them, probably while dancing to the Scissor Sisters. You know I said all that?

“Well, all’s forgiven, sunshine. Please come back. Please. Please come back. Please...”

Now, all right, before you accuse me of sitting on the fence, I’ll set out my stall: The Wedding of River Song was dreadful. Utterly dreadful.

Once again Steven Moffat and chums threw everything but the kitchen sink at the screen, and once again the result made no sense whatsoever. Yes, I understand that time was stuck because the Doctor wasn’t dead, and I quite liked the idea of different timelines meshing, but I hated the way it was presented. The whole narrative thread of the series, as set out in the equally disappointing series opener, was quickly jettisoned in the usual mix of running around a lot and speaking really quickly. It was as if you were watching a heavily edited version of a much longer film.

Instead of dialogue we got exposition, lots and lots of exposition. Things happened and characters had to keep explaining why they were happening as they were happening. And there was a lot happening, although quite why it was happening, and whether or not it should have been happening, and who it was happening to, and how they were stopping what was happening from happening, happened not to be properly explained, as it happened.

So Amy had become some sort of time agenty thing, Rory was – oh, who cares?

Of course, it all looked rather marvellous, but it was a bit like being presented with an expensive box of chocolates with no actual chocolates in it.

Somewhere along the line Doctor Who has lost his soul. The producers have got the money to do what they like – they can conjour up anything they choose, they can go anywhere they want, and that’s all they’re doing: they’re showing us things but when it comes to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, the sense of wonder, they haven’t got a clue. Apart from The Doctor’s Wife and a few other episodes, the writing in this series, the lifeblood of the show, the thing that everything else depends upon, has been completely ignored.

Meanwhile, last night our friends at Channel Four showed the rebooted Star Trek film. Like Doctor Who it dealt with time travel, alien worlds and huge, universe-changing events, but unlike Doctor Who it did it with heart and soul. It was a fantastically entertaining experience, and Moffat and co could learn a lot from it.

Still, the Doctor will be back at Christmas.

Although I’m really not sure any longer if that’s such a good thing.

By Andrew Owen

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Comments for: "Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song review"

Frank

+1 to Josh.

I was satisfied with the ending. Not to say that everything Steven Moffat writes is fantastic, but I am usually quite satisfied with his episodes, including this one. I do agree that this episode was a bit fast paced, with the quick conversation and all, but I think that the episode was nothing short of brilliant.

RackenFracken

Very well-written critique. It needed to be said. What a mess that episode was. And the show overall has weakened considerably since the insufferable River Song was pushed into it, and since Amy's hangdog beau Rory became a tiresome regular. Neither have been good additions. Shoehorning them into the show has been like Snow White being presented with an eighth and ninth Dwarf. Less is more. Plus Moffatt keeps trying to hook up characters that have zip chemistry. I gagged a little when the Doc kissed River. She makes me think of a ewe sheep. And I don't CARE about Amy and Rory's unappealing relationship. It's like all that Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione nonsense in the Potter books. Let's please get back to the Doc and Amy roving the multiverse. Otherwise I have better ways to spend my viewing time. Unlike the Doc, my time isn't limitless.

Eric

I agree with this review. Steven Moffat is clueless, and his writing that tries to trick the viewer is just plain annoying.

Why set up a scenario where the Doctor must die when you know that you cannot kill the Doctor without killing the show? Sloppy and lazy way to build suspense.

As soon as I saw that robot shapeshifer, I knew right away that the robot would appear as the Doctor and that robot would be what River in the spacesuit killed on the beach. Lame, lame, lame!

Get rid of the River Song character. She is not interesting. I do not care that Steven Moffat created her. I would rather see the Master. When given the right plot and not over acted, that character was the biggest enemy/challenge for the Doctor.

Get rid of the stupid notion that the Doctor is the last of the Time Lords. The "Time War" was from those fan books, and was never seen on screen. Just ignore that garbage. If the Daleks can survive the "Time War" even though they were supposedly wiped out, then the Time Lords can survive as well. Bringing them back for real without exploding the universe would be a real writing challenge, not this stupid River Song storyline.

At least the classic series is on DVD. They might have low budget special effects with men in rubber suits instead of high tech CGI, but at least the stories where interesting and not a lot of "wibbly wobbly timey wimey" horse droppings.

