Living Legend

Doctor Who - Living Legend

Synopsis

The world faces imminent destruction when Italy win the 1982 World Cup!  Can the fabled Time Lord Charleyostiantayshius save humanity from the dreaded Threllip Empire, or will her idiot companion, the Doctor, ruin everything?

Review

At only 20 minutes long, this story is a bit different and quite difficult to review.  It seems to fit logically between Invaders from Mars and Seasons of Fear as a short 20 minute adventure for the Eighth Doctor and Charley before everything escalates towards Neverland and Zagreus.  As such, it’s not essential listening, but as it is free and quite a lot of fun, I would recommend giving it a listen.

Whilst short, this story does have some nice moments fbetween the Doctor and Charley and the chemistry between Paul McGann and India Fisher is evident.  The story revolves around the Doctor and Charley switching places, with Charley becoming the Doctor-like role and the Doctor playing her companion and in a story that is largely light hearted, there are nice moments of them both mocking the Time Lords and their garb.  The alien species, the Threllips are also played largely for laughs, with both actors using West Country accents.

As mentioned, the story is quite light and fun.  Unlike other alien invasions in Doctor Who, the invasion is foiled quite comically.  The Doctor takes Vengorr to the Italian village of Ferrara where the citizens are celebrating their World Cup win and convinces the alien that he has contracted World Cup Fever, whilst Charley tells Thon that he goes down as a mere footnote in Vengorr’s history.  It is difficult to imagine a story being televised where the Doctor convincing an antagonist that the only way to cure the fever is to drink a copious amount of wine.  I think if this was a full four part storyline played in the same way it would really grate on me, but as it is, it works really nicely.  It is perhaps surprising that Scott Gray has not been asked back to write for the Eighth Doctor again.

Verdict: A fun interlude before the story delves into the Web of Time, Living Legend is a nice fun story.  7/10

Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley Pollard), Stephen Perring (Vengorr) & Conrad Westmaas (Thon)

Writer: Scott Gray

Director: Gary Russell

Behind the Scenes

  • This story was released with Doctor Who Magazine issue 337, along with a documentary about the making of the 40th anniversary story, Zagreus.

Cast Notes

  • Stephen Perring has appeared in a number of Big Finish audio stories, with his most prominent roles being the Kro’ka during the Eighth Doctor’s time in the Divergent Universe and Mathias in the Gallifrey audio series.
  • Conrad Westmaas was also heavily involved in the Eighth Doctor’s audios as companion C’rizz.

Previous Eighth Doctor review: Invaders from Mars

 

 

Silver Nemesis

Silver Nemesis Nemesis

The bear will not pursue us – such things happen only in the theatre.

Lady Peinforte

Synopsis

The arrival of a mysterious comet heralds impending danger from enemies old and new.

Review

Silver Nemesis is another story, like Time-Flight, where a poor reputation can’t help but damage your impression of it going in.  As anniversary specials go, it certainly feels very different to its predecessors marking the 10th and 20th anniversaries respectively.  Sadly, I found that the reputation is well founded.  It feels very derivative of Remembrance of the Daleks, a story in the same season, and I’d far rather think of the season 25 opener as the anniversary special.  I made the mistake of watching the behind the scenes documentary on the DVD and the writer irritated me so much, so that might explain why I’m not very favourably disposed towards it!

Silver Nemesis

One of the major problems with this story is that there are just too many villains.  You’ve got the Cybermen, De Flores and his neo-Nazis and Lady Peinforte and Richard from 1638.  The Cybermen are more than capable of carrying a story on their own and Lady Peinforte is ‘essential’ to this mess of a story, and considering that we had seen a neo-Nazi group in Remembrance, De Flores’ Nazis could have been scrapped with little to no impact on the plot.  It would certainly save us from Anton Diffring’s disinterested performance throughout this story.  The abundance of villains means that it feels like there are large amounts of time where the story just completely stops for them whilst another group to do something.  This means that the Cybermen feel as though they are just there to be cannon fodder, especially considering the seeming abundance of gold that most characters just so happen to have on their person.  Their entrance into the story at the end of Part One and their fight sequence at the beginning of Part Two are nicely done, but for the rest of the story it certainly seems that they are unable to hit a barn door.

