Doctor Who: The Bells of St John – spoilers light

Doctor Who - Series 7B

First Aired BBC1 18:15 30th March 2013

Writer: Stephen Moffat
Director: Colm McCarthy

The Doctor: Matt Smith
Clara Oswald: Jenna-Louise Coleman
Miss Kizlet: Celia Imrie

This is the first episode of the second part of Season 7 (or Season 33). I must say I’m not that happy with short runs, two sets of shows in a year is fine but I’d rather there were larger blocks. I’m also not keen on the decision to have no two-parters. That aside I still look forward to each new episode.

This episode we meet Clara Oswald, again. We first met her in the first episode of the current series, Asylum of the Daleks (first aired BBC1 1 September 2012). Then she was called Oswin Oswald, the sole survivor of a crashed spaceship on Skaro. We then met her in the Christmas Special, The Snowmen (first aired BBC1 25 December 2012). This time called Clara Oswin Oswald, a Governess for two children whose mother had died.

Here she is a nanny for two children whose mother has died and her name is Clara Oswald. As with her second appearance she did not recognise the Doctor.

The general premise of this episode seems an updated version of The Idiots Lantern (first aired BBC1 27 May 2006). In that a creature called The Wire was feeding on the energy of people watching TV. The victims’ faces were taken leaving a living husk. The personality of the person was then on a TV screen. In this the personality is uploaded onto a computer and the body left lifeless, apparently dying within 24 hours according to part of the opening sequence.

Clara calls for the Doctor’s help, literally ringing him on her phone. The Doctor is hidden away in a monastery in 1207AD, a monk alerts him to the fact that The Bells of St John are ringing. The Doctor goes to a shrine, inside is the TARDIS. The Doctor acts as though the TARDIS  phone has never rung, it isn’t even supposed to have a phone where a Police Phone Box has one, however it rang in The Empty Child (first aired BBC1 21 May 2005).

Clara is attacked by a robot that can take the shape of a person, the Doctor calls it active camouflage. The robot’d head spins round to reveal a dish shape, the robot is referred to as a Spoonhead, apparently a derogatory term. This put me in mind of the Winders from The Beat Below (first aired BBC1 10 April 2010).

Indeed I was reminded of several things in this episode. I considered who the ‘client’ that Miss Kizlet referred to could be, along with my son, we came up with:

  • A creature similar to The Wire
  • The Valeyard (Trial of A Timelord 6 September to 6 December 1986)
  • The Master
  • The Great Intelligence
  • The Daleks
  • The Cybermen

All for varied reasons such as they had previously used robots or had access or could have access to a computer capable of storing personalities. The Master had used telephone signals to hypnotise people (The Sound of Drums 23 June 2007). The Master and The Valeyard could have access to The Matrix, a Time Lord computer holding the combined knowledge, potentially holding copies of the personalities of Time Lords (The Deadly Assassin BBC1 30 October to 20 November 1976).

All in all it was an enjoyable episode, though not an instant favourite. Performances were good. The scene with multiple characters speaking for Miss Kizlet was well directed. The plot was fine, despite the similarities to The Idiots Lantern. As ever with the new stories the Sonic Screwdriver was over used.

UNIT appeared at the end of the story, they’ve had previous dealings with the mystery villain of this story. That really doesn’t give anything away… Everyone other than The Wire on my list above has met UNIT in one way or another…

Next episode: The Rings Of Akhaten

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