In the Forest of the Night

Doctor_Who__exclusive_In_the_Forest_of_the_Night_poster_revealedWhat annoyed me, he said, getting straight to the point, is the sub-Gaia thing going on.  The earth as living organism, sending out an oxygen cushion to stave off a solar flare.   The whole thing is preposterous.  Large fire + increased oxygen = KABOOM! Basic science.

But then there’s “Kill the Moon” where the moon is a large living thing… why all these colossal, global events that every fails to notice?  And if this has happened before, as in Tunguska, according to the Doctor, why no records of global-forestation? It just doesn’t hang together at all.  And the glowing light things? No.

And that ending, when previously dead girl shows up safe, well and covered in shrubbery? Gag me! Fingers down the throat saccharine.   Just horrible.

But.

Some of it was pretty good. If we use a balance, ‘good’ just tips the balance.  Just.

Things I particularly like was the school trip coming out of the Natural History Museum to find out that ‘Nature’ does indeed have a history; a nice moment.

Danny Pink was, once again, savagely underused.  His solving a problem in a nice, low key and practical way – such a nice change from the very silly acrobatics in the otherwise wonderful “The Caretaker” – was a good juxtaposition with the Doctors usual pyrotechnics. Intimating why he doesn’t want big adventures and why there is enough to keep him occupied on Earth was a lovely moment, too.  I like Danny a lot.  I still want him to *do* more and *be* more in the series, though.

Clara’s reaction to Danny’s child friendly outlook was great, too

The Doctor seems to be opening up a little and even though curmudgeonly and abrasive, he’s becoming like that slightly grumpy uncle who we all love, really. His interaction with the children, and particularly getting them to save the world as homework, was an absolute joy.

But as a piece of TV is really didn’t hang together in any wholly satisfying way.  So many things were thrown into the mix that became jumbled, confused.  That it reminded me too much of “The Happening” (the ironically title M. Night Shyamalan movie in which for 90 minutes, nothing happens and the trees still manage to out act Mark Walhberg) was not a good thing, either.

If anything, this episode is – or may be – an indication of things to come.  Danny and Clara’s relationship crystallises and rather than keep up the secret, there is an open display of affection to the delight of the children.  This is essentially the equivalent of saying ‘this’ll be the best Christmas Walford’s ever had’.  It will not end well.  This is a really difficult episode to write about.  It’s just sort of there.  It’s not inherently bad, despite the shonky science.  It’s not inherently good despite the sterling performances all round – even the kids were well performed and believable. It’s just…

okay but nothing to write home about.

Interesting that, again, we don’t have an actual monster.  We had a distinct lack of alien conquerors in this season – except Flatline – and where there has been a ‘monster’, it’s either pathetic (as in the Mummy and the Half-faced Man in Deep Breath), not a threat at all, in any real sense (Kill The moon), largely ignored (the Dalek), forced into being bad (The thing from the bank and to a lesser extent, the Mummy again) or non-existent (Listen).  Called me old-fashioned, but I really want a proper villain.

I’m beginning to get annoyed with the fact that the best bits of Doctor Who are NOT the stories.  Character is all well and good, but this season has mostly been good stories and crap characters or crap stories and good characters.  Or Kill the Moon which was just crap.

And…. it’s only just occurred to me that Clara is always called “Miss” all the time…

Which makes next week finale (pt1) an interesting prospect given that Clara was charging about being horrible in the trailers. Is ‘Missy’ Future Clara?

I’m hoping that there’s going to be a massive, clever reveal – similar to the ‘Matt Smith goes back through his timeline’ one at the end of “The Big Bang” – that makes sense of this season.  Hopeful, but not convinced it’ll happen.

 

Addendum

1) I’ve been discussing this episode with some friends and there has been much talk of whether ‘solar flares’ equates to ‘fire’ and what that means in terms of the story.  Well, flares and fire are vastly different, however the net effect would be the same. Oxygen doesn’t burn, per se, but it acts in a way that causes other materials to burn. The problem is that the flares would still cause burning and ignition on a global scale. The big problem here is that for the concentration of oxygen to be high enough for that to happen, we’d all be dead from oxygen poisoning, so it the trees would have achieved nothing.

2) When Doctor Who was first commission, part of it’s remit was that it be educational.  Well, this has been educational, one step removed. Because of the shoddiness of the basic science in this episode, me and several other people have had to look up oxygen saturation, photosynthesis and solar flares.  So, in a way . . .

 

 

 

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