Gadzooks! The world's longest-running sci-fi show's back!
And that means it's time for not-quite-the-world's-longest-running-blog to cast off its mothballs, dust itself down, straighten its bow tie and fling itself once more into the Time Stream.
Needless to say the show returns with a mix of confusion, camera angles and flashbacks as the Doctor, Amy and Rory find themselves joined against their will by Amy's never-before-mentioned ever-present childhood friend Mels who holds the Doctor at gunpoint and demands he takes them back in time to kill Hitler.
It turns out Mels is not the only one with that thought, because a robot controlled by tiny people who live inside it's out to do the same. Basically it's a cross between Robert Patrick's shape-shifting Terminator and the Numskulls from The Beano, with a control room that's clearly a nod to the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Unfortunately Mels' plan's foiled as the TARDIS crashes into the room just as the deed's about to be done, thus saving Hitler's life. Hooray!
Or, then again, perhaps not.
While Hitler surviving may or may not be good news, one thing that definitely is good news is that, in the melee, the mind-bogglingly annoying Mels is hit by a stray bullet.
The not so good news is she promptly regenerates into River Song, leaving it clear that Steven Moffat's determined to inflict her on us at every possible opportunity. Having been brainwashed by the bad guys, she poisons the Doctor by kissing him, then leaves him to die as she sets off to cause trouble in 1930s' Berlin.
Unfortunately for her, the crew of the Terminator/Numskulls robot decide to have a go at punishing her for killing the Doctor, as Amy and Rory find themselves aboard it and facing death at the hands of its mechanical anti-bodies. Happily it's all sorted out as River gets a fit of conscience and saves Amy and Rory with the TARDIS then cures the Doctor by giving him the rest of her remaining regenerations. With River recuperating in the best hospital in the universe, the Doctor and his mates go off in search of yet more adventures.
It's the sign of a good critic that they have a strong opinion on everything. Needless to say, I don't have a strong opinion on this episode. It was OK. It wasn't terrible. It was a little irritating in places, especially early on - the Numskulls robot feeling particularly gimmicky - while Moffat's obsession with River Song has long-since drifted into the realms of self-indulgence to a degree that makes you wonder if he thinks he's making the River Song show.
Still, for once with a River Song story, it manages to avoid throwing up too many new mysteries. I think the only addition we get here is the nature of the oldest question in the Universe, which apparently lies at the heart of everything that's going on. Of course, the question can be relied on to involve the Doctor, as the show's become so insular that everything in Moffat's Who Universe ultimately comes down to the current cast of characters.
While the episode didn't throw up too many new riddles, it did little to remove any old ones, effectively leaving us none the wiser about anything. Alex Kingston's clearly enjoying herself, Rory still seems to have no purpose other than to be a sidekick to a sidekick, and Moffat gets to do his usual thing of killing a character before bringing them back again. I suppose we just have to accept we're going to keep getting River Song story lines until Moffat finally decides he can be bothered with concluding an arc that clearly interests him a lot more than it does some of its audience. While Let's Kill Hitler's all harmless, time-passing fun for the seasoned Who viewer, you can't help wondering how an episode like this'd strike someone who's never seen the show before.
Still, next week looks to be non-River Song related, and the monsters look suitably creepy, so hopefully we'll be given simpler fare before we're flung again into the endless world of the Silence and their endless machinations.