Viewing posts tagged series 9
For our season finale (until Christmas) I'm joined by the legendary Kate Orman, writer of an appallingly large number of very good Doctor Who books. The first half is interview about her Virgin Books novels and her recent Faction Paradox anthology Liberating Earth, the second (starting at about the hour and twenty minute mark for those with no interest in the Wilderness Years, which is to say, wrong people) on Hell Bent. You can get it here, and I recommend you do, cause it's lovely.
Moffat must go.
I'm joined this week by Elliot Chapman, Big Finish's Ben Jackson, for an utterly spellbinding conversation about Heaven Sent and acting, including some fascinating discussion of Capaldi's technical approach and how it compares to several of his predecessors. It's an absolutely fantastic conversation, and you can listen to it right here.
|Art by cardinalcapaldi|
Dollard for showrunner.
What is perhaps most striking about Face the Raven is its studious lack of flashiness. Especially given the extent to which the denouement involves the story nearly being swallowed whole by the season arc. By the end the episode is nearly as awash in references and metaplots as the start of The Magician’s Apprentice, and yet at no point does it lose sight of its underlying goal of being a fairly straightforward Doctor Who story in the “here is a cool premise, let’s explore it” tradition.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some obvious moments where Dollard’s story gets sacrificed to the needs of the season arc. In particular, the fact that Me’s benefactors have to go unnamed (though they’re obviously the Time Lords, right?) and the entire “what the hell is going on here” is offloaded to, at the very least, Heaven Sent and one suspects at least partially Hell Bent means that this all feels a bit messy. It’s a mystery, and yet it never quite feels like it comes to a solution. Particularly awkward is the fact that the Doctor seems to ...
This is solidly Gatiss’s best-ever Doctor Who story. It is in several regards outright brilliant, in a giddy and brave way that makes a perfect little quiet breath of an episode in the tradition of Love and Monsters or Blink, which it most obviously resembles. I’ve not, obviously, run the timing of it, but it certainly feels like a Doctor-lite episode, sharing their structural trick of treating a Doctor Who story as a defined thing happening inside another story. But where those stories put the Doctor into a very different sort of story, here he’s put into a found footage horror film. The result, very cleverly, is a story that gradually unravels into two separate stories, with the Doctor falling out of the narrative instead of slowly overtaking it.
This unraveling is by some margin the highlight of the episode, and is done with deft panache. Information is conveyed through the subtle shifts of the narrative rules, so that the found footage approach moves gradually and cleverly from being a gimmick to being the entire point of the episode. This is handled smartly on multiple levels, including Gatiss’s script, Justin Molotnikov’s direction, and Reece Shearsmith ...
It is, in many ways, the most Part One of the two-parters we’ve had so far. Which is as it should be. I mean, it comes right out, first thing, and proclaims “we’re doing Zygon ISIS.” Pretty much right there, you’ve justified your second part. This isn’t some premise that requires a stealthy inversion at the halfway mark to work over ninety minutes. This is just an incredibly meaty, dense concept that it would be a travesty to even attempt in forty-five. Which makes it a beast to review, of course, but oh well.
Let’s stipulate up front, then, that much like Under the Lake/Before the Flood, a lot could go wrong in the second half. Clara - the actual one - is going to need something significant to do next week to avoid this contributing to a frustrating pattern of sidelining her this season. There’s an “immigration requires assimilation” subtext that, without some actively managed balance, could turn genuinely ugly, although there’s self-evidently no chance of this story going UKIP or anything, having already skewered them. And The Zygon Inversion could just suck. I’m pretty confident it won’t go wrong, though ...
This week I'm joined by Caitlin Smith, aka abossycontrolfreak on Tumblr, who previously contributed the searingly good guest post on Clara in Series 7 for TARDIS Eruditorum. It just seemed a good one to have her on for, what with Clara not actually being in it and all that. Anyway, she's brilliant, and I'm a mad editor thing, and that makes for good radio or something. Have a listen here. And tune in next week, when we've got a massive exciting guest.
There’s an odd tone to this, which is mostly good, although there’s a big exception. Perhaps the most striking thing is that the first half is essentially a two-hander; an extended character study in Me. This is an interesting exercise, especially coming off The Girl Who Died, and it’s by some margin the most successful the “all two-parters” experiment has been. Between the fact that she’s a Big Guest Actor and the fact that we just spent an episode being introduced to her character, Maisie Williams conspicuously does not need an introduction, and so the story sets about giving her one.
As expected, Catherine Tregenna is well-suited to this. And it’s remarkably tricky ground, especially given the decision to make Me an unsettling and borderline-villainous character, which immediately brings in a lot of mirroring, an approach that can crash into dull cliche with ease. Tregenna is good at this, deftly balancing the big tell-don’t-show lines with slightly surprising and unexpected perspectives throughout. “I stopped caring because everyone died” is obvious. “I left it there to remind me not to have any more children” is staggering. “They value life because it’s fleeting” is yawn-worthy ...