Anticipating Bells, Rings, War and Hide
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull looks ahead to the next four episodes.
“Right then Clara Oswald, time to find out who you are!”
Our intrepid time traveller returns in his golden anniversary year with a feisty new companion, a menagerie of old and new enemies and his renovated TARDIS. Promotional material has given us an enticing look at what to come and I have decided to use this to build a picture of the upcoming four episodes.
The Doctor played by Matt Smith.
We left our heroic Time Lord in The Snowmen as one beginning a quest; a journey across time to discover whom the mysterious Clara Oswin Oswald is, and how she is displaced in so many time periods. Presumably he will eventually find out the answer to this but until then he is like his audience, hungry for answers. However, as much as Steven Moffat likes his story-arcs he understands that since we are fast approaching November, he has to look at the Doctor more than Clara. This may not be the case and he might reserve the Time Lord’s spotlight for the Fiftieth Anniversary special itself but I’d prefer a little bit more concentration on him, especially since the first half of the series was devoted to the Ponds’.
One of the more interesting highlights of that above trailer is the final scene of the Doctor. Stumbling through desolate woodland he cries out, “I am the Doctor, and I am afraid”. Matt Smith’s acting here really is terrific, showing just how frightened the Doctor can be. The big question is, what is he scared of and where is he? If you do your research and browse online speculation some conjecture that this is in fact the, or one of, the Fields of Trenzalore. To those unfamiliar with it, the Fields were first mentioned in the Series Six finale, The Wedding of River Song. There, bodiless Dorium Maldovar gave a memorable speech:
“On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the Eleventh, when no living creature may speak falsely or fail to give answer, a question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered”
A theory I have is that the fall of the Eleventh is, the end of the eleventh month: November. The Fiftieth falls on the 23rd, that’s roughly near the end so I believe that the Eleventh Doctor won’t regenerate here as many think, but maybe the Fields are a battlefield for the golden anniversary special?
Clara, played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.
It would be impossible to write a section on Clara without of course mentioning the story-arc that surrounds her. I quite frankly am not too bothered about whom she really is. I will be marvelled when we do discover her true identity but currently I am rather nonchalant. So I am going to try and steer clear of her mystique and concentrate on the character.
Steven Moffat’s leading ladies, to me, have always been rather sexist, insubstantial and thinly drawn caricatures. He seems incapable of creating a realistic woman without giving her cheesy and often flirtatious lines. I hoped Clara would be different but the girl we saw in Asylum of the Daleks was a disembodied voice that spewed chat-up. I wasn’t expecting – nor was anyone else – her in the Series Seven opener and so I couldn’t have anticipated her. The Snowmen’s Clara was even worse, with Jenna-Louise Coleman playing a trifling Victorian governess. Clips have given us a flavour of Jenna in the upcoming episodes and so far I have been pleased with what I have seen. Hopefully she will be her own character, not drawing too much from other Moffat womenfolk.
The Villains and Monsters
The Wi-Fi and the Spoonheads.
The youth of today – me including – are addicted to the Internet, to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Steven Moffat has taken this common dependency and turned it against us, just like he did with stone statues, darkness and memories. If he succeeds he could have fans switching off their laptops for good. Unfortunately if he doesn’t he will just make a laughable monster, and this is where the Spoonheads come in. Their design and name have so far been unappealing to me and I don’t anticipate them particularly but I’m being judgemental, so I shall reserve my opinion for when I see them in action.
In a article published by the Daily Mail earlier this month, they claimed that the robotic ‘mummies’ from the Fourth Doctor story, Pyramids of Mars would be returning in a new form. Everything the Daily Mail spouts about Doctor Who must always be taken with a handful of salt. Some rumours that have originated from them have in fact been true but until the episode actually airs or we get official confirmation beforehand, we must hold our breath. From the trailer we know that these monsters will appear in Neil Cross’ first contribution to the show, The Rings of Akhaten, apparently on an alien planet. Upon closer inspection they resemble a Draconian from the Third Doctor adventure, Frontier in Space but who exactly are they?
The Ice Warriors.
Last seen in The Monster of Peladon these native Martians have become a fan favourite to return and writer Mark Gatiss has responded to these pleas by including the creatures in his story, Cold War. I have a particular gusto for these ancient creations and when it was announced they were returning, I was delighted. I was simply overjoyed when I discovered that the BBC has just about stuck to the original design. The glimpse we saw of them in the trailer, stomping down a claustrophobic submarine corridor shows that they really have stuck to their roots. The Ice Warriors’ return is the reason why I (and many others) voted for Cold War as the most anticipated episode in a recent Doctor Who TV poll.
Neil Cross’ second episode in Series Seven is Hide, an old-fashioned ghost story with a supernatural twist. It looks truly terrifying and being a fan of Luther I have every ounce of faith in Cross to deliver. The ‘phantom’ of the episode appears to be a bit clichéd but still scary, and I’m very curious as to how they kill or maim. Dougray Scott’s character, a certain professor has been seen working a strange device. Could this perhaps be a ghost-summoning gadget, a machine that creates the creatures or what destroys them?
The Bells of Saint John, written by Steven Moffat.
Aliens in the wi-fi; an aeroplane out of control; a new companion; Celia Imrie; monsters with spoons for heads.
The BBC has invested millions into Doctor Who this year and the second opener for the series boasts the wealth the show now holds. Steven Moffat helms this Earth-based drama that reintroduces Clara to audiences once more. Said to be an “urban thriller” it has the Doctor piloting a plane (rather unsuccessfully) across the London skyline, commandeering a rather large motorbike and busking with his fez. Celia Imrie has been drafted in as Miss Kizlet, one of the main antagonists and this rather expensive coup is just the final layer in a visually rich and costly relaunch.
The Rings of Akhaten, written by Neil Cross.
An extremely foreign world; a ‘mummy’; an alien pyramid; a sacrifice; a Queen of Years.
First timer Neil Cross delivers his first exotic episode, whisking the Doctor and Clara off to the rings circling the planet Akhaten. The CGI looks fantastic and from Coleman and Smith’s comments, there appears to be an abundance of prosthetics something past episodes has been lacking. Exciting isn’t a strong enough to describe how much I anticipate The Rings of Akhaten.
Cold War, written by Mark Gatiss.
An Ice Warrior; a Russian submarine; hoards of seamen; 1983; Antarctica.
As mentioned earlier, I voted for Cold War as the most anticipated episode largely down to the return of the wicked Ice Warriors. Mark Gatiss has never been a favourite writer of mine and his more recent episodes (Victory of the Daleks and Night Terrors) have far from appealed to me. Cold War looks to be his most adventurous story since The Unquiet Dead and I believe, if it is pulled off successfully and the characterization of the Ice Warriors is retained, it could be the best story of his ever.
Hide, written by Neil Cross.
Unearthly phantoms; a rural manor house; a psychic; an ghost-hunting professor; the Witch of the Well.
Neil Cross’ second story looks to be the better of the two; a The Woman In Black-esque ghostly thriller. Thrills and chills are promised, with My Week With Marilyn’s Dougray Scott and Call the Midwife lead Jessica Raine taking centre stage. The question that fans will all be asking is who or what is the ‘ghost’?
With a hefty allowance, courtesy of the BBC, Doctor Who is rising in terms of scale and popularity. Each series sets the higher bar and attracts such famous guest stars, the show really is a part of British culture.
The first four episodes of Series Seven, Part Two looks to be truly fantastic, a rollercoaster of fun for the Doctor and his newish assistant Clara. Battling Ice Warriors, ghosts and creatures in the wi-fi, the next four weeks are going to be a hell of a ride.