Joe

What rubbish. The dialogue in this episode was truly marvellous, as it has been throughout the series. The direction was frenetic and self-assured like no other show I can think of. The plot hurtled along but held together in a way that was satisfying and really bears repeat viewings. The whole episode was effortlessly funny, heart-rending, chilling, exciting and inventive. Everything I look for in my telly delivered in just 45 minutes. It made the 10 hour ordeal of Torchwood Miracle Day look utterly pathetic, and reminded everyone with even a modicum of taste that Dr Who is well shot of RTD. A blinding end to a blinding series, roll on number seven.

Sterling

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, Andrew.

Diana

Personally, I enjoyed the heck out of the episode. It was pure entertainment, which is why I watch TV in the first place.

Atria

I can't agree more! Though I love Matt Smith's protrayal of the doctor, I absolutely detest the general series arc. Steven Moffat is a terrible producer and I desperately want Russell T Davies back! This episode of DW was by far one of the worst Doctor who episodes I have ever seen. Complete rubbish and left me wanting to strangle River Song and Amy for their smugness. Though admittedly had some clever bits in it, I felt as though the writers were treating the audience like idiots.

Doctor Who has lost heart, and I blame this entirely on Steven Moffat.

Ian

It seems you're in the minority in terms of disliking the episode and series. The majority of people, myself included, consider Doctor Who to be one of the greatest TV programs ever made, and consider Series 6 to be the show at its finest. I thought this episode was magical, and actually presented in a way that made it quite simple to follow, and I'm not alone in that view.

Have you ever thought that maybe this show just isn't your thing?

adam brown

after this year i agree it isnt my thing.

Paulie

Absolutely spot on ,! I can't believe that people are still whining about the man that bought us blink and the silence. Enjoy with a childlike wonder for all that is golden about the ability to believe in the unbelievable . I or one still believe in Santa , and love feeling it gives those that do. Dont grow up, it's not really worth it. The doctor and his crew will always enthrall me, and im 50 years old.

JD

If you're so cynical of the show, then why the hell watch it; let alone review it. It was an excellent episode and neatly tied all the plot lines up from this series and series 5. If you were a true fan of this show you would probably realize that and give the episode the praise it so rightly deserves. Instead, you'd rather use your platform to bash the show. If its so bad, why aren't you writing for the show? Oh, that's right. You're happy getting a few bucks for an internet article spewing your obvious jealousy.

Petesuperaddick

I'm afraid that Andrew is not in the minority. this was a poorly written episode. And I suspect we all love the show if we bother to contribute to this thread. Steven Moffat wrote brilliantly under RTD but he's taking the show in a direction that alienates the general public. No audience equals no show. We've seen it happen before under Eric Saward and JNT. Shame.

JD

How is this a poorly written episode? Because it made you think? That's the problem with TV audiences today. They need everything spelled out for them and dumbed down. But this is Doctor Who we're talking about. Its supposed to make you think. The show has gone back more to its roots in a serialized, story arc format. Most audience members love this. You actually have to pay attention and catch all the subtle things that seem unimportant. Moffat has done wonders for this show.

adam brown

jealousy and honesty are two diffrent things.

adam brown

sorry about that that, that was supposed to be a a reply to the comment above that one lol.

Ian

Hold on? Did my comment just get removed for being abusive? All I wrote was the following:

"It seems you're in the minority in terms of disliking the episode and series. The majority of people, myself included, consider Doctor Who to be one of the greatest TV programs ever made, and consider Series 6 to be the show at its finest. I thought this episode was magical, and actually presented in a way that made it quite simple to follow, and I'm not alone in that view.

Have you ever thought that maybe this show just isn't your thing?"

Ian

Oh wait no it didn't. I misread something! Sorry about that!

TK56

I agree. Absolutely. When you have to cram in so much explanation, you're telling your story badly -- or you're telling a bad story.

A crummy end to a weak season. Will I watch next year? Not if nothing changes. And that makes me very sad.

That said, I loved River Song. She was about the only fun the season had.

adam brown

im not sure i will tune in for another season either, which after the xmas special we may well have to wait another year for,Ive missed 5 episodes this year, i would have been gutted before i dont think im bothered either way now.

Steve

You rock, Andrew!

adam brown

yeah well said steve , thumbs up to someone that publishes an honest review.

Adam

I totally agree with this review, and I much prefer to watch Star Trek over Doctor Who. But what I don't understand is how Moffat's episodes before he bacame showrunner were excellent and yet now his stories just don't make any sense. And as for Karen Gillan's so called 'acting'! Well, even Rory's ridiculous persona is more believable than her.

