BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
As a tease for the seventh season of Doctor Who, the all-too-brief Pond Life web series didn’t really work – But as a standalone spin-off of comedy shorts, it… well, I’m still not sure if it really worked, either. Here are five questions about Pond Life, Doctor Who, and missed opportunities.
What Was Pond Life, Anyway?
We’ve seen Who use the Internet for episode and season teasers before -There were prologues to last season’s opener, remember? – and, on the face of it, a daily, five-episode web series showing what happens to Amy and Rory when the Doctor’s not around seemed like a great way to countdown to the series return. And, yet… that’s not really what we were actually given. Instead, we got an uneven series of comedy sketches that ended in something very not funny, none of which felt particularly natural to the characters of Amy and Rory.
If you didn’t actually see the episodes, here they are:
Aliens Are Inherently Funny, Aren’t They? Aren’t They?
Don’t get me wrong; I actually liked the second episode’s punchline, and the first episode was fun enough – if not really about Amy and Rory in the slightest – but the third and fourth episodes fell entirely flat for me, because they didn’t have any joke beyond “Every day existence is hard when there’s an alien about!” which felt… lazy, I guess? And somewhat unnecessary, considering what Amy and Rory have seen before and been through, already. Throughout the entire thing – with the arguable exception of the fifth and final episode, which was as much tease for “Asylum of the Daleks” as anything else – and, really, spoiler for it, I feel; as I wrote yesterday, I actually saw “Asylum” before I saw Pond Life, and feel that that was a better order in which to watch them, because it gave “Asylum”‘s re-introduction of the Ponds far more punch – Amy and Rory felt somewhat peripheral to the whole thing, as if they were just there to be the poor, put-upon humans. They were passive participants, which didn’t ring true to who they are in the main series.
It Should’ve Been Craig and Sophie, Shouldn’t It?
No, really; if you swap out Amy and Rory for Craig and Sophie from Season 5’s “The Lodger” and Season 6’s “Closing Time,” but kept everything else – Well, maybe not the final episode – the same, it would’ve worked much better, wouldn’t it? Because those two characters would have been more passive, and bewildered, by everything that was happening. Ah, well.
Did Anyone Else Think That The Final Episode Came Out Of Nowhere?
After “Asylum of The Daleks,” we know what was going on when Rory left, but even so, tonally that final episode just didn’t fit in with everything that we’d seen in the earlier installments of the series. Surely we should’ve seen some kind of hint about a stress in their relationship? I know that would have flattened the comedy tone of the whole thing, but it would have grounded not only the series more, but also given the split more of the weight that it appeared to have in “Asylum,” where Amy seemed genuinely tortured by what she’d given up.
Who’s For A Second Season?
Here’s the thing: The idea behind Pond Life is actually a good one, even if the series doesn’t really live up to that idea. I’d be up for another attempt at the basic idea of web- or DVD-extra content devoted to “What the Companions do when the Doctor isn’t around,” because there’s a lot of mileage in there – So much so, in fact, that I’d happily watch a fully-fledged TV spin-off of the idea, skipping around the further adventures of all kinds of characters whose lives have been touched by the Doctor at some point or another. After all, aren’t Mickey and Martha running UNIT these days? Shouldn’t Sally Sparrow be investigating weirdness somewhere? It’s not just Amy and Rory who we could check in on, and absent new episodes of Torchwood, you know that there’s a need for a Who spin-off in your hearts…