TV Review: Doctor Who S10E11 ‘World and Enough Time’

Hello!

So Doctor Who is back, and since I’m neck deep in a film criticism subject at uni I’ve decided to continue this with a ‘Who’ related project! I’ll be reviewing each episode as they air, and posting them here for your enjoyment.

“Well, I am that mysterious adventurer in all of time and space known only as Doctor Who, and these are my disposables – Exposition and Comedy Relief.”

So, the Doctor Who series final time is upon us and they really started us off with a solid first half to this two-part finale. Albeit a little confusing and/or emotional, depending on whether this is your first time watch or if you’re a seasoned Whovian. The episode opens on the TARDIS materialising in a thick layer of snow surrounded by mountains, which would be fine if the Doctor didn’t step out only to collapse to his knees in the snow. If possible, he looks older, and his hair is much longer, or at least much messier than we have ever seen it this series. None of this spells for a good outcome to this series, especially as his hands and face start to glow with regeneration energy (Timelords have the ability to change their body when death is imminent). As the opening credits roll for the second time this series, dread is among my other not so positive emotions which follow me into the rest of the episode.

Moving away completely from the first scenes of the episode, we are back in space. A large cylindrical spaceship is suspended in space, one end pointing directly into a massive Black Hole. To top it all off, once the TARDIS materialises within this spaceship, it is not the Doctor who steps out of those doors, it is Missy. Yes, Missy, villainous Timelord who has been locked away in the vault for most of this series for various crimes. She is followed by her “plucky assistants, Thing One and the Other One”, Bill and Nardole respectively. She claims to have followed the distress call of that particular space ship hovering before the Black Hole, it is seconds before a siren blares though the speakers, and any humour in Missy’s words suddenly dissipates. It is here however that we discover the Doctor is in fact sitting, feet up on the TARDIS console monitoring the situation as a test for Missy. Flashbacks to before the spaceship confirm that the Doctor thinks he can turn Missy ‘good’. At this point, to only make matters worse, a panicked, blue skinned man runs into the room and demands to know if anyone in the room is human. Everyone is too shocked to answer so he pulls out an alien looking gun and repeats the question.

“Are any of you Human? … One of you must be human! They only come up if they detect human life-signs! … They take them away.”

As the Doctor hears this he intervenes, and for a moment it looks like he’s going to tell the man that he is the human one, before Bill speaks up first, and his face falls. Almost instantly, the man points his gun on Bill and the Doctor goes into panic mode while trying to talk the man out of shooting his friend. Then as the lift holding the mysterious intruders reaches their floor and pings to notify they have arrived, the man shoots. The camera pans down to show a gaping hole in Bill’s chest, and then as she falls to the ground the ‘Intruders’ walk in. Telling them to stand away and that Bill will be repaired. This is all well and good, but the mechanical voices are very recognisable though at this point, with the creatures still looking relatively humanoid, the Doctor doesn’t quite make the connection to what they are. As Bill is taken away, the Doctor leaves a message in her head that he will save her and to wait for him. This however, is easier said than done, as time moves slower at the end of the spaceship closer to the Black Hole, so the few minutes conversation the Doctor has with the group before going to get Bill, marks weeks for Bill in what can only be described as the hospital from hell.

I have serious mixed feelings about this episode. Though one level it has been very cleverly written so to slowly introduce the big bad for the final two episodes this series. For those who don’t follow the Doctor Who hype but have background knowledge about the show, the creatures would be still easily recognisable. Plus, there is nothing creepier than a dark hospital where the faceless patients can only speak through an automated voice. Especially when they only say things like ‘pain’ or ‘kill…me”. On the other hand the ‘death’ of Bill is something which I can’t get behind in any way, even though it drives the plot of the episode. Her ‘death’, and what happens as a result at the end of the episode, honestly turned me into a sobbing mess, something which my family questioned wholeheartedly. You can’t spend eleven episodes with such a great character and not feel something. Especially when the Doctor’s reaction is so heartbreaking. In addition, the aim to try and make Missy ‘good’ is a near impossible plan if you ask me – there is no way that Missy could ever be completely good. She may do a good deed, but that doesn’t make her ‘good’.

