Doctor Who – A Town Called Mercy
Review By Ken Parker
The new Doctor Who series has always been inconsistent when it comes to quality. The ups and downs are part of the fabric of the series. Sure, many other series follow suite but not all. Wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of really good episodes in a row. Well, hopefully A Town Called Mercy will start a streak of this type of quality. Shaking off last week's story, we look now to an adventure with the Doctor and the old West.
The simplicity of this story is refreshing. Even Asylum of the Daleks had a lot going on but this story was truly old school and really was able to focus on the ideas of A Town Called Mercy. The ideas are, of course laid out in front of us and the audience is hit over the head with it. The connections between the Doctor and Jex and the entire message of peace over violence is really blatant and perhaps too much so. Still, I found the dialog and the performances for the most part to live up to these ideas.
What was really good in this story was the setting, the costumes and the cinematography. The producers did a good job capturing the old western movie style complete with the music and the usual trappings that westerns have. I enjoyed these for the most part and felt at no time that the script was going to get silly or stray from its path. The teleportation of the gunfighter looked like the heat waves off the sand in the old westerns. The high noon confrontation and the abrupt attention getting the Doctor has when entering the bar are all little nods to that genre that aren't obnoxious nor disrespectful.
The story could have easily been a western as a doctor who might have done some things wrong redeems himself out west, as some people did in America during that time period. You add the android and a spaceship and you get the sci-fi elements.
I thought the performances were pretty good, especially Ben Browder. Amy and Rory were lost even though Amy did have one very important and powerful moment reeling in the Doctor, the rest of the time they looked lost, just standing around and shrugging as if they had already filmed their farewell episode and was just showing up to collect their last check.
There is little I disliked about this story. As a matter of fact, nothing. It wasn't the most exciting and the pacing seemed a bit off, as if too much reveal came out too early in the story. I felt there could have been one more good confrontation with the android or another character moment with Rory, Amy and the Marshall or someone else. With that said I found this on par with some of the better stories of the past couple of seasons like The Rebel Flesh and The Beast Below but not as good as the best of the best.