The Doctor Who reviewing team (which is only two people) have been rather busy lately, but don’t worry, we’re back! Last Saturday the latest blockbuster-style episode of Series 7 aired, and this week the genre was Western. It’s called A Town Called Mercy, and follows the storyline of an alien bounty hunter trying to kill an alien hiding in the town called the Doctor.
And no, it’s not THE Doctor.
Anyway, on to the actual reviewing aspect. When I read the synopses and plot details for the five Who episodes this year, this was the one I was least looking forward to. I’m not really a fan of Western’s at all, having fallen asleep in last year’s attempt at reviving the Western movie genre Cowboys and Aliens, and an even lesser fan of the episode’s writer Toby Whithouse. I disliked School Reunion, disliked The Vampires of Venice even more and I hated The God Complex. So I was pleasently surprised when I particularly enjoyed A Town Called Mercy.
For the first time in what seems like decades, we see a dark Doctor who is willing to let the other Doctor (called Kahler-Jex) be killed at the hands of the Gunslinger, and Whithouse knew that he would get an angry mob of fans at his door if the Doctor used a gun without the correct emotional journey (to quote the writer). It was great to see the Gunslinger be a sympathetic villain (well, he wasn’t REALLY the villain) and actually have legit motives, rather than just a soulless killing machine.
Unfortunately, it was Whithouse’s decision to include classic Western tropes (mainly the stand-off between the Doctor and the Gunslinger) that I wasn’t a fan of. The entire episode was very dark and dramatic, and I thought it was a poor break-of-pace to suddenly include a scene with comedic undertones. Plus, the reasons for why the Doctor couldn’t just whisk away Kahler-Jex in the TARDIS and why the Gunslinger couldn’t walk into Mercy and take Jex were poor.
Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were all great as usual, as were guest stars Aidan Scarborough and Ben Browder of Farscape fame, and I hope this will be remembered as a great Doctor Who episode in the future. Although the one episode that has my utmost interest is The Power of Three, and I sincerely cannot wait for that.
Oh, and we thought Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was great too.
Overall, considering I hardly have any criticisms (and unlike the last two episodes it didn’t feel rushed at all, which was a complaint of mine regarding the blockbuster-style of the previous two episodes), I would give this episode a score of…
Did you like A Town Called Mercy? Share your thoughts below and stay tuned to UTF for all the latest Who coverage until the kind-of-finale in The Angels Take Manhattan!