Overall, this episode is something which though cleverly plotted, and extremely creepy, has much to be criticised. Only if in terms of a characters wasted potential. I highly doubt this is going to be the last we see of Bill, it’s Doctor Who, they always find a way, but there is no ignoring the fact that as a character Bill has not been treated kindly this episode. The reintroduction of both a classic monster, and an old foe will make for an interesting last episode this series. I am interested to see how the last episode of this series unfolds.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

 

 

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TV Review: Doctor Who S10E10 ‘The Eaters of Light’

Hello!

So Doctor Who is back, and since I’m neck deep in a film criticism subject at uni I’ve decided to continue this with a ‘Who’ related project! I’ll be reviewing each episode as they air, and posting them here for your enjoyment.

“That’s the trouble with hope. It’s hard to resist.”

This week the Doctor takes Bill and Nardole to Scotland to discover the truth about what happened to the Ninth Legion Roman soldiers. As according to the Doctor, “she [Bill] thinks she knows more about Romans than me”, which in his eyes is completely ludicrous. So in true character the Doctor sets out to prove he knows more, and thus win the bet. As it turns out, neither of them know as much as they think they do, yet neither are completely right or wrong. This was honestly to be expected (even the Doctor can’t know everything – otherwise he wouldn’t keep traveling). So now, our TARDIS crew start this journey divided: Bill heading towards the river to check for the legion trying to leave, and declaring that she would bring back the Doctor a Roman Centurion; While the Doctor and Nardole go in search of the legion’s last battlefield.

Bill soon comes across one of the locals who is quick to simply turn on her and chase her through the woods. It’s not long before Bill falls down a concealed hole in the ground, twice over the space of two consecutive episodes, is this becoming a habit? Only she is oddly surprised to be met with the tip of a sword, even though a Roman soldier is exactly what she was looking for. In the meantime, the Doctor and Nardole are wandering the Scottish moors in search of the battlefield, and unsurprisingly, are at this point rather unsuccessful. They do, however, come across talking crows (something I am still piecing together, as honestly, I still can’t see what they really added to the story). Leaving the talking crows behind, the pair continue to walk only to be ambushed by a group of young locals and, of course, captured. This “time wasting’ ordeal leads to the Doctor losing his patience, but in his rather dramatic terms, “Does everyone hear that [silence]. Do you know what that sound was? That’s the sound of my patience, shattering!”. Marking the first of the Doctor’s ‘perfect’ moments this episode.

Mirrored, is Bill’s much more, well, relaxed situation with the Roman Centurion, for now. Deciding to now find the Doctor, Bill leads her new friend into the woods only to be attacked by something which at first looks like a glowing ‘land octopus’, alien type thing before they reach safer ground until daylight. Eventually Bill finds the rest of the eight remaining of the Ninth Legion, but not without losing her new friend to the monster. It’s not long before the Doctor and Bill meet up again, but this also means a meeting of the locals and the Romans. This goes as smoothly as you would think. With one group previously out to destroy the other, and those victims of the slaughter rightly hating them for it. As far as well-made plans, this one is a near disaster, or even, some would say a lost cause. Here is where the Doctor comes into his own, uniting the enemy against a common cause. Which in this case, is an alien which devours light to survive.

If anything, this episodes star moment, was the Doctor’s speech to the opposing sides, trying to convince them to unite against the alien which would surely spell the end of them all. Made better only by Bill starting the conversation, not over the immediate problem though, but discussing language. The one thing, which because of the TARDIS translators, is common between all parties. Asking the question that if they now all sound the same, what do they sound like? Answer, “we sound like children”. Through his speech, the Doctor basically asks them all to grow up and start fighting the right battles, as here, everyone has done some sort of wrong. By the end of the speech it is easy to hear the self-projection the Doctor is imposing on their current situation. The seemingly cowardly warriors, all trying to save themselves and those they love. All in all, it is another powerful performance from both Peter Capaldi (the Doctor) and Perl Mackie (Bill). You can’t help but get completely caught up in the emotion of the situation when either of them start to speak.

