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Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 7/4/17 5:35 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Warning: Spoilers feature heavily in this review.


The Multi-Master story: a concept that has surprisingly never been done on TV before. Until now. Last year Big Finish released the first ever Multi-Master story in The Two Masters, but this is the first time it has been done in the main series. We've had The Day of the Doctor, this is The Day of the Master. The day many Whovians have waited for all their lives. Thankfully this landmark story more than lives up to the hype of the first Multi-Master adventure - I suspect even the most skeptic Moffat hater would find it hard not to enjoy it.




In World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) decides to test Missy's (Michelle Gomez) apparent insistence that she wants to turn good, by picking a random distress call and sending her to investigate with the Doctor's companions Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas). They arrive on a Mondasian colony ship, and things quickly go awry when the ship's blue-skinned caretaker Jorj (Oliver lansley) shoots Bill. Partially converted Cybermen take Bill's body to a hospital onboard a ship, where she meets Razor (John Simm), a seemingly friendly man who works at the hospital. Later John Simm's Master confronts Missy; he is concerned about his future as a potential ally of the Doctor, and persuades his later incarnation to team up with him and turn the entire colony ship into a giant Cyber-factory.




The Multi-Master interaction in this story is everything you would hope for. It's funny, menacing, intimidatory and totally unhinged (more in a subtle way as opposed to the clown-like antics of Simm's Master in the RTD era). John Simm and Michelle Gomez have so much chemistry, and their interactions are on par with the Second and Third Doctors in The Three Doctors, or David Tennant and Matt Smith in The Day of the Doctor. The ending is absolute perfection for a Multi-Master story - the Simm Master kills Missy, Missy kills the Simm Master. Their Multi-Master interaction ends the only way it could: with utter betrayal.



Some fellow fans were not happy with John Simm's portrayal of the Master as insane in the Russell T Davies era. In this story, however, Steven Moffat has wisely written the part more like the classic series style of the Master and John Simm clearly relishes being able to play the role more like Roger Delgado. Several elements of the classic series Master return, including the use of disguises (the Razor disguise is fantastic - the prosthetics do a great job of disguising John Simm's face beyond recognition), a goatee, and a more suave and sophisticated demeanour. John Simm is allowed to play the Master as the darker incarnation Russell T Davies wouldn't allow - the way he always wanted to play the Master - and his performance clearly improves for it. It's a significant improvement on the Simm Master's previous appearances, and sees John Simm fast become one of the best incarnations of the Master of all time. He almost gives Michelle Gomez a run for her money.



Michelle Gomez still remains my favourite Master. She is the Tom Baker of the Masters in my view - the one who people will look back on in years to come as the definitive Master. Michelle Gomez has given her incarnation so much depth and complexity, and Steven Moffat has written the incarnation with so much ambiguity you have no idea what she's going to do next. She's not a black and white villain, she's so much more than that. She could look to be helping the Doctor one minute, then completely stab him in the back the next. Here the mystery surrounding Missy's motives is played with to great effect in that it's never entirely clear at any given moment whether she's helping the Doctor or she has truly joined forces with her previous incarnation. At one point she tells the Doctor 'I was on your side all along', only to climb a ladder hanging from a ship piloted by Nardole and attempt to leave the Doctor behind with the Cybermen. She claims to Nardole he's dead, and Simm's Master repeats her claims. This ambiguity feels very Hitchcockian, which feels oddly appropriate for a story featuring the Cybermen.




There's a very dark vibe throughout, and the story feels like it's deliberately evoking the Philip Hinchcliffe era of Doctor Who. Missy and the Master have a very disturbing romance - they dance and flirt with each other, and it's clear Simm's Master has feelings for Missy - in a way that feels like it would have almost certainly received an avalanche of complaints from Mary Whitehouse. The romance between these characters is so creepy it feels almost like it belongs in the DC Comics' series Gotham. Indeeed, Michelle Gomez is even a part of that universe - although John Simm currently isn't.



