Doctor Who #1018: Rory's Story

"I'm recording all this on the only working smart phone in the world."
TECHNICAL SPECS: Released on YouTube 11 April 2020.

IN THIS ONE... Rory records his story for his new baby son.

REVIEW: Written by Neil Gaiman as an introduction to "The Doctor's Wife" viewing party, Rory's Story catches up with the Ponds post-Angels Take Manhattan, and has Arthur Darvill reincarnating his character as if he'd never left it. As with the previous short, it's very recappy, but it has two things going for it. First, it adds to the Ponds' story. Rory is recording his little videos (the joys of a mobile sonicked by the Doctor) because he wants a record of their crazy adventures to eventually show his son Anthony. After having been robbed of the family experience when Melody was kidnapped and turned into River Song. This is not the first mention of Anthony Williams (though it seems to me he should be a Pond), but we might count it as the only canonical one. A scene, now presented as storyboards called "P.S." on the Series 7 DVD, was never shot, but would have served as a coda for The Angels Take Manhattan, with the Ponds' grown son visiting his grandfather Brian. Anthony is adopted, in line with the revelation in Asylum of the Daleks that Amy can no longer have children. It's a small addition, but confirms an element to Amy and Rory's happy ending.

The other nice thing is that Gaiman slips in a comforting message about the COVID-19 crisis. Rory is relieved World War II is over, and talks about people's resilience and optimism through the ordeal, and indeed, the hope is that hardship brings out the best in us. The World Wars were a time of bleak pessimism, and a lot of people thought it was the end. It wasn't. Again - and this isn't singly a COVID thing - I hear people saying this is surely the end for our species, between climate change, and fascism on the rise, and corporate greed... But it won't be the end. By which I don't mean to suggest we should be complacent. As the Doctor famously said, "there are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things, things which act against everything we believe in - they must be fought". And therein lies hope.

But mostly, this is a cute little bit with a beloved companion, and then Amy's voice is heard from the other room, and it makes you smile.

THEORIES: Anthony Pond, eh? There's a British rally driver called Tony Pond who was born in November of 1945 and could, in the Whoniverse, have been adopted in early 1946. That seems like an odd reference for Neil Gaiman to make, but an exciting life worthy of a Pond. (What? He would be a Williams? Are you kidding?) It doesn't have to be a reference, of course, just a name pulled out of a hat. But I'd love for, say, Big Finish to take up the baton and run with it, introducing Anthony Pond as a character or even a companion.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - In no way does this feel necessary, but unlike the previous short, it actually adds something to the canon.



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