Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 12 – Hell Bent

“Nothing’s sad till it’s over. Then everything is.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After last week’s exemplary step into experimental drama, I have to say I wasn’t overly surprised to find this week’s series finale of Doctor Who was very much back to business as usual for Steven Moffat. As ever,we had a script brimming over with fantastic ideas, many of which were never properly developed. As ever, we had a tricksy, non-linear narrative which gradually gave up the answers. As ever, there were fan-pleasing references everywhere. And as ever, the death of a major character turned out not to be so permanent after all. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 12 – Hell Bent”

Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 10 – Face the Raven

“There’s no nice way to say you’re going to die.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

And finally, all those series-long hints paid off this week. Clara Oswald is dead. Or is she? In one sense, it’s an audacious thing to do for Steven Moffat; this is the first time a companion has actually died since Adric in 1982. And definitely the first time a companion has left by dying since the show’s revival. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 10 – Face the Raven”

Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 8 – The Zygon Inversion

“You’re not superior to the people who are cruel to you. You’re just a whole new bunch of cruel people.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

Before I begin, a brief word of explanation to the two or three of you who wait with bated breath for my opinions on Doctor Who – I was on a pub crawl. Yes, I know, I don’t usually miss the show on its first broadcast, but it was a mate’s birthday, and to give him credit, the best planned pub crawl I’ve ever been on. Trouble was, after eleven pubs I was a bit hungover when I finally got to watch the show (and may have had a hair of the dog). Consequently, I thought it might be better to write about the show when I’d rewatched it and could actually remember what happened… Continue reading “Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 8 – The Zygon Inversion”

Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 5 – The Girl Who Died

“We’re time travellers. We tread softly. It’s ok to make ripples, but not tidal waves.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

With the fifth episode of this much-improved series of Doctor Who, we’ve finally reached the episode with the much-trumpeted casting of Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams. As a stalwart of probably the most successful show right now, Williams’ casting generated much in the way of headlines; she’s certainly a talented actor, having shown herself to be more than capable of matching the likes of Charles Dance in a scene of heavy dialogue. And the ep was written by Jamie Mathieson (with some nudges form one Steven Moffat), who wrote two of my favourites last year, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 5 – The Girl Who Died”

Doctor Who: Season 9, Episode 4 – Before the Flood

“This isn’t about saving me, I’m a dead man walking. I’m changing history to save Clara.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

It’s still a pretty good hit rate for this two-parter oriented season of Doctor Who. After a (very well done) slice of ultra-traditional Who last week, this week’s conclusion was very much riddled with what we are now bound to call “timey-wimeyness”. The fact that the ep opened with the Doctor giving a reasonably clear explanation of the bootstrap paradox set the tone for Toby Whithouse’s script from the very outset; last week was “trad-Who”, this week was “Nu-Who”. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Season 9, Episode 4 – Before the Flood”

Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 2 – The Witch’s Familiar

“Imagine. To hold in your hand, the heartbeat of every Dalek on Skaro. They send me life. Is it beyond the wit of a Time Lord to send them death?”

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I’ll admit, last week I was a trifle surprised to find that Steven Moffat had the chutzpah to open the new series of Doctor Who by writing, effectively, a sequel to Genesis of the Daleks – a story regularly voted the best the show ever did. Yet for me, he pulled it off surprisingly well, building cleverly on the themes, characterisation and philosophy espoused by both the Doctor and Davros in that first meeting. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 2 – The Witch’s Familiar”

Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 1 – The Magician’s Apprentice

“Davros made the Daleks. But who made Davros?”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After a divisive first season for Peter Capaldi’s abrasive, sometimes hard to like Twelfth Doctor, Doctor Who was back this week with a busy episode that was an obvious fan pleaser. Continuity references abounded, even outside a main plot that featured Davros, the Daleks, Missy and UNIT. Being a fan, I enjoyed it hugely. Trouble is, will the casual viewer even understand what all this is about? Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 9, Episode 1 – The Magician’s Apprentice”

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 8 – Mummy on the Orient Express

“There’s a monster on this train that can only be seen by people about to die. If you do see it, you only have 66 seconds to live.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

Fun fact – the very first horror movie I ever saw was set on a train. 1970’s Horror Express is a chilling tale of a preserved prehistoric monster menacing the passengers of the Trans-Siberian Express (including, inevitably, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee), in the early years of the 20th century. It’s not the best horror movie ever (and certainly not the most scientifically accurate), but it still works very well due in large part to that setting – a moving railway train on an epic, lengthy journey from which there is no escape when the monster comes for you.

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 8 – Mummy on the Orient Express”

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 7–Kill the Moon

“An innocent life versus the future of mankind. We have forty five minutes to decide.”

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It was another moral dilemma for the Doctor this week – he seems to be getting a lot of them of late. In the past, this was the show’s way of presenting the philosophy of its hero; perhaps the most notable example being the Fourth Doctor’s agonising decision over whether to save the universe from the Daleks by committing genocide against them before they were even created. As a moral dilemma, it’s hard to see a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to that one clearly, and in fact the script for Genesis of the Daleks cheats by having the choice almost immediately taken out of the Doctor’s hands.

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 7–Kill the Moon”

Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 3–Robot of Sherwood

“Old-fashioned heroes are only found in old-fashioned storybooks, Clara.”

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(SPOILER WARNING!)

After a season opener freighted with the need to establish a new Doctor, and last week’s dark morality tale, this week saw Doctor Who return refreshingly to an old-fashioned, undemanding romp with the groan-makingly entitled Robot of Sherwood. Very close in style to some of the classic show’s tongue-in-cheek stories, especially season 17, this saw the Doctor grudgingly agreeing to take Clara to 12the century Sherwood Forest to meet her hero – Robin Hood. Only to find the time-travelling pair caught up in a somewhat contrived plot involving the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham purloining gold from the locals in order to help some robots from the future relaunch their crippled spaceship.

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 8, Episode 3–Robot of Sherwood”