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Reviews By TCar96
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 7/6/17 7:57 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Spoilers throughout.

With the exception of Series 1 and 5, I've found every finale to be a damp squib - throwing away a superb build up with a sentimental break across the finish line. What a treat to add Series 10's finale to that list.

After last week's cracking cliffhanger, there's no back peddling. Bill is a Cyberman and there's no James Cordening out! Whilst Bill is certainly not a bona-fide cyberman, there's a rationale beyond 'the power of love' that holds enough weight to suspend disbelief. With Bill struggling to come to terms with her grim reality, the Doctor is forced to attempt to work together with both Masters to defend a plucky band of Mondasians against the cyber hordes, all the while unsure as to whether Missy is really turning over a new leaf...

Like last week, there's not actually much in the way of new ideas. The emotional tool of Cyberising a companion was done in Series 8's finale; the Doctor defending a tiny band of humanoids was done in Matt Smith's swansong; companions being left in limbo for years... well, too many times to mention!

However, just like last week, the character drama that clings to the tried and tested framework works really well. Being exposed to Bill's condition makes for real distress, rather than the comic scenes of Cyber-Danny and Cyber-Brig in Series 8! The Doctor's last stand for strangers isn't anything new, but it's suitably Doctorish.

Of real interest for me was the Masters' dynamic. Finally, freed from pop-culture references, Missy finally struck a chord with me and bounced perfectly off John Simm's staggeringly panto (not in a pejorative sense) performance. The revelation that Missy was genuine, was some really interesting and seismic shift of gears in canon and one I found so interesting as to now find any flaw. Her predecessors response was not only suitably in character, but brought a neat close to the two of them. After causing so much canonical moaning from the likes of myself, this fitting send off, I naively (no doubt wrongly) hope to be final. This has been for me the most interesting and competent stab at the Master in New Who and a really really perfect book end.

Dove tailing my review for World Enough and Time, The Doctor Falls narrowly misses a perfect 10 for it's closing, rather than opening, 10 minutes. Still wrapping my brain around the logic as to how Bill escapes her fate to live on forever as a lesbian water entity, is not a great way to close what I have praised as a pretty consistent and grounded attempt to maturely present a companion departure. The fact that the show can't just chuck out its cast and be done with it is an irritation that has now just become a fact of life.

As to the regeneration, it certainly took one too many contrivances to get the Doctor to be shot by Bill, furthermore his regeneration - triggered by the electrocution early on and deferred? Was a tad problematic. Why the spiteful motivation of not wanting to leave? Unlike 10's exit, there seems to have been no build up or motivation for such a hostile aversion to regeneration.

Tremendous Doctor Who on the whole, just a shame about the last few minutes.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 7/6/17 7:15 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Complete spoilers ahead.

Why can't we have this every couple of weeks? Because of the first five to ten minutes.

A bizarre opening to a review, but hear me out. For ten minutes I was anxiously dreading World Enough & Time to fall short of the praise. More Curse of the Fatal Death self-referential comedy, quips over concepts and a pre-titles sequence suggesting choppy editing and too-clever-by-half structural devices. What a joy, an absolute joy, to be proven wrong.

Bill is shot - but the real jaw dropper is what happens next, or rather what doesn't happen next... no cop-out. Bill is shot, and the ramifications are followed through to a deliciously melodramatic cliffhanger, one of Doctor Who's best! As soon as the mechanics have taken our characters to their necessary starting point, the episode gets going and goes with aplomb. That's why this episode encapsulates the best and worst of Moffat's writing since the tail end of series 6, and why many like myself have seen a return to form just buried beneath pretension. When the episode becomes a (relatively) straight forward narrative, it excels.

Nothing here is particularly new to fans of Big Finish or even most of New Who: it's essentially Spare Parts with a multi-master story thrown in - with massive kudos to an unashamedly camp performance from Simm worthy of Anthony Ainley. All of this takes place on a spaceship whose time is warped by proximity to a black hole, reminiscent of everything from the Beast Below to Girl in the Fireplace.

I can't emphasise enough that the ideas and concepts behind the episode aren't actually that significant in my opinion, what matters is that it provides a solid framework for brilliant character work. The Cybermen are chilling. Doctor Who is chilling. Legitimately creepy Doctor Who is a whopper of an achievement these days, and it's by a country mile the most sickening in-depth take on conversion ever shown on TV. As I watched Simm chewing the scenery; the Doctor gradually coming to terms with the straight-jacket of time and Bill gradually creep ever closer to conversion, I was laughing out loud with melodramatic glee. The raw satisfaction of seeing the melodrama spiral out of control brought about one of the most edge-of-seat Doctor Who experiences for years, literally years.

The bold direction in which the episode pushes Missy in, is one I found myself surprised to be hooked by. After three seasons and four years of hokey pop-culture references, to see the character taken on an interesting and mature trajectory made me realise what a tragic waste Gomez has been. After the aforementioned ten minutes of blood curdling cringe, I found myself enjoying the presence of Missy and being able to see her as a regeneration of the Master, for the first time.