The dark vibe continues with the use of the Mondasian Cybermen from The Tenth Planet. I wasn't sure whether they would work brilliantly for HD television, but in this instance I'm happy to be wrong. Their low-budget design makes them all the more scary in HD, and at no point does the design look so low-budget in crystal clear imagery that it looks noticeably low-budget. These Cybermen absolutely work for modern television, and there is a strong narrative reason for why the Tenth Planet Cybermen are there. This is the 'genesis of the Cybermen' - as Simm's Master calls it - onboard a Mondasian colony ship, so this design is needed for the story to work. Some diehard fans may worry that this contradicts Big Finish's Spare Parts, but as this takes place away from Mondas both origins can exist in the same continuity.




I'm glad Steven Moffat decided to do this story, because it is by far the most terrifying the Cybermen have ever been in the new series - and arguably in the show's entire history. World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls is full-on horror, with scenes such as partially converted Cybermen chanting the word 'pain' as Bill walks down a hospital ward and references to the Cybermen converting children because 'there's less waste'. At one point, we see a fully-converted Cyber-Bill who believes she is human discover the truth that she has become a Mondasian Cyberman by staring into a mirror; it's a shocking moment that brings to mind classic Doctor Who serials such as The Ark In Space or The Brain of Morbius in its disturbing imagery.



The cinematography is excellent throughout, with the Mondasian Cybermen largely kept darkly-lit or in orangey apocalyptic lighting. They do appear in a bright environment with the solar farm in The Doctor Falls, but the design is surprisingly not hampered by that. They still appear threatening, and no design flaws are exposed when they are in the open. There's also a great moment where you see Bill in the human form she thinks she still carries and the shadow of her actual Cyber self on the wall. It's a nice touch that adds to the classic Jeykll and Hyde-esque imagery.



Talking about Cybermen, it's important to note that this isn't just a Multi-Master story but it's also a Multi-Cyberman one. We see more than one variation of the Cybermen, and it's a delight to see them share the screen. The Cybus Cybermen and the Gaiman Cybermen appear alongside the Mondasian Cybermen; neither feel like they steal the spotlight from the Mondasian Cybermen, and the Multi-Cyberman aspect is executed better than the Multi-Dalek stuff in Asylum of the Daleks. It even works better than the Multi-Dalek element of The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar; having more than one variation of the Cybermen is explained through the colony ship experiencing time dilation - time passes faster at the bottom of the ship and slower at the top. This means when the Mondasian Cybermen are at the bottom of the ship they have years to upgrade themselves into the Gaiman variation, whereas for any Mondasian Cybermen who, say, find themselves at the top where time is slower only ten seconds pass.




This two part finale sees without a doubt the best performance Peter Capaldi has ever given as his incarnation of the Doctor. It will be sad to see him go, especially when his acting here shows he has so much more to give. The way he screams 'NO!' in this episode when Missy appears to decide not to stand with him is one of the most powerful moments of his incarnation, and on the strength of this acting abilities here he deserves to win a National TV Award for 'Best Actor' next year. Hell, he deserves to win an Oscar.



As does Pearl Mackie. The Series 10 trailers for Pearl Mackie did her no justice, the promotional material making her performance look rather one-note. She's far from that. Pearl Mackie has been a revelation as Bill Potts, delivering one of the best companion portrayals in the series so far. She is instantly endearing, and gets an utterly fantastic exit from the show. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's one of the best companion departures the show has ever done. Bill remains a Cyberman right to the very end, and when her end approaches her essence is saved by Heather (Stephanie Hyam) from The Pilot. The consequences of travelling with the Doctor still remain, Bill is still dead but her spirit continues in puddle form travelling the universe with her true love.




I criticised Stephanie Hyam in my review of The Pilot, but here she does a great job. It's only a small cameo appearance, but Heather feels less void of personality and more like a real person (or as real a sentient space puddle zombie can be). She's not a highlight of the episode by any means, but it is definitely a step-up from her appearance in The Pilot.



Matt Lucas is enjoyable as usual in the role of Nardole, and the character fulfils an important function in the story of helping defend the solar farm against the Cybermen with grenades disguised as apples. His exit feels a bit more random, and noticeably similar to a classic series-style departure. He falls in love with Hazran (Samantha Spiro), the mother of a group of children, and the Doctor leaves him to help aid their escape to a solar farm on a higher level of the colony ship. The ending is a little ambiguous in that we have no idea if they manage to survive or if the Cybermen follow them up to the next solar farm and launch an assault on them; it's unfortunate that a character who many have grown to love has been given such an unsatisfactory ending to his story, and I hope that one day Big Finish carry on his story in a Nardole spin-off set.




