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Reviews & Ratings for
"Doctor Who" A Good Man Goes to War (2011)

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34 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Don't Make Me Angry. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry

Author: boblipton from New York City
11 June 2011

Reginald Heber was a Church of England bishop in 19th Century India. He is best remembered for his hymns, notably "From Greenland's Icy Mountains". So well-known was his work that Rudyard Kipling quoted them in his poetry.

Another of Heber's hymn's was "The Son of God Goes Forth to War" and that, despite some backstory here, is the source of the title of this episode. Its reference speaks of a constant problem of writing for Doctor Who. With his powers and abilities far beyond mortal man's, he often appears godlike.... but you can't really say that directly in a children's sf TV show, so we have substitutions, like young Amelia Pond praying for help only to have the Doctor show up. She prays to Santa Claus, a secularized image. However, that hidden reference to divinity is still there.

In this episode, the Doctor goes Old Testament, calling in favors from across the Universe to rescue his chosen friend. In a series of anecdotes that show off Steven Moffat's hairpin turns between humor and thrills, we see this being, who destroyed his own people, rush through the millennia and the universe to recruit help. Lorna Bucket, a child of the Gamma Forests who met the Doctor and left, because he was the only interesting thing that ever happened there; Dorium Maldovar (the fat blue guy who swapped River Song her vortex manipulator); Commander Strax, a Sontaran who has been degraded into being a nurse; and a horde of good guys and bad guys, all of whom get a few seconds to shine -- there are no small parts, only short one.

Only Alex Kingston as River Song is a bit underwritten. Her role this time is to carry a big part of the plot and she executes, as usual, wonderfully, including her answer, finally, to the question first raised three years ago: who is she? As usual, since he has taken over as producer, Steven Moffat stuffs an enormous amount of story and character and humor into this episode. All the vignettes, all the jokes, all the characters make the viewer think the plot is going one way, until suddenly it goes another. A fine ending to the spring season, with a fine cliffhanger ending to keep me coming back.

As a final note, let me express my admiration for the growth of Rory Williams as a character. When first seen, he was a stammering, nerdy nurse in a hospital -- a role usually filled by women -- being hectored by a woman doctor. After disappearing for half a season, he showed up again, and seemed to spend his time being henpecked by Amy Pond and being killed in alternate episodes.

However, I have come to the conclusion that Rory is the key character for this series. Since the Doctor's return in 2005, his companions have been women. We are meant to see the Doctor through their eyes and they serve as a surrogate for the audience. However, Rory keeps growing in stature and ability. I begin to suspect that it is Rory I want to be when I grow up.

The seven episodes that have made up the spring season of Doctor Who this year -- there will be another six in the fall -- have been well integrated. We have seen the issues that make up the arc of those seven episodes raised constantly, making this clearly more of a mini-series than a series of connected stories. The three episodes by Moffat have been fast, well paced and full of his usual good humor and terror, and the episode by Neil Gaiman, "The Doctor's Wife" is among the best in the history of the franchise. The other stories have had their faults, there is no doubt, but they have made decent change-of-pace intervals. With the core of excellent actors, an enthusiastic team of behind-the-camera talents and an enthusiastic fan base, I look forward to many more seasons of the Man from Gallifrey.

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34 out of 50 people found the following review useful:

A dark fantastical mini-epic masterpiece

Author: Robert McElwaine from Clydebank, Scotland
7 June 2011

Steven Moffat is a man with indeed a formidable imagination and with last weeks jaw-dropping reveal he was going to have his work cut out to match it. After the hype surrounding "A Good Man Goes to War" and the much vaunted revelation as to who River Song really is it could so easily blow up in his face. Generally though aside a few minor flaws and a slightly underwhelming "shock" conclusion Moffat pretty much overall delivers on his promise. AGMGTW for me personally has to rate the best episode of the sixth series so far and I don't care how many people love "The Doctor's Wife","The Impossible Astronaut" and "The Day of the Moon", for me this is the writer/executive producer at his very near best.

Given the dark epic nature of the trailer and It's assertion of an impending doom the episode itself is a credit to Moffat and director Peter Hoar that It's always felt. Opening with the Doctor and Rory gathering comrades across the universe to assist them in going to war against the people who have kidnapped a pregnant Amy. It's stylish flourishes with a cracking quick pace that really suck you in the story. And while the appearance of the Cybermen as witnessed in the thirty- second trailer is disappointingly short lived. It still never the less marks a bombastic, crowd pleasing, testosterone filled spectacle that will have you practically jumping out of your chair and cheering. Some may find it strange that the Doctor calls in favours from adversaries rather than former companions, but it does pose an interesting twist to circumstances and It's exploited deftly. The inclusion though however of a Lesbian human and Silurian doesn't entirely sit well with me as It's really a bit too ridiculous. That being said Madame Vastra and Jenny do make an intriguing and cohesive team pairing, a shame that Mr. Moffat seemed to have to add a sexual relationship between a human and lizard in to the equation.

