So the How I Met Your Mother finale happened, after 9 years. And I saw it, and I have some thoughts. I'm not here to pretend that HIMYM (as we will be referring to it in the interests of cutting down on both boredom and RSI) was a perfect sitcom or that it never had its problems. But I spent a lot of time as a fan. I discovered it when I was only a few years out of university, discovering life and love and long-term relationships in a similar way to the protagonists. I remember feeling during some of the early seasons that the show, while not exactly true to life (why can people in sitcoms always afford such nicer places than me even when they have worse jobs?) was pretty much nailing some of the feelings that went with that stage of life. I was watching these glamorous Manhattanites from my grotty Brighton (UK) flat, and feeling a sense of kindred feeling - that this is what it was like to be in your early 20s and scrabbling to figure things out. As the seasons wore on the characters became less relatable, but I still laughed, still wanted to find out what was going to happen to them. So what did? And just to warn you, the following is CHOCK FULL of spoilers.
How do you celebrate the 50th birthday of your most eccentric uncle? Especially when he's been several different people and millions of people worldwide are coming to the party? The pressure and expectation could have ended badly for the BBC, but in an hour crammed with multiple Doctors, stunning special effects, insider jokes and a strong central story, they pulled it off.
Even if you weren't one of the 10.8 million people who watched the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who live on TV or the further millions who watched it at cinemas or later, it would have been hard to avoid the hype. Even the Google Doodle was given over to Doctor Who on both Friday and Saturday. Spoilers ahead...
Well after a fairly disappointing series Moffat redeems himself with a fantastic episode that answers a lot of the questions he had left hanging over the last couple of series and really makes me excited for the 50th anniversary episode in November.
Moffat, who has spent the last year saying that multiple Doctors will not appear in the 50th episode, proves once again that he, like The Doctor, lies. Or at least manipulates the truth, this wasn't the 50th anniversary, but featured every (or at least most of them - I didn't see Paul McGann or David Tennant, but am prepared to believe I missed them) previous Doctor. He claimed there would be no two-parters this series, but this was totally the first half of the fiftieth anniversary episode. In an age where every spoiler is revealed months in advance this was a huge coup!
Of all the episodes this series this one, perhaps, had the most to live up to.
Neil Gaiman's previous episode, The Doctor's Wife, was one of the best episodes the show has ever produced. Unfortunately, while his return episode was entertaining it was also very flawed and featured as many moments of idiocy as it did genius.
Firstly the positives. The new look Cybermen were fantastic - a brilliant melding of the new series Cybus Cybermen and the original series Mondasian Cybermen. Gaiman was also pretty successful in his attempt to make the Cybermen scary again - the moment where one moved at super-speed was a fantastic reinvention of an enemy that usually gives you days' worth of warning as they slowly clank towards you.
After a fairly middling series filled with poorly realised monsters and plots that don't quite feel finished, Mark Gatiss returns with his second episode of the series - and it is a another classic. Between this and Cold War Gatiss has proven to be the strongest writer this series and he makes the best of the annual Doctor-lite episode.
And, to be entirely honest, the episode is much more interesting before The Doctor turns up (about 15 minutes in, probably the longest we've ever gone without him making an appearance). A Gothic mystery set in Victorian England, although set in Yorkshire rather than the more usual London (The Doctor has previously visited on The Evil Of The Daleks,The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, and obviously Gatiss's own The Unquiet Dead).
This week's episode of Doctor Who was a perfect example of being careful what you wish for. I've always wanted to know what was through the doors of the TARDIS. However, whenever we've had a peek (during Tom Baker's run, particularity in Logopolis, or more recently in Neil Gaiman's episode) what we've seen has been a bit of a disappointment - usually endless identical corridors or, on one occasion, a run-down Victorian swimming pool.
Unfortunately despite moments of brilliance, and a few beautiful sets, this once did not buck the trend and was largely the Doctor wandering around corridors while being chased by a fantastic looking but poorly realised and fleshed out monster. Again.
With riding crop, Ms Meller
Any fan of Poirot, courtesan history or 1920s buff would be horrified to realise a case such as that of Princess Fahmy Bey had passed them by. Centring on a French courtesan turned princess who shot her Egyptian prince husband at the Savoy, it is the mystery of the 3 shots and the not guilty verdict. it smacks of Agatha Christie at her most lavish.
Channel 4's documentary Edward VIII's Murderous Mistress (rather like The Spice Girls you have to nickname them all to tell them apart, Murderous Mistress, Married Mistress, Divorced Mistress...) lifted the lid on both the playboy prince's sexual preferences (let's just say from Wallis Simpson's fondness for exacting neatness and scolding letters she might have been nicknamed Mrs. Grey had she lived now) and the lengths the establishment will go to to avoid scandal. Making you wonder if public nudity is the least of Harry's misdemeanours.
After The Rings Of Akhaten I was really not expecting much from this week's episode Hide when Neil Cross's (who wrote both episodes) name turned up in the credits.
However, although Hide suffered from many of the same problems as Rings (a barely fleshed out and vague threat, a damsel in distress that the audience had been given little reason to care about, and a rushed ending) this time the story worked and the episode was an enjoyable, but not exceptional, romp.
After last week's one note musical episode Doctor Who returns to form with an ice-cold classic Who episode. Ice Warriors and a secluded location under attack? That's a Patrick Troughton episode right there.
Mark Gatiss(sssssssssss) continues to be one of the most consistently entertaining of the new Who writers and this is probably his most accomplished episode to date. He's clearly a fan of the show and introduced a vintage foe to a new generation of fans in a tense, occasionally terrifying, Alien inspired episode.
The episode was on a much smaller scale than last week, pretty much a bottle episode filmed on a single set, but what a bottle it was! The submarine set was incredible, down to the sound effects and the constant dripping water. I've seen films with less impressive set design. Doctor Who may have had a massive budget cut but it isn't showing on screen.
Well that was huge disappointment of an episode. Without a doubt the biggest misstep of Moffat's era and on a par with Fear Her orLove And Monsters as a contender of the worst episode of new Who.
Most disappointingly it starts so well. The opening five minutes showing how Clara's parents met were beautiful. This was followed by Doctor Who's valiant attempt at a Star Wars Cantina scene, which really showed off how good costumes and CGI can be on a (reduced) TV budget. Sadly all the imagination and care that went into the visuals were wasted on a bland, pedestrian episode with a nonsensical dull plot.