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Doctor Who: Silence in the Library (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Silence in the Library originally aired in 2008.

There’s the real world, and there’s the world of nightmares. That’s right, isn’t it? You understand that?

Yes, I know, Doctor Moon.

What I want you to remember is this, and I know it’s hard. The real world is a lie, and your nightmares are real.

– Cal and Doctor Moon get to the root of what makes Moffat scripts terrifying

Ah, Silence in the Library. The Steven Moffat story that isn’t, that doesn’t. The first Steven Moffat script that isn’t the strongest story in its season by a clear margin; the first Steven Moffat adventure that didn’t claim the Hugo for Doctor Who. The biggest problem with Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead is that they can’t quite measure to The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace or Blink. That’s hardly an unforgivable sin, and there’s no shame in not being quite as good an episode of Doctor Who as Midnight was.

I’m quite fond of the two-parter, even though I’ll concede that it has its problems. The most obvious of which is the fact that – four years into the revival – the audience has had a chance to come to appreciate “Moffat-isms”, with many viewers able to recognise the writer’s preferred genre tricks and tropes. Silence in the Library is far from the most original script of the season, but it’s well written and well executed.

It’s just a little too familiar.

Going by the book on this one...

Going by the book on this one…

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Doctor Who: Revelation of the Daleks (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Revelation of the Daleks originally aired in 1985.

There’s an argument to be made that Revelation of the Daleks is the only truly classic episode that Doctor Who produced during Colin Baker’s stint in the leading role. I’m not sure I agree – I’d argue that Vengeance on Varos, despite a misleading title, is surprisingly solid and clever – but I can see the logic. In fact, Revelation of the Dalekswas a fitting choice to close out Baker’s first season in the role, the last episode to air before BBC placed the series on hiatus, as it represents the very best of mid-eighties Doctor Who.

We can see right through the Daleks’ plan…

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