Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Angels take Manhattan, The Snowmen & The Bells of St John

The Angels Take Manhattan

Amy and Rory fall together.

Mike McShane
It’s time to say goodbye to Amy and Rory in this sad and scary story. Back in America to film – that’s America and Spain within three episodes! It looks beautiful, the story is a little lightweight but then it is about Amy and Rory’s goodbye and Manhattan and the Angels are almost just backdrop. Alex Kingston returns as River Song as well and we have a special guest star in Mike McShane from ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’ as well as Grayle.
It’s creepy, and despite what I have read many fans say, I liked the use of the Statue of Liberty as a giant angel. Rory and Amy jump off a rooftop together to change history and save the day, another reset button but at least a clever one. I feel New York back in the day was captured well too. Following Amy and Rory via a book written about the events was very clever by the writer, Mr Steven Moffat.
At the end of the day this story has its moments, but the one moment you leave the episode with above all others is the end. Rory and Amy sent into the past – to New York in 1938, and the Doctor unable to reach them. I guess it’s a sad way to end if I am to be honest. We know they were happy together, but what about Rory’s Dad and the families of them both?

We also know that at some point River visited them to tell Amy what to write in the book which feeds the first half of the story. So how come River can visit them and the Doctor can’t? And if it’s the TARDIS, what’s to stop the Doctor using River’s Vortex manipulator. Is he saying he can never visit New York between 1938 and 2013 again? That’s a big call we will see if that holds true. What’sn to stop him landing somewhere else and going by land to New York? Unfortunately it’s not a resolution that works. It’s a very big plot hole. And sadly, it does taint what is otherwise a very good, stylish, scary episode of Doctor Who. Amy and Rory have really worked wonderfully well in the TARDIS. The writing lost its way for them a little bit from the second half of series six, and I miss the continuing adventure of the Doctor and his companions, as the Doctor would just return to Earth and pick them up for the ride whenever the moment took him, and that wasn’t as satisfying for me as a viewer, but all in all, I think they made excellent characters. Maybe should have left earlier.

The Snowmen

Richard E. Grant.
Madame Vastra, Jenny, Jenna Louise Colemann and Strax (Dan Starkey) return for this Christmas adventure, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Not only that, the return of the Great Intelligence, not seen since ‘The Web of Fear’, returns as well, with guest appearances by Ian McKellan (sadly just his voice) and Richard E. Grant.
It’s not as swept up in Christmas as the previous Christmas engagement thank goodness, and as such sets a much faster and entertaining face.
Strax is back (Dan Starkey)
We have a new console room which I like, however, I thought the previous one which lasted only 2.5 seasons, was the best of the new series console rooms and therefore miss it. This one is darker and simpler, in some ways more reminiscent of the original console room, without the bright light. Perhaps it’s both smaller and simpler to erect as well, the previous one was huge, but really a thing of beauty. If they were trying to save
money, then rebuilding a set they already had doesn’t make a lot of sense, but maybe it will save money and space in the long run.
‘The Snowmen’ has something a traditional Doctor Who plot, special snow that can copy molecules is trying to give physical form to the Great Intelligence. There aren’t a lot of sets, but they are well done. The TARDIS is parked in the clouds with a ladder down to Earth via a spiral staircase. It’s a very nice idea. And we get Clara Oswald, played by Jenna Louise Coleman, who made an appearance as Oswin Oswald in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and is the new companion. But actually… this isn’t the companion either as she dies at the end as well.
Deepening the mystery. She’s very plucky and adventurous, I think THIS Clara would have worked well in the series. Strax is back – the Doctor says a friend of his brought him back to life, and that’s about all he says. I’ve been racking my brains but I can’t work out who it might have been. Anyways, it’s full of wonderful comedic moments featuring Strax, which is possibly the highlight of the piece. It is a Christmas episode after all, we can’t expect it to be too deep or dark.
As monsters, the Snowmen aren’t up to much really. Not likely to make the 10 deadliest Doctor Who monsters at any rate. The Doctor is played as moody, not wanting to help people because he gets hurt in the process – what he’s just learning that now? To be honest he comes across as a spoilt brat. Those are my two principle negatives. But we’ve got a good episode here, full of life, and Dan Starkey and Jenna Louise Coleman being brilliant.

The Bells of Saint John

The Doctor is a monk. Why? No idea!

Series 7B kicked off with ‘The Bells of St John’ in April 2013. We get the ‘real’ Clara introduced to us as a pretty normal sort of a gal from present-day Earth, a plot that feels somewhat recycled, the reappearance of the Great Intelligence, and killer wifi.
New console room (first seen in 'The Snowmen')
So ummm… I enjoyed this less that I had hoped to to be honest. It starts off like series 6 with the Doctor in some bizarre situation. He’s been hiding out back in time presumably somewhere as a Monk. This seems to be a very ‘Moffat’ thing to do. It seemed a bit pointless to me, this one more than the previous times (the Doctor being locked up as a Soothsayer in ‘The Wedding of River Song’ was at least justified and part of the story). Maybe there’s a minisode I didn’t see online.
Clara calls a helpline to hook up to the internet and gets connected to the phone in the box on the TARDIS which isn’t supposed  to work, and when the Doctor works out who she is he zooms to present-day London to find her. Why she was connected to the phone, I’m not sure. Another cheap gimmick?
With his previous two encounters with ‘Clara’ the Doctor is now obsessed with who she is. Amy was the girl who waited, Clara is the impossible girl. it’s important to have tag lines. So it is evident from here on that the rest of the series is about finding out who Clara is. The writers will need to be careful to write her well otherwise when the reveal comes they may be in trouble with what to do with her afterwards.
The story is rather derivative of the Cybermen two parter of Series Two, instead of using the mobile ear-pieces to control people, this time they are uploaded into the internet. I must I really didn’t buy into the storyline all that much. A couple of nice moments, when the robot (spoonhead) Doctor reveals himself to Celia Imrie, playing Miss Kizlet the main villain of the piece. And it’s revealed that the Great Intelligence is behind it all, presumably he’s the big bad who’ll be returning throughout the next few episodes. Aside from that it was all a bit hum-drum for me.


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