What marks it in It's brilliance is much of the human drama and the moral ethics and dilemmas that permeate the story. Moffat knows how to press all the right buttons of out emotions and Hoar transfers all this with care and ease. The themes of religion and blind faith have never seemed to feel more relevant. While the eerie Order of the Headless Monks might resemble rejects from "The Lord of the Rings" they epitomise the dark hideous nature of fanatical devotion. Not forgetting the reveal of their headless visage is on par with classic Who's most terrifying moments as a policeman being revealed to be a Auton sent children cowering behind the living room couch. But parallel this with the Doctor and and his personal war. Moffat clearly understands the character arguably better than a lot of other writers. Is he any better than those who he is fighting against? A man on a mission to rescue his friend and her child while aided by another who wants to save his wife and daughter, you can't really ask for anything more dramatic than that. The moral ambiguity of the Doctor is really brought to the fore once again as a peace loving man is forced to become a warrior no matter how he may deny the fact. And in this battle he's prepared to use warriors to fight for him. The Doctor's own methods may not necessarily be the orthodox approach to fighting but fight he does. With a grim after thought before the eventual conclusion questions are never vocally asked but they are silently raised. A skill that the executive producer's most recent predecessor lacked. To my mind this allows Matt Smith to never be better and convincing than he has ever been before. We see a multi-faceted portrayal of the Time Lord. His fortitude, anguish, melancholy and a range of other emotions are displayed for all to see and the actor bridges the transition between each effortlessly. He is also at his most threatening and downright frightening, something I never thought I would witness. Rory in arguably the protagonists most well rounded depiction is finally cemented as coming out of his wife Amy's shadow. Arthur Darvill with the exception of Matt Smith steals every scene and is most likely my favourite companion of the new series to date. Amy too here is at her most vulnerable but simultaneously resilient and brave and Karen Gillan in a revelatory piece of acting manages to cope with conveying both emotions admirably. The supporting cast are also first rate with actress Frances Barber making a instant impression as latest villain Madame Kovarian. Although the antagonist is given little to do Barbers portrayal makes her a chillingly memorable presence. And It's great to see the return of actor Simon Fisher-Becker, reprising his role of lovable, camp rogue Dorium Maldovar who we only caught briefly in last years "The Big Bang".

A practical masterpiece and I don't say that lightly this is near the best you might see from a talented writer. I'm looking forward to see how the whole story arc involving River Song and the dynamic it presents will pan out. And with the heralding of the upcoming "Let's Kill Hitler" to follow in the Autumn coupled with a ominous post credits image I can't help but remain excited about what's to come. Roll on September!

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25 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Season 6 (part 1): Constantly suggests it will be more than family-friendly Saturday telly, but never is (SPOILERS)

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After an enjoyable Christmas Special I was looking forward to this new season of Doctor Who even if it is split in the middle for some reason. I presume this is to do with breaking the US market because generally their shows disappear for months mid-season so I guess we're just matching that. Anyway, as another part of breaking the US market, this season starts with two episodes set in America, which features the death of a future version of the Doctor as well as setting up the season-long plot around Amy's pregnancy or not pregnancy.

The first thing for me to say is that I watch this as a piece of disposable kiddie-friendly entertainment and, as such, this show still works well. In all of the first seven episodes we have lots of running around, lots of good monsters, faux-twists and turns and generally a good sense of humour which produces the safe sort of entertainment you're after on a Saturday evening. In that regard, I'm fine with it all. Problem is that I do still hold out hope that the show can actually be good for all members of the family but in this half-season it generally seems to be failing the adult viewers – and to make it worse it quite often makes out like it won't (like someone reaching for a handshake just to pull away at the last minute and thumb their nose).

