So, episode 2 of the new series is called ‘The Ghost Monument’ and sees the Doctor and her companions stranded on a dead and deadly planet called Desolation. They’re also caught up in an intergalactic rally-race – they need to reach a place called The Ghost Monument to win the big prize, facing all sorts of perils along the way. At the same time, the Doctor is intent on solving the mystery of what (or who) killed the planet and its inhabitants in the first place.
Unlike the great opening episode of this series, the second episode doesn’t have that much in terms of a realistic sense of jeopardy. Also, there isn’t much of a moral dilemma to proceedings, so we are not as engaged as we might be – and the episode isn’t as compelling as it should be. Don’t get me wrong – there are enough decent scifi ideas to keep everything watchable, but the various obstacles really don’t challenge either the viewer or the Doctor when it comes to problem-solving. Indeed, the fact that the Doctor’s companion Ryan is scared of heights and ladders seems to be more of an issue than anything else – and then he just shrugs and climbs the ladder anyway.
The second episode also suffers from a fair bit of characters sitting around and navel-gazing. We get into a debate about whether its a cruel universe in which you have to look out for yourself or whether we’re all stronger together (even when there are refugees involved). Yes, it’s all a bit preachy and a not very subtle comment on Brexit. Then there’s a preachy bit when the Doctor goes all anti-guns, etc.
Is it worth it all? Yes. Mainly because of the new-look Tardis – which gets a thumbs up from me (even though I don’t like the redone title music). Oh, and there are more references to the evil Stenza (the baddies from the first episode) – so it seems they will be the main threat in the larger story arc. Thankfully, there is a ‘larger story’ going on – so that should keep us going even through the odd place-holder episode like this one. Episode 2 scores just a 6 out of 10 from me, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the series – as Jodie Whittaker is doing a very good job and Bradley Walsh is an absolute revelation! Onwards!
A straightforward storyline this one, which is no bad thing at all. It had pace, moments of character empathy, tension, peril and insight. Maisie Williams (Arya Stark in Game of Thrones) puts in a brilliant turn as a Viking lass who ultimately develops into some alien-human hybrid. The Doctor changes her in looking to save her, you see. He then begins to worry that he’s made a huge mistake: ‘Ah well, Time will judge.’ There are some great lines in this episode, and Odin puts in a turn too! Tell you what, Marvel could learn a lot from watching this episode. And Clara is good too – new nuances to her relationship with the Doctor are delivered, and all very credibly. Entirely refreshing. (There was an odd plot moment, in that clearly the electric eels should have been used to restart the Viking girl’s heart, but something must have changed during editing.) Well done to all involved.
Deary me. The Tardis takes the doc and Clara to a base at the bottom of a lake. I wish it had left them there, quite frankly, and gone off on a proper adventure for us to watch. Instead, we are presented with an episode that is apparently pointless. There’s an empty spaceship found on the bed of the lake. There’s some funny writing on the wall, and that’s it. A ghost turns up, but it’s silent and not really much of a threat. And that’s it. Lots of running up and down corridors, but we’re just not sure why. There’s no real jeopardy to speak of… certainly not to any main character that we care about anyway. Clara has very little to do – the doc even suggests she gets a boyfriend to pass the time. One of the worst episodes ever. (And one of the ghosts is so similar to a creature from Buffy, Joss Whedon is probably contacting a lawyer as we speak.)