If David Bradley playing the First Doctor hadn't already leaked, the way this episode ended would have been the most unpredictable cliffhanger ever. Unfortunately the leak means that you are expecting David Bradley to turn up when he does, as we return to where the story began - the Doctor leaving the TARDIS in a snowy landscape (possibly the South Pole from The Tenth Planet) and refuses to regenerate. This time the scene continues beyond that point, and it's really no surprise when David Bradley comes into view as the First Doctor. Whilst it can't be helped that there's a certain irony to David Bradley stating he is 'the original' (no, that's William Hartnell), he does an amazing job in this fleeting cliffhanger cameo. David Bradley is so much like William Hartnell playing the First Doctor here, it's eery. He looks, sounds and acts exactly like the First Doctor we all know and love. If the It's A Wonderful Life rumours are true, I can't wait for Christmas. It sounds like a brilliant idea for a regeneration story.



Overall, World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls is without a doubt one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time. It's Peter Capaldi's Caves of Androzani, demonstrating the sheer quality and darkness that classic series serial is known for. This delivers exactly what you would expect from the first Multi-Master story, and is possibly the most unsettling the Cybermen have ever been. The Cybermen have never been a greater threat, and there has never been a better exit for a companion than the departure Pearl Mackie's Bill gets here. If any story was to challenge The Day of the Doctor for the mantle of 'Greatest Doctor Who story', this would be the one. It's a bonafide classic, and in years to come will be held with as much affection as Genesis of the Daleks or Earthshock.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 7/4/17 5:34 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Warning: Spoilers feature heavily in this review.


The Multi-Master story: a concept that has surprisingly never been done on TV before. Until now. Last year Big Finish released the first ever Multi-Master story in The Two Masters, but this is the first time it has been done in the main series. We've had The Day of the Doctor, this is The Day of the Master. The day many Whovians have waited for all their lives. Thankfully this landmark story more than lives up to the hype of the first Multi-Master adventure - I suspect even the most skeptic Moffat hater would find it hard not to enjoy it.




In World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) decides to test Missy's (Michelle Gomez) apparent insistence that she wants to turn good, by picking a random distress call and sending her to investigate with the Doctor's companions Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas). They arrive on a Mondasian colony ship, and things quickly go awry when the ship's blue-skinned caretaker Jorj (Oliver lansley) shoots Bill. Partially converted Cybermen take Bill's body to a hospital onboard a ship, where she meets Razor (John Simm), a seemingly friendly man who works at the hospital. Later John Simm's Master confronts Missy; he is concerned about his future as a potential ally of the Doctor, and persuades his later incarnation to team up with him and turn the entire colony ship into a giant Cyber-factory.




The Multi-Master interaction in this story is everything you would hope for. It's funny, menacing, intimidatory and totally unhinged (more in a subtle way as opposed to the clown-like antics of Simm's Master in the RTD era). John Simm and Michelle Gomez have so much chemistry, and their interactions are on par with the Second and Third Doctors in The Three Doctors, or David Tennant and Matt Smith in The Day of the Doctor. The ending is absolute perfection for a Multi-Master story - the Simm Master kills Missy, Missy kills the Simm Master. Their Multi-Master interaction ends the only way it could: with utter betrayal.



Some fellow fans were not happy with John Simm's portrayal of the Master as insane in the Russell T Davies era. In this story, however, Steven Moffat has wisely written the part more like the classic series style of the Master and John Simm clearly relishes being able to play the role more like Roger Delgado. Several elements of the classic series Master return, including the use of disguises (the Razor disguise is fantastic - the prosthetics do a great job of disguising John Simm's face beyond recognition), a goatee, and a more suave and sophisticated demeanour. John Simm is allowed to play the Master as the darker incarnation Russell T Davies wouldn't allow - the way he always wanted to play the Master - and his performance clearly improves for it. It's a significant improvement on the Simm Master's previous appearances, and sees John Simm fast become one of the best incarnations of the Master of all time. He almost gives Michelle Gomez a run for her money.



