Let’s Kill Hitler
First Broadcast 27th August 2011 @ 7.10pm (8.1m viewers)
Following the summer hiatus, Doctor Who returned, picking up where it left off at the conclusion of ‘A Good Man Goes to War’. The breaking up of the Sixth series into two halves was a bold decision and an attempt to cure the falloff in ratings that the show would suffer over a 13 episode run, particularly as the weather improved and the summer holidays approached. This new structure cleverly doubled the series’ launch and finales. As a result ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ relaunches the 2011 series of Doctor Who for the Autumn.
‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ is a difficult story to analyse. The episode title is effectively a red herring. Berlin of 1938 merely provides the backdrop for the continuity-laden action. This is the closest that Doctor Who treads the line of ‘continuing drama’ or ‘soap opera’ as it is so often referred to. The first ten minutes of the piece introduce Mels. She is a character who is seemingly very important to Amy and Rory yet the viewer has never met her before. At the time of the original broadcast, I wondered why we were being introduced to this not particularly likeable person, who steals a car and brandishes a gun in the Doctor’s face. Then it all became a lot clearer…
When Mels regenerated into the River Song we know and love it came as quite a shock. This is largely because the episode begins at a frenetic pace. Before even getting a chance to get your head around what is going on the viewer is presented with an onscreen regeneration. Even Romana didn’t get that. Well not really. Anyway, Mels was a completely unexpected character to appear so when she regenerated into River Song it added yet another jaw-dropping shocker to the catalogue of events delivered over that series.
The purpose of this episode is largely to add more detail to the River Song story arc but also to Series 6 in general. From the very opening story, we saw the demise of the Doctor. We also know that River is imprisoned because she killed a good man. The Church of the Silence has trained Melody Pond for a mission to kill the Doctor. By befriending the Ponds Melody knew that they would lead her to the enigmatic Time Lord. She achieves that goal and then leaves to explore Berlin which leads to the next memorable moment.
Memorable Moment 2
Well, I was on my way to this gay Gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought “Gosh, the Third Reich’s a bit rubbish. I think I’ll kill the Fuehrer.” Who’s with me?
This is one of my favourite quotes from Doctor Who. In a programme built upon a central premise of time travel, moments like this where the attitudes of the past are effectively mocked by our modern sensibilities, are rarities. Similarly, although Adolf Hitler’s appearance was telegraphed, he is an irrelevance. Rory gets to punch Hitler in the face, a symbolic action conducted on behalf of billions of people. Surely these are the real benefits of time travel. Even
Even better however, is that Hitler is then just shut in a cupboard. His heinous acts are well documented in history books and other media. Removing him from the drama is a beautiful way of Doctor Who categorically stating that for all of the programme’s madness and chaos with Earth and the Universe in seemingly constant jeopardy, Hitler has no place in that world whatsoever. I can think of no better way to disparage that hateful man.
This story also features another variation on the duplication of real people with the Teselecta. After the events on the edge of Lake Silencio a duplicate version of the Doctor became an obvious solution. Unfortunately the repetition of the Gangers in ‘The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People’ and the Teselecta in ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ made it all the more blatant. Overall this story stands alone as a continuity heavy 50 minutes, designed to unravel the onion of the extended story arc for 2011. Fortunately however the central quartet of Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and Alex Kingston make ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ a thoroughly entertaining watch.
The Doctor – Matt Smith
Amy – Karen Gillan
Rory – Arthur Darvill
River Song – Alex Kingston
Mels – Nina Toussaint-White
Amelia Pond – Caitlin Blackwood
Young Mels – Maya Glace-Green
Young Rory – Ezekiel Wigglesworth
Zimmerman – Philip Rham
Carter Richard – Dillane
Anita – Amy Cudden
Jim Davood – Ghadami
Harriet – Ella Kenion
Hitler – Albert Welling
German Officer – Mark Killeen
Professor Candy – Paul Bentley
Nurse – Eva Alexander
Female Teacher – Tor Clark
Writer – Steven Moffat
Producer – Marcus Wilson
Director – Richard Senior