There is something that staggers me about the creation of this story.  The writer, Kevin Clarke, was able to call up the Doctor Who production office and get the 25th-anniversary story having never previously written for the show makes my mind genuinely boggle.  Add to that the fact that when he first spoke to John Nathan-Turner, Clarke admits that he did not have any idea of the story he wanted to tell and blagged it and he was not laughed out of town seems ridiculous.  Ultimately, this is a remake of Remembrance of the Daleks in the same season.  The idea of a comet with powerful and desirable contents returning to Earth at 25-year intervals thanks to a previously unseen (presumably Second Doctor) intervention by the Doctor is an intriguing one outside of this context, but along with the neo-Nazis and the conclusion, where the Nemesis weapon is both of Gallifreyan design and used to destroy the Cyber fleet just feels repetitive.  Clarke set out to reveal that the Doctor is, in fact, God, however, this idea seems to get largely lost through the narrative, only returning in the concluding moments when Lady Peinforte reveals that she knows the truth.  Ultimately it feels as though Clarke and the production team took a handful of ideas, threw them at the wall and went from there.

Silver Nemesis De Flores and the Cybermen

Nowhere can this be best exhibited by the celebrity casting of Dolores Gray as the American tourist – I still don’t really understand why she was there – and the whole fake Queen debacle, which just feels ridiculous.  I felt that it harkened back to McCoy’s first season which was incredibly uneven and McCoy delivers a performance to match when he struggles to place where he knows the Queen from.  Surely, once the production team knew that they would be unable to get Prince Edward or any royal involvement, it would have been pretty easy to completely write out this bit.  Dolores Gray doesn’t really look like she knows why she is being asked to be in this story and the scenes in her limo are quite painful to watch.  The cameo by Courtney Pine and the members of his quartet works the best of all of them and the opening scenes with the Doctor and Ace enjoying a break from traveling are probably amongst the best in the story which is largely bereft from good directing.  The exceptions to this are the first appearance of the Cybermen and I quite liked the Cybermen chasing Ace in Part 3 through the factory.  Ultimately though, the story feels as though it has delusions of grandeur of being a better and more important story than it ultimately is, and that is certainly the impression I got of how the writer considers this story.

Normally in Doctor Who stories that have fallen flat for me, I am able to at least find solace in the performances of the Doctor and companion, however, the Seventh Doctor and Ace largely fall flat for me here.  I gather that this may have been due to lack of rehearsal time for this story and general exhaustion on the part of McCoy and Aldred, however, it does really stand out for me here.  There are some moments between the pair that do work – I particularly like the scene with Ace and the Doctor passing the bow around the Cybermen in the castle basement and Ace admitting to the Doctor that she is scared of the Cybermen are all nice moments that can get lost in this disaster.

Verdict: Silver Nemesis feels like rehash of things that worked better in this season’s opening story, and is not helped by having too many villains, uninspiring direction and flat performances from the two leads. 1/10

Cast: Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Anton Diffring (De Flores), Metin Yehal (Karl), Fiona Walker (Lady Peinforte), Gerard Murphy (Richard Maynarde), Leslie French (Mathematician), Martyn Read (Security Guard), Dolores Gray (Mrs Remington), Courtney Pine (As Himself), David Banks (Cyber-Leader), Mark Hardy (Cyber Lieutenant), Brian Orrell (Cyberman), Chris Chering and Symond Lawes (Skinheads), Courtney Pine, Adrian Reid, Ernest Mothle & Frank Tontoh (Jazz Quartet)

Writer: Kevin Clarke

Director: Chris Clough

Parts: 3

Behind the Scenes

  • The official 25th Anniversary story – the first not to feature multiple Doctors and the first to be broadcast in parts since The Three Doctors.
  • The final appearance of the Cybermen until their cameo in Dalek and return in The Rise of the Cybermen.  This ultimately means that this is the final appearance of David Banks as the Cyber Leader.
  • Producer John Nathan-Turner approached Prince Edward to appear in this story, but the Royal Family politely declined.  The use of Windsor Castle was also requested, which was also refused as permission was only ever granted to documentary crews.  Arundel Castle was used as a substitute.
  • Writer Kevin Clarke had seen little Doctor Who and met John Nathan-Turner with no story idea.  His improvised storyline involved the reveal that the Doctor was essentially God, which did not end up being realised.  John Nathan-Turner later requested the addition of the Cybermen.
  • Cameos are made by Nicholas Courtney, Peter Moffatt and Kevin Clarke, amongst others.

