Run For Your WiFi
Doctor Who - The Bells Of St. John
Airdate: 30th March 2013. UK. BBC1
Warning: Some spoilers here, methinks
And here we are again... a mid season start up, well, continuation of the new series of Doctor Who which is, I believe, the only modern incarnation of the show to have a season split by a Christmas special (reviewed by me previously here). Once again, Moffat’s set up for a new companion is off to a flying start... well partial set up, really, being as he kind of already set the companion up twice already.
Show get s a great little “plead for help” pre-credits sequence with a montage depicting the dangers of wi-fi signal in modern London and, after the new credits sequence which started up the last episode, we get straight into the silly but brilliant pun of the title, which leads one to expect the TARDIS cloister bell but which, actually, is the externally accessible telephone on the police box... ringing in a call across the centuries from the very person that The Doctor has been searching for throughout time and space since the Christmas special - Clara “Oswald” Oswin... who doesn’t know him at all, by the way because... well, because she’s already died twice, right? Why would she?
So anyway, couple of details so far after we’re ten or fifteen minutes in which may be two things which come back to bite everyone in the backside (in a good way) later in the show or, maybe possibly, just one thing to haunt us with the other being just... a nice detail.
Detail number one, which may or may not be important, is the fact that the childhood book that Clara has leant the child she is minding is written by Amelia Williams. Well then... that’d be by Amy Pond writing the old book from the time in which she got stranded and finally taken on the surname of her husband Rory Williams then. It may or may not give credence to @sdunlop’s theory that the new companion is in some way related to the Ponds. Personally, I suspect it’s just a nice little detail to give the series some continuity but... well with Moffat you never know, do you?
Detail number two which obviously is something which will need to come back and be answered is... who the hell gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number so she was able to call him for help from the 21st century while he was having a rest in the 13th century. Now the two main contenders on this are either, I would think, River Song or, possibly, Rose Tyler. However, I suspect Jackie Tyler might also be an option but... well, I’m not going to play these guessing games anymore... we shall see when we shall see.
Okay so... we get to meet the spoonheads in this one and... they’re kinda okay as new monsters go. I’m a bit alarmed that they can double for practically anybody because, well... that means the previous two Clara’s could have been either a spoonhead (Victorian times) or a download (Dalek)... so it’s kinda boring if these threats have been written in to provide the main protagonists with a convenient get out later on down the line... and, yes, I’m thinking very specifically about the fake Doctor’s death at the start/end of the last series. That was all a bit of a cheat if you ask me.
Now then, you may find some similarities, again, with the opening set up to the cyberman/dalek crossover from the Tennant days... and, truth be told, you’d be right. However, the premise just about veers off into its own thing at just the right time to make this a fairly enjoyable, perhaps even touching adventure in which to let The Doctor and the new incarnation of his companion meet properly. Although I have to say... it does look like Clara Oswald has been programmed with key phrases that come out in each version of her The Doctor meets.
Nice enough story though. The Doctor drives his bike up the side of The Shard in much the way a car is driven up the side of a large building in the movie version of Daywatch and that makes for a neatish little piece of frippery we’ve not seen in the show before. The performances were all fine too and we even had the return of Richard E. Grant as the modern day version of The Great Intelligence... turning up a fair few episodes earlier than I thought actually but it all serves as a reminder that he’s coming back I suspect... hopefully with the Yeti not far behind him, one would hope (well, this one would hope so anyway).
Nice bit of scoring, too, with some fast action cue’s building on a variation of the Eleventh Doctor sub theme... hopefully some of those will make it on to the album when Silva Screen get around to releasing it.
All in all then... a fun, if lightweight, adventure which is probably the third best of the season so far (lagging slightly behind the previous two Oswin episodes is my estimation). Should be a crowd/fan pleaser and Moffat even gets a chance to make fun of Twitter... but in such a way that he uses it to push a story point. So clever him and lets hope the series continues in this vein after what I saw as a mostly disastrous first half. The trailer for next week's one looks like a bit of tosh but, you know, trailers are not always good advertisements for the main product. Again... we shall see what she will see.
So all that’s left for me to do now is to put my feet up and start speculating in the way that Moffat likes us to... so he can see if he can outwit us before revealing his real end game. So maybe my speculation will go something like this (and I quote my own twitter feed from this morning here)...
“Anyone else here thing Oswald Oswin is going to be the Doctor's 12th incarnation? Been thinking about it... when you put her initials...”
“...together you get the sign for "infinity". They need to get the old 12 lives rule out of the way now. What better way than to merge...”
“... with a human host for your next generation and go on forever... to oo or ∞ (infinity) and beyond! Or am I just being fanciful?”
I think the real question here is, though, why do I care? Que sera sera.