Michelle Gomez still remains my favourite Master. She is the Tom Baker of the Masters in my view - the one who people will look back on in years to come as the definitive Master. Michelle Gomez has given her incarnation so much depth and complexity, and Steven Moffat has written the incarnation with so much ambiguity you have no idea what she's going to do next. She's not a black and white villain, she's so much more than that. She could look to be helping the Doctor one minute, then completely stab him in the back the next. Here the mystery surrounding Missy's motives is played with to great effect in that it's never entirely clear at any given moment whether she's helping the Doctor or she has truly joined forces with her previous incarnation. At one point she tells the Doctor 'I was on your side all along', only to climb a ladder hanging from a ship piloted by Nardole and attempt to leave the Doctor behind with the Cybermen. She claims to Nardole he's dead, and Simm's Master repeats her claims. This ambiguity feels very Hitchcockian, which feels oddly appropriate for a story featuring the Cybermen.




There's a very dark vibe throughout, and the story feels like it's deliberately evoking the Philip Hinchcliffe era of Doctor Who. Missy and the Master have a very disturbing romance - they dance and flirt with each other, and it's clear Simm's Master has feelings for Missy - in a way that feels like it would have almost certainly received an avalanche of complaints from Mary Whitehouse. The romance between these characters is so creepy it feels almost like it belongs in the DC Comics' series Gotham. Indeeed, Michelle Gomez is even a part of that universe - although John Simm currently isn't.



The dark vibe continues with the use of the Mondasian Cybermen from The Tenth Planet. I wasn't sure whether they would work brilliantly for HD television, but in this instance I'm happy to be wrong. Their low-budget design makes them all the more scary in HD, and at no point does the design look so low-budget in crystal clear imagery that it looks noticeably low-budget. These Cybermen absolutely work for modern television, and there is a strong narrative reason for why the Tenth Planet Cybermen are there. This is the 'genesis of the Cybermen' - as Simm's Master calls it - onboard a Mondasian colony ship, so this design is needed for the story to work. Some diehard fans may worry that this contradicts Big Finish's Spare Parts, but as this takes place away from Mondas both origins can exist in the same continuity.




I'm glad Steven Moffat decided to do this story, because it is by far the most terrifying the Cybermen have ever been in the new series - and arguably in the show's entire history. World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls is full-on horror, with scenes such as partially converted Cybermen chanting the word 'pain' as Bill walks down a hospital ward and references to the Cybermen converting children because 'there's less waste'. At one point, we see a fully-converted Cyber-Bill who believes she is human discover the truth that she has become a Mondasian Cyberman by staring into a mirror; it's a shocking moment that brings to mind classic Doctor Who serials such as The Ark In Space or The Brain of Morbius in its disturbing imagery.



The cinematography is excellent throughout, with the Mondasian Cybermen largely kept darkly-lit or in orangey apocalyptic lighting. They do appear in a bright environment with the solar farm in The Doctor Falls, but the design is surprisingly not hampered by that. They still appear threatening, and no design flaws are exposed when they are in the open. There's also a great moment where you see Bill in the human form she thinks she still carries and the shadow of her actual Cyber self on the wall. It's a nice touch that adds to the classic Jeykll and Hyde-esque imagery.



Talking about Cybermen, it's important to note that this isn't just a Multi-Master story but it's also a Multi-Cyberman one. We see more than one variation of the Cybermen, and it's a delight to see them share the screen. The Cybus Cybermen and the Gaiman Cybermen appear alongside the Mondasian Cybermen; neither feel like they steal the spotlight from the Mondasian Cybermen, and the Multi-Cyberman aspect is executed better than the Multi-Dalek stuff in Asylum of the Daleks. It even works better than the Multi-Dalek element of The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar; having more than one variation of the Cybermen is explained through the colony ship experiencing time dilation - time passes faster at the bottom of the ship and slower at the top. This means when the Mondasian Cybermen are at the bottom of the ship they have years to upgrade themselves into the Gaiman variation, whereas for any Mondasian Cybermen who, say, find themselves at the top where time is slower only ten seconds pass.




This two part finale sees without a doubt the best performance Peter Capaldi has ever given as his incarnation of the Doctor. It will be sad to see him go, especially when his acting here shows he has so much more to give. The way he screams 'NO!' in this episode when Missy appears to decide not to stand with him is one of the most powerful moments of his incarnation, and on the strength of this acting abilities here he deserves to win a National TV Award for 'Best Actor' next year. Hell, he deserves to win an Oscar.



