Saturday, 30 March 2013

Review: Doctor Who 7.6: The Bells of Saint John

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Eleven and Clara's chemistry is still sizzling and I love it.
The overbearing hand of cynicism does often grasp me tighter than I expect, but I don't think that was true this week. The valient return of the show after a frustrating break did not disappoint, and it did everything it promised to and more. The story's premise felt very thin on the ground and I felt that, like the previous story, the villain's plan wasn't explored to its full potential. But it was well-weaved into the character work - which, despite being the third time that we've met Clara Oswald, still feels as fresh and wonderful as the first.
     Having received a wifi helpline number from an anonymous source, the modern day Clara unwittingly calls The Doctor in 1207. As he arrives, he discovers that she has become embroiled in an alien plot that almost leads to her to being "uploaded" onto an alien wifi network that's been hiding on Earth and subconsciously controlling any humans nearby. The Doctor saves her and brings her with him as he investigates the organisation controlling the uploading, which is run by a mysterous woman (Celia Imrie) being controlled by the Great Intelligence (voiced by Richard E Grant).
     Moffat isn't keeping his cards as close to his chest as he was with his last arc - he used to keep them so close that I doubt even he could see them properly. Thus we got a few references to both the Victorian and Future Claras, with the Oswin middle name apparently coming from "Oswald to the win" and her future hacking skills apparently coming from her memories of being uploaded to the Internet. The three Claras are subtley different from one another in various ways, and I liked that, even if it did make Christmas's "introduction" episode that little less perfect.
     Celia Imrie was absolutely delightful as the sadistic villain, taking in her stride the rather Orwellian nature of the concept. I do have a small fear that we could have had something a little better than the Great Intelligence as this episode's resolution, and that Moffat's attempt at continuing his continuity drive may have come at the expense of a better original idea. Despite that, Moffat did the usual schtick of making the mundane scary, and the innate paranoia of being controlled through the Wifi was explored quite thoroughly.
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Celia Imrie's role was fun, but I felt that the true villain was
a bit of a cop-out.
     So not perfect. I'm not saying that to put a downer on the episode, though, because The Bells of Saint John was a fantastic ride from start to finish and it feels like the beginning of something beautiful. My hopes are rather high for this half of the series, and although this episode shared the same nitpicks as its immediate predecessor, there's room for development throughout the series and a lot of this series' new blood will form a major part in that. As it stands, it's a great start.

Thanks.

NEXT WEEK: I'll be a little late with the review, as I'll be in Wales when it's on. You can expect the review for the awesome-sounding The Rings of Akhaten some time in the middle of that week.

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