Category: Doctor Who

Doctor Who episode 812: The Crimson Horror (4/5/2013)

‘Hey, that’s good, isn’t it? “The Crimson Horror”.’ Mark Gatiss’ best script to date plays to all his strengths in macabre comedy, like the Curse of Karrit Poor section of the League of Gentlemen Christmas Special. He also throws in elements from Carry On Screaming (people being turned into mannequins after a dip in some bubbling liquid), and – probably in tribute to Dame Diana Rigg – The Avengers (Jenny going undercover and changing into a leather fighting suit). The result doesn’t tread new ground, but it’s the most straightforwardly entertaining episode since Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.

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Doctor Who episode 811: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS (27/4/2013)

‘How big is this baby?’ So far, Series Seven hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but it’s mostly been fine. There haven’t been many new ideas on the table – we’ve had RTD, Shearman and Roberts pastiches – and episodes that haven’t quite landed the ending. But this, from the writer of the unloved Curse of the Black Spot, seems to me like a complete misfire, even if it’s bad for different reasons.

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Doctor Who episode 810: Hide (20/4/2013)

‘You are the only mystery worth solving.’ On paper, this should be in my Top Ten Doctor Who episodes. Practically the only thing I’m more a fan of than this series is the ghost stories of M.R. James, and especially the 1970s Ghost Story for Christmas adaptations. This leans heavily into that aesthetic, with Professor Palmer’s name seemingly inspired by Whistle And I’ll Come To You’s Professor Parkin, and a grotesque, barely-glimpsed revenant flitting through the background and chasing our hero through a misty landscape.

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Doctor Who episode 809: Cold War (13/4/2013)

‘The world didn’t end in 1983.’ This feels like the kind of story Eric Saward was striving for: a claustrophobic setting; military personnel without first names; an Alien scuttering through the shadows, and an updated version of a 1960s monster. It’s Warriors of the Deep meets Resurrection of the Daleks. But there’s also a smattering of Andrew Cartmelisms to leaven the mix: the Doctor challenges the Ice Warrior to look him in the eye, and Clara’s final appeal to Skaldak’s compassion and the horror of nuclear war is a rewrite of the seventh Doctor’s showdown with Morgaine.

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Doctor Who episode 808: The Rings of Akhaten (6/4/2013)

‘I’m not a bargain basement stand-in for someone else. I’m not going to compete with a ghost.’ This is an odd one. It fulfils the same function as The Beast Below and there are some similarities – the space city setting; the focus on children; a society complicit in sacrifice; the hungry beast only sated when the new companion perceives a solution. The difference is that while The Beast Below was a mystery gradually unpicked, this plays out as a bunch of stuff that happened.

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Doctor Who episode 807: The Bells of Saint John (30/3/2013)

‘Right then, Clara Oswald. Time to find out who you are.’ This feels like the launch of Moffat-point-two, with the new title sequence and TARDIS interior that debuted in The Snowmen now joined by a new look for the Doctor. I’m still not a fan of Smith’s second costume, which feels closer to the over-designed outfits of the 1980s than his nutty professor get-up, and along with the narrative focus on ‘Doctor Who’ risks turning the character into the cliché. But for the most part, I quite enjoy the episode.

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Doctor Who episode 806: The Snowmen (25/12/2012)

‘Now the dream outlives the dreamer and can never die.’ This fulfils the same function as The Runaway Bride: on the back of the Doctor losing a beloved companion, he needs a new friend to remind him why he does what he does. Which means Clara has to be this Doctor’s Donna, shocking him out of his gloom and drawing him into a new adventure through sheer force of will.

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Doctor Who: The Great Detective (16/11/2012)

‘I have declared war on the Moon.’ Doctor Who’s 2012 contribution to Children in Need is a short teaser to The Snowmen featuring Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax trying to lure a despondent Doctor out of retirement with a string of weak mysteries (and the opportunity to conquer the Moonites). Some of the mysteries sound suspiciously like Vastra has read a Season Seven guide, with a shower of meteors and a mad professor called Erasmus Pink (presumably a forebear of Danny) who’s threatening to drill through the Earth’s crust.

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Doctor Who episode 805: The Angels Take Manhattan (29/9/2012)

‘I hate endings.’ This begins where Blink ended, with ominous, Dutch tilt close ups of looming statues implying that the Weeping Angels can take many different forms – including the Statue of Liberty. It sets the scene for an episode that’s a much more authentic sequel to Blink than The Time of Angels, with the same sense of creeping dread and the noose of Time closing around the characters. It even replays the scene of Sally meeting an aged Billy as private eye Sam Garner meets his older self.

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Doctor Who episode 804: The Power of Three (22/9/2012)

‘So that was the year of the slow invasion, when the Earth got cubed, and the Doctor came to stay.’ In a surprise twist, this year’s Gareth Roberts script is written by Chris Chibnall. As Craig is otherwise engaged as a contestant on The Apprentice, it falls to Amy and Rory to play hosts as the Doctor crashes their ‘beautiful, messy lives’ to investigate the mysterious cubes that have appeared from nowhere, all the way round the world. And there’s another surprise – the Brigadier might have died, but his daughter Kate from the Ian Levine spin-off Downtime has taken charge of UNIT.

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