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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

the problem of Amy Pond

So I watched the debut of Matt Smith as our favorite Time Lord in the reboot of the reboot of Doctor Who for something like the fourth or fifth time at the BBC America premiere event on Wednesday, and of course I noticed a few new things. And not just because it was blown up in HD to the size of a movie screen.

(Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen “The Eleventh Hour” yet. It debuts on BBC America tomorrow night, at 9pm Eastern. Then come back and read this post and my regular blogging on the episode.)
I paid careful attention to some of the clues that may — or may not — hint at whether time is messed up surrounding Amy Pond. As I mentioned in a comment to my blogging on the episode, I thought I had read somewhere that Amy was supposed to be from 1965, but a quick Google of “Amy Pond 1965” was not revealing, and in fact turned up my own comment as one of the top results. So maybe I’m wrong.

Or maybe not.

Amelia’s house, which we see in the beginning of the episode, certainly could date from any point from the mid 1960s onward, depending on when the homeowners last remodeled the kitchen. (The kitchen in my own apartment is rather depressingly 1970s, and I don’t even have a microwave, so a time traveler might find it hard to pinpoint the year more precisely than “late 20th century.”) Ditto Amelia’s pajamas and bedroom: even if grownup Amy were a fully contemporary, 2010 gal, 12 years ago is only 1998, and not all kids in 1998 had computers or TVs in their bedrooms.

In fact, only one bit of evidence that I can see — Rory’s hospital badge:

which is clearly dated as having been issued in 1990, suggests that the main events of the episode, with grownup Amy, do not occur around 2008-2010, because Rory would have been, at most, a toddler in 1990. (Commenter Pat Mustard mentioned a newspaper dated 1995, but I didn’t see that. Not saying it’s not there to be found, of course…) Everything else, from the computers to the phones to the widespread use of texting and social networking, says today.

So, if Amy is displaced in time, everything and everyone around her is, too. People remember her as a little girl, for instance.

If Amy is displaced in time, then surely it has something to do with that crack in the universe, right? The crack that appears right in her bedroom. The crack that someone like the Doctor should know about — at least according to Prisoner Zero.

If he wasn’t worried about the crack before, he sure is now:

This is when he’s telling Amy that of course there’s no other reason why he wants her to come with him, it’s just that he’s lonely and tired of talking to himself and wants some company.

He’s lying to her.

One of the brilliant things that makes the new Doctor Who so fascinating to fans of the old show is that everything that was deeply buried subtext in the old show is now the text of the new show. It was never, ever explicitly stated or even implicitly hinted that the Doctor was lonely and that’s why he was forever gathering around him gaggles of jeopardy-prone young people from Earth. But that’s been his clear and obvious motivation in the new series.

So, the subtext that is now the text makes room for another subtext: something is wrong about Amy, and the Doctor needs to fix it. Could be it’s a result of the Time War. Maybe he even caused the crack in the first place.

This is what I fear. It was bad enough when the Doctor had to block Donna’s memories of her time with him just so her head wouldn’t explode. It’s gonna be beyond heartwrenching — for him and for us — if the Doctor has to erase Amy Pond entirely in order to fix the crack, or has to rewind her to childhood, erasing not her but her memories of him.

I suspect this is where Amy is going…

One other thing I noticed: the Myth logo shows up on hospital equipment, too:

I have no doubt this will recur later in the season.



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  • JoshDM

    Amy Pond == hot.

  • Matthew

    Doctor Who Adventures which is an offcial magazine, says The Eleventh Hour is set in 1996, 2008 and 2010. 1996 fits well because it’s easy to imagine that Steven Moffat couldn’t resist setting a story where a Doctor appears briefly at Easter only to disappear again or many years in 1996.

    The most plausible explanation for the date on the badge is that it’s a mistake. People have been going on about it being in close up, but it’s the badge and not the date that’s in close up and then only for a fraction of a second. It’s impossible to read the date without freezing the image. This explanation is the one give, very convincingly, by Moffat himself about seven minutes into this interview:

    http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/steven-moffat-interview-doctor-who.php

    The cracks are definitely significant (and will probably appear in every story) and the myth thing could well be (Matt Smith says there are four or five things in the first episode that are revisited). But the idea of Amy being out of time is almost certainly a red herring inspired by a production error.

