Reviews

Secrets & Surprises – Recap & Review of ‘The Name of The Doctor’, Doctor Who Series 7, Episode 13

Summary – spoilers from the start
I had to wait to until the morning after the airing to watch week’s finale episode. I avoided online news, twitter and Facebook to make sure it wasn’t spoiled for me, and thank god I did. This episode was almost perfect and had two stonking reveals; the solving of Clara’s ‘impossible girl’ mystery and the introduction of John Hurt as the Doctor.

I may have avoided spoilers for the episode but I did look at information about John Hurt and the 50th anniversary afterwards. There are leaks that look like they explain who Hurt is and the secrets he represents. I’m not going to talk about them here but if want to find out more, here is a link.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Recap – huge spoilers
This week’s opening really was for the true TARDIS-blue Whovians. It began in a workshop with an alarm sounding. One of the workmen (Work-Lords?) asked the very sensible question “What kind of idiot would try and steal a faulty TARDIS?” The first Doctor and his niece Susan of course! We panned out to see Gallifrey ‘a very long time ago’ and were then treated to a fast and furious journey of Clara trying to interact with the previous incarnations of the Doctor. This as intersected with her falling down a fiery tunnel and explaining “I’m breaking into a million pieces and I know only one thing, that I have to save the Doctor”.

After the credits, we saw Madame Vastra find out something intriguing about the Doctor from a murderer and then call a ‘conference call’ with Jenny, Straxx, Clara and Riversong. The conference was held within Vastra’s dream with people participating from across time and space. Before Riversong has time to explain the murderer’s words, they were attacked by the Great Intelligence (Richard E Grant) with his ‘The Whisper Men’, and Jenny is killed. The Great Intelligence tells them he wants the Doctor to go to Trenzalore and he is keeping the trio hostage until he does.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Clara woke and told the Doctor about the conference. He explained that Trenzalore must be his grave and it is somewhere that he, as a time traveller, must never go. But of course, he went anyway. Once on Transalor they saw a gigantic TARDIS from the future, the Doctor’s tomb. Unseen by the Doctor, Riversong then appeared to Clara and revealed a secret entrance to the tomb.

Outside the TARDIS-tomb, Straxx restarted Jenny’s heart before the Great Intelligence and his Whisper Men turned up. Underneath the tomb, Clara’s memories of when the Doctor explained his ‘impossible girl’ mystery returned to her before they reached the entrance to see the Great Intelligence waiting for them. He wanted entry to the tomb but needed the to Doctor to speak his real name as the password. Within the tomb we saw the wasted future console room with the Doctor’s ‘scare-tissue’ suspended as glowing blue energy in the centre. The Great Intelligence entered the ‘wound’ in the universe to rewrite the Doctor’s entire timeline and ‘turn his victories into defeats’.

Source: The Telegraph

Source: The Telegraph

Clara then figured out the source of her ‘impossible girl’ nature and entered the wound to save the Doctor. We saw an expanded repeat of the start of the episode including Clara advising the Doctor on which TARDIS to take. Back in the TARDIS-tomb, we saw that Clara’s action had saved them all and then the Doctor revealed that he has always been able to see and hear the echo of Riversong. After they kissed the Doctor entered his own timestream to save Clara.

Before the Doctor pulls her out, Clara spotted a figure who is a previous incarnation of the Doctor that she did not recognise. The Doctor reveals that the figure a regeneration who broke the promise that comes with the name ‘The Doctor’.

Clara then conveniently passed out before the figure turned around and said “I did what I did, without choice, in the name of peace and sanity” and the Doctor retorted “But not in the name of the Doctor.” The figure was then revealed to be John Hurt and “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor” was stamped across the screen.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Review

Bad bits
Only two small flaws this week: 1) The terrible digital placements of Clara into old episodes felt like they were done by an A-Level student. How bad they were distracted from the fun of seeing her dotted throughout the Doctor’s past. 2) The souffle and leaf references felt very forced. I understand why Moffat had them in there but maybe they could have less corny.

Best bits
The funny parts – This episode was full of laughs, mainly coming from Straxx. Our favourite Sontaran was on top form and the highlight was his bar fight in Glasgow – a place where he now goes when he has some time off so he can spend it with the ‘pleasant primitives’.

The mystery – the explanation of why Clara was the ‘impossible girl’ was surprisingly satisfying. Ignoring the souffle references, her entrance into the Doctor’s timestream to try and all of his incarnations was exciting, made sense (enough for Doctor Who anyway) and left enough unsolved for us to still find Clara interesting i.e. why was Clara lurking in the depths of the TARDIS as a lava-zombie in episode 10?

The shock – the appearance of John Hurt in the show as the Doctor was kept impressively quiet and took me by complete surprise. It was the perfect set up for the 50th anniversary episode that comes out in November. Which takes me on to…

Next episode

We will have to wait a little while to see the trailer for this episode but so far we know that David Tennant, Billie Piper, John Hurt and Jemma Redgrave will all star and that we will see Daleks, Cybermen and Zygons. It will be shown in both 2D and 3D and will also air in cinemas across the UK and the US. It is not yet known when the tickets will go on sale, but when they do they will be the hottest geek-gold in the Universe. Expect a tough race against your fellow Whovians – it will be bloody.

