Doctor Who: Season 6, Episode 5

The Rebel Flesh (21 May 2011)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 2,100 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 6 critic

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in a future Earth where a small group of humans operate a plant extracting highly dangerous chemicals. To minimize the danger to themselves, they create ... See full summary »



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Episode complete credited cast:
Marshall Lancaster ...


The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in a future Earth where a small group of humans operate a plant extracting highly dangerous chemicals. To minimize the danger to themselves, they create clones made of a plastic-like substance, 'gangers' (short for doppelganger) who do the actual work. While forming their clones however, the Earth is struck by massive solar flare activity that transfer the humans' emotions and memories in addition to their technical abilities. As they all try to deal with what has happened, the gangers are clearly no longer prepared to accept the limited status they previously had and insist on being treated as sentient beings in their own right. As it turns out, others have been affected as well. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

21 May 2011 (UK)  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Originally, the facility would have housed a much larger complement of both staff and Gangers, but these numbers were cut back both for budgetary reasons and to accentuate the atmosphere of claustrophobia and paranoia. See more »


[last lines]
Jimmy: This is insane. We're fightin' ourselves!
The Doctor: Yes, it's insane, and it's about to get even more insanerer. Is that a word?
The Doctor: [louder to the darkness] Show yourself! Right now!
Amy Pond: Doctor, we are trapped in here and Rory's out there with them. Hello? We can't get to the TARDIS and we can't even leave the island.
The Doctor's Voice: [from the darkness] Correct in every respect, Pond: it's frightening; unexpected; frankly a total, utter splattering mess on the carpet; but I am certain, one hundred percent certain,
The Ganger Doctor: [...]
See more »


You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Written by Pino Donaggio, Vito Pallavicini, Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell
Performed by Dusty Springfield
See more »

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User Reviews

The most evenly paced if imperfect episode of series 6 so far
22 May 2011 | by (Clydebank, Scotland) – See all my reviews

I never quite understood the animosity towards "Fear Her" the 2006 entry in Doctor Who universe. I mention this because tonight's latest entry the darkly titled "The Rebel Flesh" a fairly tightly scripted episode is penned by Matthew Graham who was behind the latter story. An opening to the second two parter of the current series it has much of the positive attributes that for me made FH enjoyable. While not exactly breaking new ground it is one of the few episodes which actually has that old classic feel of the original series.

The basic premise is straight forward enough. The Doctor Amy and Rory arrive on another planet outside a factory in Earth's future were a small skeleton crew of humans are able to clone themselves using a innovative fleshy chemical substance. Christening these doppelgängers as 'Gangers' they for-fill tasks deemed two dangerous for humans to carry out. When a wave of solar flares (which is what brought the TARDIS crew to the planet in the first place) leads to the Gangers becoming sentient and recalling real memories of their benefactors. A small all out war eventually erupts with the Doctor and his companions caught in the middle and the Time Lord attempting to play mediator.

Mostly evenly paced, emotional with a wonderfully creepy and almost classic Hammer Horror feel which was occasionally the bench mark for some of the old series stories (Think the Brain of Morbius), "The Rebel Flesh" is guilty of hi-jacking old concepts and arguably time worn plot devices but Graham at least manages to exploit these elements with some panache and verve. As where "The Next Doctor" and "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" capitalised on the themes of identity and what makes us who we are Graham does the same and largely comes up trumps. Imagine coming face to face with another version of yourself who is not quite human and brimming of all your emotions and all of your darkest and deepest memories. Imagine how unnerving that might be and it is established and executed with equal measures of poignancy and the macabre. But is it are memories that make us real and who we are, are we more the sum of our memories? Philosophy too has also at times been a key point to not only "Doctor Who" but in science fiction and in this respect recalling the works of Phillip K. Dicks and Anthony Burgesses this is what Graham accomplishes pretty successfully. It would be easy, nay obtuse to label the show a family friendly series that shouldn't dabble in this heavy subject matter. It's still weighed by decent if less than innovative antagonists(even though who the real one's are become's fairly blurred) have just enough energy and fear factor to appeal to a wide mainstream audience which includes the little ones. Graham also deftly handles the ultimately well intentioned nature and the ideology of the Doctor who here I believe is the most earnest we have seen him thus far this series. And that is also in the entirety of the episode. The is an aura of futility that permeates the story and this is underpinned by Matt Smith who although his incarnation of the Doctor once again tries to play self appointed mediator between to the two camps that have formed. Smith is beautifully understated and gives one of his best performances thus far. Karen Gillan again continues to be a presence that is beginning to become unnecessary in that Amy is given more exposure than she seemingly deserves. I much prefer Arthur Darvil who to my mind is not only more relatable but likable and continues to outshine Gillan at every turn. It would be a cinch to lumber the blame on some of the empty handed way her character has been developed. And while that is true I can't just totally accept that. She is really a emotionally sterile actress with very little in the way of range. Blank expressions seem to be what she constitutes as emotion half the time.

The rest of the supporting cast which include Marshal Lancaster of "Life on Mars" fame and Sarah Smart are reliably solid and effortlessly manage to bridge and command their roles as both humans and Gangers with admirable aplomb. And the production values given the budget cuts are fairly high given the circumstances. The cold darkness of the environment helps to enhance the unsettling and claustrophobic nature of the protagonists and antagonists plight. Where everything is let down is that while the pace is mainly even that I feel it does sag a tad in the middle while there is still as I already mentioned a slight air of de-ja-vu which has been something of a slight trend in the current series. Some might quibble that good or bad that the Gangers in their more "alien" manifestations are almost clones of Lord Voldermort from the Harry Potter movies. Less than inventive make-up design? Could very well be but never the less it's first rate prosthetics none the less. And while the cliff-hanger is effective enough I couldn't help but feel under-awed or thrilled by it. Actually it has an air of predictability, Never the less TRF is still when measured next to "The Doctor's Wife" a worthy entry in the Whoniverse and a fine homage to the bygone days of the Hinchcliffe era of DW. With a tantalising trailer that promises that events may take even darker turns I still look forward to witness how everything will finally be resolved.

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