Reviewed By: Mercury
Review Date: 11/20/18 2:32 pm
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This episode has a storyline where our newly regenerated Doctor (Peter Capaldi) arrives in Victorian England having brought with him a giant dinosaur. The TARDIS was in fact stuck in the dinosaur's throat! The Doctor and Clara then meet up with The Doctor's friends the 'Paternoster Gang'. Clara and The Doctor himself struggle with the Doctor's new and as yet unresolved transformation. There is a spate of 'spontaneous combustions' which The Doctor and his friends seek to investigate. There is also a half faced man lurking around.
Capaldi is impressive in his full debut with excellent acting and personality on show. Moffatt's writing of many of the scenes based around introducing Capaldi's characterisation of The Doctor is extremely well executed. Judged purely for the introduction of the new Doctor this episode is incredibly good. It has a strong script for Capaldi which he exploits fully. It is funny, references the show's history and has intelligent and thoughtful dialogue based around the Doctor struggling with regeneration and starting to establish his personality. It also has a slightly improved feel to much of the Smith era as the filming style is full of slower scenes for character building and more in-depth dialogue.
The story itself if you take out the new Doctor introduction part of the plot is quite fun and entertaining at times but has issues which spoil it. If you took out the regeneration side of things this would not be very good at all. It is a fun, lighthearted romp at times but is damaged by silly plot aspects.
The issues I have with the plot are that like many Moffatt/Matt Smith era stories there is a tendency to overlook logic and credibility. Firstly the giant dinosaur was an issue for me. Why did Moffatt have to make it a GIANT dinosaur?! It is about 8 or 10 times the size of known Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils if you measure it against the Houses of Parliament! It is thereby discarding all we know in science about dinosaurs. It is an unnecessary, pointless and silly move by Moffatt purely to add spectacle (not for the first or last time). It would have worked MUCH better with a regular sized dinosaur biting rather than swallowing the TARDIS. That would have been clearly far more logical than a crazy made up giant dinosaur and would also be more believable in terms of being less visible to so much of the public. As it is we are meant to believe a minor police detective is allowed to handle what would have been the most crazy and important event witnessed at the time with everyone else continuing on as a giant dinosaur marauds down the Thames. It is dumb.
Secondly, why would the half faced man not have a finished face or at least a mask as some means of making his appearance not stand out so obviously? They have had the time and resources to build all sorts of things and finish many other faces and yet he does not finish his own face and roams around London without anyone noticing his obvious missing human features. Again spectacle overriding logic.
Thirdly, why does Clara react so badly to The Doctor's change to an older man?! Of all companions she has even less excuse for this having met all the other incarnations of The Doctor before including the 1st Doctor and the War Doctor and coped perfectly well. If she has 'forgotten' these encounters with other versions of The Doctor it would still make her a remarkably shallow character but nothing suggests she has forgotten. Why would Clara care that he changes his appearance when she has seen him with so many other faces?! It would have been much better if she accepted his new appearance but found his new personality hard to accept and started to get more uncomfortable as the episode went on, or over the first couple of episodes, before getting used to him.
In addition, I find the idea these mechanical men have been on Earth since the time of the dinosaurs and are still no further forward as well as never being noticed another silly thing thrown into the mix!!
I feel the superb quality of Capaldi, the script and the filming style as well as the humour and entertainment value add value to this story but that the negatives really detract from what could and should have been a great introduction to Capaldi as the 12th Doctor.
I enjoyed the Steven Moffatt era with Matt Smith as The Doctor in many ways but just felt in comparison to all the other Doctor's TV eras it was one of the weaker ones, better than the 6th and 7th Doctors eras overall (though not the excellent final McCoy season) or the TV Movie but below any other era. This was due mostly to regularly failing to maintain logic and credibility, particularly in the hugely over complicated over arching plots. Also the style had become a bit too zany and overblown. The best episodes (e.g. The Eleventh Hour, Vincent and the Doctor, The Day of the Doctor, Cold War, The Doctor's Wife, The Name of the Doctor) have been as amazing as any past classic episodes but in general Smith's years were good rather than great by Doctor Who's standards, in my opinion.
I had been greatly looking forward to a rumoured return to a more thoughtful, slow burning drama in this series and was hoping for great things from lifelong Who fan Peter Capaldi as The Doctor. I think they met those expectations with the filming style in this episode and I was very, very happy with Capaldi who showed potential to be creating one of the better characterisations of The Doctor. I just wish Moffatt would make plots that are sensible instead of just throwing every idea in without making it logical.
My rating for this episode is sadly only 5/10.