Monday, 20 October 2014

Series Eight


Deep Breath written by Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley

Result: The first half an hour of Deep Breath might just be the most worst opening to any regeneration story. Previous recipients were either so shocking they were like having a bucket of cold water thrown in your face (the Doctor strangling Peri) or paradoxically so dreadful they were deliriously enjoyable to watch (Kate O'Mara dressing up and doing her best Bonnie Langford impression). I found myself drifting off to make dinner and just listening with one ear. Which is bizarre because the last half hour does some genuinely interesting things with its characters. Deep Breath has an extra 35 minutes to play with but it doesn't use them wisely. Time of the Doctor tried to squeeze too much into to short a time...Deep Breath has the opposite problem. Although there is the odd nugget of gold in the script, the dialogue is frequently painful and the plot is entirely made up of recycled ideas. Those who are declaring this as one of Moffat's best are clearly coming to the show from a different place critically than I am. Just because we so desperately want this to be a bold new era of Doctor Who...that doesn't mean it automatically is and whilst this has some fresh elements to it (mostly the Doctor's brooding darkness in the wake of Smith's wackiness) this is still laden with the flaws that have been apparent in Moffat's approach since series six. Perhaps this was the point where a new showrunner (hate that term), one who is not a fan should have taken the reins. It worked for Hinchcliffe. The new Doctor is deliberately awkward and non-conformist and whilst that might work for Doctor Who fans who understand that it takes a while to settle into the role I can only imagine the wider audience watching and recoiling at the enforced strangeness that the protagonist is forced to exhibit. Capaldi pulls it together in the last half an hour and focuses on the Doctor's exciting newfound murkiness but he really struggles in the opening half of this story. Clara is improved exponentially simply by reacting to the situation like a human being rather than the unfazed super companion she was last year. When did acting scared become a revolutionary concept for a companion? Only in the wake of Amy and Clara Mark I... While the plot never thrilled me, there were some intriguing scenes in the tail end of the story (mostly down to Capaldi's riveting performance) and whilst I never for one moment bought that the semi regulars would be killed (people don't die in the Moffat-verse, remember?) the climax is at least dramatically satisfying. Ben Wheatley is a name that has excited a lot of people but judging by the material here he was lauded a little too early. I would say he is one of the weaker directors to have realised a story yet. I would sum up Deep Breath as an abject failure as a story but an intriguing success as a character tale...once it got going. I would say that on strength of Time of the Doctor and Deep Breath back to back that Steven Moffat has gone bankrupt creatively (he has exhausted his well of ideas) but still has some tricks up his sleeves when it comes to his characters. It is a frustrating situation because I want razor sharp stories and strong characterisation but after the trinity of terror last year (Journey, Nightmare and Time) I will happily take at least one or the other for the time being. I am genuinely excited to see what the new writers bring this year with new set up but Moffat is going to have to up his game exponentially, in story terms, in order to get the show up to scratch: 5/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/deep-breath-written-by-steven-moffat.html

Into the Dalek written by Phil Ford & Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley

Result: Given the last collaboration between showrunner and Phil Ford produced the superlative The Waters of Mars (still my idea of the perfect Doctor Who story) I was expecting great things of Into the Dalek. It was certainly a step in the right direction after Deep Breath but unfortunately still riddled with flaws that kept it from being just above average for me. Into the Dalek wants to be a mad Fantastic Voyage style adventure, a gripping Dalek massacre and a psychological examination of both the Doctor and the Dalek and simply doesn't have the time to do justice to all three and so much of the material is rushed. It performs all three adequately (visually it works a treat) but I would say that The Invisible Enemy, The Parting of the Ways and Dalek tackle these three individual elements in a much more effective way because they have the time to explore them. Squishing them all together means there is barely a moment to breathe and in some cases the genres are fighting each other (Honey I Shrunk the Kids style running about inside a Dalek and a psychological face off between the Doctor and the Daleks are hardly the most complimentary of concepts). This so desperately wants to be Capaldi's Dalek but it isn't as hard-hitting or as intimate and he simply isn't scared enough of the creatures for it to have the same impact. Dalek was so raw it was practically bleeding, this discusses emotions and feelings but it doesn't show the characters experiencing them and there is a massive difference between the two approaches. Whilst it doesn't engage me psychologically, I have long awaited the time when the Daleks were behaving like total bastards again after being slowly castrated throughout the Moffat era and here they get to do what they do best, kill indiscriminately. The scenes of them storming the base and massacring the crew are a highlight. I found this entertaining, occasionally quite profound but this desperately needed an extra 15 minutes to add extra depth to the characters, detail to the setting and to allow the plot some time to breathe. Into the Dalek is packaged in such a mechanical way that it pretty much guts the story of any real tension. Kudos for the action content though and I can't wait to see a lighter side of Capaldi next week: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/into-dalek-written-by-phil-ford-steven.html

