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Doctor Who Re-Review: Season 7 Episode 3 — A Town Called Mercy

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Screen Shot 2012 09 15 at 10.37.13 PM 600x337 Doctor Who Re Review: Season 7 Episode 3   A Town Called Mercy

I didn't really do a proper full review of this episode last time round, more of a quick reac­tion post. My general feel­ings are unchanged with a subse­quent viewing but there are some things I could address in more detail and with a different perspec­tive now.

I noted orig­i­nally that this had some of the trap­pings of classic Who and it does because here we have the Doctor and compan­ions arrive in the wrong place due to TARDIS navi­ga­tion failure and get mixed up in some­thing that has nothing at all to do with them. Nobody summoned him, no one is looking for him (despite the clever before credits teaser). It's a welcome change.

Also the frantic pace of Season 7 seems just a bit less frantic with this episode. Perhaps because the focus is narrowed to a very small number of char­ac­ters and the others are just bit players. Even the Ponds are really just minor elements in this episode. Which is a welcome change given how Pond heavy the first half of the season is.

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There are some fun echoes of past and future episodes in A Town Called Mercy (hey it's Doctor Who, we can do time travel). For example Amy calls out the Doctor on the way trav­el­ling alone affects him. The Time Lord Victo­rious anyone? And the Doctor finds himself Sheriff of a town and respon­sible for its citi­zens. Hmm, well that sounds a little familiar now doesn't it?

Whether those echoes are delib­erate or fortu­itous I don't know, but they do add an extra layer of depth to the episode on rewatching which is pleasant.

The core moral dilemma here is a good one I think. While the Doctor's paci­fist tenden­cies have fluc­tu­ated wildly over the years depending on who's writing him (and even in the newer series he's pretty incon­sis­tent) the notion of delib­er­ately sending a man to die isn't going to sit comfort­ably with him. On the other hand it's made clear we're dealing with someone who did monstrous things for (in his view) the greater good. And that hits a bit close to home doesn't it?

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hler-Jex seems to feel the need to justify his actions by probing and pushing at the Doctor. He knows what he's done, but doesn't really want to own the conse­quences. But as the story plays out he is forced to a posi­tion where he can't really ignore them any longer.

All of which makes it sound rather heavy, but it's not. It's mostly light hearted and fast paced. The humor is pretty broad, a bit too broad for my tastes at times, but it keeps things up beat. And of course all the western trap­pings are fun.

This isn't an episode that's going to go on anyone's best of lists, but it's solid and fun to watch. Which in reality is all I ever really ask of a show. Expecting Doctor Who to be bold, chal­lenging and different on a weekly basis is in my view funda­men­tally misun­der­standing what the show is.

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Doctor Who Re-Review: Season 7 Episode 3 — A Town Called Mercy by Eoghann Irving, unless other­wise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Inter­na­tional License.

Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of eoghann.com. You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for.

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