Overall this episode, was carried mostly by the writing of the script, as well as the stellar use of each character’s unique personalities to fuel the plot. My only fault would be in the actual story line and monster of the week, the latter of which lacking the motive and the fear factor it really needed. Other than that, this episode had the perfect combination of lots of great banter, interesting side characters, and excellent moving speeches. A really enjoyable episode, and definitely a contender to be one of my favourites this series.

Rating: 8/10

 

 

TV Review: Doctor Who S10E09 ‘Empress of Mars’

Hello!

So Doctor Who is back, and since I’m neck deep in a film criticism subject at uni I’ve decided to continue this with a ‘Who’ related project! I’ll be reviewing each episode as they air, and posting them here for your enjoyment.

“Please, do no judge mankind by his cruelty, or indeed by my cowardice. Spare my friends and my world.”

This week on Doctor Who the Doctor we get to go back into space, specifically, Mars. Well, Mars being explored by soldiers of Victorian era England. It’s Doctor Who, it makes sense, eventually… So back in present day, NASA is using a new kind of probe to take images of Mars’s icy surface when they see a message written in rocks: “God save the Queen”, with the Doctor’s grin of delight there is no question of which mystery he, Nardole, and Bill are solving next. Next stop, Mars, 1881!

Shortly after arriving on Mars at the point when the messages was written, the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole each find themselves in their own set of trouble. Bill falls down a hole in the tunnels under Mars’s surface and is found by a Victorian soldier. Nardole, in trying to find something in the TARDIS to help Bill ends up getting stuck there and sent back to earth. The Doctor? Well, in trying to find Bill, he gets ambushed by a lone indigenous Martian, an Ice Warrior. A creature which is human like in form but covered from head to toe in a green, armour of thick scales. It turns out that the lone Ice Warrior is teamed up with the Victorian soldiers. So Bill and the Doctor find themselves having tea with the two leading officers who explain how they came to be mining on Mars for gold. The Doctor is wary of the deal made with the Ice Warrior as he knows their race to be one of war, though beyond the context of war they wouldn’t hurt a fly. So being stuck on Mars for the foreseeable future the Doctor tries to discover more about the real motives behind the deal.

At this point things seem to be going relatively well, the Doctor and Bill are drinking tea, the lone Ice Warrior seems all chummy with the invading humans, and everyone else seems to be getting on relatively well for being stranded on an ice planet, but I spoke too soon. It is shortly after this conversation that the mining soldiers make a breakthrough in the wall they have been chipping at and find a cavernous tomb. My doubts are confirmed as the Doctor declares “it’s not just any tomb, this is the tomb of an Ice Queen”. From here on in the Victorian soldiers make one bad decision after another all based on greed and selfish desires, all on the claim “Don’t belong [on Mars]? We’re British, Mars is part of the Empire now”. It is this human ignorance, and the fact that (like always) no one actually listens when the Doctor speaks, that this series of bad decisions lead to the awakening of the Ice Queen herself. From there, the Queen awakens the rest of the hive and declares war on the invading humans. I, like the Doctor, expected this entirely and was so frustrated with the string of idiotic decisions these soldiers had made it was almost laughable.

Despite this human stupidity (which I’d expected), ‘Empress of Mars’ has honestly been my favourite episode this series, apart from the series opener of course. As well as bringing back a Classic Who (pre-2005 series) monster, the whole plot and episode cut felt very much like I was watching an episode from before the modern era of Doctor Who, and I loved it for it. There were no overly complicated time jumps, or a monster with an excessively emotional backstory. All the episode really was, was just some humans on Mars poking at something with a stick and only getting the message that they messed up when it was almost too late to redeem themselves. For that, I commend Mark Gatiss (writer S10E9). One thing that did stick out with me is the number of mentions of the ‘sacrifice of the soldier’ which, in light of the episodes plot, may mean nothing, but I can’t help but wonder if this may play a part later in the series final. Especially with only three episodes to go, and the Doctor having been referred to as a soldier in other episodes too.

