The Latest of my reviews of the Peter Capaldi Era of Doctor Who
Summary: Suddenly the Earth is covered by a Forest, is it an invasion, a mad environmentalist’s experiment gone wild or something else?
Plot: A little girl knocks at the TARDIS door the Doctor discovers she is part of Danny Pink’s class who says she was sent there when the Doctor. Looking outside he finds that although landing next to Nelson’s Column he is surrounded by a forest, meanwhile Clara & Danny are on a sleep over field trip to the natural museum with a “gifted” class and they discover the forest as well. Being informed by the Doctor that Maebh is missing they make their way to the TARDIS where the Doctor determines both that this is a world wide phenomenon and that Maebh somehow perceives what is going on and what does it have to do with an impending solar storm? Can they solve the mystery of Maebh, the new forest, survive the solar storm and most important get the kids home before they set up camp in the TARDIS permanently?
Writing: Frank Cottrell-Boyce the famous Marxist filmwriter takes his first crack at Doctor Who and manages an interesting plot with several elements that work such Danny’s aloofness to the threat, the interplay between Clara & Danny and the kids who were underutilized. These however are overshadowed by several holes that you can drive a truck through (more on that later). While I found it worked better with repeated watching it was one of the weakest stories of the season, I think would have been better if written as a two parter expanding both the roles of the kids and perhaps some interaction with the authorities.
Acting: Capaldi’s interaction with the kids makes a good performance even better, Sam Anderson has his best episode bar none and the kids all do their job well. They really should be on screen more.
Memorable Moments: Do you have an appointment, don’t touch anything,
Doctor Who Flashbacks: Solar Flares (4th Doctor) the Bank of Karabraxos (this season)
Oddities: If the trees save the planet from the solar flairs that suggest that in the time of the Solar flairs (see 4th doctor season 1) It’s quite likely that as mankind fled earth remained habitable but they simply didn’t realize it.
Pet Peeves: OK there are a boatload:
1. If the trees were wedging the door of the Museum shut how did Maebh get out to find the Doctor?
2. Maebh says she had a voice from Ms. Oswald to find the doctor but at the time she gets the “thought” claris unaware of the threat.
3. You are going to create “carefully controlled fires” in a planet covered with forests? People are stupid but they aren’t THAT stupid
4. I understand they need to see there are no rings on the tree but if a branch can break they can cut down the trees as needed (see 3)
5. At one point Clara is convinced the world is doomed and decides it’s better for all the kids to die rather than escape without their parents sending the Doctor to leave on his own. That not only a violation of basic morality & the maternal instinct (granted he is not yet a mother at this point) but it’s the exact opposite of Clara in Day of the Doctor worried about all hose kids that are going to burn.
6. There is absolutely no reason why Maebh’s sister would suddenly come back there is nothing in the plot to suggest that is connected with the trees.
And finally the single most unbelievable business in the whole episode.
Is anyone ANYONE going to tell me that a batch of kids, suddenly finding themselves in the TARDIS are:
#1 Not going to touch anything after the Doctor leaves
#2 Not going to start wandering through the TARDIS
particularly after the Doctor and Clara leave it?
I know Science Fiction requires a level of “willing suspension of disbelief” but a batch of school kids doing that? I’m sorry that’s beyond my capacity to do it.
Maebh: MAEBH: I need the Doctor. Are you the Doctor?
The Doctor: Yes. Do you have an appointment? You need an appointment to see the Doctor.
Clara: You are enjoying this just a little bit too much. Come on. Are you not even a little bit curious about how? Who? Why? When?
Danny: I am curious. I am bewildered. I am, in fact, enchanted. But I’m not the priority. The kids are.
Clara: You see, now, that attitude is…actually very attractive.
The Doctor: Haven’t any of you been struck by the fact that it’s, look, it’s bigger on the inside?
Ruby: There wasn’t a forest. Then there was a forest. Nothing surprises us any more.
Clara: Tell them, Mister Pink, what an educational opportunity
Danny: You, you go. This. This is enough for me.
Clara: What? Coronal ejections, geomagnetic storms. How often do you get a playlist like that?
Danny: I was a soldier. I put myself at risk. I didn’t try too hard to survive, but somehow, here I am. And now I can see what I nearly lost. And it’s enough. I don’t want to see more things. I want to see the things in front of me more clearly. There are wonders here, Clara Oswald. Bradley saying please, that’s a wonder. One person is more amazing, harder to understand, but more amazing than universes.
Final Verdict: Two and a Half Stars. I really wanted to get it to three based on the performances but the more I thought about the episode the less I liked it.
Ranking of Season: 10th of 10. When the only thing longer than the Pet Peeve’s section is the episode list section you know you’re in trouble.