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Well, dear friends I suspect this may well be a very short review, as it would appear Tom MacRae has been taking make-life-hell-for-the-non-spoiler-reviewer lessons from Steven Moffat!
Now then, first up I must confess I didn't have huge expectations for this episode. Partly this was due to the fact that while I quite enjoyed Mr MacRae's Rise of The Cybermen, I did felt it suffered from a little too much borrowing from other areas of Doctor Who past and present - John Lumic was slightly too close to a rerun of Genesis of the Daleks era Davros and the attempts to elicit sympathy for the Cybermen echoed Dalek in Series One too loudly.
And secondly judging from the preview, it looked like it would be a fairly run of the mill outing - Doctor and companions get trapped in a futurist complex and do alot of running about and robot dodging until escaping at the 45 minute mark. And while the white rooms and matching droids seemed to promised some old school thrills in the vein of The Celestial Toymaker or The Mind Robber, it still appeared from the preview to be standard fare, fun but not exceptional.
However, I do love it when I'm utterly wrong... For this was anything but standard. Quite the opposite in fact, The Girl Who Waited turned out to be actually rather stellar! And although it's true that the episode IS the Doctor, Rory and Amy trapped in a futurist complex and trying to escape while ducking its robotic denizens. However it delivers so much more...
Of course, the trouble is I can't tell you too much about it without giving the game away. However what I can say is that as you have probably surmised from the title, this is a very Amy-centric tale, but also it features a beautiful central performance from Karen Gillan. And we're talking real knocking it out of the park stuff here. And she's matched with an equally powerful performance from Arthur Davril and some rather subtle work from Matt Smith.
It's looks great and features some eye catching direction from Nick Hurran. And indeed it was so well crafted, that it was only when I started to look up a few background facts for this review that I discovered that this is the cheap Doctor-lite episode for this block!
However the biggest credit must go to Tom MacRae, who has delivered an episode which both plays with some deep sci-fi concepts and delivers some very powerful drama. Now some will undoubted say that there was either too of the latter or not enough of the former, however personally I think the balance was spot on, with both elements complimenting and strengthening each other.
Now I honestly dare not write much more for fear of spoilers slipping in, so then I shall round this off by saying that The Girl Who Waited is on par with the likes of Amy's Choice and The Doctor's Wife, so if you loved those stories, you are in for another treat...
JIM MOON, 10th September 2011