Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Clara
Writer and Executive Producer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Richard E. Grant: Dr Simeon
Catrin Stewart: Jenny
Neve McIntosh: Madame Vastra
Dan Starkey: Strax
Ian McKellen: Voice of the Great Intelligence

Doctor Who The Snowmen (2012)

Hiding in the clouds above Victorian London, The Doctor has withdrawn from the hero business after going through the emotional wringer with the Ponds some time ago. An encounter with a perky barmaid, Clara, and an instantly appearing snowman made of some kind of memory snow or something isn’t quite enough to pull him out of his exile. Clara’s going to have to try a bit harder.

8/10

This is a great episode and probably the best seasonal special in the 21st century run. It’s simply tremendous fun and jam-packed with fun (santaran), scary (man-eating snowmen), imaginative (memory worm), surprising (do not read spoilers for this one), brain-tickling (one word answers) goodies which doesn’t have quite enough time for it’s monster-of-the-week story. If the finalé had had any emotional impact, this would have been near-perfect. The crux of the episode is The Doctor and the invigorating Clara and that’s all we want to see. And now we want to see more.

This Doctor Who episode contains inferred extreme violence, unpleasant and scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012) – 8/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Alex Kingston: River Song
Michael McShane: Grayle
Executive Producer: Steven Moffat

Doctor Who S34E05 The Angels Take Manhattan (2012)

A day trip to New York turns out badly when the book the Doctor is reading – starring Melody Malone – makes a reference to Rory getting them coffee as Rory is getting them coffee. The Doctor realises that the book is a history book sent back in time to help him avert yet another disaster but then Rory is kidnapped and taken through time to somewhere the TARDIS can’t go.

8/10

When you’ve got characters who are statues, it makes jolly good sense to go to the place with the most famous statue in the world – New York City – and this episode gets off to a good start with their big reveal. The return of the intensely unlikable and irritating River Song (a typically unconvincing eye-rolling Alex Kingston) is a problem but it’s the only one worth mentioning. The episode is otherwise tense and atmospheric and, critically, it connects emotionally. Marketed as the Pond’s farewell (though I swear they already did that last season), certain events aren’t, therefore, surprising but they are touching. It makes me wish I could share a love like this; it’s very nice. This time the logo has the Statue of Liberty behind it; subtle and rewarding to spot.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Douglas MacKinnon

Doctor Who S34E04 The Power of Three (2012)

The Ponds are beginning to value their daily non-Doctor life more-and-more and wondering whether there will come a time when they won’t want to join him on his adventures. However, a peculiar invasion of Earth by small black cubes looks like it’ll give the Ponds and The Doctor some quality time together.

6/10

This is certainly a solid enough episode with the attention well kept during the supposedly mundane majority leading to a climax we’re not really bothered about; running and shouting without much interest or useful explanation. Aside from some awful photoshopping of cubes onto famous landmarks it does look cool (the cubes countdown looks great and there’s a big spaceship to blow up) and the cubes are quite intriguing. However, if there had been more attention paid to the Pond’s sort-of maturing beyond the thrill of adventure and finding fulfilment in making a successful marriage, this episode could have been more than just entertaining. As it is, we’ll have be content with The Doctor playing on a Wii and painting a fence.

This Doctor Who episode contains scary scenes.

Links

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012) – 7/10 science fiction wild west adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Toby Whithouse
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Andrew Brooke: The Gunslinger
Adrian Scarborough: Kahler-Jex

Doctor Who S34E03 A Town Called Mercy (2012)

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive in the America old west town of Mercy and find it, and now themselves, under siege by a cyborg, Gunslinger, who wants them to give him the alien doctor.

7/10

This is better than the previous two episodes with a plot that very nearly engages. The crux of the plot is the Doctor needing companions to balance out the soul-sapping weariness of being alone and that is clearly communicated. While the concepts are interesting and worthwhile, the plot suffers from familiarity and a complete absence of atmosphere. Director Saul Metzstein’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship episode also had no atmosphere. However, there’s some fun lines this week (‘Tea… Leave the bag in.’, "I speak horse. He’s called Susan.") and the plot does raise thought-provoking questions about companionship and redemption, vengeance, justice and second chances.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Links

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Saul Metzstein
Rupert Graves: Riddell
Mark Williams: Brian Williams
David Bradley: Solomon
Riann Steele: Queen Nefertiti
Sunetra Sarker: Indira

Doctor Who S34E02 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (2012)

The Doctor along with Queen Nefertiti of Egypt and big-game hunter John Riddell is tasked with boarding a spaceship that is on a collision course for Earth and stopping it.

6/10

Adequately entertaining and that’s something of a problem. There’s not much to say. The biggest problem, aside from it’s mediocrity, is probably a total lack of atmosphere but the Pond’s aren’t annoying in this episode (that’s left to Rian Steele’s Nefertiti and Sunetra Sarker’s Indira), Mark Williams gets his trowel out ("Haven’t you got one?") and we do get the Doctor sending a baddie to his death without a second thought. The Doctor’s position as judge, jury and not-quite-executioner has been a recurrent theme for a while now but it rather goes by here without comment as if it’s presence is not borne by precedent but was how the story was going to end anyway. I noted the Dalek zits on the logo last time, this week’s has dinosaur skin on it. A nice detail.

This Doctor Who episode contains violence.

Links

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012) – 6/10 science fiction adventure television review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Karen Gillan: Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill: Rory Williams
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Nick Hurran
Jenna-Louise Coleman: Oswin
Writer (Characters’ Creator) Daleks: Terry Nation

Doctor Who S34E01 Asylum of the Daleks (2012)

The Daleks capture The Doctor, Amy and Rory and take them into orbit around a planet they use for keeping all the Daleks which are a bit too psychotic for the mainstream population. The planet has stopped responding but the Daleks are too scared to go in themselves and disable the forcefield that prevents them from destroying the planet and exterminating the problem.

6/10

Just enough. There’s just enough fun ("I can see you."), clever moments ("Doctor Who?") and irresistible charm and cuteness (Jenna-Louise Coleman) to outweigh the Williams’ and Daleks unwanted presence, the Williams’ unwanted marital discord and the unconvincing plot setup (I thought all the Daleks were dead). I wonder if there’s some significance to the new Doctor Who logo being covered in Dalek zits.

This Doctor Who episode contains unpleasant scenes.

Links

Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011) – 7/10 WWII period science fiction adventure Christmas special TV review

Cast / crew
Matt Smith: The Doctor
Claire Skinner: Madge Arwell
Writer: Steven Moffat
Producer: Marcus Wilson
Director: Farren Blackburn

Doctor Who The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe (2011)

World War II: After being helped by Marge Arwell one night, the Doctor offers to return the favour anytime she wishes. When she does call him in, well, nothing the Doctor does ever goes to plan, does it?

7/10

A welcome return to form following the dismal 2011 season finalé which has plenty of energy and connects emotionally. There’s a great start and a lovely finish and there are wonderful concept, character and visual ideas in-, the somewhat predictable, between. Matt Smith is, once more, incredible as the Doctor. He showcases his comic abilities in the spaceman suit, delivers abundant energy in his physicality, machine guns his lines out with pinpoint clarity and then, backed up by Murray Gold’s quality score, cements a viscerally emotive climax. It’s easy to forget that anyone else has ever been the Doctor. That said, it’s disheartening to see planet-wide doom wheeled out once more and one wishes that Doctor Who would deliver some episodes without peril. He doesn’t need it.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Links