As does Pearl Mackie. The Series 10 trailers for Pearl Mackie did her no justice, the promotional material making her performance look rather one-note. She's far from that. Pearl Mackie has been a revelation as Bill Potts, delivering one of the best companion portrayals in the series so far. She is instantly endearing, and gets an utterly fantastic exit from the show. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's one of the best companion departures the show has ever done. Bill remains a Cyberman right to the very end, and when her end approaches her essence is saved by Heather (Stephanie Hyam) from The Pilot. The consequences of travelling with the Doctor still remain, Bill is still dead but her spirit continues in puddle form travelling the universe with her true love.




I criticised Stephanie Hyam in my review of The Pilot, but here she does a great job. It's only a small cameo appearance, but Heather feels less void of personality and more like a real person (or as real a sentient space puddle zombie can be). She's not a highlight of the episode by any means, but it is definitely a step-up from her appearance in The Pilot.



Matt Lucas is enjoyable as usual in the role of Nardole, and the character fulfils an important function in the story of helping defend the solar farm against the Cybermen with grenades disguised as apples. His exit feels a bit more random, and noticeably similar to a classic series-style departure. He falls in love with Hazran (Samantha Spiro), the mother of a group of children, and the Doctor leaves him to help aid their escape to a solar farm on a higher level of the colony ship. The ending is a little ambiguous in that we have no idea if they manage to survive or if the Cybermen follow them up to the next solar farm and launch an assault on them; it's unfortunate that a character who many have grown to love has been given such an unsatisfactory ending to his story, and I hope that one day Big Finish carry on his story in a Nardole spin-off set.




If David Bradley playing the First Doctor hadn't already leaked, the way this episode ended would have been the most unpredictable cliffhanger ever. Unfortunately the leak means that you are expecting David Bradley to turn up when he does, as we return to where the story began - the Doctor leaving the TARDIS in a snowy landscape (possibly the South Pole from The Tenth Planet) and refuses to regenerate. This time the scene continues beyond that point, and it's really no surprise when David Bradley comes into view as the First Doctor. Whilst it can't be helped that there's a certain irony to David Bradley stating he is 'the original' (no, that's William Hartnell), he does an amazing job in this fleeting cliffhanger cameo. David Bradley is so much like William Hartnell playing the First Doctor here, it's eery. He looks, sounds and acts exactly like the First Doctor we all know and love. If the It's A Wonderful Life rumours are true, I can't wait for Christmas. It sounds like a brilliant idea for a regeneration story.



Overall, World Enough And Time/The Doctor Falls is without a doubt one of the greatest Doctor Who stories of all time. It's Peter Capaldi's Caves of Androzani, demonstrating the sheer quality and darkness that classic series serial is known for. This delivers exactly what you would expect from the first Multi-Master story, and is possibly the most unsettling the Cybermen have ever been. The Cybermen have never been a greater threat, and there has never been a better exit for a companion than the departure Pearl Mackie's Bill gets here. If any story was to challenge The Day of the Doctor for the mantle of 'Greatest Doctor Who story', this would be the one. It's a bonafide classic, and in years to come will be held with as much affection as Genesis of the Daleks or Earthshock.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
5
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 6/24/17 1:02 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Eaters of Light


Since the show was brought back, there has never been a classic series writer return to the show. There's been classic series directors - Graeme Harper - and classic series actors - Elisabeth Sladen, John Leeson, Christopher Benjamin etc.... - but never classic series writers. Until now. Finally a classic series writer has written for the new series - Rona Munro, the writer of the 1989 classic series serial Survival.



The Eaters of Light sees the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) land the TARDIS in Second Century Scotland to test Bill's (Pearl Mackie) theory about what really happened to the missing Ninth Legion of the Roman army. Meanwhile, a light-eating locust has come through a portal from another dimension, and has been feeding on the Roman army...



This episode is probably the closest to the classic series the new series will ever get. Throughout Murray Gold's music is very reminiscent of classic-style incidental scores, and the Doctor is written more in the vein of the classic incarnations of the character. Peter Capaldi plays it brilliantly, and his performance allows the different approach to feel like the same incarnation we've grown to know and love over three series. He bares more similarities to the Series 8 version of the 12th Doctor in this episode than the softer Series 9/10 12, but it makes sense for the character's more pacifist tendencies. The brutality doesn't feel particularly random, the Doctor is simply fed up of the rivalry between two warring factions (Romans and Pictish warriors). It's a return to the theme of 'If we fight like animals, we die like animals!' from Survival.