The deaths are part of this. When Rory died; sorry, need to be more specific; when Rory died the first time last season I thought it was tremendously well done and brave. So when they just decided that he wasn't it really soured the pot for me – so imagine how I feel with them doing it again this season with Rory and several other characters. So he "dies", a child "dies", The Doctor is "dead" (still to be resolved) and we all know they're going to be fine because there is no darkness, only the illusion of darkness. Even in the mid-season finale I was a little disappointed because I thought that the cliffhanger over the loss of the child would be a strong one and that the general sense of defeat had a good Empire Strikes Back feel to it; but of course even this little bit of darkness is watered down as the Doctor heads off happy knowing what to do.

This happens in other regards as well – a double episode about disposable clones of humans should have given older viewers real moral questions to work with but it didn't, instead it just had monsters and plot devices that ensure that no death is ever too serious or that the plot ever risks being thoughtful. The Doctor's Wife could have also been a great episode as it gave a voice to the silent character of the Tardis; sure it had its moments but again it blows it with running and a plot that doesn't make much sense and moves far too fast through the nonsense. Indeed the plots are generally a problem because none of them are free from plot holes or convenient devices. Whether it is bigger questions (like when did they replace Amy with Goo-Amy?) or just minor niggles (that kid managed to stow away for that long without getting found?), there are plenty of them and after a while it does grate how many there are.

The cast are solid enough. Smith is able to do the darker stuff (his "General Run Away" bit was great) but generally he doesn't get this for longer than a few lines before he is all "bowties are cool" or goofy dialogue again. Tennant had the same problem but it appears to be getting worse as the seasons go on. Gillan fails to live up to the suggestion of her being the best companion yet – she isn't; she is OK but no more than that here. Darvill is given the thankless role of Rory and I look forward to him not being here anymore or him being used well (whichever is easier for the writers). The supporting cast features a few famous faces – I'm still not a massive fan of Kingston in this but from a marketing point of view, casting sci-fi favourite Sheppard in a small role was good. Bonneville, Smart, Cassidy and a few others also turn up.

Despite the number of words saying otherwise, I thought this half season was "OK". It is noisy, colourful and slick enough to keep me amused on a "brain off on Saturday night" way. I don't like the way it keeps suggesting it is more than this though – alluding to intelligence and darkness that it never delivers (or if it does, then it retracts it before the end of the episode); it isn't either of these things and I wish it were – but it isn't. It wouldn't take much to make it this way and I will return to this season in the "fall" schedules with hope, but at the same time I'll settle for "brain off" noise too.

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32 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Grand Moff strikes again

Author: Tin33Man from Scotland
4 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The brains behind the show, Steven Moffat, does seem to polarise people. Like Marmite, he's either loved or hated. What cannot be denied is the man's imagination, intelligence and natural ability in writing dialogue. I've watched all the series so far, seen all the preview clips for this episode, and still I had no idea what he was going to do with the situation he set up.

Yes, he threw everything AND the kitchen sink in: Cybermen, Sontarans, Silurians, the space flight enabled Spitfires, and the eternally wonderful Ms Kingston as River Song. He also created memorable new characters (the previous reviewer highlighted the marvellous Christina Chong, but Strax and Maldavar also deserve praise). As for Madame Vastra (welcome back the magnificent Neve McIntosh) and Jenny, there is a spin-off series in waiting for them if anyone has the smarts to commission it---the late, great Robert Holmes would have approved.

With regard the regulars, the series so far has belonged to Arthur Darvill who has taken Rory from comic relief to being the heart and soul of the programme. I'm sure Noel Clarke wishes he could have been so fortunate.

Well done to all involved in A Good Man Goes To War. It was wonderfully epic, and head, shoulders and 30-foot ladder above most of what is produced on television.

If the title of the next episode doesn't bring you back in the autumn, nothing will.

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32 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Entertaining But Painfully Cynical

Author: Theo Robertson from Isle Of Bute, Scotland
6 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As someone has been watching the show on a religious basis since the early Petwee era I can genuinely say watching this episode is a truly bizarre experience . It shows the programme at its most entertaining and is nowhere as " bad " per se as the McCoy era from 1987-89 was but when you stop to think about it everything falls apart and what you're left with is a big noisy empty mess in the style of Russell T Davies . Worse than that there's a massive amount of cynicism involved

I loved the opening sequence of the Cyber-ship . But ask yourself this - what does it have to do with the plot ? The answer is absolutely nothing . It probably doesn't even have a function outside a gripping opening hook . Worse than that you can believe it was included to cheat people in to thinking we'd be watching a Cyberman epic which isn't what we got Another thing that ties in to this sequence is why would the Cybermen give Rory any information . They don't feel fear , they are amongst the most ruthless monsters the show has created so they'd shrug their metallic shoulders and let Rory find his wife Amy ? Hmmmm . They're not the Cybermen I grew up with . See how everything collapses when you think about it ? Likewise the Headless Monks who make great adversaries but their only function to th plot is to make an adversary but at least the Headless Monk are original creations which works in their favour and are put to effective use . The bitter pill with this story is the use of the Silurians and a Sontaran

