S32 (6) 8 – Let’s Kill Hitler
16 February 2013 at 18:29 #2711Craig @craigEmperor
Repeated on BBC3 on 16 February. The second half of Series 6 of NuWho begins in bonkers fashion. I thought it was all a bit crazy, and Moffat really has a thing about avatars/doubles (that includes Sherlock’s fake death). And River… after all these years what a quick story arc she actually had, from weapon to companion/lover!
To me it’s a bit “Doctor Who does Panto”, the tone never seems right. But you can’t win ’em all I guess. Still, it was rip-roaring fun. One for the kids I think though.
You can watch it here until 23 Feb: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0146h0q
Here’s what you thought the last time around:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/aug/27/doctor-who-television21 September 2013 at 21:33 #17492
@craig – yeah, I agree that the tone never seems to hit quite the right note. It bounces from rip roaring farce to serious near-tragedy, and doesn’t quite get the turns right.
There are some great lines: “Well, I was on my way to this gay Gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled when I thought ‘Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Fuhrer. Who’s with me?’ ” Or “It was a minaturisation ray.” ” How do you know that?” “Well, there was a ray, and then we were minaturised…”
But as the Doctor says, this ‘first date’ has a lot of mixed signals – and while almost nobody realised it at the time, it also had a load of plot points to plant.
Nice little comment from either the Confidential or a later interview. Karen Gillan remarked that Team TARDIS were supposed to exit the crashed TARDIS not realising where they’d landed. It turned out to be a bit difficult – they got on set to discover that the art department had dressed the set in Nazi flags. Giant Nazi flags. Lots of giant Nazi flags. 🙂21 September 2013 at 21:39 #17493
Finally managed to track down the Confidential for this episode:21 September 2013 at 21:59 #17494
And while I appear to be having an exciting chat with myself tonight – Sisters of the Infinite Schism, greatest hospital in the universe?
That name’s awfully close to being a synonym for ‘untempered schism’ Untempered means ‘not moderated or lessened by anything’. Infinite means ‘limitless or endless’.21 September 2013 at 22:22 #17495Anonymous @
Don’t worry @bluesqueakpip – as me ol’ Ma used to say, nowt wrong with talking to yourself, it’s only when you start answering that there’s a problem … 😀
I’m just watching your Confidential right now (thanks for sourcing that btw) and the funniest thing so far – and I include the episode – is when the Stunt Coordinator punches the guy who ‘broke’ the car. And that includes River’s iconic line which you quoted, which granted is amusing but feels a bit over-written and belaboured.
Nice semantic detective work on ‘untempered schism’ v ‘infinite schism’. But, sometimes I think Steven Moffat is simply flinging words onto the page and laughing loudly whilst scraching his nether bits when they land in any semblance of order.21 September 2013 at 22:27 #17496Anonymous @
Well, just so @bluesqueakpip doesn’t feel so much like the lone voice in the wilderness, I thought I’d pop up to offer my own tuppence worth.
This is definitely a rather uneven episode — quickly get done up in a tux even though I’m supposed to be dying — but it’s actually a story that I’ve got a lot of love for. Lots of seeds planted here, some of which I don’t think have really been answered properly. And really it’s job was only to seed the existence of the Tesselector for finale (as well as move on the River story slightly.
And I really like the title because it stands out so much from the style of the rest of the story titles so much. It’s one of the few nu-Who story titles I just couldn’t imagine seeing on the front of a Target cover (which for some reason matters to me….)21 September 2013 at 22:39 #17497Anonymous @
@bluesqueakpip @jimthefish – one of the things the Confidential brings home is something they actually say differently in Confidential: the Mels –> River change is in no way a regeneration which results in a new ‘personality’. The newly-regenerated River is so obviously mirroring the prior Mels incarnation – self-satisfied, egotistical, self-regarding, etc. – that it’s a bit disappointing. There has been a lot of discussion that the wrong actress was cast for the role of ‘Mels’, but it’s only upon this re-watching of Confidential that I see how much Mels’s casting was dependent upon the idea of who River would be in her first screen viewing. I.e., they were limited in finding a ‘Mels’ actress who would be as vampy and campy as they imagined River would be when she first ‘came to be’. Such a self-imposed limitation meant, sadly, the death of this episode as I for one can’t believe in Mels nor can I believe in the birth of River Song (in Alex Kingston’s form).21 September 2013 at 23:20 #17498
Evening all – unexpected visitors is what it says on my note for being late. Watched this earlier today, and will get round to Terror tomorrow I think.
