Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John

by | Mar 30, 2013 | All, Reviews

Meet Clara. Version 3 of Clara, to be precise, version 1 being a secret Dalek from the future and version 2 being a Victorian investigator. None of the 3 versions have any knowledge of the others. And version 3, in the present day, has no idea who the Doctor is, or what he does. She’s never met Amy, or River, or even little K9. But we have, so Clara, versions 1, 2 and 3, have a lot of living up to do.

I like her. She’s sparky and intelligent and I’ve never had a problem with the assistants looking young and attractive (let’s be honest, neither David Tennant or current Time Lord Matt Smith fell out of the ugly tree). However, if Steven Moffat is intending to replicate that kiss from Christmas I am going to go nuclear. Dr Who is married to River Song and that is the end of that, Mr Moffat. Understood?

That gripe out of the way, let’s get on with reviewing the first instalment of a new series, at the end of which I presume is the 50th anniversary episode in which we will find out why Clara keeps reoccurring across space and time and, with any luck, ‘Silence will fall when the Question is asked’. Although the Question is apparently ‘Doctor Who?’ and that gets asked around twice an episode so it’s clearly not going to be that simple. But then in Moffat-era Who, what is simple when it can be, and I quote: ‘wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey’.

The title ‘Bells of St. John’ refers to the noise made when the telephone rings outside the TARDIS. It’s Clara, her wi-fi is gone and the Doctor’s number was given to her by ‘the lady in the shop’ as the best person for advice. The Doctor tries to log her back on (the password is ‘Run You Clever Boy Run’, Clara’s parting message from previous appearances), but she accidently connects to the wi-fi with the strange name made of symbols. Everyone who connects this way has their soul uploaded to the data cloud, under the watchful eye of Miss Kizmet, played with relish by the wonderful Celia Imrie.

The Doctor interrupts the upload and downloads Clara (plus some beneficial computer knowledge) back into her body. She hacks the system and gathers photos of all the dataclouds’ employees, then matches them with their Facebook profiles to find out that they all work at the Shard, that super tall London landmark that’s been hovering at the edge of the screen for most of the episode. The Doctor somehow gets replicated into a Spoonhead, a sort of mobile data harvester, and Clara is re-uploaded. Cue the Doctor roaring through London on a handily anti gravity motorbike that zooms up the side of the Shard and crashes through into Miss Kizmet’s office. Except it isn’t the Doctor, it’s Doctor Spoonhead, so after quickly uploading Kizmet to the datacloud and upping the conscience levels on the other employees (there’s an app for everything, including emotional manipulation), everyone gets downloaded back into their bodies. But who was this week’s Big Bad behind the scenes? The Great Intelligence from the last Christmas special, still being embodied by Richard E. Grant and clearly set to be a recurring baddie.

There is no such thing as a bad Doctor Who episode, just ones that are under par, and to be fair I never like the ones set in the present day. As this episode was largely about bringing the Doctor and Clara together again I can forgive the very conveniently wrapped up story. Next week looks amazing and it stars the little girl from Utopia so that’s a great big geeky hit sorted.

In the meantime I shall ponder the following questions:

What is so special about Clara? Is she the personification of Time as many fans are musing?

Who was the lady in the shop? River Song, Rose’s mother, Martha?

Was the Great Intelligence included because Moffat liked them or are they the key to the whole Clara mystery?

Where can I get a version of the Doctor’s new coat? And on that note, why have they made the opening credits look like a lava lamp?!

Contributed by Victoria Prior

Vicky Prior

Vicky Prior



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