Well, the Weeping Angels don’t take the real Manhattan. The story starts in a Raymond Chandler type novel – a detective is employed by a mob boss to go investigate the angels. The detective sees himself die of old age in a bed in this building which is like a battery that feeds the angels. It’s never quite clear why the mob boss is interested in the angels – maybe it’s explained, but I must have missed it. We then cut to the Doctor reading the self-same novel. Amy, Rory and the Doctor then end up in the novel – not sure why, but they do – something to do with the fact that River Song wrote the book and if you read what happens it can’t be changed. Why the angels are in a novel, I’m not sure, but maybe it’s a way to trap them. The Doctor and his crew go to the battery building and see Rory as an old man. To create a time-paradox, Rory and Amy commit suicide – so he can’t die of old age, see. And that ‘pings’ everything back to how it was. Except there’s now an angel outside of the novel and it zings Rory and Amy back in time so that they die of old age. The end. The Doctor doesn’t like endings, we are told, but it is the end, apparently. It’s not clear to me why the Doctor can’t go back in time to pick up Amy and Rory again, but it’s something to do with it having been ‘written’ on a gravestone. Hmm. Go over why real life events have to follow those of a fictional book characters again?
So, we have a strange conceit with the novel, the ‘death’ of the Ponds, the Weeping Angels and a River Song subplot all going on in 45mins. Too much. It can never remain coherent. Plot holes all over the shop. And explain to me why the Doctor can’t just push the angel statues down the stairs and have them break into bits. For me, this episode should never have been allowed to be a single episode. As it is, the entire series is now finished and only five episodes made. What’s going on? They need to go back to basics: give me a monster that makes me hide behind the sofa, give me the Doctor in genuine jeopardy, give me the Doctor doing something clever to get out of a seemingly impossible situation, and then give me a joke to reassure me that all is well with the universe. Stop with the DIY psychoanalysis of what makes the Doctor tick, stop with time dwelt on sappy assistants, stop with the whole ‘domestic’ Doctor vibe. Get back to the core of the Doctor Who experience, please. Thank you. This is the end.
Imagine all the Rubik’s cubes in the world suddenly became active alien weapons that could stop your heart. Surely there’d be enough of them lying about the place to wipe out most of humanity. That’s kind of what this latest episode of Doctor Who is about. And it’s a strong episode indeed, because it has original insights into the nature of modern human behaviours, etc. It’s a fascinating and hypnotic watch. It’s about how we like to collect things and we are endlessly curious (remember what curiosity does to poor old cats), but how we also get bored and casual about things far too easily.
Amy and Rory wake up to find that the world has been covered in curious black cubes. People bring them into their homes and workplaces, devising all sorts of everyday uses for them. The Doctor turns up, concerned about what the cubes might actually be, but goes bonkers waiting for something to happen. Meanwhile, people get on with their everyday lives and get used to having the cubes everywhere. There’s a great comedic subplot of Rory’s dad keeping a daily ‘log’ about his inactive cube, as the Doctor’s asked him to keep a careful watch on the cube.
Eventually, the cubes wake up and set about exterminating us. It turns out an alien race (the Shakri) that not even the Timelords were sure existed are behind it all. They are intent on wiping out the contagion that is humanity before we can begin to populate the wider universe.
Definitely worth the watch all in all. Next week: the return of the Angels.
At last they get it right! I’d almost given up hope. Top marks to writer Steven Moffat and the BBC for this episode.
The Doctor is snared by the Daleks and commanded to ‘save’ them. The Dalek asylum seems to be out of control, and none of the Daleks on the outside is either crazy enough or powerful enough to go inside to set things to rights. Therefore, they quite sensibly bring in the only being powerful enough to master a bunch of mad Daleks – a being known as ‘The Predator’ aka The Doctor! (Suitable homage to the Alien v Predator context.)
The plot is a tight and decent scifi riddle (although I note in the press that Doctor Who is now referred to as a ‘fantasy’ series), the dilemmas are decent, there are fresh ideas, there are scary monsters, and even the Amy/Rory subplot works as a part of the whole rather being an inane distraction. Better than all that, they’ve managed to save/rehabilitate the whole Dalek/Doctor Who relationship. Let’s face it, out of desperation, the BBC had started to overuse the Daleks and the Cybermen. And they were starting to screw things up badly. Some extremely good scripting has saved them at the last. Rejoice, humankind, for all is now well with the universe!
Next week: dinosaurs!