5 December 2018: It Takes You Away review added.
26 November 2018: The Witchfinders review added.
Want us to let you know when we post a new review? Click here to join our mailing list.
KILL THE MOON
Surprising, isnít it, how your perspective can change? A few episodes ago, we wouldnít even remotely have been tempted to throw an episode into the win category when we disliked large swathes of it. But then a few episodes ago we werenít saying, as one of us did when we sat down to watch Kill The Moon, ďI donít want to stop watching Doctor Who. But this season, I feel as if I already have.Ē
Okay, even through desperation we canít bring ourselves to label Kill The Moon a success. But we will say this: for some of it, it actually feels like Doctor Who. We didnít anticipate ever having to feel grateful for that, but hey.
We were excited when we found there were going to be some new writers in this season. God knows we havenít been impressed by the usual bunch. But our excitement swiftly plunged into gloom with the arrival of Courtney.
We were hoping, after her terribly unfortunate TARDIS sickness, that weíd seen the last of her. We hadnít. AndÖ.andÖ.you know what, sheís so titanically annoying, with her special snowflakeness and her boredom andÖgrr, arghÖ.we just canít bring ourselves to even think about her any more. Letís all hold hands, close our eyes and wish really hard that we just imagined her, OK? Good.
Apart from, you know, that imaginary person, the beginning when they land on the moon is actually pretty great. We got all perky. Proper Doctor Who! Woohoo! Itís an intriguing scenario, itís not on Earth, and with the question about where the gravityís coming from itís even sciency.
The Doctor is the Doctor, which is always an excellent thing. We love his suggestion to shoot Courtney first: although (sadly) we know nobodyís going to actually do it, itís got his trademark callousness and itís bloody funny. And we love Hermione Norrisís third-hand astronaut, delivered with an intensity that actually manages to suggest that she believes the rubbish theyíre all spouting.
Then thereís a set piece of classical horror which what it lacks in originality makes up for in genuine chill. Which is all pretty nice. Yep. Likiní it.
That is, until Courtney gets out her bottle of antibacterial spray. At that point, the episode starts to tilt. And it slides faster and faster until it lands in the compost bin.
A big part of this is the science. Or, should we say, ďscienceĒ. And this bit is going to zip past pretty quickly, because itís such a towering edifice of bollocks that itís not even worth taking issue with it.
No, really. We know we generally like to snigger at the dumb science, but the science in Kill The Moon is so very very stupid that itís shooting a very large school of fish in a very titchy barrel. Itís not bringing a gun to a knife fight, itís bringing a rocket launcher to a game of marbles. Whatís the point?
Ah, címon, we hear you say. Itís a show about a man in a flying police box. When they mention prokaryotic spiders (heh heh heh), why donít you just suspend your disbelief?
Why? Because thatís asking us to do the writerís job, thatís why. The science doesnít have to be bulletproof, but it has to at least sound like it makes sense in some universe. This? No. So if the writer canít be arsed making it even semi-plausible, why should we be arsed caring about any of it?
Of course, all the galaxies of bollocks are only there to serve the central issue: whether they should kill the adorable baby moonlet to save all the humans and lemurs on Earth. (They only mentioned the humans, but of course they meant the lemurs too. They wouldnít think that only humans matter or anything like that, right?) Fair enough. In practice itís a non-issue - humans routinely kill other creatures every day even when they donít need to, so how likely would they be to put another species over their own survival? And itís got a pro-life slant, intended or not, that weíre not thrilled by. Nevertheless, itís a legitimate plot point, even if weíre seen it before in both the new and classic series.
And more to the point, we really, really like the way the Doctor deals with it. Given that he canít do anything clever as he usually does to save both sides, his leaving humans to decide their own fate is not only the right thing to do, itís the only thing to do. Who cares whether heís a frequent dropper-inner on Earth? Like he says, itís not his planet. Itís got absolutely nothing to do with him.
How Clara deals with it is, however, less enchanting. First, she tries to turn the issue over to the Doctor, as if he were helping her with her homework and sheíd got to some really hard long division. Then she asks for (half of) the people of Earth (who speak English and have power) to vote, and ignores their unanimous verdict. Luckily for all things sweet and fluffy, she gets away with saving the creature with zero consequences for Earth.
Oh, did we say that was the central issue? Because it isnít. Turns out that all of the universe of bollocks, all of the trembling finger on the red button, was actually just setup so that Clara can throw a massive tantie and flounce out of the TARDIS. Which she does because the Doctor pays her and her entire species the respect of not taking the decision out of her hands.
When we think about how great Clara was earlier in the season, it makes us want to cry. Whatís more, although we like the Doctor leaving things up to the humans, it does make this episode yet another thatís All About Clara. Why are they taking someone who has shown that on her game she can be one of the best companions weíve ever seen and making us hate her?
So. There are parts of this so bad we donít even want to talk about them, which is pretty appalling. But on the other hand, when he's not yet again standing there while Clara rips strips off him the Doctor is great, and for whole minutes at a time it actually feels like real Doctor Who. The way things are going this season, that makes it practically a masterpiece.
SAY IT, DONíT SPRAY IT
Has there ever been a clunkier plot setup than Courtney waving a spray bottle in the TARDIS saying sheís brought stuff to clean up? And how handy that when she put on her spacesuit she put the bottle in the pocket. Who packs antibacterial spray in their spacesuit?
ďThey didnít find any minerals on the moon at all.Ē None? At all? No, we said we werenít going to go there. That way lies madness.
IíM THE KING OF THE WORLD
Why the hell does Clara suggest leaving the decision to the President of the United States? Sheís not even American! We know the US government enjoys referring to the President as the leader of the free world, but as it found after trying unsuccessfully for decades to bully New Zealand into giving up its nuclear-free policy, that doesnít mean the rest of us are on board.