doctor-who-bells-of-st-john

Doctor Who Re-Review: S07E07 — The Bells of Saint John

<a href="http://eoghann.com/2014/06/doctor-re-review-s07e07-bells-saint-john/doctor-who-bells-of-st-john" rel="attachment wp-att-119002">doctor who bells of st john 600x337 Doctor Who Re Review: S07E07   The Bells of Saint John When reviewing The Bells of Saint John for the first time my take­away was that this was a solid but unex­cep­tional episode that used a lot of familiar elements.

After a re-watch I think that's still broadly true. It's certainly not the strongest episode of the season and the Spoon­heads with their revolving head gimmick are clearly very similar to The Winders in The Beast Below, only not quite as effective.

There's not a lot of depth to the story either. It's very much a rein­tro­duc­tion to The Doctor and what he does. Which obvi­ously isn't going to be incred­ibly appealing to long time fans. But I think we some­times forget that the show is not being produced and broad­cast exclu­sively for us. That in fact the target audi­ence skews towards the children/family mixture and that it needs to stay very accessible.

doctor spoon 600x337 Doctor Who Re Review: S07E07   The Bells of Saint JohnIf you accept that that was the inten­tion here with this episode: re-introduce Matt Smith's 11th Doctor; intro­duce Clara as regular companion; set up the season. Then you could call this successful in that it achieved those goals. Still doesn't make it a favorite episode though and I don't think it's the best example of what it was trying to do. On the other hand it was better than Part­ners In Crime with which it shares a lot of common elements.

I said it was a stand alone episode and you certainly don't need to have every seen an episode of Doctor Who for it to work, but for those of us who have there were subtle refer­ences. I was a little slow on the uptake about the name of the episode for example (refer­encing the ringing phone on the TARDIS with it's St. John's Ambu­lance logo). Then we have the Great Intel­li­gence putting in an end of episode appear­ance and of course there is the ongoing mystery of Clara.

But when looking at the episode as a whole, the Macbeth line: It is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signi­fying nothing. Is a little more apt than it should be.

It's fun. It's fast moving. It's witty in places. And there are certainly some big action moments like the aircraft and the motor­bike ride up The Shard. But because the pace really never slows down, there is no time to reflect. And because there's no time to reflect there's no time to actu­ally wring the emotional punch from scenes that have that poten­tial. Which is a shame because there are a couple of scenes here (the second time Clara gets uploaded, and right at the end with Miss Kizlet) which deserve further exploration.

doctor who the bells of saint john ratings 600x336 Doctor Who Re Review: S07E07   The Bells of Saint JohnThe same can be said for a number of the ideas that this show throws out. The para­noia factor of an omni-present wifi and camera network. Hacking people and tweaking their memo­ries and person­al­i­ties. People lost in cyber­space. This are all good concepts that could be explored further. But not here.

Steven Moffat has a habit of doing that. Just throwing out ideas and not fully exploring them. It is one of the more frus­trating elements of his writing style. Admit­tedly, in some cases, Doctor Who just isn't the place or format to explore them, but still.

So perhaps my less than ringing endorse­ment of The Bells of Saint John comes down more to missed oppor­tu­ni­ties than anything actu­ally wrong with what I was watching. Because, in truth while I was watching it I enjoyed it just fine. The nit picks and if onlys didn't really arrive until afterwards.

Overly opinionated owner and author of eoghann.com. You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?

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