Sontarans are a war like race and to have one as a touchy feely nurse is stretching credibility too far whilst The original Silurian story from 1970 is my all time favourite from the classic series . It is a dramatic masterpiece of British television but the Silurians seen here ruin their legacy and are an insult to Malcolm Hulke . A female Silurian vigilante and her maid who might be more than a mere friend ? One can see Steven Moffat rubbing his hands expecting a spin off show to replace THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES . Sorry Steven but that'd require more creative talent than you've been showing for the last two years . Obviously the people praising the show are too young to remember THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK ? " I'm your father Luke .... I mean daughter Amy "

I don't want to sound like I watch the show every week merely to slag it off but I can't help thinking NuWho peaked with the first series in 2005 when we had the brilliant Christopher Eccleston playing a brooding outsider in the title role who had an unrequited love for his companion . Now the series has progressed in to something quite different where the Doctor is almost a Deity type figure where spectacle has replaced drama and everything is built up to lead to a resolution where there's more questions than answers

Prediction for episode 13 - The Doctor causes a timey wimey paradox . Resolves it and everyone praises it as being the best thing in he history of television because they haven't understood a single word of explanation . Get your self a copy of THE EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES to see what I mean

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21 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

The mystery of River Song is solved

Author: Tweekums from United Kingdom
4 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As Matt Smith's second series as The Doctor reaches its mid-series break some long-standing questions will be answered and one or two others will be raised. When the previous episode ended we learnt that the Amy Pond who had been accompanying The Doctor and Rory for the whole of this series was in fact just a doppelgänger, the real Amy was imprisoned on an asteroid known as Demon's Run. When The Doctor destroyed the copy, the real Amy awoke just as she was about to give birth. This episode starts shortly after as Amy tells her baby daughter that a man is coming to rescue them; a man who will cross time and space for them; that man is her father; that man is The Last Centurion! While Amy's captors await the Doctor's arrival he is busy raising an army that will include plenty of familiar faces. His opponents are mostly human but also a strange group known as the headless monks.

This episode had some great moments; I thought the headless monks were suitably frightening adversaries; while not a total surprise the revealing of River Song's true identity was well handled and The Doctor's entrance was rather cool. On the downside it did feel as if the creators had shoehorned into the story as many characters from previous episodes as possible... we even had the pirates and Spitfire pilots making a brief appearance! The regular cast did a fine job especially towards the end when their epic victory turns out to be an utter defeat and they must come to terms with the fact that they have lost Amy's baby. Of the guest characters the stand out performance came from Christina Chong who played a young soldier who joined the army so that she could meet The Doctor once more having spent a few moments with him many years before when she was a child.

While this wasn't the best episode in the series so far it was still pretty good and set things up nicely for the second half of the series; it is just a pity that we will have to wait until the Autumn to see it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Very good, needed more then 45 minutes

Author: Paul Evans from Swansea, United Kingdom
4 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For the first time in Nu Who we get a mid series mini finale.

Amy has been exposed as a flesh ganger, whilst the real Amy has given birth on board a spaceship, seemingly run by eye patch lady. The Doctor must assemble a team to take on eye patch Lady Madame Kovarian, her guards and the headless monks, in order to get Amy and her baby back. More is learnt about River Song. Madame Kovarian gets the last laugh, and lays down a big marker against the Doctor.

I really didn't like this when it first went out, but now a few years on i've come to like it. I applaud it for the amount it tries to cram in, but to me it's also the weakness. The awful two parter which preceded was too slow and padded, and this felt rushed, how good to have made this the two parter instead. It is definitely saved by the rather brilliant ending. It's a big change for the show.

I absolutely love Madam Vastra and Jenny, they make such a good duo, hopefully there'll be more from them. My favourite character though has to be Madame Kovarian, she's a very sinister girl, Steven Moffat does love a good female villain doesn't he. A hugely better performance from Karen Gillan, Amy's given a much better role then in the last few episodes.

Do I spy the same tunnel set used as in the Doctor's wife?

The token gay couple served absolutely no purpose, did they need to be there, especially with Madam Vastra and Jenny.

A few really good bits, the realisation that a trick has been played for the second time, and River's confrontation with the Doctor.