Robot of Sherwood written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Paul Murphy

Result: Romps. Some Doctor Who fans come out in hives at the mere mention of the word. Filler episodes that are designed to do nothing but fill an hour with energy, excitement and amusement, I rather like them when they are written with care and brought to the screen with some oomph. The Unicorn and the Wasp set the romp benchmark very high for me; a witty, beautifully cast and filmed mystery and a poignant character study to boot. Style, substance and humour. Robot of Sherwood doesn't reach anywhere near that lofty position but it is a step up from Curse of the Black Spot (it is more energetic and amusing) and a step down from The Lodger (it lacks the drama) in the romp stakes (hohoho). The biggest drawback to this episode is the intrusion of a SF story (signposted in the title, spoiling the surprise reveal of the robot) which is half baked and a bit embarrassed to be there amongst all the high jinks, peeping through the comedy tentatively. I question why this couldn't simply have been an exploration of myth (because that is much more interesting than slavishly copying the plot of Deep Breath) because the SF elements bring with them gaps in logic, irritating questions and an mortifying resolution. I want the show to be daring and attempt a pure historical without any SF trappings. The first half worked better for me in that respect but then the robots came stomping in on the fun and rob us of a genuine historical romp. I would have happily have accepted that the myth was real without all the is he/isn't he a robot nonsense. The biggest strengths of Robot of Sherwood are the superb central performances by Tom Riley (I think I fell a little bit in love with Robin) and Ben Miller, the generally gorgeous direction, light tone and stylishness of the whole affair. Gatiss isn't a comic genius so his humour misses as much as it hits but the moments it hit genuinely left a big smile on my face. A plot so light a gentle breeze would carry it away, a curmudgeonly Doctor spoiling the good heartedness of it all, charismatic guest performances, the impossibly smug and self assured girl, beautiful locations and a rousing score, terrible presentation of the narrative - I'm torn between the jolly mood and the moronism (ooh I've invented a word) of the writing. Robin Hood, Hollywood style, like a beautiful piece of art without intellectual worth: 5/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/robot-of-sherwood-written-by-mark.html

Listen written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon

Result: 'Fear makes companions of all of us...' The most complex, baffling, thoughtful and frustrating Doctor Who story since Ghost Light, Listen practically defies explanation and will leave viewers as thrilled as it will irritated. I rather like that, it is Doctor Who pushing the boundaries again and not rejecting Hollywood concessions for the audience. Listen expects some people to be appalled. And others to be aghast at the liberties it takes. And others to be bowled over by its exploration of the unknown. Listen deliberately asks more questions than it answers which is bound to cause a portion of the Doctor Who fan base (who like to tidy away everything into boxes - take the subject of canon for example) to self ignite. It is basically four vignettes that are only tenuously linked; the first set piece being a take on the Russell T. Davies era (a date in a restaurant that goes disastrously wrong specifically reminds me of Boom Town), the second a mix of The Girl in the Fireplace (something under the bed), Blink/The Eleventh Hour (open/close your eyes and something nasty will happen), the third a riff on Midnight (a claustrophobic attack in an SF setting by something unknown) and then finally a reproduction of The Name of the Doctor (Clara playing a vital role in the Doctor's past). While none of these sketches are prototypal, this time Moffat has taken inspiration from the best of New Who and lumps them all together in one episode. I still think he is creatively bankrupt in his twilight years but Listen manages to sum up the best of NuWho in a very satisfying, cohesive way. And isn't Peter Capaldi superb? Whilst the individual set pieces all work for me in their own right (I have a few reservations about the one set on Gallifrey but the reveal that the little boy is the Doctor is expertly done), Moffat is still having trouble structuring a narrative. Or maybe that was the idea...an incoherent narrative to accentuate the obscurity of the threat and the lack of answers. To deny the viewer any of things they expect from television. Listen chugs along moodily...and then just stops as disquietingly as the material that has just played out. The quality of the writing does suggest that Moffat has been filling a role that doesn't suit him, wasting his time structuring seasons and doing an endless roll call of openers and finales when he is much better at concentrated, standalone adventures. It is trying to be more cerebral and philosophical than your average Saturday night fare (Primeval it aint), intelligent material like this should be commended and encouraged. It's taking an intellectual approach to exploring fear so it never reaches the anxiety levels of Midnight, which was very much an emotional exploration of the same idea, and that exposes the major difference in Moffat and Davies' writing. One is discussing what makes things frightening and the other is simply frightening. You decide which approach you prefer. Exquisitely shot, full of strong ideas and trying to say something vital about the titular character, Listen is the best standalone episode since Hide and if we could only write off Clara in a hideous accident it would score even higher. Had this been original it would have been an absolute classic: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/listen-written-by-steven-moffat-and.html

