Thursday, December 31, 2015
The Husbands of River Song Review and a Response to Criticisms of the Doctor/River Romance
I am going to give a little of my back story on how I came to know River and Dr. Who, present a review of the episode, and then try to refute some fan criticisms of the River story line. You can better follow along if you have actually watched The Husbands of River Song.
Spoiler alert -- I like River Song. I adore her. She is strong, smart, fun loving, and sexy. She is one of the primary reasons I started watching Dr. Who. I remembered catching a few of the Tom Baker episodes when I was younger. I could never really get into it. I was a Trekkie. Dr. Who just seemed so silly and amateurish in comparison to Star Tred. Maybe if I had lived in the UK and grown up with it I would have thought differently.
Several years ago my children started watching Nu Who episodes on Netflix. I caught parts of The Empty Child, Blink, and Forest of the Dead/Silence in the Library. The Empty Child totally confused me- why on Earth were people's faces changing? I remember I only saw part of Blink -- which was also very confusing. Why did they have to not blink? Weird. Usually I only caught parts of episodes -- which really did not help.
I watched almost the entire episode of Forest of the Dead. The ending intrigued me. Who was River Song? I remembered catching glimpses of her in some early episodes with Matt Smith while the kids were watching and I was cooking dinner. I read a little bit about her on Wikepedia - which did not help much because her story line is all over the place. At that point, I decided to start at the beginning of NuWho to try to unravel the mystery of River Song.
And now it appears that River Song's story is complete -- although I think there may yet be a few twists in future episodes. At least I hope so.
I thought this Christmas episode was better than last year's with Clara. Danny Pink's death left a bad taste in my mouth. I really thought Clara and he would end up together and his small part in last year's Christmas episode brought that home to me again.
The Husband of River Song was a fun episode, which everyone was sorely in need of after Season 9. Peter Capaldi's reaction to all of River's antics with her husbands was a joy to watch. And the fact that she did not recognize him even though he was trying his best to give her an 11 smile -- how goofily well done was that? I personally think he should have done the giraffe dance but in this stage of his life I guess he is more into guitars and sunglasses.
Many other reviewers are familiar with the supporting actors -- I assume that they are comic actors in the UK. Their performances were good. The majority of the time the supporting players were bodiless. I don't know what it is with Moffat and heads. I am really not interested in seeing bodies without heads and heads without bodies for a long time. I guess the kids in the audience might have thought that was funny and cool. I just thought it was creepy.
I absolutely loved River's monologue about how the Doctor could not love her. He is like the sunset and the sunset( sunrise?) does not love you. And then when she figured out he was standing right next to her - beautiful- and then the back and forth banter started -- like they had never been apart. Did y'all catch the comment about needing to do his roots and he whipped back that sunsets did not need to do their roots.
Then back to working together to try to prevent the ship from crashing during a meteor strike. The stock market thing with the cyborg really fell flat for me, although it was an easy way for the Doctor to escape and get back to River.
When they are working together to pilot the ship and arguing about all the husbands that River professed to have. The litany of spouses that they throw at each other was just grand -- Stephen Fry?? Really? Loved it.
There has been some criticism that the doctor would not approve of so many people dying on the ship. Well all those people had killed many, many innocent people and they were fated to die anyway -- according to River the archaeologist. It very well could have been a fixed point in time. I imagine that there were a few escape pods anyway. The Doctor has been in similar situations and has not been able to save everyone. Actually most of the time, when he shows up, people die.
I was disappointed that there was just the kiss on the cheeks when she greets him on the balcony at the Darillium restaurant. It was not the kind of kiss that eleven routinely received. I assume that this was because of the sadness she felt because she had heard rumors that this would be their last night.
The ending brought tears to my eyes. The way Peter Capaldi and Alex Kingston look at each other at the very end of the episode -- love, acceptance, happiness, warmth. You could see it all in their expressions.
A wonderful episode to wrap up River's story. Now on to some refutations.
There are many fans that don't seem to like River. They complain that she knows the Doctor's name but how and why does she know his name? Some Whovians say that the two are not really married because he was a Tesalac when they were married. Other Whovians are concerned that Matt Smith was far too young for Alex Kingston and it was all so weird and that Peter Capaldi is a better match.
We know that she knows his name and she tells it to the tenth doctor, but we never really find out when she gives her his name. The Tenth doctor said he would only tell it to a person for one reason. Most people assume it would be given to his wife, but since the doctor was married numerous times and I don't think he gave his name to Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth I, that probably is not the reason. Of course those were human wedding ceremonies. Maybe it had to be a Gallifriean or Time Lord ceremony?
And yes -- Elizabeth I probably insisted on his name too but the Doctor lies. And let's not even get into Rose -- that is an entirely different discussion. Although I would like to think it gave the tenth doctor some solace to know that he did find love and have a wife after his separation from Rose. Of course that is a lot of ifs.
The eleventh doctor told Amy and Rory that he gave River his name at the wedding ceremony, but we know that is not true. I would think that he would have given it to her sometime afterwards. And I do think they were married. He called her his wife several times and did not seem to bemoan the fact that he married her as the tenth doctor did when marrying Elizabeth I. Matter of fact the eleventh doctor seemed to quite enjoy being married to River. I presume --knowing River - she would have insisted that he give her his name if she was his wife. And I would imagine that she would have also insisted on consummating the marriage.
The Doctor has been seen naked several times by his companions and although they were all surprised by his nakedness, none seemed to be shocked by his anatomy. And when Twelve asked River how she liked the new body in the Husbands of River Song, she slyly commented that she had only seen the face so far. I think it is implied that yes - they have had sex -- of course what that means for two aliens even if they both have "normal" anatomy -- who knows?? For all we know the only way he can have sex is if his wife whispers his name to him.
And on too the supposed disparity of age between the Doctor and River. I don't understand why people insist that Matt Smith was too young -- he was playing a time traveler that was over 900 years old!! River was probably only in her 20s since she grew up with Amy but happened to regenerate into someone that appeared to be in their 40s. Basically, get into the story and forget about stereotypical human behavior. He is an alien, she is part alien. Who cares about their age?? If it makes you squeamish to see an "older" woman with a "younger" man -- Get over it! It happens in real life too.
Hope you enjoyed this and it gave you something to think about. That is what the best stories and the best characters always do - leave you asking questions and wanting to know more about them. I think this episode dragged in a few new people into the Dr Who universe -- Who the heck is River Song? Why does she know all the doctors and have so many husbands?