It’s odd, but this and Bells of St. John (both occurring after a mid-series break) left me a bit bemused on first watch. Lots of good points, but slightly off-kilter. With Bells a second watch sorted it out pretty quickly, but no matter how much I watch Let’s Kill Hitler, I’m never completely sure about it.
I think after the relatively slow reveal of the River mystery this tries to do too much in 45 minutes, and a lot gets lost in competition between ideas. I think it may have been better to stretch the central ideas out over two episodes – the reveal that Mels was to become River, the regeneration, a bit of fun with the Tesselecta and then disappear for a couple of episodes (still as a potential bad guy), and then do the entire redemption thing on another day. It may have left the people who moan about River with even more to moan about, but bugger them.
Still, even SM episodes that don’t work completely have enough in them to give you a entertaining ride. Rivers lines, the Doctor trying to select an avatar for his TARDIS, Rory punching Hitler and locking him in a cupboard. Dull it’s not.
For additional information, here is a Q&A from the first showing of the episode to press and fans just prior to release of 6.2 at the BFI. It features SM, MS, Karen, Arthur and Caroline Skinner.21 September 2013 at 23:34 #17500Anonymous @
@phaseshift – thanks for posting that clip. One thing I find interesting and condescending in equal measure is Steven Moffat declaiming that his child ‘got’ the whole River Song mystery immediately ‘and wandered off’. That seems a slap in the face of fans who spent a lot of time thinking about the myriad possibilities and pondering the multiple ways that the character of River Song fit into the long, long arc / narrative of his tenure as Head Writer.21 September 2013 at 23:42 #17502wolfweed @wolfweed
The Doctor’s death-fart is so poignant. A subtle reminder that you’ll probably sh*t yourself if you’ve been fatally poisoned. I’m being serious.
22 September 2013 at 00:18 #17503
@Shazzbot – no, I think this is one of Steven Moffat’s constant themes – the kids seem to instinctively get these supposedly complicated plots. I suspect it’s because they don’t have the adult preconceptions; they don’t, for example, wonder where the first sonic screwdriver came from in The Pandorica Opens because they don’t have any idea that the paradox is impossible.
Similarly, mysterious pregnancy, mysterious child, mysterious woman – to a child this is obviously connected. The whole storyline is in fact gently trying to take kids through the emotional journey of a pregnancy that doesn’t go through that whole straighforward-to-kids idea of pregnancy = healthy baby = who grows up with Mummy and Daddy.22 September 2013 at 09:31 #17505
Nice semantic detective work on ‘untempered schism’ v ‘infinite schism’.
@Shazzbot – thanks. But it fits in with a bonkers theory of mine, which is that Steven Moffat isn’t planning to bring the Time Lords back, but he is planning the end of the ‘Last of my kind’ trope.
The children of the Time Lords are already there, hidden in plain sight. It’s just that the Doctor hasn’t realised yet; can’t see it until he’s resolved the paradox.
Where else would you take a ill Time Lord/human hybrid – but to a hospital run by Time Lord/human hybrids?22 September 2013 at 11:24 #17510
I agree with @bluesqueakpip in that I don’t find it condescending. Kids can be quite sophisticated and very direct. Perhaps because they don’t try to second guess what is being shown to them, actively looking for holes, etc.
