Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Doctor Who: Listen / Time Heist ( mini reviews )

"Fear makes companions of us all..."

Listen is a strange episode of Doctor Who  -  for the most part low-key and creepy in a classic ghost story style, yet also encompassing the end of the universe and some Coupling-esque sitcom moments. Revolving around the all-too-familiar childhood fears of something unseen close behind or something lurking under the bed, this story is an effective attempt by Steven Moffatt to put the chills back into Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi is excellent as an obsessed, driven Doctor having some kind of minor mental breakdown, while Jenna Coleman also shines, whether suffering through an awkward first date or confronting an eerie apparition in a child's bedroom.Some people aren't happy about the story's final revelation but I think it's a bold move of Moffatt's to add to the show's mythology. Even after five decades we can learn new things about our favourite Time Lord.
4 Out Of 5 Sonic Screwdrivers ( or pieces of chalk )

Time Heist, by contrast is a Doctor Who take on ( strangely enough ) heist movies. The Doctor and Clara find themselves part of a small team assembled to rob the most impregnable bank in the universe. They have all had their memories wiped and must find out who hired them and why... and also avoid a terrible fate at the, er, eyeballs of the gruesome Teller, an alien who can sense guilt.
Considering this episode was written by the usually-lacklustre Steve Thompson it's got a lot to recommend it: Capaldi channelling Malcolm Tucker, Jenna Coleman looking very cool in a suit, some chilling moments with the brain-blasting Teller and a well structured plot that rewards repeat viewings. Its biggest failings are no real sense that breaking into this bank is all that difficult, and a waste of the wonderful Keeley Hawes who surely should have had more scenes of verbal sparring with the Doctor.
3 1/2 Out Of 5 Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Memory Worms )

Soundtrack: Talking Heads '77 by Talking Heads


Richard said...

The problem isn't that Moffat was so bold as to add to the show's mythology, it's that he never STOPS doing it. He seems hellbent on answering every question, unravelling every enigma, filling in every gap. It's like "I'm the Ultimate Doctor Who Fan and now the show is my Ultimate Doctor Who Fan Fiction! My answers to everything are now canon!" And he's taken his latest "perfect girl" archetype and inserted her into the life of every single Doctor, so this character we never heard of two years ago is now the Single Most Important Person in the Doctor's History.

Enough with all that, say the exhausted fans. If he could just put down the retcon gun, step away from the Doctor's mythology for a bit, and just do some more satisfying stories like Time Heist there'd be a lot less complaints.

Total agreement re Time Heist, BTW!

cerebus660 said...

Apart from that, how did you enjoy the play Mrs. Lincoln?

Kid said...

I'm afraid I have to agree with RB, Cer. Sometimes the actual story seems subservient to whatever 'revelation' SM can tack onto it. I suspect that the thing under the bedsheets in Listen was at first meant to be an actual 'monster', but was made ambiguous (by management perhaps) in order not to give kids nightmares. It had the initial effect desired of it, but by being rendered 'uncertain' as it left the room, the moment was robbed somewhat of its power. That's what makes me wonder whether the Clara revelation was a second choice ending.

Agree with you about the bank not seeming all that difficult to break into in Time Heist 'though. However, the story's ending seemed to be based on the Matt Smith one about reuniting two alien lovers - can't remember its name. I think that's the trouble with Moffat's Doctor Who - it not only seems derivative of many other things, but also itself.


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