Lots of surprises in store, it's big fun, it's just too messy to be a classic. Fabulously acted, particularly Frances Barber and Alex Kingston. 7/10

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The definitive moment for the Eleventh (and best) Doctor.

Author: Dr Moo from United Kingdom
21 March 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the episode in which we get to see the defining moment in the life of the best Doctor of them all. Truly, he has never risen higher. We also learn the truth about River Song. The episode had a lot to live up to after the tremendous cliffhanger to the previous episode but it delivers everything it needed to -- And a lot more besides!

Matt Smith shows us a great range of emotion here going from angry to happy to sceptic to excited to proud to just plain terrifying and then back to happy again but managing to display all of these things believably and convincingly as we see just how powerful the 11th Doctor has become. The scene where he reveals himself to the Silence, the scene where his army storms Demons Run, the scene where he learns about how Melody Pond is (for all effects and purposes) a Time Lord and the final moments when he learns who is River Song are among the best examples but there is nothing from his entire four year run that can possibly top or even come close to his confrontation with Colonel Runaway.

"Those words: Run away. I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Runaway, I want children laughing outside your door because they found the house of Colonel Runaway and when people come to you and ask if trying to get to me through people I love is in any way a good idea I want you to tell them your name. Oh, look. I'm angry. That's new."

Moffat's script is superb. He displays the true extent of how powerful the Doctor can be when he wants to be -- And does it without even showing the Last of the Time Lords for the first 20 minutes!!! He fills his script with incredibly dark moments (realised by the cast and crew to absolute perfection) and mixes in some funny bits too as the TARDIS trio is reunited on Demons Run for the first time. It's also the first appearance of the so-called Paternoster Gang and they are brilliant here, having not yet endured Series 7B and their resultant overuse allows for the novelty and originality of the characters to be displayed beautifully.

The monsters-of-the-week are among Moffat's finest creations (and remember this is the man behind Weeping Angels, River Song, the Ponds, Clara, Vashta Nerada, Captain Jack, Missy and Doctors 11, 12 & War). They are the Headless Monks. Truly terrifying creations that surely kept many children up all night with dread. The attack prayer is harrowing and echoes the threat of them, as do the off-screen deaths of The Fat One and Dorium Maldovar, it's a shame that we haven't seen them again since. I hope we get to see them go up against the (current) Twelfth Doctor some time!

This episode displays everything Matt Smith can do as an actor. He is supported by an exquisite supporting cast, perfect script, I haven't even mentioned Murray Gold's wonderful-as-ever soundtrack! I cannot flaw this episode. To give it 10/10 feels actually rather harsh!

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Who are you River Song?

Author: turtleggs from Turkey
18 July 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Doctor and Rory starts recruiting creatures from the universe in any time and space to wage a war to take back Amy and her baby. They successfully siege and take over Demon's Run, but it seems to easy. Just as the Doctor thinks about the real identity of Melody(Amy's baby), the place is overrun with headless monks. After the battle first the Doctor, then everyone learns the true identity of River Song.

I don't if the decision about making River Song Rory and Amy's daughter, but we'll see how they tie this up with the rest of the story arc. We and writers shouldn't forget that the first time we see(now it becomes last time) River Song, she investigates in a library that cost her "life." So writers can do anything they want but they shouldn't touch the fate of River Song, because it will ruin everything.

My only disappointment in this episode is that, Headless Monks are not that frightening, I expected another powerful and frightening monster like "Weeping Angels" or "Silence" from Steven Moffat. But no, they are just "headless" and brainless warriors. Also the battle scenes are not that exciting. I really liked the scenes from "Battle of Zaruthstra" and I expected that kind of battle in Demon's Run.

Aside from that, very good episode. My vote is 9/10.

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9 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Nice and dark

Author: peter-graat from Netherlands
5 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

OK not the level of "Blink", but I enjoyed this episode a lot. And the cliffhanger was a surprise to me. Only too bad we know now Amy's daughter will die in some strange library on a far away world. I liked all the bad guys from the past coming to pay their debt. Would have been nice if there was a Dalek screaming "exterminate" at the monks, but you can't have it all. I don't think the day will ever come that they will help the doctor anyways. I did like the dark setting of this episode, and the obvious anger in the doctor. And Amy caught be by surprise as I really thought she would think the doctor would save here, but no, Rory to the rescue! Well, now we'll have to wait till autumn again. I really hate it that they only make so few episodes in a row, but on the other hand, it gives me something to look out for :D

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