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Doctor Who: Hide (Review)

Say we actually find her. What do we say to her?

We ask her what she is, how she came to be.

Why?

Because I don’t know and ignorance is… what’s the opposite of bliss?

Carlisle.

Yes, Carlyle. Ignorance is Carlyle.

– the Doctor and Clara

Hide is the best episode of Doctor Who to air since The God Complex, almost two years ago. Writing an affectionate tribute to gothic horror Doctor Who, Hide allows even the most skeptical member of the audience to forgive writer Neil Cross for his somewhat clunky script for The Rings of Akhaten. It’s a nostalgic and atmospheric trip back in time, and a reminder of just exactly what this show is capable of, offering a creepy haunted house horror that manages to morph into an epic love story by the time the credits have rolled.

What lies beyond?

What lies beyond?

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Doctor Who: The Rings Of Akhaten (Review)

The Rings of Akhaten is a visual feast. Both the Mill and Millennium FX deserve a tremendous amount for realising the eponymous environment, which stands out as the perhaps the most impressively alien landscape to appear on Doctor Who since the show began broadcasting in high definition. It’s a solid demonstration that Doctor Who has come a long way since the eighties, and that the show is well able to keep pace with its American competitors. However, it also makes the news that the Mill has been forced to shut down all the more depressing – especially since that shut-down was partially due to the reduced number of Doctor Who episodes being produced each year.

In fact, a lot of the bigger problems with The Rings of Akhaten can be traced back to the decision to structure this seventh season of the revived show, split over two different years instead of across a single year. Most obviously, there’s the fact that we are half-way through this season of Doctor Who, and The Rings of Akhaten feels like the second or third episode of a given season. So much time is taken up with matters and concerns associated with the first half of a given season that The Rings of Akhaten ultimately feels quite light and almost insubstantial.

Burn with me...

Burn with me…

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Doctor Who: The Wedding of River Song (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.

The Wedding of River Song originally aired in 2011.

“I had to die. I didn’t have to die alone.”

– The Doctor

That was a really crammed 45 minutes. If I’m ever looking for an example of how much plotting Steven Moffat can fit into a single regular-sized episode of Doctor Who, I think I only need to look back at The Wedding of River Song. It’s a piece of very smart science-fiction writing, bristling with ideas and tying up quite a lot of the questions that Moffat raised over the course of the last two years, while raising even more.

It’s something that Moffat’s Doctor Who seems to struggle with, balancing the show’s appeal and accessibility with long-term arc-based story telling. It’s a conflict that’s playing out across a variety of television shows, building off the massive success of Lost, and demonstrating that television shows with serialised plot elements can draw (and, for the most part, keep) large audiences.

It’s still a risky gambit for any television show, particularly one like Moffat’s Doctor Who, where the episodes are so few and so far spaced across the television season. Arcs like this run the risk of extending some of the problems with the season as a whole, rather than playing up the individual strengths of the episodes.

Death of the Doctor…

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