The other thing about kids is that we raise them on fairytales with some fairly Grimm content. Young princess separated from her parents and being raised by cruel parent substitute is practically a cliché to them, I would have thought.22 September 2013 at 11:27 #17511
2011 was a really bad year for the memory of Hitler. If you’ve enjoyed the sight of Rory punching Hitler and stuffing him in a cupboard, you may be delighted by what happened to him in Misfits, again in 2011 in this 30 second clip.
In order to prevent a time change that has granted Hitler early access to micro-electronics (a mobile phone) super powered delinquent Kelly sorts him out in her usual direct manner.9 October 2013 at 10:18 #18043CraigNixon @craignixon
Watched this again last night, and on second (or fifth) viewing I quite liked it.
Yes, its got problems. As was stated upstream, tries to do too much too soon too fast and Alex Kingston (and I never thought I’d say this) goes a bit too campy and manic first off.
Still, good points, action, clever dialogue, the Doctor and River Mels trying to outsmart each other.
Question, Mels said she regenerated into a Toddler in New York. Surely thats in 1960s New York?
How did either A) A toddler get from USA-England on their own
B) Mels grow up a bit first (to get to England) then revert back to childhood?9 October 2013 at 10:57 #18045
@craignixon – good points. I’d always vaguely presumed that either a)Mme Kovarian et al had found her again and taken her to England and the right time zone. Because to assassinate the Doctor you have to meet the Doctor, and knowing her parents would be the easy way to meet the Doctor.
Or b) Mels-the-toddler kept her age that of a small child, took the slow path to meet her parents as children, and at some point got over to England; then made sure she was fostered near the Ponds.
In days of yore, travelling as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ internationally by air was fairly easy. For entirely legitimate reasons, my brother and myself spent quite a lot of time in aircraft between countries (and sometimes continents) having been delivered at the airport by one set of adults to be met by an entirely different set on landing.
So it wouldn’t surprise me if a human-Time Lord could figure out how to get herself across; the only complication would have been arranging for some fake relative to meet you at the receiving airport. As I recall, one of the stewardesses would be responsible for making sure you were handed to the receiving relative, not just left to play dodgems with the luggage trolleys.9 October 2013 at 11:06 #18046toinfinityandbepond @toinfinityandbepond
No wonder adolf was such an angry little man, with all these brits popping back in time to give him a slap!9 October 2013 at 11:11 #18047Anonymous @
@bluesqueakpip – that’s interesting about you and your brother travelling alone. I myself used to fly as a child with my brother across the States, being dropped off by Dad and picked up by grandparents, for summer holidays. However, my Dad being a pilot (and a well-known one at his airline; he trained most of the pilots) meant that we were treated like royalty throughout each flight. Which is a bit heady for a very young girl. 😀
Re young Mels @craignixon – I just assumed that the Silence spirited her from NYC to Leadworth, but hadn’t put any thought into the details. She was a little blonde girl regenerating at the end of DotM; but we never saw what she regenerated into. Perhaps a similarly-aged black girl? or a toddler? Bluey, what are your theories on that?
EDIT: ooops – Craig, you’ve already pointed out Alex’s line about toddler regeneration. So the next question is, was that toddler raised in NYC for a few years before going to Leadworth – or was she placed with foster parents in England as a toddler? Hmmm …9 October 2013 at 13:55 #18065janetteB @janetteb
As I recall her accent would imply that she was raised in the U.K. It might have been Madam Kovarian who took her to the U.K. As I discovered a couple of years back children’s passports don’t specify who their parents or guardians are. I found myself in the rather awkward situation of not being able to prove that my children were indeed my children. I now take the precuation of carrying copies of their birth certificates.
If Melody regenerated in 1969, even as an infant, then she would be at least a decade older than Amy and Rory so if that regeneration scene is 1969 there must be at least one regeneration between that child and Mels. Her arriving in Leadsworth in order to “grow up” alongside her parents was clearly no coincidence.
I still like the Time Lord children theory as mentioned by @bluesqueakpip. It works perfectly with Clara as the glactic nanny but I suspect that it is Clara who saves the children. The Time Lord children have not yet been saved. History is about to be rewritten. I keep hoping that Susan will come into it somehow..
