Saturday, 20 September 2014
Doctor Who: Time Heist
"Still don't understand why you're in charge...?"
"Basically, it's the eyebrows."
My heart sank when I discovered this was to be written by the less-than-impressive Steve Thompson, and even more by the "and Steven Moffat"; is this a script so bad it's had to be largely rewritten by the showrunner? Still, perhaps I wasn't to worry; after all, Into the Dalek was by "Phil Ford and Steven Moffat" and that was ok. Still, what's with all these co-credits? RTD rewrote scripts all the time and never claimed a co-credit. Moffat had a reputation for not re-writing as much, but surely he must have done so a little, and if not then why so often this series? It's a mystery.
Still... this is actually quite good, and certainly the best from Thompson. I suspect it's not really down to the script, though; the pre-credits sequence is superb (is it just me who was reminded of Saw by the concept of four strangers waking up and being made to perform a task by a mysterious figure with a voice like Tobin Bell's?), but the rest of the episode, while exciting, doesn't really fulfil it's promise and the ending, while logical, feels a little abrupt, although I like the twist of the Architect being the Doctor, predictable though it may be. I'm afraid that this story, while good, is only my second favourite Doctor Who take on the Minotaur legend after The Horns of Nimon.
Still, there's much to like here. I like the tragic cyberpunk figure of Psi, who can delete his memory banks without the aid of those worms from The Snowmen. Its a heartbreaking tragedy to have to delete your loved ones to avoid harming them and... the character is essentially a walking metaphor for the Doctor. So is Saibra, forever apart from others and yearning to be free of her baggage. And Keeley Hawes makes a superb guest baddie as both Kabraxos and her clone. But are we to infer, from the Doctor's observation that she must be full of self loathing if she "fires" her own clones and that he "hates" the Architect, that he is full of self-loathing too? Is every major guest character here a metaphor for the Doctor?
So much for the good-but-not-great script. What really elevates this is the direction of Douglas Mackintosh, whose use of colour and camera angles is at once modern, brilliant and heavily suggestive of the visual grammar of the heist movie. I'm struck by the scene in which he shoots our four bank robbers, in a little room, from above. In fact, the general standard of direction so far this season has been universally superb.
Oh, and Abslom Daak is now officially canon!
There's not been much in terms of the season arc this week, aside from Clara's upcoming date and another mention of that mysterious woman in the shop. But it all seems to be coming to a head this week.