Cast Notes

  • Fiona Walker had previously appeared in The Keys of Marinus.
  • Leslie French had previously turned down the role of the Doctor in 1963.
  • Anton Diffring took the role so that he could attend Wimbledon, travelling from his home in France.  It would be his last role before his death in 1989.

Best Moment

It is really difficult to pick a best moment here.  I am going to go for the chase scene in Part 3, as it actually woke me up towards the end of this story.

Best Quote

You fool.  Without the bow, the statue’s power is nothing.

We will shortly obtain the bow.

From tbe Doctor? Don’t delude yourself.  He’s no common adversary.  Do you think he will simply walk in here and hand it over?

Good afternoon.

Doctor.

Yes, here we are.  I’m sorry we couldn’t have been here earlier, but we got held up on the way.

De Flores, Cyber Leader and The Doctor

Previous Seventh Doctor story review: The Happiness Patrol

Silver Nemesis Windsor

Revelation of the Daleks

Revelation of the Daleks - Doctor and Peri

I am known as the Great Healer.  A somewhat flippant title, perhaps, but not without foundation.  I have conquered the diseases that brought their victims here. In every way, I have complied with the wishes of those who came.

Davros

Synopsis

The Doctor and Peri are summoned to the planet of Necros to pay their respects to the Doctor’s friend Arthur Stengos.  What they find is a facility called Tranquil Repose where the rich of the galaxy have their bodies cryogenically frozen until a time when they can be cured of their ailments and the ‘Great Healer’ turns out to Davros, who is creating a new army of Daleks loyal to his cause.

Review

To put it simply, Revelation of the Daleks is one of the high points of Colin Baker’s all too short era and ranks among Eric Saward’s best contributions to the show.  Perhaps what makes it so good is that the story feels quite unusual from the usual Doctor Who fare, but this experimental storyline works quite well.  Typically for a Saward script, there is a high body count, with only two members of the guest cast cast surviving at the end of this story, but with the involvement of Davros and his infamous creations, a high death count feels more appropriate than in other stories he penned.

If I had to pick a flaw with this story, it would be that the Doctor and Peri are largely sidelined.  This is quite a prevalent issue in Colin Baker’s era when Eric Saward was script editor and Saward himself has made no secret that he did not think that Baker was suitable for the part.  The Doctor and Peri do not even arrive at the Tranquil Repose facility until the end of the first part, when a rather cheap looking statue of the Doctor is toppled over in an attempt to kill him.  That said, when Colin Baker does get a chance to take the spotlight, he is pretty good – he has settled into the role and it is a shame that we would never see what the original plans were for his character had the show not been put on hiatus.  The scenes with him and Davros are probably his best work to date and he and Terry Molloy really raise their games in this scene.  When Davros gets taken away by the renegade Daleks, Baker extends his hand to his adversary, which is petty but rather lovely.  Nicola Bryant is good here too, especially in the scenes with the DJ and her scene where she kills the mutant, and Baker and Bryant are particularly good in the scene where they climb the wall.  I’m prepared to accept a reduced role for the Daleks here when it is substituted for nice character moments like these.