Janette9 October 2013 at 14:13 #18069Anonymous @
@janetteb – that must have been awful, trying to convince some bureaucratic bod that your own children were indeed your own!
Regarding accents, my half-sister went to live in England when she was 7 years old, for a year. She came back to California speaking (to our ears) like a natural-born Brit. Children pick up accents pretty easily. (She also lost her English accent after a few months …)
But you are exactly right about the age difference – one thing @bluesqueakpip mentioned earlier was that Mels might have been ‘on the slow path’. I wonder if Kovarian or the Silence have a way to slow down one’s aging (then speed it up again to natural when required)?9 October 2013 at 15:28 #18075
@janetteb and @Shazzbot – the Alex Kingston Melody mentions that she might decide to age in reverse to freak people out, so it seems she already knows that she can adjust her aging speed/direction. She might have been a cute toddler for years.
Makes sense, because the Doctor’s various incarnations obviously don’t age the same way humans do. They look ten years older in three years, or three years older after two hundred years, or twenty-five years older when they’re meeting a later incarnation. 😈11 October 2013 at 13:19 #18250Dorium.Maldovar @dorium-maldovar-2
I expected Hitler to appear more in the episode. Also i didn’t expect Mels to be River Song. Also Mels whose skin is brown regenerated to River whose skin is white. This is a first-seen phenomenon in Time Lords regeneration30 November 2013 at 13:13 #22027Rob @rob
Got to love Watch
Showing Let’s Kill Hitler1 January 2014 at 10:08 #23761GothamCelt @gothamcelt
I think you have to be careful when you bring historical people to the show. They got it right with Dickens but they got it completely wrong with Hitler. To incorporate this loathsome, vile, murderous man in a Dr Who episode may have worked if they were to confront the real horrors he brought to the world. Instead he is used as a straight man in a poor comedy comedy routine and then locked in a cupboard. Why not just place him on the naughty step and take away his favourite toy?
Not clever. Not funny. Not needed.1 January 2014 at 10:58 #23764
@gothamcelt – actually, laughing at Hitler was a technique used both in the Second World War itself and later by Mel Brooks.1 January 2014 at 14:47 #23768Anonymous @
Tend to agree with @bluesqueakpip. Laughing at Hitler has a long tradition. See also spike Milligan. And works just as well too. Plus you’re hardly going to get Who giving a detailed examination of the Holocaust.2 January 2014 at 10:07 #23806GothamCelt @gothamcelt
Yes, I am well aware that laughing at Hitler has been used in the past by some very funny people. It can be very effective in the right setting. Regrettably, Dr Who is not a suitable setting and neither is it a comedy show. This episode, by it’s rather frivolous treatment of Hitler, has set a bench mark for the future incorporation of any similar historical figures. Poor comedy involving a mass murderer is not satire and it is not effective in dealing with their crimes. I stand by my earlier comments. Not clever. Not funny. And most definitely not needed2 January 2014 at 12:22 #23809Whisht @whisht
I find this quite interesting.
I’m sympathetic to @gothamcelt ‘s view – its fine to use humour to debunk inhuman or just plain stupid theories and actions, and has been done well and badly in the past. In fact humour is brilliant at bringing down fear and breaking unquestioned institutions.
This particular time it wasn’t done with much intent to debunk Hitler’s beliefs or actions but more as a simple comedy villain for a bit of slapstick (possibly because he has been used as a comedy villain so often in the past – unlike Stalin for instance).
I wonder if what matters is how intelligent or just downright funny you find the use of him?2 January 2014 at 13:05 #23811
The thing of using Hitler is surely that “what if you went back in time and killed Hitler” is a genre cliché? TV Tropes entry on Hitler’s Time Travel Exemption Act is not even comprehensive of its use, but covers a lot of the issues. There’s even a subset of the Grandfather Paradox called the Hitler Paradox.
The reason for his use in this piece would seem to be:
- in a show that’s currently subverting a lot of time travel clichés it would seem to be a huge target.
