Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead
Steven Moffat wrote this two-part story for series 4, and again he provides us with a fantastic tale full of terror, thought, and great characters. Enter Professor River Song (Alex Kingston), a character from the Doctor’s future who has travelled with the Doctor and it seems is much more than just a travelling companion, greeting the Doctor with ‘Hello Sweetie’.
The sets and CGI of the library planet are excellent in this one, it’s just very strong all round. We have as our monsters the Vasta Narada, who hide in the shadows and eat a person’s flesh in a split second. We have the central computer which is connected to the mind of a small girl, who saved everyone in the library before they died to the hard drive. We have elements, such as life inside the girl’s mind, which seems completely separate to the action in the library until things slowly come together in the second part.
It’s wonderfully crafted, emotional, clever, as good as Steven’s previous episodes which all bear the hallmarks of someone who loves to create and paint with his scripts. Donna Noble is sidelined a bit in this one. She ends up saved to the hard drive living a life out with children and a family before she is restored, and whilst it’s a nice story-arc for her, I don’t feel her character progresses throughout the story – which has been a hallmark of every story she’s been
And we also have the twist that the library was built on the home planet of the Vastra Narada. They lived in the forests there, but the forests were destroyed by the humans to make books and the library. So again life is not all black and white, they are bad and humans are good.
The humans have this strange device attached to their collars which allows them to speak very briefly after they die. It makes for a couple of very sad and moving scenes, but I have to question whether there would be any logical reason to invent such a thing. All in all though, the story has a wonderfully scary atmosphere. It’s written in such a way that you slowly understand what has been going on, where much of the first episode, whilst creepy, is rather strange and difficult to process.
Wonderful piece of writing, direction, everything really. So much time and care went into this one.
‘Midnight’, I think, is Russel T Davies’ best work for Doctor Who, writing-wise that is. It’s a great twist on the character of our hero, the Doctor, that he basically loses the plot when people don’t stand in awe of him and do whatever he tells them to do. ‘Midnight’ is a claustrophobic masterpiece, incredibly creepy and scary, brilliantly played by the cast, including David Tennant, and it is one of the simplest Doctor Who stories there has ever been.
The Doctor and a group of people on a tour are trapped by a creature that lives outside on the planet Midnight where deadly exitonic sunlight shines and supposedly nothing can live in direct contact with the sun’s rays. The creature gets inside the tour vehicle and possesses Mrs Silvestri (Lesley Sharp) who starts to mimic what everyone says. Then she catches up and we have an eerie few minutes where everything the characters say Mrs Sivestri says at exactly the same time. She then
|Lesley Sharp and David Troughton|
People become convinced that the Doctor is behind it all and are about to throw him out of the capsule, but the stewardess realises the Doctor is not to blame and pull Mrs. Silvestri out. It’s wonderfully played out by all, including David Troughton (formally of ‘The War Games’ and ‘The Curse of Peladon’, not to mention son of Patrick), Ayesha Antoine and Rakie Ayola. Excellent, scary stuff, presumably a cheapish episode to film too mostly stuck in the capsule.
|Rose is back. Had a little work done I thinks!|
For Series Four Russel T Davies took a different approach to the ‘Doctor-lite’ story compared to the previous two. Usually one story featured the Doctor and companion very little. However, for series four we have one story which doesn’t feature Donna a lot (‘Midnight’) and then ‘Turn Left’, all about Donna with only the Doctor featuring at the start and end. And both of these episodes worked very well.
‘Turn Left’ is perhaps a style of story the concept of time travel immediately lends itself too, yet I don’t think we’ve ever had a story that went down this exact route until ‘Turn Left’. What would have happened if you’d made a different choice earlier in your life? How would your life have been different? How would the world have been different?
If Donna hadn’t taken the job at HC Clements where she was working when she met the Doctor in ‘The Runaway Bride’, then the events of this episode would have happened. The Doctor is killed in the encounter with the Racnos, and the world is open to the threat of invasion. This episode basically shows us an apocalypse on Earth, Donna and her family living as refugees, and then the return of Rose who is working with UNIT (in this Universe). She has to return to the decision and change it back to the way it was meant to go.
Chipo Chung returns as a sort of soothsayer who is working on behalf of a big bug which sits on Donna’s back (occasionally mentioned through this series in fact, now we know why) and feeds off alternative timelines or something like that. It’s a great episode, it’s thoughtful, confronting too when immigrant refugees are sent away to labour camps, moving and gets everything except the unconvincing bug just about right.
Bernard Cribbins is as always wonderful as Wilfred Mott, and Catherine Tate has shown so much depth and range during the series that I can’t believe I ever doubted her. This episode is sheer brilliance.