Doctor Who: An Englishman in LA

Doctor Who: An Englishman in LA

Our man in Los Angeles, ROBERT CAVE, takes a look at the latest episode of the new series of Doctor Who

Heaven Sent

Doctor Who Series 9/ Season 35 Episode 11

Hello everyone, I’m very much afraid that from this point on there are spoilers for episode eleven of series nine of Doctor Who.

Once again the Dr Who crew are playing with the format of the show, leaving the Doctor (almost) alone to face an (almost) perfect prison. We know Capaldi is a compelling presence, so the fact that he carries the story off (almost) single-handedly while engaging in its own right, is no surprise. A more intriguing question would be how previous incarnations might have coped with the challenge.

Even more than Russell T Davies before him, Steven Moffat is the ultimate Doctor Who fan. Where Davis loved the show and wanted to do everything in his power to let you love it too. In many ways, his central goal was to make it accessible, not just to existing fans, but to your, mum, who isn’t much of a sci-fi fan, your gran, your uncle, everyone. Moffat’s approach is different. He is more assured in the show’s appeal, he knows people will watch it not just once, but many times. His shows are designed accordingly to offer different to support different readings from the first viewing to the next.

This episode especially is structured exactly like that.

There a plenty of callbacks, too. Nods to Listen from the last series and to the synth moments of 80s Doctor Who. The Doctor’s spare clothes drying by the fire are a bit of a paradox, but it feels like they are meant to be. Are they a reference to the paradox earlier in the series?

A few other things I like: The Time Lords felt the Time War coming, but they couldn’t have known its shape or who their foes would be, that much is implied by how the Time Lord at the start of Genesis of the Daleks talks about them. I’m glad we aren’t getting Dalek/Time Lord hybrids, and remain hopeful that the Doctor himself is not the prophesied hybrid. Maybe he said, “The Hybrid is Me.”

The one thing that made me a bit uncomfortable about the whole episode was that the Confession Disk is a means of interrogation that employs torture. It is incredibly depressing that interrogation and torture are now viewed as synonymous, and worse, acceptable, not requiring any comment or question, at least in this episode. I realise that it is Time Lord technology, and that the Time Lords were corrupted by their experience in the Time War, but still. No. Hopefully, that is something that will be revisited more next week.

Another thing I’m hoping we will see made more explicit is whether or not I was correct in guessing that the Confession Dial the Doctor gave Mayor Me last week was empty (the confession, such as it was, is what we witnessed this episode). I’m also hoping to see some foreshadowing of Clara’s death explained.

And, yes, I want to see next week’s episode right now, too.

See you next week.


Doctor Who – Series 9 Part 1 [DVD] [2015]

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