Monday, 7 December 2015

Raven? See, moan.

So after Doctor Who Series 9's only single-part story we go into a concluding three-parter, but a stealth one, a bit like "Utopia" was a stealth way to reintroduce the Master. In this case it's the Time Lords who are reintroduced, and they're grumpy about... something, because the Time Lords are always grumpy about something.

"Face the Raven" / "Heaven Sent" / "Hell Bent" by Sarah Dollard and Steven Moffat, directed by Justin Molotnikov and Rachel Talalay. Spoilers after the cut.

First up "Face the Raven" was a pretty strong episode; my only real gripe being that Moffat killed off another companion, but obviously with developments in the next two episodes that's a moot point. Another bluff about who might be the next companion, although in this case Rigsy was dismissed as a possibility pretty early given he's got a baby (I know in recent years the idea with the companion seems to be them dropping in and out of their home lives, but leaving a baby behind might be a bit too far even for the Moff.) Lots of theatrical faces popping up in "Face the Raven" as well - Robin Soans, and Simons Manyonda and Paisley-Day.

I'll take your word for it that "Heaven Sent" was a love/hate episode - personally I was hate all the way. An all-Peter Capaldi monologue episode feels like Moffat trying too hard to make a classic format-breaker that people would talk about for years to come. Less Buffy's "Hush" levels of classic, more Farscape's cartoon episode levels of unwatchable, for me it was a pre-credits teaser drawn out to an hour. Or maybe it was another elaborate troll to get people arguing even more about exactly how old the Doctor is now (is it billions of years, or only however much time the most recent version spent in there?)

Speaking of trolling of course, there was a nod to the Paul McGann movie in "Hell Bent," with Ashildr's suggestion that the Doctor was half-human, and him not quite denying it. Although a bit of a mess at times as the finales usually tend to be, it was a huge improvement, and we got a return from Future Dame Clare Higgins as well (not sure why she was lumped in with those responsible for the Time War but hey ho.) I did like that the ending, and Clara's actual departure, were an inverted version of the Donna memory wipe, with Clara getting to be the one to keep her memories this time, and her own TARDIS and companion. (I mean, the companion's Ashildr but you can't have everything.)

Of course, now that the series has moved full-time to the Autumn schedule, the finale doesn't really feel like one because it's only a couple of weeks until the Christmas Special...

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