One improvement the classic series approach has over the new series style is that the guest characters feel more fleshed out. We get to know these characters more; their personalities and what makes them tick. The new series generally tends to treat them as merely functions to the plot, whereas the classic series taught you to care for them as much as you do the TARDIS crew. Here they feel more like people rather than objects for the writer to play with. A particular standout is Lucius (Brian Vernel), a compassionate bisexual Roman soldier who befriends Bill.



Some viewers have taken issue with the past being shown as diverse in both this episode and Thin Ice, but personally I don't see the issue. It sends out a nice message of inclusivity to viewers who are black and/or with a differing sexuality to those of us who are straight. It's the right kind of message Doctor Who should be sending: the Doctor should be teaching the audience that it doesn't matter if you're black, white, blue, straight, gay, bisexual, have one head or no head it's who you are inside that counts. If that means showing a more ideal version of history, then so be it.



There's another and far more interesting choice that this episode makes than a bisexual Roman however. Many new series episodes tend to feature a lot of their monsters; The Eaters of Light, on the other hand, fits into that new series rarity where you rarely see the creature in full. The episode is more like Closing Time, for example, than it is The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. For most of the story we only see glimpses of the creature, and this is a wise choice because much like Jaws when you see the creature in full its very unconvincing. The CGI appearance of the light-eating locust is poor, and it appears much more threatening when its lurking in the shadows. Once it is revealed you can tell it's not really there; it looks hideously fake, and takes all tension out of the episode.



The episode is also let down by being way too talky. There's too many conversations going on in this story, and it slows the plot down to a stand-still. A lot of the scenes are expository, with Rona Munro deciding to 'tell not show' rather than the more enjoyable 'show not tell'. This episode achieved the lowest AI of the series so far, and it's not surprising. The Eaters of Light is an episode that could have benefitted from stricter script editing to cut out the unnecessary padding and replace it with scenes that strive to show the audience something instead.



Then there are certain occurrences that take place that make the episode feel like it should have aired much earlier in the run. Bill falls down a hole...again, after falling down a hole in the previous episode Empress of Mars too. Nardole (Matt Lucas) nags the Doctor about guarding the vault...despite Missy being in the TARDIS at the end of the previous episode...yet Nardole is surprised to find her there when they return to the TARDIS. Bill doesn't know about the TARDIS translation circuit...despite having been travelling with the Doctor for quite a few adventures since the first episode. It feels as though this episode was originally episode four of the run, and these continuity errors make the story feel out of place. It's a shame more attention wasn't given to the show's continuity, as this is the kind of thing us fans notice.

[IMG]https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*3zQVHNmfQtXZBtK7HFC7Qg.jpeg[/IMG]

The final scene between the Doctor and Missy (Michelle Gomez) is nice, if a little too long. Rona Munro clearly understands these characters and their shared history, and whilst it's obvious Missy is playing the Doctor it will be interesting to see what will happen tonight when the Doctor tests whether she is really turning 'good'. There will inevitably be consequences, and I wouldn't be surprised if it is revealed that Missy has been tampering with the TARDIS.



Overall, The Eaters of Light is a solid if unremarkable episode. The guest characters are stronger than usual, and it's interesting to see a classic series style adopted for a new series episode. Unfortunately the episode is let down by too many talky scenes, and the CGI is ropey. There are various plot inconsistencies too that leave the episode feeling out of place in episode ten of the twelve episode run. There's a nice scene between the Doctor and Missy however, which demonstrates how much Rona Munro understands the dynamic between the two characters.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
5
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: DalekbusterScreen5ReviewsReview Date: 6/17/17 4:19 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It's sad to think that Empress of Mars could be Mark Gatiss's last episode for Doctor Who. The writer has stated he is unsure if he will return, and as someone who has enjoyed the majority of his episodes for the show I will be disappointed if he doesn't return under Chris Chibnall. Mark Gatiss gets a lot of unfair criticism from certain sections of the fanbase; he is essentially the Helen Raynor of the Moffat era, who also received a lot of harsh comments (and in my cases, personal abuse) from Whovians. Empress of Mars is Mark Gatiss's ninth episode for the show, and is probably my least favourite out of his televised stories.



