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Cobwebs and Spiders – Review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon

I love a good genre shift in a movie or TV series. Do you?

My favourite happens in the film “The Descent”.

It starts out as a girly buddy movie. A group of girls go on an outdoor adventure. Abseiling down cliff, pot-holing in dark caves and helping each other across deep crevasses. One of them gets trapped. Tense scenes follow until her companions free her.

About 45 minutes in the film becomes a horror movie. Suddenly the caves are full of ravenous monsters. They hunt the girls. Blood spills. Gore coats the walls of the caves.

The genre shift from buddy movie to horror shocks you and advances the plot in an unexpected direction.

Review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon

Kill the Moon has a genre shift. For the first 25 minutes we are in a remake of “Alien”.  A dark moon base. Torch light sweeping across deserted cobwebbed rooms. The sounds of scurrying in the shadows. Stolen glimpses of monstrous spiders. Sudden attacks and gruesome deaths.

Kudos to Paul Wilmshurst then. Well directed and genuinely scary you’re best watching the first half of the episode from behind the sofa.

But then the genre shifts. From horror movie to morality play. The moon is infact an egg about to hatch a creature that might destroy the Earth. Should they try to destroy the creature and potentially save the human race? Or will the hatching prove innocuous anyway?

An interesting concept but the Doctor does a runner and leaves Clara and Hermoine Norris’s character to decide. He only reappears when they make the (right) decision to allow the birth of the creature. Is this. A test for Clara or a test for the morality of the entire human species?

Whatever the Doctor had in mind Clara is unimpressed. In a scene building all season she finally tires of his new abrasive personality. She tells him to take a hike.

“Go away. You go a long way away.”

And the Doctor just thought he was helping.

I loved the horror genre section. I’m not sure about morality play. It certainly fits with the Doctor’s new persona and show runner Stephen Moffat obviously knows what he is doing. But as in The Caretaker, I find theme pushed too far.

Peter Capaldi is consistently strong but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to like him. Is that Moffat’s plan. For the softening of the Doctor’s more alien persona to be the theme of the show.

Until we like him again.

Isn’t that a bit of a risk?

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Kill The Moon? Please post a comment or share a link to your own review.

A Disruptive Influence – Review of Doctor Who The Caretaker

Under cover in school, wearing a brown instead of black coat, Peter Capaldi shines once again in an episode masquerading as a sitcom.

Another fun romp with many positive but I’m left feeling underwhelmed.

Review of Doctor Who The Caretaker

Funny – the scene where Clara confronts the Doctor in the staff room and he uses his broom to fend her off is hilarious. Capaldi and Coleman are excelling each week at the moment.

Exciting – when the Skovox Blitzer machine makes one of its explosive appearances. A well conceived alien spewing laser beams and death rays. But the Doctor defeats it easy – actually talking it to death.

Characters – we finally meet Courtney (a pupil mentioned in earlier episodes) who describes herself as a “Disruptive Influence”. She sees the stars in a gorgeous scene at the end but please, let’s not see her as a recurring character.

The aim of the episode to advance the relationship triangle between the Doctor, Clara and Danny Pink took up too much screen time. And whilst I am a fan of Capaldi’s more alien take on the Timelord’s personality, and I have enjoyed his grumpiness so far, he went to far this week in his “hatred” of soldiers.

Is Capaldi himself the “disruptive influence” here?

A watchable forty-five minutes but telling in that I have not gone back and watched it again. And I usually always do.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who The Caretaker? Do you like the new direction of the show? Is Capaldi too rude and grumpy? Let me know what you think.

The Unbreakable Bank – Review of Doctor Who Time Heist

Time Heist is Doctor Who doing Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen.

When you have a time machine not only can you visit any era in history – and play Robin Hood Panto.

You can visit every film and literary genre too.

This time the bank heist genre. Busting into The Unbreakable Bank of Karabraxos.

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We begin with a witty scene of Doctor Clara banter (“Have you grown?” “Heels”) and suddenly the TARDIS phone rings. Clara cautions that the Doctor shouldn’t answer the phone as “something” will happen.