Revelation of the Daleks - Doctor and Davros

Terry Molloy gives us a very different Davros here.  Where previously Davros has been seen to rant and rave, he has quieter moments and this is a chance for us to see how truly resourceful and ruthless he is.  While the best of the dead are being used to experiment on to create a Dalek army for Davros, the weaker are turned into food to sell to a famine riddled universe.  On top of that, he sets a trap for anybody looking to stop him, which Orcini and Bostock walk straight into.  We spend most of our time believing Davros to be a swivelling head in a glass bowl, however, after the assassin and his squire blow this setting up, it is revealed that this was just a front and the real Davros has been running things from behind the scenes.  The scene where he instructs Tasambeker to kill Jobel, and as a reward, she will be turned into a Dalek is fantastic because Molloy plays it with almost honeyed tones, if it is possible for Davros to this.  This also benefits from good direction from Graeme Harper, which I will come onto later.  The Daleks could be seen to be window dressing, however, they give the puppet Davros a sense of security and unassailability.  I particularly like the introduction of the white and gold daleks, along with their grey and black originals and the idea of a Dalek Civil War breaking out, with the Renegade faction being led by the Supreme Dalek.

With the Doctor and companion sidelined for the majority of the running time, the focus is largely pulled onto the guest cast.  Saward gives us several pairs of characters: the ruler of Necros, Kara, and her secretary Vogel, Chief Embalmer Jobel and his student Tasambeker, security guards Takis and Lilt, bodysnatchers Grigory and Natasha and assassin Orcini and his squire Bostock.  The majority of these are flawed individuals – take, for example Orcini, portrayed wonderfully by William Gaunt, who is an assassin hired by Kara to kill Davros.  Other stories would paint him with a black brush and write him off as totally evil, however, the story throws us a curve ball.  For the honour of killing the creator of the Daleks, he will give his fee to charity.  Orcini is probably the stand-out of all of these characters, which feature the vain Jobel who is suitably unpleasant, especially towards Tasambeker, but he gives us a parallel to the Sixth Doctor – his arrogance is somehow familiar to the viewer.  The one character who is separated from this is the DJ, who is a character who I feel would not work in any other Doctor Who story, but somehow works here.  Even he is guilty of deception, being revealed not to be an American after all but someone who is guilty of nothing more than enthusiasm towards American DJs and there are nice moments between him and Peri reminscing about Americana.

Revelation of the Daleks - DJ

Given Saward’s propensity towards violence, black humour and high body counts, and Graeme Harper’s enthusiasm for putting machine guns into his stories as much as possible, this would seem to be a match made in heaven.  Saward’s script drips with black humour, especially in Kara’s reaction when the Daleks exterminate Vogel.  Harper does some interesting things in his direction of the Daleks, shooting them from low down and from the middle, which makes them feel more intimidating.  In the scene with Davros and Tasambeker, when he offers to turn her into a Dalek, an eye stalk slowly comes into shot which is a lovely bit of detail.  One of the famous moments from this story is the murder of Jobel by Tasambeker, however, this scene is undercut by the performance of Jenny Tomasin which makes it feel rather stagey.  Harper wanted the scene of the syringe being plunged into Jobel’s chest to be even more graphic, with the viewer seeing Tasambeker depressing the plunger, however, I feel that this would have been far too grim.  Instead, the way that everything falls away from Jobel, including his toupee is really rather well done.

How inconvenient.  Do you know how difficult it is to find good secretaries?

Kara

Verdict: Revelation of the Daleks really shouldn’t work, but manages to pull it off.  It is quite bleak in places and has a high body count, but there are some nice directorial moments from Graeme Harper.  8/10

Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Terry Molloy (Davros), Eleanor Bron (Kara), Hugh Walters (Vogel), Clive Swift (Jobel), Jenny Tomasin (Tasambeker), Trevor Cooper (Takis), Colin Spaull (Lilt), Alexei Sayle (DJ), William Gaunt (Orcini), John Ogwen (Bostock), Stephen Flynn (Grigory), Bridget Lynch-Blosse (Natasha), Alec Linstead (Head of Arthur Stengos), Penelope Lee (Computer Voice), John Scott Martin, Cy Town, Tony Starr and Toby Byrne (Daleks), Roy Skelton and Royce Mills (Dalek Voices & Ken Barker (Mutant)

Writer: Eric Saward

Director: Graeme Harper

Parts: 2

Behind the Scenes

  • The first story confirm that Davros and the Daleks can levitate, despite it being seen in The Chase.
  • The last full length two-part story until Aliens of London/World War Three.
  • Eric Saward based this story on The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh and several characters are named after characters in the novel.  Despite the parallels to Soylent Green, Saward stated that at the time he wrote the story he had not seen the film.
  • The story was supposed to end with the Doctor announcing that he was taking Peri to Blackpool.  However, before this story was broadcast, it had been announced that the show was going on hiatus for eighteen months.  The original story set to start the next season would have been The Nightmare Fair, set in Blackpool and written by John Nathan-Turner’s predecessor as producer Graham Williams.  The story was later adapted in 2009 by Big Finish.

