James Corden is basically OK when he’s acting and not being his awful self, isn’t he? As a result, this was quite an enjoyable episode for about the first half an hour. But the climax was completely horrible, RTD/Tennant-level horrible.
As for the foreshadowing of next week (spoilers), I was all like ‘it can’t be next week, he hasn’t sent the envelopes!) but then he totally sent the envelopes. Eep. Nevertheless, this is all, essentially, bollocks: why on earth would ‘tomorrow’ be the day he absolutely positively has to travel back to April 2011 (it was implied Saturday’s ep took place some time in 2012 or 13) in order to get shot? Why tomorrow?
Also: it’s adult River Song in that astronaut suit? That’s weird. So instead of it being the actual child we saw in an astronaut suit at the start of the series, revealed to be one of the early incarnations of Melody/River, it’s adult River, and they just decided to dress her up in an astronaut suit so she could hide underwater and ‘surprise’ the doctor even though the doctor knows she’s coming. Oh, what a load of fanny. Also: was Demon’s Run in the future? If not, how is Judi Dench with an eyepatch still alive?
Basically the show is trying to make three things mesh together: ‘River Song is the impossible astronaut,’ ‘River Song is Melody Pond’ and ‘Alex Kingston is really good.’ It’s that last one that I think is ballsing things up. When we saw Kingston emerge from ‘Mels’ a couple of weeks ago I was like, this is the last we’ll see of her, right? The Doctor is moving backwards through her timeline, as always; we’ve gone from her knowing him and him not knowing her to almost the other way round. That’s it now, and we’ll move on to meeting her childhood incarnations, working all the way back to her birth where we’ve already been OK that bit wasn’t entirely thought through. But anyway, that would have been cool, and made the whole River thing a proper, consistent sci-fi puzzle, and given River Song a marvellous tragic quality: her whole life she tries to save the doctor but she already killed him years ago as a child.
So of course, they fuck it up, determined to bring Dr. Elizabeth Corday back for one last hurrah. So now we apparently have a newly brainwashed adult River Song in an astronaut suit shooting the doctor at a pre-ordained time per the bad guys’ bloody arrangement. How very fucking dull.
Next week is going to be just as bad a clusterfuck of disappointment as the end of the last series, I fear. Why does this always happen? GRR.