I’m disgruntled, discombobulated and disappointed (I’m also a huge fan of alliteration!). This week’s episode of Doctor Who was, well, a bit boring. It didn’t lead us anywhere with the story arc. It starred Jessica Raine playing a wet blanket. Which made a minimal change from her usual turn as a snobby do-gooder in Call the Midwife. I know, I’ve committed heresy but I don’t like the programme. Ooh, did I get out of the wrong side of bed this morning or something?
We were promised a ghost story so I curled up in anticipation of a classic Moffat chiller. Instead Neil Cross (who also wrote the Rings of Akhaten with the fabulously creepy Vigil) gave us a soppy love story about a time traveller trapped in a pocket universe. Not a parallel universe, you understand, because it’s difficult to cross those, but a sort of mini universe existing at a different speed inside our own. Throw in an empathetic psychic (Raine) and her war hero professor who think they are hunting ghosts and the Doctor on a secret mission and you get, well, not a great deal.
According to the psychic, Clara is just an ordinary girl and ‘isn’t that enough’? Clearly not, but I wonder if building such a big mystery around a character we don’t know, and therefore aren’t emotionally invested in is a bit of a naff move. I’ve worked very hard not to do a ‘Clara’s great but she just isn’t Amy/Rory/Rose etc’ because I think it’s hideously unfair when critics do that, but…she isn’t. She’s not as sparky or as quick, she seems to spend most of her time tugging on the Doctor’s sleeve to get his attention. In fact, I much prefer Clara’s scenes when she isn’t with the Doctor (I did like the moment when she called the TARDIS a grumpy cow, so deliciously irreverent).
Much more of a mystery to me is the Doctor himself. Conspiracy theories abound that he’s a clone, which I don’t buy but we certainly are being pushed to consider the very nature of what it is to be the Doctor. To which end the ‘Doctor What? That’ll do!’ exchange between the Doctor and the Professor was a lovely little moment. Raine’s character took pains (ooh, that sort of rhymes!) to explain to Clara that the Doctor wasn’t to be trusted. Then the Professor described him as ‘capricious, brilliant, deceitful’. Which is how I’d describe the Master. We’re so used to seeing the Doctor as the good guy, is this a reminder that he is fallible or a hint at darker times?
Alongside that question, I’ll also be mulling over these:
- The way the sequences with the monster were filmed reminded me of the Silence, is this to herald their return or just the directors running out of ideas?
- Did anyone else think the Doctor looked older this episode? Obviously Matt Smith can’t stay a fresh faced youth forever but I wonder if this aging up is being done deliberately…
- The TARDIS and Clara’s relationship is clearly a big deal. Are they related in some way? Will we see a return from Suranne Jones as Idris?
Contributed by Victoria Prior