If I told you that Jo and I sat in stunned silence for the last five minutes, that should give you an indication of our reaction. My first words, I think, were: “That’s like nothing we’ve ever seen on Doctor Who”. Not quite true in all respects, obviously. We’ve had our trousers compromised before by horrifying spider creatures in Planet of the Spiders. We’ve had our patience tested by kids onboard the TARDIS in such stories as Nightmare in Silver. And we’ve had our moral compasses tickled in episodes like The Beast Below.
We’ve even seen Lanzarote on Doctor Who before (posing as not-Lanzarote).
But what happened at the end there… wow. That was, well, I’m not really sure what that was really. Although, the majority of reviewers seem to think that whatever it was, it was great. (And I say ‘majority’ deliberately. We’ll come to this later.) To help me get to the bottom of such a unique episode, I’ve enlisted Owen, fellow contributor to The Long Defeat. Owen will be taking over the reviews for 2/3 weeks starting this coming Saturday, and he’s more than qualified taking the reins. (As in, he’s literally more qualified than me.)
We’ve recorded a brief ‘review conversation’ together and plopped it (love the word ‘plop’) on SoundCloud. You can find it embedded below.
Perhaps, however, for some there just won’t be time to listen to a 27 minute review. For those people, click on 'Read More' to see the review in Précis.
- We really liked this episode. Was it the best episode ever? No. Was it perfect? Definitely not. But it was trying to do something new with the Companion/Doctor relationship and there were so many strong elements.
- The set design was great - the production crew used Lanzarote really well, and the graphics team ‘shaded’ the scenery to make the ‘moon’ look convincing.
- The spiders - oh my word.
- Courtney was surprisingly good. Much better than expected. A few fluffed lines but a lot of potential.
- Hermione Norris as Lundvik was a little bit superfluous but her performance was strong. The same cannot be said for Duke and Henry, the two characters alongside her. Fairly filler.
- As a recent review on the Forbes website has pointed out, there are undercurrents of the abortion debate here. This is significant in itself, but especially so for the franchise of DW as well as possibly what it’s reflecting in society. Tune in to our audio review to hear more on this.
- The last five minutes were absolutely brutal. My gosh! Clara really laid into the Doctor didn’t she? Coleman acted the hell out of that scene. It’ll be interesting to see where this takes the Doctor from here. We didn’t see any of Clara in the Next Time trailer, perhaps indicating the beginning of a story arc that sees her leave the TARDIS. Maybe not, but something, surely, has to change.
- The ‘Big Idea’ here is that all of the critics of Capaldi’s Doctor, all of those who have complained about him being distanced and detached and ‘not like my doctor’, have found a mouthpiece in Clara here. This is Doctor Who being ‘meta’ again. Just like the fairytale theme in Robot of Sherwood, or the ‘Is that the Doctor?’ in Deep Breath. It is, of course, significant in itself again that DW is being meta - but let’s just focus on the fact that maybe, perhaps, possibly, the producers and writers knew that the critics were going to be critical, and just pulled one over on them? Maybe.
Anyway, that’s the ‘review’ in summary. Listen to the audio review to hear us yammering on with a rather poor microphone (blame Skype) and a funky soundtrack (blame me).
Till next time :)