Time Heist written by Steven Thompson & Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon

Result: Doctor Who's current obsession with Hollywood continues. We've had Jurassic Park in Victorian London, Fantastic Voyage in side a Dalek, Robin Hood with robots and now we are treated to Ocean's Eleven with time travel. On my first viewing I was glued to the screen because I was tricked into thinking that this was leading somewhere spectacular, something I haven't been lulled in to for some time. It's been an age since I last watched a Doctor Who episode where I didn't know what was going on and was simply enjoying the ride so much. The destination is nowhere near as enjoyable as the journey, that's unfortunate but this is still a thrilling first watch, one that ultimately spoils repeated viewings because of its questionable twists towards the conclusion. As usual it could have done with an extra fifteen minutes (the structure of the story would be completely different if it had that luxury) to allow the story time to breathe (this one is sprinting all the way through) and flesh out the characters (Keeley Hawes isn't given a character, she plays standard smug villainess number eighty four) but the fluidic nature of the storytelling and the breathless pace convince you whilst you are watching that it is the perfect length. It is only when you think about things afterwards that the cracks appear. Typical Moffat then. Still it is sporting some delicious visuals, terrific interaction between the actors, some acerbic lines and wonderful ideas. I cannot come down too hard on an episode that gets all those things right. Not only that but it is a Doctor Who story set on an alien world with exotic characters on display and that is something I can always get caught up in. Despite the wealth of faults which I have explored above, I found myself seduced by this one. It wasn't anywhere near as clever is it was trying to convince you that it was but this is a story that by its very nature is designed to be all style and no substance and boy did it deliver some style. Farscape sported a very similar episode to this (a bank heist on an alien world) on what must have been double the budget and with twice the perversion and imagination (more dumbed down for a family audience?) and as such this is a pale shadow of that, but in Doctor Who terms this was pretty classy stuff. I rather liked how sexy it all was but I can understand why some people were turned off: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/time-heist-written-by-steven-thompson.html

The Caretaker written by Gareth Roberts & Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Murphy

Result: It's the robot I feel sorry for. Billed as the most deadly killing machine ever, it waddles into action like a hyperactive duck waving it's arms about... I couldn't help but go 'beedy beedy beedy' every time it showed up. It belonged in another episode too, like Robot of Sherwood it was another superfluous splash of SF in an episode that was trying to stay grounded in another genre altogether. I'm not sure Waterloo Who has legs to stand on; the school bound drama concerning two teachers, the alien caretaker that interferes with their love affair and the gobby student who stands in the background with her hands on her hips unimpressed by everything. If Moffat is trying to recreate the magic of the original TARDIS line up he has quite a way to go. What to think of The Caretaker? It was entertaining enough, but I did spend most of the hour wondering why I was watching this instead of something more engaging. 45 minutes passed harmlessly enough; some of it made me smirk, some of it made me clock watch and most of the relationship stuff fell flat because it was told without any joy. It's all character development, a story is barely considered. This is proof, if it was needed that I wont watch any old kitchen sink domestic drama and give it a free pass as some seem to think. This is what Russell T Davies was trying to achieve without the charm to make it work, this is domestic drama played for real without the entertainment value of warm and funny characters that makes getting close to them worthwhile. I am a long way from being convinced by Clara and Danny's love affair, which might just be the most sombre relationship I have ever witnessed on television. It's missing two things that would really make it work, humour and passion. In contrast the Doctor/Clara relationship has really started to gel for me now and they share a number of moments in The Caretaker where the characters sing together. It might have something to do with how Clara was wrong footed throughout, how the Doctor constantly kept her on her toes. They just work, in a way that Coleman and Smith never really did for me. The Caretaker is another episode this season that left me quite ambivalent (just like Deep Breath and Robot of Sherwood), I question whether this is a story that needed telling. Danny's integration into Clara's other world did not require an entire episode and if it was necessary I question whether it was told with enough pizzazz. There were some funny lines and moments but this wasn't a patch on Aliens of London (secondary characters drawn into the Doctor's world), School Reunion (the Doctor undercover in a school that evolves into the ultimate love triangle), The Lodger (the Doctor posing as a human and interfering with a blossoming relationship) or The Power of Three (companion who hops from one life to the other trying to reconcile the two). It was an awkward hybrid of old episodes, like most episodes in season eight, struggling to say something new but passing the time amiably enough. A situational comedy, that's where all the humour is (in the situation) and there is none left over for the characters, a fatal error: 5/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/the-caretaker-written-by-gareth-roberts.html