- Hitler is well understood to be a monster. I knew he was a monster when I was too young to really understand anything about WWII thanks to comics and TV. An example would be an episode of The New Avengers where they had saved Hitler’s Brain. I’m sure most kids today would probably sum him up as a “nasty man” through simple dint of repetition in popular culture. Mels declares let’s kill Hitler, but hardly gives it a thought because she’s trying to kill the Doctor. She’s comparing our favourite time travelling hero to Hitler (as her young self explains, he’s the reason everything bad happens because the Doctor doesn’t stop it).
From this latest Episode, you see this is The Silence’s perspective, they are trying to kill the Doctor to prevent a war. As with many attempts to Kill Hitler, they seem to be absorbed into history to push forward the outcome they least desire.
I have no objection to the use of Hitler in comedic situations, and I do think the fairly disdainful treatment of him in the episode is the right way to go (as with Kelly’s Head Butt). Counter-intuitively, making Hitler such a massive figure in history who led others astray misses a huge point about the rise of Nazism in Germany (and elsewhere – support for some of their ideas was found in pockets world wide). I think Terry Pratchett summed it up best in a footnote to one of his Discworld books:
‘Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot him and there’ll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland?’2 January 2014 at 16:49 #23814Whisht @whisht
ah – excellent points @phaseshift – of course its pretty much inevitable that Who would/should cover Hitler (as in the paradox).
And you’re quite right as to how it works in-show in terms of the wider narrative.
I guess what I found interesting about the conversation was the use of transgressive humour in general, and that the episode didn’t seem to be funny enough to assuage the use of a ‘real’ monster (at least for some of the audience). I guess I was also interested in the use of monsters generally (and how the Doctor often deflates their importance/scariness etc through humour – fancy a jellybaby?).
But that was really a lot of ‘general’ musing (which is a tad muddy!)
Love the Pratchett quote btw – I really should read his stuff.28 September 2014 at 11:59 #32617Davros @davros
The question of how many regenerations River experienced remains open. We don’t even really know whether the regeneration at the end of The Day Of The Moon is her first.
Probably seems likely there were regenerations between The Day Of The Moon and the start of Let’s Kill Hitler, for reasons others have discussed in this thread: she needs to be a friend of roughly the same age as Rory and Amy in the 1980s and 1990s.
But note that in Let’s Kill Hitler, River implies she can reverse her ageing: “might take the age down a little, just gradually, to freak people out.” So perhaps she just held a young physiological age until it was an appropriate time to enter R&A’s life.14 July 2015 at 01:10 #41177annapolisam @annapolisam
Rewatching this story arc and there are still two big things I haven’t been able to pull together (well, let’s not lie, this storyline, though I love it, is littered with holes, but these are my two biggies):
-As Mels is dying, she makes everyone aware that she knows Rory & Amy are her parents, stating she had to make sure the two of them got together. It can be assumed astronaut girl ALSO knew this to be true, as Amy finds pictures of herself with baby Melody in the orphanage. So I suppose we can assume that this is part of the Kovarian brainwashing. Ok, then we take on faith that after she regenerated, Mels somehow made it to the UK, found Amy & Rory, and aged accordingly as a human. But this begs the question, if she knew who she was at that point and what she was supposed to do, why didn’t Mels just kill the Doctor in the field?
-Secondly, I know this is just a plot device that I should overlook, but where the heck did the poison lipstick come from? Was Mels packing from the get-go? Implanted automatically by Kovarian? Did it pop into River’s pocket when she regenerated? A detail, I know, but it drives me almost as crazy as trying to figure out when the Doctor gave River the sonic she has in “Silence in the Library”.11 May 2020 at 09:24 #70642Davros @davros
Hey Rory and Amy start the episode on Earth, without The Doctor. How did they get back to 21st century Earth from the 52nd century Demon’s Run? The Doctor kind of abandoned them there.3 December 2020 at 10:04 #71214johnnybear @johnnybear
This has to be the worst episode ever outside of the two years of hell that is Mrs.Who! How can you expect your audience to enjoy this s**t when Adolf Hitler, possibly the most infamous man in the history of the world (recent times anyway) is treated like a drip at a school desk and locked up in a cupboard? This is the type of character that you use to the fullest potential and use as a possible alien entity or a man possessed by a spirit or some other kind of evil force not just use his world as a place to set your story and ignore!!!!
