‘Doctor Who’ Review – ‘The Bells of Saint John’
G-Funk’s Mission to Review Every ‘Doctor Who’ Episode Before the 50th Anniversary is Documented Here.
And we’re back. After much hype and speculation the world’s greatest science fiction show returns for what will be it’s 50th year. Amid all the rumours about all 10 previous incarnations of the Doctor returning for the anniversary special and theories about the mysterious new companion who has managed to die in both of her previous appearances, Moffat and friends deliver to us a somewhat conventional episode to get the ball rolling, and that’s not a bad thing.
As we saw in this little prequel…
…The Doctor is still searching for Clara Oswin Oswald. Having encountered her twice (in Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen) she has mysteriously managed to die twice in two different time periods. Confounded by this impossible occurrence and guilty over not being able to save her either time The Doctor has focused all his considerable energies on getting to the bottom of things. Whilst staying with some monks in the 13th century the phone in the TARDIS begins ringing (this being the title reference), which The Doctor states is impossible. Forgetting what happened the last time it rang he answers it and discovers Clara on the other end trying to get tech support for her internet.
Meeting her in the present day The Doctor saves Clara from a new and unusual threat. A mysterious organisation is using the global wi-fi network to take over people’s computers and download their very souls into their mainframe, replacing them with copies and controlling them with cyborg receivers. The Doctor intervenes in time to prevent Clara from being downloaded but is now on the radar of their new enemy. Along with Clara’s new knowledge of computers (side effect of the experience) the two end into London to find the enemy headquarters and put a stop to this menace.
Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman continue to demonstrate an exceptional chemistry, possibly stronger than Smith had with Karen Gilliam, which is saying something. They bounce of each other with an easy rhythm and not a missed beat. Plenty of quirkiness abounds with them kitting up with riding goggles to take The Doctor’s motorbike for a ride up the side of a building and Clara managing to stumble through an in-flight plane without spilling a drop of her tea. With this new dynamic there should be plenty of fun and humour to be had in coming episodes.
The story is one of the best of the new season. Taking an everyday concept like wi-fi and twisting it into something evil is a classic Moffat technique (as seen with statues) and it makes for an intriguing concept. It comes down to being a modern take on the classic Body Snatchers story, a sci-fi archetype that can be easily adapted to almost any context. The technophobia and identity theft angle is timely and well written, with the empty headed cyborgs are plenty creepy. The finale is brilliant, with some surprises in store when everyone gets their personality back and the reappearance of Richard E. Grant as the Great Intelligence.
A fantastic start to the year – now if only there wasn’t another week before the next one! By the way…did you notice the name of the author on Artie’s book?