THIS week’s Doctor Who episode made me think how continually good this series has been so far, I have come away from almost every episode saying that I enjoyed it. Since writing the review for the first episode of this series, I have been convinced by Capaldi’s turn as The Doctor and that he is quickly turning into one of my favourites.
The latest episode In the Forest of the Night see The Doctor out in the open environs in a fun adventure for the family where the planet is suddenly covered in a forest. The Doctor is teamed up with not only Clara, but also a group of school children along with Mr Pink. This continued use of young actors has certainly seen to change the dynamic of Doctor Who this series. Together, they try to understand what is going on and find a way to survive.
After the last few episodes of an established monster, and the continued ‘who the hell is Missy?’ storyline, this episode takes a rather different turn as there’s no real peril. Of course, there is the impending solar flare and subsequent wipe out of the planet, but as Clara says that they have been to the future and the world is there, so surely this will get resolved – it struck more with me that there really wasn’t ever any doubt portrayed. I find myself thinking that the earlier episode involving the moon/alien (Kill The Moon) actually gave more of an edge of seat momentum than this somewhat lame attempt. This was not the only plot hole in this episode either.
However, this episode is much more fantastical in origins than the previous and still has a lot going for it. Firstly, as mentioned the young cast here perform very well – particularly with the character of Maebh who is undergoing both emotional trauma and a visit from some light flies which is portrayed brilliantly by Abigail Eames. There are also some great cinematography scenes as the party run around the forest that certainly adds a sense of urgency and excitement to the episode. The CG animals however, do not. These additions are noticeably CG and therefore a blip on the otherwise strong effects work from this series.
The Doctor continued to show his rather disdainful attitude towards human-kind and in particular children, but it just adds to the ‘grumpy uncle’ facade he puts up around them. Peter Capaldi is still performing extremely well and is a joy to behold on screen in this role. The Clara and Danny relationship continues with Danny’s explanation that he doesn’t want to see new and wondrous things as he saw enough of that in the army, but he wants to see what his has in front of him (Clara). Clara continues to have a more dominant role in the episodes, and is seen sharing the role of lead more and more with Capaldi as she ‘becomes like the Doctor’.
I realise that this review has turned into a somewhat negative one, as I said at the beginning I did enjoy this episode and the character development is still going strong, but it does have its flaws and they are more easily noticeable after the excellent run of episodes we have been obliged with. Yet, if you are able to come to terms with the insane premise of the episode (and if you are a regular watcher then you probably are) then you will find yourself taken away by the fantasy driven nonsense portrayed, the mostly-excellent cinematography and character depth.
With only two episodes remaining; I am excited to see where the series will end up and what questions will be answered and new raised, as well as if the final episodes will live up to the ‘big ending’ that has been hinted. Will Clara be making an exit?
Stay tuned to Surprisingly Competent Media, as TV Editor, Jozef Raczka takes on the final two episodes.