Air Date: 15th September 2012
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Ah, the much talked about and much hyped Wild West episode of series seven. Although we were promised big blockbuster style stand-alone stories this series, it has so far followed a tried and true method of drama followed by fun and then straight back to drama with this episode following Chris Chibnall's 'Dinosaurs on a Spaceship'.
The episode itself does not disappoint however, with gorgeous scenery and a script that engages your brain rather than just spoon-feeding you an amusing romp with cheesy acting. I don't mean that 'A Town Called Mercy' has cheesy acting of course, with the talents of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill who are on form as the Doctor, Amy and Rory and some stellar supporting cast including Andrew Brooke as The Gunslinger, Adrain Scarborough as Kahler Jex and Ben Browder as Issac, this episode lives up to the hype surrounding it.
It comes to something when a BBC cult show like Doctor Who can afford to film on the purpose-built set of many old spaghetti westerns such as 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' in Almeria, Spain and yet even as recent as 2005 when the show was revived, filming was mostly, if not completely, limited to the UK. The crew certainly didn't let such an opportunity go to waste, with stunning shots across the desert and a sequence involving a horse that is basically a love letter to the old classics starring Clint Eastwood.
So far we've got the scenery, we've got the script and we've got the cast. With all of that you'd think we'd be all ready to saddle up and head out of town but the score can't be forgotten just like that. Luckily, Murray Gold, a mainstay of the revived Doctor Who, is on hand to provide some beautiful period music that really sells the story.
But what is the story about? Well I can't tell you too much except that the western theme carries through even to this, with revenge being a primary vehicle for the plot. We also get to see a darker side to the Doctor which fits in with the trends he's been displaying since late series five and which seems to be forcing the character down a path that makes him seem all the more alien to his companions and therefore, us. There are some genuinely moving moments in the episode and sometimes you can't really be sure who's side you're on as both the Doctor and Kahler Jex have good points in their respective arguments. But alongside all that drama there are light hearted moments that are sure to have you giggling.
All in all this episode is a big, fun, heart-wrenching western that fits in with the general feel of most historically placed Doctor Who episodes.
Next Review: The Power of Three