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Reviews

“Ghosts, busted.” Review of ‘Hide’, Doctor Who Season 7 Episode 9

Overview

It was a dark and stormy 70s and the Doctor and Clara are hunting a ghost… or are they? This episode worked best when the Doctor and Clara stuck to exchanging witty remarks in a house haunted by spooky cliches but the convoluted plot and dull side characters soured what could have been a great ghost story.

Source: BBC

Source: BBC

Full episode review – huge spoilers

The episode opens with two ghost hunters (Professor Palmer and Emma Grayling) as they go through a quick seance with the ‘witch of the well’. Immediately afterwards the Doctor and Clara announce their arrival with a jovial ‘Boo!’ before the opening credits role. Next comes my favourite scene – the Doctor’s whirlwind entrance. Complete with witty banter and confuddeld supporting characters, in these entrance scenes (which almost every episode contains) the Doctor can be his most eccentric and the companion play his apologist/fellow-eccentric. Best bits from this week’s whirlwind introduction were:

Doctor – “I’m the Doctor.”

Professor Palmer -”Doctor What?”

Doctor – “Oh, I suppose that’ll do.”

and

Doctor – “I do love a toggle switch. Also, the word ‘toggle’. Nice vowel, excellent verb!”

The whirlwind was followed by the standard set up and this week’s was a wonderfully creepy ghost story. Primerally recounted by the Professor, the tale of the Caliburn ghost contained some choice spooky cliches such as “The witch in the well is accompanied by a knocking that sounds as if the devil himself is demanding entry” and “Written on the wall was “for the love of god, stop screaming””- chilling indeed.
One thing I that I didn’t really like in this episode was the Doctor’s patronising tone towards Clara. The best example of this came straight after the ghost story set up. Being the last remaining Lord of Space and Time means that talking down to his companions comes naturally to the Doctor but “I dare you. No takesies backies” and “your pants are so on fire” took the talking to a child tone a little too far and I hope this doesn’t continue through the rest of the series. That being said, in ‘Hide’ the Doctor and Clara looked more comfortable together than ever before and she is beginning to feel like a real companion, which is odd because it is actually the first episode that Jenna Louise-Coleman filmed for the season.

Throughout the episode, there was a subplot of unspoken love between Professor Palmer and Grayling but unfortunately these side characters were extremely forgettable (they are no Thomas Kincade Brannigan from ‘Deadlock’). It’s ironic that in an episode in which an empath plays a vital part, the Professor and his psychic love-interest assistant left me as cold as the Doctor’s icy hearts.

Whilst the dull side characters were failing to express their love for each other, the Doctor and Clara explored the dark corridors with a candelabra that begged to be blown out by a mysterious gust of wind, which of course happened about five minutes later. The cliches came thick and fast: Cold spot, chalk on the floor, dodgy ghost-detecting machinery, a huge drop in temperature, ‘HELP ME’ being written on the wall, and the classic “if you are not holding my hand, who is?” Cliched? Yes, but these ‘the Doctor meets a ghost story’ scenes were the most enjoyable and saved the episode from its flabby narrative.

The rest of the story followed along the usual lines – mini-scary part, a lull in which the characters have deep conversations and the Doctor figures out what is really going on, followed by the bigger dramatic scary bit.

This week’s lull involved the doctor have a manly war chat that included carrier pigeons and Grayling and Clara have a heart-to-heart culminating in the former telling the latter not trust the Doctor. The Doctor and Clara then travel in time (but not space) so that the Doctor can take pictures of the ghost who he has worked out is a pioneer of time travel (named Hila) trapped in a pocket universe – as usual the you really have to ignore the appalling pseudo-science. During this sequence there was a lovely reappearance of the orange heat suit from ‘The Satan Pit’ and Clara and the Doctor have an exchange in which she claims that the Doctor must view us all as ghosts. The Doctor responds by saying that “you” (not clear whether it is Clara or humans/mortals in general) “are the only mystery worth solving”.

Now that the Doctor has solved the problem, he rescues the pioneer using Ms Grayling’s empathic powers and a make shift psychochronograph (wonderfull pseudo-science again). Unfortunately, the rescue leaves the Doctor trapped in the misty pocket universe alone with the monster (a crawling boney creature) that has been causing the pioneer all the distress felt by Grayling. At this point I was praying that as he didn’t have to get out using love and memories like the last time he ended up trapped on the outside of reality (‘The Big Bang’). Thankfully, it was Clara and the TARDIS who come to the Doctor’s rescue and he hitches a ride back to safety.

In the episode’s resolution phase, the Doctor reveals to Emma Grayling that he came here for her and not the ghost because he wanted her to ‘read’ Clara and tell him if there was anything odd. To the Doctor’s annoyance Grayling says she is just an ordinary girl.

After the Doctor lets slip that the link between Hila and Grayling was so strong because the former is the latter’s great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter he has a head-slapping ‘Doh!’ moment and realises that the monster he met in the pocket universe was just trying to get his mate. It only remains for the Doctor to reunite ‘old romeo’ with his corridor dwelling love, which he does before the credits role.

Next week

Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS’ looks like my favourite kind of Doctor Who episode – dark industrial space drama; I just hope this episode can combine the elements of this promising genre with a tight narrative so that is doesn’t leave me as cold as this week’s did.

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