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Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor (Review)

How do we get down there? Jump?

Don’t be silly. We fall.

– Clara and the Doctor set things straight

Like The Wedding of the River Song, The Name of the Doctor suggests that Moffat might be better served by reverting to the Davies-era model of two-part season finalés. The strongest season ender of the Moffat era (and probably the best season finalé of the revived show) was The Big Bang, because it felt like Moffat had enough space to allow his ideas to breathe. The Name of the Doctor is a lot sharper and a lot more deftly constructed than any of the closing episodes from Russell T. Davies’ seasons, but it feels a little too compact, a little too tight for its own good.

To be fair, Moffat is has very cleverly structured his season. The mystery of Clara was seeded as early as Asylum of the Daleks and hints have been scattered throughout the past year of Doctor Who. Even the build-up to the final line of the episode feels like an idea that Moffat has been toying with since The Beast Below. Despite all this, it still feels like The Name of the Doctor could do with a little more room to elaborate and develop the concepts at the core of the story.

Journey to the centre of the Doctor?

Journey to the centre of the Doctor?

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Doctor Who: The Bells of St. John (Review)

There’s something in the wifi.

– the Doctor does his best Jaws impression

The Bells of St. John is an intriguing piece of Doctor Who. This is the first time that the show has had to manage a companion swap in the middle of a season. That said, it doesn’t really work to think of the seventh season as a single cohesive entity.

The first five episodes are something of an abridged season, akin to the 2009 season of specials starring David Tennant. They are dedicated to tidying away lingering plot threads from the last two years of the show, and resolving Moffat’s lingering plot threads. The Power of Three and The Angels Take Manhattan are very much about tidying up the Doctor’s lingering connection to Rory and Amy.

In contrast, the second half of the season has a much more celebratory feeling to it, tied together by the over-arching mystery around Clara. While Clara pops up in Asylum of the Daleks, she’s very much a teaser of a mystery to come rather than a character in her own right. Instead, the themes of the season start in The Snowmen, introducing (or reintroducing) the Great Intelligence and Clara, and outlining the mystery of “the twice-dead girl.”

As a result, The Bells of St. John feels very much like a season opener to an unfortunately brief season of celebration.

Maybe that should be "thrice dead"?

Maybe that should be “thrice dead”?

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Doctor Who: The Snowmen (Review)

Snowmen are rubbish in July. You’ll have to be better than that.

– the Doctor points out that the Great Intelligent doesn’t seem especially… intelligent

The Snowmen is a return to the sort of plot-driven Christmas Special that we occasionally saw during the Davies era. Much like The Christmas Invasion was concerned with introducing David Tennant and The End of Time, Part I was focused on wrapping up the Davies era, The Snowmen feels like it’s more concerned with setting up the fiftieth anniversary half-season ahead than it is with being a Christmas Special in its own right.

Sure, The Snowmen has all the festive trappings you might expect. There are killer snowmen, as the title implies. There’s a rich lonely old miser, as we’ve come to expect in these sorts of tales. There’s a nice Victorian setting for all the action as well. However, The Snowmen devotes a considerable amount of time to developing the mystery surrounding the Doctor’s new companion, and setting up a recurring foe for this fiftieth anniversary half-season.

The result is somewhat unsatisfying, as if The Snowmen is working harder to check the requisite boxes than it is to provide seasonal Doctor Who viewing.

What white teeth they have...

What white teeth they have…

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