If I had known last week during the teaser ad that Neil Gaiman was penning this week’s episode then all my worries would have been allayed. I just saw kids in the TARDIS and I was a little worried.
I shouldn’t have.
The Doctor (Matt Smith) takes Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) and her wards Angie (Eve De Leon Allen) and Artie (Kassius Carey Johnson) travel to an amusement world planet, only to find it long closed down but now home to Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, overseen by Mr. Webley (Jason Watkins) and assisted by the diminutive Porridge (the always welcome Warwick Davis!).
There is also a platoon there, a so-called ‘punishment platoon,’ composed of misfits and such, people who apparently didn’t make it in the regular platoons.
And they are all trapped as re-imagined Cybermen, resurrected not by cybermats, but by cybermites are posing a threat to the entire planet.
And the Doctor’s mind.
I love how Gaiman writes the Doctor, he really has this incarnation of the character down, and creating a duel in the Doctor’s own head between himself and his cyber-possessed form is awesome, especially in regards to interacting with Clara. I know he’s a busy guy, but I would love to see him write more episodes (having previously written the delightful Doctor’s Wife).
The humor in this episode actually helps to balance the threat of these upgraded Cybermen (which prove to be the most frightening version of these creations, though I’m not a fan of the newly rounded faces also it looks like Iron Man has had a bit of an influence on the new outfit, just saying). The Gollum-esque behavior Matt gets to indulge in as he battles for the Doctor’s mind is a lot of fun, and are completely different characters.
Clara gets to wander around, placed in charge of the platoon as they get ready to battle the Cybermen, and it lets Jenna-Louise shine, delivering quips, inspiration, and of course, looking amazing. I like when she gets a chance to do things, and we see her develop more as a character as opposed to just another companion with a strange season-unifying secret.
Gaiman has a knack for quirky, wonderful dialogue and crackling situations, and they all come to play in this episode. I love all the stuff inside the Doctor’s head, the visual division of the screen, Gallifreyan images in warm tones behind The Doctor, silver-white impulses behind Mr. Clever as he chooses to be called.
The kids? How do the kids work out? The plot actually makes them partially essential and partially sidelined, and both of these young actors are likable, so it seems my fears were unfounded in this episode.
There is a lot to like about this ep, Clara, chess, playing in anti-gravity, Warwick Davis, the references to The Doctor removing himself from history, Matt getting to play a little evil, and a script by Neil Gaiman.
It almost makes me forget that next week, they’re going to take away some of the Doctor’s power. You see, they’re threatening to reveal his name, I mean the episode’s name is The Name of The Doctor. The trailer looks great, as we get to see some familiar faces again, but after almost 50 years (I’ve only been watching since the 80s) I have to say, I could care less what his name is. I don’t want to know.
So I’m hoping Moffat won’t reveal it, and is actually going to give us a bang-up finale that will keep us sated until the 50th Anniversary ep.
What did you think of this week’s ep?
Doctor Who airs Saturday nights on Space!