Doctor Who: Amy’s Choice


Rating 3¾

Written by Simon Nye

Directed by Catherine Morshead

Starring Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory), Toby Jones (Dream Lord), Nick Hobbs (Mr Nainby), Joan Linder (Mrs Hamill) and Audrey Ardington (Mrs Poggit)

“If you can’t save him, then what is the point of you?”

The Doctor unexpectedly arrives in the small village of Upper Leadworth to visit Amy, who is heavily pregnant, and Rory, five years after they last travelled with him. All three fall asleep while sitting on a bench and wake up back in the TARDIS. It has, or so it seems, been a shared dream. They encounter a mysterious figure who has somehow managed to infiltrate the TARDIS. He calls himself the Dream Lord and tells them they must decide which reality is real. Death awaits them if they make the wrong choice.


‘Amy’s Choice’ is the seventh episode of the fifth season of the revived series. With the exception of the somewhat under-par ‘Victory of the Daleks’, the standard has been very high so far, closer to that of the first two seasons than the slightly tired latter stages of David Tennant’s time in the role, when the episodes, especially the “specials” broadcast in 2009, were becoming a little brash, if still just about the best thing on television.

Matt Smith settled into the lead role immediately. As has been commented elsewhere, he seems to have an uncanny ability to project the fact that although the Doctor now has the appearance of a young man and outwardly behaves as such, he is, in fact, extremely old and carries the weight of often painful and traumatic experience. Karen Gillan, also in her first season, has proved to be excellent and should be given extra points for getting the Daily Mail worked up into a froth of moral outrage. I like the character Rory and the performance of Arthur Darvill, but this character does seem to have been greeted with scepticism by many fans.

‘Amy’s Choice’ instantly became a favourite episode on first viewing and that didn’t change when I watched it for a second time. It put me in mind of episodes of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, in particular ‘Nightmares’ from the first season of that show, ‘Restless’, the inspired season four closer, and, to some degree, ‘Dead Things’, a dark and controversial episode from the sixth season. Although there is no reason to assume that ‘Amy’s Choice’ drew any direct inspiration from these episodes, it would not be the first time the revived series has been influenced by Buffy. Former executive producer and head writer Russell T Davies never hid his love of that show or his admiration for Joss Whedon.

The episode is very cleverly pieced together, as the Doctor and his two companions move between two possible realities – one inside a dead TARDIS, where they are rapidly freezing to death, and the other in what initially appears to by an idyllic rural setting, one that the Doctor thinks is “boring” and then very quickly realises is not as it seems on the surface. It also manages to incorporate some very well judged and genuinely laugh-out-loud humour into what otherwise proves to be an ultimately rather dark episode with a real sting in its tail.

Added to this, the Doctor is left with the riddle of the true identity of the Dream Lord (brilliantly played by Toby Jones), which proves to be a particularly compelling component of the episode and one that promises to provide some more twists in the future.

‘Amy’s Choice’ was written by Simon Nye, creator of the 1990s sitcom ‘Men Behaving Badly’ and more recently the co-writer of the misfiring ‘Reggie Perrin’ update.

Review posted 25 April 2010


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