Week 4 of the new Doctor Who series is in the books. JA Prentice (JA) and I (JC) continue our longstanding tradition of a whole month and discuss the latest episode, Before the Flood.
Ye be warned: Spoilers ahead.
JC: Weirdest. Intro. Ever.
JA: That was when I knew that this was going to be an interesting episode.
JC: That (episode) was… interesting.
JA: I actually really liked it.
JC: I didn’t dislike it. But it felt like 70 minutes of setup for a not very big resolution.
JA: That is a little bit true. The first part was very slow paced and this part was really fast paced. The introduction may have been one of the single greatest things I’ve ever seen. Also, the current Doctor Who theme actually sounds better played on a guitar.
JC: Yeah I was gonna say I loved the intro. Best part of the episode for me. Would love some more in that style in the future. Doctor Who meets House of Cards
JA: Bonus points if he meets Shakespeare again and gives soliloquies to the camera.
JC: Maybe I should just do that intro in some fanfic episode… but anyway I was a little disappointed that even with the 2 parter it felt a bit rushed. Also, you and everyone on the internet predicted what was in the box
JA: But most importantly me.
JA: The Fisher King looked and sounded awesome, even though he didn’t do much.
JC: Agreed there. And I didn’t actually catch what the doctor said to him that was a lie
JA: He said he’d erased the writing and changed the future. He hadn’t.The Doctor and Fisher King interactions were a tiny bit confusing at times.
JC: I’m also gonna need a more badass name than Fisher King. Because the mental image I get from “fisher king” is… different.
JA: You don’t get more badass than Arthurian mythology.
JC: Celtic mythology begs to differ.
JA: Arthurian mythology is Celtic. Mostly.
JC: But anyway I felt like this episode needed a knockout moment and didn’t really have it. It was good… but just good.
JA: I thought it was a little better than “just good,” but not quite “great,” if that makes any sense. I think that it felt rushed. Which is definitely a pacing flaw, since it was a two-parter. They can’t just blame it on time limits.
JC: Yep. Maybe cut down on the scenes at the base after we see ghost-doctor say that list. I don’t feel like they needed to be there. The guys just kinda ran around, right?
JA: Yeah. Also maybe cut out the Time Lord conversation since it didn’t seem relevant even though it was cool.
JC: Once again, Moffat, we’re accepting job offers and you know where to find us.
JA: I’m wiling to work for minimum wage. Or free. Free would work too.
So on my issues from last week: O’Donnel knowing about the Doctor turned out to be fine and linked her to an interesting backstory.The Fisher King, on the other hand, gives the worst directions ever.I was really hoping for a good reason behind that.
JC: The Fisher King’s directions are pretty much on apple maps levels. I guess we’ll have to go with the “the words were always ingrained in their heads” explanation. Unless we both missed something.
JA: Don’t think so. The Fisher King’s just better at world-conquering than directions. Speaking of which, I’ve decided I want a prequel episode with the Fisher King not being dead yet. His name, look, and voice were far too cool to never be seen again.
JC: Man he did look cool. I’m glad they didn’t wimp out and go for some lame CGI monster… though that may have been a budget thing.
JA: I was fully expecting lame CGI as well, which made him not looking awful really surprising.
JC: Overall the ‘look’ of things this season is great. Loved the ghosts and sets.
JA: The creepy fake Russian town was great. Although I question why a recreation of Communist Russia would have a church. It didn’t seem like a recreation of an old building either.
JC: In Communist Russia, church goes to you.
JA: While I’m sure some people are going to complain about the Hologram thing being cheap, I actually really liked how it was set up in advance with Hologram Clara last week. That set up made the difference between “That came out of nowhere” and “Oh, of course.”
JC: Yeah, it was good writing. AND it wasn’t something I think anyone expected.
JA: I didn’t hear any talk about it, but since Big Finish shut down their forums I’ve been more out-of-the-loop than usual. My biggest nitpick was inconsistency with Time Travel and the ghosts.The Doctor is clear that the past cannot- or should not- be changed and that they’re a part of events. So why does O’Donnell only appear “after” she dies?
JC: Whoa didn’t think of that.
JA: They did the same thing with the Doctor appearing at the end of last week, although that can obviously be explained. Of course, the “out of universe” reason for O’Donnell not appearing was that Whithouse didn’t want to spoil that she’d die. But there should have been some kind of in-universe explanation that made sense.
JC: Also, having her ghost appear before she died would probably be a good thing for the story, since it creates this sense of dread and ties in with the can’t fight fate thing
JA: Especially if they kept the bit where the Doctor tried to get her to stay in the TARDIS, but she’s convinced she can escape her fate… and then she can’t and the audience feels like maybe the Doctor can’t either…
JC: Bam. All fixed. I can’t emphasize enough how accepting we are of job offers, Moffat… seriously.
JA: I wanted to briefly talk about Clara. I found her almost unlikeable… but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I’m fairly certain it was intentional and going to be addressed going forward.
JC: Was she? I can’t tell with Clara anymore.
JA: The two moments I’m thinking of are when she’s on the phone with the Doctor and she tells him to break all the rules of time, not because he shouldn’t die but because she doesn’t want him to die ON HER and take away her TARDIS lifestyle. And when she tells the interpreter guy to go and get the cell phone. She gets called on that one, though.
JC: I don’t think that was intentional. But maybe I just didn’t pick up on it. I do think it’s time to address the elephant in the room though.
JA: All right, then. Elephant time.
JC: Sonic glasses: Yay, or nay?
JA: My only issue is with them being called sonic. There is nothing sonic about them. But I have no issue with them as a gadget for the Doctor.They work a little better than the Sonic Screwdriver in that they actually have screens for him to take readings.That’s better than him waving the screwdriver like a wand, staring at it, and magically knowing things.
JC: I’m on the fence. I’d thought their purpose was going to take things back to when he’s literally just running around with only a screwdriver for a tool, but already we’ve got it upgraded to being able to beam out hologram signals.
JA: Yeah. I can’t really see the point of them. They don’t offend me, but if they’re going to continue having magic gadgets doing all the work, why not just keep the Sonic Screwdriver?
JC: My thoughts exactly. And I do believe the screwdriver was said to have had a psychic interface. I’d like to see a doctor with a sonic as strong as the war doctor’s
JA: You know there’s around 15 years (a rough estimate) of stories that fit that description.
JC: You mean there’s Doctor Who episodes that were made before 2005???
JA: Yeah. During the Dark Ages. Before they even had Internet.
JA: But seriously, in the Classic Series, with few exceptions, the sonic screwdriver is either reasonably powered, used for opening locks and other basic functions, or it’s absent and the Doctor improvises with other tools.
JC: I’d like that brought back. So if the sonic glasses thing does end up being the way they do that, then fine. If not, bring back my screwdriver, damn it.
JA: I’m confident the screwdriver will be back. If nothing else, the toy manufacturers will pressure the BBC until they do. They can’t sell plain sunglasses.
JC: So, final thoughts/score?
JA: Overall, I really liked it. I enjoy time paradox stories and I thought it was a good story. It wasn’t perfect, though. 8/10, maybe? I’m not that great with numbered scores.
JC: I liked it, despite me saying more things I disliked than liked in the conversation. I’m giving it a 7. And for me, my rating scale is roughly this:
10: all time favorite
9: Really good.
8. No major complaints.
Anything below, safe to say I didn’t like it.
JA: Henceforth, I shall use this scale so that we’re using the same basis when we give our scores.