Jill Burton

Well, quite frankly, I thought it was marvellous. This is exactly what Doctor Who should be like. You must be one of the many 'fans' who like to watch the show without wanting to have to use your brain. TV programmes should make us think about what we're seeing and not just be 'on'. A fantastic looking episode that had LOTS of heart and soul. Well done Moffat!

Kveldulf

Pretty much spot on. It was a mess. Moreso, it was amazingly dull with it.

Kerrie AnneManning

i agree with you Andrew, Moff's characters are too 2d to give the show any soul.

borgduck

This is Science-Fiction, not a Soap Opera!

jfreund

"Rory was – oh, who cares?"

This isn't a review -- it's a tirade. I suspect it was half-written before the writer had seen the episode. I think he needs to be doing something else for a living. He's not professional at this.

Petesuperaddick

Spot on, my son. Have to agree with this - said the same myself on den of Geek at the start of the season - of course I was shouted down. without decent storytelling Who loses its audience. Without an audience, we lose the show. Again. Jon Nathan Turner would have loved this episode and that's not a good thing.

borgduck

Call yourself a reviewer? Clown, more like.

smartypants3000

ignore the idiots Andrew! spot on review! as always. maybe you went a little too far in your last review. (never wish the death, even jokingly of a real person. only the crappy character they play) you left yourself wide open for the actress to milk it for a little sympathy.

I didn't waste my time watching this second half except for the last 20 minutes of 'Night Terrors' and it was 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Except for the 'Doctors Wife' the entire series was a huge waste of time.

I have never been so disgusted with Doctor Who in my entire life! I've watched since I was 12 years old. there were fantastic ideas and some bad ideas and some what were they smoking episodes, BUT they were usually far and few in-between.

the brainless die-hard fans will watch no matter what. that's why their opinions are worthless. they don't care how good or bad, they watch.

I did hear from those who watched. they are so angry and disgusted it isn't funny. they are very angry that this once great show could have sank so low. I did think the Tardis towing the Earth was a bit silly. A smarter move would have been to simply have the Dr SAY that they were going to do it and then rejoin the Tardis and crew AFTER it had happened. some things work better when left to the imagination.

I prefer RTD'S era too though neither compare to the golden age of the mid-70's.

still moffat needs to go. his insufferable writing style is nauseating to say the least. I feel sick to my stomach that this incompetent fool is going write(ruin) the 50th anniversary, which in reality will be more of yet another tribute to his ego.

adam brown

I really hope they dont bother with the 50th anniversary after what ive seen the last 2/3 years its an insult to compare this show to the classic series. Shall we have a friendly bet? what do you reckon? the ten doctors, the eleven doctors? or how about a dalek story? that would be a nice change lol.

Jon Karani

"I didn’t waste my time watching this second half except for the last 20 minutes of ‘Night Terrors’ and it was 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Except for the ‘Doctors Wife’ the entire series was a huge waste of time."

So basically you conclude that the entire series was a huge waste of time even though you didn't watch half of it and agree with this review of an episode you haven't seen.

I'm no fan of the "if you don't like Moffat you're an idiot" brigade but dear god do you have to make it easy for them.

nick rippin

OR....

What many of us saw was a complex, dense and unexpected end to the series. Was it satisfying? No, but that's kind of the point.

You accuse the programme of having no soul, but this episode played out with a man deciding the universe was better off without him, but the universe deciding it wasn't. How uplifting is that?! I would argue that this series, and Matt Smith's entire tenure is shot through with a humanity and soul lacking from the final days of RTD. As for throwing the kitchen sink at it - please watch ANY RTD finale and get back to me.

Worse than this, there are just factual errors in this review. Steven Moffat clearly hasn't got an endless pot of cash to throw at it. In fact, when he took over, the budget was slashed. That is why the writing has to be so tight and clever.

And it ISN'T complicated or difficult to follow. Watch the ep again and pay attention. It all makes sense. I know children who can follow this stuff. If you don't like it, cos of what it is, then just say, and don't watch it. It isn't for everyone.

adam brown

thanks nick youre comment is interesting but id rather not watch it again my heart is already broken and may never recover, youre comment about knowing children who can follow it without being disrespectful to you sadly sums up everything you need to know about doctor who these days.

