Bullet Points – Doctor Who 07:06

It’s an Easter miracle! He’s Back!

Okay, since it’s been a while since we last mentioned our mad man from Gallifrey and his exploits, so let’s review where what’s happened so far.

The Doctor has gone from being a carefree man to a man haunted by his tendency towards darker impulses and his loss of Amy Pond and Rory Williams at the hands of the weeping angels. Meanwhile he has been wrapped up in the enigma that is Clara Oswin Oswald. First he met her whilst trying to “rescue” her from the Dalek’s Asylum only to realize that she’d been converted into a Dalek. Then, he met her again in 1892 when she perished fighting the Snowmen that were the henchmen of the Great Intelligence. It was at this point he asked the question “How can a woman die twice?” If you want a more detailed explanation than that, read my previous recaps now.

Before we get into this episode, first there were two prequels. The first, which I can not find, explained how Straxx survived his apparent death at the battle of Demon’s Run. The second, and more appropriate to this review, finds the Doctor sulking with a surprising young friend.

Okay, now onto the bullet points:

* One of the things that I appreciate about Stephen Moffatt as a show runner when it comes to Doctor Who is that he’s not afraid of using repeating themes and associating them with characters. For example, having this modern Clara not only repeat her mantra of “Run You Clever Boy. And Remember,” but also having her be a live-in nanny to tie her back to her time as a governess in 1892.

* I also love how books are important to the characters and how each character has an important book. In Clara’s case the book is 101 Places To See. But I have to ask, what is the significance about the leaf being the first place to visit?

* Speaking of books, did anyone catch the name of the author of Summer Falls? Clever in-joke or message from the past?

* Speaking of referencing the past, let’s talk about The Doctor’s new outfit. I kind of dig it, but it is very much a throwback to previous Doctors, especially the feel of it reminds me of the 2nd Doctor.

* It took me a while to figure out what the title was in reference to, then it dawned on me that it was the phone in the St. Johns Ambulance phone box on the Tardis. But I have to ask, how did Clara’s call to tech support reach The Doctor, who was hiding in 1612? Who was the lady in the shop that gave Clara his number? River Song? A different version of Clara? Amy? The mind boggles.

* All that being said, while the episode was fun, the plot was a re-hash of the episode “The Idiot’s Lantern” from Season 2, complete with companions getting trapped in technology, a villain that acts as a technological succubus feasting on peoples brains. a scene on a motorbike, and The Doctor scaling a high point for a dramatic confrontation. What made this work for me was the particularly fiendish ways Moffatt and company used our addiction to the “WiFi soup” as a cause for something terrifying. And it helped that there were some clever moments that showed the scope of Miss Kizlet’s machinations (played deliciously to the hilt by Celia Imrie). Having Miss Kizlet show her control of nearly everyone in the cafe was a deliciously creepy touch. And the Great Intelligence returns, this time with the voice and face of Richard E. Grant (as opposed to Ian McKellen who played it in The Snowmen).

* What also worked were the rapid-fire performances of Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman, which brought a much-needed levity to the proceedings. Call me crazy but I like it when The Doctor and his companions have snappy repartee. Other critics have compared it to a Tracy and Hepburn film (which set the template for such relationships) but if anything, it reminded me more of the 4th Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith’s constant bantering.

* If it seems like the show has been paying homage to its past more so than usual, that is not an accident. It helps to remember that this year is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, so it makes sense that certain things appear again from The Doctor’s expansive history.

* So what do we make of Clara, now that we know more about her. My original theory about her being the mother of Oswin from “Asylum of the Daleks” is completely thrown out the window. That said, there are bits and pieces of her personality bleeding between the three that we have seen thus far. Like her 19th century counterpart, she’s a nanny. She also, thanks to her time in the cloud, has apparently picked up serious computer skills (you will recall that Oswin managed to hack the Dalek’s hive mind in the season opener). Where could this be going? If you have a theory, sound off in the comments below.

NEXT WEEK: The Doctor and Clara have a proper off-world adventure in “The Rings of Akhaten.”

Originally Published on 1 April 2013 as part of “The Idiot Box,” my column for l’etoile magazine.

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