It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, especially a blog about Doctor Who. Blogging about Doctor Who used to be one of my favourite things, and I feel like I want to blog about Doctor Who tonight, so I’m going to blog about Doctor Who. OK? For the record, this post will contain spoilers on episodes up to and including the most recent, Hide.
The quality of this series of DW has been pretty high, for the most part. Which is pleasing. Two episodes in particular have really stuck out to me, though. One was Hide, the other was The Rings of Akhaten. Both were written by the same man, Neil Cross, who, for the record, is a newcomer to DW. These two stories were his first for the show. And both, in my opinion, were bloody amazing.
Let me talk about ‘Rings’ first of all. It was Clara’s first ‘proper’ story as a companion. As in, it wasn’t an introduction, or a ‘different’ version of her. So it kind of had a lot of responsibility, in that sense. And Neil Cross made me fall in love with her. I think she’s going to be a great companion. She’s everything Amy wasn’t. Amy was way too intelligent, too chatty, too…abnormal to be the ‘everyman’ that a companion is supposed to be. (Rory was better, as I’ve said many times.) Clara, on the other hand, while still intelligent, is much more grounded. Her backstory is sweet, but detached: we won’t have to suffer through her extended family, like we did with Rose, and in general she has a very – ugh – girl-next-door type of charm to her.
(It also helps that Jenna-Louise Coleman isn’t incredibly difficult to look at. But that’s beside the point.)
Rings was an excellent story, too. It felt a lot like an Old Who story, in my opinion. The kind of tale you could see Tom Baker smiling his way through over four episodes in 1975. There was some excellent dialogue, too, some of the best in a DW episode for ages (until Hide, but I’ll come to that in a minute). There was a great baddie – AN ENTIRE PLANET 😀 – and the Star Wars Cantina feel of the marketplace was pretty great too. A monster that feeds off memories and sentimentality – with memories, of course, being a huge theme of Eleven’s stories – worked on a lot of levels, too. So yeah. Wonderful episode.
Last night, we had Hide. I was expecting a lot of Mr. Cross after Rings, and I wasn’t let down. There were a couple of scenes that were – dare I say – a little dull (generally when the professor was alone with his psychic assistant) but for the most part, the tension was excellent. One thing I absolutely love the story for is what I described on Twitter as ‘my favourite Doctor Who thing!’. In short: using time travel as an actual plot device, rather than just an excuse to send the Doctor to various different studios in BBC TV Centre (RIP). The idea of a woman trapped in a pocket universe – moving so incredibly slowly in ‘real time’ but moving when photographed throughout history – is just AHHHHHHHHHHH. I found that so cool. Plus we got to hear the Cloister Bell because of it, which is a rarity. And the TARDIS acted as a character briefly! This is never a bad thing.
My absolute favourite thing, though, was the dialogue. There are a couple of lines/scenes which are going to stay with me for quite some time. In particular, one of the last lines of the episode, “Every lonely monster needs a companion,” was gorgeous and brimming with vaguely meta subtext. My favourite scene, though – which literally made me bounce up and down on my sofa, it was so wonderfully written – was in the TARDIS and the Doctor and Clara were travelling through Earth’s lifecycle. Clara is disturbed by this, unable to believe that the Doctor can be ‘OK’ with experiencing so much life and death in a short space of relative time.
“To you I haven’t been born yet,” she says, “and to you I’ve been dead a hundred billion years.” She asks if her dead body is out there somewhere, amidst the heat-destroyed ruins of Earth. “Yes,” the Doctor replies. “I suppose it is.”
Then some truly wonderful words fall out of Clara’s mouth. “But here we are, talking, so I am a ghost. To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you, we must be nothing.” The Doctor stands alone, and smiles sadly to himself.
This scene just…encompasses everything I love about the Doctor as a character and the show in general. This is a man – an alien – who has been alive for over a thousand years. He has been the architect of so much death, but also of so much life. He’s arguably destroyed as many lives as he’s saved. It’s a strange facet of his character. He’s described during Ten’s tenure as a Lonely God, and that theme has kind of fallen by the wayside a little since Matt Smith’s taken over. But for a brief second, we see it in him once again. And it made me so happy to see. It made me fall in love with Eleven a little more, too. He’s had angst before, Amy-related, Lonely God angst at that, but I prefer it when it’s kind of in the background, rather than overt. For instance , when he hid the TARDIS in the clouds during ‘The Snowmen’ just to get away from everyone and everything. He frustrated me in that episode, because I just wanted him to cheer the hell up. But seeing a few chinks in his jolly exterior from time to time? I can get behind that 100%.
The idea that all of us are ghosts is rather wonderful too, given that it perfectly encapsulates the story. Hide is a ghost tale without any ghosts. Or, arguably, with billions of them, depending on your point of view. Cool huh?! Mm.
You get all that from just a few lines of dialogue and a lingering expression. It doesn’t get much better than that, in my opinion. I hope Neil Cross writes some more Doctor Who next year. Frankly, on this evidence, he seems to understand the show enough to be a viable candidate for showrunner when Steven Moffat calls it a day (which I don’t think will happen for some time, but still). He does live in New Zealand though. Which could make things tricky… (Doctor Who/LOTR crossover, anyone?! :D)
Next week we get to see the depths of the TARDIS properly for the first time, which will be exciting. Unless it’s a bad episode. I don’t know who wrote it, but as long as it wasn’t Mark Gatiss and we don’t end up on a submarine with a 5000-year-old Martian who speaks fluent Russian, we should be OK. (I HATED THAT FUCKING EPISODE SO MUCH IT MADE ME WANT TO PUNCH SOMETHING.) It’ll no doubt be continuity-buggering either way.
I might write some more about Doctor Who again in future, because I do love it so. Thanks for reading this, though. Byeeee.