Doctor Who // The Bells of Saint John Review

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“There’s something in the wifi”

Doctor Who finally made its comeback tonight with the second half of series 7 that ended last year with Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond leaving the show to follow Rory to live in the past after he gets caught by an angel in scenes that broke not only The Doctor’s heart but mine as well. Since then we did get the latest Christmas special which was, in true Xmas-Who fashion, was childish and a tad dull which properly introduced us to the mysterious Clara Oswald… A character that I hold no affection for because of her arrogant attitude and knowitall behaviour but I won’t make this review about my dislike at the casting of Jenna Louise Coleman and concentrate on the actual episode, The Bells of Saint John.

The episode begins with a rather lacklustre performance from a character that never appears in the episode again and continues the structure of series 7 episodes of having some sort of monologue to open the episode. Thankfully this time it wasn’t about The Doctor himself though and instead introduced the story of TBOSJ. I don’t really get why the choice was made to have a random character introduce the whole episode but I think that is the least I could complain about. I mean this guy was cringey to watch let alone feel taken in by him so anyone who maybe thought they’d give it a chance now it has come back had no hope.

I have a theory, not about an arc or Richard E Grant’s surprising appearance as “The Great Intelligence” carried on from the Christmas special but of how things will go quality wise in this series/the future. The better that Who looks, the worse the stories will become. So much effort has gone into this episode to promote itself to American audiences it becomes a little hard to watch and almost shoves down your throat the idea of YEAH THIS IS BRITAIN, NOW LOOK AT LONDON. Where initially this does look nice sand is shot like a film the excitement just isn’t there and the chemistry between Smith and Coleman seems forced.

The bike was a nice touch and added fun to the plot and where the idea may have originally been there (and I am a big fan of Moffat) it ultimately is pushed too far and where I can believe that in modern day Britain a lot of things are run by the Internet, so much so that this organisation could take down a plane, I find it hard to believe every tourists camera is connected to a wifi network. “There’s something in the wifi” but when I go out and about I rarely find a hotspot and settle for 3G. Do they control this too? And Internet connected camera are fairly new so why does everyone apparently have them and how did they find the bike in every picture so fast.

Minor problems I have with the episode are continuity errors such as the Tardis doors closing on their own while on Embankment, the mentioning of the Tardis being sighted by this organisation but then they fail to do anything about this threat when they have a clear opportunity and seemingly many men to fulfil this job. I also found The Doctor telling Clara to repeat the words Doctor Who (because it is the name of the show) roughly 10 times in a single segment a bit cringe worthy. Also, who the hell was the guy who appears when the lights go off in London and the street where Clara… Lives/works? All turn on just standing under a street light? Didn’t get it.

The funny thing is I did like Clara at the start, this one was different, less obnoxious and more normal, a bit like Rose almost, innocent and sweet, but then she becomes some freak computer genius and it all goes stupid and my hatred rapidly starts doing overtime. I do however wonder how much significance the fact she was reading a book written by an “Amelia Williams” has in the long term though. A nice Easter egg or something more… Probably the first if I’m honest.

I did feel the episode found its legs early on and didn’t hold back stretching them and the episode is pacy, something good a single episode needs and it was adventurous and as far as series openers (if you count it as one) go it was pretty good, especially aesthetically and for the first time perhaps you really believed the special effects, more so than maybe when River dives into the Tardis swimming pool after jumping off the Empire State Building.

I have a feeling this series has a lot more to give and future episodes certainly have potential. With news River will feature in the final episode before the 50th Anniversary I can’t help but feel Clara isn’t all she portrays and actually may well be a villain. As much as I am not a fan of her or her character I do think this would make it all worth while to see someone betray The Doctor and his beliefs. A Darth Vader, Obi Wan kind of story. Smith holds this episode together with another and what has come to be expected, amazing performance as the Eleventh Doctor who never disappoints in his individual and wacky way. The editing annoyed me a little with time in the episode consumed with keyboard wars, minutes eaten away from close ups of various cast members tapping away on computer keys and then digits overlaying on the screen. Looks cool done once… Do this twice… It becomes a little annoying. Let alone three or four times.

Overall, a slightly less than what was expected episode, I wanted epic and as I said, while it looked beautiful and “Americanised” as their fan base grows it lacked that true Doctor Who feel which let people forgive its slightly dodgy effects (at times) which only added to the charm. A middle-ground 6/10 for me with only better to come!

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