Rich

Have to agree with Josh. Shut up Andrew Owen. I read about 5 sentences, then looked at my clock and clicked away.

adam brown

What im going to say here isnt going to go down to well but hey ho here we go anyway. I will put my comments in terms of context im 38 now, im a lifelong fan of the show and my favourite doctor was peter davison.(dont start slating me just yet, everyones favourite doctor is the one we grew up with we all know that lol ! )My point is the show is in danger of going back into that period, good doctor interesting ideas, lots of potential- rubbish screenplay and storyline.Maybe i have got old and the show is just for kids now but the finale was just dreadful, the last two seasons have been like it , wayward rambling storylines massive plot holes in each episode and im getting really fed up with a story arc running through each season- borrring! i wonder if the xmas special will begin with a bad wolf storyline- it woudnt surprise me , a new scriptwriter and a return to the classic series style of four part episodes is whats needed here, otherwise they may aswell move the show to cbbc at 4.oclock at teatime!

Amadahn

Blink and The Library duo represented some of the best writing ever in DW. But now Moffat's writing is weak and, worse, unable to structure a story. It's all about spectacle, but without narrative context, it is all empty. He has turned DW into a screen equivalent of a Hollywood movie - set piece after set piece, but with no character, plot or coherence. It's really, really sad.

Jon Karani

You GENUINELY thought this was worse than RTD's finales? I couldn't disagree more. His finales were the epitome of throwing the kitchen sink at something and hoping for the best.

The solution in Last of the Time Lords was the same one used to resurrect Tinkerbell in Peter Pan... nothing Moffat's done has been anywhere near that bad.

Joe

"This isn’t a review — it’s a tirade. I suspect it was half-written before the writer had seen the episode. I think he needs to be doing something else for a living. He’s not professional at this."

Pretty much this.

For a regional newspaper I'm surprised at how one-sided this review is. I mean, I disagree with you about the episode's quality, but you're not writing for the Sunday Times. Isn't there supposed to be a description of what the show was like somewhere in there? Where you talk about what happens, with maybe a few key quotes thrown in? Most of this review could have been written in advance by someone who just hates this series.

Karen

1. "in the usual mix of running around a lot and speaking really quickly" - that has been a staple of the series for a while, hasn't it?

2. Whether you love or hate River Song, you have to agree that there was zero chemistry in that kiss.

BenDTU

Spot on. I really liked Series 4, loved series 5, but boy oh boy was this series a mess.

I've always thought that Dr Who was at its best when it was just using the whole Time Travel thing as a plot device to get the Doctor from Interesting Place A to Interesting Place B. That part of the show seemed to really be in the minority in this season.

Stop Moaning Smith

Stop whining. We are lucky to have it. think 15 yrs back, or even twenty or even all of the eighties. What we have today is fun, energetic, clever, exciting and at last spread across time and space with bells and whistles on it. Stop picking the holes. Star trek is dull and predictable and stole ideas from Dr Who constantly. Dr Who has it's eras and it's fans for those eras people love this one too you know. What annoys me is one man on his laptop writing for a few lousy quid thinks he has the right to make a judgement over the vast intelligence that is Steven Moffat. Get a proper job sunshine.

R3idy12

STOP Steven Moffat before its too late.

Personally the story line of River Song dull. Nor Should the Doctor have been wedded.

Why you may ask because he has already been married hence Susan Foreman (granddaughter for all those i watched DW form 2005) to the doctor.

Hopefully we can put River Song behind us now knowing she is stuck in the Library and hopefully reviving the Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart character will bring a fresh change to the show. Fingers crossed.

I think that if the following season doesn't pick up they should can the show until they can come up with a fresh new storyline unlike the dribble they have at the moment.

oswestrian

Interesting comments - can I put my 2 pennyworth in?

I have been watching Dr Who since episode 1, and like many, I have found my heart sinking with each of the new episodes. 'The Wedding' I had to watch at least 3 times before I could even remotely make sense of some of the most self-indulgent and lazy writing I have come across - and you are looking at someone who managed to sit through "The Gunfighters" with William Hartnell.

It has become in the hands of Mr Moffat and his predecessor a "boys toy", something they put racing stripes on in the hope that it would be faster and cooler than anything else, and for me it just does not work.

For years I would have preferred canal root surgery than miss an episode. Now I just record it so that if I get bored I can fast forward.

Yes, its a re-invention of an idea - but its a rubbish re-invention. The Doctor used to be the hero, now more often than not its the companions who are saving the day. Why not just call it "Amy Pond and her sidekick, oh and some bloke called The Doctor?"

In an inteview recently Moffat boasted that they could do anything they liked because they could always blame any lack of continuity on the "time war", and that IS sheer laziness.