Kill the Moon written by Peter Harness and directed by Paul Wilmshurst

Result: 'It's time to take the stabilisers off your bike...' I think I might be turning a corner with season eight. With the advent of Kill the Moon (and Mummy on the Orient Express for anybody who might be interested) that is four of the last five episodes that have ranked from good to great. Kill the Moon was written by a new writer to the series and it shows because it isn't resting on the laurels of the past but pushing ahead with something unique and groundbreaking (hoho). The fact that fan reaction to the extraordinary twist that the Moon is an egg was so divisive proves that he must be doing something right, until this point in the season I don't think there has been anything worth getting this het up about. This was a massive risk and for some (like me) it paid off in spades. I love how the episode shifts gears from your traditional Doctor Who spook fest (which the director pulled off with some gusto) to something much more dramatically substantial and philosophical. For once an episode tossed out the timey wimey clever cleverness and actually seemed to be about something. Whereas I have been slouching back and enjoying the show for what it is in season eight there were three times in Kill the Moon when I bolted upright on the edge of my seat and really paid attention (for the record it was the egg twists, the Doctor choosing to exonerate himself from responsibility and Clara's devastating accusations in the closing TARDIS scene). There is so much to admire about this episode; the stunning filming in Lanzerote, the arachnophobiacs nightmare, the standout performances of Capaldi and especially Coleman who truly proves her worth in the devastating climax. I'll take a point away for the humourless and generally staid guest cast of characters and another because Courtney's presence baffles me but overall this joins Listen as the best episode of the year to date for me. I feel as if the season is gaining more momentum as it progresses and new regime is starting to click into place. It's nice to be so positive about the show again. More new writers please, it is clear that the Moffat era can still flourish with some new creative blood to back him up: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/kill-moon-written-by-peter-harness-and.html

Mummy on the Orient Express written by Jamie Mathieson and directed by Paul Wilmshurst

Result: 'To our last hurrah...' Another strong episode, albeit for completely different reasons to Kill the Moon. I was a little hesitant about Mummy on the Orient Express after my first viewing because I was so appalled by the climax - it is the reverse season six syndrome. Back then I was convinced that a handful of sub-par episodes were good because they ended on a humdinger of a cliffhanger that blew my mind away (The Almost People, A Good Man Goes to War). With Mummy you have a generally very engaging episode that reduces that frustratingly refuses to provide any decent answers and climaxes on a moment of character reversal that obliterates any character development for Clara in an instant. Like Flesh and Stone, an arc intrusion in the last scene threatens to leave a lingering feeling of disappointment in a piece that has so much to offer. Maddening. However I want to focus on the positives because this claustrophobic chiller is packed to the gills with them. A stylishly attired, captivating, occasionally genial and fascinating twelfth Doctor with ample opportunities for Capaldi to impress for one thing. A genuinely frightening monster with a catchy twist (gone in 66 seconds) for another. Setting the episode on a train scores it instant marks from me (its a childhood obsession I cannot shake) but the realisation of the setting deserves high praise too. You can see precisely why the Doctor chose this spot to say ta-ta to Clara. There are a handful of well-drawn characters to push the story along and the set pieces of the mummy stalking its victims are genuinely ghoulish. Director Paul Wilmshurst captures the stifling feeling that you cannot escape this nasty creation no matter what you try and do. For the first 40 minutes the episode juggles its plot, shocks and characters with real skill and it's only when it comes to wrapping everything up (hoho) that the narrative falters. Simply put, the answers are non-existent and make very little sense of what has gone before. As much as I can praise this story for getting so much spot on, I cannot offer full marks to a writer who dazzles with frights in the one hand but has no reasoning to back it up in the other. Funny, scary and engaging...but frustratingly kept from being absolutely top dollar: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/mummy-on-orient-express-written-by.html