Overall this episode was entertaining and exciting, and with the nod to the classic Doctor Who episodes there wasn’t too much I could fault. Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from the time based, more confusing episodes, even if it means forty-five minutes of pure frustration at the hands of some very greedy and self-righteous characters. I can’t complain though, they fit the story perfectly, plus the Doctor, Bill, and the Ice Queen definitely put them in their place.

Rating: 8.5/10

 

TV Review: Doctor Who S10E08 ‘The Lie of the Land’

Hello!

So Doctor Who is back, and since I’m neck deep in a film criticism subject at uni I’ve decided to continue this with a ‘Who’ related project! I’ll be reviewing each episode as they air, and posting them here for your enjoyment.

“You see, the Monks erased themselves, humanity is doomed to never learn from its mistakes.”

This week on Doctor Who we see both the climax and the close of this trilogy of episodes. With the ‘consent’ from Bill in last week’s episode the Monks have taken over humanity. As they only want to save humanity from themselves, on the surface they have done no harm, however under that façade humanity is slowly losing itself to the Monks. In order to ‘save’ humanity, the Monks have rewritten history and in doing so have become the soul religion and power house over earth. Those who show deviance from the controlled mindset or rise against the cause are either killed on the spot or sent away to camps. This dark, and gloomy earth shows none of the personality of before. As the eye of the storm, Bill hasn’t been drawn in by the mind control the Monks are using and sets her mind on finding the Doctor. The Doctor himself, has apparently joined the Monks, though Bill doesn’t believe this in the slightest. Joined finally by Nardole, the pair go in search of the Doctor. In ‘mission impossible’ fashion they follow the signal of the Doctor’s broadcasts to find he really had joined the Monks. Well, or so they thought. Here Bill is tested by the Doctor so that he can work out if she has been taken in by the Monks’ telepathy, leading to a series of very emotional scenes on both the Doctor and Bill’s part. From here on in they all work together to try and take down the Monks and restore humanity to how it was before the Monks had taken over.

As the conclusion to this three-part story I was not disappointed in what this episode had to offer. It wasn’t perfect, but it most definitely delivered what was needed to tie up any loose ends that may have detached themselves in the first two episodes. As well as this, we saw Bill take the lead in trying to save humanity, and in turn, fix the problem she had created in trying to save the Doctor in the episode before. It was quite heartbreaking though to see how Bill reacted to the Doctor’s ‘tests’ early in the episode. In doing so we get to see just how strong willed Bill really is, for the whole time the Doctor his claiming his loyalty to the monks and beating her resolve down she doesn’t waver. Just how far the Doctor had to take the tests show just how strong the Monks power was, and so just how much they would need to do to fix things. It is here though that the Doctor decides to turn to Missy, his nemesis, the one who has been locked in the Vault since before the events of episode one. To turn to her for help, it seems the Doctor has lost faith that he can fix things himself.

Here we see just how much the Doctor does actually care for Bill, as inevitably the earth’s cure is in the eye of the storm. The only one who can take down the mind control is Bill, and of course, there is no way she’ll survive the ordeal. So in true Doctor style he spends the rest of the episode trying to find any way to fix things other than the solution Missy presented, one which Bill thinks is possibly the only way. This episode’s conclusion, though leaving me relatively satisfied, also left me with a feeling of dread. If they are willing to play the ‘almost death’ card for Bill so soon after playing it once before with the space zombies, what does that mean for Bill in later episodes of this series. The Doctor’s claim at the end of the episode that “In amongst seven billion, there’s someone like you. That’s why I put up with the rest of them.” in answer to Bill’s question doesn’t just show how much he cares, but also makes me worry for Bill. It is no secret that the more he cares the more your fate is sealed, and not in a good sense. Though I am probably getting ahead of myself!

Overall this episode brought more emotional scenes than I had expected, along with a relatively satisfying conclusion. I won’t ever get enough of Bill coming in and saving humanity, ever. I just hope that next time there is much less of a likelihood of her dying as a result!

Rating: 8/10