British television is odd. Programmers and data managers for Amazon Instant Video and Netflix must certainly agree: just try to find new episodes for subscription using, say, the streaming apps on a Blu-Ray player you got for your birthday.
Yet Doctor Who in slightly-larger-screen HD is a welcome sight, and not just because of the surface details.
The series is still bigger on the inside, especially given its power to bury such phrases so deeply in our brains that they’re already cliché.
As I write this, Series 7(?)’s latter half of eight episodes is itself halfway through. Fans have seen the religious-sounding-but-not-religious The Bells of Saint John’s, the nonreligious-sounding-yet-religious The Rings of Akhaten, the submarine-tension thriller Cold War, and the haunted-house-movie-homage-with-a-twist-themed Hide.
Whovians, what have you thought so far? Naturally I’ll start:
- The Bells of Saint John’s: Fantastic opener, yet with familiar themes. Somehow Moffat’s episodes manage to “tribute” precedents, without looking like lazy ripoffs. Villains echo the rotating-head critters from series 5’s The Beast Below, and someone practically repeats “Are you my mummy?”
- The Rings of Akhaten: this was reviewed as The Religious One, yet at least some Doctor Who staff are either getting braver or less so in their dealings with religion. Its pacing was uneven, greenscreen use a bit obvious, and themes left unexplored. Sometimes I prefer a theme strongly yet subtly emphasized even if it’s one I’d end up disagreeing with (e.g. religion is bad, as harped on in several overzealous Star Trek original-series episodes). And sometimes I would rather not deal with propaganda.
- Cold War: great stuff. Loved the monster, loved the Who twist on the submarine-tension theme, loved the resolution.
- Hide: some issues, but overall great. That atmosphere reached out and grabbed you, though the subtle eucatastrophic ending was a bit similar to that of Cold War. Christians skittish about horror/occult themes can also enjoy this episode without putting up with scenes of séances or demonic spirits making walls bleed.
A few other observations:
- The Clara-arc isn’t advanced enough to know much or make a judgment. That doesn’t stop folks from trying.
- That new new new new new new mix/opening sequence of the Doctor Who theme tune is, of course, still amazing.
- Our next episode, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, should be a highlight. But they keep misspelling one word.