Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 9/27/17 1:32 pm
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This is a story that starts off strong, dips a bit in Part Three, before falling apart completely in the last episode.
The story starts as an extremely effect mystery. The nature of the threat is completely unknown, and the events that are taking place are totally bizarre. But it works! The setting is a sort of aircraft carrier in space (like Battlestar Galactica) in the late 22nd century, where fighter pilots are defending Earth's solar system from alien raiders. While that could easily be the jumping off point for its own story, here it's just the setting. It's just a location and a set of characters where and to whom inexplicable things are happening.
Stories that are hard to follow can be very off-putting, but this story is reassuring in that the Doctor doesn't understand what's going on any more than the rest of us. The idea of a thoroughly inexplicable mystery is very compelling, and that's largely what fuels the first two episodes. Some people start hearing a mysterious bell that other people can't here, and then they're drawn to this mysterious door that has appeared on the ship leading to nowhere.
The story starts to lose focus when the Doctor tracks the sound of the bell to a railway station in England, 1952. There, the Doctor finds Trevor Ridgely, an engineer involved in top secret military research. This seems like a promising development, but the story has as little to do with Ridgely's top secret research as it has with the alien raiders menacing Earth's solar system. The real story, unfortunately, is far less interesting.
And that's where the whole thing falls apart. It turns out that Trevor Ridgely idly doodled some sketches which would one day be noticed by someone else, and would set human technology on the path toward faster-than-light travel. This is where the story started to lose me. The story expects us to believe that if Trevor Ridgely's doodles are lost, humanity will never be able to leave its solar system. That is simply ludicrous. That's like saying that you went back in time and killed Isaac Newton as a child, humans would never have discovered Newton's Laws, but of course we would have. Someone other than Newton would have discovered them (so they wouldn't have been called Newton's Laws) eventually. If an English engineer from the 1950s can idly doodle something resembling a workable starship design, someone else would have figured it out eventually,
The story also involves intelligent beings who supposedly lived on Earth fifty billion years ago, never mind that the planet is less than fifteen billion years old. [Oops. Did I say "the planet is less than fifteen billion years old"? I meant "the planet is less than five billion years old". The *universe* is less than fifteen billion years old.] The motivation of these creatures is, if anything, even harder to swallow. They were destroyed when they tried to leave the solar system, and despite having been destroyed, they have the power to similarly destroy all every intelligent species which has come along after them and tried to leave the solar system, simply out of spite. Not only is this a terribly petty motivation, but this story is suggesting is that many, many intelligent civilizations developed on Earth before humanity (and before the Silurians, presumably), but they were all destroyed when they tried to leave the solar system, leaving no trace. This is simply ridiculous, even by "Doctor Who" standards.
This isn't a bad story, but it's terribly disappointing in that it starts so well and falls apart into utter drivel.