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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Doctor Who "The Bells of St. John" Review

Alrighty folks, this is no post-April Fool's joke. Better late than never, so here's a dynamite review for one of the best shows on television. And no, I'm not talking about "The Neighbors".

ABC The Neighbors
No...not you....never you.

Doctor Who: The Bells of St. John

Doctor Who

Before we jump into the first new Doctor Who episode in three months (guh...), I have to mention the unbelievably exciting news that David Tennant and Billie Piper will reprise their roles as the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler for the 50th Anniversary Special! 

Tenth and Eleventh Doctors
Seriously, try not to squeal.
Whether or not Tennant will actually play the Doctor or the meta-crisis, hand-grown, one-hearted, overly-hyphenated version remains to be seen. Either way, I'm more pumped for the big 5-0 than ever before!. Allons-y!

Back to the present (if you believe time is linear) and Saturday's episode "The Bells of St John." I thought it was a fabulous re-introduction to the series and a great third "first" appearance by Jenna-Louise Coleman. The two have such a great dynamic and play off of each other really well. It's fun to see the Doctor so intrigued by Clara, only to have the new companion put him off his stride with a quick remark.

The episode was really interesting. Once the monk ran to get the Doctor, I knew immediately that "The Bells of St. John" had to be the ringing of the TARDIS phone (which, technically, isn't a real phone). That's something we haven't seen since the Ninth Doctor episode "The Empty Child".

Get it??
And so we come to the first mystery of the the second half of Series 7. Just who is the woman in the shop who told Clara to call the TARDIS number? River Song? Sally Sparrow? Rose Tyler (and thus setting up the 50th)? Hopefully that wasn't just a one-off comment....and knowing Steven Moffat, it probably wasn't.

When Clara is attacked by one of the newly-minted monsters, the Spoonheads, it takes the form of a character from Clara's favorite childhood book....which is written by none other than Amelia Williams.

Why...why did you have to leave me?
The Doctor comes to the rescue and, together, the two embark to discover exactly what is taking people's souls into the WiFi. I really enjoyed how Miss Kizlet hacked into and used the people of London to interact with the Doctor. It gave the episode a sense that they were facing a real villain who had them playing right into her hands. Of course, we learn later that Miss Kizlet is being controlled by none other than our old friend, The Great Intelligence, who has ditched the snowglobe (so 1800's) and taken on the form of Dr. Simeon.

The Bells of St. John
There were some other really cool bits thrown in for the fans as well. Making the WiFi password "rycbar123", Clara tapping into her inner geek by saying "Oswald for the win...Oswin!" and adding more layers to Clara's secret. Where does the leaf in her book come from and why is it "page one?" Speaking of "101 Places to See"...did anyone notice that two ages are missing from the book?

Doctor Who
Must have been during her goth phase...
Ages 16 and 23 are somehow left unwritten. Could these be the ages of Clara and Oswin in "The Snowmen" and "Asylum of the Daleks" respectively? Does it mean that this Clara, the "woman twice dead", is the same person as the others? We'll just have to wait and see.

Jenna-Louise Coleman
"I wonder just how long I have to wait to say 'April Fools'?"

Overall the episode was really exciting. Between great actions scenes on the plane and on the motorbike (especially when the Doctor-Spoonhead races up the Shard), and classic Doctor Who tropes ("bigger on the inside", donning of a new costume, asking of "The Question") there was a lot to enjoy about the return of the Time Lord. The creepiness of the Spoonheads turning their heads around, the arch-villainy of the Great Intelligence, and the furthering of the mystery of exactly who Clara is, made the Bells of St. John very intriguing.

Now run you clever boy (and girl)...and tune in next week!

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