Sunday, April 21, 2013


If, like me, you were one of the seemingly few people who actually enjoyed Neil Cross' last episode, The Rings of Akhaten, then you were probably looking forward to his latest adventure, Hide. That said, if you had seen the trailers for the episode you probably were just as cool did it look?!

And this episode definitely lived up to the promise of the trailer - though maybe not in the way you  would expect. The Doctor and Clara travel to the 1970s to a investigate the long-time residence of a ghost in an old-manor, Caliburn House. The Witch in the Well, as she had become known, had appeared in the exact same position since the 17th Century, always crying out for help. The Doctor is assisted by ex-spy, Alec and an empathic psychic Emma, who have been trying to help the "lost soul". Things take an unexpected turn when the Doctor discovers that the Witch in the Well is not actually a ghost but a woman, Hila, from the future, trapped in a pocket universe and trying to escape before it collapses on itself.

Caliburn House was a perfect setting for the spooky story. Lots of shadows and creepy things in the dark created a very eerie atmosphere for the story. The horror aspects of the episode were definitely helped by the interesting camera work, like the jump cuts and unevenly paced shots. It gave the feeling that there was something out there. 

Which, of course, there was. 'The Crooked Man' as the credits named him, chased Hila through the pocket-universe and another alien who was stuck in our universe, lurking in the old manor. However, these 'monsters', though rather scary looking, were not as malevolent as they appeared because at the heart of this 'horror' episode was an old fashioned love story. 

There was Alec and Emma, the awkward pair who had feelings for each other but refused to let the other know. There was the weird, gnarled creatures who only wanted to find their partner. And of course, the Doctor and Clara, though maybe not lovers, but definitely connected in some way. 

The parallels between the pairs (though maybe not the aliens) offered an insight into the Doctor and Clara's burgeoning relationship. The Doctor and Alec shared a scene where Alec talks about his time in the war, the people he watched die and the effect it has had on him. It poses the question of what this has done to the Doctor as well. Simultaneously, Clara who is later described by Emma as a "normal" girl, is warned by the psychic that the Doctor has a "sliver of ice" in his heart so she should be wary. 

As always, the chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman works well in this episode. Their light-hearted portrayal of the friendship between the Doctor and Clara, however, was thrown into question when Clara realises just how frightening all of time and space can be. Why hasn't the Doctor realised by now that the end of Earth, billions of years into the future, isn't exactly what every human wants to see? Just like Rose in The End of the World, Clara is shaken to the core by the sight of the destroyed and devoid-of-life, Earth. However, as would be expected, the Doctor isn't bothered by it and this frightens Clara even further. As usual, the Doctor asserts his fascination with the human race and their significance by saying "you are the only mystery worth solving." This facet of the Doctor is certainly one of my favourites. I love his reactions to the peculiarity that is the human race. 

Overall this episode was a good mix of horror and sci-fi, with a little bit of romance thrown in too. I really enjoyed it and I think it may be the best on of the season. 

Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cold War

This week's episode brought back the Classic Who monster - the Ice Warriors. The last time the Doctor encountered these Martians was in The Monster of Peladon, with the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.

Cold War, written by Mark Gatiss, sees the Doctor and Clara accidentally travel to a sinking Russian submarine in the 80s. And on that ship is a newly discovered Ice Warrior - which the crew believe to be a mammoth frozen in a block of ice. Once it had escaped, nothing could stop its wrath. As usual, silly humans provoking the creature only makes it worse (when will we learn?!)

To be honest, I'm getting a little bored with the whole 'blockbuster' feel to these recent episodes. While I'm not denying that they are quite the cinematic piece, Doctor Who doesn't always have to be so big

That said, Cold War was a quiet a good episode, a bit of a step up from last week (though I still enjoyed it - Matt Smith does the best monologues!) A psychotic monster on the loose in a submarine with access to enough nukes to destroy not only Earth but a good portion of the universe, made for a suspenseful, exciting story.

The Grand Marshall Skaldac's (Skaldak?) escape from his armour and took to scampering around the ceiling, gave the episode a distinctively Alien feel. Seriously, the pale green fingers killing people from above was very much reminiscent of the Ridley Scott classic. 

Those fake rubbery fingers were rather odd though. The big reveal of the Ice Warrior's face at the end of the episode left me slightly confused.  I had expected something that looked a lot more like the Slitheen or even the Abzorbaloff. The two just didn't seem to match.