In Empress of Mars, the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) takes his companions Bill (Pearl Mackie) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) on a trip to Present Day NASA. NASA have sent a probe to Mars, and are surprised to discover a message left by the victorians centuries ago: 'God save the Queen'. The TARDIS crew travel back in time to discover how a group of victorian soldiers managed to travel to martian soil, and a hive of Ice Warriors are woken by their Ice Queen (Adele Lynch).



There are some nicely bizarre visual images in this story, and to begin with it has a wonderfully surreal feel. I never thought I'd see a bunch of victorians having a tea party on Mars, or the Ice Warriors waging war on an army of victorian soldiers. It's also nice to finally see an Ice Warrior story set on Mars and exploring more of the race's mythology; the introduction of the Ice Queen is cool and makes a lot of sense given how the Ice Warriors live in hives. She is essentially the queen bee who doesn't want to be disturbed...but of course, this is Doctor Who. If she were to never wake up from her tomb, there would be no story.



Unfortunately the episode quickly runs out of steam. The tea party goes on for way too long, and it takes too much time for the Ice Warriors and their Ice Queen to wake up. The episode adopts more of a classic series style of pacing, and whilst it works with episodes such as Smile that use it to create a sense of mystery here it feels more detrimental to the story. This should be an episode with lots of action; a Doctor Who blockbuster, like Asylum of the Daleks. Instead it's more like The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood, and its central idea of human beings as the invaders is interesting but not explored enough for it to be as thought-provoking as its potential would allow it to be.



Then there's the TARDIS misbehaving sub plot, which feels incredibly shoe-horned in and doesn't fit the episode at all. It just comes out of nowhere; Nardole returns to the TARDIS and the ship takes off, returning him to the vault he has been guarding with the Doctor on Earth. The entire sub plot seems to only exist partly so the story arc is featured in the episode and partly because Mark Gatiss didn't know Matt Lucas would be a companion at the time of writing. It's a very strange way to write Matt Lucas out of the main plot when the Doctor could have explained to Bill in one line that he's currently guarding the vault.




Mark Gatiss deserves credit for introducing the amazing Ice Queen however. The Ice Queen is an amazing addition to the Doctor Who universe and a monster who I definitely hope we get to see return sooner rather than later. She gives the Ice Warriors a nice sense of regality which directly mirrors the victorians and their beloved Queen Victoria (a portrait of whom appears in the episode - based on Pauline Collins' take on the monarch); the Ice Queen's presence is so intimidating and the design so memorable that I have a feeling she will become one of the Moffat era's most beloved creations. Here's to many more Ice Warrior stories featuring the excellent Ice Queen, and a load of Big Finish audio dramas chronicling her rise to power. Maybe we might even see standard female Ice Warriors in future?



SPOILERS BELOW























Of course, one thing you've got to mention in a review of Empress of Mars is the return of Alpha Centauri (and the original voice actor, Ysanne Churchman) - and what a triumphant return it is for everybody's favourite hexapod. Alpha Centauri returns in style, answering a distress call from Mars and welcoming the Ice Warriors to the universe - and subsequently, the Galactic Federation. You see, Empress of Mars is secretly a prequel to The Curse of Peladon and it feels completely natural for the story. The story leads up to this moment with the introduction of friendly Ice Warrior Friday (Richard Ashton), and it's both Friday and the actions of cowardly Colonel Godsacre (Anthony Calf), who shoots Captain Catchlove (Ferdinand Kingsley) (Who wants to claim Mars in Queen Victoria's name), that brings the end of the Ice Warrior-Victorians war, and sees the Ice Queen forming a peaceful alliance with Godsacre. The Ice Queen is impressed with how Godsacre is prepared to sacrifice a member of his own kind for peace with the Ice Warriors , and this falls nicely in line with the Ice Warriors' code of honour.























End of spoilers


Overall, Empress of Mars is possibly Mark Gatiss's weakest story. The episode starts off fine with surreal scenes such as a victorian tea party on Mars but quickly loses steam, and it takes too long for the Ice Warriors and the Ice Queen to wake up. There's a neat return for a classic series character though, and the Ice Queen is awesome.

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