Cast Notes

  • Eleanor Bron had previously made a cameo in City of Deathand would go on to appear in Loups Garoux.
  • Colin Spaull went on to appear in Rise of the Cybermen/The Age of Steel.
  • Clive Swift later appearaed in Voyage of the Damned.

Best Moment

The scene between Tasambeker and Davros.

Best Quote

But did you bother to tell anyone that they may be eating their own relatives?

Certainly not.  That would have created what I believe is termed consumer resistance.

The Doctor and Davros

Revelation of the Daleks - Kara

Time-Flight

Time-Flight - Doctor

The illusion is always one of normality.

The Doctor

Synopsis

When a Concorde disappears through a crack in time, the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan take another Concorde to follow, unaware that a mysterious conjuror Kalid is waiting for them.

Review

After the explosive climax to Earthshock, the conclusion to Peter Davison’s first season as the Doctor is difficult to describe as anything other than a letdown.  Time-Flight has a reputation that certainly precedes it – I was certainly aware that this was not a great story before watching this story – and it is frustrating to see Davison’s Doctor hampered by stories like this and Black Orchid.

This is certainly an example of the show having ambition well in advance of its meagre budget.  Aspects like the landscape of pre-historic Earth and the prop Concorde landing gear look laughable and very much like a set in front of a matt painting.  Additionally, filming onboard Concorde itself seems to, like a lot of the John Nathan-Turner era, have been done for reasons of generating publicity rather than considering the practicalities of it.  The scenes shot in the cabin and the flight deck of Concorde look very claustrophobic and not easy to work in – there is one scene with the Doctor talking to the flight crew which feels as though the camera is literally right behind Peter Davison.  The one thing that does look like money has been spent on it is the Master’s disguise as Kalid, which does look rather impressive, even though it is only used for the first two parts.  Given the scope of the story and the cast and production team’s seeming antipathy towards this serial, it is perhaps surprising that one of the script editors or John Nathan-Turner suggested holding it over to the next season in order to do this story full justice.

Time-Flight Kalid and the TARDIS

Peter Grimwade’s story is certainly ambitious, however, it is safe to say that his writing is not as good as his direction, and the narrative is full of characters that feel superfluous.  I do feel that this is not entirely his fault though, as this story is unfortunate to follow Earthshock and doesn’t entirely deal with the death of Adric satisfactorily.  This isn’t a problem exclusive to Doctor Who.  For those of you unfamiliar with your James Bond films, Blofeld kills Bond’s new bride in the closing minutes of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, yet when James Bond returned in Diamonds Are Forever, he acts as though the worst thing Blofeld has ever done is park in his space.  The story does certainly start with a sombre tone, picking up straight after the Doctor has dropped off the survivors of the encounter with the Cybermen, but this does get quite rapidly dropped as a plot element.  I’ve heard that the Master originally was not supposed to feature and was a late addition and this certainly makes quite a lot of sense.  His appearance here does seem quite derivative of his earlier appearance in Castrovalva, especially considering that he spent most of his time in disguise in that story too.  Grimwade’s story does have some interesting ideas, like the Xeraphin and the Jekyll and Hyde style relationship that seems to dog their race, however, there are too many other things going on here to go into it in further details.