And did anyone else get the feeling that "wedding" had something of the feel of the last episode of the last series? In both the whole universe was in danger (strangely just as it was in Stolen earth) because of a paradox. In the first the Doctor was shut in the Pandorica so could not prevent the explosion of the TARDIS (did we ever find out what caused that?) in the second the Doctor was not killed causing time to collapse (why?)

It was claimed that Lake Silencio (ho ho nudge nudge) was a still point in time where a fixed point could be created. Was Mars also a still point in time in Waters Of Mars?

By co-incidence I came across a clip from an early episode of the Dalek Master Plan, where the Doctor was going to enter the Dalek base disguised as one of the delegates to their conference to discover their plans. Breet Vyron said the Doctor was a very brave man. The Doctor replied that he was just doing what needed to be done. Clear writing, good acting, no flashy gimmicks. No feeling that history has the solidity of a cup of tea and is half as sutainable!

Perhaps the time has come to kill off the Doctor for real and end what is becoming an embarrassment

ChrisP

Does an essentially implausible, impossible series - spanning 50 years - really have to be entirely 'backwards' compatible in terms of its plot and sci-fi regulations? Obviously the more it can be, then the more people it can please, but... what on Earth are people expecting? A back-channel curiosity that is consistent, but incapable of attacting new viewers? Surely every other sci-fi/fantasy icon just gets 'rebooted' or 're-imagined' and essentially re-written so as to make it marketable in the modern age. It's just inconceivable in every other area to try to make a story both backwards compatible,and forwards moving, whilst also being surprising and palatable to an audience with entirely different expectations. You know your 'Whovian' history, but appear to lack a genunine and broader sense of perspective.

ChrisP

Look - this is a FANTASY for pity's sake! Througout its history it has been vulnerable to PLOT HOLES because it is fundamentally IMPOSSIBLE. What Stephen Moffat has magnificently done is made it genuinely intellectual for a prime time, whole family entertainment show in 2011.

It is less slushy than RTD, more complex than him, and has this brilliant multi-series story arc thing going on. Does it all add up when looked at intellectually and scientifically? NO OF COURSE NOT! But is it easy, mushy, lowest common denominator viewing that leaves nothing to challenge the imagination and is easy to predict. ALSO NO!!! My whole family loved it - all 6 of us from age 5 to 43.

A

Oh look. Another nerd wants to show how cool he is by complaining that something great isn't great. This review missed the mark by a wide margin.

Nick

Oh for goodness sake!

I also have been watching Dr Who since the 80s. If anyone suggests to me that we need to go back to stories over 4 half hour episodes, I tend to roll my eyes so much I fall over.

WATCH SOME AGAIN!

A lot of them were awful. False cliffhangers, saggy in the middle, and heavy on cul-de-sac dialogue. And I loved it. every minute of it. But compared to now? No comparison - Dr Who is better now than it has ever been.

Steven Moffat's writing is sharp, clear, funny, warm and tighter than a drum. And I maintain - it is NOT hard to follow. Watch the ep again and really pay attention. It's simple really, and the pacing of the episode is good too. Zippy, but bursting with ideas. He also, much more than RTD or the classic series, creates a sense of a wider universe, full of amazing places and things that we literally just dip into sometimes. I mean, Live Chess? Bloomin' marvelous!

Anyone who genuinely thinks that the classic series is better than Noo Who may as well admit that they put away their childish things in the 90s when it was absent from our screens. Those of us who still can suspend our disbelief, and enjoy TV that makes us think, and that we can discuss and digest afterwards, will continue watching.

Nick

ALSO.....

In an effort to continue harping on for a bit - to those who moan about season long story arcs, I'm afraid that aint going anywhere. Ever. This is a TV standard plot device now. And good thing too.

If anybody seriously thinks that in the modern, digital age, where TV scheduling is dying out, and there is more (or less) choice for viewers than ever, this this could be seen simply a device to keep people watching. Stand-alone eps are great, but how do we move characters on? How do we keep people coming back?

This isn't an age when there really literally isn't anything else on. TV needs to be more nuanced and complex in terms of character and plot development. We need to give punters something to hang onto - a hook - to get them wanting to tune in again the next week. After all, one Curse of the Black Spot, and they'd all be off!

Billy

Guys, guys, guys...

It's just a television show. If you don't like it, stop watching it. Being so attached to something that you have to keep watching even when you apparently hate it is seriously unhealthy. Get a therapist. Please.