TV: Doctor Who – “The Bells of Saint John”

Tonight saw the return of Doctor Who to Saturday night, with the second half of series 7 of the re-booted sci-fi warhorse. I’m not sure I really liked how this series was split down the middle. I hope there’s not going to be a test on what happened in the first half, other than the retirement of companions Amy & Rory and some foreshadowing of latest companion Clara in (so far) two previous lives.

The big worry is that I didn’t really miss the show. I used to be a big fan, particularly in the Tennant days, but while I’ve warmed to Matt Smith (eventually), Moffatt’s convoluted storylines and frequent descents into total gobbledegook haven’t made for gripping viewing.

Doctor who bells of saint john

Sure, he loves a climax (don’t we all) but when all story strands lead to the series finale, I’m often a little disappointed by the pay-off. So the main thrust of this half-season, Clara’s peculiar backstory, looks like it might end up with some dribbly-wibbly timey-wimey nonsense explanation. I think I miss Russell T Davies’ idea of a finale, i.e. “OMG the Daleks are going to blow up the Earth and kill the Doctor but all the allies from dimensions past and present are here to help him WHEEE!!!”

I’m getting ahead of myself, this was Clara’s ‘proper’ introduction episode. Typically these are pretty lightweight affairs, existing mainly to introduce a new character without squandering one of the inevitable returns from a big bad guy that’s meant to look good in series trailers. And that’s exactly what we got.

Kicking off with a disposable bit in a monastery, we are quickly back to Matt in his usual character, looking incredulous and describing something unexpected in case we don’t appreciate how unusual this is (in this case a mis-directed phonecall from the future). At least it’s not dinosaurs on a spaceship. LOL RANDOM!!! Is he doing to fight a Nyan Cat in a future episode?

doctorwho2Anyway, the main horror here was the blandly invisible Wi-Fi network, hi-jacked by an evil entity (I won’t spoil it), operating a large organisation that’s harvesting souls, or something. It does this by sending humanoid drones nicknamed Spoonheads (which sounds like a slang term for someone with special needs). With ponderous slowness turn their heads to reveal their robotic identities, and with super-fast 4G they download someone’s soul into a big video wall at HQ.

To be honest, there’s not much point describing much else, it’s all pseudo-technical nonsense. The Doctor has a ridiculous ‘type-off’ with a techie to un-download one soul. I thought we were past doing this after the slew of 90s hacker movies, you’d think most people were savvy enough to think this was just dross. I mean obviously it’s fiction, but why not use actual science as a foundation? Sigh…

It wasn’t a terrible episode, I’ve certainly heard worse, but it did feel a bit self-conscious; it added a bit CGI spectacle whenever the action sagged (plane stunt, motorbike stunt). I didn’t understand the motive of the enemy, but presumably he’s just a taster of a future story arc? It felt like a bit of a wimpy resolution, nobody was brought to justice. But still, we have a new sassy independent and flirty companion, let’s hope she can revive my interest in the second leg of this series.

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One response to “TV: Doctor Who – “The Bells of Saint John”

  1. Pingback: TV: Doctor Who – “The Rings of Akhaten” | Verbal Diarrhoea

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