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Monday, 22 September 2014

Doctor Who S34E5: Time Heist.

Doctor Who
Series 34, Episode 5
Time Heist.

Moff is writing a lot of episodes this series, isn't he? This is the fourth one he's written so far, out of five episodes, although two of those he co-wrote with other writers, I'll grant. We have Moff co-writing again next week, and he's writing the last two episodes, meaning that when all is said and done he'll have written or co-written seven out of twelve episodes this series. That seems far more than usual – and, to be honest, I think we can all agree it is to the detriment of the series.

With that in mind, let's glance at last week's Moffat Bingo:

As you can see, a lot of spaces are filled, but the number of spaces filled each week becomes less and less largely due to so many of them being filled. If we were including the first three episodes, all of the spaces would be filled by now. Alas, we are not, and so the dinosaur space might never be filled.

So how was this episode?


Okay, not bad, actually. Maybe even – good? Probably the best of this series so far, but like all the others, it's never going to go down in history as one of the best Doctor Who episodes ever. It has a genuinely original concept, though, something that was noticeably absent from three of the four previous episodes, and for that I am eternally grateful.

After answering the TARDIS phone, the Doctor and Clara find themselves suddenly in a dark room, having suffered from a memory wipe. They've been given a mission by a mysterious man calling himself the Architect: They are to rob the Carabraxos Bank, the most secure bank in the universe, with the help of two similarly memory wiped comrades.

Definitely looking the part. I don't think any group of people in
a bank has ever looked more like bank robbers.

Doctor Who does Hustle – and that is exactly what it is, right down to cribbing Hustle's cinematography quirks – is a pretty fine idea for an episode, although the execution is a bit off in some places. Moffster's issues with telling instead of showing are back in full force in this episode, as we are repeatedly informed of the Carabraxos Bank's excellent security but, with the exception of the Teller, never really shown what makes it so impenetrable, thus failing the first and most basic hurdle for a heist storyline.

If I'm being honest, the heist element of the story is easily the weakest part of it, but the episode is bolstered by having several very entertaining side characters. Mrs. Delphox makes an excellent villain/fire starter Pokemon, with Keeley Hawes putting in a performance which is both sinister and businesslike. The Doctor and Clara's fellow bank robbers are well-acted, engaging characters too, with their own agendas that are a little broadly sketched out (although what can you really expect, it's a forty-five minute episode with a lot going on in it) but nevertheless very believable.

I'm glad said supporting characters didn't die, either. One thing that Doctor Who in general has a tendency to overuse – and Moffat in particular has this problem, but he is by no means the only one, and Russell T. Davies was terrible for this – is the Minor Character Death. It loses its meaning if it's done too often, so A++ for not stepping into that particular trap this time.

(Side note: Doctor, you've seen Clara wearing heels before, why are you so confused about it now?)

This pose is called 'alluring IT support'.

The monster of the week – thankfully not a recycled one this time, and yes, I know, the last one wasn't either – had an interesting design, and the idea of a monster that feeds off guilt was a good one. That said, God knows I grow weary of the 'evil humans enslaving a poor, telepathic creature' storyline. We saw it with Planet of the Ood and I'm ninety percent sure we've seen it a few times since, and while I wouldn't go nearly as far as to say that this story is a rip-off of that one (it's not, by any stretch of the imagination), and while that story was a while ago, the 'enslaved telepathic creature that just wants to be free' thing is still starting to feel a shade overdone.

I call this 'prison church chic'.

Overall, a strong episode, especially by this series' perhaps rather lagging standards. Like Robot of Sherwood, it's good, easy fun, very watchable, and I wouldn't balk at the idea of watching it again. We even managed to avoid most of the misogynistic bull. So good job on this one.

Now, let's check the updated bingo:

Only three filled in! Like Robot of Sherwood, we're looking at mostly the more innocuous ones filled in this week, too, although seriously, B Plots. B Plots serve an important purpose.

Next week, the Doctor becomes a caretaker at Clara's school – why he doesn't just become a teacher, I don't know – and we might finally get to have Danny find out about the whole time travel schtick. Which he should have found out about last episode. I mean, really. 

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