There is quite a large cast here but a lot of them aren’t given an awful lot to do, with the Master mind-controlling the majority of the passengers and crew of the first Concorde, and Nyssa and Tegan largely sidelined.  However, there are four standout performances that mean that this story isn’t absolutely dreadful.  The first is Peter Davison, who really throws himself into the story despite his personal feelings towards the story.  The second is Anthony Ainley, who, though the Master doesn’t really need to be in this story, brings a suitable sense of pantomime menace to proceedings.  The third and fourth are Richard Easton and Nigel Stock as Captain Stapley and Professor Hayter.  Richard Easton portrays such a likable character who falls completely under the spell of this energetic and youthful Doctor and is eager to help as evidenced in the scenes where he attempts to thwart the Master taking parts of the Doctor’s TARDIS.  Nigel Stock brings some cynicism and some wonderful barbs into the episode which does not really give the actors very much to work with.

Verdict: Time-Flight brings Davison’s first season as the Doctor to a somewhat lacklustre conclusion.  An ambitious story which should perhaps have been refused on grounds of practicalities, however, it does feature some good performances from Davison, Ainley, Easton and Stock. 2/10

Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Anthony Ainley (Khalid/The Master), Richard Easton (Captain Stapley), Keith Drinkel (Flight Engineer Scobie), Michael Cashman (First Officer Bilton), Peter Dahlsen (Horton), Brian McDermott (Sheard), John Flint (Captain Urquhart), Peter Cellier (Andrews), Judith Byfield (Angela Clifford), Nigel Stock (Professor Hayter), Matthew Waterhouse (Adric), Hugh Hayes (Anithon) & André Winterton (Zarak).

Writer: Peter Grimwade

Director: Ron Jones

Parts: 4

Behind the Scenes

  • The first part of this story was the most successful in terms of viewing figures of John Nathan-Turner’s entire era as producer.
  • Adric’s appearance served not only to fulfill Matthew Waterhouse’s contract but also to mean that his name would have to appear in the Radio Times, thus not spoiling the character’s death at the end of Earthshock.
  • This story was the first television program permitted to film at Heathrow Airport and the first to film on Concorde.
  • Although Janet Fielding leaves at the end of this story, there was never any intention to make this a permanent departure, and she reappears in Arc of Infinity.
  • Peter Davison labels this story as his most disappointing experience.
  • Anthony Ainley is credited as Leon Ny Taiy for the first episode.

Cast Notes

  • Keith Drinkel would go on to appear in the audio drama Catch-1782.

Best Moment

The scenes in Part One with the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan at Heathrow Airport are good – I especially like how quick the Doctor is to be accepted by the authorities after namedropping UNIT and the Brigadier.

Best Quote

I thought you were going with the Doctor.

So did I…

Captain Stapley and Tegan Jovanka

Kill the Moon

Kill the Moon

Hello, hello.  Hello Earth.  We have a terrible decision to make.  It’s an uncertain decision, and we don’t have a lot of time.  The man who normally helps, he’s gone.  Maybe he’s not coming back.  In fact, I really think he is.  We’re on our own.  So, an innocent life versus the future of all mankind.  We have forty-five minutes to decide.

Clara Oswald

Synopsis

The Doctor, Clara and Courtney visit the Moon in 2049, where they discover the Earth’s constant companion is more than another mere celestial body.

Review

I’m not going to deny that this is a very divisive episode of Doctor Who – if you read reviews from professional critics, you’d come away believing that this was a masterpiece, whilst reading reviews written by fans you might be forgiven for believing that it is one of the worst.  I sit somewhere in the middle of all this.  Whilst there are some questionable bits of science and Courtney Woods, I enjoy large portions of this episode.  This story makes me think what my decision would be if I was asked to vote on the fate of a creature that may well destroy the Earth, and the opening 20 minutes have quite a lot of creepy moments.

Kill the Moon Courtney

I’ll start with the negatives.  Courtney Woods is possibly rivalling the Maitland children from Nightmare in Silver for the most annoying child character to feature in the show.  I understand why they bring children into the guest cast for Doctor Who, to appeal to children who, ultimately, are the core audience of the show.  However, a misstep is to make them so mind-bogglingly ambivalent about the situations they are experiencing.  Here, Courtney goes from making quips about the antibacterial spray killing 99% of all germs to wanting to go home.  Equally, the fact that we are told by Clara that the Doctor told Courtney that she is not special rather than shown it is frustrating and feels as though something was cut from the previous episode. If we had been shown the reasoning behind this declaration from the Doctor, it would make us care a lot more about this character.  As it is, she is just there for a lot of the story and I can’t really think of many moments that would have been drastically changed if she hadn’t been included in the story at all.