  • Chris

    Amy Pond is Roseish, but 10X better. I like Rose, but Amy seems much more.. curious? I don’t know if that’s the right word. She’s like a great mix of Rose and Donna

  • Chris

    And that Donna-ness will, I think, make it much much harder when/if they have to “rewind” her, or otherwise fix the timeline. I didn’t care all that much when Rose left, but Donna crushed me

  • Those interested in dissecting the mystery of “just when is Amy Pond?” might find this analysis useful.

  • Matthew

    Bill,

    Given that the badge date is a mistake, according to both William of Ockham and Steven Moffat, Rich Johnson’s analysis in that link rather falls apart.

    Amy, as currently travelling with the Doctor, is from 2010, if you want a date. Probably, she is from the less specific “present day” that tries not to get in too much of a mess about dating.

  • Keith

    The problem with Amy Pond is that she isn’t my girlfriend! Hehe. Though if she is some kind of space/time anomaly, dating her could be bad for you existance. Given what Moffat has done in the past, and some of the hints dropped lately, things could get pretty dark indeed this season. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Lisa

    I am hearing rumours of multiple timelines which might explain why Amy doesn’t recognise .. ok not gonna spoil that!

    nice screen cap of the Myth computer – I heard it was on the hospital computers but couldn’t pick it out myself

    ^^even if Moffat says it’s a mistake, there was enough of a clean shot of it to get that picture above and it’s not as if Dr Who’s show runners have no form for lying their asses off!

    How do we know he’s only met her 3 times so far?

  • Matthew

    Anybody who thinks that Moffat is lying needs to watch the video interview – and especially compare his reaction to that question with his reaction to other questions, like the one about the “big bad” being in the first episode. If he’s lying then he’s probably the world’s greatest liar, with other things he’s evasive and quite happy not to confirm or deny, with this he’s categorical.

    Ans, yes, the shot is clear if you freeze-frame it, but there isn’t time to read it otherwise. That date was not intended to be read by anyone in the audience.

  • Laurel

    Moffat has also said that he is not above lying to keep plot points secret, so who knows if what he says is true or not.

  • MaryAnn

    That date was not intended to be read by anyone in the audience.

    Whether or not that is actually true in this case, the producers of shows like this one know that fans record them and analyze them in minute detail, down to looking for things that can only be seen in freeze-frame. (*The Simpsons* has been throwing in jokes visible only in freeze-frame for years.) That, coupled with the fact that there was no reason to zoom in on the badge — we already know who Rory is and that he’s a nurse — coupled with the fact that Moffat has publicly stated that he delights in misleading us (which he could be doing by saying that this is a mistake) is all excellent fodder for at least keeping the possibility open until it is definitely settled.

    On the other hand, Moffat makes himself look like even more of a genius than he is if he just steps back and lets us hash over *everything,* and lets us assume he’s misleading us even when he calls an actual mistake an actual mistake. If you see what I mean. :->

  • SPOILERs for “The Eleventh Hour”:

    I thought it’s been established that Amy Pond is a woman with abandonment issues who apparently likes kisses so much that she chose to make a career out of it. Or not.

    I suspect the major reason Moffat gave her that job is so that he could cleverly fake out the audience as to her true occupation. Of course, he could have made her a member of the other female-dominated profession outside of law enforcement whose members often dress up as police officers but I suspect he’d automatically alienate half the show’s fans if he did that.

  • Kristen

    I’m sorry, but putting the wrong date on an ID badge that’s purposefully going to be given a close-up is too big of a mistake for such a smart art department. I saw the “Confidential”; they took multiple still shots of the actor and the badge to create that scene. You expect anyone to believe that not a single person involved in that episode (director, photgrapher, prop designer, costumers, actor, editor, FX dudes) noticed that the character would have been a toddler when the badge was issued? Whatever.

    This wasn’t a typo or an “oops…our bad.” The universe is cracked and needs a Time Lord.

