Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Doctor Who, Series 6 - Episode 5 & 6 - The Rebel Flesh & The Almost People


Forced to land the TARDIS due to the turbulence caused by a solar Tsumani, The Doctor, Amy & Rory touch down in 22nd Century Earth. Seeking sanctuary in a nearby monastery, our heroes discover a mining operation that is pulling high-quality acid directly out of the earth using clone labor - beings called "Gangers", that are controlled through a telepathic interface by workers who are safely kept away from the acid in special safety harnesses.

When the storm turns serious and lightning sets off a power surge through the complex, the miners awaken to discover that their Ganger counterparts have gained sentience... and they aren't too happy about the prospect of being "turned off", since clones have no rights and there's no reason for the company to keep them alive. The Doctor quickly finds himself stuck between two factions with no reason to trust one another, pleading for a peace that will be difficult - even for him to arrange. And Amy's strange visions of a woman in an eye-patch continue...


* When you get right down to it, the story here is nothing new. The idea of artificial life being used to explore the question of "What Is Humanity?" has been done to death and, I'm sad to say, done better. Blade Runner comes to mind immediately.

* The subplot with Amy being reluctant to accept the Ganger Doctor in "The Almost People" is completely pointless, serving only to inject artificial drama into a situation that is tense enough already.

* This two-parter is fairly well padded-out. It really could have and SHOULD have been one episode.


* Despite the broad concept being old hat, the actual mechanism for the "Gangers" is inventive.

* The individual performances are excellent overall, particular the Ganger miner who elects to replace his human counterpart so that his/their son will not grow up without a father.

* The final shots of a pregnant Amy Pond, waking up in a Ganger harness somewhere far away from The TARDIS as she goes into labor is a truly horrifying image and an effective bit of horror that perfectly sets up the next episode.

The Final Verdict: There's not a lot of originality here but it is carried off well despite that. Lots of good performances and an effectively chilling ending make this one enjoyable, if not particularly likely to make anyone's Top Ten lists.

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