I know that a lot of criticism is equally laid at the door of the story’s big reveal that the Moon is in fact an egg which is hatching.  This is something that doesn’t bother me too much as I don’t come to Doctor Who for serious scientific ideas, however, this certainly does border on the side of the more comical bits of pseudo-science we have had in the history of the show.  The fact that the creature, once hatched, is able to lay an egg of equal size to replace the now destroyed first moon does border on the ludicrous.

In the mid-twenty first century, humankind starts creeping off into the stars, spreads its way through the galaxy to the very edges of the universe.  And it endures until the end of time.  And it does all that because one day in the year 2049, when it had stopped thinking about going to the stars, something occured that made it look up, not down.  It looked out there into the blackness and it saw something beautiful, something wonderful, that for once it didn’t want to destroy.  And in that one moment, the whole course of history was changed.

The Doctor

One thing the story does well, however, is produce an incredibly dark atmosphere, especially in the opening twenty minutes or so.  The direction, and especially the lighting, are really well done to create this, and it is helped by the spider-like creatures that inhabit the Moon’s surface.  I’ve stated before on this blog that I do not like spiders, and these ones are especially creepy.  This all helps to generate a feeling of unease , which is complemented by Peter Capaldi’s performance.  The story certainly does lose some of this once the egg reveal is made, but it certainly sets out what the production team intended.  I like the fact that this is set in a time where humanity has lost their interest in space travel – the idea of Lundvik and her crew being third-hand astronauts crewing a second-hand spacecraft – and this event is suitably monumental to make humanity wake up and take notice.  I feel that the countdown could have been more dynamic whilst humanity makes its decision though.

Kill the Moon Lundvik Clara Doctor

The story ultimately hinges on the relationship between the Doctor and Clara, which is helped greatly by the chemistry shared by Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman. The Doctor deciding to put the decision into the hands of Clara, Lundvik and Courtney is shocking and it is difficult to imagine any of the other Doctors ever doing this.  Capaldi’s Doctor puts his faith in humanity and more specifically Clara, which ultimately leads to the breakdown of their relationship in the conclusion.  We completely buy Clara’s anger and her feeling that her best friend has abandoned her and we are on her side when she storms out of the TARDIS at the end of the story.  Equally, this arguably marks a turning point in the Twelfth Doctor’s run, as he does begin to soften from this point onwards.  I think that Hermione Norris puts in a decent performance as the jaded astronaut Lundvik as well, and she acted well as a counter to Clara when they are trying to make a decision about how to proceed.

Verdict

Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Samuel Anderson (Danny Pink), Ellis George (Courtney Woods), Hermione Norris (Lundvik), Tony Osoba (Duke), Phil Nice (Henry) & Christopher Dane (McKean).

Writer: Peter Harness

Director: Paul Wilmshurst

Behind the Scenes

  • Peter Harness originally wrote this story in 2011, so it had to be adapted for a new Doctor.
  • Kill the Moon was the first time since Planet of Fire that the show had filmed in Lanzarote.

Cast Notes

  • Tony Osoba previously appeared in Destiny of the Daleks and Dragonfire.

Best Moment

The argument between the Doctor and Clara at the end of the episode is a really powerful moment between the two actors, punctuated by a lack of score for the most part.

Best Quote

Don’t you ever tell me to mind my language, don’t you ever tell me to take the stablilisers off my bike, and don’t you dare lump me in with the rest of all the little humans you think are so tiny and silly and predictable.  You walk our Earth, Doctor.  You breathe our air.  You make us your friend and that is your Moon too.  And you can damned well help us when we need it.

I was helping.

What, by clearing off?

Yes.

Yeah, well clear off!  Go on!  You can clear off.  Get back in your lonely…your lonely bloody TARDIS and you don’t come back.

Clara.  Clara!

You go away. Okay?  You go a long way away.

Clara Oswald and the Doctor