Direction, cracking. Score, again, cracking, subtle and underplayed.

Overall a staggeringly fun slice of Who, narrowly falling short of a perfect 10 on the basis of the first ten minutes. Like Heaven Sent, I was left feeling really blue as I was after Heaven Sent. Peter Capaldi deserved far more World Enough & Times and Heaven Sents than he received.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
6
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 7/4/17 6:02 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Delightfully fun.

Whilst less experimental than sleep no more, Gatiss has written a more conventional story in the best possible sense. There are no daft, excessive plot elements, and despite the outlandish premise, no forces comedic juxtaposition. Essentially it's a moral dilemma (in which for once the morality doesn't appear to be totally warped and crow-barred in!) on Mars with pastiche Victorian Imperialists and frumpy ice warriors.

Fun dialogue and no frills really strengthen this classically studio bound episode, and gloss over the defects - namely thin characteurs and paint-by-numbers approach... Big baddie in a servile role with dainty China? Doctor & Co. in a cell? Not much you haven't seen before, hence my giving it a 7 over an 8, but it's fun enough to give a pass.

Normal gripes are completely thrown to the wayside! The score is quirky and fun with lots of electronic and synth cues. After that one twang in Heaven Sent, I wanted so much more of this sort of thing in series 10. 12th's theme and other reused bits and pieces are barely used with one exception, a justifiably brief and appropriately shlock-tastic cameo from Alpha-Centauri. Fantastic stuff.

Politics is always a contentious point to raise, and unfortunately, again, it appears to be that aggressive as to merit comment. Precious time is taken to have a peripheral character make a sexist comment. As often seems to be the case, it's forced in, redundant (even acknowledged in dialogue) and forces characters to lunge from pastiche to parody. Conversely we have quota casting leading one African cast member to longingly look at a picture of his White fiance. Are these characters Victorian parody bigots, or members of a multiracial, multicultural Empire - an antecedent to our times etc. etc. Seems increasingly aggressive, on the nose, and in the aforementioned case - genuinely quite confusing to piece together the message and detrimental to what ought to be taking place on screen: a romp - not a rally.

Niggle aside, it's a fun and punchy little episode with a great premise, fun new monster and fab direction and music. In a final aside comment, again Nardole has been treated like Kamelion or any other number of JNT companions: sidelined within minutes. Why was Nardole brought back, and how late in the game were writers informed?
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
5
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
4
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 7/2/17 6:23 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Find it hard to believe this receives the accolade for worst of series 10. Is it trite and cliche? Yes. Does it work? Yes, in my opinion.

The third part of this 'monk' trilogy is essentially a paint by numbers dystopia done on the cheap. A really effective pre-titles sequence sets the scene, for what is a laughably middle class and quite lovely, functional and fun take on an alien occupied globe. Naturally, it doesn't hold a candle to History of Fear - unfortunately it doesn't even hold a candle to the series three finale.

Broadly, criticism holds. With such a short run time, there's very little opportunity to actually get a strong feel for the society in question, furthermore it severely limits the mechanics of the plot. Spoilers ahead: Nardole provides the Doctor's whereabouts, Bill and Nardole find the Doctor before all three break into the Monks' pyramid (set repetition again!) and blow up their 'fake news' (on the nose 'commentary' again!) with the power of love (again!). The simplicity of the plot however isn't necessarily a massive detraction. It does allow for some (admittedly) done-to-death emotional blubbering, but it's immeasurably beyond the characterisation vacuum of Coleman's Clara.

Most of my gripes similarly can be twisted into reasons as to why I found Lie of the Land to be reasonably good Doctor Who. The ADR is patronising - but without it the piece wouldn't clip along at such a furious pace. Comic sequences occur far too early on - but again, it would slow the episode down if they weren't present. The Monks are laughably inept, letting Bill potter about freely and keeping no tabs on the Doctor - again, to resolve these areas of scrutiny would leave the thing far longer than 45 minutes.

Despite wishing to evade the quagmire of Steven Moffat - his presence again looms large. In the components of the story that are clearly the remit of the script editor, namely the arc, creative exhaustion is again the topic of the day. The Monks are reminiscent of the Silence; Missy in the cell is reminiscent of recent Sherlock work and so on. Some basic canon bodge ups confuse - in particular 'the other last of the timelords' now almost FOUR YEARS after establishing in gratuitous detail that the timelords and gallifrey is back. We spent a whole episode knocking about with them not ONE WHOLE SEASON earlier back with Hell Bent. Dialogue again in some respects is extremely dated already and quite skin crawling...

"awk-ward" "Celebrity Love Island" "Just went viral"...

Of course, it just wouldn't be right if we didn't recycle Murray Gold music at obscene volumes often rammed into inappropriate junctures. Same old, same old.

Far from great: it's cheap, rushed and has some hokey dialogue and score choices - but it's a clippy romp in a genre that's rarely done on Who, and it mostly succeeds in telling a clear story with rational justification for the actions of protagonists and antagonists. In Season 10 of New Who, that, unfortunately, is praiseworthy.

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