Flatline written by Jamie Mathieson and directed by Douglas MacKinnon

Result: The series eight episode that single handedly restored my faith in Doctor Who. Kill the Moon was bold and uncompromisingly frightening and daft and Mummy on the Orient Express provided an atmospheric thrill ride but Flatline truly went where Doctor Who has never gone before and I was all of a tingle throughout. I haven't felt this kind of excitement from the show simply through the possibilities of the ideas and the breadth of the storytelling since series four. Flatline is Doctor Who being made for adults with very little in the way of light relief, pleasant characters or quirky settings and it has a truly foreboding menace. How this aired in the same season of The Caretaker baffles me. You wouldn't want the show to be like this every week but my word has it pulled its socks up and delivered something unique and transfixing. What I loved about this story was how it never stopped giving; it opened up in an unique approach (the shrinking TARDIS) and rather than rest on that idea it kept delivering surprising and ingenious notions until my brain was rattling with them. Matheson pins them to a gripping narrative that puts Clara centre stage and truly allows her to shine. Goodness knows where MacKinnon has been hiding these talents but he is making huge leaps in quality with each episode he directs (check out the progress: The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky, The Power of Three, Cold War, Listen, Time Heist, Flatline). This is the most tautly directed piece of drama to have leapt from Moffat's era, packed full of memorable images and with a tangible sense of tension. I've not been discreet when it comes to my dissatisfaction with the series over the past couple of years and I will equally effusive in my praise for a season that has just knocked three standout episodes out of the park, each one improving on the last. Flatline is bold, imaginative, terrifying and original. An argument for a season comprised entirely of new writers has been made. This is the evidence: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/flatline-written-by-jamie-mathieson-and.html

In the Forest of the Night written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and directed by Sheree Folkson

Result: I suppose I should be careful what I ask for. It's no secret that I was starting to find the Moffat era of Doctor Who an extremely tiresome experience, especially during the latter half of series seven and that that ambivalence infected the first half of season eight (and with gems such as Deep Breath, Robot of Sherwood and The Caretaker it is easy to see why). However something rather miraculous happened around the middle of the season that took my breath away - the season (and era) started to get a second wind. I was asking for new writers with fresh ideas rather than relying on the old hacks who have had their day. I was asking for edgier, more innovative storytelling that push the envelope and did something original. I was asking for writers to engage with the characters of the Doctor and Clara. The triple whammy of Kill the Moon, Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline was the best run of episodes we have had for simply ages and my faith in the series was starting to build again. Then came In the Forest of the Night. Me and my big mouth. A new writer? Check. Innovative storytelling? The whole world gets turned into a giant forest - check. Something original? There is no danger whatsoever - check. And yet these things become weaknesses, not strengths. In the Forest of the Night feels as though it is about five drafts away from being something very special. However you would need to times the budget by ten, jettison the climax and completely revolutionise the narrative and characters in order for it to work. And tone down the kids. It's not all a disaster though or certainly not as much of one as some people have made out. Whilst the money doesn't support the bold concept there are still some lovely moments of direction. Capaldi relates wonderfully to children and there are some amusing moments. Danny Pink even cracks a smile and starts singing. And you have to give credit for trying something this different even if they don't manage to pull it off. Ultimately it feels like a waste of an hour. Cottrell Boyce has written a puzzle where the solution is that the problem has been solved before the story even began. We're just waiting for the Doctor and chums to catch up. Building to something this anti-climactic is never a smart move. In the Forest of the Night is being compared with Fear Her and The Doctor's Daughter as one of the worst episodes since the show returned. I'd say it's too inoffensive for such a bold claim but it is still a pretty lackadaisical hour of television. Frank Cottrell Boyce spends an hour trying to convince you of a danger that isn't there:4/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/in-forest-of-night-written-by-frank.html

