The most frightening aspect of this episode is undoubtedly that it is set at least some months into the future (following a military build up that has yet to occur) and yet Trump has still not been impeached.
I love Peter Harness’ Zygon/immigration two-parter last year which played with some very current political themes. This episode seems to be doing something similar, this time targeted growth of the far right, but without the same focus, and with a lot of the hocus of the RTD political perspective (the world of Harriet Flynn). Thus: let’s have a character and let’s say he’s the Secretary General of the UN but let’s not have him behave anything like any real Secretary General ever has or ever would. Then let’s disintegrate him, Sound of Drums style. I have no issue with the Doctor behaving unpresidentially – but if he is supposed to be President, does jar when no-one treats him presidentially. These things irritate me disproportionately. All reviews are subjective, of course, but I like to delude myself that I managed a degree of detachment in my criticisms – this, however, it a bugbear I cannot overcome.
Also – why a pyramid? And how much of the simulation stuff was actually necessary?
Then there are the things – good things! – that are conspicuous by their absence. How does a near-future Earth story which actually involves the UN not feature UNIT? What on Earth are Kate Stewart, Osgood et. al. actually doing if they don’t turn up when an ancient pyramid pops up overnight? And after all the foreshadowing in Extremis, where is Missy? WE WERE PROMISED GOMEZ!
Despite the instant goo-ifying bio-hazard, I did really like the B-story, however, which builds through the story to dominate it by the end. It becomes obvious why the Doctor keeping his blindness secret has been contrived – but just because the structure of a well-crafted story is obvious, it doesn’t make it any less satisfying. I like the fact that the monks had to be invited (though it did make me think of the Time Lord’s most ancient enemy, vampires, but was probably actually an attempt to be charitable to UKIP voters). I like the way in which the pieces fell into places for the crucial invitation to be made. In the end, this overcame my irritation with the other aspects.
Incidentally, this post is a couple of weeks behind because real life has (inexcusably) got in the way of Doctor Who, but hope to catch up with my reviews in the next few days…