  • Practically since her first moments on screen (as an adult, anyway) Amy’s character has reminded me in a niggling way I can’t quite put my finger on of the audio companion, Charley Pollard. If you’re right–and it wouldn’t surprise me–that would certainly explain WHY. Because Charley was a walking paradox, someone who *did* cause a tear in the fabric of space/time.

    That said…if Amy’s arc *is* based on Charley’s? Then I doubt the Doctor will wind up having to erase her from existence or whatever, even if that *seems* at first like the only solution. He found another way for Charley, after all. :-)

    Plus, it wouldn’t be a very fairy tale ending for her, would it? ;-) Just my thoughts…

  • Matthew

    I’m done arguing Occam’s Razor on this one. But I leave with a couple of things. Firstly, Doctor Who never has complex of difficult arc stories, everything has to be able to be recapped regularly so that viewers who haven’t followed every episode can still get what’s going on.

    Secondly, from The Sarah Jane Adventures, here’s an example of the same art department putting something wrong in close up and it being left in on the basis that no-one would notice:

    http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii292/Eeeyun_album/mona_lisa_ep_art_text_gaffe.jpg

  • Lisa

    It may have a couple of different arcs running thru it this year – it’s being run by a different guy so he can do what he likes. Messing about with time is totally Moffat’s thing.

  • I_Sell_Books

    Mary Ann, that’s genius! I would love it if your theory were true, which then begs the question: is he a genius or a devil for tweaking us fen so?

  • MaryAnn

    Firstly, Doctor Who never has complex of difficult arc stories

    *Doctor Who* has never had Steve Moffat in charge of it before.

    Secondly, from The Sarah Jane Adventures, here’s an example of the same art department putting something wrong in close up and it being left in on the basis that no-one would notice:

    But no one is analyzing SJA on the same level we’re analyzing DW.

    I’m a big fan of Occam’s Razor. It’s just that it could cut in either direction here. Knowing what we know about Moffat, the simplest explanation may be that this story is richly told, like his others have been.

  • Mr.Evil

    If you’re right, then I’m already spoiled. I’ll hack your site if that happens, I can’t stand getting spoiled ;)

  • Laurel

    Firstly, Doctor Who never has complex of difficult arc stories, everything has to be able to be recapped regularly so that viewers who haven’t followed every episode can still get what’s going on.

    Towards the end of the original series, especially under Andrew Cartmel, the stories got incredibly complicated. I mean, ever heard of Ghost Light, The Curse of Fenric, or Remembrance of the Daleks? They referenced things from episodes that were not only twenty years old but missing as well. He had an arc planned known as the “Cartmel Masterplan” that was never completed onscreen that became a 60 book series that ended in the famed Lungbarrow.

    Believe me, Doctor Who can be complicated.

  • DRWHOfan

    i also noticed the MYTH symbol on the back of thhe guys laptop that the doctor uses in ‘the eleventh hour’ when they are contacting the world leaders O _ o

  • teganj

    Something in episode 3 suggests there is indeed a very mysterious problem with Amy Pond.

  • Vanessa

    Anybody who thinks that Moffat is lying needs to watch the video interview –

    Thanks for the link. Some interesting comments from Moffat on the series as a whole (like the promise that River’s story will play out during this series).

    I think he looks very evasive. When the interviewer notes the anachronistic elements, he starts to answer, then stops himself, and first asks–“what elements are those?” and the whole time his hands are twitching a mile a minute. So he is trying not to give away things that might not have been noticed. He does say the badge is a mistake, or at least that he did not know about it, so it could be an element added by the director to fit the general time out of sync part of Leadworth.

    I’m glad Mary Ann pointed this out. I do think that Amy is going to turn out to be at the heart of the crack in the universe, a bit like Charley Pollard.

  • Vanessa

    he’s telling Amy that of course there’s no other reason why he wants her to come with him, it’s just that he’s lonely and tired of talking to himself and wants some company.

    He’s lying to her.

    Thanks MaryAnn– that was a great very subtle moment and I thought Matt’s performance made it very clear that he was lying. This is a good example of a subtle way to get at the crack in the Universe theme and Amy’s role, whereas the ID badge was a bit of a clunker.

  • Lisa

    Tennant talked to Moffat before leaving (altho I really think he had made up his mind already) and there were rumours then that there would be a River Song arc.

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