JB8 June 2021 at 14:00 #71731Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent
Let’s Kill Hitler Wow, another ep full of goodies. Together with A Good Man Goes to War, there’s enough ideas here for an entire season of most Sci-fi series. Amy’s daughter/childhood best friend Mels (who we never saw before – is there a plot hole there? – don’t know, don’t care) – as a teen, she was perfectly cast – the sort of girl you know is trouble but you want to hang out with her anyway, what the hell. Arriving in a crop circle in a stolen red Corvette, perfect. I was slightly saddened when she regenerated into River Song.
The Tesselecta – brilliant concept! Quirky, sinister and kind of humorous all at the same time, when it ‘matches’ to another individual. Quite why it’s patrolled by deadly ‘antibodies’ is not apparent but does anyone doubt them? Maybe they’re there to guard against an accidental hostile takeover of the Tesselecta. Have to love their dialogue – “Please remain calm while your life is terminated… Please cooperate in your officially sanctioned termination. It is normal to experience fear during your incineration.” Part of the Tesselecta concept is an echo of Mystique (X-Men) and the T-1000, but the concept of a miniaturised crew is one I haven’t seen before, and brilliantly done.
After all that, the idea of the Tardis accidentally saving Hitler’s life is just icing on the cake. The Hitler actor is a lot better match than the Churchill one was. But he got locked in a cupboard, the episode wasn’t really about him. (Reading through other comments, I can’t believe that some people got so irate about the casual treatment of Hitler. ‘Time machine – let’s kill Hitler’ is a common sci-fi trope. Not every sci-fi episode that uses 30’s Germany as a backdrop has to conduct a serious sociological study of the period, any more than the ones set in the London Blitz do, or at any other dramatic period of history. If they object to that, they should get positively incandescent over Dad’s Army, Hogan’s Heroes or ‘Allo ‘Allo).
We don’t really see what happened to the Tesselecta after Amy released the Antibodies and the crew beamed up out of there (to, presumably, a mothership in near orbit). Interesting that the Tardis could subject itself to the compression field in order to materialise inside the Tesselecta and rescue Amy and Rory. [Spoilers]: I know the Doctor used the Tesselecta in The Wedding of River Song, in cooperation with its crew, so presumably its owners managed to deactivate the Antibodies and retrieve their robot.9 June 2021 at 08:14 #71741janetteB @janetteb
@dentarthurdent We watched this again just a couple of weeks ago. Not a great episode but fun and it fills in some important plot elements, ie, what does become of River Song after she is taken away by Madame Kovarian the previous episode but like the best Moffat episodes, it solves some mysteries but generates yet more questions to tease the viewer with. It was fun to see R.S. setting up her parents, essentially ensuring her own birth and Rory punching Hitler is one of the highlights. Moffat cannot resist a time paradox. The tessalecta was a neat idea and one that really deserves to be used more. Retrospectively it amazes me that I did not see how it was going to be used later.
Janette22 June 2021 at 09:44 #71773Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent
The Teselecta is very similar in visual appearance to Mystique, the shape-shifter in X-Men, I think (except it uses tiles and Mystique had ??scales??). Probably used a similar visual programming technique in production. Also Mystique usually transformed quicker. But it’s always a fascinating concept, great to watch, and highly productive of interesting plot developments.
But the concept of it being an incredibly complex robot with a miniaturised crew – I think that was all new, and it was conducive to some entertaining dialogue. And the Antibodies – I’m not quite sure why it needed them. Were Teselectas vulnerable to takeover by hostile intruders? Whatever, they looked really cool and their bland corporate utterances – ‘You may experience some discomfort as you are terminated’ were funny and terrifying at the same time.
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