Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Rings of Akhaten, Cold War & Hide

The Rings of Akhaten

‘The Rings of Akhaten’ is clearly not a fan favourite. Maybe it’s because people don’t like ‘singing’ in Doctor Who – it’s not the first time singing has featured mind you, we heard singing in ‘Planet of the Ood’ for example and ‘Gridlock’, but it does feature perhaps most prominently in this tale by Neil Cross.

To be honest, my main criticism of ‘The Rings of Akhaten’ is simply that it appears to be more ‘style’ than ‘substance’ as it were. It looks rather nice, with the exception of the creature which is basically the sun that the asteroids are circling. A face appears in the sun and it is a little dodgy to be honest. But the planet itself looks rather splendid with a nice assortment of aliens on it. This is the real Clara’s first journey in the TARDIS, so in true ‘The End of the World’ spirit, we get a cavalcade of aliens to suggest to Clara what she will be in store for in the future.
Emilia Jones
The story starts with the Doctor, a little creepily, visiting moments in Clara’s past. We see where the leaf that Clara gives to the monster comes from and why it’s significant – without it, her parents would never have met. But perhaps they needed a bit more on this leaf which saves the day in the end.
We also see now just how much of an obsession Clara has become for the Doctor – again a little creepy I guess. We have a little girl – Mary
Gejelh, played by Emilia Jones as a main character who is supposed to keep the monster asleep with her song. As annoying as kids may be, they always seem to cast well. She does a good job. The story tends to drag a bit and loses a good portion – 5 minutes at least at a guess, to nothing but singing. But I don’t get the hatred for the episode either, I rather enjoyed it despite its issues.

Cold War

Liam Cunningham.
‘Cold War’ sees the much anticipated return of the Ice Warriors to Doctor Who in an episode set inside a Soviet Submarine Captained by Zhukov, played by Liam Cunningham – of ‘Game of Thrones’ fame. Written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Douglass Mackinnon, this story is much improved from Gatiss’s previous Doctor Who outings, the last of which was an incredible snooze-fest in ‘Night Terrors’. Obviously Mr Moffat and Mr Gatiss are good buds. God help us if he ever gets to write a two-part story!
Whilst there is a lot to like about the tale – it is stylishly directed, the Ice Warriors (albeit just one) return, some great acting by Cunningham and David Warner as Professor Grisenko, I failed to experience the ‘wow’ that many fans did it seems. There’s not much to the tale. They find the Ice Warrior in the ice at the north pole and decide to take it back to Moscow, it comes to life, kills, escapes from its suit, returns to its suit, decides to destroy Earth but gets
beamed up to an Ice Warrior ship.  That sums up this 45 minutes of Doctor Who in a nutshell.
And that’s 45 minutes of Doctor Who. I question what they are doing with Clara – she gets a bit to di here but I am not sure of its significance, being sent into to talk to the Ice Warrior. It’s a pity that Nicholas Briggs decided to completely change the voice too. I rather liked the hissing!
An Ice Warrior unmasked.
It is a bit derivative. It’s basically ‘Dalek’ on a smaller scale. Plus I wasn’t convinced by the Ice Warrior out of the armour with long and spindly fingers and hands. That didn’t quite ring true for me. The armour, however was a very true to the original modern interpretation. That liked. Not so much the voice. It’s not a bad story by any means, but it kinda felt like – ‘time to bring an old foe back, hmmm why not the Ice Warriors! We also should set an episode in a submarine! In the 80s! With some Duran Duran!’. I’m not sure of the point of the episode I guess. It doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with the 7B arc.


Jessica Rayne.
‘Hide’ is well.. ok. It’s not very special, but it’s not dreadful either. It’s not very exciting or action packed, there’s a nice twist at the end with the strange tree-creature (which I’m sure had a name) being in love with another such creature stuck in a different dimension. It’s light-hearted in places. Dark in others.
We have a Professor Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott), living in a house, trying to track down ghosts because he’s haunted about what he did in the war. We are in 1974 by the way.
With him is Emily Grayling, played by Jessica Raine (who portrayed Verity Lambert in An Adventure in Space and Time incidentally). She’s sort of physic – she has some link to the ghosts, but it seems they are also secretly in love with each other.
I liked the idea of the first human to travel through time being stuck in a different dimension where time is moving much slower than ours, which is part of the plot. I didn’t like the opening where the Doctor and Clara arrive and declare themselves ‘Ghostbusters’, as if once wasn’t more than enough! There’s your Moffat again I think, he loves those lines before the opening titles roll! shame on him!
Dougray Scott.
Neil Cross wrote the episode, and it’s clear he’s not the man to turn to for a high paced adventure! However it is nicely directed (Jamie Payne) and shot. Very creepy, very moody, but probably not as scary as they were hoping for. Jenna Louise Coleman gets a decent crack in this one and does very well. Matt Smith is as mad as ever and I keep wishing he’d tone it down a little, or mature just a little. It’s all very matter-a-fact and there’s not a lot of concern for the lives of Grayling and Palmer when he decides to use Grayling to connect to the other dimension. Which is reminiscent of Eccleston and Hartnell in some ways. But both changed during their time and found more compassion. Smith has compassion, but it seems a very selective compassion in some ways.


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