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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
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9
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 1/23/19 2:11 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This is the first part of a two part story and it ends with a strong cliffhanger. The episode overall is not hugely exciting or outstanding but it is a decent standard story with some very good aspects. The make up effects are very good and the 'gangers' are creepy. They do turn out, as is often the case, to not be as evil or one dimensional as it first may appear. This is a double edged sword as on one hand it lessens the threat and menace of potential villains but on the other hand it adds depth and a thoughtful aspect about what makes us who we are. If this episode was followed by a second part that took the build up to a higher level with a perfectly judged climax then this story would stand up alongside great, fun stories of the past but this episode is not entirely effective in the build up and the second part, in my opinion, is not as good as this one so it ends up a bit flat and disappointing.

Taken on its own there are no major problems with this episode and it has some nice gothic horror aspects harking back to the classics stories of years gone by but this potential for a scary horror episode do not come fully to fruition. One or two characters, one or two plot elements and one or two bits of dialogue feel a bit underwhelming in some ways compared to how thrilling they could have been. Occasionally I feel it is not fully thought through. However, it is still solid and pretty enjoyable so I rate this part as 7.5/10.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
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9
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 1/21/19 11:42 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

I would say this episode is one of the best of the Matt Smith era. Many other fans apparently think so too. It is interesting, dark, emotional, witty and has top quality acting and production. Suranne Jones is perfect for the role of Idris and Matt Smith acts a rare tearful moment for the Doctor very effectively. It ventures more into realms of fantasy than straightforward science fiction adventure. Showrunner Steven Moffatt clearly pushed the show in this direction and this episode is written by well known fantasy writer Neil Gaiman. I actually found the story hard to fully appreciate at first due to the fantastical, weird elements. I found myself wondering if the events made sense within the Doctor Who universe. After a lot of thought I am satisfied it is all just about OK.

One thing that still annoys me is that the scene when Rory appears to die is ruined by the fact that it is the 5th time in the 18 episodes since his debut that Rory has apparently died only to return! If that is not ridiculous enough it is actually the third episode in a row this has happened!! Astounding that Steven Moffatt thinks that is acceptable!

The immense quality of the whole episode and Gaiman's fascinating script with the touching scenes of the Doctor interacting with his beloved TARDIS overcome any slight questions and the Rory death scene is a trick by the villain so is just about forgivable even though it is irritating to have yet another fake death.

Overall a superbly enjoyable episode which transcends its minor problematic aspects. 9.5/10.
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User Rating:
5
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 1/18/19 10:58 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

This episode has filler written all over it. It follows an epic two parter and this seems intended as a bit of light relief but it does not even work on that level because it has too much dark and sad elements to be fun and amusing plus the humour just is not very good when it occurs. As for being a dark drama it is too flimsy and silly to work on that level either. It is not awful, it just is very underwhelming and average.

The TARDIS follows a distress signal and lands on a pirate ship in the 17th Century which is being visited by a spectral figure they call a Siren who marks injured people with a black spot before making them disappear. This turns out to be an automated medical aid from a crashed space craft travelling through mirrors which act as a portal from a 'bubble universe'. In the end it all just does not ring true and is not very exciting. The threats turn out to be not threatening, things are resolved in an unsatisfying way and the whole thing seems far too fake and contrived. It also features yet another apparent death for Rory which is his 4th and the 11th faked death of either the Doctor or his friends in the 17 episodes so far since Steven Moffatt became showrunner!! Incredibly Rory would have ANOTHER fake death in the next episode making it 3 episodes in a row Rory 'dies' and 6 episodes in a row one of the TARDIS crew dies!! Quite bizarre to so hugely overuse this plot device and instead of falling for the tears and grief of Amy as Rory seemingly died I just groaned before the predictable event of him coming back to life AGAIN!

The endearing Hugh Bonneville is very good as ever but is miscast as a greedy pirate and his supposed wickedness predictably ends with a change of heart. It seems pretty far fetched that he is quickly able to cope with piloting space ships as well. Overall this is just a disappointing episode, not dreadful but very unimpressive. 5/10
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Reviewed By: MercuryReview Date: 1/17/19 11:47 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

This is the second part of a two-part story following on from The Impossible Astronaut.

I will not exaggerate my issues with this episode as I still enjoy it and rate it a reasonable 7/10 but for Doctor Who that is not all that great and considering all the great elements this has it had the potential to be a 10/10 classic which I think it falls well short of.

Acting, effects, cinematography etc are all excellent, there is some smart dialogue, bits of good humour and a load of great creepy thrills with the scary monsters 'the Silence'. It is also very dark and complex which are things I normally love. The problem is that this does not satisfy the suspense built up in the previous episode, it instead ends up leaving lots of loose ends which when they are eventually brought to conclusion later in the series turn out to not make sense. Writer and showrunner Steven Moffatt has little regard for making things logical or sensible. He goes all out for surprises, twists, complicated plots and excitement but does not ensure things stand up to analysis.

The fun previous episode is followed by this dark, mysterious and rather grim episode which jumps around in its own timeline and throws too many needless ideas into the mix. If it all came together in the end it would be fine but things are left unresolved and rather than clever complexity it turns out rather messy. River Song's back story and character choices which lead from this episode and are made clear later in the series do not make sense to me so while that does not really impact this episode directly it makes some of the contents pretty hollow when watched back. I do not buy the idea that a child raised to kill the Doctor ends up as the River Song we know. It also is a very unpleasant storyline, particularly in a family show, for a pregnant woman to be kidnapped and have her baby stolen.

Various things within the episode do not make sense fully either such as the idea that the Silence have been on Earth influencing humanity "since fire and the wheel". It is another of Moffatt's cool sounding ideas that he takes too far and just seems wrong when you analyse it. A small number of such creatures living mostly in hiding over all that time may make sense but the idea that such numerous aliens are ever present in everyone's ordinary lives (they are shown in crowded rooms, bars etc.) just seems very odd. Yes they are forgotten when you look away but in crowded rooms they would be in sight by some people all the time and would cause reactions. It just does not ring true. The concept of disappearing from your memory when you are not looking is a twist on Moffatt's other invention the Weeping Angels who only move when you are not looking so he is trying to recapture the same dread of sinister things around you in ordinary life. He manages to make the Silence frightening and unsettling but stretching it to say they have always been with us was not a good idea in my opinion. Moffatt always wants ideas and villains to be of epic proportions when a bit of understatement would sometimes be better.

The Silence's motives and push of landing man on the moon seem very vague. The orphanage and a child who appears to be captive but also appears to be free to roam or is unsupervised and escapes all seems very confusing too as does the aspect of the space suit.

The opening sequence with the apparent deaths of River, Amy and Rory annoys me. This brings the number of apparent deaths of companions and the Doctor in the first 16 episodes of the Moffatt era to an extraordinary 10 (if you count the Doctor apparently dying twice in The Big Bang)! That is easily more than Russell T. Davies had in his entire 60 episodes as Showrunner. Incredibly Moffatt features yet another apparent death for Rory (his 4th 'death' in 17 episodes!) in the very next episode after this and continued this trend through his time in charge. It makes it all seem very fake and diminishes the power and emotion each time as all death scenes and grieving turn out to be for nothing. To me it is a cheap trick.

The qualities of this episodes production values, acting and its scary villains make this episode avoid falling too far in my ratings but this should have been safely 9/10 and instead I rate it 7/10 due to its faults.

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