Tag Archives: jenna coleman

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.

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.

This is my Spoon – Review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood

Three weeks into darker Doctor Peter Capaldi’s reign here’s a light-hearted fun romp which plays to the leading actors comedy roots.

It’s almost pantomime.

Review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood

The Doctor amuses us by believing that he’s in a medieval theme park trying to prove the inhabitants of Sherwood Forest are fakes. His heated interactions with Robin Hood are hilarious.

“I have no sword. I don’t need a sword. Because I am the Doctor and this is my spoon! En garde!”

Ben Miller’s quietly spoken Sheriff of Nottingham steels from Alan Rickman’s film portrayal of the same role. Jenna Coleman shines once again as she avoids the Sheriff’s seduction and instead finds out all his secrets.

Robin Hood and his Merry Men are… Well. Merry.

It’s well-played and funny but hardly a classic episode. I’ve not got much more to say about other than the scene they cut.

The BBC announced that they excised a scene where Robin Hood beheads the Sheriff only for the Sheriff’s head to continue talking revealing that he is in fact a robot. They performed the edit in sympathy to the brutal real life murder of a woman in London a few days before transmission.

You can find the cut scene on the internet if you look for it. And actually the title of the story makes more sense if you know the Sheriff is a robot.

But in truth the story works just as well with the edit. The Sheriff’s motivations are just as plausible if he was fully human than if he was half machine.

What I question is the BBC publicity machine’s real intention in making such a big deal about the edit in the media.

If they hadn’t mentioned it none of us would have been any the wiser. But by promoting the cut they drew attention to it and arguably upset the murder victim’s family more than had they left the scene intact but unpublicised.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my brief review of Doctor Who Robot of Sherwood? Please leave a comment or post a link to your own article or blog.

It’s Furious – Review of Doctor Who Deep Breath

A young feisty, energetic, wisecracking Doctor (Matt Smith) replaced by a the older, slower, grumpier and sterner Peter Capaldi.

Will the world-wide audience accept this latest regeneration?

Review of Doctor Who Deep Breath

After almost 10 years of “New Who” aimed squarely at modern young audiences, how would they cope with an older doctor? Remember Peter Capaldi is as old as William Hartnell was on his debut back in 1963.

Obviously concerned about the transition, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat held our hand throughout the season premiere, Deep Breath. At 75 minutes this feature length opener gave us plenty of time to explore the Doctor’s new persona.

And not only did he need to introduce number 12, Moffat wanted to change the pace and feel of the program. Gone are the short scenes, snappy dialogue, quick-fire humour and express storylines. Replaced by longer exposition, more talking, more characterisation and deeper introspection.

I used my son as a barometer for how people would accept the new doctor. He was very sceptical.

“I don’t want to watch this, ” he said. “I preferred Matt Smith. This guy is too old. He’s Scottish and I don’t understand what he says.”

In fact we almost had to chain our son to the sofa (not behind it.) to make sure he  watched the first episode.

By the end however he was converted. He liked Peter Capaldi. He enjoyed the story. And he thought Peter Capaldi was a great replacement for Matt Smith.

Despite the age gap.

Steven Moffat pulled it off. How did he do it?

Firstly by surrounding the Doctor with familiar characters from previous years, most notably the Paternoster gang;  Madam Vastra, wife and maid Jenny, and Sontaran Strax.

But main companion Clara was the key. She was the viewer. She was us. She was the one who reflected our thoughts.

Uncomfortable with the older Doctor. Pining for the “almost boyfriend”  who regenerated last Christmas. The lines she spoke reflected the thoughts we were thinking.

“I don’t know who the Doctor is any more.”

By the end of the show, aided by a surprise cameo by Matt Smith phoning Clara from the past, she knew that Peter Capaldi was the Doctor. We’re now set up for a cracking series 8. If doubters across the world converted as quickly as my son, then Capaldi will be a successful doctor.

So what was he like?

Definitely older. Definitely more alien. Intolerant of humans. However he’s still funny and eccentric and, well,  Doctory.

“Who invented this room?”

“Don’t look in the mirror. It’s furious.”

“The planet of the pudding brains.”

Here is anger and confusion. But most importantly Peter Capaldi stands out. He’s the focal point for every scene he’s in. He commands the screen. Almost to the extent that he overshadows all the rest of the cast including strong actors like Jenna Coleman and Neve McIntosh.

The scene in the alley-way with the tramp is impressive as the Doctor struggles to find his real identity. Once he’s settled into the role and we move to the plot including the clockwork androids led by the “Half-Face” man the show becomes tense and scary. In the restaurant where they realise the other diners aren’t in fact eating and are in fact robots is particularly frightening and well-directed.

Capaldi plays the Doctor as a cross between Colin Baker and Christopher Eccleston. He is definitely has a harder edge. Dismissive of human beings. Not as compassionate as Tenant or Smith.

Any niggles. Some of the scenes with the Paternoster Gang were superfluous. And why was Clara struggling so much with a new older Doctor when she immediately empathised with the War Doctor in the 50th anniversary show?

That aside Moffat has successfully rebooted Doctor Who yet again.

They showed Deep Breath in cinemas across the world. Ben Wheatley’s direction fits the big screen. From the dinosaur at the start, to the Doctor racing across Victorian London on horseback, to the last did the “Half-Face” man jump or did the Doctor push him conundrum, Doctor Who is back refreshed, more adult, and feeling much more like “Classic Who” rather than “New Who”.

Now it’s your turn:

Do you agree with my review of Doctor Who Deep Breath? What did you think of Capaldi? Please leave a comment or post a link to your blog.