I think the Martian's madness was very much warranted. You would have lost it a bit too, if you had just discovered that you'd been frozen for 5,000 years. All your family are dead: "Now my daughter will be dussssssst" and you can't even be certain that you'll be rescued from this strange, foreign landscape by your people who may also all be dead.

However, his hesitation in killing the scientist fellow (I think it was Grisenko) and ultimately his hesitation in firing the missiles showed that he was not, in fact, a monster. Though he was definitely a threat, it's always nice to see aliens leaving almost peacefully.

The episode was also witty and funny - something I think the last two episodes were kind of lacking. Grisenko and Clara were hilarious:

Grisenko: “Tell me what happens.”
Clara: “I can’t.”
Grisenko: “Well I need to know!”
Clara: “I’m not allowed!”
Grisenko: “No, please!”
Clara: “I can’t!”
Grisenko: “Ultravox – do they split up?”

We also saw Clara learning more about the TARDIS, its translation matrix and its newly-fixed escape mechanism. However, I did see someone question how the translation matrix still magically worked with the TARDIS being somewhere at the South Pole...

Still immensely enjoying Clara as the companion. It was great seeing her question this crazy travelling with the Doctor but hopefully she'll be getting her own key soon because she can't be a full-time companion without one!


Monday, April 8, 2013

The Rings of Akhaten

I usually find Doctor Who to be of a hit or miss show. There have been some amazing episodes and some that are less than great. (I'm the biggest Doctor Who fan though, so I'll try and find a redeeming quality for every episode)

This week's episode, The Rings of Akhaten, fell somewhere in between.

The Doctor and his new companion Clara embark on the traditional second trip to somewhere vastly different to modern day London.

He takes her "somewhere awesome", that is, to see the Rings of Akhaten, which some believe to be the beginning of all life in the universe.

The planet had a Star Wars-esque vibe and we finally got to see new alien creatures (including one whose behaviour could only be described as dog-like)

The Rings of Akhaten was based around the importance of memories. Basically, the population of Akhaten has (as they have throughout their entire history) appointed a child who has to appease their "God" by singing or risk having their souls taken - souls, which the Doctor says, are made up of stories.

When Merry, the young child, errs in her singing and awakes the God, the Doctor steps in to save her because she is the only Merry and is just as important as everyone else. This is one of my favourite things about the Doctor and something that has always been consistent through the show. Modern Doctor Who anyway.

By far the best bit of the episode was the Doctor's monologue to the god. Damn, Matt Smith, that was some quality acting. Some people think that the whole "travelling alone for a thousand years" spiel has been overdone lately but I love it. I love knowing that beneath the childish exterior, the Doctor is a weary old man who has seen so much and is so alone. He has the world on his shoulders and so many people don't even realise.

Even with all this travelling, the Doctor's memories weren't enough to feed and ultimately kill their nebulous sun-god creature (I'm still not entirely sure what it was) It was the infinite possibilities that Clara's leaf represented that ultimately destroyed it.

And yay for character development! Clara isn't just some plot-driver, "the impossible girl" that the Doctor is obsessed with finding out about any more. We get to see her past in a somewhat cheesy (and a little bit creepy - thanks Doctor) opening scene. Her parents meet on a windy autumn day and if it weren't for that exact leaf existing, they wouldn't have met. Then we are told (because the Doctor has been basically stalking her) that her mum died when she was young - in March of 2005 as well, right around the time Nine was meeting Rose - and she has since postponed her dream of travelling to look after the Maitland children.

In The Rings of Akhaten, Clara proves herself to be companion worthy: adventurous, willing to be challenge and ready to leave her old life (at least for a while)

When she and the Doctor need a means of transport across the planet, she offers her mother's ring in exchange. She then sacrifices the "most important leaf in the world" to save Merry and the rest of the planet. Her willingness to do so shows how she wants to move and also how selfless she is (which I think was pretty obvious when she did not travel and instead babysat children who also lost their mother)

Again on the theme of the importance of memories, I found the 'currency' of Akhaten to be very interesting. The more sentimental value a person gives an object, the more it is worth in the market. It just emphasises how significant it is that Clara gave up her mother's ring for their ride.

Overall, I think the episode was better than The Bells of St John but maybe that's just because of the Doctor and Clara's monologues but that it could have been better throughout 7.5/10

Monday, April 1, 2013

50th Anniversary Shenanigans!

With the 50th anniversary special to begin filming next week, some more updates have been released!

bbcdoctorwho tweeted these pictures earlier today:

Matt Smith called the special "hilarious" and "epic", while paying homage to previous episodes and looking forward at the same time.

The special is set to air on November 23 in 3D.