First Aired BBC1 19:00 11th May 2013
This review includes spoilers.
Neil Gaiman’s second episode for Doctor Who, the first being The Doctor’s Wife (first aired BBC1 14 May 2011). That story was very well received by many people and had more of a feel of the original series than any other episode since the new run started. Idris, portrayed by Suranne Jones, was marvelous.
Sadly I don’t think this story succeeds as much as The Doctor’s Wife. The general premise was fine and the main plot was also good. I’m not sure where this episode lost its way. I do understand however that there are several scenes that were not included. This could be what went wrong.
I am not saying I didn’t like the episode. It just wasn’t as good as I expected.
Hedgewick’s World of Wonders, the location of this episode, a disused entertainment planet. Shut down under imperial instruction, a group of Imperial Marines are on site. Now there is a smaller attraction on the planet Webley’s World of Wonders, a waxwork collection with a Chess-playing Cyberman.
The children Clara is Nanny for have come along, to keep them quite for discovering her secret time travelling antics last episode. The scenes with the children are weak, not sure if it is their acting or the Director at fault. Usually Doctor Who casting get great child actors, so I’m leaning towards the Direction letting them down.
Cybermites upgrade hapless victims, Cybermites are acceptable. As is the new look for the Cybermen, after all the look changed almost every time we saw them in the original series. Moving forwards is fine. Moving forwards at super speed… awful. I didn’t like the idea let alone the special effect.
Hidden below the theme park is a repair-shop for Cybermen damaged during the war with Humans. Quite a number of them. This episode will further muddy the water regarding ‘Cybermen and Borg are too similar’. They weren’t, not to begin with. Upgrades were slow, they were something that took time to design and time to be done to each Cyberman. Now they upgrade almost as fast as Borg adapt. Two things that shared a basic principle, humans turned in to machines, which was not a problem. It isn’t a big issue, but I’d have preferred it hadn’t come up.
The troops on the planet, a punishment platoon, are great. I enjoyed their lack of discipline and poor training. Similarly I liked Webley and Porridge – indeed I thought Warrick was excellent in this. The Humans using big bombs to wipe out Cybermen regardless of loss of Human life was also perfectly good.
The Doctor/Cyberplanner… panto time with someone wearing a suit on one side of their body and a dress on the other… The chess analogy would have been ok but I think the way it was approached ruined it.
I hope Neil Gaiman has an episode next season and I hope they let him run with his idea and film it all because my hunch as I said earlier, is that this is where it went wrong.
Over all it was still an entertaining episode but in many ways sums up this current series for me. So close and yet so far…
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