Well it does. As soon as he grabs the phone receiver, the scene changes. They are in a dark room. Their memories wiped. The Doctor holding a slimy Memory Worm.

Over a video link the mysterious Architect informs them that they must rob the bank of Karabraxos.

A good fun episode of Doctor Who, Time Heist merges time travel into a typical bank robbery story. The Architect is of course the Doctor, having set up the heist in advance, and then wiped his team’s memories so that the monster of the week, The Teller, cannot detect their guilt and out them.

Peter Capaldi is in charge for the first time since his debut. Time Heist shows us that the Doctor is clever and can plan with meticulous detail. But he’s still more alien than Matt Smith or David Tennant.

He gave his companions suicide syringes for goodness sake. Yes, as the Architect he knows they are teleport devices, but as a mind-wiped Doctor, he thinks they’ll kill.

Keeley Hawes shines as Ms Delphox/Madame Karabraxos but needs more air time. As interesting as Psi and Saibra, the other two members of the mind-wipe gang, we don’t learn enough about them.

It only took less than 45 minutes to rob The Unbreakable Bank. It should have taken at least 60. With so much going on I feel the episode need longer to breathe.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Time Heist? What did you think? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own review.

A Silent Passenger – Review of Doctor Who Listen

It’s one of the scariest Doctor Who stories ever, but in Listen there isn’t actually a monster.

Unless of course you count an unknown something hiding beneath a red blanket on top of a bed.

A Silent Passenger - Review of Doctor Who Listen

Showrunner Steven Moffat succeeds again in tapping into our basic childhood fears. In the past he’s done statues that only move when you’re not looking at them. He’s had aliens we forget about once we can’t see them. Here he investigates the scary unknown monster that lives under the bed of every child in the world.

Who hasn’t had that dream of sitting on the edge of the bed, feet dangling, when a hand shoots out from the inky blackness beneath to grab your foot?

“Proposition – What if no one is ever really alone? What if every single living being has a companion, a silent passenger? A shadow. What if the prickle on the back of your neck is the breath of something close behind you?”

The Doctor goes in search of a monster that’s so good at hiding that we can never know it’s there. And we never do see it. It might not even exist. Could this be the first time in Doctor Who history where the perceived threat is entirely imagined?

And yet it’s terrifying.

When Clara is hiding under the bed with young Danny Pink, and something sits on the mattress above them, our pulses race.

Is this the monster sitting on the bed above them?

All we see is a red blanket covering….something.

Is it another child trying to scare them? Is it a squat little demon? And if the creature is an expert at hiding, the blanket trick is such a poor attempt at hiding that it can’t be the hiding expert can it?

We never find out though and the imagined creature is all the more scary for the lack of reveal.

We discover that the silent passenger that has accompanied the Doctor since childhood is fear itself. And fear is the most frightening monster of all.

Once again Jenna Coleman provides the resolution to the episode. Long time fans might be upset by their return to Gallifrey, her hiding under the “child Doctor’s” bed (grabbing his foot to create the nightmare he remembers so vividly), and gently telling the crying child that everything will be alright.

Of course the words Clara used were those she heard the Doctor say to young Danny earlier – so the source of the words becomes a typical timey whimey paradox.

And Peter Capaldi delivers his best performance yet. Moffat provides some great material for him to work with. He’s nailed the Doctor now and I look forward to many years of his portrayal.

However there are a few plot holes. If the Doctor‘s dream memory was actually created by Clara, why does everyone have the same dream?

“I think everybody at some point in their lives has the exact, same nightmare. You wake up, or you think you do, and there’s someone in the dark, someone close, or you think there might be. So you sit up, turn on the light, and the room looks different at night. It ticks and creaks and breathes. And you tell yourself there’s nobody there, nobody watching, nobody listening. Nobody there at all … and you very nearly believe it. You really, really try. And then … <hands reach out and grab ankles>. There are accounts of that dream throughout human history, time and time again, the same dream.”

But let’s not quibble too much about a thoroughly entertaining, scary and watchable episode of Doctor Who.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Listen? Are the monsters real and hiding or simply in the Doctor’s imagination? Please leave a comment or share a link to your own review.