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Series 9 Review Catchup

Posted by SonicR on November 21, 2015 at 11:05 PM

Thanks to a very busy schedule, I've found myself significantly behind in reviews, for which I apologise. Not having the time to go back and do a full review for all the stories I've missed, I've combined them all into one and given a small overview for each. Full length reviews will recommence this week with Face the Raven.

Under the Lake/Before the Flood

A solid, atmospheric base-under-siege story with a nice time travel twist for the second half. The 'ghosts' were a very well realised monster, and made for the most effective and creepy parts of the episode. The Fisher King, on the other hand, was somewhat of a disappointment, despite the excellent design. Some more screen time devoted to him would have been very welcome.

The secondary cast are likeable enough and surprisingly varied, though the romance parts seemed tacked on and rather unnecessary - particularly between the deaf woman and her interpreter. I also thought that the episode's resolution, while nice and neat, was rather rushed, which was surprising considering this was a two-parter.



The Girl Who Died/The Woman Who Lived

Another solid, if unremarkable two-parter, whose funniest bit is probably the Monty-Python reference early on. Helmet inaccuracies aside, the Vikings in the first half are suitably entertaining, though I do wonder just how they managed to get their hands on some electric eels. The Doctor's realisation about his face is well done (even if his declaration that he 'saves people' is a bit naff), and music throughout the first episode is some of the best Murray Gold has ever composed. Unfortunately, the Mire are another monster confined to the dustheap, being completely ineffective despite appearing quite formidable. The 'immortality patches' are quite convenient too, and once again death is cheapened when Ashildr is revived.

However, this time it payed off, and probably because Ashildr is actually a recurring character this season. The Woman Who Died was at its strongest when focusing on her, telling us titbits about her long life over the centuries, and how she adjusted to it. That being said, some of her negative character developments (resorting to a life of crime) seem rather superficial, as she abandons them quite quickly during the climax of the episode. The whole climax was actual rather pointless too - the Lion Man's invasion lasted all of thirty seconds, and he was conveniently vaporised soon after.



The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion

The first proper Zygon story since the original back in the 70s, Peter Harness redeems himself from last year with the best story of the series so far. The political overtones are undoubtedly well intentioned, but they come across a bit ham-fisted and confusing. UNIT also seems to have had an Idiot Ball superglued to them, as the scene where the soldier leads his troops to their deaths has to be the most stupid things I've seen anyone do for quite some time. His 'mother' couldn't even tell him the date and place of his birth, yet he follows her inside!

Neither of those things detract from the story as a whole, and indeed the second half improves upon the first, with a fantastic speech by the Doctor in the Black Archive - one has to wonder if this will be Peter Capaldi's defining scene as the Time Lord. It was very nice to see Bonnie back down peacefully and assume the identity of the second Osgood, as opposed to going down fighting. I do wish, though, that we had seen some good Zygons, instead of them all being baddies. I'm not too sure about their new abilities either - it's a very worrying that they can all commit suicide (or murder) rather easily.



Sleep No More

The first Doctor Who episode without the title sequence, and the first filmed in the 'Found Footage' format, Sleep No More is a thoroughly engaging episode, with an ending that will probably give children nightmares for some time. The Found Footage style does seem like a gimmick, and I can easily imagine the episode being presented in the usual format, but the style nevertheless works, and works well. The monsters are nice and threatening too, but I don't really like what they're meant to be. Evolved 'sleep dust'? I think a better idea would have been for the dust to overtake the human body while in the Morpheus machines, and possess the victim, rather than conglomerating and becoming a separate entity. Still, it was refreshing to have an episode where the Doctor was basically clueless to what was going on, and left still convinced that events didn't make sense.


Categories: Doctor Who Reviews

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Reply Photon
11:53 PM on November 21, 2015 
I'm in general agreement with you on those scores Sonic.
Reply SM
4:15 PM on November 22, 2015 
Well put, agree with most of these points. How do you think this series compares with previous ones?