- The Almost People

The Almost People

Scanners indicate an absence of spoilers

Now then, as is the way of second instalments of two parters, The Almost People carries twice the burden of a standard episode; for not only does it have to deliver a good dose of Doctor Who in its own right, but the critical merit of its predecessor is also riding on its back like the Old Man of the Sea.

As we discussed last week, The Rebel Flesh was an opening half that was heavy on the set-up, and while some found it a little on the slow side, I for one welcomed what appeared to be a two part adventure properly structured in old school serial fashion i.e. as a single story split into two halves. So then, the big question going into The Almost People was would this episode neatly pick up the pace where the first part left off and deliver a solid second half delivering all the exciting action and plot twists promised by The Rebel Flesh. In other words - would my good faith in Matthew Graham be rewarded?

However, if you've visited the official BBC website or just been following Who news feeds in general over the last few days, certain details were revealed that suggested that this was to be not just the concluding part of a stand alone adventure. Remember in Series 3 there was that episode Utopia? And how it turned out to be not the one off story we were led to believe it was, but actually the first part of a three episode finale?

Well, these revealed snippets had me thinking that Moffat and Graham were pulling a similar stunt. And indeed, once this idea had taken root in my Doctor Who addled brain and I started to consider the possible story arc implications of last week's cliff-hanger, the more it seemed likely that a similar stealth trilogy was being set up. Or perhaps considering the on-going theme of things being temporally coterminous like Amy's pregnancy, The Almost People would not just be the second part of The Rebel Flesh but at the same time, become the first part of next week's A Good Man Goes To War...


And furthermore, last week's ending of a Flesh duplicate of the Doctor being created, would seem to connect with the series opening with us seeing the Doctor (or perhaps more accurately, a Doctor) dying... Of course, second guessing Steven Moffat is a dangerous game and one I've yet to win around of. For he's never yet written a Who adventure without more than a few aces up his sleeves, and so for the Flesh Doc to turn out to be the one we saw killed by the Impossible Astronaut feels far too straight forward for the man whose hand is always packed with wild cards and the king of the plot nutmegs. He's a crafty fellow you know – I'm that bamboozled thinking about what swerves he might have in store, he's got me mixing my sport and leisure metaphors!


But then again, all of the above could be just my fan theory machine blowing its telepathic circuits, and that the only tie-in to next week's episode, and indeed, the over-all story arc would just turn out to be a scene tacked on at the close...

...Though that would be more in keeping with the old RTD school of lazy plotting, rather than the cunning, hide clues here, there, and everywhere, long game approach of Moffat....

But enough of all these dot dot dot inspiring questions! Let's have some answers! Spoiler free of course sweetie!

Well then, from the top... Yes I think Matthew Graham delivered the goods, fluidly following on from the first part, ramping up the thrills and paying off character development. Watched back to back with The Rebel Flesh this makes a tightly woven feature length tale.

If I have one slight criticism, it was that some of what I will vaguely refer to as 'the Ganger effects' fell in the less than convincing end of the CGI spectrum. But then again, and I can't to be specific here if they had had top notch FX wizardly for a fair number of the scenes in this episode, it wouldn't have be allowed to be shown until after the watershed.

Yes, it dark stuff again! Definitely had a Hinchcliffe/Holmes vibe to it. And not just it features the kind of scary Doctor Who that generates complaints for “going too far!” either. For like those classic Tom Baker chillers of yesteryear, we had plenty of humour to leave the atmosphere, but more importantly a moral dilemma throbbing in the heart of the story.

However all of this will probably be somewhat overshadowed. When you see it you'll know what I mean. Put it this way it's going to be a very, very long week...

So then, which of the above scenarios exactly is The Almost People? Well, let's just say this is not quite a stand alone story...

Certainly, everything is on course of a highly intriguing episode next week. Rasillion only knows what's going to happen in that on. But I suspect we may be in for a very, very long summer too...

Obviously I have much more to say on these episodes, so click here for a spoiler zone look at The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People

JIM MOON, 28th May 2011