“Time Heist” Review

Now, I like Hustle as much as the next man ((at least, the first three series)) so to have it combined with Doctor Who should be a real treat, but, for some reason I cannot quite put my finger on, this episode left me cold. Oh, I didn’t object to it – it passed the time quite merrily – it just left me without any strong emotion. Like a meringue. Or The Long Game.

It’s a well shot and well-constructed episode. There are a couple of interesting and likeable extra companions, and plenty of fast-paced vintage corridor action to keep things interesting. It picked up on and reinforced the recurring themes and mysteries of the season. Okay, it wasn’t exactly subtle on those last points (the “professional detachment” hardly needed describing, and Clara is unlikely to need reminding that “we still don’t know who that was” who gave her the TARDIS phone number) but it was a box checked. The revelation of the architect’s identity made sense (though I’m fairly sure the entire viewing audience must have guessed it within seconds of the opening titles fading out).

Yet as a piece of television it just didn’t excite me. Maybe my expectations were too high after last week’s episode – in fact after a very strong run of four episodes – or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. It does, I think, highlight how skilfully Hustle is put together to seem so effortlessly entertaining. Indeed, the changes in cast in that show demonstrated how changing any of the cast members destroyed the magic – so perhaps something similar is too much to expect of a one-off 50 minute episode.

Anyway, without any real criticism to make, yet without feeling engaged by it, I’m not sure what to write about Time Heist. But that’s okay, because I can talk about it being filmed in my building, instead.

At least, I was going to talk about that, until I saw m’colleague @petergbell has posted a much more entertaining account of that day, including his close encounter will Capaldi. Go and read it – it’s also illustrated with much more illuminating images that the underwhelming bunch of photos I took, which are here:

One interesting thing, though, is that the scene that they spent almost an entire day filming wasn’t actually in the episode. An exterior shot of the building made it in, and an aerial shot of the ring of flamethrowers that you see in the video at the start of the episode. But we saw the Doctor and the team walk toward and enter the ring, and we can prove it, since one of the publicity images is clearly identifiable as being in the Hadyn Ellis Building:

But you never see that moment in the episode. When the bluray comes out, the first thing I will watch is the deleted scenes. For once, they’ll be much more exciting that the actual show.

Next time The Caretaker (the name the Doctor was using in The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe) appears to see the Doctor trying to fit in to ordinary life on Earth. Like The Lodger. Quick google reveals it is, indeed, another Gareth Roberts episode. Hope it’s just as good!

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

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