Another 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 »
By 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 »
This 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 »
Set 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 »
This 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 »
Even 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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I’ve fallen behind with my Doctor Who reviews, but I’m about to make amends with a quick catch-up…. This mini-season opens with an episode that had loads of spectacle and was solidly entertaining, but after re-watching both Asylum of the Daleks and, in particular, the exquisitely constructed Christmas Special, it felt to me like a bit of a middle-of-the-road opener to this mini-season.
As a present day story, it doesn’t feel as complete or as satisfying as Chris Chibnall’s The Power of Three from last September. In fact it’s got quite an odd Russell T. Davies vibe, even though there are a number of Moffatisms in it, some of which seem to have been recycled directly from previous episodes. The spoon heads and uploading people reminded me of Silence in the Library and the Doctor and his TARDIS in Clara’s garden reminded me of The Eleventh Hour. The telephone ringing, the Bells of St John, was something Moffat had also done (if I remember correctly) in The Empty Child. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve wanted a Doctor Who noir for ages. Because with Doctor Who you get a whole new setting every time the TARDIS lands genres are a great shorthand to to move you straight through the the story: the Western, the Period Drama, Pirates!, a Whodunnit. Why not stick the Doctor into harsh, wise-cracking world of glistening sidewalks, dead chauffeurs and deadly dames?
“New York was growling outside, but I was ready for it. My stocking seams were straight, my lipstick was combat-ready, and I was packing cleavage that could fell an ox at twenty feet.”
Even when featuring Sting indicated that wasn’t the atmosphere they were going for, I wanted to read the book that line came from. It was soon plain it wasn’t a ‘real’ book, but after the episode I thought I was still going to be able to read it! As a tie in with the episode, the BBC released a Melody Malone novel. Read the rest of this entry »
This final scene for Rory’s Dad was written by Chris Chibnall but never shot. I wonder why? It answers the “what about Brian” question that many of us were asking. It also fills out the post-Doc lives of Amy & Rory. It’s quite touching. And it makes their story more satisfying.
But I wonder where it was intended to go? It was written by Chibnall, so it’s not from Angels Take Manhattan yet it divulges the end of that story so how could it belong in The Power of Three. I wonder if the transmission sequence of these episodes was changed after the scene was written?
Update: Chris Chibnall has clarified that the scene would have formed a DVD extra.
I was wrong. I thought the scrag-end of the Amy Pond arc, this minute epilogue to the two-year saga, couldn’t do justice to her story. To my surprise this episode, which proved there was still room for a Pond tale, also bore all the hallmarks of a Russell T. Davies parallel Earth story. Read the rest of this entry »