Dark Water written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay

Result: We Doctor Who fans are a fickle bunch. We like the familiar as much as we profess to enjoy the show pushing the envelope. The reaction to Dark Water was near complete critical acclaim and I can accredit that to three familiar Doctor Who staples; the return of the Cybermen, the return of the Master and the return of two parters. Don't get me wrong there is a great deal more than that to recommend Dark Water but that triple whammy of surprises in the last ten minutes left most fans in a sticky mess, fangasming over the return of the status quo. Whilst I found a great deal of this episode powerful in its implications, it was also a little too static and cerebral to pass as the lead in to a season finale. I have massive respect for Steven Moffat for attempting to push the envelope as much as he does here; killing off a regular character in such a mundane way, exploring the horror of a companion struggling with grief, the horrific implications of 3W and the dead who have been cremated, the new guise of the Master, the flashbacks to Danny's time in Afghanistan...if his intent was to make the audience sit up and pay attention by taking the show where it had rarely dared to go before then he succeeded admirably. For the most part Dark Water ticks over a lot like Listen earlier in the season, Moffat returning to his horror roots with the show and doing some dark and intelligent things with it. The trouble is this is also the penultimate episode of the season and as such it lacks the sort of showmanship that Davies projected, taking the show to a precipice and wondering how on Earth the show would drag itself back. Moffat writes a twisted piece of science fiction that wants to be quiet and affecting but in the last five minutes he has turn it into a noisy blockbuster because it is the lead in to the final episode of the year. Dark Water lurches into cliffhanger mode, Cybermen inexplicably stepping onto the streets of London and the taking the story into The Invasion territory. It is such an unnatural wrench it gave me narrative whiplash. A lot of this rides on the finale and whether this distraction from the exploration of death was worth it. There are other concerns; Danny death isn't as affecting as it might be because he hasn't enamoured himself to the audience greatly, the dark water is pointless and serves only to hide the Cybermen from view and Moffat cheats on a lot of his promises throughout. Countering that are more strengths; the whole piece looks amazing and features very strong direction courtesy of newcomer Rachel Talalay, the performances are out of this world (particularly Capaldi and Coleman) and the reveal of the Master was a genuine surprise for me (and the implications of that are very interesting). On balance I really enjoyed this for it's courageousness but there were enough flaws to hold it back from being as perfect as everybody is making out. Interestingly I think this would work even better as a standalone episode that didn't have to prop up the climax of the season: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/dark-water-written-by-steven-moffat-and.html

Death in Heaven written by Steven Moffat and directed by Rachel Talalay

Result: If you had got in touch with me half an hour into Death in Heaven I would have happily have told you that this was the most exciting script that Moffat had written since The Pandorica Opens. Had you come and seen me during the last fifteen minutes you would have found me banging my head on the dining table wondering how it had all gone to pot. It's such a mishmash of good and bad it is impossible trying to judge episode as a whole. At one point I was riveted to my seat at the callous death of a character I liked and later I was trying to claw out my eyeballs as a tribute is made to the Brigadier in the worst possible taste. There's no denying that Moffat has found some inspiration in his creation of Dark Water/Death in Heaven but it is laden with huge flaws that seem destined to crop up with every season finale where everything needs to be tied up neatly for the next season. The good stuff is easy to spot; this is genuinely dynamic episode in parts with an unforgettable attack on a UNIT plane by Cybermen, the ideas are once again pleasingly morbid and the duo of the Doctor and Clara continues to shine when they are together. Michelle Gomez springs into action as Missy and she is as mad as a box of frogs and yet utterly compelling with it, even when Moffat feeds her some appalling dialogue. The only thing that spoils this version of the Master is her motive for why she has pulled off such an insane scheme - it lacks any sense whatsoever. Pretty much everything that takes place in the last 20 minutes sees season eight heading into the delirium of madness, embarrassment and cloying emotion of the sort that it had managed to avoid until now (aside from the climax of Into the Forest of the Night). The graveyard climax that sees Danny Pink depart the show turned me right off. Good riddance, I say. Moffat, like Davies before him needs a strong script editor to tap him on the shoulder and ask 'are you sure that's a good idea?' to ideas like resurrecting the Brigadier as a flying Cyberman, bringing a war victim back to life in a magic glowing cloud or waving a magic wand and making the grim developments of the past couple of episodes disappear like they had never happened. You really shouldn't set up such an insolvable dilemma if you have no means of tidying up satisfactorily. Fortunately the closing scenes restore a little dignity with the Doctor and Clara departing on dishonest terms in what would have been a exclusive way for a Doctor and companion to say goodbye. But Santa has something to say about that. Yeah, you heard me right. Death in Heaven = gripping, action packed, barmy, disturbing, illogical, humiliating, farcical and unsatisfying. A contradictory episode: 6/10

Full Review Here: http://docohobigfinish.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/death-in-heaven-written-by-steven.html

2 comments:

Ed Azad said...

I'm afraid Doctor Who has lot me again this year, just like with Asylum of the Daleks. Our audience surrogate is a bland, pleased-with-herself cypher, and the Doctor is not much better. Heard good things about Kill the moon but I just haven't the stomach to put myself though more.

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