Last week I finished my review of The Rebel Flesh by Suggesting if The Almost People lived up to the prelude that was The Rebel Flesh that we may well be in for a brilliant two partner. And boy did they deliver on this one. Mathew Graham, for all that has been said and done really pulled this one out of the bag in a big way. The characters were as fresh as ever, the plot was consistent throughout and made sense to a point, and the overall feeling it left me personally with was “I need to see next week’s episode.” And from what I’ve seen from the next time trailer, the ride only gets bumpier from here ladies and gentlemen.
Again as last time I’m throwing out a spoiler warning, mostly for the sake of avid spoilerphobes who’d rather me not spoil the ending of this one, in short if you haven’t seen it and are on the fence, go and see it now you won’t regret it. Anyway!…
When we last left the Time Team they were locked in a room barricading themselves from…well themselves…The Gangers had taken what appeared to be the upper hand when as all good cliff hangers should do there was a game changing twist. Out of the shadows lurched another Doctor! (Who I will hereby refer to as Ganger Doctor rather than calling him something like Cupcake which would be a bit too serious In this situation I fear) The effects used in generating the Two Doctors have been seen before in the series both in 1980’s The Leisure hive and even earlier than that in 1967’s The Enemy of the World but I think here is where its been done at its absolute best. The Doctors outright display of interest and for lack of a better word borderline lust for his Ganger is brilliantly exaggerated and played through by Matt Smith in my opinion and both characters (Or should that be the same character) ooze the charisma that we’ve come to know and love from the Doctor . Its then that the Fans got an outright treat as the Ganger Doctor began stabilising his form he began “Regressing” through his previous incarnations (Ooh Sciency.) This took it’s form of Ganger Doctors voice changing back into previous versions of the Doctor. Notably the 4th Doctor asking if anyone wanted a Jelly Baby, the 5th Doctor reassuring everyone that things will be alright and the 10th Doctor pretty much just saying hello… Believe me when I say that this alone was a enough grounds to put me into a Squeeing frenzy when that happened!
As the story continues the humans become more and more suspecting of the Ganger Doctor. This really allowed the supporting cast to open up and prove themselves this time around. Whereas in the previous episode they were largely relegated to stereotypical roles that are common in the “Base Under Siege” style story (there’s that term again), this time around you really get to see the cast shine brightly with both Raquel Cassidy and Mark Bonnar really defining their role’s and making it very much their own. My only gripe at this stage is that the Gangers themselves seemed to taken a bit of a back seat in the episode, largely reduced to skulking around in the shadows and being altogether rather nasty about humans, they only really come back into the story with any definition in the closing 10 minutes or so and even then it all seems to be tied up a little too neatly.
The Human people (as opposed to the Ganger people) finally snap and lead the Ganger Doctor outside where they knock him out and leave him. The undertones of prejudice throughout this story have been played out as best as they could really in my opinion on this one. Last week I likened the plot to 1970’s The Silurians and I think for me, this part confirmed that. I’m not a particularly big fan of the whole “Eco warrior” style story, where a particular ideology is the main topic for the story, scenes where Rory (Arthur Darville) and Jennifer (Sarah Smart) discover a huge pile of half melted Gangers were intentionally put there to show “How evil corporations can be” and while that’s a good way to raise the emotion in Drama’s it’s a little overbearing to have thrown at you on a Saturday evening over a take away.
It’s at this point that the Gangers (aboo-hiss) find The Ganger Doctor and they all team up to take on the humans. This is where I probably should mention one of the big twists in this story, the Doctor and the Ganger Doctor swapped places through this episode in what can only be described as one of the strangest social experiments I can think of since Big Brother. The idea being The Doctor wanted to know if his companions could tell the difference between them and his ganger, which either was a massive failure or the companions/humans just really wanted to brain the doctor with the nearest blunt object to them. This allows the real Doctor to get in amongst the Gangers and try to change their minds about the alleged human scum. This comes in the way of a particularly heartfelt moment in which the ganger version of Mark Bonners character Jimmy is reunited with his 5 year old son who is surprisingly irritating for a character who’s only on screen for about 5 minutes.
It’s this moment that causes the Gangers to realise just how important the Humans are and they head off to rescue them (After leaving them trapped in a room filled with acid…) They arrive to late though and Mark Bonners the human dies! (Oh no!) This all culminates in a mad dash to the Tardis (Which in last weeks episode had been sunken into the ground) which makes an almost too coincidental reappearance as it comes crashing through the ceiling having eroded the roof away of the underground base. I shalnt say what happens to the Ganger Doctor after this point however for two reasons, one: this review much like this episode is already confusing enough and two: It really will spoil a brilliant moment in the show.
What everyone who watched The Almost People is really talking about is the ending. After dropping off some of the Humans And Ganger Bonner to become the new father to human Bonners son in, Amy (Karen Gillan) begins complaining of stomach pains. These turn out to be contractions. Yes! Anyone who’s been following the “Is Amy pregnant or not” storyline, they’re going to answer it in this one, and is it clever or what!? As it transpires for an undisclosed amount of time (My best guess is during the 3 month gap from The Impossible Astronaut to Day of the moon) The Real Amy was captured and replaced by a Ganger! Where the real Amy is right now is unknown (Though some whispers of a prison Hospital known as “Devils Run” are making the rounds in the Fan community) but from what I saw in this episode the Doctor and Rory are coming to get her back.
But I digress slightly. All in all The Almost People is a fantastic closing part to a brilliant opener. one of the best mid season two parters since 2007’s excellent Human Nature/Family of Blood in my opinion. Mathew Graham has excelled himself and I believe he has certainly redeemed himself as previously mentioned for the whole Fear her thing. If you haven’t seen this yet and you’re a fan hunt down a copy and watch it, I think it’s got classic printed all over it. If your new to Doctor who avoid this one like the plague. It’s very complex, uses a lot of Doctor who mythology and the constant shifting between humans and their gangers can be just plane confusing. Its not a good jumping in point in the slightest. I gave this one an 8.4 out of 10 in total slightly lower than last week simply because of the confusion the plot generated. But check it out you wont be disappointed. And yes I promise next week to review something non “Who”.
Till next time.
(Dr Who is shown on BBC 1 on Saturday evenings and can be watched on BBC iPlayer)