“Day of the Doctor” Review & Podcast

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“It’s not a chair, it’s the most dangerous weapon in the Universe.”
“Why can’t it be both?”

In Day of the Doctor  Steven Moffat has chosen to do two things: celebrate 50 years of one of the most affectionately regarded shows on British television, and go back and examine the moment the hero committed an act of genocide wiping out two and half billion innocent children. That’s not a difficult balancing act it’s an impossible one. How can the Doctor find redemption and honour the shows continuity? Yet how can this be a celebration if he can’t? Read the rest of this entry »

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“The Name of the Doctor” Review

2621994791_93b8216bda_o.jpgOops. I should have posted this one a while ago…

There are two ways Doctor Who appears to be in danger of disappearing up its own fundament in this story. One is that trope where the villain, rather than seeking money, power or universal domination, decides instead that the prime objective is to destroy the hero. The show becomes to conceited it elevates its hero’s importance above any other bounty imaginable (in this case above any world, or even any time period). It’s something you can perhaps get away with when it’s The Master, given his history. The inconvenience The Great Intelligence has suffered at the Doctor’s hands is trivial by comparison. The other danger, is, of course, too much continuity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Regenderation

nicolawalkerdoctor.jpgThe debate had broken out again before the  news of Matt Smith’s departure had hit the first editions. Will the next Doctor be a woman? Why does this ‘debate’ continue? PLEASE STOP. It’s over. The arguments have been exhausted. The barrel is being scraped. I had planned not to write this post; it’s redundant and writing it is somewhat hypocritical given my opening plea. But it’s the question I keep getting asked, especially IRL, especially by the ‘not-we’. Read the rest of this entry »

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The obligatory “12th Doctor List” post

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I’ve tried to avoid any of the names that are already doing the rounds (not that I’ve any objection to Ben Wishaw, Idris Elba, Ben Daniels et. al.) because there are plenty of discussions about them already. Probably everyone on my list has already been suggested, but I haven’t seen them mentioned, at least since Matt Smith’s announcement. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Nightmare in Silver” Review

Castle CochAnother Neil Gaimen episode was something to look forward to. The bad memory of the last time the cybermen appeared in the penultimate episode of a series was just a silly niggle, surely? Unfortunately, this one did turn out to be more Closing Time than The Doctor’s Wife.

Was it necessary to “make the cybermen scary again”? Did they stop being scary, or just get dealt a few duff stories? The problem with a cyberman that can move at something close to light speed is it’s not just scary – it is to all intents and purposes invincible. (And how come Angie didn’t suffer whiplash being carried away so fast no one could see her go?) The only way you can tell a story in which such a monster is defeated is to escalate the heroes’ power/weaponry to equally magical heights (a big magic gun that fires red lasers, for example) or just forget the cybermen can move fast and have them go back to lumbering again when they enter your castle. Read the rest of this entry »

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“The Crimson Horror” Review

Muslim_Community-_Everyday_Life_in_Butetown,_Cardiff,_Wales,_UK,_1943_D15279.jpgBy rights, putting that much slapstick in an episode of Doctor Who should have irritated the socks off me. Yet, even now, I’m chuckling at the puerile Thomas Thomas gag. How did The Crimson Horror get away with it? I’m not sure, but I think it has something do with its richness; in its inventive and elaborate structure, its unwatchably horrific goriness, its daring backstory and clever plotting, its drama and its fabulous characters. The slapstick is a part of that: more everything means more comedy. It just works. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” review

6899137527_5aab7bdb51_b.jpgThis was an episode I was expecting would disappoint. An episode entirely set inside the TARDIS? Either it would be monotonous corridor wandering, as in Logopolis, or it would be ludicrous chase-nonsense, as in The Invasion of Time. In the event it struck a balance, but a mix of tediousness and excess does not guarantee a winning formula. It started badly; the small supporting cast of salvage crew were humourless and underdeveloped; the lumbering zombie monsters were somewhat generic (and initially seemed both unnecessary and inexplicable); and the plot seemed confused and incoherent. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Hide” Review

1814008395_4b5a419126_o.jpgSet in 1974, there’s more than a small nod to Jon Pertwee in this one, that I feel goes beyond merely mispronouncing Metebilis (there’s no way uber-nerd Tennant would have done that). There’s something of the sprit of the 3rd Doctor’s era in this one, even while the being in aesthetic and productions values a distinctly 2013 episode. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Cold War” Review

2861270644_db991311b0_o.jpgThis mini-season of Doctor Who seems to be getting progressively better and better with every episode, and this one felt like a return to the cinematic feel of stories like the western, or Dinosaurs on a Spaceship from last September. Unlike Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, Ice Warrior on a Submarine didn’t feel like so much of a gimmick. The cold war subaquatic setting really tapped in to that action-espionage genre. Read the rest of this entry »

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“The Rings of Akhenaten” Review

8096313898_1d61af1145_o.jpgEven with all of the mystery that surrounds her, and despite her (sort-of) mid-season introduction, Clara is getting the proper ‘new companion’ treatment with this episode and I like that. In a sense this is the first proper adventure for (this iteration) of Oswald. It’s a throwback to the Russell T. Davies era pattern for the start of a season, a pattern that lasted into Moffat’s first year but which was broken in his second. Although possibly, I’ve just mistaken the pattern as being for a new season rather than a new Doctor/companion pairing… Anyway, Akhenaten has a nicely alien feel, like The End of the World, giving the sense it’d be properly scary for Clara to loose sight of the Doctor and risk getting lost in time and space…

I liked the fact that there wasn’t much story so the episode had time to breath, and they had time to build a proper (albeit minimalist) alien world that felt distinctive and unfamiliar (though perhaps it was familiar in the sense that it echoed Gridlock – particularly in the way music and singing was used to establish community). It was wonderful, of course, to have a reference to Susan, and Matt Smith was given some lines that really played to his strengths. The intensity of “we don’t walk away” and “running from out of the shadows” immediately punctured by the charming levity “you take the moped and I’ll walk”. I liked the treatment of religion, too (“just because something eats your soul doesn’t make it a God”).

If I had to find a criticism it seemed to be that the story came to a natural conclusion a good few minutes before the end of the episode, which was a shame. That time could have been used for more of the lovely character moments during the build up (such as Clara and Merry chatting behind the TARDIS). It felt like a 25 minute story, with around 10 minutes of lovely character moments and world building, and another 10 minutes spinning the climax out to to finishing line. Perhaps, too, it wasn’t the most original episode, especially when you compare it to the wonderful A Town Called Mercy or The Power of Three which are (technically at least) part of the same season, even if they were several notches up in terms of quality. But anyway, it was enjoyable comfort viewing – and next week looks like it will be even better still.

Once again, you can hear these thoughts enounced  for the Fusion Patrol podcast at 47’40″ (and hear 47’40″ of Ben and Eugene’s thoughts before that):


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